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Single mom - father of 3 boys incarcerated

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Here's my story. From the age of 17 to 23 I was pretty much a wild girl - I'm 34 now. I met a 21 year old guy at the age of 22 who I had a really crazy fling with and eventually fell in love with him. I was pregnant by him at the age of 23. Throw into the mix that I was born and raised in South Alabama. I'm white and the father was black. My family of course was completely devastated and torn apart by the fact that he was black. Not only that, but he was basically an ex-convict when I met him. At the time, I just really had self-destructive behavior, and it seemed the worse the guy the better. Since my family completely disowned me, I ended up living with they guy. Also, at the time I was attending my last year of college (a private southern Baptist college -getting crazier huh? Just wait). He and I lived together and somehow I managed to live with him, party all the time, pregnant, attending college, disowned by my family, and still graduate from college. A miracle graduation, I guess. 2 months after my child was born, I found out I was pregnant (by him) again, this time with twins. And we had just moved out of my apartment to live in an unstable housing situation because we could no longer pay the rent. Also, he was getting more and more heavy into drug use (marijuana and alcohol) and also had begun selling drugs more and more. His personality started to change and at times he would say hateful things to me. At one point after several weeks of us arguing and not getting along, I smarted off to him and he slapped me accross my face. Then he took my keys (he was drunk) so that I couldn't leave. I was still pregnant with the twins. Within one week I moved out to live with my Aunt (she was the only one in my family who didn't reject me and disown me.) Shortly after, he was arrested for probation violation and I ended up going to a homeless shelter to try to start my life over.


That was 10 years ago. Since then I have been raising my boys alone...haven't seriously dated anyone and I have never been married. I have completely changed my life around. I own my own home, drive an SUV, and have a professional office job. My boys - twins 9 and the other age 10 are doing really well. They are in scouts and we attend church regularly. I am very focused on their education and I have of course very much matured since those days. Things are decent with my family, but very shallow. They will never accept my boys completely...I can see that more and more as the years go by. Its painful because my younger brother is perfect in their eyes. He just got married to a wonderful girl about a year ago. I'm sure my mom will treat their kids alot different than she treats mine. She'll just chalk it up to we live so far away (3 hours) that that's why she spends more time with them.


Anyway I said all that to say this. In the past year I began to have the feeling that my boys really needed to know who their father was and what he looked like. During the time I've been raising them, he has been out of prison for about 3 or 4 of those years. I decided 3 months ago to write him. I was mostly curious about if he had changed or grown up any and if it would be of benefit for my boys to communicate with him.


Well, of course in some of the letters old unresolved feelings came out between us. There were alot of things left hanging from the past that we were finally able to tell eachother. He in one way seemed as though, he thought I was trying to start up a relationship with him. Sometimes parts of my heart ache because I see so much of him in my boys(the good qualities). I feel he never had a chance in life, because he was brought up in an abusive home and was stomped down his whole life and told he'll never be any good. He lived in several foster homes and was separated from his brothers many times growing up. He was adopted at 13, but by that age many of his behaviors and bitterness had already set in. I feel so bad for him and I also still care for him. There is a part of me that wants so badly to "help him" but I know that's probably an unhealthy way to feel. I just wish so badly that he could just be normal and be a part of our family. I wanted to post some of the excerpts from his letters from this summer. His last letter offended me and I haven't yet written him back (he referred alot to our sex life and then went on to ask me to handle some of his business). He later wrote back and apologized profusely, realizing his mistake. But, I still have not wrote him back. Mostly because I haven't had time and also because I have so much fear of starting anything with him. He also wrote each of the kids a letter that was soooooo sweet. I mean, it would make you cry the things he wrote to the boys. I just wish I could be there for him and help him but at the same time it be safe. He doesn't really have anyone that will just stand beside him.

Here's some of his letter form 7/12/06:


...Thank you for the letter that you wrote me back. It means alot to me to hear from you and our children. And I want you to know this off the top, it was never your fault about the way things turned out between me and you! It was all my fault! You never told me that I coulnd't have anything to do with you and the boys! I chose to turn my back on you to return to the streets! (It was one of the biggest mistakes of my life!) I'm glad that you chose to return to a moral lifestyle and to keep the kids out of the streets. ...you are the best woman that I have ever met in my life (real talk). You were also the best thing to ever happen to me! You are what the Bible refers to as a virtuous woman and you don't meet that many in your lifetime. You have done an excellent job raising our kids all by yourself, and I am grateful, eternally grateful for it. The boys couldn't ask for a better mother than you and I hope they realize one day the sacrifices, pain, and loneliness you went thgouh to have done what you have done so far.......I love you, S, with all of my heart and I would never want to cause you any more pain in life. I want to more than ever get out and make you my beautiful wife and raise our children together as a family! I know its waht the boys want....you deserve a God-fearing man in your life for support. But that's just the thing: I am truly a God-fearing man...but I haven't entirely let go of the ways of the world! And to be honest with you,, I don't know if I ever will entirely let go!...


The letter goes on for a while talking about how he wants to do some things he knows God does not approve of, but he can't help himself (probably mainly drugs)


Can I just get an objective opinion of how I should go with this? I mean, I could just continue to ignore the situation or I could continue to write him. Is it unhealthy to have that urge to want to "stand by your man" so to speak? Or am I having that feeling that "I can change him". I'm also paranoid that he just wants to get back with me to eventually reap the benefits of a roof over his head, etc. I know that he has to do this on his own...I know that. But, are there ways I can help without getting tangled up emotionally or letting him get tangled up emotionally?


I'm not sure what I should do...He will be out of prison in May 07.


