I’m a divorced dad
Hi. My name is Paul. I’m a divorced dad. Wow, sounds like the start of something heavy!! Fortunately for me I have 17 years of working out stuff, watching my kids grow into a couple of awesome adults and finding a way to create a life I love and happiness. Along the way I reinvented my life a number of times, searched for meaning, discovered teachers, found my peace and learnt more about myself than I could have without the adversity of divorce.
Divorce was a defining time in my life. I didn’t really see it coming. We were busy with too much on our plates but we were working towards a bigger future plan juggling kids, jobs and responsibilities, hobby farm and budding business. I knew things were getting strained but this was ‘us’, and it was only other people that got divorced. When she left, my life fell apart.
Our kids were 5 and 7. I was suddenly and effectively removed from meaningful regular input into their lives, being relegated to an alternative weekend dad with half holidays. We went to court for three years, I was looking for 50/50 so I could have more time with my kids. I never got it. The courts caused an animosity that my ex-wife and I have never healed to this day. My kids lost the opportunity to have a good male role model because of the effect of divorce on me and the psychotic behaviour of the guy that stepped into my place. He was gone after a few years.
The first three years are hard to remember now; they were a large black hole. I did get angry, I did contemplate suicide…all too closely. I found myself at the edge of a cliff in my car…twice. It was the memory of growing up without a father who died of cancer at 32, when I was just seven that pulled me back from the edge, not permitting me to do that to my kids. I struggled with depression, lost motivation with my work, lost my sense of purpose, my self-esteem, self love, self respect. I couldn’t form another meaningful relationship. I was not a good role model for my kids, how could I be? Slowly my life came together but lacked purpose, motivation and meaning for a long time.
I always remained present for my kids, had a place for them to stay when they came over, and struggled with the financial challenge of handing over 42% of my take home pay while trying to set up an alternative home and afford holidays with the kids. It took years to repair the damage to my relationship with the kids, and with my daughter it’s still a work in progress.
My ex-wife will give a different story. There are always two perspectives. However you see your circumstances there will always be another perspective, a good thing to keep in mind.
I have learned a lot in 17 years and I have seen many strong trends in researching the subject for the book I am writing. Men are simple creatures really. There are two fundamental drivers to masculinity and male fulfillment and the loss of either and especially both will strike to the core.
- His mission – This is the job, career, passion, the thing that motivates a man to get up in the morning. The mission is as fundamental to a man as food. It defines who he is, it ranks him in a position amongst his peers, it defines his life success, allows him to provide for those he loves and maybe most importantly, leaves a legacy that his name will be remembered for.
- His partner, wife, significant other. The person who is there to cheer him on, support him in his mission, be his rock. Love brings great pride and sense of nurturing and responsibility to masculinity.
When these two things are good, a man is good. He is happy, fulfilled, loving, supportive, grateful and his masculinity is intact. When one of these things goes, it fundamentally affects the other. Maybe you have seen what happens when a man is retrenched from his job or his business fails. It is a tough road because it is one of his two main drivers in life. If the other fundamental stays intact he will bounce back and regain his full masculinity.
After separation, one of the cores of a man’s existence is taken away.
Yes, men do leave women and almost always one of the two fundamentals can be the driver for this. When a woman leaves a man, often both fundamentals suffer because it is also a sign that his mission has failed. He has focused so much on the mission and providing that often he doesn’t notice what is happening in his relationship. He assumes, even expects that things are ok.
When you remove these two fundamental cores that make up a man’s psychology you take away his masculinity. The result is what you often see and don’t understand in a man who becomes angry, unreasonable, vindictive, vicious, depressed. The masculinity needed to provide a good role model to kids is like a shattered glass bottle. The masculinity needed to form a good meaningful relationship is fragmented and distorted. Finding a younger sexy women is an attempt to prop up the lost masculinity.
Furthermore the divorce system and public opinion is significantly biased against separated men. Often the remnants of masculinity are crushed into the ground with a large, high-heeled legal boot, kicks that sink into the guts of the remaining shadow of a man with often the only solace a bottle of whisky. Everywhere he turns he hits brick walls, lack of support, other men in the same situation and his one remaining shining light, his kids, are often restricted in access.
You already know men don’t have the same type of support systems women have, external help is thin on the ground, well-meaning advice is often general, written by women without fully understanding the impact on male masculinity and psychology, of separation and divorce.
So what does a man do? When the earthquake has levelled your house and destroyed everything that means anything to you, you take a deep breath and move on to a new place to start rebuilding from scratch. Men have evolved doing this. It’s easier than trying to glue together the rubble of the old house and from a psychological point of view starting from scratch is the best way to rebuild your masculinity.
Apart from the individual impacts, there are greater social impacts. As the divorce rate increases, masculinity decreases. As masculinity decreases, the role of men diminishes to weak ‘yes-men’ who are afraid to be men and become poor male role models. A lack of strong male role models impacts on the very children you are trying to protect. The prevalence of teenage binge drinking and pregnancy, disrespect for other people and property, sexual abuse, violence and suicide: What if the loss of societal masculinity is a significant cause of these increasing trends with our youth?
According to Warren Farrell in his book Father and Child Reunion[i], studies worldwide show that the presence of Dads has a profound effect in children’s lives in seven critical areas that have life-long influences.
- Increased empathy
- Increased IQ and achievement
- Reduced levels of suicide
- Highly reduced levels of psychiatric intervention
- Increased physical health
- Reduced levels of teenage pregnancy and divorce
- Reduced crime and incarceration.
So I started out to give a male point of view on divorce for this audience. I digress. I have a mission to help other dads find a way through. It is not an easy road but it is possible. Over 17 years I have become a student of personal development and can see the very keys used for creating success and wealth in other areas of life are equally relevant to recovering from divorce.
As I travel around the world on a motorcycle (another of my missions) I’m writing a book and developing courses to assist men to bounce back, relocate their masculinity and create the life we all deserve, filled with love, happiness and fulfilment.
Facebook: Paul Nomad Round The World
[i] Warren Farrell – Father and Child Reunion, Finch Publishing 2001