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The Fight Back

THE FIGHT BACK

My Journey from Crisis to Recovery

TIMOTHY HUSSEY

The Fight Back

My Journey from Crisis to Recovery

Published in 2016

Copyright © 2016 Timothy P. Hussey

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means without prior permission of the copyright owner.

Dedicated to Francis Patrick Hussey

13/05/1930 – 05/08/2015

Contents

 

Introduction

[+ Chapter 1 -- Diamond In the Rough +]

[+ Chapter 2 -- Drifting Through Life +]

[+ Chapter 3 -- The Dark Cave +]

[+ Chapter 4 -- Reaching Out for Help +]

[+ Chapter 5 -- The Construction Site +]

[+ Chapter 6 -- Drawing a Line in the Sand +]

[+ Chapter 7 -- A Leap of Faith +]

[+ Chapter 8 -- Walking Through the Storm +]

[+ Chapter 9 -- The End of the Tunnel +]

[+ Chapter 10 -- The Promised Land +]

Epilogue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

In 2010 I ended my marriage of nine years. I had three scared young children. They didn’t know what was happening or understand why. I could see the stress on their faces. They would cry most of the time and ask me why I am leaving. I didn’t know what to say except, “Dad loves you and he will always come back soon.” It was unbearable. They had rarely spent a night without me in the last nine years. Now they would not see me for ten days a fortnight. It was decided between us that I would see the kids every second weekend during the day, and once a week on a Wednesday night. I moved into a cheap hotel while I tried to figure things out.

To make matters worse I resigned from my job working in retail that I loathed. I had been there for 15 years. It was a stupid thing to do but I was thinking irrationally at the time. This put me under enormous pressure both emotionally and financially. I was now living away from my kids and receiving welfare payments.

There was plenty of anger and frustration coming from both families. The decision to leave was not a popular one. I was disliked by many of my old friends and family. They were not afraid to let me know exactly how they felt.

My father started to get more involved in my life. He was worried about us all. After eating dinner one night at his house I burst into tears. The stress and pressure were getting too much for me to handle. I could see no way out of this impossible situation. Divorce without kids was bad enough, but divorce with three kids felt like a death sentence. I thought I could never put my life back together. All my arrogance was gone. At this point I was like a child again, totally open to receive advice from anyone that could help.

Dad offered me a tissue and then left the room. A few minutes later he came back and handed me a small book. It was called Talking To God. My parents were Christians and had been attending the same church for 20 years. I stopped going when I became a teenager.

Talking to God was something that was unfamiliar to me. In 20 years I never bothered to pray or ask for God’s help. I wasn’t a Christian and I didn’t go to church. I was, however, open to anything that could help me. I felt some relief and hoped that if anyone understood my situation, perhaps God would. I went home that night still stressed and anxious, but with a glimmer of hope.

I was in serious trouble and had no idea how to recover. It was like being in a dark cave with a flickering candle. One strong gust of wind and it was going to be lights out for me. I was disappointed in my decisions that had led to this point. I created this mess but didn’t know how to get out of it. I had many worries about the children and their future. I felt like I had destroyed their lives and my own at the same time. I was trapped and would have suicidal thoughts a few times a week.

We owned an investment property in the city together. It was a small one-bedroom apartment. I contacted my real estate agent immediately to let him know I wanted to move in. It took two months for the tenant to move out. Meanwhile, I was stuck in a dingy hotel room for three months.

Once I moved into the apartment, I asked my real estate agent to put it up for sale. I desperately needed to sell it to pay for debts and free up some cash. I reduced the sale price below market value to sell it quickly. In the meantime I managed to find another job. It was less pay than my old one, but it gave me the income I desperately needed. It was the first time I could see above water, but I was still drowning

We sold the apartment and made a very small profit. I gave some money to my ex and left all our furniture and belongings with her. I made sure her house was fully furnished, as the kids were living there most of the time.

The new owner of the apartment agreed that I could stay as a tenant. I used the remaining money for bond and some cheap furniture. We still had thousands of dollars of debt accumulated in the years we were together. I didn’t want the kids or my ex to be under any more distress, so I took on the debt myself. For the next six months, most of money went to child support, rent, food, and paying bills. It was incredibly stressful.

Because of the pressure, I was forced to make more deliberate decisions. I did not have the luxury of making any more lousy choices. If I overspent, I had no money. If I reacted instead of responding to the children’s mother I may not see the kids. If I went out and had a good time, I couldn’t afford to eat. Often, I had to choose between paying bills and buying food. Life for me was now very different.

I became more depressed as time went on. I had been working since I was 16 years old. Instead of having a rewarding career with a great marriage, I had no money, few friends and a mountain of problems. There was one thing I was proud of in my life, and that was my three children. I came to understand all the principles I had lived by were not working. My future was looking grim, and there was so much uncertainty in my life.

I decided to pray my first sincere prayer in 33 years. It was short but precise. “God I’m sorry for everything; please help me.” I was deeply troubled and had never gone through something like this before. There was no one running to help me, either. Most people I knew were working their jobs and going home to their happy families. Meanwhile, I felt ashamed, guilty and alone. My life represented a forest that had been burned down to the ground.

