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10/19/11

Living Single

Though I wish this post's title was an homage to Khadijah, Synclaire, Max and Kyle (thumbs up if you caught that joke), it is unfortunately a reference to a major life change that has occurred for me in the past week. I am now divorced and 'living single'. The following is a few random thoughts and observations on divorce and my life going forward as a single father. It may not be completely coherent and fluid, but let's face it, neither is my brain right now so it's fairly representative of how I feel.

Divorce is a strange, convoluted process. Fortunately, ours was very easy compared to how it could have been and can be for some couples. And of course, I say that with the precursor that divorce is never easy for anybody. Because although the decision was a mutual and cordial one for me and my ex, divorce is a stressful, draining and emotional process no matter how quickly or efficiently you are able to get it done.

All of that being said, I feel incredibly fortunate that my ex and I are remaining friends and I know we will do an incredible job of co-parenting. She's a great mother and I'd like to think that I'm a great father. And even in separate households, I have complete faith that the two of us will work together and do everything in our power to create a wonderful life for our daughter.

I think one of the odd things about divorce is trying to share the news with other people. Let's face it, divorce is a major life event. But, it's not treated like other major life events. Engagements, weddings and child births are all approached with mass announcements. Proactive e-mails, phone calls, letters, etc. are made to spread the big news to everyone far and wide. Heck, even when someone passes away, friends and family will get together to celebrate the life of the person that has left. But divorce is treated as such a taboo and 'hush hush' subject, that it's difficult knowing just how to let people know. You feel like people should be aware. But how do you casually bring that up? Honestly, nobody knows how to react. And though some may not come right out and say it, you can always tell when someone puts on their judging eyes after they hear the news.

The divorce makes me feel like a wobbly drunk. One moment I feel like I'm taking one step forward, the next I feel like I'm taking two steps back. My attitude and mind is in a constant tip-toeing state of flux, where I'm optimistic at the prospect of doing what's right, but disappointed that I feel like I've moved my life in reverse.



I'm a worrier by nature. It's rare for a day to go by where my head isn't filled with anxiety about something, whether it's related to money, work, etc. Well, naturally my new role as a divorced single dad has added a whole new set of worries to my life.

I worry that I'll miss out. We're getting to a point where there's going to be a lot of major events in my daughter's life. Before, working full-time, my time with my daughter was limited already. And now, even with joint custody, it's going to be limited even more. I am so frightened at the idea of not being there for significant events in her life. For example, last night she used the 'big girl potty' for the first time. To non-parents, this might seem insignificant or something strange to be excited about. But really, it was disheartening that I couldn't be there for something that is a parental milestone and something worth being proud of. While I loved the news and getting the phone call about it, I couldn't help but feel bummed that I wasn't there. What else will I miss out on? What else will be reduced to just a celebratory phone call?

I worry that I'll be replaced. I know, it might seem like a silly thing to say. But I can't help it. I know that I will always be my daughter's daddy. But I also know that inevitably, my ex will find another man to share her life with, and in the end, part of her life is our daughter. As a new guy begins to spend time and hang out with Ava, I am scared shitless (pardon my French) that a day will come where she wants to hang out with him more than me. Again, it may be a completely baseless and absurd fear to have, but it's just something that's there in my mind.

I worry that I'll be undateable. Let's face it, "26-year-old divorced father" isn't exactly a hot commodity title on paper. I'm at the age where everyone is getting engaged, married or having a baby (trust me, Facebook confirms this fact every day). Of all the women that are still single, I doubt there are many examining the fish left in the sea and going for the one that has a fry (this is the word for a baby fish, apparently..thanks Google). Maybe this is my own self-created delusion, but I feel like divorced parents are looked at as tarnished and well, how do I put this..women can be really picky. Note that I said CAN BE, and that not ALL of you are *ducks flying tomatoes*! But seriously, as confident as I am in what I have to offer somebody in the future, I can't help but feel like I'm walking around with a scarlet letter 'D' emblazoned on my chest.

I worry I just won't be the same. I know that's a vague, generic statement. But right now, I just feel drained in every sense of the word. Emotionally, mentally, some days even physically, I just don't feel like I'm 100% 'me'. I know it will be a process. I know, that like every rough turn in life, there's recovery time needed to get back on the steady, straightened path. I don't want to be pessimistic. I don't want to assume that I'll have no luck in love in the future. I don't want to think that my relationship with my daughter will be scarred. I'm haunted by 'What ifs' and 'mights', but I need to get rid of those mental demons and give myself some clarity as I move forward. Because in the end, that's what I have to remind myself. I AM moving forward. The steps might seem shaky, and sometimes I'll scoot back slightly to keep myself balanced, but the forward progress is there.

I can't live my life worried about being negatively judged on the labels of "divorced" or "single dad". Because ultimately, it's just me. And I'll be the best me I can be, regardless of arbitrary titles.

10 comments:

What a painful time. I'm sorry for your divorce, and pray you'll find your way through. Thanks for putting your experience in print.

What an awesomely honest post. Don't adhere that scarlet letter "D" just yet...you've got your shit (pardon MY French) together more than most 26-year-olds that haven't been through what you have. Kudos and keep moving forward.

@storywiseguy Thank you for the kind words.

@Emily I appreciate that..I do like to think that, at the very least, everything that has happened up to this point has given me a lot of perspective on what's important in my life going forward. I'll keep the "D" tucked away for the time being.

P.S. I just realized that "I'll keep the D tucked away" could be horribly misconstrued.

Though I wish this post's title was an homage to Khadijah, Synclaire, Max and Kyle (thumbs up if you caught that joke) <---- LOL

You'll be okay. Just takes time. I can't say for sure, because I've never been in this situation, but what you're feeling is probably normal. Seems like you have a good support system, so I'm sure that helps some. Hang in there buddy. You need anything holla at ya boy!

Pat,

Good for you for bravely breaching a "taboo" topic in an honest and tactful way. I'm sorry to hear that you're going through such a difficult time, but I'll echo what others have commented: Don't let any labels get the best of you. Life just happens, and every component of yours makes you who you are -- a fantastic father and a great person. (Aside from when you called me Andiarrhea throughout pretty much all of my elementary/junior high years. But I suppose even that can be forgiven.)

Andrea

Thanks Andrea! I'll do whatever I can to gain forgiveness for 'Andiarrhea'. Maybe head up to Holy Spirit and say a few rosaries with Frank Fiorini?

Pat,

The best you can do is the best you can do. It is hard to NOT worry, but it's my belief that everything happens for a reason and in it's own time. My unsolicited advice is try your best to believe every day that everything is the most fantastic that it can be at that moment. You have been given an opportunity to love yourself at full strength. Being by yourself can be scary, but I have never learned more than on the times when it was just me and it certainly doesn't mean that you are alone. I am working on three years of being out of a relationship where, without being dramatic I was pretty emotionally worked over, but I kept dealing with it because that dude "wanted to be with me". if I listened to the world around me, there is something wrong because I am about to be 33 in a little over a month and haven't even come close to being married, having babies etc. Have I wondered what is wrong with me, at times yes. I have also realized that maybe there is something greater waiting for me, I just have to figure out what the hell it is.

Give your self the time and space you need to heal up from this stuff and when you think you have got it licked, keep going. Everything in its right time! You are a good dude and stay positive. It all will work out!

Jill

Jill, you just dropped some serious wisdom. All excellent points.

I especially love this, and may have to steal it: "You have been given an opportunity to love yourself at full strength."

So very well said.

Just passing on what I have learned! I hope it helps and you aren't "stealing" anything. You can't steal the truth! It just is! :)

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