In the process of trying to get to the core of my status as a father of three, I have not done my proper due diligence in painting a proper picture of just HOW my first marriage ended up an exercise in putting on appearances and thinly veiled contempt.
The Long answer is incompatibility and an inability to work together and grow together. But me and experience has proven that answer flatly insufficient.
95% of the stumbles I experienced in BOTH of my marriages could have been easily remedied with some honest and frank conversation and introspection on all parts.
Even though through the magic of 20/10 hindsight we would NEVER have progressed beyond casual dating partner and have both matured and moved on to successful marriages, I am confident that we would have scrapped at it and ground out an ugly win. But that other 5% kept getting in the way.
NOTHING will wreck a marriage like infidelity.
Even the most emotionless single episodic infidelity in the worst Marriage is the metaphorical equivalent of throwing your child out of a burning three story building when there is a kiddie pool full of alcohol garnished with shards of plate glass directly beneath you.
Sure you See it…but that doesnt mean you can avoid it.
The fall may not kill you, instantly. But 99% of the time you will wish it did. The aftermath is FAR worse than any Death your child(relationship) might come upon.
I have done that.
More than once.
I’ve never hit the pool directly.
OHHHH but I have been close.
Close enough for the Baby/relationship to be too injured to live a full life.
Once I even Killed it.
You can only throw the same baby out the window so many times before the baby’s body just gives up.
Infidelity is something that can happen to ANYONE. Your House (life) catches fire…and your impulse comes to grab that Baby (your relationship) and toss it out to safety.
Who wants to have their baby burn up in the house? No one, right?
Then work on putting the fire out…instead of throwing the baby out of the window like a suitcase.
(The ink says this Metaphor needs more flushing out….Part II REAL soon.)
Author’s Note: forgive the tardiness, Labor, newborn babies, custodial parenting, stuff like that intruded and I ended up spending more time Living the story than writing about it. My bad. You won’t miss a detail, I promise.
In the aftermath of 9/11, there was enough flux in my life that I could pretend my family life was back to normal. I trudged through The fall of 2001 with my head down, saying very little verbally, but tackling my new found passion of writing. Writing at that time was like the therapy that I had never experienced.
I was participating on an anonymous group blog called Kindred with a bunch of established Bloggers. The rush I felt as a part of that immensely talented collective inspired me to creative heights I have NOT found since. I was BLOGGING with the Best Black Bloggers in the world way back in TWO THOUSAND ONE, SON!
I spent the autumn oblivious to my family, Engaging just enough to keep everyone quiet about the turmoil of the past and to focus on how I was going to survive eighteen years of Loveless marriage while raising my sons. Suffice it to say that it never occured to me that they might NOTICE that mommy and daddy didn’t really like each other all that much. That 3.0 ALREADY could tell that something wasn’t quite right even as he was concentrating on the wonders of Potty Training.
That 3.1 was a momma’s boy was inevitable. That he resembled TFMI was merely coincidence. For someone who spent the last 4 months in the womb of a woman whose husband only occasionally shielded his hopeless outlook on marital bliss and family, it is difficult to imagine that I could have built up a great deal of cool points in utero.
But none of that stopped me. I was a man who only vaguely remembered having a Father in the house. I told ANYONE who would listen to my digital rantings, that i Would NEVER be THAT father. Id Stick in through thick and thin. Wasn’t gonna make it until death did us part, but I would DEFINITELY make Graduation.
Famous Last words.
After reading the Interlude, you can get a sense of the cauldron of conflict that 3.1 was conceived and nurtured in. The picture looked fine, but story behind the picture was Toxic.
(This is why the thousand words a picture tells is never enough)
The physical picture maintained a sheen suitable for framing, but the reality was infecting all those involved.
By Labor Day weekend, the situation had devolved into a war-of-the-roses type thing where folk had retreated into their respective foxholes and the boy wandered back and forth between us like some special envoy in the safe zone. I had clearly moved on, I just hadn’t moved out. To say it was ugly engages in a form of understatement that I am personally uncomfortable
As with the country, the events of 9/11 changed everything. On the surface that is.
While I am confident EVERYONE has a “where were you on 9/11 story” those of us who could see the smoke in the air and engaged in the cinematic exodus out of lower manhattan and Inner Washington, DC have our own peculiar stories. The day brought me face to face with how fleeting life can be, how easily angry spouses can be transformed to grieving widows. For the first time in months, we sat as a family and bonded over the tragedy and how our family had been spared. All was well.
For a week.
After that, you may have well said that the Terrorists had won in my house, because it was business as usual at my house
There was a certain resignation to my life in April, 2001. To the outside world, the three of us were the ideal small family. We screamed out for a patronizing commercial extoling the wonders Wal-Mart could do for young Black Families. I was married but realized that it was going nowhere fast. As in most marriages, it had become a monster that two people each put a great deal of effort into constructing, but as is always the case, the history books will write that it was all my fault. We were great parents, but not very good spouses and I could see the end up ahead, even though I dreaded the effect it would have on Inkgnegro 3.0 who was the sole propelling force in my life. Rest assured, no piece of paper would have kept us together had he not been born.
I remember the fight clearly.
Her: Blah blah blah
Me: Blah blah blah (under my breath) With your dumb ass.
