RSS

Category Archives: transitioning

On-Line Dating

Those who read LAADD know that I tend to avoid the topic of dating. It’s a tough one. And honestly I have limited experience in that area. But recently I’ve received several questions about on-line dating services so I thought I would break down and share my own, albeit brief, story and thoughts on the subject.

One day, not very long after my wife and I had established separate addresses and our divorce was final, my daughters started to promote the idea that I should get a girlfriend. The eldest then sent me a link to Match.com and both encouraged me to sign up. And of course as soon as you change your relationship status on Facebook, within minutes you’re inundated with ads encouraging you to find someone special along with links that can accommodate your heavy heart.

When your world has been shattered and the love of your life has grown to be, let’s just say, not so much the love of your life, the ability to search for new love on line is a tempting one. An irrational one, but a tempting one none the less. And of course, like many of you, I signed up for one of these services and gave it a shot. Forked over a good chunk of change and eventually went on a lunch date or two. I managed to meet one or two interesting people through the process, but for the most part I found the experience remarkably disappointing and disheartening.

I left with an opinion that on-line dating services were really just preying on lonely people. People who were searching for a sense of feeling attractive and loved. I personally have a problem with companies that take advantage of people who are vulnerable. And truthfully, my initial experience did nothing to change my mind, in fact it only reenforced it. Then, of course someone suggested the big daddy, e-Harmony. “They’ve got it down to a science” I was told. “They’re commercials are awesome!” And so, somewhat reluctantly, and against my better judgement I gave it a shot. Shelled out $60 for a month and gave it a look. And within 4 days I felt the same sense of being taken advantage of and quickly called for a refund. That’s when the fun started.

“Unfortunately sir you’re outside the 3 day trial period and therefore a refund is not an option for you.” I heard this not once, but about 50 times through four calls with six service representatives. I explained the circumstances and that I hadn’t noticed the three day requirement and eventually offered to pay for the time I was on, but felt $60 for 4 days was a bit ridiculous, thinking any rational individual would see that truth. But to no avail. They just kept selling and selling and sticking to their policy with no wiggle room. Their script was well rehearsed and their reps very well trained to refute any rebuttal. They had my cash and weren’t letting go. If I didn’t have a bad taste in my mouth before, I certainly did now. For me this just confirmed my belief that, while it may work for some and there are likely success stories, for the most part they’re just a business that preys upon the lonely.

Obviously, this was just my own experience and obviously I was skeptical to begin with. But then I looked around on line and started to find story upon story from people of all walks of life that sounded very similar. You may find success with these on-line companies, but my honest opinion is that they’re more song and dance than substance. It’s a game of percentages and for them apparently every penny is sacred. It’s a business after all and whether you find success or just spend a few days (more than three anyway) on the site looking around; don’t expect to get any money back if you’re not thrilled with the product.

When your marriage is in turmoil or when it falls apart completely, it’s natural to look to others for a sense of feeling attractive, worthy and wanted. There’s comfort in that. And perhaps these on-line dating services help in some way to provide that confidence again as you receive “winks” from other members who want to get to know you better. But before you pull out your credit card, first take a look on line to read about other people’s experiences. Then take a good hard look at where you’re at in your personal rebirth. Are you seriously ready for a new relationship? Are you prepared to move forward? Is your heart truly healed and your head prepared to focus on someone new? And by all means, be prepared for what you’re getting into and keep your expectations realistic. The dating scene is a tough one whether off line or on.

Personally I’ve come to believe you really need to first focus on being comfortable with yourself and feel good about being alone. Get to know who you are and how great it can be to be self sufficient. That’s not to say you shouldn’t lean on others. It just means the more you can be OK being alone, the less likely you are to put too much pressure on a relationship, which in turn will make it healthier and balanced.

Remember, there are people out there who see your vulnerability as a chance to make a quick buck. They’ll promise you love, riches, lower interest rates, a free i-pad, even hair if they think they can tap that insecurity of yours and get you to pull out your credit card. Am I cynical? Yup. I’m also a hopeless romantic. But experience has taught me that all good things take a lot of time, a significant amount of effort a little luck and most important of all, the right state of mind. That last one is key. I’m a passionate person, but have learned the hard way more than once, that a decision based on emotion can really bite you in the ass (and the pocket book).

Have you had any experience with on-line dating services? Would love to hear about it good or bad.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

One Year Anniversary!

