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Don't want to see my children

Community Member

Hey all,

Long time forum user and poster here.

Have PTSD from work and chronic fear of abandonment linked to it.

My daughters are 9 and 5.

Partner left Jan 2016 when my PTSD began...she came here from Scotland in 2009.

When she left my daughters were 3yo and 3months...

She asked to take them home to Scotland for 6 weeks just after leaving to see her family....said no problems no issue with that.

When she came home, she asked if I'd allow her to move back to the UK to be with her family and raise the girls there.

I was very sad, and unwell at the time...undiagnosed ptsd no treatment.

I wasn't in a good headspace and said okay...I didn't want her to be alone here and unhappy.

I guess I completely shut down and closed off....knowing I wouldn't be apart of my girls lives, stopped seeing them and conversing with their mother.

As life happens, the exs plans changed and 6 months later decided not to go, and to make a life here.

But something in me changed, I never rebonded with the girls...no matter how hard I tried or try....I've been in and out of their lives 5 years now...had them living with me 50/50 for all of 2019...but stopped that.

I won't let them in my inner circle anymore, can't emotionally be with them.

I try to force myself to see them...but the anxiety is crippling, it's very stressful....so I cancel last minute....or if I do have them or go to their mums to see them I feel uncomfortable and I can't wait to get out of there.

They want to see me, I have an amazing relationship with their mum you could say we're friends and better now then when we were together.

Communicate daily with their mum, not necessarily about the girls...just general chats.. Shes very supportive of me in general and makes the girls available to me anytime I want and encourages it.

I love them, but won't let them get close to me.

The FOA is so strong, it affects them, any partner i have, family and friends. I push them all away, and the harder they try to pull me back in the harder I push back.

No psychologist has been able to help me...countless over the last few years.

I don't know what to do. It affects me and it affects those beautiful girls...I question whether I should completely remove myself for their lives.

My ex has a lovely partner, who is 10x the dad I could ever be...I am so grateful my girls have him as a role model...and that he treats my ex lovely.

Thanks for reading

9 Replies 9

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor
Everything sounds supportive and encouraging from your ex and your children, and in that respect, you are very fortunate indeed.
Equally, it must be difficult to see your children as they are the manifestation (unwittingly) of your past trauma - the what was, what could have been, and the now is; and such unwanted associations might be raising feelings of despair unresolved at the time of separation.
You had emotionally detached yourself from your children for your own mental health and now the juxtaposition of two disparate states of mind may be affecting your reconnection on any profound level.
Also, having missed raising your children for 5 years, you might be reading in too much regarding the significance/participation of the new partner - it is great that he fulfils the carer/parenting role, but there can only be one father which is you and, like it or not, you have an obligation to be there for your kids.
Although you cannot recapture those lost years or undo the past, I hope you can gradually rebuild your place in their lives as there are many more years for you to share and enjoy in their lives ahead without dwelling on past decisions.
Coming to terms with the present should help you look to the future. There is no right or wrong, no comparisons or ill feelings - just cherish what you have for what it is.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Guest_7403

I feel for you so deeply in regard to both your past and present. I'm so sorry you've never received great insight from past therapy. A lack of insight (deeper understanding) can definitely be confusing and depressing. The fact that you've come here points to you continuing to be a seeker of self understanding. I hope that positively identifying yourself as a seeker brings you closer to better knowing yourself.

I believe, growing up no one really tells us how to manage relationships. It's kind of insane when you think about it, for relationships are partly what defines us and our life. It's a massive topic with little thoughtful discussion. Typically, we'll visit an expert when things appear to be going wrong. This could be an expert when it comes to the relationship we have with our self or an expert regarding the relationship we have with our partner. At some point a lot of us can feel driven to seek the skills and understanding that were never taught to us from the very beginning.

Like you, I'm a seeker. Whether it's involved me seeking to better understand myself, better understand the relationship I have with my husband and kids or even better understand a lot of the destructive mental programs in my head that I need to let go of (such as 'Always please others, even if it costs you your happiness'), I refuse to stop looking for what leads to a difference.

I've discovered for myself all relationships are based on how we relate. You don't have to relate to your kids as being the person who does all these amazing things that fathers should do. If your kids can relate to you as 'The person who leads them to smile', this helps define your relationship. You become someone who leads them to smile. If you were to drop into see them once a week for half an hour, with a plan to simply make them smile, this may be enough to begin with. If you relate with them as 'The person who senses all the things about flavoured ice-cream', how it smells, feels on their tongue, how it looks and how it tastes, taking them out for ice-cream once a week can help define the relationship as being somewhat 'sensational', based on the sensations they experience from having that ice-cream with you.

People often lose sight that relationships can often be about relating to the small things that raise us. Do you feel you're up for the challenge of starting small? It sounds like you have people in your corner who are patient and thoughtful, which is definitely helpful.


Even when I say small steps to myself...i just can't do it.

My eldest wrote a letter to me about how sad she is I don't see her much, and that her cousins say its not a big deal....and she writes "but it is a big deal to me".

