Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “divorce

Losing Everything Again, And Finding Happiness Anyway

I’m in a rough place. At the same time I can’t say that I’ve ever been happier. But I’m just beginning to realise happiness is about my relationship to myself and not someone else. Sure, I’d like to be in a relationship. I really miss the physical contact, the camaraderie, the checking-in at all hours of the day with little texts and messages. I love being in love. And I love being in relationship. Until it’s not working. Then I’m not all that good at expressing what I need to make things better. So I suffer. I moan. I get depressed. What I should get is ANGRY. But I suck at that even more.

Two months ago I was asked to move out of “her” house. I was broken. I was freaked out and scared that I was retreating to my mom’s house to die. I imagined myself sleeping all the time, fighting with my mom about not getting up, like a teenager. I knew the sadness was going to be overwhelming. I mean, I loved this woman with all my being, and she was everything I dreamed I wanted in a relationship, and now she was going away? I was almost as afraid of the darkness I was going to descend into, more than the darkness I was in, but I knew that staying was not healthy. I was anxious and depressed at the same time. And I needed to get out of the house and get on with the grief and healing that would come from losing it all again.

And for the first two weeks I suffered. Very differently than I thought I would. I was sad. I was grieving. But I was also relieved. I relaxed a bit once I was alone again. I slept better. I napped anytime I felt tired. I took back control of my schedule and my priorities. And one thing I did, for sure, was I exercised every day. It was a commitment I’d made over a year ago when I was struggling. No matter what, I can walk. Even if it’s only 3 miles or so. I can walk. And while that won’t make me feel better in the short-term, in the long-run I knew it was as good for my soul as it was for my health.

I also attended a boatload of Al Anon meetings. I was going almost to keep from being so alone. But I was listening too. And I spoke a few times about the struggle of giving up on a relationship. And I got a lot of phone numbers of people I could call when I just needed someone to talk to. It was the best support network I could’ve asked for. In ways that were different from friends, these “friends” had experience with what I was going through. Most of them had years in the program and gave pretty sage advice when asked for it. But mainly they were sounding boards for my recovery thinking, about the relationship, about where I was going, about how sad I was, about how I couldn’t see my future at all. And mostly they listened. That’s really what we need more than anything, someone to listen.

Well, as it turns out, I never really fell apart. I was expecting it to happen at any time, but I simply kept going on with my life. I kept walking. I read and worked the Al Anon program. I went to meetings. I talked to some people on the phone. I got a sponsor. And I really just struggled on with my normal life, except that I was alone and not living with someone. (Well, my mom, but that is different. And we worked out a pretty good relationship around privacy and sharing resources.)

I sought out the grief. I watched sad movies and cried. I read books about breaking up and grieving. I wrote goodbye letters to my former fiancé. I dug into my feelings and sat there, not really sure what actions to take. So I stayed still. I sat with the feelings. I prayed and meditated. I ate three meals a day and walked in the brutal Texas heat. And I kept going.

I wasn’t feeling better during those first few weeks. I was feeling liberated, somehow, but sad and alone.

And about three weeks in, something happened. (I think my new meds kicked in.) I started to see possibilities for the future, my future. alone but surviving. If you’ve never experienced true depression you don’t quite understand the depth of the helplessness that happens. I didn’t really see my demise, I just couldn’t imagine my survival. But a new dawn began to break as a result of my work, my time away from a toxic relationship, and the help of my chemical altering drugs.

Then my brain kicked back in at about 4 weeks. It was as if I had been sleeping the entire time prior, and now awake I was capable of accomplishing anything. I wasn’t grandiose, I was just happy again. I was hopeful again. I was still doing all the same things, walking, napping, getting plenty of sleep, eating well, and boom, like a light switch was flipped, I was back.

That was six weeks ago and the reignition has stuck. I’ve gotten over the edgy side effects of the new meds. I’ve calmed down my fantastic ideas. I’ve watched my sleep schedule very carefully. And I’m still soaring what I consider my “normal” functioning self. I’m happy. I’m alone and living at my mother’s house and working a shit job, but I’m happy. And I’m writing. That’s one of the big tells with me, if I stop writing something is off. My brain likes to express itself with language. And when I clam up, I’m battling something bigger than just a temporary setback or disappointment.

I’ve learned to ride the edge of my good feelings too. And I’ve learned to laugh off the overused term “manic.” Sure, back in my teen years I had a manic phase. But since then, when I get high, I think I’m returning to my natural “high self.” There are psychological terms for this state as well, but I don’t even think hypo-manic fits for me. I could get there if I drank too much coffee, didn’t eat well, and didn’t watch my sleep. I could easily slip over the edge of mania and do some crazy shit. But I learned when I was sixteen, that this type of behavior only results in sadness later.

So I’m alone, homeless, and happy. How joyful I will be as things begin to turn in my favor. And it’s the season, fall, where I usually get stronger. I’m trying to relax a bit more. I’m thrashing a bit about being alone. But at the moment, as you can imagine, I don’t have many options for being in a relationship. And I KNOW that I don’t need another relationship right now. My relationship to myself is the one I need to nurture and continue to build. I’ve still got a lot of forgiving to do for my failures and failings. At the moment, though, I well on my way.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: cartwheel, creative commons usage


Developing Low-Reactivity as a Divorced Parent

My ex-wife does stuff that pisses me off all the time. The trick for me, has been to ignore the affront and keep moving along with my own agenda. I think sometimes she does things to upset me. Maybe she’s still mad. Maybe she’s spiteful and vindictive. Maybe she’s unhappy with her current situation.

I’m not sure what causes her flare-ups, but they are getting further apart and that’s a good thing. My winning approach has been to stay low-key.

Today and everyday until my daughter is 18, my ex-wife will be suing me for child support. Now, there’s no need for her to involve the AG’s office in this way, but she does. And with a phone call she could turn them off. But she doesn’t. Something about having the lien against me gives her pleasure, confidence, assurance, something. But, by law, I have to pay her 100% of what we agreed to in our divorce decree. Not even bankruptcy or death gets you out of your obligation to your kids. And I’ve never tried to get out of it. Still she keeps making the decision to let it ride on my ass.

Even this situation is done. There is nothing I can do about it. I’ve asked. I’ve offered alternative collateral. I’ve reasoned with her. But there’s no change. It gives her some pleasure. But I will not give her the pleasure of watching me thrash against it. So I let it ride.

I remember when I did a personality test for a job a number of years ago. The hiring manager was looking over my results and mentioned that my “sense of urgency” was very low. “Everyone on my team has a high sense of urgency. I don’t think you’d fit in very well.” She was right. I’ve cultivated a low sense of urgency. Why? Because I like to avoid conflict and I usually get my work done without the whip being applied. So, she did me a favor by not putting me on a team, her team, where are the projects were in crisis mode. No thanks.

So, that’s the way I deal with my ex as well. No crisis. No drama. Sure, she tries to make craziness out of minor issues. She tries to escalate mundane issues. But I don’t jump. I don’t take the bait. I remain in my low sense of urgency and ask her what she needs from me. “How can I help?” Is actually a very effective response. Often there is nothing I can do. That’s the point of being out of urgency. Still, she likes to include me in the excitement. It is my choice how I want to respond.

And that’s really the point of divorce relationships. You can’t control the other parent. But you can choose your response. If you can diffuse the urgency and your need to be right, smart, witty, or even a jerk, you will go along way towards lessening the drama and making things easier for both you and your kids. And in many ways, a low sense of urgency lessens the stress and drama in my ex-wife’s life too. But I don’t think too much about her wellbeing. That’s no longer my role.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent

image: urgency, creative commons usage


What I’m Not Saying

I can’t talk about it yet. Well, I am talking about it, but over here http://wholeparentbook.com. But this place, The Off Parent is for the rad posts, the anger posts, the depression posts, where I can really let things fly. And I’m not ready to go there. In fact, I’m scared to go there. When I hit the anger about my lost relationships I know I will be furious.

So for now, if you’re waiting for the next chapter, head on over to my PUBLIC blog and take a read of what I’ve been up to in the last week or so.

I will be back here, I’m sure. And of course, some of that silence was my depression coming on strong and sticking around for a long fucking time.

I’m getting the varnish remover ready on my writing so I can give you the dirty truth about what I’ve been dealing with for the past 2.5 years. But not today. Today I just wanted to say “Hi. I’m here if you need me, and I’ll be back with my OFF writing soon.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

@theoffparent


Kids, I Did Not Choose to Leave You Alone In the Divorce

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-11-03-18-amDear Kids,

I’m writing this because I want you to know the divorce was not my idea. I did not choose to walk out the door to the house for the last time, I was asked to leave. While this may not mean much to you now that you are older, when you were 5 and 7, it was a big deal. And I couldn’t help but feel sad when I could not tell you the truth. It was not “our” idea. The divorce was against my wishes.

Today, it’s fine. We’re all friends. But back then, back when you were such vulnerable little kids, it was heartbreaking. I’m not saying we should’ve stayed together. As you could not have been aware, things were tough, things were unhappy, things were no longer joyful, more we had moved into a survival marriage. I agree, today, that’s no place to be. So in many ways I thank your mom for the divorce, but when it was taking place, I fought her, I fought for you guys, I fought to keep us together.

Of course, I can’t really come out and tell  you this today, either. I mean, I don’t want to damage your relationship with your mom. And, as they say, it’s water under the bridge. So why mention it?

