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Hide and SeekBook Title: 

Hide And Seek: A Dad’s Journey From Soulless Addiction to Sole Custody

Author: 

Paul Summers Jr.

Publishing Information: 

The Publishing Circle, 2024

Link to Buy Book:

Author Site

Synopsis: 

Hide and Seek is the story of a three-year-old girl being raised by drug addict parents. This sobering account is being told by her father, a washed up musician. When his wife disappears with their daughter and serves him a bogus restraining order, he must decide between deepening his own drug excesses or protecting his daughter from her mother’s reckless choices. Crafted to benefit afflicted families seeking sanity, alcoholics seeking sobriety, and dads identifying their purpose. This is one addict father’s hope to earn the privilege of being at his daughter’s side.

Author Bio:

A Las Vegas, NV native, Paul Summers Jr. lives in Vancouver, Washington. Father, husband, stepdad, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and certified sound healer, he credits everything to having a relationship with God and acquiring sixteen years clean and sober. Granted sole custody of his daughter Lola when she was four, he raised her by himself until 2015, when he met Jennifer. Both sole custodial parents of children with Type 1 diabetes, the couple married in 2017.

Book Excerpt: 

Chapter 8:  The Last Time (I mean it this time)

After loading my work truck, I call Leann to have her and Lola meet me along my route. I ask her to bring our last pill, with an emphasis on how much I need it to get through my shift. No response. She must’ve nodded off mid-conversation. I yell to wake her. Silence. I hang up to try again.

For an hour, I try to reach her. Busy signal. My tires go over the divider rumble strips of the road. Busy signal. Is she able to take care of Lola? I leave a message with Aunt Darcy, pleading for her to check on them. I don’t know what else to do. I’m across town.

Leann calls back a little while later. She’s wide awake and upset that I involved her aunt. I, in turn, respond nastily.

“Don’t be a fuckin’ idiot. You can’t be nodding off when you’re watching Lola, bitch. Now bring me my pill!”

Click.

I can’t blame her for hanging up. I’ve spun out of control. Seeking more, always more, has brought me less and less. The only way to sustain the energy levels I need to live like this is to use more drugs. I call back to really let her have it so many times that I lose track.

“She’ll call back,” I scoff, bitter yet cocksure. My head bobs in short, bouncy nods.

I make it through my shift without getting high, though not by choice. I’m anticipating snorting that pill. I have been since I left for work at 5:30 am.

Home at last. The first thing I do, after unlocking the door and slamming it behind me to make a scene, is look through our usual stash places for my hit. The disorder ruling over me is transfixed by an in- satiable desire to find dope.

“We must have something, anything, left over somewhere,” I say out loud, expecting Leann to answer.

Withdrawals are bad enough, but when you’re expecting to get high and you don’t get to, it brings about a whole new level of anger and despair. In this state of mind, I come to realize neither my wife nor daughter are home. Incensed not only by their absence but also be- cause I can’t find anything to get high on, I pull out my phone. Setting pride aside, I call her. It’s been nine hours since we last spoke.

This time she answers.

Instead of saying hello, Leann is silent.

“Hello?” I ask, leaning into the earpiece to hear better. She screams, “Don’t you ever fucking talk to me like that again! Asshole! You do not talk like that to me!”

“I’ll talk to you any fucking way I want.” Adrenaline tingling, I scream louder than her scream to cut her off, drown her out. Our commingled screaming causes crackled distortion over the earpiece.

“If you don’t bring my daughter and drugs here right now, I’ll come find you and kick your ass!” It’s an idle threat. I’ve never kicked any- one’s ass, nor ever will, especially not the mother of my child. This is the level of toxicity to which our relationship has escalated.

“You do not talk to me like that!” she reiterates.

Her tone is unfamiliar. We’ve had lots of fights, some bad, but never once has she come off this insistent. Not that she’s weak. She just gets overwhelmed and then shuts down. I think she means business this time. Her tone is consistent with someone drawing a line in the sand. We scream synchronous indecipherable things. She pauses, then starts in again.

I’m silent only for the amount of time it takes to inhale a deep breath. To rest my seared throat, I wait for her to stop yelling long enough that I can get in the last word or two. My blood burns; muscles tense with rage and withdrawal-fueled agitation.

The next eight words gushing from her venomous mouth might as well be tattooed on my drug-riddled heart.

“You will never fucking see your daughter again!”

Click.

My eyelids do a single slow-motion blink in unison. Numbness expands between my lungs. From there, dulled to a whisper by tearful backwashed saliva, a single spoken word frees itself.

“Great.”

There’s no dial tone like there used to be to add dramatic injury, just silence. I hold the cell phone away from my face to scowl at it, then bark a single laugh. My mind replays Leann’s avowal, the finality in her words, repeating them again and again as if there’s some way to change them.

My head tips back, loose on my sweaty neck. A lone syllable, tone- less, wrapped in a thickening voice, is released.

“Fuck.”

It bounces off the four empty walls I’ve come home to. My proclamation dwarfs me like an echo returned to its orator who’s standing at the bottom of a narrow, sheer-walled canyon. If only I were able to shout it out meanly or sarcastically, or at somebody. Aside from me.