One year ago today I posted my first blog entry for Life as a Divorced Dad. Not exactly sure what it was that caused me to take that first step. Honestly, I think deep down inside I knew I couldn’t make it through my
divorce on my own. When my wife and I went our separate ways I knew I had to change some things, the most important of which was my tendency to keep the world out. And so I started to take steps to invite people in. Life as a Divorced Dad was just one way of doing that. In doing so I began to learn more about myself and became less intimidated by the world and the divorce that had shattered so many truths about my world that I’d grown to trust. It’s been such an amazing experience, one that’s introduced me to so many amazing people and it feels like I’m just getting started.

Regardless of what got the ball rolling, the fact that it’s still going and growing is, to me, the most remarkable thing. It was through this blog that I learned perhaps the most important thing about going through a divorce. That you shouldn’t even consider going through it alone. The most important thing is to allow your friends, family and others going through the same thing to take the journey with you and be there to support you. Divorce will cause you to question everything about your being. It will shake even the strongest foundations. But sometimes all it takes is reading about someone else who is going through the same struggles to know that you can make it. To know there’s someone else who understands your state of mind and can reassure you that even the darkest days will pass, is crucial to your mental well being and moving on with your life.

As LAADD enters its second year, my personal goal is to expand readership and continue to promote the positives. Divorce is full of negatives no doubt. But maintaining a focus on your kids, yourself and putting all of the pain, hurt and negativity behind you will help you grow as an individual and find new levels of contentment and happiness. It will strengthen your relationship with your kids, your friends, your family and yes, even your ex. Recognizing that the world you left behind was one that was draining you of your self worth and well being is in and of itself a positive step forward. Learning to get past it, learn from it and move forward is a journey. We’re not alone and together we can help each other grow and find new unimagined levels of happiness.

Thank you for following and I hope if you’ve found value in LAADD that you’ll pass it on and invite others to come along with us. It may not always feel like it, but peace is right around the corner.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Finish Strong

As mentioned in previous posts, I’m an avid runner and I believe there are a lot of life lessons to be learned through running with yet another one presenting itself this week. Those of you who run races (and this goes for other sports as well), it really is true that it’s not how you start it’s how you finish. We all stumble over hurdles from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we should quit or that we’ve lost the race. It just means we have to adjust and work a little harder to catch up and finish strong.

It holds true in life as well. I think it’s unrealistic to think that every day is going to be bliss. From time to time we trip up and stumble. Despite our best efforts as parents to hold it together and be the voice of reason, kids have a way of pushing buttons both with each other and with us. And so, flare ups are going to happen. I think that’s just par for the course. The key is what we do with those moments. When we trip on a hurdle, do we quit and call it a loss? Do we let those stumbles ruin our day? Or do we lace em’ up and keep on going?

Yesterday, despite a pretty good day overall, the kids and I hit a couple of rough patches. All of us were guilty to some extent and we got home from one particular trip pretty banged up with many sad faces. There was some pushing, shoving, pinching, kicking, name calling, yelling etc. that simply went beyond the norm and became a distraction to the person attempting to navigate the road. (That would be me).

So when we got home I suggested everyone take a moment to go to their rooms (myself included) and think for 5-10 minutes about how things could have been handled differently. Where did we lose control of the race and how could we have adjusted our pace for a more successful leg? When we all reconvened, I made it clear that my primary objective was to ensure that a few moments of ugliness wouldn’t define our day. That it was just one lap and that we still had a chance to finish strong. I told them we’re all going to have moments we’re not necessarily going to be proud of, but that doesn’t mean it has to create a black cloud over the house and keep us from enjoying the rest of our time together.

Along with being a runner, I’m also a big fan of any coach who makes adjustments at half time that demonstrate an ability to recognize what’s not working and gives a team the tools necessary for success in the 2nd half. And so, I took our time out as a half time break and encouraged the kids to put the first half behind them and refocus their attention on the finish. And believe it or not, the kids responded and we ended up having a great rest of the day.

It speaks to a bigger truth about being a divorced parent. The word team really takes on a whole new meaning. You have to work as a team on a whole new level and adjust the way you live your lives. That’s true for both you AND the kids. As a single parent, the zone defense idea is out the window. You can’t just grab one kid and run to the store to get milk. You have to take everyone. It’s a huge disruption and effort for everyone involved. It’s going to cause tension from time to time as options are sometimes limited. The more you can take moments to demonstrate the importance of being tolerable and flexible and just “roll with it,” the more you can create successful environments and excursions. But the bottom line is, you really are in it together right down to the finish.