My life could only go up from here. I was broke, lonely and terrified. I needed to make drastic changes in my life but had no idea how. I loved my kids and wanted to be a better father. The more fearful I was, the angrier I became. Life had me pressed up against the wall. There was only one thing to do now. I decided to Fight Back.

[] Chapter One

[]Diamond in the Rough

In 1984 we moved from the suburbs to a small country town. The population was 300 people. I was eight years old at the time. Dad liked the idea of living away from the busyness of the city. He found a block of land at a bargain price, and began to build a modest three-bedroom home. He then spent years landscaping and working on the garden.

This was a fresh start for all of us. It was Dad’s second marriage. He had worked hard to recover from his own divorce. He had seven sons in total. Three with my mum, and four with his ex-wife. Dad’s time was split mostly between working on the house and dealing with family problems. He would spend a lot of time talking to his older sons on the phone. Three out of four boys from his first marriage had problems with alcohol. His eldest son was the worst. Dad did his best to help him over the years, but he tragically died at the young age of 40. This was only a few years after we moved to the country. I didn’t understand everything at my young age. But I could still see some of the consequences of a broken marriage.

Dad was 55 years old. I was the middle child from his second marriage. There was a 47 year age gap between us. To me, Dad was old fashioned because he liked books, gardening and classical music. He was, however, a very kind and wise man. I could always count on him if I needed someone to talk to. He did a great job providing for us and would take us anywhere we needed to go. Dad had a gentle nature, but was still firm when he needed to be.

I had two brothers. They both had different interests and friendships to me. I didn’t spend much time with them growing up. For most of my childhood I felt like an only child. I didn’t relate to my brothers much at all.

I was a painfully shy kid and a deep thinker. I was interested in sports and school, like the other kids, but struggled with my own self-esteem. I would be a keen observer of people and everything around me. I was easily distracted and found it hard to focus on what I needed to. I could make some close friends, but I struggled to fit into larger groups. Underneath the shyness was a smart and attractive kid.

I didn’t spend much time with my parents. Mum was a housewife and Dad was retired. Mum did a great job with the housework, cooking and looking after us kids. They both were good providers in a practical way, but I found it hard to connect with them emotionally. I also found it hard to connect with kids my own age. It was like I had slipped through the cracks of life and didn’t relate to anyone. I was a misfit. Mum and Dad did their best, but unfortunately our relationship grew apart as time went on.

There were three main attractions in the town. The hotel, church and football club. I spent some of my time in each of these over the years, but couldn’t commit to them for long. I would often give up on things quickly. Part of it was because I struggled socially and would often withdraw from other kids. I preferred to be alone, play computer games or read magazines. It was a small town so if you didn’t fit in, you would be teased. After a while I wished we had never moved to the country. I liked my old school and friends much better.

I started hanging out with the wrong kids in town and became rebellious. They seemed nice to my parents, but most days they would be up to something sinister. They would often steal things from the shops or trash someone’s property for fun. One of their dads owned the local store in town. When his Dad wasn’t at the counter, my friend would steal dirty magazines and cigarettes for us. By the age of 10 we were smoking and looking at pornography. I should have been playing a sport or doing something more productive. This was very damaging to my emotional and physical health.

One of our neighbors from across the street would often say hi to us kids. He was in his early 30’s, going bald and had a big belly. He wasn’t married and lived on his own. He asked Dad one day if I liked to play tennis. Dad couldn’t play much because of his age and health problems. Dad asked me if I would like to go. I said yes, thinking it would be good for me. This man seemed nice but I didn’t know him that well.

The tennis courts were in a secluded part of the town up on a hillside. It was only busy on Saturdays when everyone else played, but other days it was quiet. The neighbor would take me to the courts when there was the least amount of people. We would play some tennis for a while and then take a short break. He would then ask me questions about my body and touch me inappropriately. He would say, “Don’t tell anybody; it’s just a secret between us.”

I was only eleven years old now and had no idea what was going on. I just felt awkward but at the same time I liked the attention from an adult. Over the next few months, the neighbor would invite me over to his house across the street. We would watch movies and eat snacks. I didn’t have many friends, and my relationship with my parents wasn’t good. I started to realize quickly there was something wrong about this man. Over the next few months he sexually abused me.

One day I came home and burst into tears. I told Mum and Dad everything. They were upset and angry, but didn’t know how to handle it. They made sure I didn’t see him again, but never reported it to the police. I later found out that some other kids in the street would throw rocks at this person’s house. One kid told me that this same man molested him. I was embarrassed and shy so I didn’t tell the other kid what had happened to me. This abuse did a lot of damage to my emotions and self-esteem. I was already struggling in these areas from a young age.

After the abuse I found it hard to trust any adult or person in authority. I would see this person in town sometimes. He would say hi to me and I would try to pretend I didn’t see him. I would often feel sick in my stomach and awkward. By the age of 13, I had seen a lot of pornography, been sexually abused and had low self-esteem. I was now about to start high school with many unresolved issues.

