My first blog was started with this prophetic motto
“continuously arriving @ patience”
I am still striving to find my patient and positive self. I work on my mindfulness, my affirmations, and my clear communication with my colleagues and family. And what I learn over and over again in life is this: patience is a practice. Finding my peace amidst the damage and distress in these current times is not easy.
How Patience Unlocks Gratitude
I’d like to have my tv series produced and released on HBO. I’ve been working on this project (tv version) for several years. And while I’m making a few advances, this process is more about intention and tenacity than it is about connections and luck. I will never give up.
Just as I will never stop writing this journal, I don’t think I’ll give up on producing a tv series about a lovable and emotionally strong dad striving to stay positive in the painful aftermath of an unwanted divorce. Think of Ferris Bueller. Things didn’t always go his way, but he always made the best of any given challenge. And even when people bet against him, and tried to wreck him, he stayed positive and sang songs. That’s me.
And, it’s not a matter of IF really, I believe it’s a matter of WHEN. And that’s part of my mindful approach to getting what I want in life and in my career. Keep focused on what you do well, let go of things you hate, and keep your eyes on what your big goals are.
Finding Your Big Life Goals
It has taken me until my 50s to find my inner purpose. At this point, nearing my 60th birthday, I’m more confident than ever, that THIS BLOG, THIS WRITING, and THIS MISSION of being a great dad, IS MY PURPOSE.
When my divorce cut my johnson off 12 years ago, I was unprepared for the transformation that was going to take place. I lost everything that was sacred to me in a matter of months. I stayed in the house and fought to change my then-wife’s mind. But she’d gotten a quick sales pitch on the divorce brochure and she was not coming back to normal, hard, married life. Nope, she saw the golden fields of a part-time dad who would continue to pay for the house she got to keep. Well, of course, it was “the kids” that got to keep the house, that got the child support. At least, that’s what the law and my ex-wife would try to tell you. Okay, end of rant.
My mission in life is to express two important truths:
- Dads are just as important in kids’ lives
- My response to any situation is under my control
And as my ex-wife continued to turn against me and the idea of a collaborative co-parent, I did not get bitter. Okay, I wrote a blog, but I kept my interactions with my ex-wife strictly logistical. A bit of advice I was given early in my divorce recovery journey was, “Treat your ex as you would a convenience store clerk. You just want to come in and get your Slurpee, you don’t need to know all about their business.”
And in some ways, I tried to make that my motto. As I grew in the single dad that I am now I learned that it was a terrible idea to fuel fights with my ex-wife. Sure, when she sent a shitty text in the past, I would sharpen my wit and fire back an angry retort. It never felt good. It only made things worse. And most importantly, I noticed how it made me feel.
Firing angry bullets at your ex, at your co-parent, causes damage inside you. Thinking you’re being brilliant in your takedown of your ex-partner is a bit like shooting yourself, or your kids, in the foot. It makes you angrier, or sad about getting so angry. It certainly riles up your ex. And it’s likely to damage your kids as your ex acts out. Just don’t do it. Instead, do something opposite.
Responding To Anger With Silence
My ex, now 12 years in, is still incapable of having any kind of electronic communication with me without loading up the complaints and heating up her transgressional stew. Perhaps, back when I was trying to co-parent with her, this was a plan to get me to back off. Today, as our children are 20 and 22, it seems like a sad barrier to us being the best parents we can be.
I understand that a good portion of my ex-wife’s *bs* comes from her spectrumy husband. (The kids tell me horrifically funny stories from time to time. Sorry, I guess that was a swipe. I’m really trying to do better.) But she’s got to take responsibility for her continuous rage at the father of her children. Maybe she derives some energy of her own from being mean to me. Maybe she’s sad or angry with her current situation, and I *still* make a viable target in her mind.
But I am not the target. I am still a trigger for my ex-wife. This is odd. I’m not sure what she needs to do to get over the disappointment or anger that she still feels about the divorce she asked for… Wait, it’s not about that. It can’t be. She’s mad about her current life. She’s mad when I get happy. She’s even more furious when I continue to have healthy and happy relationships with our two kids. She’s just angry. Our actions, as part of her satellites, are less important. And I’ve learned, I cannot have a positive interaction with her unless we are face-to-face.
Treat Everyone With Kindness
I’m not kind to my ex-wife on this blog, from time to time. I try and keep my writing to things I can control, to parts of my life I have agency over. But occasionally my ire recalls the suffering caused by my ex-wife’s ongoing anger issues. I still treat her with kindness. I still love her for being the mother of my children. And I still deflect and defer when she’s being mean. There is no point in winning an argument with your ex-wife. Let that shit go. If you can’t focus on the love and well-being of your kids, that’s your problem.
As I move forward in my commitment to being a good dad, I am also hopeful that I can continue to cultivate compassion and empathy for my ex-wife. I don’t need interactions. I don’t need an apology. I would hope that she finds her own inner peace at some point, so she can stop being so vindictive towards me. But, that’s not my business.
My business is continuing to be the best dad I can be. To give counsel and cash to my two kids. And to help dads and moms in the future do better at parenting. Parenting that begins with the 50/50 agreement to have kids should continue at 50/50 shared parenting regardless of the future of the marriage.
Marriages come and go, but parenting is forever.
I can only be the kindest person I can be. I can work on myself and my issues. And, ultimately, I can leave my ex-wife out of it. Not today, but maybe tomorrow.
John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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*image: an IG post from my daughter
back to The Positive Divorce
- The Spiritual Quest for Love
- 10 Things I’ve Learned In the 5 Years Since My Divorce
- The Care and Feeding of a Lover
- The Training and Education of a Reluctant Divorcé
- What You Can’t Tell Your Kids After Divorce
- The 3 Immutable Laws of Co-Parenting
- Single Dad Seeks: Dating Again After Divorce: Advice and Strategies on Learning How to be Loved Again
- Fall of the House of Dad: My journey through divorce, from loss to joy, again and again
- A Good Dad’s Guide to Divorce: One father’s quest to stay connected with his children
- The Sex Index: Getting Our Love Languages Right in the Bedroom
- Here Comes the Darkness: Surviving and Thriving After a Mental Illness Diagnosis
- The Third Glass: When Drinking Becomes an Issue
- The Storm Before the Divorce: When One Parent Wants Out, That’s the End