On a Personal Note

Comments 59
handwriting a letter


I felt like writing to you, instead of another new version of the things I almost always write.

I’m sitting here debating spending $50 on a Wu-Tang Clan ugly Christmas sweater to wear to my friends’ annual (and irreverent) ugly Christmas sweater-themed party. $50 does cross my I-don’t-like-wasting-it financial threshold, and I’m currently thinking about all of the little kids who won’t receive presents or possibly even food on Christmas Day, and thinking that if I drop $50 on a Wu sweater, Jesus will send me a very disappointed text message with a stern emoji face, and my mother will zap me with lightning bolts from the sky.

I might have that backward.

Dolla dolla bills, y’all.

Okay. Moving on.

That Awkward Moment – A Divorce Story

There are probably some cool customers out there who handle every post-divorce life situation with enviable skill and grace.

I’m not one of them.

On the heels of divorce, you experience a bunch of things for the first time, with varying degrees of unpleasantness and/or emotional impact.

It’s awkward when you and your recently separated ex are both godparents to a baby girl at her baptism.

It’s awkward when you hang out with your friends without her.

It’s awkward when you see your friends hanging out with her without you on Facebook before you block the feed for self-preservation reasons.

It’s awkward when you go to parent-teacher conferences together for the first time.

It’s awkward when your little boy cries for his mother when he’s with you, or cries for you when he’s with mom.

It’s awkward when you travel alone for the first time.

It’s awkward when you go on a date for the first time.

It’s awkward when you take a date to a wedding, and your ex-wife’s aunt and uncle you were shocked to bump into are ironically seated at the table next to you.

It’s awkward when you first visit your extended family for holidays as a single adult.

It’s awkward when your ex-wife comes over that first Christmas Eve so you can both watch your son open gifts from his parents.

It’s awkward when you’re driving around town with your mom in the passenger seat who is visiting from out of town, and you randomly see your ex-wife’s vehicle, but a guy you know is driving it at 10 a.m. on a weekend morning.

It’s awkward when your son goes on vacation with his mom’s family and you discover that guy is going too.

It’s awkward when you pick up or drop off your son at his mom’s house and that guy’s shoes are by the door even though he’s not there.

It’s awkward when you pick up or drop off your son at his mom’s house and that guy is there, clearly totally at-home.

It’s awkward when you hear him call her “Babe.”

And it’s a little-bit awkward when the three of you start attending your child’s extracurriculars together.

I arrived at the gym about 10 minutes before tip-off for my son’s weekend basketball game. His mom and her boyfriend were already sitting there. As the people were positioned around them, sitting next to him and not my ex-wife was the sensible move.

Aside from that regretful and/or jealous tinge we bury way down deep, I don’t have any problem sitting next to him. He’s an excellent guy and I have no reason to treat him with anything other than kindness and respect. He’s good to my son and his mom. He’s smart. Polite. Treats people around him well.

Those things matter.

At some point during the game, I caught out of my peripheral his hand reaching over to caress hers. I was surprised to discover it made me want to set myself on fire.

After the game, a bunch of parents were milling around the hall outside the locker rooms waiting for the kids to come out.

That’s when a dad whose son played for the opposing team randomly approached my ex-wife’s boyfriend because they’d gone to high school together.

I wasn’t at all surprised to discover wanting to set myself on fire when everyone was meeting each other and exchanging small-world pleasantries while I stepped a few extra feet away before being miraculously saved seconds later by a hug from a little boy happy to see his dad. Like magic—the I-don’t-really-matter feeling disappeared.

We bleed and scar and heal. We grow—wiser, tougher.

We become okay. Not fake-okay, but actually okay.

But the sucker punches and awkward moments don’t stop ‘til they stop.

Maybe they will someday.

The Importance of Mattering

I’ve spent the past three and a half years writing about divorce and marriage and relationships. I did it at the beginning because I needed to get the emotional vomit out of my system. And then I kept doing it because it appeared to be helping some people. That was a big deal to me.

You know? A reason for existing?

A husband and father has purpose.