The action of leaving the marriage was devastating to all of us. And one person made that decision and enacted the next path before we had a chance to even understand what was happening. It was May of 2010 and by August of 2010 it would be official, final, signed and delivered. And I would no longer be there to tuck you into bed every night. I would be living with my sister and looking for a new job and a place to live, once I had that new job. You’re mom was only concerned with you guys and your happiness. And as she should’ve been, she was letting me fend for myself. But I have to tell you, it was rough out there. Back then, there were days I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

Of course, you know I suffer from depression from time to time. And the divorce brought this illness up in spades. Perhaps you were given this “illness” as the reason we were no longer together, or the reason I was living with my sister and no longer in the house. But that’s not really the full truth. Depression had been a part of our lives before and was a struggle both parents weathered from time to time. So it was no reason for divorce. It was a symptom of the divorce. And the divorce triggered the biggest bout of depression I’d ever experienced. I was destroyed.

What I want to say to you today, as you are now 13 and 15 years old, is things broke up because your mom decided she needed to do something different. She chose divorce. I was fighting to stay together. Today we are better off for having gotten divorced. You are stronger, less dependant, and more resilient. We’ve gone through some tough times together. But I want you to know, regardless of how it felt, or what you were told, the divorce was NOT “our” idea, it was her idea and I was forced to go along with it. What you’ll learn as you enter into relationships of your own, it takes two people to have a relationship. When one person wants out, that’s it, game over.

This post is on my anonymous divorce blog. I still protect you and your mom from the full brunt of my anger. Why? Because it’s the right thing to do. Nothing would come of giving you this piece of information now. Perhaps when you are older it will be a conversation we can have. But today, I just wanted to record, for the future, that the divorce was not my idea. Ever.

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

< back to The Hard Stuff

related posts:


#dad #divorce #depression

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 6.22.59 PM

“They may have less of me, but they’ve got a fully empowered and alive dad.”

My recent series of depressions were a direct result of my divorce 6 years ago. There’s no way to beat around that bush. I had been depression free for quite some time, but the fragility was still there beneath the surface. So, even as I counseled my kids, negotiated with my soon-to-be-ex, I was reeling inside with doubt, sadness, and plan old garden variety depression.

In my counseling sessions with both my meds doctor and my talky doctor we discussed the difference between chemical depression and existential depression.

I missed my kids every day they were not in my life. And as a dad, that meant about 70% of the time I was alone. The crisis came swiftly as I was asked to leave my house, my neighborhood and support system, and move into my sister’s spare room. There was not a large amount of money in our accounts, and I’d recently lost a high-paying corporate job. It was a hard time for anyone. But with my propensity towards hopelessness, I was set up for a fall unlike any I had experienced before.

In my counseling sessions with both my meds doctor and my talky doctor we discussed the difference between chemical depression and existential depression. The circumstances of my physical life were depressing = existential depression. AND, in my case, the chemical depression caused by my brain functioning improperly and giving off distress signals that were causing untold havoc in my body, mind, and attitude.

Through a number of previous “really hard periods” I had learned the pattern of hopelessness. I was prone to giving up when things got too bad. In my youth this was a result of being kicked out of a top prep school and the death of my father when I was twenty-one. Each of those events affected me profoundly. And part of me decided that the deck was stacked against me in some way, and perhaps — the depressed person incorrectly reasons — I need to give up. I suppose the ultimate giving up would be suicide, but I was a bit of a softie for that. Heights and guns terrified me, and pills, well, there was a lot of bad pill stories out there, if you’re researching how to do yourself in. It wasn’t going to be my thing, suicide.

Instead I was going to wallow, fall, cry, complain, sleep, and hope in a magical rescue that would bring me up and out. Going for a rescue is another one of my common patterns. I make my life look so horrible that maybe someone (in my high school days it was my mom) would see my distress and rescue me. But as an adult there was no person who could sooth my hopeless soul. There was no one in my life to say, “Everything’s going to be okay.”

It’s hard to say which came first, the positive attitude or the improving life, but it’s clear that there is a direct connection between the two.
That’s really your therapist’s role. My talky doctor and I examined past and present depressions and tried to reason some things out. My meds doctor consoled me with the idea that the meds would eventually have a lifting effect on my mood. But it was more than mood. It was life. existentially, in divorce, I was in a depressing place. Still, I had to find a way to make a go of it, for my kids, for my family, and ultimately for me. I had to find a way to stand alone, as a single dad, and proclaim that life was good. I was a long way from that a few years ago.

Today, I’d have to say, I’m in a stable relationship, I’m working and paying my child support, and I’m happy with my life. I’m okay with the divorce. My existential life has caught up with my positive attitude. It’s hard to say which came first, the positive attitude or the improving life, but it’s clear that there is a direct connection between the two.

When my existential life is crushed my mental life will often follow. But the level of stress I can endure without cratering is also substantial. I had been able to sustain a wobbly marriage for a year or more and get us into couple’s therapy to see if we could save the core of our relationship. I was working and doing my fair share of chores and kid duties. Neither of us was HAPPY but we were working on it.

I was not aware when we entered therapy that she was actually already considering divorce. The yaw of divorce had not been allowed to enter my consciousness. Divorce was the 100% dead option. Divorce to me WAS suicide. And while I continued week after week to talk her down off the ledge, I was ultimately unable to fix things that I didn’t see as broken. It was probably more about her family of origin than about us. But still I failed.

In failing at marriage, I was certain that I had failed in my life, that I had failed my kids. I was most certain that I failed as a man. The full story is I didn’t fail, I was still giving it 100% when I was told things just weren’t going to work out for the other person. There was nothing I could do.

Divorce changed everything about my life in a matter of weeks. From that collapse I have rebuilt a stronger, faster, smarter me.

I fought. I tried to bully her back into the relationship. I pleaded. I reasoned. I failed again and again, because she had decided and never wavered from her decision. The rest was my reaction to this failure. My reaction to the loss of the majority of my “dad time.” There is no way to understand the loss until you are a parent and you learn that you’re going to get 1/3 the time with your kids you are used to. It felt like a violation of my life, my principles, my religion. But it was just a divorce. And in divorce the kids get split between houses.

Would I have not gotten depressed if I gotten 50/50 parenting like I’d asked, I doubt it. My stress level, in the “year of negotiations” trying to keep my wife in the marriage, and now the collapse of my marriage and loss of my kids and house, for any amount of time… I think I would’ve succumbed. The existential depression was inevitable. Could I have started the chemical repair sooner? Sure, but until things broke down I was feeling really strong. Stressed, but strong. Once I was out of my family home I was no longer certain of my positive future.

Divorce changed everything about my life in a matter of weeks. From that collapse I have rebuilt a stronger, faster, smarter me. And in some ways, I think my kids (13 and 15) are also stronger and more resilient as a result of our break up. If she wasn’t happy, she was showing them through actions and words, what unhappy looks like. If I was stressed I was not able to be my effervescent self and the dad I wanted to be.

I am showing them how to recover from a loss, and to become a happier, more focused man. And as a dad, I am showing up in ways I couldn’t have as a married man. I’ve got more energy, more time, and more attention for each of them, in the smaller amount of time I have. They may have less of me, but they’ve got a fully empowered and alive dad.

… I will continue tomorrow…

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

< back to Single Parenting

related posts:

image: dad, creative commons usage


Collaborative Divorce My Ass!

OFF-header-reading

[This post is a continuation of this thought: You Are Ahead By a Century]

Perhaps the mere fact that my then-wife must’ve been “planning” her exit rather than talking to me in couples therapy about it… I mean, why didn’t she tell our therapist she was thinking about divorce? Why didn’t she tell me, so we could work on that. It seems the whole premise of collaborative is “we’ve worked on it and we agree we’d be better off alone.”

Certainly the divorce was pre-meditated. As in murdering our family in cold blood, BEFORE we had a chance to talk about it in therapy.

When the other person goes to see a lawyer, WHILE YOU’RE IN COUPLES THERAPY, the idea of collaboration is BS. She was collaborative to the extent that I would agree to her terms and conditions. Other than that, she was sort of taking advantage of my good nature, my conflict aversion, and my willingness to see the best in her.

Was she manipulative? Certainly the divorce was pre-meditated. As in murdering our family in cold blood, BEFORE we had a chance to talk about it in therapy.

See, I asked, point-blank, during a particularly confusing couples session.

“Have you been to see an attorney?”

She looked shocked, embarrassed, and mad all in the same second.

“I have. I’m sorry.”

I should’ve shouted, “Then what the fuck are we doing here, paying $120 an hour to talk about our relationship. You’ve already moved on to your ‘options.’”

What I said was, “Oh, that puts a different spin on things. Now I feel pretty hopeless.”

I did feel hopeless. It’s as if the months leading up to the confession had been a lie. How long ago did you go see a lawyer sweetheart? I mean shouldn’t we have been talking through that idea right here, instead of dropping the revelation on me… Or me having to figure it out and ask you. That’s not how this couple’s therapy is supposed to work.

But something about honesty and letting me know in advance was not in her best interest. And there were minor indications that this might be our fate earlier in the relationship. There were signs that I should’ve walked away from the relationship. But I was infatuated too soon to let go.

It really is NOT a crisis, it’s just her way of driving the conversation and demanding that I respond to her.

At the outset of our relationship we started a series of casual lunches. We’d known each other in high school, so in my mind we were just catching up. But early on the tone of the lunches and the texts in between got very flirty. The part she forgot to mention, she was living with a man.

