The Power of a Friendship Family

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For those of you who are enduring the difficulty and pain of a parental alienation syndrome situation, I want to encourage you more than I ever have — Find a new friendship family.  I waited about 2  years after my divorce to really embrace this concept, and I’m kicking myself for the lost time and the loneliness I went through in that timeframe.

I said in a previous post that I joined a divorced dads group.  That group has helped me build relationships not just with other men, but with their extended friends (both male and female) and even their kids.  Spent Thanksgiving dinner watching the really bad Cowboys game with one of these guys and his kids and went to an event with the group yesterday and his kids are now calling me their “Uncle.”  That, my friends, is good for the soul.  For a man who hasn’t had a hug from his kids in over 2 years, to have a 7 and 10 year old run up to hug you and ask you to throw a football or push them on a swing is, well, it’s affirming, it’s beautiful, it’s a God – thing.

The group usually does something every weekend and often will involve karaoke or dancing or bar-hopping or just hanging out at a friends’ house.  The women that hang with us are actively planning trips and getaways for themselves as well.  The community felt by this group is pretty incredible.  I was gone for almost a week out of the country on a “bro-trip” with my college roommate and I genuinely can say I missed my “family.”  I couldn’t wait to see them all again.  I brought presents home for several of them.  I’ve been in this group for a bit more than 2 months, and I already feel like they are my family.

So here’s my encouragement to you.  You can only do what you can do to get your kids back.  Worrying about it, lawsuits, arguing with the ex, fighting for every conversation — all of those things are necessary at times.  But it can also take over your life.  Which can also be its own vicious spiral.  The nastier things get, the more the kids are told you are evil and the nastier things get.  I’ve cut back a lot of the back and forth with the ex recently, and I think  a lot of that is because it’s not foremost in my mind at any given time.  I’ve got friends, I’ve got stuff to do, I’ve got two jobs, etc.  PAS has a way of making many of us very bitter and angry and the power of a family of friends is that it takes the edge off of much of that.

Now some input here — I haven’t really told many of these people what I’m going through.  I figure it will come out organically at some point and it has a bit to a couple of them, but I’ve made a strong effort not to be “THAT guy.”  You know, the one that is labeled “alienated Dad” (In spite of the name of this blog) and everyone just seems him as a bitter, frustrated, one-topic dude.  Each of you is unique in your own way and you aren’t a one issue person.  You have many influences and outlets in your life (and if you don’t — you need to seek that out and find them).  So find a group like that — don’t use it to whine and complain, but use it to build relationships.  Then let these new friends into your life slowly and it will eventually come out and you’ll have people who know you for who you are not for what has happened to you.  You’re not a victim.  You’re a survivor.  But that’s a whole different post in and of itself.

So go find your Friendship Family.  If you can’t find one, become the guy that starts building one.  You’d be shocked how many lonely dads, lonely moms and singles are out there looking for community.  Find a good sized church and start connecting people.  Go to Meetups and do things afterward.  Look for guy friends like you look for girlfriends.  If you’re a guy, maybe look for guy friends first, and vice-versa.  More important to have a wingman than a girlfriend.  Did I just write that?  Wow, maybe I’m making progress…

 

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