How does a man get over a divorce or a relationship that had run its course? Other than one’s friends or the bars where can a man turn to get support or the needed help to just talk and figure out how to get back on the road to self confidence and feel good about himself again?
A friend of mine gave me this bit of sage advice that went something like this: “C’mon, man. The hell with her. Women are like bicycles. You ride ‘em for a while then you find a nicer, shinier one. No big deal.”
Yes, I have crass friends who are no help in this area. I’m actually surprised he didn’t say something equally crass like “Now that you’re single you should have a ‘threesome.’” As a matter of fact, he did. But he said it in his own colorful manner likening 3-some to a tricycle.
Go figure.
Hmmm, in your worst moments you discover things about your friends you wish you didn’t know! That was his way of making me feel better. A polite smile was all I could muster. Well, no doubt ‘3-somes’ are nice sexual fantasies and realities but that was not the kind of sage advice I was seeking or have ever sought!
The one thing everybody in the throes of separation/divorce will hear ad nauseum is every cliché imaginable. My friends, God bless them, tried to help by offering all types of advice. Some of them had even been through the rigors of divorce more than once and I had a hard time wondering how in the world they got through such a traumatic experience once; but gee whiz, more than once! These people must have the steeliest of resolve! Either that or they’re stupid.
But listen to their counsel I did. Maybe I tried to listen too much as I grew tired of hearing the same things. God, this unchanging crescendo just kept reverberating in my mind. This is what people meant years ago when the phrase of choice was “oh man, you sound like a broken record player!” Here are a few selections of these ‘classic recordings’:
“You know AJ, behind every dark cloud is a silver lining.”
When was I going to see the silver lining behind that dark cloud?
“Well, AJ, those things take time.”
How much time? When is all this gonna be done? I’m hurtin’ over here!!
“Well, AJ, you know what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
Yeah, well, I feel like I’ve been killed and I damn sure don’t feel stronger!
I was in the midst of misery only to be surrounded by words of encouragement.
So what? Nothing and no one could alleviate the worst kind of suffering I’d ever experienced. My road to hell was being paved with their good intentions.
Like most people, I was devastated when the thought of leaving my home, my family, and my wife seemed imminent. No longer were we able to keep our home together; it was no longer happy and, worst of all, it was affecting our daughters. Regrettably, separation from my wife, and more importantly, my young daughters, was actually going to happen. That is a fact and reality from which I have never fully recovered or accepted. I don’t know how others can easily adapt to getting on with their lives after a divorce. I was mortally wounded by these events. Worst of all, so were my daughters. My life was over—and I couldn’t do a thing about it.

