This is my story, from the joy and spiritual awakening of becoming a sad dad at the moment I became a divorced dad. My journey was not easy. I stumbled, I fell, and I wrestled my way back from a dark depressive episode and into a whole parent.
There are plenty of times when it's difficult not being with my kids. But what I can give them is 110% dad when they are with me. I have the rest of the time, when they are not with me, to heal and focus on myself and my goals.
My ex-wife knows I am paying and will continue to pay my child support until my daughter turns 18. She wants to keep me under the thumb of the "enforcement" of Title IV-D because hurting me gives her pleasure.
I loved the family routine. I loved being their dad. I knew I was going to crash when I was no longer welcome in my own home. I knew depression was weeks away. I knew there was very little I could do to stop the sadness freight train that is divorce.
When I get in a tough place I try and picture my kid's faces. In the moment I am feeling upset, I can send them a "How's it going, I love you" text. I can SnapChat a silly face.
What is a young family to do? How can we learn to turn INTO the relationship rather than AWAY from it? In the nine years since my divorce, I've been writing and examining what went wrong. I've been trying to understand what kind of relationship I might be able to build that would sustain my idea of a lifetime partnership. And I've continued to examine how I could've done better as a partner.
I am responsible for my actions alone. And my actions as a divorced dad have been 100% honest, 100% open, and 100% mom/kid-friendly. Her actions... Not so much.
I wish I could've had more time with my kids. I wish my then-wife had agreed to 50/50 shared parenting. I wish my ex-wife would be a more collaborative parent. But even as I wish about these things, even as I can feel regret about the lost time, I am HAPPIER NOW THAN I HAVE EVER BEEN IN MY LIFE.