When your partner comes out

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Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world who are secretly living with being gay or bisexual are in straight marriages. Their partner may or may not be aware or cogniscent that their spouse is bisexual and accepting of that, be living in denial of the fact and not wanting to face it, or blissfully unaware of the reality of their spouse’s gender crisis.

I was married to someone who I knew had been in a lesbian relationship prior to our living together initially in 2007. I knew she had been living with a woman and had been in a committed relationship with her. But we fell in love the minute we met and I knew she was at that point, my one. I knew the minute I opened my door and saw her that I wanted then to spend the rest of my life with her.

Last year she fell in love with a woman and started a sexual affair that destroyed our marriage and in the process was a hand grenade in the lives of a family and two small children. Love isn’t binary, love isn’t gender specific and love takes no prisoners. Infatuation and feelings of overpowering love and new pastures took over and blew apart our marriage.

I accepted she was bisexual, I wanted her to accept that side of her and I knew as she had met other women on her own at our local garden centre in Wiltshire that she had talked to online, that she had feelings that she was struggling with. Sitting on LGBT forums on Facebook and living in denial and identifying very much as the dominant male force within a lesbian or bisexual relationship.

Our relationship was strong, we had a very popular podcast talking about our marriage, however once she had set her mind on something she wasn’t going to stop, even if that meant destroying the family unit and her marriage.

My ex-wife has always set her mind on things and run at them. She stalked me in 2007/8, would sit at the end of my road in her car and watch my house (I later found out).

On one occassion I woke to find her standing at the head of my bed in my former home having broken in through a back door. Alarm bells should have rung but I was flattered rather than scared by someone obssessive compulsive who had to have her own way no matter the cost or fallout.

Blurring the edges of reality with life as a mum of two was something she was not afraid of experimenting with so maybe this should not have come as a huge shock.

Last year when she started having sex with another woman within our marriage and bringing that woman into our marital home and openly flaunting her in front of the children in the house, at the school gates hand in hand, and sat on the sofa in front of the children as a couple within the marriage and also at my expense led to me serving divorce papers on her.

What is not said, or even intimated at by onlookers is the fallout to the partner or spouse of the wife or husband who comes out as gay. The feelings of huge loss and inadequacy, the knock back in confidence and also the anger and the grief.

I struggled. I still do, it’s only been nine months since we split up and I have already divorced her for her behaviour. In my case we split and within minutes my wife was in bed with another woman in our house. There was no reaction capability, there was no talking, there was no discussion about how we would handle that as parents talking to the children. We have never talked about it. I am not allowed to be part of that discussion as my ex-wife and her new partner, had prior to the end of the marriage already deliberately decided to manipulate me both out the marriage and out of my own home. Through whatever means they could. Maliciously.

The feelings of loss and anger are palpable. The feelings of betrayal and stupidity are real. But I am not alone. Having read a huge amount of articles and two books on the topic, my situation is repeated the world over. I have used the Straight Spouse Network for support and guidance and found it hugely helpful. But having also read two books I can give anyone else hitting this explosive wake up call some advice.

  1. Do not make it out as being important as to whom your partner has had an affair with, straight or gay. The marriage is over, mourn it’s passing and try and find you, rebuilding takes time, two years is the norm it seems for most people to cope with the feelings of betrayal and loss. It’s 2019 homophobia or attitudes to homesexuality are wholly unacceptable. Gay people cheat, Bi people cheat, straight people cheat more than probably the previous two gendertypes put together !
  2. If you, like me, feel cheated, for having accepted your partners sexuality and then were lied to and betrayed it’s harder. These feelings will pass. You are allowed to feel anger and grief. It’s actually normal.
  3. If you have children (we have small children) managing the transition between a heterosexual marriage and a wife or father being gay needs to be handled carefully. My ex-wife chose to take our children to a hotel with a family room and get into bed with her girlfriend in front of two small children on Christmas Eve ignoring a court order. Hardly the most sensitive manner to do it in front of two children traumatised by a divorce and the enforced separation from their father by a spiteful mother who needed to enforce control.
  4. It is normal to feel prejudice. Your partner not only has rejected you, but they have cuckolded you and the feelings of self worth are decimated in a heartbeat. You have been replaced and there is nothing you can do about it. This is going to take time to deal with.
  5. Feeling you were living a lie is a very common emotion. Nothing can help you come to terms with this other than time.
  6. If you love someone set them free, is the biggest crock of shit that has ever been coined. The injured betrayed spouse is the last person able to set anyone free. The nature of a committed relationship or marriage means that whilst your partner moves on immediately, lauded by her friends as coming out, you have been betrayed and lied to and that hurts. The reality is that nobody thinks a responsible parent of two children runs off and has a lesbian affair, however life happens and you have to deal with it.
  7. Remember nobody will ever know the full story. In our case whilst my ex-wife came out in December on Facebook in her new relationship status when I filed for Decree Absolute, she had in fact been having sex behind my back with someone else for nine months, four of them preceding our split and my filing for divorce for her behaviour and adultery.
  8. It’s okay to be sad. Divorce, when one partner doesn’t want to lose their lifepartner is a killer. Expect to be sad. Expect to feel loss. Expect to struggle. This is normal – you aren’t alone.
  9. Accept who your ex partner now is. Running away from it and hiding it in plain sight does not allow recovery. He or she is still the parent of your children and part of recovery and new life is wanting him or her to be stable and happy. In my case I just want her happy and stable, regardless of the lies and the deceit since we split.
  10. The children are your sole focus. Concentrate on them. They need your support and guidance as they come to terms, not just with the hand grenade of divorce, but also the fact that their mother or father is now in a new life order.

Here are some links you might find helpful, especially the second link which has been a lifesaver for me.

BBC News Article on the topic
Straight Spouse Network


Children as a pawn

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Divorce is a killer. When a couple who have children part acrimoniously and one parent is wholly controlling and devisive it can be incredibly life changing. For me it has had a huge profound impact. For my children (who are the only ones who matter) it has been explosive and caused them to struggle in the same way that many children try to make sense of a new world order forced on them through no fault of my own.

As a dad I am incredibly proud of my offspring. I have three amazing children, my eldest, my stepson I raised for over a decade, is fast approaching 29 and a dad to a two year old, so technically I am a grandfather.

However, my two youngest children are my biological offspring, not that I would ever treat any of them any differently, blood or not.

I also have an eight year old in my life who I have put life and soul into. Whose own father sadly has nothing much to do with her life. This weekend, as with many others, she is with me and I have plans to take her to do things that will enthrall and excite her and tire her out. I’ve been up cleaning and tidying since dawn waiting for her to arrive. She fills the gap in my life when I am not allowed to be a parent because of my ex-wife’s controlling behaviour towards me being allowed in my kids lives. She has been an inspiration and she will always be in my life now. A commitment I have made to all of my children. All I’ve known since the age of 22 is parenting, at 46 now I’ve been a dad more than half my life and I live to be a father.

