You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

2014 was a crazy, messy, beautiful year! A little heavier on the crazy and the messy, but it was definitely beautiful too.

When I pictured how I’d bring in 2015, I didn’t exactly know what I saw; but I knew it would likely be a low key evening at home with my boys, and my family, watching the ball drop on tv.

What I did not picture was bringing in the new year without my boys.

For 8 months, I have dreaded the day I’d have to allow my sons to do an overnight visit with their dad. I’ve avoided it at all costs. I’ve hid from this event like a scared girl on a horror flick running from a man with a chainsaw. But just like what inevitably happens on those horror movies, I knew eventually, this scary day would find me.

You can run, but you can’t hide.

Luckily for me, my almost ex-husband is not someone who has fought very hard to have overnight visits. He is not equipped in any way, and he knows that. So I haven’t had to be too sneaky in my running. He basically didn’t even chase me.

However, every now and then something inside him rises to the surface and he has to convince himself he’s a decent human being by “fighting to be a father.” Although I have never kept him from his sons and the only person he’s fighting is himself, occasionally he needs to prove his manhood by attempting to follow through with the parts of a court order he feels suit him that day.

Apparently that need arose just before the new year and on Monday, I began receiving the, “When can I see my sons” text messages. Mind you, he’d been out of town for 2 weeks and when he had the opportunity and even obligation to see his sons, he refused it or cut it short as he either “didn’t want to do me any favors” or was simply too hungover to fulfill his promises. But, the time to prove fatherhood arrived and, at least for that five minutes, I could no longer run from this dreaded event.

The court order states he is to have the boys every Wednesday and every other weekend. Standard visitation. New Year’s Eve 2014 happened to fall on a Wednesday.

The moment came where I knew I was going to have to surrender. Although he has not fulfilled his responsibilities in any way and although he lives in a 2 bedroom apartment with a roommate leaving no room for 3 small children, he requested his visitation. After a short text battle, I stated, “You can have them Wednesday night after I get off work until 6 pm Thursday night like the court order states.” He agreed despite the fact that Wednesday was New year’s Eve and having children in his care likely didn’t fall into the picture of what he envisioned for his new year’s events either.

In that moment, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

While I know he is their father and he has rights, and although I feel like the world (who doesn’t know my husband or the details of the situation well) expects me to encourage the father of my children to be as involved as possible (and I do), I just cannot get my heart in that place. I do what I am supposed to do, and I facilitate as much involvement as he will participate in; but knowing the kind of person he is and knowing the heartbreak my boys will endure as a result of his half in, half out approach to fatherhood, I simply cannot get on board emotionally.

The irony in court ordered visitation and the details of going through a divorce when children are involved, is that the very reasons you left in the first place seem to be what you cannot get away from. When you have children with someone, to some extent, you’re stuck regardless.

I left because of the sad excuse for a father he was. I left because of the poor example of a man he was for my sons. I left because of his alcoholic heart and compulsive liar soul. I left because I didn’t want one more day of damage done to me and my sons. I left because he never wanted to be a husband and a father; and at his core, he is an overgrown teenage boy who likes to party and only cares about himself.

Yet, he is the father of my children. The law says he has rights. And my sons love him. They love him despite the broken promises, failed visits, and constant attempts to thwart all responsibility. They love him. Unconditionally. Just as I did.

And so even though it breaks me wide open, I hand over my heart to a man who doesn’t deserve it. Each time he has them, whether overnight or just for a few hours, I have no choice but to release my sons. I physically have to let them go, and I emotionally have to convince myself it’s alright. Because that’s what happens in a divorce.

You can run, but you can’t hide.

So New Year’s Eve came after two days of anger and disgust, fear and worry. Tuesday night I packed a bag for my sons to spend the night at their father’s house for the first time. I packed the first bag of many for my three angels to spend not only their first full night with their father, but also their first ever night away from me.

I struggle to swallow this pill.

In 2 1/2 years, the longest I’ve been away from any of my sons is about 10 hours for a work day. My youngest son is still nursing. Though he is not dependent on breast milk anymore, he is still quite dependent on my body for comfort and sleep. My sons are a piece of me. Little chunks of my soul wandering around out in the world. And now, I am forced, by law, to release them much before any of us are ready.

The thought of my boys being gone from me 24 hours, not to mention an entire weekend when that heinous requirement begins, absolutely sleighs me. It makes me sick to my stomach in a literal sense. It feels like a cruel injustice. Even if their father wasn’t an alcoholic, this requirement would feel cruel. But he is. And so it feels intolerable.

