You are not the father...
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I had met a girl through mutual friends, we instantly attracted. We began seeing each other every spare moment we had. We went to concerts, baseball games, her cousins wedding, camping, bowling, and virtually anything that struck our fancy. She impressed me in that she was a grown up. Stable career, own place, and fairly independent. She smoked pot and talked about her semi-recent divorce; but, those were annoyances, not deal breakers.
So, after 4 months of dating, I found myself in my living room. There she was, sitting on my couch. The tears came down her face, "We need to talk" she said. My heart sank, what could it be? Did she not want to date anymore? Did I do something? "I'm pregnant" All my worries disappeared and I was overjoyed. She was exactly who I had pictured a family with, to add to it, my mother had recently been diagnosed with a terminal disease, so at the very least, I could now add great joy to her all too short life.
Our relationship grew very intensely after that. We made the announcement to her family and mine. Both were met with overwhelming congratulations and support. I moved her into my house. She decided that she needed to take time off of work. Which I wholeheartly supported.
Halfway through the pregnancy, my mother passed away and I was terminated from my job. I was determined to persevere and not require her to go back to work in her condition. I searched high and low, couldn't find a job. Finally, a glimmer of hope. I got a job for 13 bucks an hour, a far cry from the $60k a year I had come to enjoy, but I was determined to make it work.
Finally, the day came, family surrounding us in the waiting room, we welcomed that 19 inch beautiful baby girl. We gave her my mothers name as her middle name. She was such a joy and all sorts of whimsical fantasies of fishing trips, reading, tea parties, and all the other things that daddies were supposed to do with their little girls danced through my head. We brought her home and I dutifully returned to the factory. Continued to look for other employment that would give me more time to spend on my precious little gift. I got a real sense of satisfaction over the fact that no matter how tired I was, I gladly went back for more because I was supporting my family and ensuring that the mother of my child could nurture her as much, if not more than, her little heart desired.
Slowly, the accusations started rolling in, the mistrust, and the suspicion. Where was I? How come you worked late? She dug through my internet history and cell phone. Admittedly, I did occassionally enjoy some porn or have a picture of an old girlfriend on my phone. But it seemed like the reaction to whatever slight I had committed was over the top. Then came the day when I broke, I looked in her phone. Only to discover, that she was in contact with an old boyfriend. Nothing too damning there, but odd for someone with her sensitivity.
Then she told me that he had sent her a picture of his penis. Thinking it was odd, I asked that she not have contact with this fellow and delete his number. She agreed and complied. More mistrust on her part occurs. I look in her phone once again, only now it's much harder to do because she keeps it with her even to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I find that she's saved the number only instead of the first name only, she's saved it as the last name only. Well, now that we're in full blown cover up mode I'm really seeing red flags.
I ordered a home DNA test. A week later, I stood there with the results in my hand. "Mr. X is excluded as the father of girl, with a 0.00% probability of paternity..." I read it at least 100 times. I'm an educated man, but I was dumbstruck. I knew what "excluded" means but I couldn't draw a nexus between the context that they were using it and how it applied to the relationship between my daughter and I. I decided to bottle it up. That must be the solution, if only I know, then there's no way anything can be wrong. I'll just cover it up and everything will be ok. No dreams shattered, just business as usual, that's how I'm gonna play it, yessir. I made it one week.
My perspective had changed. All the things that little girl did were now not a reflection of me or anything about me. I got angry. I remember my significant other saying to me, when we found out the sex of the baby, "A girl? well that's your fault, the father determines the sex", what had been a loving joke between excited parents was now a flashpoint for my anger. I was totally powerless, not even the sex of the baby was connected to me anymore. I looked at the baby and I saw someone else.
At 4am I laid down in bed, my eyes wouldn't close, my significant other took notice and asked what was wrong. I couldn't hold it in any longer and I blurted out "Who's X's father?" She sprang from the bed and went outside to smoke. She denied it. Called me crazy. Read the DNA test.
She took a long drag on her cigarette and simply said "I screwed up."
When pressed, she said that she got really drunk one night and went to some guys house. She said she had no idea who it was and that it had only happened once. She made a token effort to quit drinking and be honest in her dealings with me.
The only problem was that her story seemed unlikely, the time frame of that evening was way too short I.E. there was no way all of the things in her story could have occured in one evening, and for that matter, the story was way too detailed for being black out drunk. In my heart, I know she knows. Maybe he's married or a friend. Either way, I wanted to know why, and who it was that had taken my dreams and turned them into a nightmare. I never trusted her again. What began March 7th at 10:54 am had promptly ended August 29th at 4:19 am.
The excuses started rolling in. We were'nt that serious, we didn't see each other enough, we were only dating 3 months, it wasn't her it was her drinking, she had bad relationships in the past, or a hundred other things to shift blame from her. I realized that there was nothing she would say that would make me raise my hand and say "oh my god! I didn't realize we were'nt that serious, in that case, I'm totally glad you screwed around!". I just wanted an apology that took responsibility, one that held truth.
I got a lawyer and got off the birth certificate. Kicked her out of the house.
Since then I've been lost. I troll books and the internet, I rationalize, I bargin. I'm an insomniac. I drink. I bring home fluzzies from bars, despising them the entire time. I exercise. I play fetch with my dog. I still work too much. I resent. I drive and wind up a hundred miles away without realizing how I got there. I go through my days in a fog. I've reached out to God, but have yet to recognize an answer, as such things go.
I'm glad I have an outlet in my writing and hope that it helps one person somewhere.