Over time, when I finally was able to break free of the shackles of family obligation, they made it downright miserable on me. The very same people who kept my children practically locked in a cage, freed them within days of my moving out. Weekends were simply a place for my kids to go and do everything they weren't allowed to do when we all lived there, and couldn't be left free to do in a functioning household. Any sort of authority that I tried to insert was thwarted from outside, and in the end I became a miserable bastard who I wouldn't have wanted to live with either. The kids then could just "wait me out" during the week, go there on the weekends, rinse repeat. Duty bound by all the guilt and my own sense of honor and "keeping my word" I couldn't shut it off.
Needless to say when it all snapped in the house, I sent the kids over there for a period and when I wanted to get them back, the fighting and the accusations just made me throw my hands up in the air. Once the birth mother found out about this I was taken to court to lose custody, and I did. Not to the ex wife, but to the family I had done everything to escape from. For a while I went over there on the weekends, but after custody was handed over, I just didn't care to anymore. I escaped from that place and I wasn't going to go over there and justify my existence and here the lies about how great everyone was doing, and how the things that weren't so good were my fault. Of course from that point on I was forced to endure holidays over there, until last Christmas. That was the end of it all.
I'm not going to get into it, but what happened was completely unacceptable, and I just started ignoring them. Over time they got the hint. We can all play the game of how you have to do whatever for your family, but you know what? You don't. I send the kids their birthday and Christmas gifts. They don't bother to even say thank you, rinse, repeat. The one gift that this year has finally given me after 46 long years is a clean conscience and best of all, another day to sleep in. In reality the only thing that has kept me in the area in which I live is my father, who recently went into assisted living. I'm not going anywhere while he is around. He and I haven't had a relationship built on guilt and I can assure you that we have both leaned on each other plenty. Of course I will go see him on Christmas. Oh wait! I do have family, and he like me likes his visits brief.