Mothers have an innate need to protect their children, even if it’s from their own father. Divorcing an alcoholic strips me of some of my ability to uphold my motherly duties to protect my children.

I have to remind myself frequently that although I cannot always protect them from their earthly father, their heavenly father is always able to protect and provide.

Bringing in the new year with my children and my heart in another home was extremely difficult. But while I thought I would not get through it, I did and so did my sons. They are too young to understand or see the reality of their father, and for that, I am grateful. They will see it someday and when they do, it will be devastating.

For now, I have no choice but to put on my brave face and trust an untrustworthy person with the most precious and sacred thing I have.

Unfortunately, you can run, but you can’t hide.

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46 thoughts on “You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

  1. I am sitting here feeling that agony for you, remembering my own. It is never easy, even nearly a decade later for me, but prayer is always, always your best defense. Just remember, too, those precious boys, especially as they grow in knowledge of the Lord, can be a light in a dark place. Praying for you.

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  2. I can’t imagine! My stomach is churning for you. While the boys deserve to know their father, I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for them to go over night. Why does it have to be all night? It seems like the court would take into account a person’s worthiness… As always, you and your boys are in my thoughts and prayers. You made it through their first night away-hopefully it will just get easier from here.

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    • Thank you Tarynn… I agree. It seems ridiculous to just give blanket rights and standard visitation across the board. I made it through night one and since then we have done this Wednesday again and now as I type the boys are gone for their first ever weekend… So far it is going well, although difficult. But I pray that if he can keep his act together, maybe we can figure this thing out and minimize damage to my sons hearts. Time will tell I guess… Thank you for your thoughts and sweet words!

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    • Thank you Becky!!! I wish I could change the law too…it feels so unfair. But we are gaining strength by the day and for that I’m grateful. Thank you again for your encouragement… I hope you are doing well!!

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  3. (((Hugs))) I knew I’d be reading this someday…You have just lived through one of the most painful mom moments imaginable. This brought back memories…It is maddening that the Family Court system does this to children. A HUGE change is needed. Of course we, as mothers, want our kids to have good relationships with their fathers, but if that father is an alcoholic, high conflict, abusive, or uninterested, that parent doesn’t need the same schedule as a parent who truly cares about their children. Praying is all that got me through…and the company of family and friends (creating a distraction). Many, many prayers are with you💙💜

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    • Oh I couldn’t agree more! Thank you so much, and I’m encouraged knowing so many have gone through this before me and made it through ok…although also so saddened by that thought. This stuff is crushing! Thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom with me!

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  4. I came back to further add that, while I stand by prayer as our best, most awesome defense, God does prescribe wisdom. Hubby pointed out I should also tell you, if you aren’t already, to thoroughly document all visits, as well as when he ducks out on visits. If rights are ever reexamined, it could be very useful.

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  5. My heart breaks for you reading this! I couldnt imagine what that must feel like… a friend of mine had twins with a very abusive man, and he fights to see them overnight all the time, but she doesnt think the kids would be safe. She has spent THOUSANDS in legal fees so right now they have supervised visitation only.

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    • Ugh, it’s heartbreaking and so sad that so many people have to go through this. I’m glad she was able to get supervised visitation, although the process of getting there I’m sure has been difficult. And even that is painful too. The whole thing sucks! But we are managing and getting stronger through it. Thank you for your empathetic response! ❤

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  6. I am sorry that you need to deal with such a difficult situation but I am happy for your children that they have a strong mother who will help guide them through this reality.

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  7. Wow! I felt winded, heartbroken, but moved at the eloquence of your words. I struggle every time my daughter sleeps at my parents, but I have control in that matter. I can say yes or no. And it’s my parents. You probably feel so powerless, but you are so brave in this. You’re right about our Heavenly Father. May He give you strength and perspective through all of this ❤

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    • Thank you Alana. Your comments are always so beautiful and heartfelt, and I really appreciate you. I do feel powerless. There is comfort in knowing how much my boys love him and enjoy going to his house. They look forward to it and have a blast…because he’s the fun guy! So for them, I guess it’s ok right now because they aren’t being harmed in his care, that I can tell. But it’s still an extremely difficult, confusing kind of a thing and very difficult to watch us all have to go through this ripping apart of our family and know the implications of that for my sons down the road. God is in control and this week at least, I have felt much stronger in this… We’ll see how it all unfolds. Thanks again!

