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Category Archives: emotions

Moving On

Three years after my divorce, I am strongly considering selling the big house and downsizing. We won’t move far. We’ll stay close to their mom and all of their friends. This is more about simplifying our lives than anything else. Smaller house, smaller payment, less things. I’ve talked about it before, but this is farther than we’ve ever gone. I initially bought out my ex for her half to ensure the kids would be able to stay, at least half the time, in the house they knew as home and their foundation. That was important to me. We were turning their world upside down. Felt like they deserved to at least be able to lay their head down at night in a familiar space that made them feel secure. I knew at some point we’d probably move, but not until it felt right. Now after three years, with the encouragement of the kids, we’ve determined that it feels right.

We really do need time to heal and regain our wits. Three years down the road, I would never recommend anyone make any huge changes immediately after a divorce. It’s difficult to explain because in theMovingDay moment all you want to do is move on and start over. But I promise you, you’re not ready. You’re going to need some time to regroup. Some things you won’t have any control over. But I found for us that maintaining as much normalcy as possible had its benefits.

I never anticipated the emotional impact the thought of moving would have. Perhaps on some level I kept the house for my own sanity as well, not fully prepared to rip myself from that part of my life. But what an enormous step emotionally it has been to consciously make the choice to move forward and say goodbye to the past. To let go. To accept. To feel a confidence in knowing you’re ready to roll. There is a true cleansing taking place. A sense of renewal. An excitement of starting a new chapter. I’ve held on long enough as have the kids. I wouldn’t have done it any differently. So glad we stayed. It hurt like hell financially, but was worth every penny.

Along with being able to take my time in preparing the house, going through everything and making decisions with a clear head; doing it this way has allowed the kids to be a part of the move. It’s partly their choice. They have some say. With the divorce they had none. Had we moved then it would have been the same thing. “We’re moving because of the divorce.” This way it’s their decision as much as it is mine. We’re looking at new houses together. Discussing the options. The pros and cons. Working together as a team. Moving on as a team. Helping each other through the different aspects of what it means to say goodbye to a house that has been our home for ten years. But we’re doing it on “our” terms, not just mine. They’re excited which I don’t think would have been the case three years ago.

 

 

 

 

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Your Loss Is Your Gain

Thought I’d stop and check in on you. How’s your holiday been so far? It can be a tough time for a lot of people and divorced parents are no exception. There’s something about the season that can make us focus on what we’ve lost rather than what we may have gained. Whether or not you have a good relationship with your ex, the
griefholidays have a way of reminding you of the un-whole aspect of your family and then unceremoniously throwing it in your face. It may be because you’re not with your kids during the holiday. It may be because you are. It may be because you’re all together but in a very different dynamic than you were a few years ago. It may even be a very positive and happy time. But it’s still a reminder of what used to be and that things may be patched, but in some ways they’re still broken.

Believe me I get it. The hard part is that there really is no “fix.” As with the loss of a loved one, all you can do is that which fate allows, which is to acknowledge and move on. Be strong. Lick your wounds, stand up straight and use your experience to your advantage. In many ways the hurt strengthens us. There’s a grit to it that allows us to know we’ve been there and made it through. It doesn’t erase the negative or fill the emptiness, but there’s something about having lived through adversity that humbles us and reminds us that we’re human.

Look, I could sit here and do my best to pump you up with words of encouragement; telling you not to focus on the pain. But honestly, I think sometimes we need to morn our losses. We need to give our souls a chance to heal. To ignore the pain is no more healthy than it is to dwell on it. If you’re sad, that’s OK. Give yourself an opportunity to grieve. It’s a part of who you are and to ignore it would be to ignore an important element of the whole “you.” So embrace it. Accept it. Carry it with you. Hold it dear rather than bury it deep where it can do
the-only-cure-for-grief-is-actionmore damage. I believe that in each of our defeats there is a victory. In every mistake a lesson to be learned. The new year represents a new dawn and an opportunity to take the sum of our experiences and build on them. To create new goals and new aspirations. To find renewed determination to make it better. And in order to do that we need to remember the hurt as much as the pleasure. Let it inspire you. Let it motivate you.

Recognize that life is a mixed bag. Too much sugar isn’t healthy for the body. We need a proper balance of emotions to feel complete. So shed a tear for the losses, share a smile for the gains and look to tomorrow for new opportunities to sore higher than you’ve ever flown. And use these moments of emptiness to remind you of where you’ve been and how amazing it will feel to be full again. Then when you’ve given yourself a chance to take it all in and come to terms with it, it’ll be time to take action and put it all behind you.