Because of this I gravitated more to the kids that didn’t fit in rather than the popular kids. I was a C student, but would get higher grades if I tried. English was my favorite subject. This was probably because I liked reading books. I was easily distracted, but could do things well when I focused. It was a bumpy ride the first few years of high school, as I tried to find my place amongst hundreds of other kids.

When I turned 16, I got a part-time job working in a supermarket. It was part of the largest supermarket chain in the country. The company owned hundreds of stores. My job after school was to empty the bins, pack up the fruit and vegetables, and round up the trolleys in the car park.

On my first day I was tired from school and had been working really hard. It was about 6 pm and everyone was leaving. I thought my job had finished. Then my boss said to me, “Make sure you bring all the trolleys in from the car park before you leave.” The car park was a steep uphill climb. There were over 200 trolleys left from customers that day. I was a skinny, shy 16-year-old boy that had only worked one day in his life.

Dad came to pick me up at 7 pm, expecting me to be finished. We had at least two hours of more work ahead. It started to get dark, so Dad would turn the car headlights on while we both pushed the trolleys up the hill. I didn’t get paid for the extra hours. They just expected me to work faster. It was the start of many years of hard work in a job that I didn’t really like.

In the first year of working, I bought my first car. Now, I could drive to other towns and visit my friends from high school. I was young and immature. I would often drive recklessly and not obey the law. Some of my friends also bought their first cars. We would spend our time fixing engines and making our cars go faster. They were extremely dangerous in the hands of young teenagers. Most of my money from working was going into car parts and alcohol on the weekends.

I would often come home at 3 am drunk or on drugs. Mum would be up all night worried sick about me. I would sneak into my bedroom quietly. One night I lost control of my car. I hit a tree and the entire left-hand side of the car was smashed in. I managed to drive the car home. Dad came out the next morning and couldn’t believe what he saw. He was angry and worried about me. He tried to get in my life more, but I wouldn’t listen. I would only sleep at home. The rest of the time I was doing a great job of messing up my life.

From a young age, I didn’t have much respect for others or me. I was earning a lot of money, but didn’t have much to show for it. While the other kids were studying and passing school, I wasn’t thinking much about my future.

[] Chapter Two

[]Drifting Through Life

I continued at the supermarket slowly working my way into higher positions. The company kept offering me more promotions for hard work. My family could see that I wasn’t very happy working there, though. Over the years, I worked under many different managers. Some were extremely controlling and arrogant. Others were professional and encouraging. I learned from both styles of leadership. I became more resentful towards the company as time went on. The pay was good but my talents and skills were not utilized properly. It was my own fault for not taking my career seriously, and choosing a job only because it paid well.

I got to know other workers there, including some of the girls. After work on Friday nights they would often travel to a coastal town, and stay there all weekend. It was only 30 minutes away and a popular place for young people. One weekend, my friends and I decided to do the same. After arriving, we set up camp and headed for a popular hotel. We ran into the girls from work. They were all having fun and drinking. All of us were in our early 20’s, wide-eyed and naive.

I had a few casual relationships in school but nothing serious. It took me a few drinks before I had the courage to speak to the girls. We all started talking and having fun. Over the next few weeks we would travel to the coast and meet the girls again. I didn’t know much about relationships. If a girl gave me attention I thought it was love. I was vulnerable and needy. After a few months I asked one of the girls out and we starting dating. I wasn’t sure where the relationship was going, but it felt good.

We had different backgrounds, personalities and interests. But we seemed to enjoy each other’s company. I didn’t ask for anyone’s advice before I started dating. I just introduced her to my parents one day and they didn’t even know I was dating someone. My parents were polite but I could see the concern on their faces. They knew I was naive and lacked maturity. It was a dangerous combination. Now I was dating a girl that they knew nothing about. They already didn’t see much of me because I was out all the time. My parents feared they would see even less of me now.

We starting going out on dates during the week. Sometimes we would see a movie or go out for dinner. The relationship got more serious as time went on. We met each other’s families and everyone seemed happy for us both. We were young but not getting into too much trouble. People weren’t really worried about our relationship. No one had any idea what the future held for us. My partner had previous long-term relationships and was two years older than me. This was my first serious relationship.

About six months later, work offered me another promotion. It was more money but the position was located in the city, about 30 minutes drive from home. We decided to move to the city and rent a small unit together. It was the first time I had moved out and lived with someone else.

I started working under a Greek man named Michael. He was a perfectionist and a workaholic. He had a reputation for having one of the best stores in the company. Most managers that had been successful had worked under him previously. Initially, I was excited about working under him, but I soon changed my mind. A 12-hour day would be a short day for him. He expected nothing but excellence and long hours. I learned a lot about hard work and being diligent. I also learned that working long hours doesn’t mean you are effective. I never liked being busy for the sake of being busy. I respected Michael as a businessman. But I didn’t want to become like him. I would notice he wouldn’t spend much time with his family. He would also be driven by power and money. Many nights I just wanted to go home to my family, but would be stuck at work trying to please Michael.

