The top pain points of separation

loosing friends like rates leaving a sinking shipThere are so many individual things that cause pain after separation.  It sometimes feels like your stuck on a emotional roller coaster. I’ve talked before about ways to “SELF CARE” during these years, but when I think about what it is that causes the downs, there is a top 4 that seems to be ongoing and are a little more sticky and prickly than some of the others. I would be interested in knowing if your pain has been the same as mine?

Below are my top 4 things that caused me the most pain after separation, and I have included what I did about it.

1. Grieving the loss of your children
This is the biggest pain point.  Feeling of loss, missing, guilty, can not guarantee their security 7 days a week, part time dad, daily contact, The feeling that we are no longer as important in their lives all brings feelings of grief that continues to plague your thoughts. It is important that these emotions are worked on. The feeling of loss will never leave, it is something you learn to live with and it will always be a dark cloud that follows you around.

What I did about it:  I came to realize that I am their 100% dad 24/7, even if I am not living with them. It is easier to cope knowing that it’s true. I read once, that they don’t have a dad – only when you stop being their dad. I thought about that and knew they have a Dad. Emotions are something that I am constantly working on. I surrounded myself with people (a person) who is positive. Keep a good home so that I feel good about my contribution to the children, work at co-parenting with their mother as it is easier for everyone if you can get along. I worked on ideas for keeping in touch so that the gaps between visits weren’t silent, There has been a few posts written to help you with this, here is one: https://www.dadsonline.com.au/when-you-just-cant-be-there or another is this: https://www.dadsonline.com.au/card-hug

2. Reduced finances
Juggling bills month to month. You paying your share for the children but then 100% of your new housing and living costs and everything associated with it. Before separation, rent, mortgage, living expenses, holidays, children’s clothing etc were generally a shared expense but now it requires much stricter budgeting as you end up paying for much of this on your own. Being separated brings some extra time on your hands when the children are not with you but you do not have extra funds to provide extra activities. Gym memberships, keeping up with fashion, holidays all take second place to surviving month to month. A study was conducted and found that men appeared to be generally ‘unaware of and unprepared for separation.

This can mean that men do not approach their finances as an important factor in maintaining a positive parenting environment i.e. doing a budget will help you not spend more than you earn.  This is critical for your health and well-being and this is important for your children.

What I did about it:
The first thing I did was to complete a budget, I found a good one here: Budget Planner. I was honest with myself and made a decision to live within my means, you have too. You will or would have lost friends already, so your social life is diminished (more on this in No. 3) which in it’s self means you will not go out as much as your did before. I cancelled my Gym membership, cancelled Foxtel, I called my bank and spoke to the department that managing credit cards and I had my credit card interest rate reduced from 28% to 5% just by asking, this helped me to reduce debt.

I started taking a lot of notice how I used water and electricity too. Life sucks for quiet a while but there are many things that you will find enjoyment with that don’t cost money. Cutting back enabled me also to have a little savings.

There is always something that comes up that needs me to put my hand in my pocket, I have found that saving and cutting back has reduced the stress a little when bills come in or the new pair of runners or school uniform needs replacing.  If you feel you need urgent help to sort out your bills and prepare a budget, you can call 1800 007 007.  This free hotline is open from 9.30am – 4pm Monday to Friday.  When you call the number you will automatically be transferred to the phone service in your state where a financial counsellor will help you.

3. Loss of friends
Friends will choose who they want to be friends with after you separate, you will need to be prepared to loose many. Your guy friends will side with their wife or girlfriend because that’s life. Its easier for them to dump you than it is to argue with their wife about it.

Some reasons why you might lose friendships are:

  • They judge you as not being an honest person and having same values
  • They believe you brought this tough time onto yourself
  • There own relationship is not great and you could be contagious
  • They choose who they will support, you or your ex (even if they have been your friend)
  • You are now “John Doe” the separated guy and they are not sure how to relate to you
  • You now have different interests and priorities and they just don’t relate
  • A single dad just does not fit in with their idea of a friendship group

Whatever the reasons, some friends will leave you like rats leaving a sinking ship!

What I did about it:
I eventually focus on the positives, get out and spend time on yourself.  In the past you have probably had friends you would not have chosen, now you can choose exactly the friends you want to spend time with. I don’t think there is anything wrong with dropping out for a while and just hanging out with yourself, in some ways it can be quite therapeutic to find yourself again. So long as it is not forever (as some fall into that trap of hanging out there and never leaving) finding new friends can be uncomfortable but you need to feel the fear and do it anyway.

4. Work Life Balance
I absolutely believe that separation stalls peoples career’s (both Dads and Mothers). Purely from the distraction and commitment that needs to be exerted as a parent you can not put your energy  into a career equally – something has to give? and in my case it was not going to be the time I spent with the kids.

My children are now getting a little older and more independent that allows me to dedicate more time to my job which by default helps you move forward in your career. However whilst they were growing up I thought the last thing they needed is a family breakdown and a father who would rather spend more time at the office than with the them.