But some divorced asshole is just another cliché statistic most people don’t want to hang out with lest they contract the Divorce AIDS by proxy.

I’m half-joking.

My little boy remains my purpose. But let’s be honest—mom is the better parent by every measurable standard outside of my genetic advantage in the Involved Fathers Help Children Thrive space.

I know this isn’t unique to me. When she walked out that door, so did a bunch of the purpose I had—without being mindful of it—felt throughout our relationship and marriage.

This is something I didn’t learn as a child—but quickly realized once I was the last person living at home: Our lives MUST be lived for things greater than ourselves.

I was a well-documented shitty husband.

But I loved the woman and cared about many things simply because I was married to her. When good things happened, or I experienced successes, or I received good news or learned something interesting, only a small part of the experience felt good on its own. The good part was sharing the good thing with her.

The craving—something damn close to need—for her respect, her validation, her pleasure, her praise, her love was strong.

I think most husbands feel that in profound ways.

Which does a couple of things:

  1. Helps explain why we feel so mind- and heart-fucked when she moves out and starts seeing someone else.
  2. Makes us incredibly dense assholes for all of the times we blatantly disregard our wives’ expressed wishes because—hell, I don’t even know why—because it’s inconvenient in the 20 minutes we’re living in right that moment?

We’re going on four straight years of self-reflection on all this, and I still can’t explain it.

This Has Given Me Purpose

This has given me a thing to do. A thing that provides value for some people. Where people sometimes say: “Matt. You’re doing something special and important and you matter.”

I want to be doing it for all of the selfless reasons that matter to humanity-at-large, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge the selfish desire I have to feel like something I do matters.

Everyone has varying degrees of psychological and emotional needs. Super-healthy, functional people with great relationships manage them effectively.

The rest of us just fumble about in the dark, unfairly mother-effing all of the innocent inanimate objects when we hurt ourselves tripping over them.

The Two Ways to Help People

I’ve struggled for a long time with the idea that I didn’t know how to help people in struggling marriages or just trying to get through the day while going through a divorce.

I watched my parents split and grew up with divorced parents as my life narrative.

Then, about 30 years later, after a lifetime of assuring everyone around me I’d never get divorced, I got divorced.

You know the expression “eat crow”? Well, it’s not crow. It’s a giant feces pile composed of digested crow. A big pile that’s not all the way gone.

I don’t write about it much anymore for the same reason most people only share positive-storytelling things on social media. I’m ashamed of it. I don’t want you to know. I don’t want my family to know. I don’t want my friends to know.

Divorce is the dominant theme of my entire life story.

It begs the question: “What does this moron know about how to have healthy relationships and good marriages?”

I get it. I’d wonder the same thing.

I want very much to be able to offer specific actions a person could take to fix his or her marriage.

But I don’t know what to do either. And even if I did, the you-love-another-totally-unpredictable-human-being X-factor will always rule out the possibility for relationship instruction manuals.

I mostly just know what NOT to do. Sometimes that helps people.

“There are two ways to help people in this world: 1) give them specific, tangible advice on what they should do to fix their problems, and 2) normalize their suffering to simply remind them that they are not as alone or as hopeless as they think they are,” wrote Mark Manson in his latest post “6 Books That Make You Less of a Horrible Person.”

“Often what we need the most is not more ‘tools’ and ‘tips’ to get through our hardest hours. What we need is someone who simply understands our pain, and is able to clearly and beautifully articulate that it will one day be OK again.”

I am embarrassed about the basketball-game story I shared. It seems immature and petty to feel as I did. I don’t like that I felt those things. And I don’t like you knowing that after all of this time, things can still cut. I can still bleed.

I think everybody bleeds.

And I think the reason to talk about it is so other people who also are bleeding or feeling shitty or feeling afraid or sad or ashamed can feel: “That happens to me too. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one.”

In the end, I think that’s how I might be able to help someone. I think that’s how I might be able to help myself.

I don’t really know anything. I can’t provide great wisdom or teach any valuable life skills.

But I think—sometimes—I can help a person feel like they’re not the only one.

I hope that can be enough.