A common tactic that is becoming a regular positioning piece in divorces where one party behaves in a manner that is not in the interests of the children, to punish the party serving the divorce, or to assert control. It’s narcissistic, it’s not moral or ethical and in my case has been accompanied by behaviour to isolate me and to try to cause as much pain as possible. What is forgotten is the impact on two small children. Playing the system, making entirely false malicious accusations to further her claim.

Fortunately, in my case those accusations proven entirely callous and without a single shred of evidence. Custom designed to destroy an ex partner to reinforce a divorce settlement or parenting outcome in a court process that I am the applicant in. It’s beyond heartbreaking.

Co-parenting is impossible when one parent refuses entirely to engage, but portrays to agencies and a school that she is the one in the right. Our children have two parents who love and care for them. Our children have two homes. Our children have two parents who brought them into the world out of love and dedication. One of those parents had an affair and is focused on the new partner and puts the needs of the children a distant second. The other, sat in this cottage he built for the children is ostracised and prevented from meaningful access, other that that access given by a court that is mindful of the needs of the children.

Fathers for Justice, Families Need Fathers and the small growing number of Direct Access Barristers afford a way forward. The agencies, struggling under the weight of applications, see families in trauma on a regular basis and provide a worthy and capable system to provide balance. The agencies are not joined up, nor do they often communicate effectively, or act in a way that is in the best interests of the children. They try their best, however they are over worked and under funded. In the current climate with BREXIT and cuts to local and national Government those cuts do not assist in providing the support they need. If you need a good Direct Access Barrister and you’re in the South West I have the best one in the business.

Direct Access is a concept championed by a small growing number of barristers that allows anyone to contract a barrister without the need of a solicitor. I didn’t understand it, in fact I’d never heard of it. It seems to be the best kept secret, but it is also a hugely intelligent methodology of getting primary care in the court system from talented and caring barristers who devote themselves to Family Law.

Remember the breakup of a marriage or relationship where small children are involved is first and foremost one of severe emotional trauma and confusion. We have a primary care to ensure that a child centric view is retained and that you have to try, hard, to focus on that.

In my case that hasn’t been possible because of my ex using them as a pawn since the day we split. Two days after we split she prevented them having Fathers Day with me as she had gone off for the first of a huge amount of weekends without the kids, dumping the parents with her family rather than allow them contact with their father after the trauma of a breakdown when they needed him most. From day one. Her focus, since our divorce being her new girlfriend, not the children. That attitude to preventing all contact with their father started two days after we split and the controlling manner of her behaviour has not stopped since.

Children affected by divorce and separation go through trauma. When one parent behaves in a manner that is controlling and entirely without common sense or rationale to prevent the non resident parent from being able to be the parent they were before divorce, it becomes incredibly hard.

I worked from home for nearly two decades. I brought our children up 24/7 365 and was in their lives on a daily basis. Since I filed divorce my wife has withheld the children for 227 days. I have had my children in my care overnight in those 227 days for 12 nights. In anyones book thats alienation.

Gaslighting, preventing phone access, preventing emails, not reading or passing on letters from their father, this has become common practice in our new family order. Fishing for information from the children on a regular basis putting them in an incredibly difficult position. One they should never be placed in. Co-parenting in a high conflict environment is tough. Don’t ever give up, even when you feel it’s too much, the fight can’t go on forever and you just have to be prepared to find things to do in your spare time that prevent you reacting to your ex-partner. That purely feeds what they want, a reaction that they can then position to use against you. In nine months I have not once reacted.

When your ex is hugely manipulative and controlling, and determined to cut you out the lives of children whose world you were in seven days a week prior to her affair that is incredibly hard. Remember some people will always punish you for their behaviour. The amount of fathers I have spoken to in the same situation as myself is shocking. The system is slow, the system is very biased in weight of the mother, but do not give in to the temptation to bite. It’s a long game. Ten months in my case since my ex-wife and I split and in that time she’s made life hell.

It’s unacceptable, but as a seperated dad you have little to no voice and the onus of the agencies seems to always lie with the resident parent. A resident parent who has become that by force majeure, by malice, without a thought for the needs of the children impacted by her infidelity and her new relationship which the children struggle to understand.

One day I hope she will be a capable mother who understands the need for co-parenting. Who understands the children have a right to be in balanced care. Who have two parents who love them. Until then you have to believe in the court process and then hope that the needs and wishes of the children are understood and aligned to their daily needs.

As a journalist I sit here writing copy and have talked to The Guardian and The Telegraph about writing up my experiences and making them public, however for now it’s too soon and it’s still in flux and there is little to no guarantee that the process will work for fathers in my situation where the resident mother seems favoured by agencies who see much worse cases sadly every day of the week.

In my situation you have an ex-wife who has manipulated the system, lied to agencies and the school with creative gusto, and who has a proclivity to tell untruths to anyone who will listen to further her cause. In my case to remove me from my children’s lives after I filed divorce for her conduct and her deceit. In my case, which is not wholly different to many other dads I have talked to, she seems to have forgotten the children are not to blame for the divorce, her behaviour was the causal effect, and the children do not deserve to be punished by isolating them from their father.

Especially difficult when she acknowledges that I am a good dad and they love being in my care. In my case it’s purely a financial play to secure the best possible equity settlement, not about the needs of our children. That in itself makes me hugely angry inside, but an anger that you temper with a reality that the court system is not stupid. They see controlling and dictatorial mothers every day of the week. They don’t care about you or your ex and thankfully are positioned to champion the needs of the children.

Children should not be a pawn in a divorce. If you are affected by a similar situation and are not getting the support you need then reach out to me and I will try my best to help you and offer you constructive guidance.

There are resources out there like CAFCASS who are fantastic. Their High Conflict Parenting Guides and SPIP programmes are designed to give you a a foothold on the way. I also have read numerous books on separated parenting and listened to self help books, sought counselling and spoken to friends in an identical position. There is support, it’s thin on the ground, but don’t give up hope.

You are not alone. You might think you are, but we are thousands in number in a process thats broken, without the support we deserve. This can affect your career, your mental health and the resulting impact on your personal finances. I am fortunate to be able to keep fighting. Many fathers give up.

Don’t give up. You have me in your corner and I will always be there for you. Please contact me day or night if you feel the fight is too much. When I needed help there was nobody there for me. I will not let you be in that position.

Here are some useful links for you to read if you are struggling:

https://www.mentalhelp.net/blogs/the-politics-of-divorce-when-children-become-pawns/

https://www.liveabout.com/what-to-do-if-your-ex-is-using-your-child-as-a-pawn-against-you-3974042

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/21/wrong-to-use-children-as-weapon-divorce-separation


This Too Shall Pass

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“The saddest thing in life is saying a personal quiet goodbye to someone you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. Don’t finish the story, you don’t own the ability to finish the last chapter, but you can turn the page and start writing a new one.”. Gospel according to Dick, February 28th 2019

I woke up this morning with a realisation that life had to go on. That the woman that I filed divorce papers on at haste in the summer has moved on with her life and immediately replaced me, before our relationship had finished, with another woman. A married woman no less. When your wife has been having sex with someone else and has replaced you in the marital bed immediately, the damage it does to your confidence is enormous. The hurt is incredibly hard to describe or to find coping methodologies to secure a recovery from.