I printed the letter and carried it with me for a while to work and stuff so it was on me. But I still couldn't do it...still can't bring myself to it.

It goes onto relationships too...I just bounce from woman to woman nowadays.

I was with my girls mum for 8 years and my ex wife 3 years.

In the periods in between them I've been "single" maybe 2 years...and the other night worked out I've had sex with 17 people in that period.

Would be more but most of put the walls up and push away before meeting them.

So many lovely wemon and I will push them away within days or weeks. My walls go up, I push them away, and the harder they try to pull me back I push harder and harder.

Eventually I make it so toxic they have no choice to walk. I've become so efficient at it now.

I instantly regret it once they're gone, but its too late. And wouldn't matter if they did come back, I'd do it again within days.

I'm at the point again where those voices in my head are getting stronger and that exit plan looks to be the only way for peace.

What an awful world this is.

Hi, welcome

I admit to waiting for others to post before I replied. Thankyou tranzcrybe and the rising for your wisdom

If I'm confused imagine how your childten aren't coping with their lack of an active dad?

Hence your issues are complex and more than worthy of professional treatment. You said many psychologist haven't helped you, I suggest a psychiatrist would be more appropriate and not give up on this. Even though you're not allowing your kids to get close to yup I, do it for them anyhow.

One day in 20 years time your kids will understand more and would at least appreciate solid effort for them.

As for your girlfriends etc, that is a side issue less important imo.

Repost anytime


Understand your view on relationships with wemon being less important.

Guess all I can say, knowing myself and issues is that the two are both linked....one and the same.

The fear of abandonment is the same for romantic relationships, family, friends and my children.

I won't let any get close to me, and if I do temporarily show my vulnerability those walls go up higher and stronger.


That's fine. So, what do you think of pursuing a psychiatrist for this condition?



Hi Guest_7403

I get there's a sense of security in being somewhat detached or distanced from people. I can relate in smalls ways and I feel for you as you face and try to make sense of the major challenges involved in balancing closeness with safe distance.

Sounds like your ex provides you with a sense of safety, given that you feel somewhat at ease with her. Sounds like maybe she manages your relationship with her very carefully. Perhaps she's conscious of your boundaries, whereas other people aren't so conscious, often overstepping them.

While the thoughts of keeping a safe distance stick in your mind, do you feel you could change your mind in certain ways if the anxiety itself wasn't such an outstanding factor? If you were to find a variety of ways that actually work to help calm the mind and body down, out of such mental and physical hyper activity, could you imagine the relationships around you changing, even in small ways? Of course, there are a lot of self calming strategies that don't work and there's nothing more depressing than finding all the things, one after the other, that don't work. I can recall finding 15 years of stuff that didn't work when I was in a depression. It proved to be the really mind altering stuff I learned that did eventually work.

I know it sounds pretty simplistic to suggest mind altering strategies but mind altering is the only thing that works when it comes to altering the mind. With the mind defined as 'the brain at work', altering the way the brain works chemically through the right medication can also be an option. The wrong medication for the brain causes dysfunction, often the sort of dysfunction we can sense (serious lack of energy, deeper depression and so on).

I know it's easy for me to say but try not to be too hard on yourself and try not to completely give up looking for a difference. So far you've found no one and nothing mind altering and that's not your fault. In some ways it can be the fault of others for not persisting in leading you to find what does work. Sometimes if people put us in the too hard basket, it can be a way of them copping out of doing the hard work.


I have a psychiatrist, see him monthly...have been since Dec 2019.

He's more concerned with bringing the PTSD under control.

Only problem is its never under control.

Hi Guest_7403

I can't help but wonder whether your psychiatrist has tried a number of different strategies or if he's fixated on one or two that don't appear to be working. Do you feel he's got his 'way to go' strategy that works for most people but not for all, based on your experience? Can you pick any faults in his strategies, such as 'I want you to imagine...'. If someone doesn't have a well exercised imagination, it can feel impossible to imagine anything. In this case, I believe it would make sense to begin exercising/stretching a person's imagination before leading them to imagine what they really need to.

As I say, can you pick any faults in his strategies? Perhaps one of the best ways to pick the faults involves you thinking 'That's just not me. I can't do that' (what he's asking of me). This doesn't mean you can't return to trying it later down the track, once you've made progress in other ways first.

I've personally found that 'That's just not me' tends to frustrate people when you say it but the truth remains it may not be you and on some level you know it. Simple scenario: My husband can say 'Let's go for a walk'. My response, 'I'm not walking around the local area. Walking locally is just not me'. I've lived in the same house for almost 16 years and walking around this area has become pretty tiresome. Take me somewhere else, on some adventure (where I'm adding ventures, not repeating the same ones over and over) and that is me. He's not an adventurer, so it frustrates him to have to put effort in.

I've learned, one of the best ways to come to know who you truly are is to first acknowledge what doesn't work at the time, in the lead up to meeting your objective.