I was coerced into being a dad. I hate it, and everyone around me
I was a child-free type for many years, up until I was 43.
I knew from a very early age that I was completely unsuited to have kids. My parents was bad and my childhood was ** and I had no normal family relationship or male role model that I could look at and say, 'That's who I'd be like if I was a parent'.
On top of that I am on the autism spectrum. I didn't find that out till I was 45 but I did know I didn't think like other people and that I did not handle stress well. So I gradually put together a life that was very frugal but low stress and within my mental, emotional and financial means. This had many good effects on me, and I noticed I was happier and healthier than most of the people I encountered. Being on the spectrum and from a background where I was a social outcast most of the time, I grew up into someone who needs LOTS of alone time, like 4 hours a day, to be functional.
I also have ADHD, which is not a good thing to have when you're watching young children. So anyway, kids... not for me.
Along the way I ended several relationships over not wanting children, even an engagement, because it never mattered what the woman initially said about kids, she would always, inevitably, end up hitting me with an ultimatum of some kind about having kids. What I found is that when you don't want children, people will misunderstand you, insult you, lie their ** off to you... someone who does not think like I did really has no idea.
Anyway, I got married to someone who was OK with not having kids. She's from China and I am American, which will come into play later. We were happily married for 4 years, never argued. My sister in-law lives a couple of doors down from me and I had a great relationship with my young nephew, and my mother in law and father in law had come to visit them in 2013 and remained in the US to this day, mostly living there.
Around 2013 my wife started saying she wanted kids. I said "No", and I thought about it again and I said "** no". My mother and father in law would ask me questions about that too, and I'd say no to them as well. But it was low-key asking, not threatening, not high pressure but it was constant.
A year into this my wife said "I won't feel fulfilled if I don't have kids". And I thought about it. My wife had done a LOT for me when we were first married, and I had become long term unemployed during the Great Recession. I got along great with my nephew and I thought, well, maybe it wouldn't be so bad. I had told my wife I wouldn't be able to handle the constant stress from work and having a kid and she said, well, you can work or not whenever you want. And I said, "Well... OK." I changed my mind for 3 months, then changed it back but... that was all it took.
My wife got pregnant. A couple of months in during the checkups I noticed my wife would always ask odd questions of the doctor, constantly like, "Well if the baby has this disorder or that should I get an abortion?". Like, constantly bringing up abortion.
In the meantime her parents had moved in with us. And they changed. If you are not familiar with Mainland Chinese in-laws you cannot possibly imagine the **. In-law problems are a common reason for divorce in China. These old people came in and were constantly ordering us about, running Chinese stuff on the TV 13 hours a day and having the sister in law and their kids over all the time. My wife would back them up in any dispute I had with them, and started to become abusive. We started to have terrible arguments. I found that there was nothing her parents could tell her that was so stupid that she would not give it her utmost attention. It was like she was a cult member.
But wait, I'm not done. ALSO at the same time, her cousin came from China. She was here because she wanted to have her baby in America, in order to get around the one child law in China. She paid us a lot of money for this, well... paid my wife... a lot. But that meant the house was now even more crowded, filled with Chinese speaking strangers. You can imagine how this was for me, needing my 4 hours alone time. I'd come home from work, sneak from the garage into the basement, and sit there reading books with a flashlight, hearing stomping and Chinese above me. I ** in a Gatorade bottle. This was life now.
This was 2014. I went from happy, to depressed, to very depressed. Late in the pregnancy it occurred to me that my wife did not start making noise about having kids until her parents showed up. That's why she'd been talking about abortions to the doctors. She didn't want kids either! She has never admitted this to me, but based on her and her parents behavior there is nothing else that makes sense.
So I was miserable, having a kid that I didn't want, with someone who also didn't want one. So that we could make these old ** temporarily satisfied! That was it? That's what I wrecked my life for?
