This post was written by Fit Dad Nation member Josh Cummings.
I'm like a lot of you. A work in progress.
What we need to realize is not how far we have to go but how far we've come. My second wife left me and took our child. I was devastated. My life had completely fallen apart.
If there was a case study in depression, I was it. If there was a demonstration of despair, I was the poster boy. I could function as we all have to.
I went to work every day. I actually found that having a 70-80+ hour a week job allowed me to escape. I had always been good at my job and never struggled with it. What I wasn’t good at during that period was my life. I was angry, I was hurt, and I was confused.
I saw no way out and found comfort in retreating from everything. I have three children and while I tried to put on a brave face, my oldest two knew something was wrong with Daddy.
My first ex-wife called me one night and let me know how they were feeling. It was a level of pain that I had never felt. Your children simply aren’t supposed to worry about their parents. I still had no idea, and little motivation mind you, but I did know that something, a lot of things actually, had to change.
I come from a profession of almost complete alphas so it is not the most supportive group. A lot of “suck it up”, not conducive to saying that you are struggling, unless the problems are clearly defined, drug abuse, alcoholism etc.
I decided that I had to look outside of my world. I tried therapy, yoga, the gym. Nothing, and I mean nothing could make a dent in the feeling of emptiness and hopelessness that I felt.
Then something changed.
I spoke with a very good friend. I had no resiliency left and I broke. I laid out how I felt. I had nowhere else to go so I took a chance on the one friend I thought I could turn to. He hesitated and then told me “falling down is a part of life; getting back up is living.”
In a simple phrase, he managed to cut through my self-pity and made me realize two things: letting my children down is truly one thing I can’t live with, and that I had been projecting my blame on someone who wasn’t worth it.
Not to be too clichéd, but it is true that all journeys begin with a single step. I just had to decide in which direction I was going to go.
I started small.
I got out of a house that reminded me of failure, and I moved for a fresh start. I started to watch what I ate, I made the limited time I had with my children count, and I started to view the positive things in my life rather than the negative.
Is my life perfect? No, a far cry from that, like most people, but there are so many great things that I have and that is what I concentrated on. I made sure that each day I would “check-in” with myself, a sort of a self-assessment. I still struggled with my feelings over wife #2, that is still so weird to say, with my questions about why wasn’t I good enough, etc.
It still hurt and I still carried a lot of self-doubt connected to that and I'm sure I always will. But instead of letting it get me down, I accepted it as something I had to deal with and realized that I just wasn’t equipped to do so at that time.
I concentrated on the things that I knew I could have an immediate impact on, fitness, health, being a better more confident father. I coached my kids' teams, took them with me whenever I had a night off. This was easier with the older two whose mother is one of my best friends.
It took us a long time to get there, but now it is a godsend. I got back into cooking, especially with my kids. It provided us with a connection that was unique to us. It also let us focus on something other than a TV when we were together.
I started to see things change for the better: my kids were happier and didn’t look at me like they were afraid I was going to break, I felt more energetic, my relationships improved, I’m not talking about romantic ones, I mean the everyday ones. I was less anxious, I was kinder, I had started down a path I had never known before.
All these things didn’t help with my feelings of inadequacy concerning the dissolution of my marriage. When I felt I was in the right frame of mind, I had my kids schedules set, my home life was good, my work was settled into an area where I could manage that and my personal life, I sat down one day and thought through how I was feeling and why I felt that way.
I understood that it was unresolved in my mind and that I couldn’t risk my gains by not coming to terms with something that was in a way dangerous to my long term plan. I saw our marriage for what it was. I acknowledged my failures and identified things that were her fault.
It wasn’t easy, sometimes being honest with yourself particularly when you feel like you are the lone aggrieved party never is. I couldn’t shake the negativity it was causing me. The hurt feelings and anger were ever present whenever I had to see her or think about her. I couldn’t control the anger I felt and was prone to sliding back into the mental state I had when we first split.
I reached out again to a person. Someone I had never met and to this day still haven’t. He shall remain….Steve Roy. I saw his success, his positive attitude that resonated with me and I asked him simply how he had dealt with this experience. His advice was simple, surround yourself with more positive people.
If you surround yourself with negative people and their comments, “fuck her, she’s a bitch etc.” then you will never escape that mind set. So simple and yet I hadn’t thought of it. It worked. The one thing that I truly felt was holding me back and not allowing me to achieve the peace I had lacked.
It was the last chip that I needed to fall into place. Again I’m not saying I’m done, I have so much more to do. I know I am a good father but I strive to be better, I am good at my job but I strive to be the best, I know I can be a good partner and I will be, I know I can be a better me and I am doing the work. I am going in the right direction for the most consistent block in my adult life.
This is my story, I know that each and every one of you has your own. This community is the support you need, our coach and friend is an amazingly successful example. I’m not trying to be Steve Roy, great guy, father and businessman that he is, but that is not my path or goal.
I will learn from him and apply it to my life, my journey. If I stumble I can look to him and every one of you as an example that getting back up is living. You determine how you let life and the actions of others affect you. Inside each and every one us is the capacity for positive change, but you have to be determined enough and strong enough to force the change.
It can’t be given to you, no one can “fix” you and no one can determine your self-worth. You are in control. Seize that moment you are worth it.
About the author
Josh is a single father to three awesome kids and has been a cop and detective for the last 21 years.