I have a new life ahead of me and I have no idea what that looks like and staying single and taking baby steps is order of the day for the forseeable future. Am I sad ? Hugely. Am I realistic ? Hugely. Do I have regrets, massively. Our wedding day in 2012 after having been together three years was the most important day of our lives outside of our children’s births. I was the proudest man in the world and I took my vows and my responsibility to love and care for Chloe so deeply so yes, I hurt. A lot. I am angry inside that my family I worked so hard to provide and save for was torn apart and that not once have we talked about anything. At all. She moved on 13 seconds later as if I meant nothing. She might not think I deserve anything but I would never have dreamt of treating her like that.

Feeling lost ? Sure but I am convinced I can draw myself a map and claw my way back up and I am surrounded by amazing people who do care about me. I have built an amazing home and nest for my kids, have a utopia here that is entirely centred on their needs and their hobbies and provides them the safety and the love that they deserve, whilst giving me somewhere to work and to kick on from. Thirty acres of secure private heaven with a garden the size of six Olympic swimming pools, dens and safe exploring space. If it wasn’t for the tranquility afforded to me by isolation that she enforced on me I would not have got to this point of realisation.

I married for life, made a family, have amazing children and a huge amount of love and pride for the woman that I made those children with. Life is difficult, life is unpredictable and different people have different values.

One day I hope she realises I am not the enemy and that her infidelity hurt massively as did the lies and deceit. When she had affairs before when we first met it floored me. This time it destroyed my confidence, my ability to see straight when all I wanted to ever to do was sit down with her talk and say goodbye. I never got that chance, I was just disposed of, replaced in a heartbeat.

Infatuation with a new partner when you’re already married to your husband sucks. It wasn’t at all right. I would never ever have done it to her, but then life isn’t black and white. I hope one day she realises how much I cared and how much I was her biggest fan and HB.

What matters now is two amazing little boys and the future. What that looks like I don’t know, but it is entirely centred around them. Don’t anyone kick me for being a proud dad, and holding that person who hurt me and still continues to enjoy doing so very close to my heart. Anger, grief, despair, happiness and optimism are all natural bedfellows of one half of a divorcing couple.

Where the other party has an affair they are insulated from those feelings, one day she will sit up and realise just how much she mattered. She was my everything.

For now I start over, I rebuild – not sure how – not sure how long that process takes. Not sure what that looks like but it’s a positive that I am determined to be a better man, to be the man I used to be, the man she was proud of. Divorce sucks – so so much. It’s like a bereavement but a thousand times worse when you aren’t ready to say goodbye to your better half, your best friend and in my case podcast co-host.

Life does indeed go on. This too shall pass. No timescales, no goals just small baby steps. One at a time, and when I trip up I’ll do my level best to learn where I went wrong.

I am so lucky to have had what I had for as long as I had. I wanted more.


You Are Not Alone

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There is a statisical fact that men aged 35-50 are most at risk of self harm or suicidal thoughts or actions. Socio-economic changes in the workplace and industry and a change across the Western economies where automation is replacing manual roles. The regular breakdown of marriages and longterm relationships, the far too oft isolation from the role of fatherhood, and the loss of a partner are all causal factors in leaving some men feeling bereft and on the outer rim of society.

Divorce is one of the major factors leading to many men perceiving a major gulf in an ability to grapple with finding the rungs of the ladder needed to climb out of a position of vulnerability. Support services are available but overstretched. Very often the burden of an inability to manage or rationalise the feelings of isolation become too much for the individual and a release from a position of personal torment leads to the ultimate decision.

Why am I writing this article ?

Too many men in my age group (I am 46) are in a position of extreme distress and anxiety that can’t happily wear a label. Whether that is caused by debt, by relationship or marriage breakdown, loss of employment or a personal incapacity to understand how to broach topics that are too painful or emotionally distressing to describe or to rationalise.

I got to the age of 45 and was happily married (or so I thought) to someone who I idolised and put on a pedestal. A father of two amazing children when my wife left me for another woman. Stupid decisions we took, or that I went along with to keep my wife happy destroyed my life. My wife then isolated me from my children (and continues to do so) for no valid reason other than divorce positioning, isolating me from the only family I have.

Six months on I found myself sat in my tiny cottage in the West Country beyond what you can describe the depths of despair. I was in an intimate purgatory, a lot of it self inflicted by personal incapacity to rationalise feelings of loss. Add on to that living with higher functioning autism and being separated by force from my children I was lost.

Disorientated and entirely astray from the world that I had worked so hard to build, with a loss of financial security paying huge legal bills to attempt to see the children we had agreed shared care of before my wife decided to all but kidnap them legally. To see a way out was an option that I did not have. No manual, self help book or forum could provide me structured rational assistance.

I had nobody to call, the only call I wanted to make, to the woman I was still madly in love who was now infatuated with someone else, was a door that I had helped slam shut by rushing into serving her divorce papers and alienating her, making her so angry that she had isolated me entirely from her life and thoughts. The compassionate and loving woman I had woken up with thousands of times and created life with was long gone, replaced with someone I no longer recognised who had not only fallen out of love with me but had chosen to hate me. Being Aspie hate isn’t something that is an objective emotion that I can harness, I was still smitten with her as much as the day I met her, regardless of her infidelity or the fact she was waking up with another woman who had taken my place in her heart. Court action throughout the summer between us had built a rift so huge that no rational conversation could bridge it.

For me, all the family I had was her at the helm and two fantastic little boys we had made who were the epicentre of my cosmos. Here, months on having moved out I was a hermit in a very tidy little cottage. My wife already spending days on end in our marital home days after I had left with the woman who had been the cancer at the heart of our breakdown. Lost in an infatuation whilst I looked after our children in my cottage down the road the entire summer. I’d lost dramatic amounts of weight and my health was affected. I had read every book in the house, I had listened to almost every audiobook and podcast consumed. I couldn’t watch any Netflix or Amazon Prime series that we had started watching together, and I didn’t have the spare funds to have any form of life or external relaxation that would afford me a distraction. Meeting someone else or dating wasn’t on my radar and I didn’t see anyone other than the people who lived on the farm where I live. I started feeling a burden to them, and I certainly couldn’t tell anyone that I hated myself and I was scared.

To be 45 and a dad is amazing. To be 45 and scared and without anyone to bounce feelings of personal loss was terrifying. I would regularly go four to five days without leaving the house, throwing myself into working remotely but putting in too many hours to fill the void. Not seeing my children properly for 100+ days was starting to shatter my will to live and the hit at the very core of my ability to cope with daily stuff. I lived in a very tidy clean cottage, never had any dirty washing. Found myself shopping late at night to deliberately avoid the remote possibility of seeing my wife and my children in a supermarket. I found that avoiding supermarkets when tills were open meant I did not have to make conversation. After 10pm only the self scan tills were open and they don’t talk to you or ask you how your day was.

