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The Challenges of Being a Separated Father (As Told By a Divorced Man)


I'm not going to lie to you, my life is a mess. As I write this, I live near my ex wife so I can be near my children whilst my new wife and step-son live 200 miles away. I never thought it'd end up like this and wish I could start over but that won't happen so I have to play the cards I was dealt.

So let's go back ten years. I met a girl and very quickly she fell pregnant. I wanted to do the right thing so I asked her to marry me. She said yes and the next few years were a whirlwind. We had two more kids, moved away due to my career in the military and didn't have chance to breathe. We also didn't get chance to know each other properly so it's no wonder that when the going got tough she ran.

I don't blame her, but I did for years. She'd left me whilst I was serving overseas and I felt she'd taken my children from me. That wasn't supposed to happen. I was supposed to provide and she was supposed to raise the kids. But that's pretty naive really.

So I found myself alone, carrying on my career with her and the kids back in our home town. I saw them every weekend and in fact built a far better relationship with them alone than previously. It was me and them. The only regret from that period was that I'd not been able to have any one on one time with them as time was short.

I probably packed these weekends with too much stuff, wanting to make up for all the time I'd missed when they'd have been as happy relaxing. But I wanted to take them places, treat them well, pack their brains with happy memories. Hopefully they'll remember some of them as I certainly do.

So I carried on like this until I met my second wife. She lived down where I was based and I guess I was looking for some company. However, we quickly fell in love and wanted to spend as much time as possible together. Not so easy when you have two other commitments pulling you in different directions. I just couldn't be enough to any of them so I juggled and plotted ways of making it work. That was my life for years, spinning plates.

I think the failure of my first marriage also clouded my beliefs in regards to relationships too. It's like I punished my second wife for the way I'd been let down by my first wife. I expected her to leave too and likely pushed her to that point when all she wanted to do was love me and be my husband. She was the woman I'd wanted the first time round but I couldn't see it at that time. I made life hell for her.

I put work and my kids before her so she lost out. I'd got it all wrong. I also got it wrong by her son. I just couldn't assimilate us all into one family. I was angry and resentful and needed someone to blame. I couldn't blame my kids and felt I needed my job so only had her to blame.

However I then went and lost it all due to my behaviour. In quick succession I lost my kids, I lost my wife and I lost my job. I was a danger and couldn't see it because I'd become so consumed by my anger. So I ran away, I drank too much and I slid to the depths of despair. I never felt suicidal but I really couldn't see a way out. I just wanted to shut the world out and head to oblivion.

I'd blanked my kids out by this point as it was too painful not being able to speak to them. I knew I needed to sort my life out but wasn't ready until I'd hit rock bottom.

So I attended therapy, attended AA meetings and focused on my health, both mental and physical. I couldn't hope to get any of them back into my life without sorting myself out first.

I made some tough decisions. I opted to leave the military and moved back to my home town. I was still in contact with my wife but was so confused about what I wanted. I blamed her still at first until I could see that it'd been me all along. It was only with time and a clear head that I began to realise what had happened.

I was able to regain contact with my kids but still didn't have my wife. How could she trust me or have faith in me considering what I'd put her through. In an attempt to satisfy everyone, I'd lost it all. We've been talking recently but she's rightly cautious. That coupled with the distance between us means that there's still a lot to figure out.

However I have to do it correctly now. Clear previous resentment and fears, decide what I want and what I can give. Be at peace with myself. Then win back my kids and wife and never allow my emotions get the better of me again.

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