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    • Thank you very much! It’s extremely difficult but I’m trusting God to help us all through, including my ex, and I believe one way or another, we will all end up exactly where we are supposed to be through this journey.

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  8. I know exactly what you are going through. My ex/son’s father had issues with drugs. It always seemed like he would go through streaks of wanting to see his son. Like he thought that is what he was supposed to do. It always drove me crazy. I did get it changed to supervised visitation, he rarely even called to see him. We have moved out of state from him now which was great! Your right though you have to be careful they have a lot of rights for being dead beats and you cant just get away from them. Good Luck and God Bless.

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    • You’re exactly right. I’m sorry you and your son went through this as well and I hope it has continued to be good since moving. Mine goes through spells of wanting to be a good father and other times he’s MIA. Right now, he’s on a good streak. We will see if it lasts.

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  9. I’m sorry you have to go through this. That any of us have to endure this in a fallen world. When I read your posts, Rachael, I’ll pray for your ex-husband. Only God can help him. Praying he realizes this and runs to Him with total abandon.

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    • I appreciate that a lot! Thank you… I know that the right things will come along and everything is going to work itself out in the end. God is in control. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.

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  10. I can only imagine how hard this was for you. You’re doing what you have to do, and it sounds like you’re being really strong — for your boys and for yourself. I’m so sorry you have to go through this. Sending you hugs and prayers!

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  11. Ugh! What a tough situation. I am sorry you have had to deal with this. You are extremely brave. Hugs to you and your boys!

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    • Thank you Melissa! It’s tough, but has gone better than I expected generally speaking, so I feel a little bit better about it all…for this week, haha! Not the way I pictured my life going, but there have been gifts through this painful process!

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  12. I can’t imagine. I want to hug you so much. No, you can’t hide but there is a Johnny Cash song I swear by:
    “Go tell that long tongued liar
    Go tell that midnight rider
    Tell the gambler, rambler, back biter
    Tell ’em god almighty gonna cut ’em down.”

    May God watch over you and yours. Hugs, Mama.

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  13. I wish I could come over and hold your hand through this. I’m so sorry you are going through this. It’s been over a year for me and it’s still horrible when they are gone. It’s so hard not to think about them and worry. You can drive yourself crazy. Distractions are always good… Some nights I do a cute project for their room or add pictures of us around the house as a surprise when they come back. Some nights I close the doors to their rooms because I can’t handle the thought of them not being there. And some nights, I just close my door and camp out in my room until the next day comes. It’s amazing what separation can do to us and I think it’s worse when they are so little. Hopefully you will be able to find a positive outlet or some ways to use that time to help yourself. I usually try to go to a yoga class or get my grocery shopping done. I like to do things to prepare for them to come home because I feel like I’m still with them in a way.

    I’ll pray for you and keep you in my thoughts. You are not truly alone when you’re physically alone because there are so many people that love you and are thinking about you. I wish you all the best. ((hugs))

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  14. Wow, this sounds exactly like my story. Same reasons for leaving, same issues now that he is gone. Chooses when to be a parent, though I raised my boys essentially alone. We did one overnight visit before I caught him drinking again and refused anymore. We don’t have anything legal yet and I know that will be coming and I will have to deal with these fears more regularly. Doesn’t seem fair. Hugs to you. {}

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    • Courtney I’m sorry you are going through this too. It definitely is not fair but we manage to rise above it, we overcome it, and we get stronger through it…and so do our kids! You are a tough mama doing the best for your family. You will be in my thoughts and prayers ❤

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  15. Rachel I searched and searched for this piece. This is going to be me in June and I feel fitting June gloom looming 2 months away. After 2 years of in and out of court with a man who sounds exactly like your ex, after 2 years of being in my sole custody and care rebuilding our lives, this man comes in and decides “he wants to fight for his kids”. Blindsided, thousands spent on my attorney for him to show, no paperwork, in jeans, cuss out my attorney and still get everything he asked for overnights every other weekend. I am still processing and now preparing for when my babies who have never spent one night away from me will go to home (that I am not allowed to go see btw “send her a video” said the judge) all because an alcoholic, dead beat, drug user has rights as a father. “this is a standard order and you are lucky that you were able to fend him off for so long” most women this is right away. Really. Tell that to my heart. Resolving to trust God with my babies, you give me hope.

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