The right choice is never easy…

Sometimes I wonder to myself if others regularly amuse themselves as often as I do?

Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced a resurgence of feelings about whether or not “I made the right decision”.  I guess this is a common feeling that many recently divorced people experience so I’m not alone, but still, did I make the right decision?  Can you ever really be sure?

After reflecting on how things went down over the last year of my marriage and the aftermath of said marriage I’m pretty sure the answer is yes.  It’s just that having a child with someone makes you mull over your decisions that much more.  It’s not just about whether you’re happy or whether things can be repaired.  Once you have a kid, life isn’t just about you anymore.  Now there’s a completely innocent being you’re responsible for who’s life is pretty much 100% out of their control.  You’re making huge decisions FOR them about what kind of home they grow up in, and these decisions have a profound impact on their development.  So of course I’d second guess myself!  One of the traits I’m most proud of is my desire to do the right thing, always.

The few choices I was able to make, no matter how hard, were absolutely the right choice.  The fact that I’m struggling with how everything shook out and the way I feel about it is my proof.

The one line in the sand I drew in our marriage was crossed.  There was the year of lies, of me doubting my own thoughts and feelings, and much of it I was strung along with just enough hope to think things could maybe work themselves out.  No one should be treated that way, ever.  I respect myself enough to stand with my convictions and make the hard choice when it’s presented.

So, returning to my earlier question though…  Is everyone amused with themselves as often as I am?  My guess is… probably.  🙂

This is the part where I start to amuse myself.  I’ve been asked for relationship/marital advice by a few friends recently.  When they ponder giving up and taking the easy way out, guess what my advice is?  Make the hard choice!  Sometimes the hard choice is leaving, sometimes it’s staying, and most of the time it’s rolling your damn sleeves up and putting in the freaking work!  Every time someone makes the wrong choice and let’s you down, it was probably the easy one.  Don’t be like them!

–Chris

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All the feels

First off, I feel like I should go over the custody schedule we’ve setup for our daughter before I ramble on too much.  My ex and I observe a 5-2-2-5 custody schedule.  I always have our daughter Mon/Tues nights, my ex has Wed/Thurs nights, and we alternate Fri/Sat/Sun.  Our exchange occurs at school/child care, and we usually provide a courtesy text or email to update the other parent about any new behaviors, when she last bathed, etc… Now, on to the feels.

There’s this thing that I’ve been struggling with for the last month or two.  When my daughter and I have our longer stretch of time together and we have to say goodbye on that last day we both struggle with it.  It’s even harder on me if we had a spectacular five days together, or if we spent most of the time traveling and didn’t have a last day to relax and unwind together. On more than one occasion I have driven away with a tear or two leaking out. Any other day of the week I’d say goodbye, see you after school, and we go our separate ways with no incident.

My daughter simply refuses to let me go when I drop her off at school, which makes it even harder for me to keep composed.  I can see in my child’s face that she is having complex feelings, but either she doesn’t know how to articulate them, or she just chooses not to.

The rest of that day I’ll experience a feeling that I am not fond or proud of…  I GET MAD.

I’m mad at my ex for making the decisions she did.  I’m mad that I didn’t have a choice in just about any of this.  I’m mad that her decisions have taken away half the days I’d normally get to watch my daughter grow up.  Add to that the lingering thought that those days are already finite and I get pissed.

I understand all too well that there’s a point where our daughter will start her own life, without us in it daily.  I assume when it happens a new version of what I’m feeling right now will emerge, but I think it’ll be bittersweet feelings and I’m pretty sure any residual anger will be gone.

There’s absolutely nothing I’ve ever loved more than being a father, and even though that can’t be taken away from me it’s hard not to feel like it has, at least partially…

Right now there’s a pity party for one over here and I’m feeling like the victim.  This is not the kind of person I am, but I’ve become a different person from when I was married.  That is a topic for a different time though.

So many things… but let’s start with this one.

I’d put this somewhere in the list of top 10 worst parts of being divorced, but somehow it’s the first one I’ve bothered to write about.

 

My ex-wife has been seeing a guy.

THE guy…

I can’t say I’m not surprised.  I mean, one of the points she mused about in my presence was how she didn’t understand why she moved from one relationship to another all the time.  Little cues like this should have set off more alarm bells than they did.

At most I was suspicious, more some times than others.  I mostly just ignored the feelings coming from my gut because “she’s my wife, I trust her fully”.  She’s just trying to figure her stuff out.  Give her space, because that’s what she says she needs.  I refused to believe/accept that something nefarious was occurring.

I used to think, who else can you trust more than your spouse?  Your parents?  Your siblings?  I realize now that everyone is human, and everyone has just as much potential to let you down if we’re being 100% honest.  Trust really is a calculation of how willing you are to accept getting hurt if/when those people fail you.

I tell myself often that it’s her life, and I am no longer beholden/responsible to her and the things she chooses to do have nothing to do with me.

But… boy is it difficult to hear my daughter talk about him.  I’d say it’s at least one casual mention, minimum, per stay with me that I hear something about him.  Obviously it’s not the fault of my wonderful, innocent, amazing 5 year old daughter. She’s just telling me about her world and things she’s learned about Mom’s “new friend” while hanging out, which seems to be occurring more frequently.

Once again, it’s her life and the only way it can impact me is how it impacts my daughter.

As far as I can tell, my daughter has no idea that mom’s “friend” is more than just a friend.  She doesn’t know that mom treated her dad poorly for a year, that she was dishonest for who knows how long before that, or that she made some really shitty choices and this guy participated in them.  All she knows is that Mom and Dad are divorced, that we will never live together again, and that we both love her no matter what.

I think the toughest part of this new dynamic for me is that I have to put on a brave face, smile, and participate in the conversation while not asking questions that will elicit more talk of “him”.

Personally, I absolutely consider this guy to be an awful human being, whom I will probably carry a very strong hatred for for the unforeseeable future.  I firmly believe that someone who has so little morality is a fundamentally bad person, period.  However, I will never share any of these feelings with my daughter because none of this has to do with her.  This is all between me and her mother.

If I had any kind of advice for someone in a similar situation it’s this.  I’ve created a sort of mantra that rattles around in my head when I struggle with feelings, both old and new.  It goes something like this…

You can’t control anything anyone else does.  Focus on you and don’t worry about what she does.  Be the best possible father you can, and don’t let those outside influences work their way into your relationship with your daughter.  Work on improving yourself and learn from any mistakes you made in that past relationship.  It’s not my problem anymore…  Nothing she does is my responsibility anymore…

Unless it affects my kid.  Who knows what happens then?

–Chris

As a small caveat…

I’m sure there have been times where my ex-wife has experienced  some negative feelings that were caused by my actions.  I have started dating again, and my daughter has spent a little time with my “friend”. twice.  I’ve never asked my ex or my daughter if they’ve had conversations about my “friend”, but I assume they have.

The Divorce

Well, things sure have changed around here.

My wife (actually ex-wife now) and I split up, navigated the horribly shitty experience of getting a divorce, and managed to survive.

I plan on sharing rather candid thoughts about what I’ve gone through, what I’m currently experiencing, and my thoughts about the future.

More to come very soon!

–Chris