And later in the course of our marriage, when I was having a rough time, she also shared a few lunches with a coworker and a few very deep and connected emails about my depression and her loneliness. Um, that’s called emotional infidelity, folks.

There were other things too. Like when I’d learn two weeks after the fact that she’d gone to lunch with her ex-husband. What? Why not just tell me, like I told her, when my crazy ex called me to have coffee. What was she afraid to tell me about? Why would you withhold that little detail from your discussions, if you are going for 100% honesty and transparency? Well, you wouldn’t.

And yet it was HONESTY that she was killing me on in therapy. Like I was hiding a mistress or late-night drug habit. I couldn’t understand the urgency, when I failed to tell her that I’d gotten a speeding ticket. To her it was as if I’d cheated on her or developed a closet drinking habit.

Week after week in therapy we skipped around about how unreliable I was. How I didn’t do enough chores and it made her too tired for sex. How I was the one with the honesty problem. Maybe it was her projection. I was simply doing my best at minding my own business, sharing what seemed appropriate (like a lunch with my ex-wife) and getting hammered for not being trustworthy. Really?

We weren’t “heading” towards divorce. We were divorced, she just hadn’t told me yet. I have taken years to catch up.

The issue I really wanted discussed was why I was unable to convince her to have sex for months at a time. And how that was OKAY with her, but me forgetting to bring home the dry cleaning was a fucking disaster. The crisis seemed manufactured to deflect the deeper issue.

And that’s how things are today. Crisis after crisis is manufactured to illicit some response, to get something she wants. And I’m better at spotting a false alarm these days. I simply don’t respond for the first 3 – 4 text messages. It really is NOT a crisis, it’s just her way of driving the conversation and demanding that I respond to her. It’s as if she were saying, “You’re not responsible if you don’t help take our daughter to the doctor this afternoon, with no notice, and it’s a really big deal, so you should pay attention.”

I’m no longer paying attention to the crisis. I am listening for the message underneath the crisis. You never help with doctor’s appointments. You never help with the kids. Our daughter is in crisis. I’m in crisis. You need to take care of your responsibility.

If I understand this perspective now, that the crisis is her way of controlling the situation, I begin to see how and why her “divorce attorney” revelation was sprung on me. The crisis was created immediately. The imbalance in power was complete. I reeled for months while she planned, strategized, and got me into parenting plan discussions, and financial split discussions, before I was ready to even consider that we were heading towards divorce.

We weren’t “heading” towards divorce. We were divorced, she just hadn’t told me yet. I have taken years to catch up. And today, 6-years later, I’m just starting to put the picture together. She sprung the divorce on me. It was to her advantage NOT to talk about the relationship in the couple’s therapy, she was already planning her escape.

Respectfully,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

This post continues here: Where the Sidewalk Ends

< back to The Hard Stuff posts

related posts:

image: a few good months before the end, the author, creative commons usage


The Divorce Recovery Path: My Journey Back to Joy (part 1)

divorce-recovery-path-mcel

My divorce has been finalized for four years now. This is how my journey back from depression, loss, and hopelessness looked. And this blog has taken me through all of these steps in a way that I can now look back and see how the building blocks were necessary. Here is my divorce recovery path in posts from this blog.

Year 1 – Anger, Depression, Divorce

Like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ I believe someone going through a divorce goes through stages of grief. And for me the emotions that I struggled with directly after leaving my house for the last time were anger and depression. Often I vassilated from one to the other. And my talky therapist used to tell me, “It’s better to feel homicidal than suicidal.” (It’s a metaphor.)

Anger turned inward and unexpressed was clearly for me one of the ways I would sink myself into sadness and depression. While I was mad at my ex-wife, and mad a the decision she made and I had to go along with, I kept pointing the sharp stick back at myself. Somehow I had failed. Something about me was unlovable, or the reason she decided to opt-out of our marriage, and effectively opt me out of 60% of my kids lives.

I left the house at the beginning of June after the kids had finished 3rd and 5th grade. Here are a few of my early posts. I was acting out a bit. And I even maintained a tiny bit of hopefulness that my ex would realize how much she really wanted me back. That was imaginary thinking. She was done. And I tried to imagine the wonderful opportunities of dating new women, but of course, I was in no condition to date. Fortunately my initial run at online dating was unsuccessful.

August 2010

The first year and the shock of the loss was definitely the hardest period of my recovery. I was scrambling to find a place to live, a way to make a living that would support myself and my child support payments. And the loss of my kids was an emotional hardship that still hits me from time to time.

By January of that first year I was hitting the first skids of depression.

And the first poem appeared as an expression of my loss.

And while I had started a few dating tries I was more focused on transforming my anger and energy into something positive. Or in the face of Ferris Bueller, something funny and light. That’s how I tried to imagine myself, as Ferris dealing with the impossible situations with joy and grace. I was only partially successful.

A number of other issues hammered me as I crossed into the second year of divorce.  The pressure of the financial obligation I had agreed to began to force me out of my idea of comfort and “doing enough.” Of course I had agreed to pay child support on a much higher income than I’d been able to achieve again. I was basing my future on the hopeful high-level gainful employment, and when my next big corporate job folded my position after six months I fell into a very tough spot. (A spot I’m still trying to pull myself out of today.)

But something else began to show up in my life. I began to remember how happy I was, even alone. Just happy. And this was the beginning of the second year, where I joined a divorce recovery class and began to take charge of my own happiness and recovery from the pits of divorce.

I started to come to terms with the divorce. And take ownership of my depression.

 

Year 2 – Healing, Recovery, Kids First

And then in June of the second year, I lost all of my progress in one massive loss. The job I had found that allowed me to buy a house and start setting up my life again, decided they didn’t want to continue trying to sell their product to the consumer, and after six months my position was eliminated. And the earlier struggles with money and depression came rushing back. Just as I felt I was getting ahead of it, I suffered a setback.

And it was four months before I was able to confess to my readers what was going on. And amazing as it was, I did already have readers. A lot of people reached out to me after the loneliness post and gave me their support.

And I started to take an inventory of what I was feeling rather than run away from it or wallow in it. I started studying the 12-steps concept of self-pity as a way to get a little perspective on what I was going through. I could up and out of this.

And then in October of year two I met the woman who would become my first girlfriend. And she single-handedly changed my life.

More than anything, what I learned from my first girlfriend was how it felt to be adored. She had also been through the same divorce recovery class I had, and we had the same Love Language: touch. I was blown away by how affectionate someone could be. I always thought it was only me who had such outpourings.  But she was beside me 100%. In the end our relationship evolved into a friendship, but out love for each other has continued to grow. And I learned what a post-divorce relationship might look like. And how dating after divorce *can* be drama free. We never screwed each other over, we simply decided that we needed to pull our romantic relationship back from our friendship.

END OF YEARS ONE AND TWO – stay tuned.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

back to Single Parenting

related posts:


Terms of My Surrender: Our Divorce Papers

OFF-freefall

Under the terms of my surrender, I gave up a good portion of my time with my kids. I was under the impression that this was the path that “was best for the kids.” In fact, it was the path that was best for my ex-wife, the person in the marriage who decided she wanted out. So wait, under the terms of my surrender I am giving her the kids, the house, and a good stipend of my income for the next 11 years? Just a minute, I need to reconsider.

I’m defeated a bit at the moment. But I’ll get back up, I always do.

Of course, reconsideration was not an option. When one person decides they are done, the marriage is done. Sure, you could counsel or work things out, for a bit, but once the door has been smashed open, their exit is always a possibility. And now a threat. And in the case of divorce, just a matter of fact, please sign on the dotted line and be done with this business.

Wait.

We chose an uncontested divorce. I stubbornly agreed to her request for a divorce, because fighting would be expensive, might damage our children, and would echo the hurt still in my young-boy mind from my parents brutal divorce struggle. So I went with the path of least resistance, I bowed my head at the correct time, and allowed the head of my shining promise to be sliced off with little drama or prior bloodshed. That’s the way it was supposed to be, right? That’s what we were after.

But something along the way was not quite explained to me until a few months ago. I was on a date with a woman who had just given up primary custody, she was saying how much better her ex had become once he had to actually do 50% of the parenting rather than complaining about a check and doing nothing. I remember distinctly my reaction, “Wait, what? He doesn’t pay you any child support?”

So if I get this straight, my high-priced divorce counsellor who advised me to just take the deal and get on with the divorce, forgot to mention that the non-custodial parent (man or woman) was the one who pays child support. And why didn’t she listen or fight for my request to go for 50/50? Why didn’t she support the discussion about 50/50 parenting? She didn’t. Why didn’t she?

I guess I ultimately need to ask her. But in reconnecting with my attorney (the one who I contacted re: my wife’s new-found righteousness on turning me over to the Attorney General’s office) he said this.

I wish our counselor would’ve supported both of our requests with the same integrity. I wish my 50/50 parenting plans and 50/50 schedules had been taken seriously while negotiating our peace treaty.

“In 2010 when you guys divorced, she was probably right. Your wife would’ve probably gotten exactly what she wanted. Not that you couldn’t have gone for 50/50.” And he continued, “But today, things are a little different. Even in Texas. The judges today are listening when the parents want 50/50 custody. And more often than not, my dad clients are getting it, if they fight for it.”

Well, that is good news for today’s dads. Not so good for yesterday’s dads, or me.

What are my options today. Reopen the fight, go prove I’m a worthy dad, and ask the judges and the court to readjust my kids custody to 50/50. Is that what I want?