Company do say that they are family friendly but they also need you to get the job done and will tolerate a couple of nights leaving earlier but when promotional opportunities come around you could be over looked. Purely due to time restraints.

What I did about it:
I just had to juggle work and life!  it makes you time poor and stressful at times. I used to start work at 9am and at leave work at 5pm on the dot a couple of nights a week, be very organized in the mornings and get up to make breakfasts and lunches and make sure everyone was washed and dressed ready for school so that I was not late to work.

Some dads I know just could not be able to have the children during the week due to work demands, it makes me sad to think that but i know it is a reality.  It throws all the weekly parenting back onto the mother causing everyone to be disadvantaged and time poor. Time does heal and as the kids get older it becomes easier for all.

You just have to be in the game, put the kids first, make intentional efforts to parent them and make a home for them.

Comments

  1. Lenny Shirley says:

    Very nice. The most important are the kids. It doesn’t matter if you relationship didn’t work. Some fathers divorcé the moms and the kids too. Is not their fault we act like selfish fighting for stupidities putting our arrogance first. Children suffer more than anybody in a divorce. We have to be there to tell and teach them it wasn’t their mistake, that they can do better than us.

  2. darryl hannant says:

    thanks for your words of wisdom.I have lost all my family/friend support as a result of the separation.I am trying to make new friends for both me and my two daughters.It takes time.The budget is extremely tight as i work as a courier/owner driver on a pittance pay.Have to watch every cent now.Will keep your post on my computer and will refer back to it when i need to.Still a lot of heartache to go ,but hope to get stronger through the experience.

    • Peter says:

      Hi Darryl,

      I totally understand the loneliness, I felt the similar feelings. I tried to invite friends from school over and it was always they were to busy. I don’t think that many parents like children going over to the divorced dad home? it is crazy I know but i think it is a reality we have to bear.
      What city are you living in? Things that have worked for me which hasn’t really brought many friends would be just to keep active. Don’t let having no support group or friend network get you down. Go for walks in the park and take a frizzbie or ball or kite, pack a picnic lunch and rug and visit your cities botanical garden? Just keep active and then when your home just have some quality down time? Time will happen and they will grow up knowing you nice time they had with you.
      Not sure if you have tried a church group? I’m not churchy at all but have some friends that are and most churches have good friend networks and groups for kids? There are a few non-denomination churches around or baptist churches have good family friendly groups too, worth a visit and see how you feel? I know of the Edge church is Adelaide and Melbourne that do a good job with family friendships, just need to go and ease into it and see if its your thing? They are known for the good work they do with family and children. Your kids are only young and don’t need to much, they just need you and it sounds like that is happening which is awesome.

      Let us know how you go.

      best wishes and keep your chin up.
      Peter 🙂

  3. Paddy says:

    I think just like most dad’s its the loneliness… I live by myself and fine it hard at times coming to an empty house… The really hard days are gone. I have no friends as I work 10 am to,10 pm 5 days a week then have my beautiful blessings on my days off… So making friends is hard. All my family live interstate… So it really hard. But all good. I look into there beautiful dark brown and see there unconditional in which they carry for me… So I’m Blessed in that way…

    • Ryan says:

      Hey Paddy

      I can relate to your situation as I’ve been separated for about 2 years. My family are also intestate and like you love seeing my kids makes it all worth it. I also feel that pain of loneliness it’s hard to admit but your not the only one. Keep strong and make sure your health is in tact, all the best

      Ryan

  4. Andrew says:

    A good article, preparation is the key but it is hard when this comes out of the blue. I would like to get from feedback from those Dad’s who have been on the receiving end of the cheating wife and how separation has impacted the friendships that you shared together with other people. It is not like you can hang out a sign explaining what happened. To me it seems easier for the Wife to spill the beans when the husband cheats but not so when it is the other way around and leads to separation.

  5. Peter Young says:

    my wife has just kicked me out. my boys are 27, 23, 19 & 16 and i have loved their mum since we met 37yr ago at school and married 5 yrs later she was 15 and was 16 the heartache of this loss is gutrenching i cry myself to sleep every night and don’t know if i will ever get over it the loneliness, the scared feeling of the unknown having never been on my own there was no cheating it was just that we drifted a part and i didn’t see it happening and i feel so stupid at that i just want to die but please understand it is just the way i feel i could never hurt myself how do i go on

    • Ed says:

      Hi Peter,
      I cry myself to sleep every night as well and when that doesn’t work I drink myself to sleep. My partner left me three months ago and we are still living in the same house with the kids. I am a mess and she seems so relieved and happy – I also feel stupid and now understand that she had moved on from me a long time ago and I have just been convenient to her. Now she is seeing other guys and it is driving me crazy with sadness, anger, lonely ness and jealousy all at once. The original article here really nailed a major issue for me in the loneliness it is unbearable the only time I don’t feel lonely is when I’m with my kids and then I get so emotional I worry my emotional state will make the whole process worse for them. I have no idea what to do!

