The letters I wore

I spent a good chunk of the past few years feeling like I’ve had a couple of giant letters stenciled to everything I owned. One was the letter “D” for divorce and the other letter was for “L” for loser. They were letters only visable to me.

The letter “d” was a hard one to get used to at first. Especially when you are starting out on this road. People in my family tend to stay together (better or worse, thick and thin, rich or poor). Whenever I go to a family function, I used to feel like I stood out. I had a wife, now I didn’t. I’d get a ride from my parents to a party or holiday gathering or whatever. Even though no one made me feel that way, I always felt like all eyes were on me. Even when I’d go to just hang out with my friends, everyone was either married or had a girlfriend. When July of 2009 came around and I moved back in with my parents. I like there was this giant letter on my back that stood for divorce. I couldn’t move forward as long as I wore this letter. I carried it around like this giant rock on my back. It was heavy and it hurt.

I’ve struggled financially these past 4 years. I’ve had troubles with keeping the personal aspects of my life out of the office. It has led me to be out of work for periods of time. It has caused me great financial difficulty, near ruin. I’d look at where I was pre divorce and then were I was, and it would be a reminder of just how far I’ve fallen. It was neither pretty nor fun. Losing everything will suck the life right out of you. I’d show up to parties with family or friends or whatever and people are talking about their great jobs and how they do this and that. And you are looking at the calander and trying to figure out the next time you can go to the food pantry. Or trying to come up with an excuse to tell your son that you can’t buy him all the legos in the world and why hiking in the woods is more exciting then going to see a movie in the movie theatre. I talked about the letter “d” being heavy. The letter “L” weighs twice as much, and hurts quite a bit.

Wearing both of those letters can make you bitter, resentful, angry, and any other host of words-if you let them. I let those letters rule my life for a really long time.

I woke up one day in January and let the letter “D” stop ruling my life. Then I took a look in the mirror one morning, realized that my divorce did not idenify who I was or what I was. There was more to me then just this guy going through a rough divorce.

It took me awhile longer to shed the letter “L”. One Sunday after a weekend of hiking, riding scooters, and watching James Bond with #5. He said to me, “this was a really fun weekend, dad. I had a great time”. I felt that letter “L” slide off my back. That, maybe for all of the struggles I am not a loser (no matter what the critics may say). And that any day you are above dirt is a day you are not a loser.

I am far from perfect and have a long way to go. Shedding my letters was a big step in the right direction.

I choose to not be bitter, I choose to be better.

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Invictus

I carry around a copy of this poem in my wallet. It has helped me over the past 4 years, when I have needed to hang on. The title is Latin for “Unconquerable”

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Henley

The World’s Coolest Dad

Somehow,  thru the magic of social media, I am involved in this 64 person knock off of the NCAA Tourney, to find out “The World’s Coolest Dad”.

After I made it to the round of 32, I thought I would have a little fun with it and see how far I could go. Of all the things in the world I am, “World’s Coolest Dad” is not one of them. Alas, I am having fun with it. I am not cool.

I know a lot of guys who are dads and their kids worship the ground they walk on. In my son’s eyes,  I am not one of them. My son’s heroes are firefighters. They always have been. Why shouldn’t they be? Running into a burning building while everyone else is running out. Saving lives. Making the world a better place. Making the ultimate sacrifice if needed. The definition of a hero.

Then there is your dad, he struggles with finances, jobs, trying to make ends meet, life in general. One step up, two steps back. Yeah, that’s me. Not very cool.

I do enjoy being a parent, matter of fact I love it. I wish I could tell you that I was great or I am cool. I am not. If I could, I’d give my ex-wife more child support.I’d buy Frankie all the legos in the world. I love to take him to Disney World.   I can’t right now. In loads of people’s eyes, that makes me a really bad guy, a failure, a loser,  so be it. I acknowledge my mistakes, my struggles. I keep moving forward. I get out of bed everyday and  with the hope that this will be my best day, that I will make the turn and put the past behind me. Not very cool-definitely not “World’s Coolest Dad” worthy.

This is not meant to be one of those “whoah is me, my life it horrible” type posts. I said I was going to tell you tales from The Healing Road. I am going to. They are not always cool or funny.

Martini Night in America

Thursday night in my world is called “Martini Night in America”, I figure if NBC can have Sunday night as “Football Night in America” and Canada can call Saturday night, “Hockey Night in Canada”. Thursday night is Martini night for me.

The first Martini Night in America was in 2007, shortly after Frankie was born. We had some issues with delivery (see prior post #5) and complications along the way. I promised myself while feeling so helpless that if my wife and child made it out of this and were happy and healthy, I would pause for a moment and give thanks to all who helped make this possible. On February 3rd, 2007 after everyone went to bed, I put on some quiet music and I have raised my glass and gave thanks.

After that night, I always set aside Thursday night for one martini. It’s marks the start of the weekend. Nothing really good is on television anymore. I can be found reading a book, writing in my journal, listening music. One martini is all I have, sometimes with a blue cheese olive or with a twist. Gin or Vodka. Always stirred, not shaken (I don’t like to water down the booze). 

The music aka the soundtrack has always been important to me. Can’t go wrong with the music of The Rat Pack. I do try and find something different every week to listen to. Sometimes it’s mellow jazz (Miles, Dave Brubek, Monk) or other times I go Big Band ( Glenn Miller, Brian Setzer). Lately because I’ve been into watching James Bond movies with my son, I have been listening to James Bond theme songs. Whatever it is, music helps set the mood.

As with the Celebration of the Single Guy, Martini Night in America is about celebrating life, not wallowing because your life has not worked out the way you want due to money issues or not getting the girl. It’s about allowing yourself to smile for a little while even though life kicks your tail sometimes. The Martini is really only an accessory.

Celebrate Life