I'd like to thank one of our #FitDadNation members, Mike Curran, for sharing his story with us today. I hope it inspires you as much as it does me!
I wanted to share my experiences in hopes it would help those newly divorced, or those who have gone through similar situations and know they weren't alone. I have 3 amazing daughters and was married for 10 years, which ended abruptly in 2008.
We all have the stories of what happened during the marriage, but what happened after was the biggest challenge for me.
My divorce was quick, she felt we married too young and she was missing out. The papers were filed in Augusts 2008, and finalized in October 2008 with joint custody. She moved out shortly after with our 3 daughters and I was alone for the first time.
I became very depressed quickly, didn't have any friends or family in the state of Illinois where I was. I cried more often then I'll ever admit to, performed very poorly at work, and sat at home staring at the wall, broke, and thinking of my options.
It was at least 6 months before I was even willing to talk to others, but I stayed in Illinois to be with my daughters aged 3,6,9 at the time. I never missed a visitation which was every Tuesday and Wednesday, and every other weekend.
What I was worried about was when I was alone, which was very often! I didn't do well alone and took to the guys at work who told me to go out and meet girls at the local bars. However, I didn't drink and didn't want flings.
Then, one thing made me remember when I did feel good and more positive and that's what I needed ! I joined a local gym and was a very good wrestler in my youth and loved working out in my youth. About 3 months of going to the gym 4-5 nights a week, I met some amazing, strong minded women there.
I went late, around 7:30-8 pm to avoid crowds and you typically run into people who are serious about working out. These women however were more than willing to point out my weaknesses and downfalls.
I found out I was in desperate need of improving myself, my ability to accept me, and be strong for my daughters before I could ever date or even consider being over my ex-wife. Otherwise I would never be the father, friend, or future husband I need to be.
Shortly after, I started counseling, while the entire time my ex-wife was a complete bitch and treated me like crap, letting me know each and every guy she was with was much better than me. I had to learn to be alone and meet people without talking about my ex!
It took a while but after a year of counseling I actually started enjoying my alone time! I seemed to be a better father and friend too! I got the counselor not because as my ex put it (a mental mess and worthless piece of shit), but because I needed to be able to talk to someone who wouldn't judge and also give me feedback on how to improve!
Jump to 2014, I've had downfalls and still need improvement with communication skills because I still won't completely trust people. But I ended up meeting my present wife and continued to stay very active with my daughters. I knew my ex-wife wasn't putting them first; she was dating a horrible person that treated my girls like crap and was always attempting to push me out of their lives!
I pursued custody in a state that is very anti-father, and had to learn to keep patient, never treat their mother poorly regardless of what she said about me and I was awarded custody in June 2015!
The basis of a divorce is that you’re no longer together, but if you have children, you'll have to learn to befriend the enemy. I say befriend, but this is the only way not to get the kids feeling like they're being put in the middle!
I've talked to several newly divorced dads, the question I get asked the most is.... How long???? How long till the hurt goes away? How long should I wait to date?
My answer is the hurt lasts forever but is less painful about the one year mark, and this is only if you absolutely limit contact with her! Only talk about the kids and that's it!!!! Dating should be the absolute last thing on your mind, otherwise you have a much higher chance of repeat failure.
But go back to what made you happy; the gym, cars, books, and hiking, anything where you can improve yourself! Your children need it, you need it, and the rewards are much greater by doing it the right way!
I know nothing is ever going to be perfect, I still look for encouragement in a time when single fathers are identified as losers, and continue to push forward.
Now, I can honestly look at my ex-wife, speak with her, and have absolutely zero feelings for her. This has made it so I can co-parent more effectively because it's all about the kids and I see that I'm the one who has succeeded."