I got suicidal. Sitting there staring into space for an hour. Or sleeping like 2-3 hours a night, with my only moods being intense sadness or raging anger. One day on the way to work I was driving on a small, relatively empty road, one lane each side. I saw a semi truck coming in the opposite lane. I pulled into the opposite lane and hit the gas. I wasn't actively trying to kill myself - it was just like, "lets see". The truck honked, then turned completely off the road. If he'd have hit me, he'd have hit me. I didn't care. But he didn't. So I pulled into work and did my routine.
Knowing I was about to die if I didn't do something, I got myself some Kratom and made an appointment with a psychiatrist, who put me on 3 different kinds of meds. I bought some alcohol and started sneaking that, too. To shorten my day. Like I could make it to 8 and let the alcohol or kratom or Xanax close out the rest of the evening for me. Keep in mind here that until 2014 I never drank, smoked, or used any kind of meds or drugs.
My son was born and I was still alienated. I didn't know how to handle a baby and the in-laws kept me away from him, saying "I couldn't handle it", and I was led to believe that if my in-laws left I wouldn't be able to take care of the baby on my own and it would be a disaster.
Nonetheless after about a year and many, many fights I told my wife I didn't give a ** and the in-laws had to go. They left, and something strange happened. I bonded with my son. I learned how to change diapers and he turned out to be on the spectrum too, requiring therapists to come to the house. He's more or less as severe as I am, high functioning, and so because of that I understood him. He was non-verbal until he was nearly 4, and he used me as his voice. People would tell me they'd never seen a parent and child interact like us before.
It wasn't 'good'. I was still depressed. I was still on 3 different meds, along with Kratom, but I wasn't drinking anymore and my suicidal ideations had lessened to some extent. But it was improving.
I got along splendidly with my son for the next 2-3 years. I didn't like many of the parents and such that we came into contact with though. It used to be that if I didn't like a place or person I just wouldn't go there or be around them. But as a parent you can't do that. You have to go to these ** classes, or meetings, or whatever, and take it on the chin. Day after day.
At that point my mental health was completely destroyed even though my relationship with my son was strong. I believe that once you've been a certain level of depressed, you don't come all they way back. I'm not even sure what 100% of me IS anymore, because it is so long since I've been normal and myself. My deterioration has been sped up by the COVID stuff. Now I don't leave my basement much and rarely leave the house. I had a falling out with my psychiatrist and got off my meds, which is good but means I'm back to hitting some very low lows, if you know what I mean, which is why I'm here typing this at 3 am.
Lately though I'm not getting along with my son as much anymore. He sometimes runs off if I come into the room or otherwise acts weird. I think at age 6 he's noticed that dad isn't like other adults. That, or my in-laws, who live two doors down from me, have either directly or indirectly been telling him things. I'm not sure about that, but I believe it might be true.
To give you an idea of what they're like, both my mother in law and father in law have planted weeds in my front yard. Hard to believe but my wife told me they were doing it, to "catch rainwater". Perhaps that's the case but I've never heard of people planting onion grass before and in any event it is not their ** yard! My sister in law is even worse than they are - I've got a bunch of stories about that, too.
So, are they telling him nasty things about dad? If I find out they have been, things are going to get bad. Very bad.
But maybe they're not. Is he just growing out of me?
Either way, I am a recluse in his 50's with no friends or family, unemployed for years and filled with resentment, anger and sadness. Huge amount of rage at my in-laws of course for doing the most ** selfish and irresponsible thing I have ever heard of - a crime against me, my wife, and truthfully probably my son, too. They might as well have shot me with a gun. At my wife for being spineless and a ** liar, not telling me where the request to have a child was coming from and constantly covering for her parents and their ridiculous behavior.
And my son? Well, you know the only thing that has kept me going, taking those meds, trying to live in whatever way I could... is that I couldn't traumatize my son and wanted to be a better father than my own father was. But it looks like that's not going to happen. So now what? What keeps me here?