You can also teach your kids to be a team player which will help them as they get older. Teach them that not everything is always going to go as planned. Not every play is going to work the way you envisioned. And sometimes dad it going to have to call an audible. (I realize my metaphors are getting a little cross pollenated, but bare with me). The bottom line is you have to willing to adjust your game plan or your approach to the race on the fly some times. And when you’re more open to that, your chances of success increase exponentially.

So to their credit, the kids and I ended the day on a positive and I took every opportunity to point out the fact that we rebounded nicely. We also talked about the benefits of putting the “yuck” behind us. No judgement, no blaming, just an acknowledgement that we all could, and did, better. It was so great to see them celebrate the fact that in the end we all did a great job of getting past the hurdles and that we as a family finished strong.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Oh Death.

If you have kids chances are you’ve seen the Shrek series. If you’ve never heard of Shrek, well look at the picture to the right and just follow along. You’ll get the point relatively quickly. There’s a scene in “Shrek 3” where Fiona’s father passes away. As the family gathers around the little amphibious father, it takes him several “last breathes” to actually pass on. Several times the family starts to weep thinking he’s gone, only to have him gasp one last breath and utter one last final thought.

I’ve thought of that scene several times over the past year as I witnessed what I thought was the death of my marriage. I think I was under the impression that once the papers were signed and the judge said, “yer done” it would be over, wrapped, the end. We’d give a little eulogy, the casket would be placed in the ground, the priest would spritz a little holy water, we’d have a glass of wine and move on with our lives. Annnnnddddd scene.

Well, apparently it doesn’t work that way. But then if you’ve ever had a relationship crumble, you already knew that. The closeness of a relationship, the intimacy of a relationship, the bond of a relationship may be torn. Your heart may be heavy and beat up. But the relationship continues on some level the rest of your life. You learn from it, you grow from it, you evolve because of it. The marital union may be eliminated, but the history can’t be erased. Some of it may be tucked deep in the confines of your mind, but it’s still there. And that’s o.k.

And of course if you have kids, it’s all the more true. While some parents choose to pass the kids back and forth like a football without ever huddling to make sure they’re executing the same play; on some level the co-parenting thing is a tie that bonds eternally. When children are a part of the divorce, there is a life long connection. What you do with it is up to you. How you choose to approach it and carry it is your choice. Therefore, a positive approach to moving forward is given even more weight as it’s much easier to work through schedules with someone you’re on good terms with rather than someone you’re continually at odds with. And don’t forget; the kiddos are watching. Oh … are they watching.

Is it always easy? Hello no. Was it easy when you were married? Seriously, parenting is hard. Moms and dads inherently have different styles. There’s a reason my mom always said, “you wait until your father comes home.” There’s also a reason I asked my mom if I could go out rather than my dad. So what makes you think it’ll be any easier when you’re not under the same roof discussing game plans? It’s hard. Especially now that you’re both physically parenting solo. The kids are aware of this. But it’ll be easier if the kids know you’re still working as a team on some level. The bonds of matrimony may be broken, but the parenting bonds are still going to be there and it’s up to you and your ex to ensure that the kids recognize that you have each others back when it comes to them. Even when you completely disagree.

So, what were we talking about? Oh yeah. The death of a marriage. You can look at it that way; a death. But honestly no relationship ever really dies. It just changes form. My best friend passed away when I was 22. When he died, we had a little eulogy, the casket was lowered, the priest spritzed a little holy water, we drank a lot of wine and attempted to move on with our lives. That was 24 years ago. And to this day I talk with Gary from time to time as I’m driving to a video shoot or running trails. His friendship lives on within me and affects me and how I approach life. And so will my marriage. And that’s not a bad thing.

Every relationship, good or bad, is a part of us. We are the sum of our experiences and relationships are perhaps the most significant experiences we can have. So embrace them. Even the ones that caused or continue to cause you pain. You have a choice whether to make it a cause of stress and angst, or a source of motivation and a means of growing. Ain’t easy. But the payoff is huge.

I’m sorry, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah. Death. So skip the eulogy. Put the shovel back in the shed. Poor yourself a glass of wine. And move on with your beautiful, ever evolving life, carrying all of your experiences with you until the day you die. But then, we never really die. Do we?

