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Rise Above

Those of you who regularly read my blog know that from the beginning, as difficult as it was (and still can be) my ex-wife and I have both done our best to put our differences aside and continue to work together as we raise our three kids. As much of a struggle my own situation can be, I am not blind to the fact that my circumstances are a bed of roses compared to some. So I make a point of reading other blogs about divorce and what other fathers experience as they transition into single parentdom.

When I do I’m often struck by what is sometimes and unimaginable amount of anger, frustration, fear and
discourse. The stories are chilling and sometimes unimaginable. It is such a tremendous wake up call for some men as they discover just how cold the world can be. And it’s not just an ex-spouse that can provide you with a punch to the gut. The world in general can suddenly become very cold, unfeeling and relentless. You become a number, a cliche’, a statistic. Neighbors, friends, family, banking institutions; everyone has the potential to blind side you and demonstrate a sense of judgement that in many cases can create additional hardship and stress.

So this one is for those dads who feel abandoned by good fortune, trust and support. For those who feel burned and left to their own devices to clean up shop and start over. For those who had a divorce thrust upon them and were left with nothing more than a pillow and a credit card statement. Somehow, somewhere deep inside, you manage to find the strength to get up in the morning and fight your way through the negativity.

To those dads who see their kids once a month or less. To those of you who battle the depression that can come with the separation. I wish for you peace. I wish for you a moment of contentment and acknowledgement that you’re strong and worthy. I wish for you acknowledgement for what you’ve been through. I hope, that if you haven’t already done so, you can surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you. People who, whether they fully comprehend or understand your predicament or not, demonstrate apathy and offer encouragement. Encouragement through doing nothing more than listening and telling you how great you are.

Every human needs validation. You owe it to yourself to find someone or maybe two or three someones who get you and appreciate you for who you are. Who understand your strengths and forgive your weaknesses. People who let you be you. I wish this for you. I encourage you to find these people and bring them closer. Invite them to take this walk with you as you will both benefit. Don’t close out the world simply because you hit a streak of negativity that’s got you down. It’s not worth it.

You’re angry. You’re bitter. You’re hurt. But don’t let those feelings define who you are. Don’t allow it to dictate how you view the world. Find within you forgiveness. Acknowledge the crap, as there’s plenty of it to go around. Embrace your battle scars and let it go. You can rise above it all. You may not be able to control the world or those around you. But you can control how you respond. Blow their minds by rising above it all. The more you do, the more you’ll recognize what you’re capable of enduring.

You can do this. You can become the poster child for calm cool and collected regardless of what the world throws at you. And when it becomes too much, or you get slapped in the face; go pump some iron, go for a run, go punch a fence (not a face). Get it out. Then take a deeeeep breathe and allow yourself a moment to put it all behind you and relax. Or as Scott Larose, a comedian I once had the distinct pleasure of working with once said; “Acknowledge and move on.”

 

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Who Loves You Baby?

A somewhat simple thought tonight as things wind down in our home. The kids are all in bed and for whatever reason, tonight when I tucked my oldest one in and we exchanged our, “I love you’s,” the moment kind of hit a little harder than usual. We say it often in our house. I know my ex-wife does too. The kids hear it all day long. When they stay with me I also make a point as they’re going to bed, to tell them that I’m glad they’re here. I don’t want there to be any question. The younger ones typically smile and pull the covers a little tighter. My oldest nearly always says, “me too.” It’s kind of our way of letting each other know that despite everything, we’re doing alright.

Maybe it’s a generational thing.I’m not sure really. My dad never told me he loved me when I was a kid. I finally got up the courage to tell him I loved him when I was in college. Got up the courage. Can you believe that? Got up the courage to tell my father I loved him? Maybe it’s me, but something about that just doesn’t sound right. It just wasn’t something that flowed around our house growing up. It’s not that we didn’t KNOW our parents loved us. But it wasn’t something that came up in conversation all that often. And so, I made it a point from early on to tell my kids as many times as I could a day that I loved them. There are even times when they’re stomping up the stairs in a huff, mumbling God knows what under their breath; mad because I sent them to their room for not listening, and I’ll yell up to them, “I LOVE YOU!” I usually get a “whatever” back, but I know they hear it and soak it in.

As our relationships develop, and we work our way through this vast unknown of two home lives, I keep reminding myself that I want them to know this is their home and that I’m thankful for the time that they’re here. I think they need that reassurance. Hell it can’t hurt.

 

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Creative Expression

As someone who has spent their entire life creating, it came as no surprise that the experience of going through a divorce would lead to some sort of creative expression beyond the blog. While going through my own experience, a songwriter friend of mine was watching several other friends go through the same thing. So one day last October we sat down and penned a song about relationships that come to an end.

Other friends of mine that I’ve worked with on various projects joined in and low and behold, we came up with this.

While I’ve come to terms with so many aspects of the past year, and am proud of the relationship my ex-wife and I share, there is no denying that the process of a divorce is a painful one. It can leave a person feeling lonely, depressed, insecure, the list goes on. We all need to find our way of dealing with the pain and negativity associated with the loss of a relationship two people have worked so hard to build. For me personally it was writing, both this blog and music. For you it may be painting or the simple act of walking more often. Regardless, I think it’s important that we find ways of coping with this sort of pain that allow us to release the negativity and focus on the positives. As I mentioned in my previous post, reflecting sometimes forces you to take a good hard look at yourself. We may not always like what we see, but if we can learn from it that’s really all that matters. Expressing yourself, sharing your thoughts, getting it out there helps relieve the inner struggles as you suddenly feel like you’re not dealing it with alone.

My hope is that by sharing my experience, perhaps those who are reading this blog or watching the video can find some peace knowing they’re not the only one going through it and that there are ways to overcome the negativity associated with a separation or divorce.

Please share the video if you like it and pass along the blog if you like what you’re reading!

 

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Holidays

I don’t think I ever anticipated how difficult the holidays were going to be. Our first Christmas as two units has the kids trying to figure it all out at a whole new level. I think what will get us through it all is the constant communication and making a point to let them talk about it. I try really hard to let them have their moments of heart ache over the fact that their mom and I live in two separate houses. And it seems just getting it out helps them a lot of the time.

I’m sure my situation is a lot better than some. Their mom and I still work together on parenting and are friendly toward each other. Being apart has actually helped our relationship I think. That helps us with the kids as a whole too as we share what we’ve experienced with them week to week allowing the other one to have a sense of where things stand and what’s been talked about.

Overall I’m blown away at how positive and happy the kids are all things considered. They have their moments of lashing out and letting us know they’re angry about the situation. All I try to do is remind them that I love it when they’re with me.  My oldest actually asked me if I liked it better when they weren’t around because of how quiet it is. I quickly shot that thought down and told her how much I actually prefer the noise because it feels more like a house and how much the silence drives me crazy. It seemed to mean something to her. And tonight I let them all know that I’d had a horrible day and was very down before they got home from school and that they had gotten me in a great mood and that being with them made my day.

The point is … the holidays in and of themselves are stressful and full of heavy moments. Throwing a divorce into the mix is like throwing a ton of bricks on top of an already heavy load. The kids will be watching and picking up on how you react to it. My take is … do anything and everything you can to stay up and remind them of how much you love it when they’re around … even when they’re frustrating you.

 

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