I was exhausted most of the time and my life was out of balance. I spent all my time worrying about Michael’s expectations and less time worrying about my own partner. My relationship with my partner started to break. One day she wanted to move back home with her mum. But her mother encouraged her to stay with me and work things out. I was not handling my job or my new relationship well. It would have been much better for me to end my relationship, move back home and seek professional counseling. I had many unresolved issues that weren’t dealt with. I also wasn’t strong enough to stand up for myself at work.

We continued dating for a year and then one day my girlfriend started to feel sick. She thought it might just be a virus or a cold. She was taking contraception every day. We went to the doctors to get a check-up. He suggested we do a pregnancy test. We were surprised he asked us to do one. We thought we couldn’t possibly be pregnant. Sure enough, though, the test came back positive. I was only 22 years old and about to be a father. We booked in for an ultrasound a few weeks later and couldn’t believe my partner was three months pregnant already. We had no signs except some mild sickness. Not only was I going to be a father but also we had only six months to go.

After our first ultrasound I visited my parents. I walked in with a large envelope with the ultra sound inside. I took it out and gave it to Dad. He thought I had broken one of my bones. He held the x-ray up to the light. I said, “That’s your new grandson.” He was breathless and nearly fell off his chair. It was a total surprise for him, but he was happy for us both. Our relationship was moving at breakneck speed. It went from dating, to living together, to having a baby all within two years. I was excited, but very stressed.

A million fears started to race through my mind. I wasn’t ready to be a father and I certainly wasn’t thinking about starting a family. We were only scrapping by financially and weren’t ready to have children. I put on a brave face when everyone congratulated me, but on the inside I was terrified. I couldn’t imagine being a father and raising a child. I wasn’t even sure if our relationship was going to work out.

We stayed in the unit for six more months and then rented a larger home. Shortly after moving in, our first son was born. It was January, 2000. I was so excited and proud to be a father. My partner was in hospital for a week and then we took our son home. I kept looking in the rear view mirror as we drove him home. I was amazed there was a little me back there. It felt surreal. The first week my doubts and fears had faded away. I was running on adrenaline. Soon after, though, I felt the weight of responsibility.

It was a happy but frightening time. We would be really excited one day and then challenged the next. Having a baby, though, distracted us from my job and struggling relationship. I got caught up in the moment and decided to propose to my partner. Now we had more good news to share with our family. Our lives continued to move along extremely fast.

Over the next few months things got really tough for us. We were tired and broke most of the time. We also had the pressures of living away from family, a new job and a new baby. We needed more support and missed our hometown in the country. We didn’t like the suburbs much, so we decided to move back with my in-laws. This took a lot of pressure off. Over the next 12 months we saved our money and bought our first home. This was a big achievement for us, and a huge step forward. I continued to work in the city but would just travel longer each day.

We were married about a year later and now living in a small house in the country. The town at the time was increasing rapidly, and going through a real estate boom. It was popular with families that wanted a change in lifestyle from the suburbs. New houses were popping up everywhere.

The local government started constructing tunnels through hillsides, to shorten the distance between our town and the city. What was a thirty-minute drive soon became a twenty-minute drive. Land and house prices were rising fast. People could now have a country lifestyle and work in the city. Fortunately, we had bought a small home at just the right time. After having the house for only a year, it was now worth double what we paid for it.

By then, everyone was building new houses, so we decided to do the same. We sold our small house and began to build our dream home. It was a massive turnaround from where we started a few years ago. The excitement of building a new home continued to take the focus away from our struggling relationship and my job that I didn’t like. Eighteen months later we finished building. It was a large house, but it also came with a large mortgage. It stretched our finances to the limit.

I started working longer hours to keep up with the increased expenses. We had two more kids over a six-year period. We seemed to always find something to distract us from our problems like spending money, family commitments or working longer hours. Neither one of us wanted to face up to our problems, and didn’t really know how to. Our relationship was mostly tied together because of the kids and the mortgage. We both loved our kids, but our relationship was never built on a strong foundation. Both of us had many unresolved issues. We had slowly been drifting apart for many years now.

After a year we decided to sell our new house to try and relieve the pressure on our relationship and finances. But even after selling and moving into a rental, we couldn’t seem to resolve our issues. As the months went by, we tried to work things out. But, unfortunately, the pressures and difficulties became too much. Our marriage finally ended in 2010.

[] Chapter Three

[]The Dark Cave

In 2010, I moved out of my hotel room and into our apartment in the city. It was modern but small and dull. The apartment had a single bed and a small sink for preparing meals. It was designed for overseas students studying at university. The apartment was located on the third floor of a nine-story building. There was no lovely view; only the back of a mechanic’s car yard. The kids were mostly living with their mother, 40 minutes drive away.

It was a massive change from living in a four-bedroom home with a back yard. I was used to the sounds of kids playing and talking. I struggled with the endless silence. I tried to keep occupied, but my mind kept wandering all over the place.