Here are the potential consequences:

  • It will cost us both a lot of money. Money that we tried not to spend in divorce, by consulting a wonderful Ph.D divorce counsellor.
  • It might damage my wife’s ability to continue to afford the house we bought together.
  • My kids might get the impression I am fighting their mom, or saying she’s doing something wrong.
  • It will cause drama and hardship on all sides.

Here are the benefits of doing it:

  • The $150,000+ would still be going to my kids.
  • I would be able to afford housing and perhaps not be forced to work two jobs or give my life back up to the big corporate job.
  • We could parent 50/50 just like we are doing now, but I would also be able to help with some of the clothes and supplies shopping.
  • My kids will know that I wanted them 50/50 from the beginning and was asked to take less.

As of this writing I don’t have the money to pursue the court’s resolution of my 50/50 desires. I wish our counselor would’ve supported both of our requests with the same integrity. I wish my 50/50 parenting plans and 50/50 schedules had been taken seriously while we were negotiating our peace treaty. They were not. I was given the patronizing approval, “that’s nice” but “that’s not how it’s going to work out.” And then I was told to accept what’s “in the best interest of the children.”

Bullshit.

I was sold a bill of goods by my then-wife, who had been consulting with her attorney, and our counselor who was found and selected by my wife. And then I was asked to sign the Terms of Surrender without being given the full story of custody and child support. My bad. I should have paid for my own attorney at this point, rather than stumble along blindly with the hope of good will, good intentions, and honesty.

I got none of the above. What I got was a temporary peace treaty that lasted until I was late on my second child support payment to my ex-wife. Then the courts of the great state of Texas were warmed up against me. And today, according to my attorney, I could be arrested at any time, by the AG’s office. That is certainly part of the Terms of Surrender that I signed, but it’s not in line with the honest and caring approach we took to setting up our peaceful retreat from the marriage.

I’m defeated a bit at the moment. But I’ll get back up, I always do.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

related posts:

image: freefall, gabrriela pinto, creative commons usage


The 1st and 2nd Time I Knew My Marriage Was Finished

OFF-marriageproblems

I don’t talk about my first marriage much. My starter marriage. The marriage that took me five years to get out of, even after I’d decided it should leave. The marriage that, thankfully, produced no kids. The marriage I’ve left behind. But the setting and timing of my initial, “Holy shit, what have I done?” is so astounding I thought I’d best tell the tale. Then I’ll look at my real-marriage-with-children that could’ve had a quick stop at the initial RED FLAG, but I was too far gone when I discovered that she had been living with someone the two months of our courtship. OUCH.

But let’s start with the storybook wedding, big dress, big church, big party, big send off and honeymoon flight to Paris and cruise across Greece and Turkey. Let’s start there. We were 27 and on our way to great things as artist’s in the world. I had some money she had a father who was a divorce attorney. But of course this didn’t register as a problem.

It was in a marriage counseling session when she said something that caught me off guard. I don’t recall what she said but suddenly I had a very deep feeling of dread.

It was during the first week of our magical mystery tour heading to Santorini when my new bride got sick. It was ironic that I was reading Celine’s Death In The Afternoon at the time. If you don’t know the book, it’s one of the most dark and cynical books ever written. And it’s beautiful about describing the general unrest and anger the main character has with the world and how he feels he’s been mistreated. And I’m reading this angry and poetic book and my new wife begins to transform before my eyes into some feral animal. She was bitter, spitting, and unconsolable. She just wanted me OUT OF THE CABIN. She didn’t want to be around anyone. She didn’t want anything. And while some of that is understandable, the feeling I began to develop was an overwhelming sense of, “I’ve made a terrible mistake.”

It took me seven years to really get out of that one. I gave it the spirited try. I tried to be better. I tried to be more creative, to earn more money, to be more charming. She recoiled frequently into passions of rage and vitriol. I didn’t have any compass for this behavior, at least not from a small and very attractive Basque woman. I had seen this kind of blind anger from my dad when he drank sometimes, but she was stone cold sober, and even more dangerous.

The two times I attempted termination she agreed to enter counselling and to work on her stuff. We went together and we both went alone. Me to figure out what my part in her madness was, and her… Well, who knows. But things got worse and not better. They never got better. And finally, even though we’d talked about a peaceful separation, if it wasn’t going to work, she filed for divorce while I was out-of-town on a business trip. We were having a tough time, but I assured her that we could end as friends. And I begged her not to engage lawyers, if we did decide to part. Someone else was whispering in her ear by this time. And my first day back at work, I was served by the Sheriff and given a restraining order that prevented me from going within 500 yards of my house, my cats, all of my worldly possessions.

And even after all of that, the moment I took off my wedding ring I broke down in tears. I was so disappointed, even with all of the struggle and mess, to give up the dream of that long white dress and the promises we made at the altar. Strike one.

+++

In my second marriage, I had a lot more invested. We had a family together, two kids, and a house, and a significant number of hopes and dreams that we had joined together with our marriage. And while we had ups and downs, I walked pretty strongly in this relationship. I wasn’t really very concerned about the future of our marriage. The happiness and stress could fluctuate up and down and I had the belief that we’d be okay. I think we both did.

We went through a lot. 9-11 took out my entire business at the time. And we floundered for our bearings together. Always together. And we had a very difficult pregnancy of our second child and we took another round of despair and struggles and turned it into strength and bonding. We survived. And we struggled on over the next several years.

The idea of getting married still appeals to me. But what would the conditions need to be? I am not planning on courting a third ex-wife.

Even when I discovered an online tryst with one of her coworkers, a younger man who she had gone to lunch and coffee with, I worked in therapy to regain my trust. She apologized with all the heart she could muster at the time, but we were fragile and shaken by the “affair.” (see: Cheating Hearts, Cheating Minds)

The blow came much later, when I was certain, even in the face of growing unrest and antagonism, that we were still safe in the marriage. We just needed some work in the relationship. In the communication. In the trust. And I was certain we were both trying at our full capacity to keep the marriage together. The friendship and passion would surely follow.

It was in a marriage counseling session when she said something that caught me off guard. I don’t recall what she said but suddenly I had a very deep feeling of dread.

“Have you been to see a lawyer?” I asked, angry, scared, and curious all at the same second. (See: Giving Up On Me)

When she admitted she had been seeking advice from a divorce attorney I was thrown. And the buck off the horse was unrecoverable. Within a month I had capitulated to giving her a divorce. And though I went down swinging to keep the relationship together, she had seen some other light of promise outside our life together. Strike two.

The idea of getting married still appeals to me. But what would the conditions need to be? I am not planning on courting a third ex-wife.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

< back to The Hard Stuff

related posts:

image: marriage trouble, chris lau, creative commons usage


What’s This About: Marriage?

creative commons usage: marriageWould you do it again? What’s the point? Is it symbolism or security you seek? I don’t know, but I’m willing to ask myself the questions about why I would ever want to get married again.

It came up in a recent discussion. “I don’t think I’ll ever do that again,” she said.

I noticed my reaction. “Hmm. I wonder what that’s about.” But I quickly turned the observation inward to try and parse out what I would want from marriage. Let’s see…

  1. I already have kids, so it is not about them or having a mom.
  2. I did love the ring. I loved what it symbolized. I cried the first time I took it off. I was a proud husband.
  3. Financially there are some advantages.
  4. Security. (Hmm. This is the hardest one.)

In the end, the marriage did not provide any security within my relationship. I mean, perhaps she would have decided to seek greener pastures sooner had it not been for the legal and financial wranglings that were required to divorce me. But from my side, perhaps I was a bit blind-sided by my unrealistic trust in the “marriage” part of our relationship.

So what kind of trust could be won from getting married again? Would it make our bond any more secure?

The woman I was chatting with responded to my financial comment by asking, “Is that really something you considered when getting married?”

“No,” I said, “But I would have to consider it a reason now. I mean we both have kids, so it wouldn’t be about them.”

And here we are, at the crux of the matter. Would MARRIAGE, the ring, the ceremony, the step-kid thing, give either of us more security? I don’t know. Is it part of my plan? Perhaps, but it is certainly not something I think of in the early months of a relationship. Although she did catch me saying, “If a relationship doesn’t have the potential of going long-term, then I’m not really interested.”

“What does that even mean, long-term,” she asked, with a sly smile.

“I don’t know.”

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to On Dating Again index

related posts:

resources:

image: creative commons usage: marriage day, sami ben gharbia


She Would’ve Liked Me To Just Leave the House

divorced dad and kidsWhen the proverbial shit hit the fan, and she had fully articulated that she wanted a divorce, that she had gone to see an attorney to understand her “options,” that even our therapist had shown his doubts about our survivability, she wanted me to leave. She was incensed that I simply would not LEAVE THE HOUSE.

I made a declaration over and over as she kept raising the subject. “I will not bring this divorce full-force into this house until our kids have finished this year in school.” She was not happy. She used ideas like “trial separation” as enticements. No way.

But I was not willing to uproot the entire family, because the ex-y had come to a decision, had weighed her options, and seen an opening and a greener pasture outside my arms.

I was the survivor of a horrible divorce, when my parents started the kid wars that became my life. When I grieved my divorce, as it had been spelled out for me by my sessions with the ex-y, I was crying for my kids, not for me. Of course, I’m aware enough to know that my tears for my son were really tears AS A SON, who was losing his dad. I lost my dad, big time. When he walked out that door, the second time, he never came back. And our lives quickly descended into a living hell for years. My dad is not me. My son is not having that experience. Not by a long shot.