Looking Toward 2017 and New Things

Holy shit, right?


That’s insane. I’ll turn 38 in March. Maybe other things will happen also. We’ll find out.

This blog will need to evolve.

I would like to convert it into a multi-contributor platform with other writers willing to bleed on the page a little.

I’d also like to introduce a new feature of some kind, and audio and/or video content seems like the obvious evolution.

Because I’m occasionally shy, I’m going to ease my way into it by doing simple blog-post readings of posts new and old using Facebook’s new Facebook Audio feature. (You can follow the Facebook page here.)

That might be fun.

I’m looking forward to trying it out and seeing what you think.

In the meantime, it’s Christmas again. They come so fast anymore. For the first time in my life, Hanukkah coincides with Christmas. I’m not sure why that’s cool, but it seems so.

No matter what you celebrate, I hope you have a very happy and blessed holiday season, and to my Christmas compadres, a very merry and beautiful and connection-building and relationship-healing Christmas with loved ones.

Thank you so much for giving your valuable time and attention to this place. It means the world.

We have another opportunity to light up the darkness. Please do.

Do good things.

Cheers, you.

59 thoughts on “On a Personal Note”

  1. zentrifiedlawyermom

    Buy the Wu Tang sweater. It’s the bomb, and hell, we all deserve to do something stupid fun for ourselves sometimes. This is my first “divorced Christmas” and my “consolation gifts” to myself have definitely exceeded $50…

  2. Yeah, I remember finding out my ex was engaged on what would have been our 22nd anniversary when I logged into my son’s FB account to look something up. That was fun. Oh, wait, no it wasn’t. And then the bat mitzvah a month or so later where we ended up being seated at adjoining tables.

    I’m glad to say I am finally past the point where I bleed when these things happen, but it was a long and slow process.

    BTW, if your mother can zap lightning bolts from the sky, I want to meet her and take lessons. 🙂 That is one awesome skill.

  3. dude, you tell such a good story…I cringed at so many points… This is the first year that my ex isn’t coming over to our house for Christmas and its’ triggering my ‘overthink.’ I’m feeling all these feels. Thank you bleeding all over here….I think there’s a lot of blood-brother action happening in this space. Merry Christmas, Friend. You are loved. XOXO

  4. Get thee to a Goodwill! The best ugly sweaters ever! Glad your little boy helped the pain. As I said to two friends having a shitty holiday for different reasons, don’t compound feeling bad by feeling bad about feeling bad.

  5. Yours was the first blog I followed when I began blogging 3 years ago. Not because I like reading about shitty husbands or marriages that fail. I divorced my first spouse after 8 years of marriage almost 28 years ago, and I have been very happily involved with and now married to my husband for a quarter century. But I still follow and read your blog faithfully because of your humanity and your willingness to be real about your ups and downs in life. The lessons learned matter to me far more than than the mistakes made.

    Thanks for another great year of reading, and looking forward to more in 2017.

  6. I still bleed, and it’s been over a decade since my divorce. I think it means we’re human and that we care. The only way out is through, and that means feeling the feelings when they hit. Even when you think you should be well past all that.

  7. On the basketball story, I don’t think it’s odd or embarrassing or immature… or any other negative, big or small. I think it’s natural. I think there is a serious fault with the normalizing of divorce. Divorce is a terrible thing no matter how you slice it. But we have a culture that has determined over decades of time to justify divorce in many many circumstances when it should perhaps be opposed, normalized it in an effort to be compassionate about something that is very painful. Sometimes the ways we think we’re doing something good can have a ton of negative and dangerous side effects.

    Despite the faults that you so admirably and publicly own, there’s a virtue that has all but disappeared in our culture that you have, constancy. I find it a great tragedy that our culture has denigrated constancy to the point of running down those who in natural, healthy, and valuable ways have a hard time moving on from their lifetime commitment that everyone else saw as disposable. I hope and pray you’ll come to see the value in that despite the pain it has caused you.

    1. ” I think there is a serious fault with the normalizing of divorce. Divorce is a terrible thing no matter how you slice it.”

      You nailed it there.

  8. Walmart or the thrift store would have ugly sweaters too for a lot cheaper. You decide….but don’t go into hock for a silly sweater….Have a Merry!

  9. What you do matters, and what you do has value. You’ve learned and you teach others how to be vulnerable and you’ve learned and you teach others how to have empathy. Those are the two secrets to a happy, successful life, imho. Thank you. I like your ideas on how the blog could evolve—keep doing what you’re doing!

  10. I can’t count the number of times I have said, “There’s no road map for this.” I find you just take the unexpected hits as they come and over time it gets easier. Like Glennon Doyle Melton said, pain is a spiral staircase. You come around to the same pain over and over again, and each time you’re a little stronger for the climb.

  11. Matt,
    I have really appreciated what you have written, I can say that it has helped me see myself as that shitty husband, which I think I knew all along. By using a lot of what you wrote I was able to look at myself and at my wife in a new way. It isn’t easy and it isn’t over yet, but I think I might have saved my marriage by taking what you wrote and really looking at myself and how I treated my wife. I always thought love was enough and that is all I needed to do was love my wife. I found out, almost to late, that it takes a whole lot more. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me see what I needed to do to get out of the shitty husband level into a recovering shitty husband to hopefully a good husband.

  12. Depends on what the prize is for the ugly sweater contest. I’m betting you could make something yourself. But if you do get the sweater, don’t feel bad about it. Like I don’t let the thought of sober, clean lunger children when I splurge on a six-pack of XX & Marlboro Silver 100’s.
    The feeling conjured during the game is natural, as well.
    Merry Christmas, Matt.

  13. chainbreakercorporation

    How can i not follow such an exceptional blog ?
    ( ・∀・)・・・——–☆

  14. Thank you Matt. That was wonderful. Your writing never ceases to amaze me how you express such down to earth, difficult to explain feelings and then you make me laugh the way you phrase something. You have an extremely special gift to share as a writer; a way of connecting through words that touches people and makes them think. Have a wonderful holiday with your precious and very lucky son – he has a great dad who loves him very much.

  15. You DO matter, Matt … What you DO here, what you SHARE here MATTERS … THANK YOU for being both willing and brave enough to be so open and vulnerable that the rest of us — if we are willing — can gain additional — often stretchy, sometimes ouchy, but nevertheless, VALUABLE—insights into our own lives , our own relationships , our own missteps …

  16. Matt, every post helps. Your writing matters to me and increases the quality of my life and those around me. Common experiences and common feelings are reassuring and calming. Sometimes you’ve even been a guidepost during a storm. Thank you so much for helping me get through 2016.

  17. Thank you. Christmas is hard. It is hard when the ex was never interested in it when we were together, even tried to make it difficult and now ex makes a big deal out of it with kiddo. It used to be one of my favorite holidays.

  18. Dear Lord Matt, I can’t manage the maturity to have my ex over for Christmas present unwrapping and your worried that admitting to feelings that are totally understandable and that you kept internally contained makes you immature? Dude – you are so far from immature. I hope to be as good a divorcee as you some day (you know – when I grow up)

  19. Duuuuuuuuuuude I have so appreciated you sharing your experiences, especially the ones that cut, or make you bleed. I’m in need of Band-Aids all the time over here. It’s good to know that there was someone in your position even though that sounds crappy because all you really want is for everyone to be all right. But it doesn’t feel like you’re the only one going through crap and that someone actually “gets it”. Your writing has been super valuable in reassuring me of those little voices and gut feelings, of reminding me that boundaries matter and that I wasn’t crazy for wanting them to be respected. I am so grateful to have found your blog during an extremely tough time in 2016, wish I had found it sooner. But so glad to hear that you’ll continue to be around and that you’ll growing and adding to your blog. Look forward to it. Have a good holiday. Happy Festivus!

  20. My hope for you Matt and many others like you that have posted similarly poinient reflections is that you truly forgive yourself. Yes you might have been a shitty husband and yes you we’re blinded to keys to make your marriage work but you have risen above the self loathing stage by giving others a window to the courage strength and commitment needed to maintain,quite frankly,the most convoluted of relationships….that of man and woman coexisting in passionate harmony. I don’t know you, I have never met you in person to talk to or observe but what I can tell you is your character shines through the dank darkness of the journey that lead to where you once were and the unfortunate outcome. You are unlike so many of your generation that seemingly has no respect for what my generation has held as sacred and have shown that the value of what is true and what matters most in life is not merely covered by a reboot or reset switch. You have opened many eyes to how an involved individual is only headed for success. There are times when I think you are too harsh with yourself and make you the only antagonist….I get that…. I too blamed myself for the situations that lead to my marriage nearly ending 25 years ago….fortunately we were able to own and grow our relationship to now the 33 year mark. What I realized and what my love came to realize is that our marriage was both our responsibility and if one of us fell short in some way that was not healthy relationship wise we would seek to communicate openly and sometimes hotly how we as a couple were going to fix it.We we’re willing to fight for it. I would ask you to do me and your son a favor, next time you are in a situation like the basketball game or seeing your ex’s new boyfriend in a place that should be your domain, please hold your head high (even swagger a bit) and march forward with as much courage as you can muster and show your young man that you are above feeling the sting of the situation,he will learn the valuable lesson of self respect and of course will someday understand the courage his father had and will mimic your example. I wish you, your son,your ex and all you hold dear a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year……and as I soon turn 58 ,I wish you a happy 38 th birthday as well.

    1. I want to echo that. Matt, I know you have grown comfortable, or at least willing to be, standing in the uncomfortable spaces. Teach your children well by standing there for and with them. It is such a hard gift, but so desparately valuable.

        1. And while I’m replying to myself, congrats, Louie. I’m 58 in January, we were married 35 years last summer and very nearly didn’t make it to the end of this year together but I think we have found a new path forward, together.

          1. Thank you….I’m proud to hear that you and others are standing up taking action and fixing the most important title two people can own.. Married couple…. Fight on Sir…I will think of you on January 3rd when I hit 58…. Bless you your wife and your family

  21. I thank you for all you share. Despite my crazy self pitying moments and anger (like getting stood up for lunch yesterday cuz his friend dropped in) it helps me try to find the chink in his armour to get him to see my feelings. No luck yet, but you help me see the husband I want and the one I hope he wants to be. It also shows me that if I can’t find the better man in him maybe it just isn’t there.
    All that aside – feeling peaceful and happy with the rest of my life and wishing you the same.

  22. You’re ashamed of the basketball story? 0h Matt, you’re too nice! Two years ago my daughter got lice. It was a hassle, no doubt. Last year, just about this time, as we were getting ready for her 6th fucking 2 1/2 hour performance of “The Nutcracker” (did I mention she’s onstage for five minutes, and lying there dead for three of them?) she said her head was itching. I checked for lice, and reminded her in the sternest possible terms not to share brushes or other hair junk with the other ballerinas. “Oh I know,” she replied. “Last year when I had lice I shared my brush with [daddy’s girlfriend] and she got it too.”

    That was the best present I got last year. This year there’s been a rash of pin worms at my daughter’s school, just as her father is buying his new luxury vacation apartment in New York City so they can all vacation there in doorman building-ed comfort. You think I’m not praying that those bad boys lay their eggs all over their new memory foam mattress so that they have to spend New Year’s Eve boiling the sheets? Baby, please– I’m praying for it!

    Matt, you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

  23. Powerful stuff Matt. A reminder of what a shitty experience divorce is.

    I wonder if you have ever heard the song “I’m So Happy, I Can’t Stop Crying” by Sting. It’s from his 1996 album “Mercury Falling”. Give it a listen, you may find a real connection…the song is from the POV of a recently divorced dad, and references a lot of these issues you bring up.

