First Post — Why Notes from an alienated dad exists

Divorce, Exterior lantern, Restaurant, View
Divorce, Exterior lantern, Restaurant, View (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m three and a half months into the divorce thing.  One of my divorce recovery leaders asked the other night if our divorces ended with a heart attack or cancer.  I think mine was a cancerous tumor that went on for years and then ended abruptly in a heart attack.  Those around us would have said that it was such a shock.  Virtually none of our friends had any idea we had struggled for years.  We were both very good actors.

Part of the reason for the divorce is the alienation that had been building up in our family for several years, when our first child reached puberty.  There are probably all kinds of deeply psychological reasons why my wife chose this path.  Her mom had blazed the trail nicely for her during her divorce when my wife was in junior high, so she really had no frame of reference for how Dads and daughters related.

I worked very hard to understand from my perspective how to be there for my daughter in her teen years — coaching, taking her on daddy-daughter events, helping her with sports, school, etc.  I just constantly faced opposition from my wife, telling her and me that I just didn’t understand teenage girls or women in general and that I wasn’t there enough to know her well, etc.

So, once the divorce is announced, the kids immediately gravitate to mom’s side of the equation and I get texts and emails very regularly telling me that they don’t want me in their lives and that I am not their father etc.  I’m right in the middle of this process right now, so much of that frustration and pain may probably come through here in the blog.  I am hoping it will prove cathartic to me to write this and that other men who are going through similar things will post their stories and their ways through them.

I should say at the outset that I firmly believe that God came alongside me months before the divorce became a reality and has been such a strong support for me over this last year.  I look back on where I was a year ago and cannot imagine how I would have survived the loneliness, the hurtful and angry words, the sheer physical pain of all of this were it not for my reliance on God.

In his grace, He has also brought alongside me my family (who had been alienated from me by my wife as well over the term of the marriage) and several very close friends.  Some new, some old. So I am not journeying alone.

I do feel alone in the evenings especially.  After so many years of marriage and coming straight out of a dorm room into that marriage, it hit me a couple of months ago that I had never really been alone in my entire life.  In a way, then, this is a good time for me to come to grips with who I am and be able to emerge from this ordeal a stronger and better rounded man.  But it is lonely.  Some of this blog will be about how I cope with that — as I am sure many of you out there are feeling a very similar alone-ness.

Most of this blog will be about how I relate to the kids.  It’s been clear that our marriage was over for several years, but I had always been one of those dads who was very attached to his kids.  I coached them for 10 years in every sport they tried.  I took them on camping trips, planned vacations, worked as a family with them in the yard, created many lasting great memories with them.  I don’t think I am the example of the deadbeat dad that our media likes to vilify.  In fact, this whole experience has very much caused me to question how prevalent those dads really are.  Grist for another entry.

So men (and women if you’d like):  Let’s share how we can get through these difficult days and where we can find our hope and how we can not only survive, but thrive on the other side of the valley.

Jim

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