In Over My Head

I grew up in a home without a full-time father figure. I was conceived through an affair, which meant that our relationship was kept a secret for many years. Growing up, I saw him a few hours a week, but it was never anything more than just play buddies. As I entered high school, I made poor life choices that later developed into drug and alcohol addiction and sexual promiscuity. This lasted for over a decade.

Just after I turned 30, I had a child with a woman whom I barely knew.

Things were rough between me and her from the beginning, on all fronts. There were vicious court battles, emotional roller coasters, and the continual thought of, “How am I ever going to do this?”

All I wanted was to be a dad and to give my daughter the love and fatherly attention I never received from my own. Her mother was awarded primary custody when my daughter was still an infant, though I was given time during the week and every other weekend. I wasn’t sure how I felt about any of this. Life was a blur. I was on the edge of another relapse (and eventually fell back into addiction) and lost all sense of who I was as a person.

There were vicious court battles, emotional roller coasters, and the continual thought of, “How am I ever going to do this?”

I struggled as a father early in my daughter’s life. I was still making unwise choices such as drinking and sleeping around. Her mom and I were continually at odds, and money was tight. Something had to give — and fast.

Since my daughter’s mom and I hardly ever spoke, I was left to figure out the particulars of parenting, such as time management, diaper changing, feeding, and interacting with my daughter. Even though I didn’t have a strong role model of my own growing up, I actually caught on pretty quick.

Just before my daughter turned one, I made a 180 degree shift in my life. I grew in my newly-found faith, got plugged into a group of men who were thriving as fathers, and eventually started a support group for single dads myself. Don’t get me wrong, life was still tough... but I could finally see daylight ahead! As the years went on, I grew in multiple areas of my life. My faith strengthened, I got clean and sober for good, and found a steady job. I shut the doors in my life that needed to be closed, and other great ones opened up! I began to pour myself into being a great dad and learned from my mistakes along the way.

Today my daughter and I have a phenomenal relationship. And even though I don’t have primary custody, I am still Dad. I have pushed through some horrendous times, and though many challenges still remain, I stand confident that I am equipped more than ever to handle them and to raise my daughter the way I should.

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These issues can be hard to face. If you’re considering harming yourself or others, please read this!