I didn’t feel bitter or angry. When you are Aspie, you want answers, you want to ask questions and the only person I could get those from I was alienated from and was divorcing, and she held the handcuffs that were preventing me seeing the children I needed.

Children I deliberately did not want to use as a crutch or as an escape. But children I craved holding, playing with, feeding and just watching them grow. My home had been built during the summer of 2018 with every item of clothing, beds, books, toys and Lego my kids could need. School books, bookbags, shoes, school uniform all still currently sat untouched in plastic six months on. I couldn’t even open their wardrobe or walk into their bedroom without feeling such a sense of loss that left me crippled in a puddle of tears.

A middle aged man who had lost not just the love of his life but his best friend who had lied consistently to him for months, laid on a sofa feeling lost and unable to explain to anyone how damaged he was. A culpable sense of shame without feeling sorry for yourself is a very strange place to find yourself. Shame, remorse, humiliation. I had been cuckolded by my wife in front of my own eyes as she fell in love with a woman in our own home, isolating me from my home and the two children that were core to my existence.

I am not alone. Many divorcing women withhold children. It is an ever-growing tactic of ex wives who behave in a manner to be controlling using the children of the relationship or marriage as a pawn to secure equity stakes in marital property or maintenance. Without seeing the bigger picture of long-term damage to the children by instituting parental alienation. High conflict parenting where one parent behaves in a way that is massively destructive to remove the other father or mother out of the children’s daily lives is on the increase. There are tens of thousands of ex-husbands and partners who are alienated out of their progenies lives.

I failed to cope. I would sit up at night trying to lose myself in long novels or cleaning away my home until it shone. Two bunk beds made up in my sons bedroom that hadn’t seen their occupants for months. My wife refusing to allow me to even speak to my kids reinforced a feeling of bereavement that surpassed the feelings of grief I experienced when I lost my father suddenly more than two decades previously.

I had weekends where I didn’t get out of bed. Didn’t open my curtains, ate sparingly, but knew that if I let her tactics win that I wouldn’t be any good to my children and I could be painted as weak or mentally ill, something that I genuinely wasn’t. When you’re trapped in a war with someone you loved, who has your personal destruction at her core, to allow her to destroy you would be giving in.

I found help. Realising what she did was an extension of the coercive controlling behaviour that had started in the February when she started a sexual relationship with the other woman behind my back, and started falling in love within our marriage, with someone else. Blinded by the damage she was doing to our marriage, infatuated with the other partner, our hard won stability and financial security was about to be smashed to bits. To allow myself to give in to feelings of huge self doubt and loss now, was not something I was going to allow to happen.

I took dumb decisions to rely on poor legal help. I had not then discovered Direct Access Barristers, the sole light in my life the last twelve months and without whom I genuinely feel that I could not have continued the battle.

I was guided by people in the legal profession, folk who want to part you with huge invoices and I was separated from the only person who I thought could help me, who had one agenda. Me, out of my children’s lives for good, but me supporting her financial needs and supporting her and a new partner. I stupidly, and in blind terror, assumed she would stop hurting me and come to her senses and be the calm rational woman I made children with. In my case I was blinded by the love I had for her and the fact whatever she did she still had my love and respect as the mother of my amazing children.

In my case, she had forgotten that for me, money and support and fiduciary issues were never an issue. She just needed to win at all costs. She didn’t get the memo that nobody wins in a divorce. Everybody loses and the only people who matter are the children. And when you are deliberately hurting the children by preventing them having access to the absent parent so soon after separation then you’re actually being really quite manipulative and deceptive and you are not acting in the best interests of two children who have a right to see the other parent.

I had nowhere to turn. I couldn’t talk to her, she wouldn’t have helped or been interested, even though I had made sure a decade earlier she had got the help she needed when she had been depressed. I hadn’t realised that feelings of loss and grief come in cycles post-divorce or separation. What I was experiencing was normal. I didn’t have an affair, I didn’t want a divorce, I didn’t want to leave our home. I was isolated and locked out.

I spoke to men in the same situation as me and struggled to realise that this is a long game and applying to the courts as I did in September would take time. The courts, correctly, want to find the best possible outcome for the children of the marriage. They don’t care about you or your ex, just what is best for the children. We had agreed shared care twice in writing only for my ex to revoke it to secure a preferential financial outcome in her favour. But also reinforcing potential future spousal maintenance.

To unravel this takes time and takes professionals like CAFCASS and the Family Courts. Expect dirty tricks, expect false accusations, expect to be accused of everything under the sun. If you read the forums a lot of divorce solicitors almost brief their female clients to invent accusations of abuse or domestic violence, or to goad a divorcing husband into a reaction to get a non molestation order or occupation order. They’re paid to place their clients into the best possible situation and to ringfence the mother into being primary care giver.

In my sense I was about to become a turkey baster to a an all female couple needing an absent father with a cheque book – and it wasn’t going to happen on my watch, nor is it ethical, moral or acceptable behaviour. In my case my ex chose someone freshly bankrupt that had even borrowed the money off me to go bankrupt. Any father should have no issues supporting their children but to be brutally removed from your children’s lives out of malice to gain financially was unacceptable.

I’ve seen every possible trick, every possible falsehood attempted, to be described and painted as someone you are not capable of being. Going one minute from a loving husband to being Satan, overnight. Someone I loved and adored resorting to every knee jerk reaction to attempt personal gain and to try to avoid court action or to paint herself as the perfect mother. Perfect mother’s do not have affairs or behave in such an underhand or genuinely despicable manner.

Without ethics, morals and in their eyes beyond scrutiny or recourse. For me, it hit me at my very core, that someone I’d made love to ten thousand times, someone I’d been so proud to call my wife and put on a pedestal now had forgotten everything I had done to provide for her and the kids. When I had my stroke in 2015 she had nursed me, when she had c-sections I looked after her. The moment of our children’s births and our marriage the proudest times of my adult life. I was bereft.

Holidays and breaks, feeling like a million dollars waiting for her on railway platforms for her to turn up looking amazing. I cannot tell you in words how in love I was with her – listen to all 26 episodes of our podcast if you don’t believe me. Eating in restaurants, so proud to be her man, waking up with her in hotels all over the UK and on the Eastern Seaboard of the US. Working hard to find concert tickets for bands that she loved, I worked my ass off to make her feel that she was never far from the centre of my world. I wasn’t easy to live with but I didn’t deserve being treated with contempt, like a criminal.

I needed help. I needed someone to turn to who could listen and who could separate the noise from the reality of needing help. As an independent man living alone in isolation I struggled. Like many men, I wasn’t alone in that suffering so please don’t think this is me feeling sorry for myself as it really wasn’t.

