Many of you who follow this blog on Facebook are already aware that there is another side to my writings. For those of you not in the know, this might come as a shock to you, but I started a blog (SEE: The Off Parent and the first post on May 1, 2010, Wisdom from the Trenches) just after my then-wife asked for a divorce. At that point in my life, I was already a blogger, so I simply turned on an anonymous site and began writing about what was happening to me and how I was feeling about it. It was angry. It was messy. And it was a vital part of my recovery and reemergence as a single dad.
I’m going to guess that my reasons for hiding The Off Parent are self-evident. At the time my then-wife asked for divorce my kids were 6 and 8 years old. My desire was not to hurt them or their mom. My urgent need was to express my pain, to howl about the injustice and my fight against divorce, and ultimately my resolve to become the best co-parent I could possibly be. Things didn’t work out that way. And 5 years ago, September 21, 2013, I launched this blog to chronicle my journey at being the most positive single dad I could possibly be. (SEE: A Return to Wholeness After Divorce)
Where Are We Today?
Today, at the opening of Fall 2019, I’m ready to break the silence. With the publication of my first “off parent” book, Fall of the House of Dad, I am starting to reveal some of the darker moments of my divorce and single parenting journey. And there are more to come.
As my kids are now teenagers and my ex-wife is now a new Mrs. something else, I’ve been encouraged to let these stories come to light as well. (Don’t worry, my kids don’t read me. I imagine that someday they will.) You are welcome to compare and contrast the WHOLE journey with the OFF journey and know that they represent different sides of the same coin. DIVORCE IS A BITCH. And divorce with a narcissistic ex is even harder than it needs to be. Even my positive blog has been punctuated with the anger generated by not being allowed to engage with the parenting of my kids. I apologize upfront for my own failures in the marriage, divorce, and subsequent years of single parenting. And I am no longer going to excuse their mom from her egregious behavior.
As you’ll see, The Off Parent is no longer publishing. I have united my joy and frustrations on this blog alone. As I move to a more unified self, I am also bringing my voice and all of the stories to light.
Forgiveness, Resentment, and Moving On
I keep trying to forgive my ex-wife for her lies and controlling behaviors (The Big Lies My Wife Told and Our Divorced Parenting Relationship). I cannot. I try to release my own resentment (Healing My Divorce Resentment: A Single Dad Contemplates the Future). And I fail, again and again.
I do believe I have moved on, however, in my own life and love life. I’ve been able to establish young-adult relationships with both my daughter and my son. I look forward to my daughter’s graduation from high school for emotional and financial reasons. And even as I write this I can feel my optimistic hope, the same hope that kept me trying to avoid divorce even in the face of an ever-maddening wife. I always hoped we could be friendly co-parents. We will never be friendly. Her new husband doesn’t even acknowledge my presence now when we cross paths. Okay, that’s their own stew, I will let them boil in it together.
There is nothing to talk to my ex-wife about. That “friendly” concept was nice but has been firmly and explicatively rejected by her and her husband. And as I walk away from the wreckage of my co-parenting smashup, I am letting the curtain fall. I am the OFF parent and the WHOLE parent. And I suspect many of you single parents can identify both sides of your experience as well.
I know my daughter will not be picking up my books anytime soon. I’m guessing my son will get over his individualization process at some point and come looking for a relationship with his “dad.” I am confident that my story will continue to evolve. As always, I will continue to try and be the best parent I can be. And I will remind myself anytime I think to ask my ex-wife for anything: NO. She’s never been honest and she’s not going to start being honest now.
I tip my hat to her and her third marriage. “Best of luck to you both.” I release you into the fire of illumination.
And with that, I’ll tip my hat to you as well. I’d love you to let me know what you think of my new book in the comments. And if you are interested in writing a review of any of my books, please drop me a line and I will make a PDF available to you for free.
Fall of the House of Dad – by John Oakley McElhenney, available today through Amazon
- The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
- Braving the Wilderness – Brené Brown
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce – John McElhenney
- The Off Parent – a blog of challenge and change through divorce
More articles from The Whole Parent:
- She Can’t Contain My Sadness: She Can’t Contain My Happiness Either
- Heal Your Heart from the Fear and Loss by Opening with Vulnerability
- Self-Care and Appreciation: Can I Love All of Myself Right Now?
- 3 Required Traits for Building a Lasting Relationship
- Emotional Intelligence Essentials for Long-Term Relationship Success
- Pausing in the Gap: Trying to Force An Answer Is Not the Way
- 7 Habits of a Sizzling Sex Life: Relationship Building
- The 3-point Formula for Loving Relationships: Where You Lead I Follow
A song written while I was still married about my kids and my love of my wife. This video is of my kids and the house that I lost. (in the book)