But I was not willing to uproot the entire family, because the ex-y had come to a decision, had weighed her options, and seen an opening and a greener pasture outside my arms. Our kids were in 2nd and 4th grade. It still makes me angry to think she was so oblivious to their needs and only focused on HER needs. Her needs for immediate separation and space. For her to get HER house. I guess…

I did not move out until the kids were done with school. It was two of the hardest months of my life. Knowing I was toast, that my wife was unreachable, and that I was more of a ghost dad than a dad. But I stayed my ground. Fuck her and her separation and space. And fuck if I was going to give her the house, just like that.

In the end, that’s what happened, she got the house, as my real estate friend who was experienced in several divorces said she would. “She’s gonna get the house, and your still going to be paying for it,” he said. And while part of that does not seem fair, it’s the way it is. Any whining about it is whining. Let’s move on.

I did not walk out the door that March. But in many ways, as June arrived and the kids completed their semester in elementary school, I suffered mightily for my decision. I think it was the right decision. As I said to the ex-y, it’s a business. We can’t just divorce overnight. There are a lot of details to work out. So what’s the hurry? Other than the fact that you want me out, you want to start whatever is next. And boy didn’t she. She was sexing it up within weeks of the divorce papers being filed. SHE WAS THE STARVED PARTY? What? That’s kinda funny.

…Being a great parent, and looking after the best interests of our kids even when it goes against what we want or think we need.

Okay, so I stayed and now I have my badge of honor and my heart-on-sleeve righteousness. But it was a hard two months. As we navigated sleeping in separate rooms and getting the kids ready for school, and coordinating the details of running a family. By June I was a basket case. I was depressed beyond belief, I was hardly functional, but hey, we’d done it. The kids got to finish 2nd and 4th grade without the sigma of their familial collapse.

I’m trying to take precautionary action this year, before June arrives with it’s regret and memories. The long summer. The death of my marriage. The real separation of my kids from me. And the last three summers have been very hard. I can plan, strategize, and keep meeting with my talky doctor, but to say I’m bulletproof heading towards summer would be a fool’s dream.

I am leery of summer now. I am a bit sad just now, thinking about how hard the past three summers have been.

I am also strong, rebuilt, and reoriented towards health, fitness, and being a great parent. And part of that includes looking after the best interests of our kids even when it goes against what we want or think we need.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

related posts:

resources:


Making a Will As a Single Parent: Sooner Rather Than Later

Love or Money - making a will

(this is a guest post)

Making a will is not always high on people’s agendas. With so much going on in our daily lives, thinking about the future is not something we tend to do – but it should be, especially if you’re a single parent.

For those who are not with their partner, for whatever reason, decisions over who will care for your children when you’re no longer around is a real concern and it’s vital that you take the time to work out what it is you want.

Why make a Will?

Making a Will is one of the only ways to guarantee that your affairs will be handled how you want them to be following your death. This not only applies to who will inherit your personal possessions and finances but also decides who will become responsible for looking after and raising your children.

As a single parent, the care of your child may not automatically default to their other parent. This means that it is wise to specify who you want to look after your children in your Will. You’ll need to discuss this with the individual first to ensure it is a responsibility they are willing to take on and you need only do it if you’re children are still classed as dependents (are under 18 years of age or suffer from a disability or have special needs which make them more reliant to adults).

Why do it now?

By putting off making a Will you could be putting yourself and your children at unnecessary risk. Situations can change at anytime and no one knows what the future holds in regards to their life and time of death. If you fail to appoint a guardian for your children then serious complications could be encountered following your death.

Dealing with the loss of a parent is hard enough for any child but where they like in a single parent home it can be even more traumatic. Adding the stress of uncertainty concerning their living arrangements and guardianship onto this could therefore have drastic ramifications. By drawing a Will you will be protecting them from this heartache.

Making a will is both easy and inexpensive so you needn’t worry about being stung with expensive costs. If you already have a Will then you may not even need to draw a new one but may be able to make legally recognized amendments known as codicils.

Resources:


Single Parenting Magic – The SPO Has Given a Happy Moment

July 2012 the SPO delivers a "fifth" weekend

One. Three. Five.

Do those numbers sound familiar? In the SPO (standard possession order) those are the weekends the typical dad gets his kids. The first, the third, and the ever so lucky fifth. So this year we have Christmas in July. For some great turn of the calendar, this coming weekend is a magic “fifth.” And what that does, if you don’t know, is set up the double-weekend.

So I’m not saying she’s not being a good mother, but I do think our priorities are different. In some ways she WAS ahead of me in the entire divorce process. She would say it wasn’t premeditated, but she was closing down our communication channels for several years as she distanced herself from intimacy with me. It wasn’t hard. I was compliant. I took care of myself. But in doing so, I lost the heart of why I was in a relationship. It’s more clear now that I don’t have it, but I was desperate to stay connected. When that wasn’t offered, I was desperate to stay together until things got better. (Um, yeah. That’s a bad equation. NOTE: The other person is NOT going to change. They “might,” it’s possible, but it’s like waiting for the alcoholic to stop drinking. There’s always wishing and hoping and planning and doing better… And then there’s the slip or exit.)

Drop off and pick up can change the tenor of my entire week. Going by our old house was almost unbearable for the first year and a half.

So within weeks of the finalization of our divorce she was leaving the kids with a sitter to have sex with a repair man in another city. Oh boy! Yes, the word REBOUND came screaming up at me when I heard about it. And in my divorce recovery class, it was the only solace I had. Yes, she was already having sex with someone else. BUT HEY, it was a definite “rebound.” Fuck that. In many ways she had moved on and was all ready to GET IT ON with someone else. I have to say, “I get it.” But I was a little more calculated in my decisions, or maybe I was just so far behind in understanding emotionally what was happening.

The loss of the kids, the unlimited time with your kids, is the hardest thing. Well, that’s AFTER you get over the fact that this person has decided to bet against you. And suddenly you are left alone (and in my case homeless) to fend for yourself. And on all those nights that she has the kids for consecutive nights, you will learn to lick your wounds and get back up on your feet. Yes, it’s a process of self-discovery, but it’s like having the ladder out-of-the-hole kicked out from under you.

I guess there’s no good age for kids in divorce. And while my kids are thriving, I can see the loss in my daughter’s face when we are finally back together after a long period away. And her hugs and “mother hen” affection are just a bit over the top. I love it. I glow in it. I am careful to be the awesome dad in the father daughter constellation. As they say, she is learning, will learn, how to be with men by the healthy ways she learns to relate with me. It’s a huge responsibility. And it makes me sad not to be there for her. (The ex-y can date and babysit herself to her heart’s delight, but my daughter has become one of my primary concerns.)

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with her “relationship,” these days, but it does seem to me, that she puts her needs ahead of the kids. Perhaps that was the switch that allowed her to actually file for divorce from me. At some point she had to detach from me first. Then she had to make a decision that being without me was better for HER than being with me.

The kids are the hard part. Drop off and pick up can change the tenor of my entire week. Going by our old house was almost unbearable for the first year and a half. It was too close, to easy to want to crawl back into my old bed, to easy to long for a “return” of some sort.

And the SPO does take a huge portion of the time away from the dad. The lawyers and counselors likes to point out that “it’s pretty close to 50/50.” The problem with that logic is how that balance is achieved. There is this provision for the summers, that the NCP (non-custodial parent) can have the kids for an entire 30 days.

Let’s see what the problem is with that idea.

1. Financially it would be a huge hardship. If you could take the month off, it would be a killer vacation opportunity. But, like most parents, I would guess we have to keep working our normal schedule, then it becomes a 100% child care expense for a week.

2. Emotionally the kids are going to suffer being away from the other parent for a month. Maybe as the kids get older this will be an easier decision. But right now, the kids would be hurting to be away from Mom for that amount of time.

3. Logistically, you’ve got to make provisions for their care, entertainment, and nurture, while continuing to provide financially for both them and their mother.

As they say, if she’s happy, my kids are happy, and that’s supposed to make me happy too. It sort of works that way.

So, let’s just say, it’s going to be awhile before I am able to swing (or even want to swing) a 30-day visitation during the summer. THEN, the next best thing is the magic fifth weekend.

One more moment of reflection on the “balance of the schedule.” So JULY for me is going to be like EVERY OTHER MONTH is for her. OUCH!

I’m not interested, nor do I have the funds to change our legal agreement. BUT… at some point the “balance of time” vs. the “balance of the financial obligation” might have me looking at changing the custodial arrangement. I simply don’t have the funds to pursue it. And, for now, it’s working out to my advantage. A sad and somewhat lonely advantage, but nonetheless, I am getting a ton of work done in my “off parent” time.

So for now, I can thank my ex-y for taking care of the kids the majority of the time. (Note: during the school year she does shoulder an unfair burden of school parenting and homework, but hey, that’s the breaks.) And I can be the best dad that I can be during the time I have my kids. And I can celebrate the little gifts of the “fifth.”

And she can go right ahead and remarry, as she’s already mentioned in relationship to her current boyfriend, if that’s her path. I’ll do what I can to support her and the kids through whatever’s next. And I will keep the anger and bitterness here, in this process-writing, rather than in the my dealings with my ex-y. As they say, if she’s happy, my kids are happy, and that’s supposed to make me happy too. It sort of works that way.