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Metamorphosis

I’ve spent a lot of time in recent weeks concerned that I’m slipping. Not in any one particular aspect of my life, but in attempting to maintain the life I had before my divorce, I’m finding myself working feverishly without a sense of getting ahead. What’s odd is, my level of productivity is at record levels, and yet I still have a sense at times that I’ll never get it all done. I have become incredibly efficient with my time, mastering the art of doing laundry while editing a television series as the dishwasher enters another cycle. I’ve been told men are horrible at multi-tasking, but divorce is like a crash course for those who have any hope of moving forward. And yet, despite my ability to accomplish so much in any 24 hour period, whether it be domestic or professional, I’m having a difficult time establishing a sense of progress. Instead I feel as though I’m stuck in an endless state of purgatory.

When I got divorced I took on a lot and was determined to hold it together. It was important to me to do everything I could to maintain what my wife and I had worked so hard to build. At the same time I was building a business, which can be equally consuming both in terms of time and emotion. It’s been a lot to juggle and for the most part I’ve managed to keep it all above water.

But a year of this pace will no doubt take its toll. As a person with high expectations, I anticipated that by this point I’d have it all together and be settled into a new routine, or if nothing else, a new ‘norm.’ And yet, despite my best efforts, I still feel myself transitioning. And as accustomed as I’ve become to transitioning, quite honestly I’m ready for this one to end. I’m ready to find a new groove. And yet instead, at times I feel drained with a lack of direction; afraid that if I stop it will all come crashing down around me.

During the past year, I’ve made a distinct point of changing the way I approach just about every aspect of my life. My goal was to surround myself with positive people, positive experiences and force myself to approach life calmer and with a sense of openness. I wanted to become more open to trusting the universe and accepting in life what I felt I truly deserved. It was through that, that the universe brought many new people into my life with one or two of them being distinct spiritual guides of sorts.

And so it would happen that I would express to one of my new gurus my sense of slipping and lack of progress. I explained how this feeling continually got me down and had me questioning so much of what I was doing and my abilities to keep going. And then I heard a word that I wasn’t expecting. I was told I’m not slipping, I’m simply going through a metamorphosis. It was explained to me that by changing my way of thinking; by eliminating old habits and attempting to establish new ones; by adjusting the very core of how I viewed life; that which was my old life would naturally begin to crumble as room was made for a new world.

That’s some scary stuff right there. The word crumble had me in the fetal position within seconds. As elated as I’ve been with my new mentality and outlook, the thought of my old life crumbling before my eyes was not something I had been hoping to see happen. Letting go of it wasn’t something I had prepared to do either. But could there be freedom in letting go? Could there be rebirth?

When we’re married we establish a lifestyle. We build a world that suits us and with our spouse we create a universe together. Once that co-management team is gone, attempting to maintain that universe can be quite a struggle for one individual. In many ways it no longer fits. And yet the fear of the unknown, the fear of what will happen if we let what we’ve worked so hard to build up fall to the waste side can be overwhelming and at times crippling.

And yet, somewhere in the back corners of my imagination, I’m beginning to see what may be possible. As I open my heart and my soul to new possibilities, I begin to get glimpses of what’s possible and begin to accept that perhaps it’s time to let go of the world I’d come so accustomed to.

Knowing that there are three other little minds that will need to take this journey with me, adds an entirely new level of concern to the mix. But perhaps the positive approach I’ve taken with their mom may help. Maybe, just maybe there can be a team effort to get to that next plateau.

I remember when the kids were a little younger and the joy I experienced attempting to get them to transition from the house to the car; from the car to the store; from the store back to the car etc. When a 3 year old is comfortable and content, getting them to change their environment was perhaps one of the most excruciating experiences of my parenting life. I’d look at them and be like, just get up and go already. How difficult can this be? What’s the problem? Don’t you see we’re going some place better? And yet here I am; needing to transition, but oh so comfortable in my old environment, afraid to transition to the next phase.

The next few months should be very telling. Am I slipping or indeed in mid metamorphosis? Will I come out of the cocoon a butterfly ready to spread my wings and soar? One can only hope. It’s scary to think about change. But sometimes life forces us into it whether we like it or not. Perhaps the trick is embracing it and recognizing that there’s a greater good on the other side.

As I’ve said many times, this is indeed a journey. And I’m told it’s one not to go on alone. And so I invite you to continue on with me. I’ll do my best to be honest with you about my experience and would love to hear from those of you who are going through similar changes. Perhaps together we can help see each other through this metamorphosis.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: