Hope in a long odyssey of discouragement

Soccer game1
Soccer game1 (Photo credit: nebarnix)

Just realized that I hadn’t updated the blog in about two weeks.  That’s probably the longest stretch I’ve gone since I started it.  Look back on the last post and you’ll see some comments from someone who was encouraged by the blog.  That has been my whole reason to do this.  I KNOW there are men like me all over the country and undoubtedly women as well who are struggling with alienation and need to know they are not alone.

So here’s an update with some hope, in that light.  Many of you have been praying for some sign or God-fueled turnaround with my kids.  I have family and friends read this, even though I keep it anonymous to protect my children and their mom.  The purpose of the blog is not character – assassination, but helping others through this.  I was separated more than 8 months ago from my wife of over 20 years and have 2 teenage kids who’ve sided with mom and basically had nothing to do with me for the length of that time.  It’s been lonely, agonizing, incredibly painful and probably the single most difficult thing I have ever had to go through in my entire life.  I was a pretty involved dad — coaching for many years, working in their youth groups and children’s ministries, helping with homework, spending all weekends with them.  Like many of you, my life revolved around my kids.  So to instantly lose all of this in the separation and subsequent divorce was quite a shock to the system.  I’ve had to learn how to be me again.  Who am I?  What do I want to be when I grow up?  That’s been an interesting journey, but one of the most important I’ve been through in my life as well.

All that to say, my younger son had his first Soccer game of the season this week.  Of course, all of the friends we sat around last year while watching the games were crowded around my ex and my daughter and her boyfriend.  Didn’t want to make a scene — I’ve really worked hard at playing all of this low-key.  So I sat off to the side and quietly watched the game by myself.  At halftime, my 17 year old daughter and her boyfriend took orders from the group they were with and went off to the snack bar to grab some drinks and stuff.  Didn’t think much about it and checked email on my phone and chatted with the 2 different men that dared stop by and chat (albeit awkwardly) with their old friend whom they weren’t allowed to be seen with…  You can see previous posts for my theories on this.

When they got back with the snacks, a few minutes later I hear a voice from behind me…

“I thought you might be thirsty, would you like a bottled water?”  It was my daughter.

“Wow,” I said.  “Thanks for thinking of me.  Yes I was thirsty, I would love one.”

“No problem,” she replied smiling.

“Hey, _____________,” I said, “I got your new laptop for school today.  I have to pick it up tomorrow.  Could I bring it by Saturday morning for you?”

Her eyes lit up. “That would be great.  Thank you so much for getting that.  I really appreciate it.”

“Not a problem at all.  So I’ll see you Saturday morning.  Thanks again.”

 

And thus went the first conversation I had with my daughter in 8 months.

 

As I sat watching the 2nd half of the soccer game start, I tried to control all the emotions I felt.  Couldn’t cry — that wouldn’t go over well.  Honestly, didn’t feel like that.  Felt like jumping off the bleachers and doing a fist pump and screaming thank you to God.  Truly a miracle.  I couldn’t wait to call my friends and family and tell them that we had a breakthrough.

I am tempering my enthusiasm.  My mom said there would be ups and downs in this process, and I can’t get too excited about the first breakthrough because there will be other issues that appear to be sending us back into the same hole we’ve been in this past eight months.  I need to be steady and responsive and loving throughout.  That’s my mantra.

I have shared with you a lot of the struggles.  I felt like you deserved to hear the first steps of what will be a long journey out of the past.  Many of you have told me that this is just going to take time.  I have really struggled hearing that.  I’m impatient.  I’m an immediate gratification guy.  10 minute meals on the skillet are about as “delayed” I get in the food preparation realm.  So this.  This has been like a drop of water dripping on a rock for 100 years.  But I’m learning how to be the best I can be (independent of kids and a wife — just me).  I’m learning how to love unconditionally, and I’m learning how to live alone.

There is hope.  Hang in there all of you!

 

— Jim

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