Her: *Leaps across the room and punches me in the jaw…hard*
Me: *takes punch: throws her on the bed to prevent more punches*
*large cat exits in a rush*
*small boy enters yelling and screaming*
*Her and Me realize that we have NO business carrying on like this, both stand up and glare like we were caught with our hands in the proverbial cookie jar*
It was at that moment that we calmed the hysterical boy and finished the argument in a less physical manner.
At that precise moment, as I drove to work on the night before Easter, I was done. All the arguments we had hidden from the boy were exposed in the most ugly format possible. He was 2 1/2, and I have been meaning to ask if he remembers it.
It was April 15, 2001 when TFMI told me that if I was going to go, I needed to go now and not keep her in suspense. I was on my way to work, literally. I stopped long enough to grab another tie, and a pair of boxers and I left. I left the money from my check in the account, opened up a new acct with the money I made from the second job and moved on in every way possible. By Friday I had a new place, and by May 1, life was starting to make sense for me.
It was the Friday before Mother’s day when I came by to drop off her Mother’s day gift from 3.0 and realized that TFMI wasn’t herself. Upon great interrogation, it was revealed that she was pregnant.
Just like that; I realized that Life wasn’t going to work with me around the corner living the “single” life like Cameo. On Mother’s Day night I moved back into the apartment and did my best to resurrect the monster I had slain with one quick decision. I succeeded to the extent that the Monster became a Zombie that would have made Romero proud.
Marriage the blessed sacrament had become Marriage the job. and I wanted to take that Job and shove it. It was in this atmosphere that Inkognegro 3.1 was nurtured and grew in utero.
All fathers have that moment where we look at our flesh and blood, our progeny, our namesakes, the Fruit of our proverbial loins and realize that we are saying EXACTLY what someone said to us and that they are the living embodiment of that longstanding unarguable curse of childhood:
We ultimately raise the very children we were.
When I met TFMI (The Former Mrs. Inkognegro) on our first date, I told her outright that there was one thing I was completely unwilling to compromise on. My first born son WOULD carry on my name. As a Junior myself, it was a non-negotiable condition of our relationship.
On October 14, 1998, as a result of the most smooth labor episode in the anecdotal history of Holy Cross Hospital (Labor began at 5:15am, water broke at 7:45am checked in the Pital at 9:22am, Time of Birth: 9:37am, all natural, no cuts)
It was almost as though I spit him out.
I vowed I would never leave him like my father did me. He was too much like me to have to go through life by himself. I knew his mother wouldn’t understand him. She didn’t understand ME…and I was GROWN. She loves him like her first born, because he is. But the same things about ME that made her crazy (and rightfully so) REEEEEALLY make her crazy when he does it.
But of course…Those who do not learn from their history are condemned to repeat it. I was already doomed; on the path to repeat the same mistakes my father made 27 yrs before:
- Find yourself parlaying your job into a plethora of unfulfilling relationships
- Realize that you actually want more than that
- Decide you want to settle down
- Meet, woo, court and marry the next woman you meet.
- Decide you don’t children right away and then IMMEDIATELY procreate
- suddenly find yourself married and parenting with someone who loves you, but doesn’t like the person you really are
- sabotage the marriage in an effort to chase down your own journey of self-discovery at the expense of growing your marriage.
So, Three years later, just on the heels of potty training and just after the birth of his little brother. Daddy left. Didn’t go far, but gone all the same.
My father didn’t go FAR. At first. First it was across town. then a few states away….then cross country. Chasing something. Anything. finding nothing but Distance and regret.
I did benefit from growing through those years with my father. I see 3.0 often enough to stay reminding him that Daddy knows what he’s going through. Sure as I sit here, I know what they future can hold for him. Good and bad. All about the choices. And not just the ones that HE makes, but the ones that I make too.
My father died when he was 51. I was the only child he had. Seven Wives. One child.
I was 29 when he passed away of an aneurysm on the side of the road in Southern California, his home for 20 years. I had spent 1992 and 93 with him…as his roommate and assistant. I believe it was one of his NON-wives that ultimately sabotaged our relationship at the time. This apparently was why she was a NON-wife. Ironically enough, my father told me (two wives later) that my presence could have MADE her a wife. Her jealousy of my presence made her a non-non wife.
My Uncle (on dad’s side) came to MD and flew with me to LA to Bury my father. It was the last time I ever saw my uncle. The last time I saw anyone on my father’s side. During that week I heard more about my father in death than I did when he was alive.
It was at THAT time that I started to put the pieces together of who my father was.
It was at THAT time that I realized the path I was on.
I vowed that I would NOT let my sons learn about me from strangers at my funeral.
Everyday that I wake up I get a chance to teach my sons more about me.
3.0 is ten now. His personality is taking shape. the shape of MY personality…good and bad.
This summer will be the most time we have spent together since I left in the still of a February Night, told by TFMI that she didn’t want him to wait until the boys grew up, that he should leave right now. She later said she didn’t REALLY mean it; that she was just mad.
I found out later that my mother said the same thing to my father. The night HE left.
My mission in life in regards to Mr. 3.0 is to prevent him from Following in ALL of my footsteps. Cause if I do nothing. He will.
Hell, if I do MANY things….he still might. But it won’t be my fault.
You have now met Inkognegro 3.0. Kinda.