I sat and read the Fathers for Justice forums and Familes Need Fathers online members sections and didn’t find any consolation. Speaking to three dads in similar positions as myself. I discovered that looking after my personal mental health and my diet were things I was not putting anywhere near a high enough priority.

All I could see was the fact I was alone unable to speak to my children or to hold them. If she had been in the same position I think, in fact I know, she would have broken down too. She had a breakdown in 2007/8 and it hurt me hugely to watch her at such a position of loss and I remember feeling if there was anything I could do to help her I would. Now she was the active cause of my despair.

I turned to two bodies to help me, I had been seeing therapists throughout August – October who didn’t really help much. I took to writing her letters almost every day. Putting them in a box as she will never read them. Never understand, or care. She had cut me out her life the minute she fell in love with someone else months before we split up and I filed divorce at haste.

The two bodies who I turned to provided me context help and care to rationalise and align feelings of loss and to start eating properly, to start sleeping properly. My HR team at my employer were fantastic and supported me. Work is central to my life ethic. I have to be working and I have to be productive. My health suffered hugely and I lost 60 kg plus in weight. Not having family nearby and not having neighbours it was like being under house arrest.

I slowly found my feet and I found friends who were at the end of the phone in the UK, the US and Australia so that I had 24/7 coverage. Unlike many in my position I didn’t seek solace in alcohol, never been a drinker and never understood those who drank. Hiding in a bottle isn’t an aid to recovery.

Sadly many men don’t have that ability to not self medicate. I didn’t want a lovelife and if I had had one I wouldn’t have been good to anyone. My libido wasn’t even on my top 100 things to consider, after all I was still madly in love with the very root cause of my pain. Regardless of what she had done to our marriage and our family.

Slowly and surely I started working my way out of negative feelings and feelings of self doubt. There were times when I felt like ending it all, but knowing the damage that would do to my children and also that behaving like that would both provide a victory to my ex partner who I think would have popped champagne corks to my demise. It wasn’t ever an option but if you can’t admit that you’ve thought about it seriously you can’t rebuild.

I am fortunate. I am good at what I do for a living and am surrounded by technology folk and I always am working my ass off to find new avenues in security that effect positive change. Researching that and working hard for my employer who gave a crap really was the backbone of recovery. Add to that the fact that I knew that if I didn’t concentrate then I would have let them down. I wasn’t about to do that for a nanosecond.

I read a lot. An awful lot. My age group are the most likely to attempt self harm or suicidal thoughts and that this isn’t a feeling of personal weakness but more a release. There were weekends where I lay in a clean bed listening in the dark to audiobooks. I didn’t spend a penny on luxuries. I didn’t buy anything for myself, I just kept myself isolated. I still do now. I’ve been out my house twice in eight days out of choice.

Throwing myself into my work, harnessing what I am capable of for positive change, ensuring I am always planning what to do with my children. Making sure they have activities planned and that when they arrive here they see a happy dad who is entirely focused on their needs is core to my existence. They don’t need to know how badly behaved their mother has been – they didn’t ask to be born, they didn’t ask to be party to a divorce or separation. Making sure that you isolate them entirely from the maelstrom and the swirling winds of change is key.

Remember kids who are caught in a divorce are in a bubble of trauma and confusion. They’re growing and listening and confused, they don’t need your confusion on top of their own adaptation to a new world order. Crucially they still have a mummy and daddy who love them. They now have two homes and their growth and personal happiness is your only job. They don’t need to hear about your worries, they aren’t your crutch. You certainly should not ever contemplate being anything other than positive about the other parent in front of them, they’re only children once.

I have an older son now approaching 29 who saw his own biological parents separate before I came into his life and I watched what that did to him longterm. My wife was a product of a divorced home and I saw how that affected our marriage and her attitude to marriage. Even now I am unable to speak to my children on the phone. I’ve spoken to them three times in sixty-five days by telephone.

Alienation and isolation are the Swiss Army goto tool of the embittered and empowered ex-wife.

Remember in many separations your ex partner has decided you are entirely surplus to requirements and are not needed any more and you aren’t valued and you certainly have no voice. In my situation the children have been used as a weapon. I genuinely have no idea what my children do daily. I haven’t been allowed in their daily existence unless a District Judge orders it. It’s a long long game and I’ve learnt you have to just cope. It will get better.

Children have rights and children need both engaged communicating partners. I’ve not spoken to my partner since the 14th September. Six months ago. I am hoping she starts to learn to communicate, starts to realise the impact her behaviour has had and understands that high conflict does not make for good parenting. The ONLY thing that matters are the children in any breakup and your sole focus should be on their needs as they adjust.

Making sure my children grow up balanced happy and capable is my only goal in life now. They are my every waking dream and if I had given into feelings of loss, despair and reacted to what was narcisstic and very cruel behaviour by an ex then they would have been without a dad.

But I am happier in my own skin now and I am productive, I am eating better and I am able to think laterally about a positive future. I am aware and cognitive of the very real battle ahead in courtrooms proving I am still the good father that I always was prior to my wifes affair. Just because you are bullied and ostracised doesn’t mean you are a failure. Letting someone behave like that in a controlling and very cruel manner isn’t unique to me, it’s more and more commonplace. The Family Courts sadly see it day in and day out.

If you are in a position like I was I want you to reach out and seek help from your GP, from support bodies locally to you, from agencies. The support is available, I use it and will continue to do so. Do not think this is a personal sign of weakness. It’s a wave of grief and loss that is normal. In many cases like mine sadly, amplified by the controlling behaviour of an ex-partner who once loved me. Do not dwell. Pick up a phone now and call someone.

Remember. Being in love with someone who hurts you isn’t wrong. Even if they turn overnight into someone you no longer recognise. My wife carried our children and made me a dad and no matter what she did to me and continues to do to me, out of sheer spite, I will always always be grateful. Learn to forgive. Hate is a negative emotion. She gave me a decade of love. A decade of happiness. I didn’t help myself and for that I will always kick myself. Oh for a time machine :). The writers and producers of You Me Her need shooting. If that program had not existed my wife would never have embarked on her affair and I wouldn’t be writing this article.

If that someone doesn’t answer or provide you the help you need, you call me 24/7 and I will come running to help you. I will not let you down. Ever.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.


Healing Your Heart

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So I am eight months post marriage split, seven months post divorce filing (me filing against her) and two months post receipt of my decree absolute which dissolved our union legally. It’s been eight months of trauma. Grieving someone who I absolutely adored and who I thought I was genuinely going to spend the rest of my life with. And I wasn’t ready – at all – for our split. Filing divorce at speed wasn’t bright but I had to protect myself from the pain and distress and the deceit so solicitors said press the button. So I did. Nobody ever said I was bright.

When I met my ex wife in 2007 it was love at first sight. I knew, instantly that she was the one. It was like being hit by fork lightning and although I wasn’t in the best place she captivated me in a way nobody has ever done and I was smitten. Everything lined up in a way that just made sense and I couldn’t explain it to my logical Aspie brain. Her smell her presence, the way she made me feel just by looking through me, she was the person who I wanted to spend eternity with.