My mind would be filled with negative thoughts such as: ‘It would be better if you left the kids now.’ ‘You have ruined their lives.’ ‘They are better off without you.’ ‘You have nothing to offer them.’ ‘You are a poor excuse for a father.’ ‘You have achieved nothing up until now.’

I would imagine some of the questions the kids’ friends would ask them at school: ‘Why does your Dad live in the city?’ ‘Why does your Dad only see you on the weekends?’ ‘Why did your parents split up?’ ‘Where are you going to live now?’ They were questions no child should have to answer.

I had many other thoughts and fears about my own future: ‘How can I protect the kids if I’m not there?’ ‘Can I support them financially?’ ‘Will they have to change schools and lose their friends?’ ‘Can I afford another house?’ ‘Will their grades suffer?’ ‘Will I find another partner?’ ‘Will I be alone for the rest of my life?’ ‘Is this it for the rest of my life?’

The kids didn’t deserve to go through a marriage separation, and I felt very guilty. They had done nothing wrong and it wasn’t their fault. I would make a point of telling them this every time I saw them. They were young and I really missed them. I felt like I had gone to prison and the kids could only visit me every second weekend. I was worried that if I couldn’t get my life back together, I might end up losing them. I was battling with many of my own doubts and fears. I felt stressed and anxious, and needed to start focusing on something productive. I decided to take a walk and get some fresh air.

As I walked outside, three Asian students in their early twenties ran past me. They were all happy and dressed in designer swimming clothes. I noticed an expensive black Lexus waiting for them outside. They all jumped in the car and must have been heading for the beach.

My old Toyota Camry was parked next to them. It had cobwebs on the mirrors and dust all over the car. There were kids’ toys and food crumbs on the seats from when I had the kids last. It was summer time. I wanted to go for a swim and try to clear my head. I started the car and the petrol gauge signaled empty. I had no money until payday so I couldn’t afford to drive anywhere.

Feeling disappointed, I noticed a small card on the back seat. One of my sons had made it at school. It said ‘Best Dad Ever.’ It was a far cry from how I was feeling at the time. I decided to wash the car inside and out. I got some blue tack and stuck my son’s card on the dashboard. It was a reminder to me that I was the ‘Best Dad Ever.’ I was going through some massive challenges, but I was still loved by my kids. I just needed to work some things out.

I went back to my apartment, and, shortly after, my phone rang. It was Dad calling to check how things were going. Dad was now 80 years old and showing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He was very concerned about me and would often call to see how things were going.

He would listen while I talked about all my problems. It was good for me to talk to someone and let off some steam. He would then ask some lighter questions: ‘Did you watch that game of football last night?’ ‘What are you cooking for tea?’ ‘What’s it like living in the city?’ It was his way of keeping my spirits up and shifting the focus onto something more fun.

My finances and living conditions were important to him, but he was more worried about my mental and emotional state. I was in the early stages of depression and struggling to make good choices. His encouraging words kept me going through dark times.

I was eating a lot of junk food. Empty beer bottles lined the sink. The bathroom was dirty. I was losing a lot of weight through the stress. Many nights I would wake up feeling extremely anxious. I was so used to being tense that my body would automatically go into battle mode for no reason. I rarely had a good night sleep. The bills and other important paperwork were spread everywhere. Dad’s Talking To God book was buried under a pile of paperwork. I looked like a shell of a man. I was exhausted most of the time and feeling guilty about the separation. I worried about the kids and was anxious about my future.

Whenever I was struggling, though, the first person I would call would be Dad. He would choose his words carefully and made sure they meant something to me. One of his favorite sayings was ‘Let’s stop going around in circles.’ He meant that talking too much about the same thing was not helpful. We just needed to get on with it. Sometimes the simplest advice from him was the best advice.

One day I said to him, “I don’t know how to get out of this mess, Dad. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to face.” He replied, “Take it one day at a time. If you get yourself right, the kids will be right.” I realized the kids were just a reflection of me. It was no wonder they were struggling because their Dad was as well. Worrying all the time and feeling guilty was not helping anyone.

I was still working through our divorce paperwork and making sure all documents were finalized. It was a horrible time as I would need to discuss many things with my ex-wife while we were both hurting and angry. Often I would need her permission to sign forms and change details. This was all done in the first three to six months of moving out. Dad suggested I tie up loose ends quickly. It was becoming harder to communicate with my ex the more time went on.

The next morning I cleaned up the apartment and tried to get organized. I created a budget to help manage my finances. I listed the expenses in one column and my income in the other. My expenses were greater than my income. At this rate I would run out of money in less than two months. I didn’t know how I was going to pay my bills. I would start to receive calls from debt collectors asking me for money. I was living week to week, paycheck to paycheck. There was so much uncertainty in my life. But I could hear Dad’s words in my head: ‘Take it one day at a time.’ ‘If you get yourself right, the kids will be right.’ They were wise words. I tried to take it one day at a time, as the future looked too terrifying. It was easier for me just to finish each day well.

