Dealing with Guilt About How My Past Decisions are Hurting my Kids...
I was a single mom for a long time - I even started and ran a single mom's group in Indianapolis because there wasn't one available at the time. And, though I'm not single anymore, I think you ladies will probably best understand the pain and guilt I'm feeling - and maybe how to deal with it.
Like alot of single women, I made a stupid freaking choice. As a senior in college, I started dating this really smooth guy who seemed great at the time and threw caution to the wind. One month later, I found out I was pregnant - but, by then, it was too late. I'd found out about this criminal history and emotional instability, and he'd started physically abusing me.
Cut to ten years later. Despite my best attempts, the courts say I have to let him see him, that what's wrong with him isn't enough to stop visitation. My 10 yo son has seen things he should never have seen - smoking, excess drinking, crazy gf's banging on his bio dad's door in the middle of the night- I've even had to pick my son up at the police station when his bio dad was arrested for driving with a suspended license. Plus, his life is unstable, going back and forth every other weekend and during the summer. Just last night, I told him that he would be leaving for three weeks this Friday to be with his dad. He looked like he was going to cry.
I have three daughters with my great husband, ages 4, 2 and 1. They all worship my son! My 4 yo, Lily, is asking more and more questions - and we don't know what to tell her. We're afraid she'll think she'll have to go to, or that we can't keep someone from making her go. Plus, she considers my husband to be their dad, for ALL of them. It will rip her world apart. And, I just figured out on my calendar that my ex's choice of summer time will mean my son will miss his 4 yo sister's birthday. She orbits him and misses him constantly even when he's just at school. If he's not at her party, it will ruin it for her.
Instead of fading into the background, it seems like my past mistakes just keep causing my family more and more pain. First my son, then my husband when my son uses the "you're not my real dad" attitude (even though he's raised him and pays for everything, as we get almost no support). Now, my 4 yo daughter is going to have her view of our family turned on it's side. It's going to hurt her, then my daughter Elena as she ages, then my daughter Gwen. And I know the challenges and hurts, big and little, will continue.
The guilt is crippling. Does anyone else feel guilt like this about their past decisions, and how they've come to affect their children? How will I explain to my daugher that the family she sees as complete and loving can't keep her bubby with us? How will I explain to her that her brother has a bio dad, and that it doesn't diminish her dad's role in Aidan's life? And, someday, will my daughters think less of me, knowing that I slept with this loser and messed everything up?
I know it's largely a vent, but if anyone has any experience or advice with any of this, I would appreciate it so much. I'll never be able to forgive myself for what I've done to my son, and now my three little daughters. It's not drama - it's just a fact. But, how can I make all of this easier for them? Is there even a way?