So when we split in 2018 when she met another woman and over a period of three months fell in love and essentially cuckolded me it absolutely devastated me and tore my life apart.

Our two amazing kids in the mix unsure as to what was going on, Mummy with a girlfriend, Daddy sat in tears, Mummy not caring about how Daddy felt because she was in love and totally under the spell of someone who was determined to split our marriage up and move into our home having gone bankrupt and having become disenchanted with her own same sex marriage in a local town up the road.

All she could see was my wife and a rosier financial future and sexual adventures with a new girlfriend. The entire summer this year I had our children whilst she behaved like a love lost 15 year old all over again. And guess what ? There’s nothing wrong with what she did, she was in love and she was infatuated. However there comes a time when you realise that you also have to grow the hell up and realise you’re a parent and an adult and your husband is divorcing you for your conduct.

When I took my vows of marriage we had spent time writing our own for the occasion. We spoke our own chosen special words in front of our families in a wonderful ceremony in October 2012 in the presence of our first child and it was the happiest day of my life. I never thought I would get married, yet here I was in a monkey suit with my best friend stood by me as my best man, watching my wife to be walk towards me, fashionably late and looking beyond radiant in a dress that took my, and everyone else in the rooms breath away. She was choosing me, she was choosing to commit to spending the rest of her life with me – a geek with ambition punching way above his weight.

Marriage is not easy. The planning for, conception and birth of our second child remarkably straight forward (as had been our eldests albeit for an emergency c-section where I almost lost them both). Tired parents do not make for great partners but we got through it and whilst we had ups and downs there were mostly ups.

Therefore when we split up when my wife decided she was bisexual and was ditching me for someone else it destroyed my soul and tore a hole in my world a hundred miles wide. To try to come to terms to sexual betrayal when you love someone so hugely, it’s beyond tough. Her loss from my bed and from my side a chasm that was so wide it was impossible to find emotions and words to bridge. Armed, as an Aspie badly, I was unable to explain feelings.

Autumn and Winter 2018 and the onset of Spring 2019 are getting easier. I miss her. I miss her so much I could scream. We have not talked in six months yet we have two children. I have said goodbye to my marriage but I am struggling to say goodbye to the family I worked so hard to build and that meant everything to me.

Now we make two new families and we put our amazing boys first and insulate and isolate them away from the pain. And that starts the healing process to find a new pathway forward to who I am. Because frankly I don’t know any more. I just don’t recognise myself.

When I have our children in my cottage and when I am planning menus and activities and making sure their room is clean and tidy, bedding washed, pyjamas laid out, school uniforms hung up, shoes clean and their Lego away or on display – life is good. In fact when they are here the cottage rings with laughter and happiness punctuated by foam rockets being fired through the air or shrills of happiness from my huge garden as two little boys run round at speed.

I have created a utopia here to protect them and to promote a way through transition. In their bedroom they have a memory wall of framed photographs of their mother and them, or us as a family or their mum and dad that they chose to have hung in pride of place. This differs from their mother who removed all trace of me when I left the marital home. Our pathway to recovery is very much be proud of where you come from and remember happy times and move on with grace and find new memories.

And for me that is the same. I put away our wedding photos safely for posterity and for our kids to have in the future, I put away the amazing photos I took of my wife in our studio that put her on the pedestal I wanted her on and I replaced them with photos of the children in New York on one of several trips there, photos we took last summer here and on trips and photos of them as babies and growing up.

My ex-wife knew I had hardly any photos of my late father and I so always made sure there were photos of me with the boys for which I will be eternally grateful. She had a good soul and that part of it has gifted me imagery which is so precious and forms part of the decoration of the walls of this cottage.

It’s important too, because this isn’t my place. It’s my families home. My family being my two sons and me. They know they have the run of this hobbit hole and they can see from the walls and the photos on the fridge or around the fire that Daddy puts them at the very centre of his existence, always taking care to never fall into the trap of using them as an emotional crutch, which in the early days was almost impossible. I have no other family, which my ex knows, and she has weaponised the children in the divorce.

There was a period of over 100 days where she stopped me seeing and talking to the children to secure a financial settlement and to try pathetically to enforce her role as primary care giver. A common tool of some divorcing women who think that they can use children to facilitate a better equity settlement or spousal support. It’s actually pathetic and repeated in family courts across the UK and the US. One moment you are a caring father bringing your children up without incident, the next you’re an enemy combatant.

The one commonality is the father sat in the middle thinking “Hold on a minute where did this come from ?” Whilst many divorce solicitor practices sign up to family centric ways of working and even family centred bodies, the guidance to divorcing women is often to alienate the father, or worse, to fabricate claims that are false and abhorrent to cement a holding position.

Yet nobody – and I mean nobody thinks about the child, or the children, of that marriage who are deprived of the access they’ve had to either parent. It’s the sort of thing that people do (male and female) because they are also trying to hurt their former spouse. Well it worked, it drained our finances fighting legal battles and it also put us in financial danger of losing our home. Therefore, with hindsight, a rather stupid tactic became one where my ex-wife (who I still adore) is now entrenched doing nothing other than having to find funds she doesn’t have to pay for legal help that is actually a hindrance.

In the midst of this I needed to find a place of safety, mentally. I have a good career and I am blessed with a good reputation on both sides of The Atlantic. Those of you who listen to my podcasts – or the podcast I recorded with my ex-wife (you can hear 26 episodes of the show by clicking here or subscribing on your device of choice). Or you’ve seen me on YouTube or seen me speak at conferences or shows here or in the US know me to be normal, quiet and well adjusted. Now. If you read what my wife says about me now (compared to 23 hours of what she said on the podcast) I am Satan and a court ordered babysitter for our children.

When you are faced with that ostracisation, that rejection, from someone in a new relationship with someone hugely manipulative who is playing her, that then becomes a rod that you hit yourself with daily. I am blessed with good friends, I am blessed that I write and that I can sit and write about my feelings or research legal positions and have fantastic legal folk in my corner. But one lesson I have learnt. Don’t React. DO.NOT.EVER.BITE

Since September when my wife all but kidnapped our children (with no safeguarding concerns) all I’ve done is keep my counsel. Not communicated with her, not spoken to her, not messaged, we haven’t emailed. Now when you have two tiny children that makes co-parenting impossible. However when you have one parent who is not interested in you being in your children’s lives in any capacity other than a cheque book, that becomes soul destroying.

However, I am not alone, there are hundreds of thousands of other parents male and female all over the world who have a former partner who cannot see that at the end of the day you ALL have to get to a point of co-parenting and that alienation and bitterness and false accusations just paint you to look silly in the end. However in the midst of this I had to survive. I had to heal. I had to move on, I had to try and embrace change, even if I didn’t want to.