My new job was working in a call center. I would help customers over the phone with computer problems. The pay was good, but the customers were horrible. Most of them were angry when they called in. The last thing I needed in my life were emotional and angry people. I was dealing with plenty already. It was a steep learning curve for me and I was low on patience.

After a while, I learned how to diffuse angry customers quickly. I learned to respond to people instead of react. While customers were emotional, I would be listening carefully. I would only speak the words I needed to. I fixed their problems faster and the calls became shorter. I just had to stay calm and only talk about what was necessary. The job taught me something very valuable. I began to apply the ‘respond not react’ principle to my own life. This was not easy, but it helped me communicate much better with people.

I was answering more calls than other employees and my boss started to notice my good communications skills. While other employees were spending long periods of time arguing with customers, I was getting the job done. He offered me overtime where I could earn more money. I jumped at the opportunity, as I was drowning in bills. With my overtime, I could just cover all of my expenses and debts. I had nothing left, but at least I was paying everything on time and keeping my head above water.

Often I would work from 8 am to 6 pm. Then I would drive an hour to the kids’ house and take them to my parents. I would drop the kids back to their mother’s by 9 pm, and then drive all the way back to my apartment by 10 pm. It was a lot of driving to see them only two hours. But to me, it was worth it. I was tired, but they needed to see me. I would always tell them these things: ‘I love you very much.’ ‘I will always be in your life.’ ‘I am coming back soon.’ I would never miss my time with the kids.

After dropping them back to their mother’s, I would cry most of the way home. The kids were young, and I really missed them. I could see the disappointment on their faces every time I left. I would get back to my apartment late at night feeling sad. I would keep reading Dad’s Talking to God book and praying to God.

[] Chapter Four

[]Reaching out for Help

One day I was visiting my parents and talking to Mum about everything. She had been speaking to a minister at her church about me. His name was David and he had known my parents for over 20 years. Mum and Dad would often ask him to pray for us all. David told Mum that he would be happy to see me anytime if I needed someone to talk to.

Mum could see how stressed and tired I was. The separation had been going on for 12 months now. The kids and I were only just surviving. There wasn’t much happiness in our lives. My four-year-old daughter was clingy and needed attention all the time. My seven-year-old son was angry and rebellious. My ten-year-old son was quiet, but full of anxiety.

Mum gave me David’s phone number and suggested I call him for some emotional support. She thought he could bring a different perspective to the situation. David was a knowledgeable and a kind man. He had helped many people recover from crisis situations. He offered to see me weekly and at no cost. I was reluctant to go, but I knew that something needed to change. We couldn’t keep living like this for the rest of our lives. I gave David a call and we agreed to catch up at 7 pm the following Tuesday night. I started to look forward to the visit and felt like I had taken a step forward. I desperately needed someone to help me. Most of the time I felt lonely, anxious and depressed.

I met David after work the following Tuesday at his church. Inside was a room for worshipping on Sundays and another room for tea and coffee. Lining the walls were many books about Jesus Christ and other subjects on Christianity. I was nervous about meeting David, but the church had a warm feel to it. David introduced himself and explained his role at the church. He was a minister, but he also counseled people though addictions and other mental health problems. He talked about spiritual development. I didn’t really know what spiritual development meant, but I was sure I needed a lot of it. He made a few coffees and we sat down together. I didn’t know where to start. There was so much on my mind. It felt strange to be sitting in a room with a complete stranger.

He broke the ice by saying, “Your mum mentioned that you’ve been going through a difficult time.” I said, “Yes it has been really hard on everyone and the kids.” We both sat there in silence for a minute. I think he was trying to allow me to talk instead of just asking me questions. I still couldn’t get many words out.

He knew the kids were important but he started with me first. I had a lot of bottled up emotions and negative thoughts. These were stretching all the way back to childhood. I thought he was just going to give advice about the divorce. But it was going to be much more than that. This was the beginning of peeling away layers and layers of hurt and pain. All the unresolved issues that I had accumulated through my life were going to be dealt with.

We started exploring some of the guilty feelings I was carrying. I found it hard to move forward, feeling guilty all the time. He told me a story about his father who was in a similar situation, but because he was racked with guilt, he continued to make poor choices. He explained that feeling guilty is not going to help anyone. It is a necessary emotion; but, when left unchecked, it can cripple our ability to get on with life. He said feeling guilty always ties you to what you’ve done wrong, and makes it extremely hard to forgive yourself. He wasn’t excusing me from my mistakes but I had to learn a better way of thinking.

I didn’t realize how much my negative emotions and wrong thinking were impacting my life. My health, sleep, and happiness were all affected because of what was going on in my mind. David explained these feelings were normal after a divorce or separation. But he wanted us to focus more on healing and restoration, instead of the past and guilt trips.

After speaking with him for an hour, he had a better idea of the problems I was facing. I really enjoyed our chat and felt like he listened to me. When I arrived, I was nervous and anxious, but when I left I felt things were going to change for me. It was going to be hard work, but I saw a small light at the end of the tunnel. It was great to have David’s emotional support. I could open up to him more than my parents. Everything was kept confidential between us. Before leaving he asked me to practice focusing and keep reading every day. He said this would bring my attention back to something positive and help with my anxious thoughts. He gave me some books to read that he thought could help.