I can’t pretend anymore. It’s not like I’m giving in by choice. Bargaining time has passed. I stand dazed and directionless at the entry to our bedroom. Nothing will ever be the same. My posture sags. Anger, which I rely on to feed me strength, would be pointless. If only the past twelve hours were just some bad dream I could shake off by waking up.

No longer present are the sounds of my daughter’s baby-girl voice saturating her room, making up conversations with her secondhand dolls while dressing them up. No longer present are the naptimes together, plopping her down to watch DVDs of cartoons, or Baby Einstein on infinite repeat.

I look around for something to take; anything to snuff down my guilt. Why the fuck was I too high to spend time with my only child? In a way, I’m being relieved of guilt’s stranglehold now that she’s gone. But I never asked for this.  

Gone also is my baby’s mom. Sometime during the afternoon, she must’ve grabbed and packed as many necessities as could fit into our minivan. It’s gone, too. I’m doubly insulted that Leann stooped to this level while I was at work, trying to keep us above water, making de- liveries for a temp agency who foolishly hired me without first doing a drug screen.

“No wonder she didn’t answer her phone all day,” I say in a softer tone. Remembering our fight earlier this morning, I realize I could’ve taken her more seriously.

My leg muscles give way. The hallway drywall catches me as I fall. My body slides down to a knees-bent upright sitting position on the carpeted floor. My well-worn crutches of pride and anger won’t hold me up anymore.

Soundless and stillness. I haven’t felt this in four years. Not since my wife discovered she was pregnant. The absence of sound is peaceful, yet I’m devising a plan to get high enough to silence the quiet. Defile it with noise. I know what comes next: pain. Four empty walls. Buried emotions. Ruminating.

Is this the first time I’ve suffered loss because of addictions? No. But this loss is much more than just some piece of property smashed during a drug-fueled rage or a relationship broken by neglect. This is my child I’ve lost. By bottle, baggie, pill, or pipe—what does it matter how?

My fear is that I won’t face this reality until the uncertainty of it passes, as have so many bottoms I’ve hit before. Same as when I tell myself I have the ability to stop, but then don’t. When does it end? I’m consuming drugs all day long, yet never getting high. I don’t want to; I have to keep the cravings and illness at bay. The best “solution” I can come up with is also my worst problem. But it’s not just my problem.

I know I’ve said this to myself before, but tonight is different.

My wife of five years has left. She has taken our baby. There have been countless situations I’ve sabotaged in ways only I could repair. Not this. Instead of laboring over what I can do to remedy the situation, the question rattling around in my brain is: How can I circumvent this reality without drugs?

My ego is bruised. It’s swelling up to battle my conscience. It tricks my brain into allowing itself to be fed rationalizations. Succulent lies are concocted, laced with the never-to-be-underestimated power of denial. Momentum parasites. Things like:

I’m not strong enough to be her dad.

I’m too weak to beat this addiction thing.

My little girl is better off without me.

She’s someplace where she’ll be happier and safer. I wasn’t cut out for this anyway.

Dial the dope man.

Why am I so quick to forget? I’ve ended up here as a result of believing lies. Tricks played by both my ego and my brain to barricade my heart. Neglected far too long, releasing itself from forlorn depths, my heart cries out, Lola means more to me than anything in this world!

My ego attempts to crown self-hatred victorious. It tells me I’m the problem. Here’s additional proof of my inadequacy and that I will never amount to anything. Usually, I take the easy way out, but a bout of worthiness ensues. Just before the second knot on this tug-o-war rope crosses the center line, my conscience heaves, wrenching out a high-powered assertion.

“Liar!”

I gasp to breathe. Tears stream down my face. I slap them away.

“Enough!”

My hands, wrists, and forearms shake in an erratic effort to make these feelings go away. I’m outside my body. I get chilly bumps.

“No. More. Lies!”

I’ve seen enough over the years to forecast my daughter’s future. The conclusion reads like an obituary: innocent little girl, abandoned by father, raised by mom or whoever mom is seeing, then raised by one pseudo-parent after another until, based on allegations of abuse or worse, she becomes a ward of the state, which then gives her away to a foster home. Her adulthood spent seeking male approval while battling addiction and codependency.

This swirl of premonitions and likelihoods become a dark, twisted, tree-root-clogged rabbit hole my imagination races down, cutting, scraping, and staining my spirit along the way. I can’t let this happen. If I don’t do something, my little girl is going to end up like all other broken, lovelorn, inherent daddy-issue women who bad guys have their way with and then discard.

I just used “bad” to describe guys like me. Guys who have fun with, then leave broken women like the type I’m fearful my daughter will become. This outcome feels certain if I don’t reclaim my yet-to-be- earned place as her rock. Or die trying.

I bend my knees to get up. Shattered and alone in my abandonment, I make a vow. Although I’ve let myself down more times than I can count. Although I’ve proven to myself over and over that my word means nothing. Although I know deep down I can’t trust myself even to keep a promise to myself, I make one anyway. I mean it, so I say it.

“There’s no fucking way I’m gonna be to blame for my little girl’s fractured spirit. No fucking way!”

Contemptuous ego laughs.

 

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