Sorry so long-winded but it's just alot to explain.

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I would try to facilitate a relationship with the boys and their father, while staying totally separate from him, emotionally, mentally. You already know you are not safe with him, he hit you. The boys as they grow older have a right to know their father and decide for themselves if they want to pursue a relationship with him. He is not your problem though. Don't talk to him about anything but the kids . Don't get involved with him on any level except the possibility of co-parenting when he is out of prison.

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Tressa you're an amazing woman. I am sure that raising three boys by yourself hasn't been easy. But you're doing it---and apparently very well without their father. I am not saying that he should not be part of his children's lives. I just don't think he should be part of your life, Tressa. You're doing much better without him. He can only change himself and from what he wrote in his letter it does not look like he wants to right now.

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Oh wow, you are an amazing mother.


If you do continue to get to know him take it very slowly. Keep your personal self out of it, keep the talk only to the children.


he hasnt changed. If anything he is now harder than he was before because prison isnt going to make him a better person. Sure, he is talking nice now, but he hit you. Dont forget that no matter how nice he appears.


Its a tough situation but you are doing so much better without him.

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But, it seems if he is not good enough for me, then he would not be good enough for the boys. I know that nothing will change the fact that he is their father, but I either trust him or I don't. At this point I wouldn't trust him with their emotions, and I wouldn't trust him to take them unsupervised or anything like that. It's so hard for me to separate the way I feel about him from the way I feel about him being with the kids. If I feel good about him, then I feel good about him being with the kids...but, if I feel bad about him, I feel bad about him being with the kids. I just don't know how to separate it in my mind. I guess I just have to take it one day at a time. But, I'm afraid I will let my emotions get involved with him if I try to start co-parenting with him. I guess that's why I wish he could be "fixed" first. It's like a vicious cycle in my mind.](*,) I've always thought I was strong, but I'm afraid I won't feel strong if I start interacting with him. I don't think I've been in a truly healthy relationship with a man...so I don't know how I'm supposed to feel anyway. I guess that's why I've just stayed away from guys these last 10 years. I've sortof isolated myself from social life completely except for my small circle of girl-friends (most of whom are married) and co-workers. Oh well, I've been pretty content, anyway. I've been very busy with my kids to worry about it too much!

I can't believe I'm posting all this on the internet, but I just have been desparate to get some opinions from people who are not in any way emotionally involved! Thanks for the quick response guys!

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I do see your point about him hitting me. But I do have a tendency to make excuses for him and I always think, but we were very young in a tough situation and he was drunk. If he did have true core personality change (as I did) that would not happen again. So I do keep that in the back of my mind, but I know if he were to experience the same life change that I did, the chances of that happening again would be near zero (you can't say zero because you don't ever know what someone might do). So you don't think that since he has gotten older, he might have matured some and be realizing what he has missed out on? Maybe the reason he can't change is that he has a drug addiction or mental illness that needs to be treated such as depression. And maybe he doesn't know that life can be different if he is treated? I don't know...I'm just throwing the thoughts that come to my mind about him. I know my life is better without him...but could his life be better with me? Or with my help somehow? And he then in turn could be an asset to my family and to society...I know I'm rambling, but correct me if this is just incorrect thinking. Maybe it is. Probably is....

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I wish I could email you or talk to you outside of here, because some of my story is really similar to your own. i tried and it said that you dont accept emails from here... so anyways.


Im hoping you will come back and check for more replies.


I simply dont think he could change. He has been in prison and doing hard time all these years. you have moved on and grown up.


He doesnt have a relationship with your kids and perhaps that is a good thing. What can he give them? What can he teach them? You are right not to trust him.


If you left that all in the past, got a career, got your life together, its probally best you leave all that in the past. If you do choose to let him see the boys, perhaps supervised visitation is in order. The years have gone by and you do not know the man he has become. Prison is not a pretty place, and its unlikely that he will be any better than when he went in there.

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Okay, there is a 99% chance you are totally right. It's just so hard to see such great potential go down the tubes... because of a drug addiction or self-medicating and just not knowing how to cope with life. But, I have to remember that it is totally out of my control what he does with his life. I have heard of people who do change even after being in prison, though. Well, it has been about 3 months since his last letter so I guess I'll probably continue to leave well enough alone. My boys have not asked about him either.


The only thing is that I would like for the boys to at least hear from their father that he loves them. He did write that to them in their letters he wrote. I know he does love them, he's just so completely dysfunctional, he can't even lead a normal life, much less be an available father. He can tell them not to do as he has done and end up like him. Even in his letters he was telling them to always listen to your mother and do as she says, etc. I just know how boys need their father to affirm them...and I feel he can at least do that in conversation with them. I'm just nervous about all of it.


I don't know why my email won't let you send a message. I'll go in my profile and try to fix it. Thank you so much. I'd love to hear more about your story.

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Yeah, see what he is like before putting your kids into it.


At this age boys really start asking about their fathers, my son asks about his. He is nine.


I recently found out that his father is in prison and has been for years. Im not surprised that he is as he was into trouble when we split up. He hit me too.... The drugs... the Drinking.........oh boy do I remember all of that.


EAch of our stories are different though. You are right there is a chance he has changed. Im currently trying to figure out and make my own way with what I should do with my own son. If I should let him get to know his paternal family, or leave it all in the past. So hard....... For now, he doesnt know much about his father.


There were restraining orders in place because of the abuse, but its been so many years now. One day my son will be old enough and really want to know.


Ask yourself though. What will it do to their self esteem to know their dad has been in such trouble? Will it help or harm them. This is the very question that I ask myself about my own.

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