I went back home that night feeling encouraged. Over the coming days, whenever those anxious thoughts would creep in, I would pick up a book and start reading for a few minutes. David mentioned that reading books was a powerful tool to improve focus and help relax the mind. I started turning the TV off more, and started reading books whenever I felt anxious or sad. One of the first books he gave me was The Holy Bible. I had seen the Bible many times before but hadn’t bothered to read much of it.

I started flicking through the Bible’s different chapters, and the book of Proverbs caught my eye. The sentences were short but powerful. I liked to get to the point and these proverbs would speak to me clearly. Many times I would stop and read the same sentence over again.

I was at a stage in my life where I was tired of being broke, stressed and anxious. I wanted to get my life back on track. I started applying the principles David was teaching me to my life. I had nothing to lose. The more time I spent with David, the more I trusted him.

David was a spiritual man. He had a quiet but confident demeanor. He was married with a young child. He loved studying the bible and teaching people Christian principles. He had an eternal perspective on life. He believed every choice we make has eternal consequences. To him we were only here temporarily. Our time on earth was preparation for an eternal life in heaven. David led a simplistic life with no unnecessary drama. He had a wonderful family, peaceful home and enjoyed travelling the world. He believed in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

I felt like a little boy all my life. The abuse in my childhood and poor life choices had stunted me emotionally. I was 34 years old but much younger in maturity. I had a lot of growing up to do. Some of this was my own fault and some wasn’t. Either way I was now starting to head in the right direction. I wanted a peaceful life. My life was just filled with problems and drama. I wanted something better for the kids and me.

The principles David lived by were completely different to mine. He lived by the teachings of Jesus Christ. I lived by whatever felt right to me. He had been a Christian for over 30 years. I had never asked Jesus Christ into my life. I was divorced, broke and lonely. He had a wife, money and quality friends. He had peace in his life. I had no peace, only drama.

After the separation I was hurt and angry. I didn’t trust many people and cut a lot of them out of my life. I was angry with myself the most for making poor choices. It took me months to open up to David. I was very guarded and hurt. David listened more than he talked. When I gave him my own opinion about something he would ask why I thought that way. When I answered him he would ask why again. Layer by layer he was stripping away incorrect beliefs I had about others and me. I had many emotional walls up. I was also very wounded.

We would meet weekly on a Tuesday night for an hour. As the months went by, David became an excellent mentor and role model in my life. This was something I hadn’t seen before. There was nothing intense or forceful about him. He had total faith in God that everything was going to work out for me. He could see that I was growing every day. David would often remind me of my progress as the weeks rolled on.

After each session I would feel much better and try to apply his advice. Previously, I had been led by my own feelings and emotions. But he wanted me to practice making decisions based on principles not feelings. As I started to live this way, my life started to change rapidly. David was teaching me the principles of Jesus Christ.

[] Chapter Five

[]The Construction Site

Things were getting worse between my ex and me. We didn’t agree on much concerning the kids. We couldn’t even hold a civil conversation without getting emotional. We had different ideas on how the kids should be raised. There seemed to be more personal attacks between us than mature conversations. After awhile, we couldn’t talk to each other face-to-face. We bought a bag to put a change of clothes in for the kids and a notebook to write messages instead of talking to each other. The bag and notebook would be passed between us at changeovers.

In the meantime my ex started to see a new man. We had been separated for a while. Things were getting even harder now because there was another person speaking into the situation. Fortunately, I had tied up many loose ends before he came along. But now I had two people to contend with instead of one. I was still on my own while trying to learn new ways of living.

To make matters worse, her new partner also had kids, and was going through his own divorce. He was not getting along with his ex-wife and fighting for custody of his own children. More problems arose because his children attended the same school as mine. His ex-wife would speak to my kids about their mother, and upset them. She didn’t like my ex-wife at all. My ex-wife and her new boyfriend didn’t like me. The kids were caught in the middle of it all. A few times his ex-wife would call me and complain about my ex-wife. The divorce was hard enough before. Now it just got crazy.

I was already worried about the children’s recovery from their own parents separating. Now they were in the middle of two divorces and more adults fighting with each other. I was still living in my apartment on my own and couldn’t have the kids overnight. This was a huge problem for me, because I couldn’t pick the kids up from school and drop them back at school. Instead, I had to pick them up from their mother’s house and drop them back there, too. This became more awkward as her new partner arrived on the scene. I was desperate to get out of my apartment and find a home of my own.

My counseling appointments came at a good time. I was getting stronger and coming out of depression. I was focusing more on what I could control. I would continue to work hard, pay my bills, and stay in my kids’ lives.

Every time I picked the kids up I would pick up the bag with clothes and the notebook inside. My ex called it the communication book. I wouldn’t write anything in the book unless I needed to. I decided to keep it practical, not emotional. I thought, if it doesn’t help the kids I wouldn’t say it. I was not in control of my ex. I could only control my own actions. I tried to respond in a mature way that helped everyone. I didn’t always get it right, but I got better at this over time.