Anyway, as our marriage began failing, I crumbled emotionally and physically. I lost a job which I had for 14 ½ years which led to me to exhaust all our stocks just to keep some sense of normalcy and all the trappings of ‘Americana.’ We had a good life and I tried like hell to keep us there on the cul-de-sac in our 3 bedroom 2 bath brick home. We had a young growing family and I wanted to provide for them and keep them happy. Once again, my failure to do so sent me in a tailspin from which I was to recover years later.
Well, almost.
I didn’t know if this was commonplace, this emptiness. But it didn’t matter since I was not one of those people. I refused to believe I was becoming a statistic. I loved my wife and would keep my family together; nothing was going to change that. But the harder I tried to hold on to my family, the more they were slipping away from me.
C’est la vie, right? Stuff happens so welcome to the real world.
Guess what?
I was becoming a statistic.
Through the help of my sister-in-law, I was able to get a job as a beer merchandiser at half the pay from my old job. Now the reality we were able to avoid now stared us squarely in the face. Mommy now had to go to work to help with the finances.
Guess what?
We were now a statistic; we were just like most of America.
At that time, our girls were ages 7, 9, and 11. Our daughters actually had to ride the bus to school and this was something they never had to do and it wasn’t easy getting them to do it. Who could blame them? That was something other kids did; now, they were those other kids. What the hell were we going to do about getting them to school and picking them up from there? Our lives were forever changed and it’s like I could never get my family away from the ‘dark side of the force.’
And then, poof! I have never gone through such a stretch of bad luck and poor decision-making in my life! From mid-1998 until 2001 very little went right for me. Because of my hardships, my family became the woeful recipient.
On February 17, 2000, I moved out of my home never realizing I would never have my family again in that capacity. This was not an easy decision. My estranged wife and I decided it was the best for all concerned. Our girls would not be exposed to the “walking on eggshells” attitude that was cultivated in our home. This was not the way to raise our kids. They deserved more than what we were giving them at this time.
Even as I write about such a thing that happened several years ago it all seems surreal. I don’t mean to have a Rod Serling moment here, but the man who moved out of that home is not alive today.
Ok, so I guess this is a Rod Serling moment. Sorry.
That sounds crazy, especially to me, but I believe it to be true. I am not the same person from all those years ago.
But I do have the same heart that still remains broken to this day because I failed in my abilities as a man, a husband, and a daddy. A failure as a provider is a monumental failure as a man. I tried so hard to make things better for my family. Once again, my road to Hell was paved with good intentions. In the end, the only result anyone will remember is that I failed in my responsibilities for my family.
Through this failure my relationship with my daughters was severely altered. That is the worst thing that has ever happened to me, period.
Maybe this is a reason why I can’t enjoy a meaningful relationship with a woman. But then again it could be easily said that I just haven’t met the ‘right one’ for me yet. Every second that passes brings me to the thought of whether or not she exists at all in a world of facades, lies, and ‘game players.’ But these are secondary matters when it comes to the 3 most important people in the world—my daughters.
In the initial year of the separation, my girls' image was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night. Thinking about it now certainly brings back the hurt but in a different way. At least not with the ferocity as in years past.
How can this be?
I know I still miss them. Even get teary eyed now and then at unexpected moments. That part is still difficult to gauge. But for the most part, the pain is quite manageable. I've just become very good at excusing myself in order to keep such a personal moment just that--to myself and private.
My head shakes in amazement when I recall how easily I cried back then. It's crazy how embarrassed I get now when I just think about some of those weepy times.
Gosh! What a wimp!
Nah! Just a hurt daddy. Nothing special.
Allow me to reserve the word 'special' for my friends.
They were right.
In everything they said.
They were right after all.
The advice my friends had given at the drop of a hat wasn't just some patronizing venture on their part to comfort me. Unlike Rhett Butler who didn't give a damn, my Southern compadres gave a damn about me.
My time table to be cured of heartache is ongoing. To be quite clear, I will never get over this part of my life. But maybe it is more accurate to state that I will never forget this part of my life.
Yes. That sounds much better. It may be even stranger to believe that it feels better to say that.
Maybe it is not so strange after all.
In any case, my broken heart has been stitched and restitched. Missing my girls is just going to be around forever, period. But in the years after the divorce I have cultivated "missing" into "seeing" my sweet babies. Honest questions from them and honest answers from me has been the springboard in getting our relationships on the right track. Slowly but surely, our bond has strengthened and, happily, it gets stronger everyday.
Hopefully, my girls believe in me again. The one thing I miss most is how they would look at me when they were little bitty things. It was that look of absolute, true love. They just knew I would always be there for them. And I knew I would always be there for them. Then the unthinkable happened.
That's the worst part of divorce. The toll it takes on the innocent ones.

Author's Bio: 

AJ Garcia; Professional Educator in the Greater Houston area
I have a Master's Degree in History from the University of Houston-Clear Lake
Daddy to 3 grown daughters
Future Grandad of a gorgeous baby girl named Logan Olivia Garcia to be born in early January 2013!!
Still single & loving my wonderful life!
Divorced since 2001; I've had many relationships in the last 11 years on my road to recovering from a devastating divorce.
I've cultivated a humorous way of looking at the things that have happened to me along the road to rebuilding my life. I wouldn't have it any other way!
I can be reached at