In July, this year, I’ve got a lot to celebrate.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

related posts:

resources:


Flat Out Broke: Money Survival Basics After Divorce

losing my financial freedom in the divorceHow is it possible? I’m a successful professional in my 49th year of life and I have a negative balance in my checking account and $14 in my retirement account? And even more amazing, how is it that I am not freaking out?

Since the full child support payments kicked in I have been scrambling not to bounce checks. I’m astounded by the amount of money I am now paying to my ex-y. I know it’s “for the kids” and all, but I am barely keeping gas in my car and food in my belly at this moment. Much less food in my kids bellies and the occasional splurge, eating out or going out to see a movie.

Every other expense, bill, financial obligation, was on hold. Paused. Put in a file and forgotten about. I could not pay my credit cards for the first time in my life.

I am lucky, too, I have a high earning potential, and even in this dropped economy I’ve made a reasonable, though severely reduced, income. And my ex-y has remained fully employed since about three months before the divorce was final. (Go figure that?)

And, I’ve got some new clients and good financial forecasts for next month. But it always takes a while for new business to ramp up to full-hours. I’m close, and I have invoices out to be paid, but at the moment, I can’t buy a Starbucks. Oh, and I forgot to mention, my three credit cards, useless burdens at this point. Another source of frustration. But I’ll get to them as well.

Of course, “the kids” come first. Of course they do. And I will say it to myself again and again, “I want my kids to have a healthy life.” And I have to believe I will rise above the cash drain with a significant uptick in my income. That’s about all I have, the faith that I will dig out from under this.

Once I got over the shock of not being able to pay all of my bills I started researching strategies to survive. Here’s what I learned.

The bankruptcy/debt counselors really only have one solution: consolidate your debt and agree to a payment plan. Um, this does not work when your income is ZERO.

The counselor did say one very valuable thing. “At some point you will run out of things to sell off and you will have to make a decision about what bills to pay.”

My decisions revolved around a few things.

  • I wanted to keep my house. (mortgage payments were critical path)
  • I had to eat and drive to work. (groceries and gas were non-negotiables)
  • I needed electricity, water, and high-speed internet access to do my work and live comfortably.
  • I committed to the child support payments and I was going to pay them. (I did negotiate a deferral on also paying the kid’s health insurance until my work re-stabilized.)
In the meantime, my job is not to thrash, not to share the stress of this trying moment with my kids, and to carry on. It sucks sometimes.

Other than that, every other expense, bill, financial obligation, was on hold. Paused. Put in a file and forgotten about. I could not pay my credit cards for the first time in my life. Okay, I’m over it. Ignore the calls. I had to tell my ex-y that I could not pay the health care but that I would make good on the debt as soon as I had positive cash flow. I had to negotiate the timing on my payments to my ex-y so I could make two payments during the month.

And then I have continued to work like hell to get my work situation back to full-productivity. Yes the economy is hard. I’ve had a lot of interviews but no offers. And my consulting business has kept me alive for almost a year since my last FT job.

But the bottom line is, I’m surviving. I’ve cut back to the bare basics. And today I’ve still got nothing. I can’t take my kids to the movies tonight. And the groceries in the fridge are what we’ve got until they go back to their mom’s on Monday.  And IT IS OKAY. It’s not fun, but it’s workable. The clients will pay, the credit cards will eventually get back on a payment plan, and the ex-y will get her full legally awarded child support.

In the meantime, my job is not to thrash, not to share the stress of this trying moment with my kids, and to carry on. It sucks sometimes. And I’m not 100% sure being the non-custodial parent was a good move for me financially. BUT, today it’s what I’ve got.

Hi Ho, Hi Ho!

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

Update: A new reader tweeted at me today about this post. It made her hot under the collar. “Paying child support is not heroic.” She said. She missed the gist of this post. Yes we are both struggling with money issues. But I was at ZERO. Not by some bad behavior or fatal flaw. Not because I was not looking for work.

< back to The Hard Stuff

related posts:

resources:


Doing Well Is the Best Revenge; Should Be Served Cold

muting my ex-wife's calls on my cell phoneMoney played a much bigger role in my marriage than I’d like to admit. And now, divorced, the relationship between my ex-y and money is about the same. With one big difference. I can ignore my ex-y when she’s going on about money. We’ve got a contract now. And if it’s written, then I don’t need to keep negotiating when, how, if, and the ever-present, “It would be nice if…”

Nope, as easy as pushing mute on my phone when it’s ringing.

She’s really no easier now than she was. There’s still this urgent need to know exactly when and how much. As if a day or a hundred dollars is going to make a huge difference to anybody but her.

Yes, I’m a bit more laid back about money. And, confession, I’m slightly behind on the health care part of the payments. But things are just about to change. My consulting business just booked two new clients that are going to take me to about 120% of capacity.

The good news is, I can do the extra 20% now, because I don’t have my kids for most of the weekday nights. So, dear ex-y I’m going to catch up. I’ve told you I would as soon as I had a good book of business. And that’s true.

The part that’s fun about it… (Poignant, rather than fun.) The fun part is that money is about to get much easier for me. And that’s good, I’m middle-aged. And while I’ve just killed my entire retirement account, to keep up with the child support payments, I’m going to rebuild stronger and bigger than ever before. So I will wave at your working-your-ass-off self, the one who decided to split up the 11-year partnership we’d formed. And I have the awareness at this point that I was trying to grow a more sane business model for both of US. Now you are out of that equation. I hope you find what you are looking for.

I’m looking forward to being a solid provider again. And the ex-y will get what’s coming to her, to the letter of the law. But the partnership could’ve produced some great opportunities and cushion. Oh well. On to what’s next.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

permalink: http://www.theoffparent.com/doing-well/


Followed by the Black Dog (of depression)

the black dog disappears

He came out of nowhere with a grin and a wild look in his brown eyes. The black dog began following me this morning on my walk. It was as if he was lonely for someone to cruise around with, and he took my singing with the iPod as encouragement. And he was like a shadow.

So much of the time recovering from divorce is about recovering from depression. “Clinical” or “temporary,” depression is a bitch. It keeps you in bed when you should go to work. It makes you eat crap when you should really start watching what you eat even more carefully. And for me, the worst part, it makes ME isolate like a motherfucker. That’s the killer for me.

I’m not depressed at the moment. So I am able to see and respond to the black dog [sadness] with an open hand. My energy level is high, I’m walking, so that’s good, and the music is weaving its tentacles in my brain and I’m feeling quite buoyant at the moment. So where did the black dog come from?

One of the most pivotal moments in recovery is admitting to yourself that depression is a problem. For me, isolation is pretty deep on the list of symptoms. By the time I’m isolating and fucking up at work, the other mechanics of depression are in full bloom.

My check-ins look kind of like this:

  • eating
  • sleeping
  • sexual desire (even masturbation can be a positive sign)
  • laughing or playing
  • calling people back
  • spending time with friends

When any of these balance points gets way out of whack I’m heading towards a wrestling match with the black dog. The last real battle lasted 4 – 5 months and could’ve easily killed me.

So when the black dog of depression is showing itself, I try to take evasive action as soon as I can.

Evasive Actions:

  • go for a walk
  • play a game (online with others if I can’t be with real people)
  • clean up my diet (it’s amazing what junk food and sugar highs can do to your overall life-performance)
  • see if there’s anything pornographic that interests me (if I can get an erection, at least I know I’m alive, I have a desire)
  • call one of my D-buddies (“Um, I’m just calling because I don’t want to call, and I don’t want to get together for lunch or anything.”)
  • meet with my counselor or doctor (talky therapists are critical, and meds doctors are too, if you’ve ever had deep bouts of depression)

The most important thing for me is to stay out of the isolation chamber. That is where I slowly, patiently, kill myself.

So this morning, I’m not feeling much charge from the depressive side of my life at the moment, and the black dog is more of a friend and companion. He won’t come close enough for me to pet him, but he smiles at me just the same. He keeps his distance, I keep singing along to the music on my iPod, and we mosey on down the road together.

And then out of nowhere appears another set of black dogs. The twins from down the street. These guys I know.

the twins from down the street

For a minute I’m not sure if the black dog is going to gel or fight, but I keep walking, imagining they’re going to work it out between themselves.

I look back about 5 minutes later, to see if the black dog is still with me. The three dogs are doing some sort of ecstasy-daisy-chain-circle-dance, They are lost in their dog-ness.

I am happy the black dog has found better companions. I’m not afraid to befriend him. The converse is true. Depression is part of loss. And if you are FEELING the divorce, you will probably feel depressed.

For me, this blog became one of my re-stabilizing forces. I write to process. I write to learn and make sense of what is happening. The first time, when my ex-y asked me to take it down, I was depressed. What I realized only later, was that I was in the early stages of depression. By shutting down the expression of my anger, sadness, and loss; by killing this blog, the first time, I actually hastened my own slip further into darkness.

Today the black dog (of depression) is my friend. I will see him again from time to time. He will travel with me for a bit. And we will part ways when one of us has a more interesting opportunity.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

related posts:

resources:


“Watch out squirrel!” I Needed To Shout This Today: “Fk You!”

squirrel loses the war

“For some reason I needed to tell you today, that I fkin hate you for giving up on me. And, of course, it is a blessing. We weren’t happy. But as much as I’d like to talk about the sour grapes, I’m still somewhat devastated. You bailed.”

Ah, that anger again. We’re gonna have good days and bad days. And today has been a good day. When I was driving to the store today I saw a vulture snacking on a squirrel. Why this reminded me of my own pain, I’m not quite sure. But today, with an email from you, I learned what it was about.