Take advantage of this time to reflect on the past year, both good and bad. A new year is right around the corner and anxious to take you on new adventures. Let’s be ready to go and see where we end up!

 

 

 

 

 

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Life Is An Icy Highway!

Traveling home from Buffalo with the kids a couple of weeks ago, we encountered a weather mass that was heading northeast from Texas. With it came an onslaught of snow and ice. As we headed south on I-71 and approached Cincinnati, the snow became increasingly heavy. The interstate eventually narrowed down to one lane going 25 mph as everyone followed a salt truck that was doing its best to keep the road open. During a span of an hour we witnessed no fewer than fifty cars, pickups and semi’s that had gone off the road and into the median or into a ditch. It was at that point that I had pretty much given up on attempting to make it all the way home to Nashville and began planning on stopping at Florence, KY for the night.

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Photo by my daughter Alex

Despite the storm, there were a surprising number of cars on the road and thanks to their treads maintaining a lane or two, we made our way through downtown Cincinnati. As we drove over the Ohio river, the snow suddenly let up and the roads appeared relatively clear. There was still a thin layer of snow on the roads, but there were three to four lanes open and things seemed to be picking up. With renewed faith I decided to forge forward while the kids slept.

There are moments in your life when you are thrust into a mode of intense focus and anxiety. During these moments our ability to maintain calm and reason are truly tested and we’re forced into a state of survival. As we approached the I-71 / I-75 split, we all encountered one such moment. Without any notice our Jeep began to slowly spin. As we became close to going horizontal in relation to the interstate, we began to slide over from the far right lane toward the center median eventually crossing all four lanes. The screams of the kids became muffled as I found myself immensely focused on the fact that I was slowly losing control of the Jeep. As I shifted down I recognized we were now traveling on a sheet of black ice which had been covered by a half inch layer of snow. Having lived a good deal of my life up north, I had a good sense of how to steer out of a spin in snow, but knew that when you’re on ice, nothing is guaranteed.

By the grace of God I was able to keep the Jeep from completely spinning out of control. I then slowly redirected us into a forward path and continued on doing my best to keep an eye out for other cars. Despite the rows of slushy yuck that divided the lanes, we were able to make our way back over toward the right hand lane. By the time I got to the third lane over, another car to our immediate left spun out of control and slid directly in front of us. As it glided by, I Our Jeep while visiting family near Rochester, NY.couldn’t help but think how much it resembled a figure skater eloquently making her way across the ice. It then careened off the right hand shoulder and into a field at which point I proclaimed, “Who’s up for a night in a hotel?!”

Once the kids got a hold of themselves and realized we were safe, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief and headed for the nearest Holiday Inn.

Life can sometimes feel like a highway with an occasional sheet of ice. We’re traveling on at a nice little pace when suddenly we lose control and start to spin out. Like most drivers, we panic and overcompensate for the misdirection which only make things worse. Not unlike the steps you take to regain control of your vehicle, the best course of action is to not panic and keep yourself focused on where you want to go, slowly regaining traction until you’re back on a solid path. No matter how hard we work to have everything neatly planned out, we’re all going to hit an ice patch from time to time that sends us into a state of anxiety and panic. This is true whether you’re divorced, married, a veteran of life or just striking out on your own. Rarely if ever is overreacting the right thing to do. Slow, steady adjustments can typically help you regain traction and get back on track. It’s not always easy when you’ve got kids screaming in the background (whether in a car or a restaurant), but after navigating through a few patches of ice, you start to get the hang of it.

Easier said than done I know, but the reality is that life was never meant to be a smooth ride start to finish. We need to learn how to navigate through the ice, rain, mud, gravel and washouts. And the only way to do that is to just keep moving forward with a strong sense of direction and an ability to not overcompensate when we start to spin out of control.

So whether on the road home or the road of life, may the road always rise to meet you and may you find safe travels ahead!

 

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In This Corner!

There are times when I get so mad I could just spit. And no matter how much I try to acknowledge my frustration with the situation (or person), no matter how much I tell myself to just take a breath; I remain remarkably agitated and irritable. Deep down I know that in another day or so. And I know I’ll be fine and see things more clearly in a few hours. But it’s still so hard to just brush it off. Especially when you feel you’re beingimages-1 misrepresented.

I think part of the problem when you’re divorced is that you don’t always have a couple of key ingredients necessary for diffusing the situation. First, in all likelihood, you’re reacting to either something the kids repeated that could very well be incorrect or misquoted and your ex is not there to defend themselves. Second, in not being a part of the other person’s day to day anymore, it’s impossible to fully comprehend the full extent of your ex was experiencing at the time. You’re likely basing your anger on past experiences and allowing it to amplify itself without the ability to compare apples to apples or have a completely clear view of the full context.

So, there you sit, talking to yourself, getting steamed and most assuredly making a mountain out of what is probably a mole hill. And even if it’s not, what’s the point of getting upset? Are you going to be able to change much? Prove a point maybe? Is it even worth the energy? Probably not.

Being divorced is going to be filled with moments where you feel trapped within the confines of a relationship
Unknownthat doesn’t exist. They are shadows of a relationship actually. And when you box with a shadow, you’ll never
be able to land a punch. You’ll just waste your energy chasing a floating figure. And honestly, our imaginations can REALLY embellish things when we get like this.

So take the gloves off. Find something positive to focus on and move on. Is it easy? Hell no. But it’s easier and healthier than trying to forge a battle that can’t be won. Regardless of who is right or wrong (and you may very well be wrong my friend), you will always see things differently and rarely if ever convince the other party that you’re right. You will remember the past differently, you will see each point differently, and your conscience will do everything it can to protect your ego at the other person’s expense. And let me tell you it just isn’t worth the effort. And seriously, if it were feasible to enlighten each other you probably wouldn’t be divorced in the first place.

So do yourself, your ex and your kids a favor. Let it go and put your energy toward something more productive, like mashing some potatoes for dinner.

Peace!

 

 
 

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Learning To Say Goodbye

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My brother-in-law Paul and me.

For the past several years I’ve worked hard to ensure that my children know my family. My sisters and parents all live 700 plus miles away, which has made it a challenge at times. So, we make the trip up north at least once and typically two or three times a year to play and visit. At one point my ex-wife and I even moved everyone up to Buffalo for six months to make sure a connection would be made. All told, the benefits have been enormous. The relationships my children have with their aunts and uncles are something they will carry with them the rest of their lives and their memories with them are too numerous to mention.

Today I find myself helping guide them through the first negative that comes with having a strong relationship with a relative; having to saying goodbye. The passing of my brother-in-law Paul has been nothing short of a strong blow to the gut and we are all feeling the impact. This is the first loss we’ve had within our immediate little circle and my sisters, parents and I are all in a state of shock. And as usual, my kids are watching. They’re watching me talk on the phone with my family. They’re watching me break down in front of the dairy section at Kroger. They’re watching me stare off into space as I try to make sense of it all. And they’re watching me do laundry and clean the kitchen as I deal with the day to day operations of our lives which simply don’t stop.

The children lost an uncle and I a big brother. He was the husband of my eldest sister and he influenced me in more ways than I care to mention. He was a teacher, a photographer, a carpenter and a business owner. He probably taught me as much about life as my own father did as he was a part of my world from the age of
three. He encouraged my sense of humor, taught me to play pool, helped me build my first bookshelf and helped me chop down my first Christmas tree. My kids of course are full of questions. And they have all requested to make the trip north with me to say goodbye and be there with the rest of my family.

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Paul playing Uno with the kids

And so, we will make this trip together. As much as I want to protect them from pain, there are life lessons that can’t be avoided no matter how much we try. This week they will no doubt cry and feel a pain that until now has
been foreign to them. They will see others, including their father, struggle to make sense of their uncle’s passing. But at some point in their life they will have to say goodbye to someone and if there is any comfort to be found in all of this, it is that they will do so within a supportive circle. A circle they’ve spent the past several years becoming a more integral part of with every visit. They will need hugs and need to hug. But along with their pain, they will know the value of being a part of a family they are now completely vested in.

As a man who has made an art out of keeping people at arm’s length (including my family at times); teaching my children to open themselves up to hurt by opening themselves up to love has proven to be a daunting task. But just knowing how much they have learned from knowing Paul and the rest of my family, knowing how much laughter and joy they have experienced from being around them throughout these past several years; I myself have reflected on how much can be gained from making ourselves vulnerable. Paul taught us all a great deal. And as one friend put it, even in passing, he’s managed to find a way to teach one final valuable lesson. How to say goodbye.

 

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