Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

She Does Not Know What To Say To Me

When I started writing this blog, I wanted to try to capture three different facets of my life. The first, that of a long term cancer survivor and the many challenges that I have faced to somehow provide hope and inspiration to those looking for some path to follow. The second that I had hoped to concentrate on runs along with the third, as a husband and father. However, last year, I put a plan into motion that changed that direction, filing for my second divorce.

With the exception of my cancer history, I generally do not give out a lot of details about my life, unless I feel that it may benefit someone. When it comes to my first divorce, I felt the same, if I could help someone with the lessons. But with my second divorce I have chosen to be respectful and private to both my ex and my children. There is no doubt there is a huge difference between what I went through with my first divorce compared to my second divorce. But nothing could have more at stake than what is at risk with this second divorce. I am not talking about material belongings or financial arrangements, in fact, I am not even talking about custody of the children, though clearly that will be a fairly lengthy consideration as the time approaches.

The risk is the children themselves. I have experienced a lot being from a divorced family myself, and having known other families as well. I have seen the super nasty splits as well as those who realized it just no longer worked. But whenever there were children involved, I always hoped to never have to put my children under the microscope like I had been.

As the parent of adopted children, there often comes a lot more admonishment and judgment. After all, the extraordinary lengths that I had to go through to become a parent, the hard life the children had already been born into, now to be cast into yet another tumultuous situation. Adopted or not, and for reasons I will not go into, their adoption has nothing to do with the reason for this divorce. But their adoption is all the more reason, that my ex and I must work together, not just to co-parent both of our daughters, but to make sure that both girls know that we both love each of them very much. That will never change.

Before I had become a father, there was an incident that took place, making me wonder just how ready I would be, to be a father. I had been in an emergency room (not a unusual setting for me unfortunately) when in the room next to me, came the horrendous shrieks of a small child. I do not know what the child was being treated for and it did not matter.

“Daddy, they are hurting me! Daddy, make them stop hurting me!” Followed by screams and cries. Sure, I had given all kinds of thoughts to teaching my daughters to walk, sing, read, deal with heartbreak. But the one thing I had not given a thought about was hearing either one of my girls in pain. I used to think that was the most uncomfortable thing I could hear from a child. Until tonight.

Since I filed for the divorce, my ex and I remain in the house together, spending probably 98% of the time on opposite sides of the house, but we have been pulling this off until the divorce is final. While we are not at “War Of The Roses” level, there is clear tension. And to deal with the tension, and to make sure the children do not have to deal with it, both of us can spend quite a bit of time out of the house doing other things.

In my case, the majority of my time has been spent helping my father. Over the last few weeks, I have spent a lot of time away from home tending to my father. My daughters know where I am and what I am doing, “taking care of Pop Pop”. But it does not make it any easier for them. The timing could not be worse. My father needs me. My daughters need me.

This evening, my oldest was upstairs watching television and I laid down beside her as I often do. I do not talk about the divorce with either daughter, though I do try to find out, if there is anything bothering them about what has been happening in the house. My youngest does not show any sign of distress, and my oldest has her own curiosities about her. But tonight, for the first time, my oldest said to me, “Daddy, can I say something?” I told her “of course.” She continued, “sometimes I don’t know what to say to you because you are away so much. I miss you. And I love you.”

I know this is a difficult time for my family, for so many reasons. But my daughter’s words now became the most difficult thing for me to hear. I do not blame the failed marriage or divorce, though I do blame the process and length. My ex and I are doing what we can to co-parent the girls and I do believe we are. But while my ex and I hash out our differences and finalities, while the tension that exists between us does not have a direct impact on the girls, it is having an indirect impact by the way we both behave in the house.

I appreciate the support and understanding in letting she and I resolve our differences and draw this to a close. My daughters have been and always will continue to be my priority. I have done my best not to draw anyone in, or allow anyone to interject or influence the decisions that will be forthcoming. My marriage ended. But our roles and mother and father to my children has not. And it is so important that everyone understand that we will have that role for the rest of our lives.

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