I was talking to my best friend the other day. Actually, I think I told both of them this. More about the 2nd of my best friends later — but the important part is this: All of this pain and difficulty and frustration I have with my kids and being an alienated dad. All of that is one small part of my life. Of the 168 hours in a given week, I maybe spend 1-2 of them thinking about and processing through stuff with the kids. Much of that is in writing or in conversations with friends and family. Even then, I might spend a small portion of that conversation on the ex and the kids, but then we get on to other more interesting and happier topics.
I’m telling you this, because I’m fairly certain if you are reading this site, you are in the middle of a similar battle for your children, or you may be a friend of mine. In either case, I don’t want you to get the idea that you live, breathe, eat and sleep this life of alienation. Yes, it’s constantly in the back of my mind and comes up at times when I don’t expect it. Watching TV yesterday, I got a bit, uh, verklempt, when I saw a dad on CSI talking about his son and how close they were. Just hearing the word Dad in a song can prove difficult at times. So there is pain and its fairly close to top of mind.
But at the same time, I’ve got a ton of very positive things happening in my life right now.
- I have a great job
- I have good prospects for advancement and promotion there (and fairly soon, too).
- I have a girlfriend. There, I said it. First time I’ve really used that word in 25 years. But it’s true. She’s an incredible breath of fresh air and wicked smart and, well, she really gets me. In a way that I don’t know many other people do. She has 4 kids, three of them younger and one teenager. I’ve spent a bit of time with them, too, amid the chaos and happiness that is pre-school and elementary age kids’ existence. The joy and contentment that I’ve experienced from that relationship has been so different from past experiences. And so good for me.
- I have a phenomenal church where I serve each Sunday on a team of greeters and ushers. This weekend I helped with the 3-5th grade class. 44 whirling dervishes in one room with 8 adults and an hour of loud and action. Great for my heart. I honestly can say that each time I leave church, I have this inner contentedness and strength to face whatever comes my way each week. It’s a beautiful thing.
- I bought a new truck this past week. It’s kind of silly to throw in a “thing” in the pile of all this relational stuff, but the truck is something I’ve wanted for 20 years and it’s finally something I can afford to get and incorporate into my life.
- I’m working on purchasing some rental property to live in and rent out. It’s a way to use my “rent” costs to actually bring in more money and plan for my future.
- I’m getting out of debt and concentrating on what to do for that future.
- I’m writing music, blog entries, poetry, etc.
- I’m working out regularly and playing a lot of volleyball still.
- I’m travelling both for business and to re-connect with old friends and family.
But honestly, I’m not “covering” over the pain with busy-ness. I’m not trying to ignore the problem. I’m doing something very consciously and deliberately. I’m living my new life. I’m becoming the man that God wants me to be — that man began to finally emerge from a dark cave late last summer and smelled the sweet fragrance of freedom and peace earlier in this year.
In spite of all the bad I hear from the kids and their mom about me, I’m going on with my life and living it the best way I know how. I’m not saying I don’t struggle or feel beaten down at times. I do. Almost every week. But it doesn’t last near as long as it used to, and I get off the couch or walk in from the patio and turn to write it down or talk to a brother or a friend. Then I set down that milestone where I walked past it in the road and keep focused on what’s ahead.
I’m not bitter. I’m not angry. I’m sad. I’m often disappointed. But at the end of the day, what I am more than anything else is hopeful and steadfast. I’m not looking back in defeat, I’m looking forward. And I’m enjoying the journey I’m on. With all of the pain, all of the hurt, all of the joys, the peace, the contentedness. I don’t want to rush it to get out of it. I want to emerge from this with wisdom, with experience and with honest integrity.
So, thanks for reading and praying for me, those friends who see this. For those of you who are alienated and are struggling to stand up under it. Know that there’s hope. That you are not alone and that it gets better. Maybe the alienation will get better, maybe not. But YOU get better, regardless.