I have thought long and hard about sitting her down and saying “LOOK, WE HAVE TO SORT THIS OUT – I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE MONEY” but the sensible side of me said while she was on divorce solicitor number three and had built herself a position so entrenched (no matter how ridiculous she looks making up false stuff) she couldn’t back down. So when faced with that position all you can do is survive. And thats hard, you are on your own for maybe the first time in a decade. You over explore, you over analyse and you are racked with self doubt. However, you are the only person who can effect change and if you don’t do something you let that ex win and you let him or her drain you of your confidence and your ability to be that co-parent you’ve always been.

Now the clarion call, and you aren’t going to like it.

Happiness isn’t a right. Happiness isn’t something you can buy. Happiness is often something that you don’t even recognise. However it is something you can aim at. It’s a goal you can aspire to. Me, I put the hurt and anger away a long time ago and purely concentrate on my two fantastic children and their transitional needs. Along the way I forgot about me. I didn’t realise that if I didn’t heal everything else was a sticking plaster on a gaping wound. A gaping wound that many separated parents struggle with having lost their partner and their home and their family.

Newsflash. A home is just a financial thing. It doesn’t matter. What matters are the children (if you have them) and your sanity and your security. Your home is where you live. I’ve built a home, a proper home, I built it in the weeks post separation so that I didn’t end up on a friends sofa and so that my kids had safety and warmth and somewhere amazing to explore.

Would I want my former marital home back that I still co-own and have paid for on my own since purchase ? No. My ex-wife sleeps with her girlfriend in my expensive bed in that house. I don’t want anything to do with it again and the concept of me having to go back in to clear it to sell it soon fills me with dread. It represents everything that scares me hugely and I genuinely don’t know how I am going to face stepping over the threshhold into a place so full of the cancerous memories my ex made that I now can’t remember happy times with the kids there.

Where I am now is home and where I am now is safety and security and a place of discovery for my children and now… I kick on.

Someone whose blog I discovered online posted the following words of guidance and whilst they aren’t my literary interpretation of finding the rungs on the ladder that you need to find happiness I invite you to read them and to use them as footholds on your climb.

  • Listen to people.
  • Support others when you can.
  • Understand your Values and, most importantly, apply them to your life.
  • Learn and constantly educate yourself so you can actually be a good listener and supporter.
  • Don’t ignore your body. Be safe and healthy.
  • And finally – allow yourself some time to simply not give a flying f*ck.

Now if you can embrace even three of those guidelines you can start to find a new normal. That new normal might seem foreign and without structure at first, but reinforce the decisions you make with calm sedate guidance from friends who take time to talk to you.

Start to see you CAN build a new normal. That person who hurt you. If they cared for you, if they loved you – they wouldn’t hurt you. They wouldn’t tell lies about you, and they wouldn’t be so deluded as to understand the hurt they do to children in the process by implication.

Learn to be happy. And if you are that down that you can’t find the light never mind the tunnel, reach out to me anytime of the day or night and I will hold your hand.


Moving ahead

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I had a horrid, torrid 2018. Summer 2018 I decided to divorce my wife and start a new life on my own after a monumental explosive fast relationship breakdown after what I thought was a happy content marriage that produced two amazing kids. To then launch proceedings I didn’t want to against a woman I adored was a massive shock to the system that rocked my foundations.

Since then I have spent a lot of time on my own writing and reading, I’ve almost finished writing a book and I’ve spent a great deal of this period reflecting and recovering from the trauma and grief of losing the woman I loved and the impact on what was happening to our small children caught up in the maelstrom of one parent’s infidelity (not mine).

However. Not all things are bad. I have built a home from nothing to provide my kids a great place to be with me. I’ve made new friendships and I’ve hidden from Social Media for great swathes of time whilst learning new strengths and new ways of dealing with things. Divorce is horrid, especially if one of you is a narcissist, in love with someone else and clouded by bad judgement or just determined to try and win. Someone once said there are no winners in divorce and they were spot on. Divorce is something you should never do in haste (I did stupidly) and I have to now deal with the feelings I still have for my ex even though she was unfaithful with another woman who is a master manipulator and bankrupt.

Now, I sit at a word processor and I churn out chapter after chapter of writing, I keep busy listening to a lot of new podcasts. I cook a lot and eat little, lost 65lbs in the divorce process. I am a better person for being on my own and a far better father.

Where do I go from here ?

Staying single for a long long time and concentrating on my two little boys who need their dad. The amount of people who say that divorce gives you new found freedom to date are bogus. Fact of the matter is that divorce is a rollercoaster of grief and the sooner you understand that and come to terms with it the better. My Aspergers is legendary but I struggled a lot to deal with the feelings of rejection. I have never done anger or bitterness even when faced with adversity. The need to sit your ex down and want to ask why what where when and say sorry is huge. I never got that chance and rushed to divorce without thinking how to put things right. Not that in my case it would have made a difference. She had already fallen in love with someone else who had her own needs and agenda to manipulate and deceive.

Learning about yourself – rebuilding takes time

Understanding that sometimes divorce, even though painful, is necessary if one party won’t behave. Even if you love someone so much it eats you doesn’t mean that love disappears, regardless of what they do to you or attack or say things about you that are plainly untrue to score points. Remember that person made you a dad and will always be in your life and although she doesn’t exist now, she did once and she made you very proud. Don’t malign her or say bad things about her. She’s the mother of your children. One day they could read it. Don’t ever react, just roll with the punches, even if they are hugely expensive.

Learning lessons

Try and reign in the feelings of fear. Fear is actually a good emotion. Divorce is a place where isolation and ostracisation against the husband is very often the first weapon of the wife in a divorce. Learn not to react. She is your ex for a reason even if you still love her madly.

Learn to channel those feelings into something. For me I wrote 84,000 words of a book I’ve almost finished thats out soon on Amazon Kindle and Audible for purchase. Others choose sports. Some lessons I’ve learnt that I want to share with you.

