I began blogging about five years ago. At the time, my oldest daughter was married to a man while stationed at a US Naval base in Japan. It didn’t last long. As they split up, he was relocated to the U.S. and she was forced to move back into the barracks, where their little dog Champ was not allowed. In desperation, she flew him to the U.S. just before their split. My wife and I drove to Sea-Tac airport near Seattle to pick him up. He was understandably disoriented and unhappy when we opened his crate and wanting out of the car. I completely understood his confusion and and gave him a lot of time to adjust to his new surroundings. Before long he settled in, enthusiastic to begin his training regimen.
Both daughters had left home, and I began blogging as a means stay in touch with them and to document Champ’s new life with us. My daughter in Japan enthusiastically followed my progress in training the unruly little dog and commented on every post, whether it pertained to her beloved pet or not. I had him well-trained in no time. He’s a great little dog and it was a fun time.
I’ve got to admit that becoming an empty-nester and reconnecting with my wife was better that what I had expected. For the first time in years, could enjoy the freedom that parents experience when the house is no longer filled with the drama that accompanies raising teenage girls. The future was looking bright for us and little Champ, who had become our new adopted child.
But very suddenly, and for reasons I still don’t understand, things changed overnight. Many couples struggle during this new phase and some never adjust. Suffice it to say our marriage began to deteriorate. After months of tension and almost no communication, we finally ended up separating. Champ and I found ourselves in a very quiet house together.
In the beginning of this new arrangement I found myself writing for hours at night, processing the intense shock and fallout from my failing marriage. I suppose it was a healthy coping mechanism, but I found no answers. Within a short time I began a new blog and spent a lot of time at the computer, mostly writing about life in the first stages of my divorce. Very quickly, people began to engage and follow. Almost all of them were people in the same situation.
I still remember the constant sick feeling in my stomach that dragged on for weeks. Other people wrote about having similar physical symptoms. I began to lose weight due to what I referred to in my blog as “The Divorce Diet”. I knew it wasn’t good. It would take action to redirect my energy, to remain positive.
Cooking better meals and engaging in more physical activity was the easy part. I joined a gym and worked out every morning before work. That was a nice distraction which really improved my mental state. But I felt very isolated, and admitted to myself that I needed to be around people. I knew very few people outside the couples we socialized with. After doing a little research, I decided to join a walking club. Our first walk was on New Year’s Day and we walked six miles. A few people had their dogs, so I brought Champ on our next walk. People were amazing and I began to really look forward to our long outings.
I enjoyed the walking group so much that I soon joined a mountaineering club as well. I began to play in Thursday night pool tournaments. Then I signed up for a night class in outdoor survival. Anything to get me out of the house.
On the nights I was home, I spent more and more time writing. I renamed my blog “A Divorce Survival Guide”, detailing my journey back to a single, solitary life after 23 years of marriage. I attempted to put some humor into my writing and to some extent, keep things light. My goal was to never preach, but to try to set an example. Staying busy, being around people, and just accepting that divorce as a painful process that must be endured. I began to feel thankful for the relatively good state of mind I managed to keep, considering some of the daily misery I was reading about. Things could be worse for me, that’s for sure.
I shared with my readers that, although I’m not a horribly outgoing person by nature, I made a pact with myself that I would not again refuse any invitation or opportunity during this phase of my life. I made it a point to always say “Yeah, I’ll go!” It didn’t fix all my problems, but it was a big help to stay busy and find myself around supportive people. I got to know a different side of myself, a more outgoing and compassionate person.
Although it was a miserable place to be, I must admit it was an incredibly interesting experience. There were bitter moments for sure, but at times I found a lot of humor in my own situation. I really like what I was writing back then as I tried to stay focused on the good things and make fun of the bad. Personally, I felt that the anger and hurt provided a lot of motivation for me to get creative in my writing. I didn’t zero in on my soon-to-be-ex; I concentrated on my new approach to life, somewhat downplaying my own misery.
Lots of people made me both cringe and laugh as well with their hyper-negative commentary on their STBX’s. It may dark place, but there’s no denying it’s there. I personally embraced the comedy in my own suffering, which I felt was an honest way to express what I was really feeling without sounding too pitiful.
Champ and I bonded closely during that time, just the two of us living at the house. One night we went out to the barn in the rain and snow and took some self-portraits. What else do you do late at night in the middle of winter? I wanted to remember what a good little friend he was to have around. I often thought of my daughter in Japan when I looked at him. In fact, I still do. I’ll never forget how comforting it was to have him there.
During those tough times I remained faithful to my wife, and I believe she did the same. I was especially unwilling to create any hard feelings with my daughters, who were also affected with what was going on. It was the right thing to do. Just as unexpected as our split had been, we somehow reconciled within two weeks of our final divorce court date. Resuming our married life together, we were a little bit poorer, but even more appreciative and respectful of our marriage than before. We are very open about it, maybe even a little proud to have beat the odds.
Once she moved back, my divorce blog became irrelevant. Although I tried for a while, I simply needed to move on with my life. and eventually abandoned it altogether. I literally spent a couple of years in social media limbo, hardly ever posting. It’s taken a long time, but I’ve gradually come back to blogging for an entirely different reason.
I’m probably at the point right now where I enjoy reading other people thoughts more than putting mine out there, but I go back and forth. Plus, I don’t have the driving emotions that come with getting a divorce to inspire me. When I retired, I began to write a lot more. But now that I’m a worker bee again, it’s harder to find the time. But I still make time most days to see what my blogging peeps are up to.
If I really wanted some inspiration, all I’d have to do is create a little drama at home and I’d have plenty of fuel for some creative writing, which might also afford me some real “alone time”. But I know I’ll be happier and live longer not going down that road again. I’ll settle for documenting my daily walks with Roxy and Champ and the occasional thought or memory that strikes me as we’re heading down the hill.