I am not okay.

And I am fine. But here’s the rub. We were so fkin close to making it. Sure I hid some of my desires and you pretended to still have them for me. And sure the economy has been tough, it’s tough on everyone. And then like the squirrel, I got distracted. I paid attention to your anger rather than my own. And now the vultures are snacking on my heart. [okay, that was for dramatic effect only. let me recalibrate and try again.]

As so many things are coming back together for me, after almost two years of struggle, I am sorry not to have you as my mate to share this wonderful time with. That’s the part that still has some kind of sting. But that’s my shit. And I’m working on it. [here]

In the same way WE were so close to making things work out back then, I am very close today, on both a personal and professional level. Sure, a relationship will follow, at some point, but I’m taking major life/balance things first. And before the divorce was started, when I said to you, “You know we can’t afford TWO houses in this neighborhood.” I was wrong. Sort of.

There’s an imbalance to how all this divorce stuff goes down. I’m not angered by the child support payments. My kids need a lot of stuff. And I’m happy to provide. BUT… Some how I’m now paying TWO mortgages. How did that work? How is that fair? Who’s helping me out?

There’s some statistic about the SPO being about even. But there’s a real big mistake in that logic. HUGE actually. The SPO has this wonderful provision for the working dad, primarily the one who gets the shorter end of the stick on the SPO laws. And this provision has the kids spending an entire month with dad, theoretically during the summer. Um, yeah.

QUESTION: When the fk am I going to be able to afford to take a week off with my kids, much less a MONTH? REALLY! No, Dr. Who-Knows-Best, tell me about that mythical MONTH that helps balance the schedule out the rest of the year.  Oh, and before you answer, let’s talk about how much of the financial burden I’M going to be carrying, in addition to trying to scratch out a living for myself. So, really, what’s the fkin SPO percentage when I can’t afford to take that MONTH off, in fact, we don’t DO that part of the SPO, because it’d be too damn expensive.

Another big shock, if you’re on the mortgage for another house, it’s gonna be harder than hell to afford a new place. Much less, BUY something. And when they are looking at your financial feasibility, they are going to examine your SPO like frikin proctologists. Because, my friends, the dad is getting fked right up the wazoo.

Without going into numbers, let me illuminate the situation.

My child support payments, which include a percentage of my salary AND the cost of healthcare for both kids, is exactly $100 less than my new mortgage. And about $200 less than the mortgage on my old home. So how did the math come out, that we’re getting the kids 43/57 but I’m still paying both mortgages? (Here’s a link to the Standard Possession Order in the State of Texas.) Here’s what the Attorney General’s website says about our great state, to give you the full flavor of the situation here, “In Texas, about 10 percent of non-custodial parents are mothers.” – handbook for non-custodial parents.

Yeah, yeah… Men often make more than women. And yeah, yeah, women often suffer more financially than men in this situation. Fk that, it hasn’t been so in MY CASE. [sorry, i’ll try to quit shouting.]

Here’s what you are going to hear from your legal support team. (her’s and your’s) “The SPO is the way to go. Being the Non-Custodial Parent (NCP) is no big deal. That’s how it’s going to go even if you fight it. It’s just the way it is.”

And there’s going to be this, “50/50 is too hard on the kids. Too much transition. The SPO is better for everyone. It has been worked out over time.”

So what do you do? What did I do? Of course I went in asking for 50/50 and the Dr. advised that my request was more of an emotional matter, and not one that was necessarily in the “best interest” of the child. And “The SPO is the best approach.”

And I kid you not, she said this, “And she’s going to get that if you fight her or not. Most of this is about what she is willing to negotiate, knowing that she would win in court. But neither of you want that.”

And she was right. I was in no position to fight. I was still reeling from the idea of losing something much bigger than a custody battle. I was willing to put everything in the “best for the kids” column, if it meant less time dealing with the trauma of the divorce.

Besides–and this still haunts me–“what she is willing to negotiate.” The assumption, even by this neutral [ha!] third-party was… SHE WINS.

As Dad’s we just need to deal with it. Buck up and be prepared to PAY.

+++

I’ve been lucky. Even in my devastating depression, surrounding such a depressing event, I got a pretty awesome FT-job about six months after the divorce was final. And I moved quickly to purchase a house on that job.

I have nothing to complain about. I mean, I can rant here, but overall I am personally in pretty good shape. And while my first post-D job only lasted 4 months, I am poised to start some contract work that could put me solidly back in to the black. Where I get to pay both of our mortgages for way less than 50% of the time.

I’ve got a funny way of looking at it: If I had to pay for childcare during all the time I have to myself, I’d probably be paying  A LOT more. So do what you can to get over the anger. And get the possession order that makes the most sense for YOU. I’m meeting a ton of parents who do more of a 50/50 thing. I wonder how that would’ve affected the amount of money I had to pay to my ex-y.

Let me be clear: I want my kids to be provided for. I want to be that good provider for my kids. But… where does it say that she gets a free house in the deal, just for starters? “Because she knows that’s what she’s going to get.”

I’ve officially just burned through my entire retirement savings. I could probably petition the court and show my REAL INCOME for the past 18 months and have the support amount reduced significantly. Heck, I was optimistic when I signed the SPO and decree outlining how much I was going to pay my ex-y for the next 9 years. But mostly I was just trying to get through the loss AND the process of the courts. And of course, everyone counseled me that she would get the SPO anyway, and I should just agree and move on.

That’s fair, right? Fk that! [don’t be a fkin squirrel or the vultures are gonna rip your furry body apart.]

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

Resources:


Thanks for the Jetpack, Where’s the Fuel?

diversions for divorcing parents

WARNING: In 5 minutes you are going out the door of this plane-in-flight whether you want to or not. Here’s your divorce supply list:

  • 1 Used Jetpack (no instructions)
  • Craigslist (for rent) pages
  • Half-priced books “divorce” section
  • Coffee shops and restaurants for internet access (ah, the web)
  • An appointment with a divorce counselor
  • An appointment with a divorce finance counselor
  • An appointment with a lawyer
  • What you can pack in a few bags

At least now you know what’s going on. Don’t panic. You can make it through this. The first step, taken willingly or with a push, is the hardest. And after awhile even free fall won’t be so terrifying.

The first problem is, you have a jet pack and not a parachute. Here are some ideas about how to get yours started and even potential sources for fuel.

  • Journal about what’s happening – you don’t have to start a blog, just begin putting down the words, in writing, not in your head
  • Get some exercise – even a walk is better than no walk. The internet and research will still be there when you get back. I know you don’t want to.
  • Remember the wider world of life – take a trip into nature, swimming, find ways to help others
  • Find a tribe or two to hang with – you’re not alone in this loss and disorientation, find a group to chat with, a recovery group to heal your issues, go be with friends even if you don’t really want to be seen in your current state (they won’t mind)
  • Discover computer games again (you may find gaming as a way to reconnect or stay connected with your kids. Caveat: don’t over do it with escaping in to computer games, make sure you’re getting your work and other healthy things done too.)
  • Uncover the world of the opposite sex again – i’m not advocating porn or strip clubs or erotica, but I am saying it could help lessen some of the shock (caveat: from Folding My Desire, “I slept and stayed up late cuddling with the internet. Computers and videos make terrible lovers.”
  • Sleep well (if you are having a hard time sleeping get some help, drink less caffeine, in sleep so much of our brain repairs from the stress of the day. And you are in major stress.)
  • Eat as well as you can (Opt for the salad over the burger when it’s feasable. Sure, comfort foods are okay, just watch the intake so the waist doesn’t balloon up)

I know that’s not much to hang on to as you are edged towards the abyss. But you have to trust that it’s enough. You’re gonna make it back to Earth.

Take a deep breath and count to ten.

Jump.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent
@theoffparent

related posts:

Resources:

* image from Jetpack Joyride (iPhone app)

 


She Was Certain Her Anger Was About Me

breaking down the heart barrier in divorceI was pleading for her to get a grip, it was nearly the end, the kids would soon be out of school and I’d be out of the house. “You think I’m going to walk out the door of the house and you’re suddenly going to be happy? Maybe what you are so mad about isn’t just me.”

She’d been mad for over a year. And the “Fuck You” exclamations had begun to seep into our daily lives. I woke up each day with the determination to make things better, to work harder, to be more consistent, to offer help, love, and support at every opportunity. She woke up mad. I failed at my tasks too.

And when the word “cynicism” came out at couples therapy I felt like we’d landed at the crux of the problem. Somewhere deep inside, she had decided this is how it was always going to be, this therapy is nice but it’s not helping, and I’m just fkin pissed to be going to “therapy” yet again.

“It’s not getting better,” she said that afternoon before we got out of the car.

“You really believe that?”

I could tell that she did before she said anything. When she brought out the C-word in therapy I heard the impossibility of my task should I choose to take it on. You can’t argue with cynicism, you can’t rationalize with it, you can’t even really get pissed at it, because the hands are already up in disgust. The joking moment, became cause for a sideways, “Fuck you,” and a quick apology.

She wasn’t getting any less mad, that was clear. And I wasn’t coming any closer to changing her mind. I don’t guess I ever really changed her at all.

In those moments when she’d had a glass of wine some barrier came down and she would be touched for a moment. She would cry and lament and talk about how she might not be right for me. I would cry back at her with reassurance. And some sort of relief came in those moments, because I was sure this time the heart would stay unstuck, the feelings would continue to penetrate the facade. But that was my own folly.