    Although I’ve never been through a divorce, I did go through a serious break-up with my gf of 2 years when this album came out…and I remember listening to this song numerous times and connecting with it

    Also of note is the opening lyric from The Cars song “Since You’re Gone”. Which goes: “since you’re gone, the nights are getting strange.” I always thought that was one of the most profound lyrics in pop music history. It says noting specific, but yet it speaks volumes. It means nothing…and everything. Immediately after hearing it, I knew the writer of the lyric had to have been through a bad break up himself. There’s no way otherwise that he could think of that lyric.

    I was going to stop there, but what the heck…might as well go for the hatrick. Also check out the song “The Background” from Third Eye Blind’s debut album. That too got many a listen from me when I went through a later break up…this time to a girl I had been planning on marrying! I could so relate to lyrics like “the plans I make still have you in them” and “everything is quiet since you’re not around” and “I do the things we did before; I walk Haight Street to the store” and “then you come swimming into view, and I’m hanging on your words like I always used to do”. Plus the music of the song is great too…starts off slow and builds beautifully.

    Cheers, and Merry Christmas!

  24. Keep on blogging Matt! You ARE helping and we all appreciate it. Have a blessed Christmas ❤️

  25. Excited for the new year! Glad you are adding some new features to the blog, I was just terribly afraid it was going to get boring;)
    Merry Christmas to you and yours. Always look forward to reading your posts.

  26. “My little boy remains my purpose. But let’s be honest—mom is the better parent by every measurable standard outside of my genetic advantage…”

    There is no competition there, Matt. There’s only a mom and a dad. No matter how wonderful your kid’s mom is, she can never be a dad. You have something she does not, something that can never be replaced.

    1. Insanitybytes22 is correct Matt…it isn’t a competition and I would question those “measurable standards “. Your standards of honor are very high and your son is going to be a great man for having seen those standards in action

  27. Pingback: Christmas divorce  | femijnr

  28. Thank you for sharing your story and trying to help others. What you’re doing matters. I hope you had a Merry Christmas and I pray that the New Year brings many blessings your way.

  29. You are a light in the darkness Matt.

    “What is to give light must endure burning” – Victor Frankyl

    And I hate burning as much as you do.

    Peace and love brother, peace and love

  30. “Divorce AIDS by proxy”? You couldn’t have come up with a different metaphor? Extremely distasteful. 🙁

    A Former Admirer

    1. Hi Just Me…. I don’t think that analogy of having divorce AIDS was at all out of bounds. Matt has stated what many people think when something goes awry in someone else’s life that that person,for some reason, is subconsciously shunned for fear that the same fate might afflict them. If you have been touched by someone close to you that has endured the fight against AIDS (as I have) I understand your sensitivities. Perhaps he could have said “Divorce Kooties” or something to that effect. But divorce is such a vile and destructive disease that it holds a place on the list of the “Heinous Hall of Fame “….and being adults here “Kooties” just isn’t in our wheelhouses anymore. I’m sad that you identify yourself as a Former Admirer over this

      1. Do not contact me again.

        The only thing cheaper than that disrespectful analogy is the pathetic explanation that followed. There are many people who agree with me that that analogy was in poor taste.

        “Being adults isn’t a justification for using offensive comparisons in such a flippant manner. Further, no one suggested the lame term of “Kooties” be used as a replacement, except for you.

        This conversation is beyond ridiculous. As adults, one should respect another’s opinions and leave it at that.

        Like I said, do not contact me again. Do not reply to my comment. I will consider it harassment if you do.

        I voiced my opinion. I don’t wish to participate in this absurd exchange any longer, nor do I wish to see your comments in my notifications any longer.

  31. I find your writing fascinating. Its like finding a good book and you just can’t put it down. Maybe it is because my life is in a similar situation. I’m not sure but either way I am enjoying what you are writing.

    1. Agreed

      Mat’s writing leaves me continually shaken but I keep coming back like some drug-addled addict.

      I find this level of honesty simply too much, too confronting, too hard but too important to miss. Like watching a slow-motion car crash – where you know the driver survives!!!!!! – but where you want to look away but can’t (a fairer description is perhaps what C S Lewis likened to his grief experience; being picked up by a wave, tossed and turned like a rag doll, and then being left gasping on the beach somehow alive, as a crowd slowly gathers from around the beach to catch the trauma (“A Grief Observed”)).