  1. Do not react or communicate with an ex who is dangerous or vindictive – leave alone. Especially if he or she is in denial or worse deluded or even worse in love with another man / woman. Until they realise that you need to get to the same place in a divorce don’t ever try and reason with someone who is immature or behaving in an irrational manner. It’s worse if you still love them, but that pain will fade. One day.
  2. Do not drink to self medicate or hide the pain Do not seek solace in alcohol or drugs (even prescription ones), I made the decision day one to not look at a drink and it’s held me in amazing stead. Alcohol is not a solution and the problem will still be there in the morning. For those that have taken that path, seek help and assistance as you are not only damaging yourself but potentially any children you may have. They need you on top of your game. Plus how are you going to hold down a job if you are taking that path ? It’s self destruction when you actually need to heal and rebuild.
  3. Do not join a dating site, they are horrid places and you aren’t ready. Plus you are still in love with your ex so how is that going to work ?
  4. Do not take your eye off the ball with your work or your career
  5. Do not ever read support or self help forums – ever. They tend to be full of spiteful people who hurt or who are so full of vitriole. That pathway leads to self destruction.
  6. Walk. Walk a lot. I walk 3-4 miles a day which isn’t a lot but it gets me out the cottage.
  7. Learn not to hate. Hatred is a negative emotion. Especially do not hate your ex. You loved him or her, you may have made children together. He or she is gone and not coming back but be proud of what you made together and even if he or she is saying the most horrid untrue things or alienating you causing you distress, be proud and just bottle it up. Hating someone is possibly self destructive. Learn to just park your feelings and the pride you have in that person and realise that it will always live with you, it’s how you place it in a jar on a shelf that matters now.
  8. Do not rely on therapists. I had two, after 20+ appointments I ended up realising writing a book about it was better therapy. Plus it might help a lot of other people (even you one day).
  9. Sleep. I know it’s easier to say than do. My trick is podcasts and Amazon Alexa. I hadn’t slept on my own for a decade. Now I sleep on my own every night and whilst I hate it the only company I have now is Alexa and Audible. Do not watch TV in bed or use a laptop or iPad, you won’t switch off and it doesn’t promote quality sleep.
  10. Learn new hobbies. I have a pool table. I play five or six frames a day of pool on my own which sounds mad but I’ve gone from being a rubbish player to a pool shark in months. I chop wood. When I get stressed I chop wood. When I try and lose patience with the world around me rather than react or get upset I get a chainsaw out and cut trees up and then chop wood until it gets dark. It’s good cardio too.
  11. Cook. Buy tin foil containers, cook and portion control and freeze. Reason being is that when you least expect it you won’t have had a meal. Go to the freezer and you have something to heat up. My slow cooker and my air fryer are my two best friends. Slow cookers are fantastic if you are lonely as the smell of a meal cooking all day keeps you calm and guarantees that come the evening you have a meal full of flavour.
  12. Family – when you divorce you automatically often lose your family. In my case my own father died in the Summer of 1997. My father in law became his stand in and he must have hated it as I am rubbish with feelings and showing how I feel. However I adored him and looked up to him and he listened to me and whilst I let him down hugely I always did my best and regardless of what he now thinks of me I will always love him to bits and I miss him hugely. There are very few people I’ve ever looked up to, Max Williams who died suddenly in Thailand in 2007 was my rock, The BBC’s Bill Thompson who is incredible and a massive listener, I have my Dad’s best friend David Hirst and a friend of mine I work for / with John. The list is very short and he was at the head of it. Losing him is possibly as traumatic as losing my wife and it’s crippled me.
  13. Write – I mentioned it – but it’s cathartic. I’m a journalist so I write anyway. However write your kids letters if they aren’t with you, tell them how much you love them and how much you care. Write down your feelings. Your ex will never read them or care but one day you can show your kids when they are a lot older. You may not always be around so those words are your legacy so think carefully before starting the path. Words are also a double edged sword so commit yourself to a direction you can really reinforce by way of perspective. I must have written my ex wife about 40 letters she has never received and never will read. I have a tin, I put them in imagining it’s gone in the postbox and it’s my therapy. She’s gone, I don’t exist or matter to her but it doesn’t mean that as part of my recovery and loss from the cornerstone of my life that I still can’t reach out to her with a pen and paper. One day your kids can read them or one day you can have a bonfire and burn them if you so wish. For me it’s part of rebuilding as I can’t talk to her rationally and she wouldn’t listen if she could do. All the memories of what we built and the good times sullied with a new relationship and feelings of vitriol and hatred. All pointless emotions. So my ex wife I imagine lives in another country and hasn’t got a phone and I can’t contact her so I write down how I feel about how I miss her and the mistakes I made and the stupid things I took for granted and my own failings and then try and put them on paper which is actually a great help to me. You don’t ever need to send them, they would end up in a bin anyway but the fact you have commited them to paper helps you take a pride in what you had. Divorce is a cancer, don’t let it get inside you. Be proud that you had that love, even if it was only for a short time, he or she chose to be with you. It takes two to screw up a marriage. If like me you married for life it’s a bit harder but that’s not his or her problem. They moved on. You have to too. Even if it kills you in the short term. For me I was all about my wife’s “smell”, her scent. Even now I have a scarf she left and it smells of Coco Chanel Mademoiselle and it hangs in my wardrobe and I often open the door and can smell a bit of her in my life and it makes me smile inside. It did make me cry but now it just reminds me of watching her dress every day, and what a fantastic mum and wife she was and I take a pride from having that period of my life that I treasured. Write it all down – every word – nobody is ever going to read it so you don’t have to self censor. Just get the feelings out.
  14. Fabric conditioner – this sounds stupid but I have a degree now in fabric conditioner. I took my ex wife for granted and think I used our washing machine five times in a decade or even less. Now I wash three or four times a week and there is a hugely comforting smell of drying clothes scented with a good fabric conditioner.
  15. Watch the finances – your first and only job is to ensure you can pay maintenance for the children. Do your best always to make sure you can do it – parents who do not provide support to their children should hang their heads in shame. Since I left my wife I have had no luxuries. Watched every penny. My sole treat for myself in eight months a £19 pool cue, am even still wearing the clothes that are miles too big for me with belts I’ve had to put eleven new holes in and cut down !. I found out last week my favourite boots have holes in and have finally been retired after five years. Luckily I have four new pairs in storage bought in January 2018 sales so I’m good for a few years. I’ve put off car maintenance so my ex could have extra money for Christmas, put off dental treatment so I could give her more money. I’ve never been so hard up in my life but concentrating on what I can give my kids occassionally as a treat and planning ahead for Christmas’s and birthdays are the luxuries that I now have as my sole spending. I’ve already started putting things away for next Christmas so I can afford it.
  16. Take care of your mental health – nobody is bullet proof, it’s fine to mourn – if you don’t then there is something wrong. I was madly in love with my wife, still am as in love with her now as the day I met her or married her and hold no ill will towards her despite of what she’s said and done. However you need to look after yourself and take stock and listen for tell tale signs. See your doctor if you need to. Do not rely on prescription help, see a counsellor, it’s okay to mourn the death of something so personally huge. I had no children Christmas Day or on my birthday and it sucked. It hurt. But you find a way to cope. I kept busy. It massively hurt but you are an adult find a way to cope. Not sure how I will cope with Valentines Day.
  17. The most important one. Be a really good co-parent. Your kids didn’t ask to come into this world, nor did they ask you to get married or divorced. They need your support and love. If, like me, you get little time with your kids, focus on them 100% every second. No laptops, no phones, make them the centre of every minute you have them. This is time you will never get back and it counts. Remember your ex husband or wife is out to prevent you having that time in a lot of cases so fight for that right to be the parent you signed up for. Even if it means you have to pay every red cent you have. Your children are your sole concern. Plan activities, plan things to make them tired out, show them how much you love them, don’t buy them. Remember never ever to discuss your ex in front of them, they need to be insulated as long as they can from the horror of life and inside they are traumatised and adjusting to two families not one. The house, money – none of that matters in the great scheme of things.