The only place to go? Back to her parent's house.
We stayed 2 weeks until the pastor of the church we attended agreed for us to stay in the church basement if Mom would help clean the building. More hours to her week, but it meant safety. She took it.
Months and several fights later, a divorce was finalized.
Mom graduated from nurses training, now an RN. We were six, five and and almost four. As our new normal was working itself out, the child support price and supervised visitation was determined. That proved to be more drama. As far as the child support went, he didn't have the job to generate the money. Mom lowered it, three times. His visits were often missed entirely, wrong time/right date or vice-versa.
It was tough.
Tough to be promised one thing and have no follow through. Ruth had blow ups often. It wasn't a temper tantrum, she was just missing the parent she was closest to. Mom fed up, emotionally exhausted and getting some courage; said she'd be willing to go down to $15 a week, $5 per kid, just to show he cared. But he must come when he said he'd come or stop promising to. We were left with several large gifts of china dolls on the porch visitation day and no dad. That was the last we saw of him. Mom could have taken him to court, but didn't have the funds or the will to do so.
So, we're left without.
Ruth missing the dad she loves, Adam hurting, and me left with very few memories of him and just a few pictures. Mom broken-hearted and financially stretched past the limit. Life moves on. We learned to get by like a lot of families. Clothes shopping was donation barrels at church and on special occasions Goodwill until Mom moved up in the world of nursing, later on.
I was pretty jaded.
Looking back, I never kept friends that had close relationships with their fathers. I hated seeing any girl being held or played with by her dad. I was broken, bitter, hurting, scared and feeling completely robbed. I closed my heart off and learned to be the caretaker. I made it my duty to make sure that everyone was as happy and content as I could possibly make them. I craved peace. I desperately wanted everyone to be alright. I told myself that if they were ok, I'd be ok. I sucked my thumb until an impossibly old age, feeling like that "since it's literally attached, no one can take it and it's never going to walk away." Dumb, I know, but that thumb became my safe place. It'd also be a large part of me having speech therapy for eons.
Looking back, a lot of time is blocked out.
It never ceases to amaze me how big a deal a dad is in a kid's life. Doesn't matter your gender, a man, your dad, fulfills a role that no one else does or can. A part of me, has known this my entire life. I found myself trying to get that in just about every older guy relationship that was available while growing up. Epic, epic fail. I'm not sure if I have words to express that kind of shit...it's pain, rejection, denial, abandonment, forgotten, unloved, not needed, replaced, unknown. That's where the forcing myself to numb out would come into play.
Now, the Sarah in her late twenties..
Well, I've learned something through all of this. God has an inherent way of showing up and loving you in that Dad kind of way that your heart needs. Being the jealous kind of Lover He is; He wouldn't allow that spot, His spot, to be filled by anyone else. I have found this fact to be in parts amazing and crazy annoying about Him.
Do I still walk around feeling shafted some days?
Yeah, I look back on all the "never's and no's" (never called, no birthdays/graduation, never showing up, never being there, never knowing him, no knowing me...) and get a little, ok, a lot, overwhelmed. But, I find that my safe spot, the spot that never changes and no one's going to leave, is always as I leave it.
It's up to me now to go to that place, talk with my Dad.
I'm told emphatically and sometimes multiple times a day, He is the Father to the fatherless and He "never leaves or forsakes us"...
So far, He's proven to be a pretty good promise keeper--I'm holding Him to it.
In that place I have peace, I'm utterly loved, chosen, wanted, cherished.
I don't intend to walk away.