I needed her to stay in that feeling place and comfort the parts of me that were hurting. I needed a warm shoulder. We needed closeness. And sometimes we reached that place.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent 

Resources:


Why Blog About This? What’s The Point?

how bob dylan told me to blogTwo summers ago, my ex-y was hipped to this blog. She called on the phone.

“I saw The Off Parent.”

“Okay.”

“And as a parent, trying to trust you, I want you to take it down.”

“You’re right,” I said. It was a very low point for me. “I’ll take it down right now. I’m sorry.”

+++

And then something happened a few weeks ago. I was thinking about a post, I was angry with my ex-y (go figure) and I wanted to write about it. I remembered how my depression returned with a vengeance  right after the conversation above. “What was the point?” I asked myself.

And as I was walking across the parking lot of the local grocery store, I said, “When my kids are grown up, I want them to know the truth. I want them to understand what I was going through.”

The point being, my kids are on the internet. They are not searching for me or my blogs. And this blog, The Off Parent, would be hard to trace back to me. You can do it. There are some threads. If you really wanted to.

BUT why would my kids be searching for a blog about divorce? Um, unless they are searching for a blog about divorce. (Good point.)

My friend said to me, “Do you think Bob Dylan’s kids have heard Idiot Wind?”

So this is not for them, this is not for you. This is for me. I am attempting to share the truth, and release the bitterness and sadness, so that I can heal and move on.

This is also a document that will be revealed. I’m sure it’s my ex-y’s worst nightmare. Well, sorry, hon, it’s up for keeps this time. Oh, and it’s not for you, either.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

Info Source: Sara Dylan on Wikipedia

Resources:


Anger is Energy – If You Don’t Thrash

a fish out of water has two choices - the off parentA fish caught and out of the water on the grass has two options: 1. thrash: jump, struggle, flip, flop; or 2. breathe.

Eventually the fish will die if not returned to the water. But the fish has very little to do with its survival at that point. You might say it’s up to God, or the fisherman, which to the fish is sort of like God.

Anger today is a good thing. It reminds me I have feelings and energy. It reminds me that I still care about finding a better life for myself and my kids. My ex-y can find her own way.

But thrashing against the obstacles is a waste of energy that could be used elsewhere. And one of the greatest drains of that energy is anger at the ex-y. I guess she did the best she could. I mean, that’s how God would see it, right?

I tend to see things a bit differently with a little distance. BUT… anger at the choices and changes that have already happened, do little to inform or direct my efforts at moving forward. What anger can do is motivate my ass into gear. But I have to make sure I make use of that motivation in productive rather than destructive ways.

Even if she has requested changes or been mean and contradictory to me, that’s not my problem. That. Is. Who. She. Is.

And the anger I have around her behavior cannot be fed back into the system to change things. The more I wanted the marriage to work, the more I demanded for changes, the more I thrashed in some ways. I was not aware that she had already left the marriage. I was not clear that the death of her sexual drive was more about her than me. And while I did thrash against both the sexless marriage and the end of marriage, I was ultimately powerless to get myself back into the warm water of our early relationship.

So today, I am angry. A friend sent a picture of my daughter that he found on a random simcard. My beautiful life is there in hi-definition as I am lifting my smiling daughter into the air and kissing her belly. And there is a sliver of my ex-y’s face in the photo too. You could almost miss it.

And I was immediately sad, not mad. The imagined life, the dreams at that moment, frozen and captured in a moment of family joy. And the anger is about the betrayal of both my daughter and myself by that remote face with the beautiful smile and eyes closed.

She made the decision. She gave up. She walked into a lawyer’s office to get her “options.” And all of our lives are altered because of that decision. And the wonderful little girl in the picture now has a distant father. A father who is there as often and openly as possible. But I can feel the tug on her as she reaches for my hand in the car, walking to the grocery store, when she claims to have a stomach ache every Friday morning so maybe she won’t have to go to school and she can stay at my house.

But I could not change the trajectory once the new departure point was set in motion. I can, however, understand that I was not ever going to be able to change my ex-y into being the touchy-feely person I wanted her to be. She’s much more comfortable in the confines of an excel spreadsheet.

So when the warmth was sucked out of the marriage, there was very little left if I was not generating it. But for my little girl and my son, I can generate twice as much love and holding as before. I can show my daughter what a Dad is like that shows up and says, “I love you,” all the time. I can provide the reflection to my kids that they are loved. I can make them feel loved. I can still hold them in the air, metaphorically, and kiss their childish bellies.

I will not change. I will not let the bitterness or anger get in the way of me loving my kids with everything I’ve got.

AND… I will have an opportunity to share that with another woman at some point. I know it.

If I can just breathe and not thrash.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:


We Ran Into Her First Ex-Husband At a Titty Bar

Hitting the strip clubs and finding my ex-wife's ex-husband #1[Note: I’m her second ex-husband.]

There’s that fantasy that has something about two girls and a guy. I think it’s a universal male erotic obsession. I know I HAD it for a while. Not to say I don’t enjoy a bit of voyeuristic girl-on-girl pic or vid from time to time.

But the time my ex-y and I went to a titty bar together and ran into her FIRST ex-husband, it was a bit too much. I mean, seeing the ex-husband there was kinda funny, and my ex-y was fun about it. We sent him a lap dance.

And then we got my ex-y a couple lap dances herself. A hot, very pierced and very young working girl who clearly enjoyed making my ex-y’s muff moist, was all over playing the role for us.

But the scene was uncomfortable for several reasons. My ex-y sort of “got into it” a bit much. I could see her flushed cheeks. I could imagine… Wait, I didn’t want to imagine it. And here’s why: something at that time told me that the switch would be fairly easy for my ex-y. The fantasy is fine until the dude is left cold. I mean, what more do I have to offer, once they are hooked up, so to speak?

So we paid her a couple times, back and forth, in a ménage à trois ala stripper club. And the girl’s perfume was heavy with her scent. She was “working” pretty hard. And not just at our table.

We never went back. And I’m pretty sure, the idea, while somewhat interesting on paper, became more of a “not really” for me. The fragility of our intimacy was close enough that any, [any] alternative sexual energy was a threat rather than a turn-on.

It’s a shame. Or maybe not.

Hey, it looks like that stripper club is having a special tonight. Steak and lobster for $15.95. A pocket full of ones a few twenties, and… Nah, not tonight.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources:


Feeling Again or NOT Feeling Again

the spilled coffee grounds at my ex's houseSee if you can feel the irony of this. I am picking up my kids after school at my former house. And the dogs have gotten into the trash in the kitchen. So what do I do, clean it up? Make it a little more messy? Ignore it, not my problem.

Well she is nice enough to let me use the house as a pick up zone. It’s good for the kids. So I do a partial pickup. Coffee grounds and trash off the kitchen floor. Sweep, but not mop.

So we’re waiting 20 minutes for me to take my daughter to Brownies. Cause my ex-y had a business trip and it IS my day. We hustle up to the playground and there is no one in sight. We drive over to the park and it is completely empty. Turns out they are inside at the playground in the MUD office. We figure this out about 20 minutes into the meeting.

The plan was for my son and I do to a quick grocery run while they were doing girl scouts. Problem was, by the time we got her to the right room, there was only 30 minutes before the meeting would be out. So we couldn’t even get there and back in 30 minutes. So my son and I were left to our own devices. He drew and I fuddled with my Blackberry and wished it had a real browser. And tuned into all the beautiful women coming to the playground with new offspring. Oh yeah.

So at the same park where I was a Den Leader with my son in Cub Scouts, I was now simply waiting in the park on a beautiful day, looking at beautiful women, and grooving on the pictures my son was drawing.

I guess we could have gone back to the house. It’s HER house now, but it will always be the house. Much of me is still inside.

And I give thanks that my ex-y is not bitter and angry or she’d have my shit in storage unit. As it is, I am still looking for a place to live and all of my furniture and most of my clothes still in her house. She’s been boxing and moving some stuff. But lot’s of me still remains. Almost trapped, in her house, until I can find my house.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

< back to The Hard Stuff pages

Resources:


A Once and Future King

a king's crown, losing the divorceThe loss of my kingdom. I don’t think it’s a particularly man thing, imagining your house and neighborhood as a kingdom. I think we all feel a sense of protection and pride around our homesteads. We invest a lot of time and energy in providing a comfortable existence for ourselves and our families.

It is not a happy thing to be exiled from your kingdom. Everything that goes with it. Kids, pets, comfortable bed, study areas, entertainment, warmth, yards, play. Everything comes to an end.

What once was a WE provide is now a ME provide. And I have not been so lucky in terms of the next chapter in my working life. I’ve made money. I’ve worked. But I am essentially homeless at the moment. Being shut out of my house meant that I could either afford a completely new residence in our neighborhood, OR… leave.

The blessing is that I have a sister in the city who has a mother-in-law plan that was available. And I even had built in kids, with her twin boy and girl who are 12 years old. And for that I am glad.

But I have no privacy. The TV is a constant irritation, as the largest one sits directly on the other side of my bedroom door. And of course, 90% of my stuff is still in my ex-wife’s house. I don’t have a place to put it. And I get to be thankful that she’s not insisting that I get a storage unit.

I know that I will return to a kingdom of my own. And I will make a way again in the world of empowered work, but for now it is difficult. As the Fall is now moving in and the weather is changing I long for a place to relax and be alone. And an opportunity to begin the rebuilding process.

Sincerely,

The Off Parent

Resources: