Help for You

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This page will be developed further soon, in the meantime, maybe the following
email, with our indented responses, will help a bit. (The names and locations
have been blocked out, to preserve privacy.)

> I haven't talked to my daughter since September 1996. She lives with her
> mother in ........ and it feels as though my lifes blood has emptied out of my
> viens. I have no energy. School marks are sliding and at times I just don't
> care.

This sounds like a good description of clinical depression. It's
extremely treatable, and you shouldn't be lumbered with it. Talk to
your doctor, or if you don't have a rapport with a medical professional,
get a referral from a friend, or (last resort) from me. You shouldn't
screw around with depression, or shy away from treatment out of shame --
modern treatments are incredibly safe and effective. The good news is
that sometimes you still do care.

... AND at times I am looking for a girlfriend at present. Although I
> know that I need to be happy with myself first. I am hoping for some gentle
> distraction, since that isn't happening I am just a lost non-father, or
> perhaps a lost non-person.

You are saying that you shouldn't make committments in your present
state of mind. Right. If you need someone to feed that back to you,
consider it fed back.

> My identity is with my daughter, and without her...
> Of course I have a lawyer, and this is the second time on the same thing.
> All I want is contact with ..............., letters from her, or a phone call.
> My lawyer figures I should go for custody, It's been 3 yrs and that won't
> happen. But that was one of the ways to get back on legal aid.

Winning in the legal system is very difficult, but possible in the long
run. The first thing is to learn to take care of yourself, so that you
can be around for the long run. There are other ways to succeed at
being a parent, ways more successful than the law, "simply" involving
your life choices. Being a father is more important than being a winner
in court, and it is very hard for anyone to stop you from being a
father, if you take a long view and work steadily towards it.
It's very unlikely that you can get back on legal aid. The system is
broke, men are last priority, and (from what I hear) even women are
being turned away if their beef is a variation of custody and access. I
don't know your circumstances in enough detail, but you would need a
change of circumstances to get a variation, and judges will typically
consider that access withholding is not a change of circumstances, or
that remedies to force the mother to give access would be against the
interest of the child.

... I feel that
> children are not possessions, that these little people, are individuals and
> don't belong to anyone but God and themselves. I feel that both parents earn
> the duty to raise children, and I am tired of being in last place, by court,
> x-wife or self imposed.

These words sound to me like you are starting with your heart and mind
in the right place. Your grief is the grief of thousands, most of us
get through it, somehow. You can choose to.

... I am tired of hurting, and the right to be alone and
> very afraid. I am afraid that my daughter will hate me, and that is what I
> don't want.

It is very unlikely that your daughter will hate you. It would almost
certainly be best for her to know you, because of the uniquely male
things that fathers bring to the minds of children. Your daughter longs
for these things, consciously or not. You have them ready to give,
consciously or not. You can choose to prepare yourself, if that is what
you think best.

> Can you offer me help?

I don't know. Most groups are self-help groups, which means that you
contribute help. There is plenty of opportunity for this, and every
group needs your help nearly as acutely as you need theirs. HEART is no
The up side is that the help you give tends to heal you. Can you offer
me help?

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