      I thought was Matt was reaching for something beyond our often hum-drum day-to-day human experience but now I am beginning to think he is reaching for something well beyond our very existence. Not God perhaps but something close; behind all the rage, self-loathing and swearing there is real reverence here for relationship and better connections between all peoples.

      Jesus wept; I simply come back for more because I need it.

      God, and how I need it

      Stay strong – “kia kaha”
      From Rob, New Zealand

  32. Matt, one good thing about getting beat upon the internet over a politically incorrect word or phrase,is that it really teaches you that you are only a tiny piece of the equation, that you cannot be held responsible for how others feel or what they are going to take offense at.

    That is a really good lesson for marriage, too. While it’s good to care and to help people sort out their feelings, we do not cause them. People cause their own feelings.

    Don’t you dare apologize for your “Divorce AIDS by proxy I’m half-joking” comment or I’ll have to hunt you down and stalk you.

  33. “Divorce is the dominant theme of my entire life story.”

    It is an important theme, but I don’t think it should the dominant theme. Of course, it will be if you allow it.

  34. Pingback: Why do we wait until it’s too late… – Real life….

  35. Pingback: Why do we wait until it’s too late… – Real life….

  36. I’m in the beginning stages of a divorce. Reading this post and the awkward moments had me freaking out a little, wondering how I will react.

    1. Hey. I’m sorry to read this. Because it was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Still, four years later, just a day after sitting with my ex-wife’s aunt and uncle who came to our little son’s basketball game.

      I hadn’t seen them in four years. People I miss and care about.

      When I try to think about All The Things, I feel anxious. Because it’s too much.

      So, I’d encourage you to NOT do that.

      Step #1 – Breathe.
      Step #2 – Repeat.
      Step #3 – Be the best person you can be.
      Step #4 – Repeat.

      Then one day, you wake up and hurt less, are less scared, and are thinking about other things entirely.

      A new version of yourself emerges.

      And an opportunity to shape that person into whoever you want to be.

      Wishing you well.

    2. Tangent, maybe/maybe not.

      I used to wonder: where does the love go when we part? The answer I believe, after decades of thinking about this, is that it doesn’t go. Love is not a zero-sum equation. It is probably the only thing which, by giving freely, you can find you have more of, rather than less of.

      You probably loved your spouse. You probably still love your spouse, in some ways, maybe in many, and not just the structure and material trappings of your marriage.

      My mantra is now: observe without judgment, examine for truth, accept. And then learn…

      If it’s true, accept that you loved your spouse and love them still, that part of you will always love part of them. It is a gift, even if a bittersweet gift. Do not deny, denigrate or despise the gift because it did not meet your expectations.

      Examine where the sadness comes from, and accept the sadness. Recognize that the sadness arises in the gulf between your hopes and your reality. Accept that reality even as you strive to learn and grow. Accept the imperfection of it, of you, of your spouse. It’s easy to love perfection – strive to accept, embrace and love the *imperfect.*

      Accept – and this is so hard – that that sadness will be there inside you forever, because the love you felt and shared was real and true and will also be there forever. Living a truly good and courageous life does not mean feeling good or happy or even whole and complete all the time.

      You have all of this inside you already – will you slow down, reach inside, reach out to others, and accept the imperfection of love and life, not in spite of its hurts and dents, but because of them?

      1. Gawsh, that sounds preachy. Apologies. The truth is: I’m talking mostly to myself, but if it resonates for you, I’m happy. Sometimes things hurt so much – but hurting is not bad if we do not let it be. It’s just that something in our nature, and almost everything in our culture, says otherwise…