      • peter says:

        Hello Ed,
        Its a very emotional time and I understand how you feel. I also had days where I would cry and feel miserable too. Believe me when I say there is light at the end of the tunnel. The first thing you need to do is take yourself out of the fire. Its time to set yourself up in your own place where you control the emotional environment and have a place your kids can stay and you can be their dad without any external forces working against you. Its also important to have someone to talk to other than family and friends. As much as we love them they dont always offer the best advice. Contact a counselling, you can get heavily subsided counselling through your GP under the Gov’t mental health plan. Then work out your finances, write out a fair parenting plan and sit down if possible with your wife and work through it so both parties are on the same page. If this isn’t possible, you should speak to a family lawyer for some guidance. Keep looking after your mental health (its important you are ok for yourself and the kids) and if things get overwhelming like they sound they are, call MensLine on 1300789978 or Lifeline on 131114. Both these organisations are great sounding boards and someone to talk to during tough times. Feel free to keep up up to date with your progress. It all takes times, be patient, dont feel like you need to rush anything but start making yourself a priority so you can start a new chapter of your life with your kids. Best wishes.

  6. pete says:

    Cheating? My wife cheated on me BEFORE we got married. Oh what was I thinking! …I stayed and we had a child together. No I would not go back and change a thing, except maybe accepting the inevitable and leaving earlier. Personally I came to the realization that staying around for my son was not a particularly good thing to do. Raising him in a toxic environment was I believe far more harmful than us splitting and no-longer arguing (well, the no-longer arguing was part of the plan, I find it best to just hang-up when she starts now). He is doing well at school and even though I only get to see him 4 nights a fortnight, I feel more like his Dad now then i ever did. I no-longer have her watching over my shoulder supervising, correcting and generally interfering in my interactions with my son. It’s nice to see his respect for me increasing without his mother belittling and berating me in front of him. As for her cheating, yes, I tricked her into admitting it the first time, the next time (I suspected) it was fingernail marks all down her back, no, despite what she said, I doubt it was the dog….The thing is, I knew it was probably time to go when it didn’t really upset me either way… I haven’t said a thing to my friends about it, at least not recently. (I spoke to one of my closest friends at the time) s
    She really doesn’t have many friends of her own and the ones she does have seem to fall out of favour after 3 to 4 months so it really hasn’t effected my friendships at all. The thing is, My friends don’t understand what it was I have been through, they don’t see her as I see her as she generally behaved in a reasonable manner when there were witnesses about, so it’s best to not talk to the majority of them about the situation bar one or two of the closest friends i have. Besides, I don’t need to justify anything to anyone (except maybe the social workers who my wife is now trying to drag into this whole sorry affair) I did what I did for the best interests of my Son and myself, one cannot look after ones children without also looking after ones self. I hope she will calm down and accept the hand of friendship, things are looking hopeful at the moment and i think that’s the best for bother her and I, but also and most importantly, my son.

  7. George Griga says:

    I lost them all. I’ve been a long sufferer of depression and only now have been diagnosed Bipolar. I was scheduled into hospital but not to bet better. My wife of 21 years got a AVO and took all our money so I couldn’t defend myself.
    I don’t know what is worse being lied and manipulated. Then left all alone.
    I had anger issues but no violence never. My anger stemmed from my wife not being able to reciprocate love.
    I had my chance to leave and chose to go back to give her our gorgeous kids.
    I spent too many years with suicidal tendencies and thought I was over this.
    All the therapies I tried where fruitless now the Bipolar medication isn’t working.
    Not being able to see the kids is what’s killing me and fight daily with loneliness. I keep busy at times works a little but just look around children everywhere, couples everywhere.
    I hurt now more then ever. I never gave up and keep alive in the hope that one day I will see my gorgeous kids.
    I apologise to everyone if this post is too depressing I just needed to be heard.
    I wish you all a great Christmas I will have to send presents via a solicitor.
    The system sux for men when women know the system and lie to gain advantage.
    We can be gullible when your with someone for 27 years. The signs are there take emotion out and keep safe. I survive minute by minute but please don’t worry I have been doing this for years. It’s the cowards way out and don’t give your gorgeous kids the excuse to do it themselves

    • Peter says:

      Hi George,
      I’m glad you reached out to us and told us some of your story. Yes it is so difficult when you feel helpless and unfairly treated. Here you are, a man, father who wants the best for his kids and to make you life around the children yet a selfish person is denying you the right. It would play on your mind constantly. There are many dads in the same position and our hearts go out to them as they do with yours.
      At some point you have to acknowledge you have done your best and let go. Im not saying let go of your availability to be a dad but let go of the feelings of grief and helplessness. You must try and move forward with your own life and make that good. Look after your health both physical and mental to the best that you can. Look after your job because it better to be going through what you are with money in your pocket than without. Continue searching for peace within your life and speak to Lifeline on 131114 or Mensline on 1300789978 if things get tough. Drop me a line on peter@dadsonline.com.au if you want to share your thoughts. Best wishes to you too for christmas 🙂 and we trust 2017 will be a good year for you.

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