        1. Hi Jack…Louie here…I think we conversed in December ( my apologies if you are not the same Jack)… just wanted to say happy birthday as you had mentioned you too were a January person. I read your post and want to say how proud I was to read it. I have been asked about this subject a few times and all I have ever been able to muster up on the subject is that Love is a living breathing in need of care entity. I don’t believe it ever dies but I do know it changes…where we are successful in our love relationships is where we have the Agape love that we read about in bible passages in depictions of romantic relationships and familial interaction. We are here discussing this entire topic , thanks to Matt, because we love and hurt and care and are disgusted with ourselves and our significant others and want second chances and new beginnings be they familiar or truly new and so many more things. I will be honest with you…I still love some of my old girlfriends even 40 years later, but I don’t love them like I love my wife…she’s the one…she’s the only person I get…she’s the one I would give my life for ( our kids are included here as well). She’s the first thought on my mind in the morning and the last one I think of before I go to sleep…one worth fighting for everyday.The fight involves fighting outside influences, bullshit of all sorts,fighting her and most times fighting myself….the winner of this fighting…your life as husband and wife…. God bless you friend I hope you keep up the fight

  37. Extraordinary thread.

    A couple of things to add all the way out here from New Zealand.

    (1) There’s not a lot said about shock after a parting, however expected. A divorce (or a bereavement in my case 17 years ago) is a little like a car crash in that your body and emotions will go into shock. At that stage you’ll go numb for awhile but for me, in a bereavement (slightly different but some similarities) it was about 2 years. During those 2 years I gave up a few things to help get me through what I knew was going to be a difficult stage(s): no alcohol, no late nights, no coffee (??!!??), no women, get counselling (I still have weekly meetings with a female friend – 17 years later!!! – which is more or less the same thing except a lot cheaper – and go on low-dose medication (for 2 years). That might sound a little extreme but I had 2 under 5 boys to support financially at the time (no relations in my city) as my wife was not insured and I returned to work the day after the funeral (because if I didn’t I would have lost the house).

    All I can say is that it took me about 2 years before I could feel any genuine spark return so – and I really mean this – be gentle with yourself during this time. I mean REALLY gentle in terms of expectations (please re-read).

    Best book I read during that time was: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Families_and_How_to_Survive_Them by John Cleese (comedian) and Robin Skinner (British psychologist). Apart from being very funny and witty it was very insightful and helpful because Robin Skinner had ALSO lost his wife to cancer and knew exactly what to expect from the grieving experience. And it also took him 2 years to get the beginnings of his spark back.

    My boys are now all grown – 17 and 21 – but the oldest still needs regular psychological support from a trained experienced $100/hour 70 year old counselor (so the pain of loss doesn’t go away necessarily for our young ‘uns; it can change forms. My oldest will never recover from the loss in one sense and I’ll always need to be around him to support him which is basically why I haven’t remarried).

    I’m pretty happy as a single person now, 17 years later as marriage frightens me a great deal, the expectation of a lifetime together which can be so easily broken by a whole raft of things. The expectation that two people can somehow stay together for 40 years or more just doesn’t seem to me to be rooted in any kind of reality in this Tinder age.

    Matt’s ex-wife will that out one day too I guess; I’m 54 now and I’ve seen that a lot. And Mat, being the fantastic guy that he is, will probably end up supporting her through it.

    Life’s funny that way.

    Blessings; go well; kia kaha

    1. Kind things here, sir. And a great book suggestion for people who know the horror and trauma that you do.

      Thank you very much.

      1. Synopsis of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Families_and_How_to_Survive_Them

        “The book is a description and analysis of how and why we fall in love, how we develop from babies to adolescents to adults, and how during this development we so often become “stuck” in childlike behaviour, and how all these things are influenced by previous generations in our families. The authors themselves have said that the aim of the book was “to make intelligible and accessible the psychological aspects of how families behave and function, what makes some work and others fail, and how families can move up the scale towards greater health and happiness”

        Despite it’s description above it’s a fun (BIG) book and an easy read but there is a series of audio tapes. Good to listen to in the car in other words (I mean, who reads books these days??!! We are MUCH too intelligent and busy to read a whole book about relationships. I mean, that’s why God invented the internet right? So we wouldn’t have to struggle with our relationships anymore. And LOOK how well that’s turned out!!

    1. People read the old ones sometimes. And I see the comments sometimes. Thank you for taking time to read and leave a note. Really appreciate it.

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Matt Fray

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