The kids had too many angry and emotional people around them. It was critical that I was different to everyone else. More than ever before, they needed me to make good choices. I loathed opening up the bag because I would have to read what was in the book. Often there would be pages of personal attacks and only a few sentences of useful things. I was forced to read the whole message, in case I missed something important. But I also had to hold my tongue and only respond to what was needed. It was tough, as I was offended by a lot of the comments.

My responses were short and to the point. If I had given my son medicine, I would write exactly that and why. I would not get into anything else. I was tired of reading these notes all the time. I was struggling with many of my own problems and this was not helping me. I would keep it practical, not emotional. Occasionally, I would give in and fire a few shots back. I was only human and sometimes I just had enough. I decided to let my actions speak louder than my words. The kids started to notice how each parent acted more than what they said.

My life was now starting to change positively. Every day, I was learning how to make better choices. I made sure my apartment was clean and I dressed nicely whenever I saw the kids. I wanted them to see that their Dad was not giving up and was looking after himself. There was a lot beginning to shift inside of me. My thoughts and actions were all changing. Holding my tongue was not a sign of weakness, it was a sign of strength. The kids needed a strong father who didn’t play games.

My ex and I were both hurting from the pain of divorce. We were both doing it tough, and trying to find a way out of this mess. Because of all the fear and anxiety, we were both tired and emotional. We would often say things to each other that weren’t necessary. My ex and I were not bad people. It was just a very difficult and challenging time for all of us.

There was a Christian bookstore located only five minutes from my apartment. I had never been there before, but Mum and David recommended it. I decided to check it out one day. I picked up one book called The Power of Focus. I almost read the entire book in one sitting.

I loved the peace and quiet of the bookstore. I had so much noise and conflict in my head most of the time. The bookstore became a refuge for me. Almost every weekend I would walk over to the store and read books when I didn’t have the kids. It took my mind off negative and anxious thoughts. I loved learning new things. There were books on Change, Action, Relationships, Marriage, Money and hundreds of other things. I was soaking it all up. I needed guidance in all of these areas. Instead of drinking, gambling or looking at porn, I was learning new life skills. These books had one thing in common. Christian authors who believed in Jesus Christ wrote them all.

When I didn’t have the kids, life was dull and boring. I didn’t have many people in my life after the divorce and I was broke. Going to the bookstore was a highlight for me. It was like insulin for my mind and soul. In 20 years I had never read books like these before. I had never read anything that wasn’t more than a magazine. These books started to challenge the way I thought about everything. It made me start to re-evaluate my own beliefs and values.

I caught up with David at our next appointment. I told him that I loved the bookstore. He encouraged me to keep going and was happy I was learning. Then he said something that stood out to me: “Knowledge only becomes wisdom when it’s applied.” It was great that I was reading all these books, but the challenge now was to apply it. My sessions with David were opening my heart and mind to learning new ways of living. I couldn’t believe how much I was learning through talking to David and reading. I even finally finished Dad’s Talking to God book.

On the way to the bookstore, I would pass a construction site. A new apartment complex was being built. I walked past the site for months and didn’t really notice it, but one day it caught my eye.

There were giant earth movers tearing apart an old building that was no longer being used. I could hear the sounds of brick walls crashing down and rubble being dragged away. The cranes were lifting the debris into piles and sorting it into trucks. Anything that was useless was being lifted into a giant waste container. Anything that was valuable was being lifted onto a different truck. I noticed a huge wire fence around the site. There were workers going in and out, but only through a gate. Workers were swiping a card every time they entered the site. No public access was allowed. Only people who were working on the site could enter.

I sat on a nearby bench and watched all the activity for a while. I realized this was a picture for what was happening in my own life. All the wrong thinking, wrong values, and wrong beliefs were being torn down. Every counseling session was like earth movers tearing down another wall. Nothing new could be built until the old junk was removed. Learning new life principles through books was like trucks delivering new material, ready to be constructed. The workers’ building something was like applying a new principle to my life. The wire fence represented having personal boundaries, and only allowing good people in my life. I still didn’t know what the future held for me, but I knew my life was under construction.

It was time to pick up the kids again. I looked forward to seeing the children, but I hated the changeovers. They were increasingly more awkward and upsetting for the kids. We started meeting in a restaurant car park. The kids would get out of their mother’s car and they would walk over to mine. My daughter would always be crying. My oldest son would be asking questions about our arrangements, and then walking back to his mother to tell her. The car park was busy with lots of traffic. I didn’t like the way this was happening at all. Often, her new boyfriend would be sitting in the car watching. Instead of the restaurant being a treat for the kids, it was turning into a place we all hated.

I sent my ex a message to request a change in meeting place. We needed to meet somewhere more quiet and away from the traffic. She wouldn’t change and was not interested in much I had to say. I realized that it didn’t matter if I had something good to say or not. Everyone was still too emotional and hurting.

Getting my own home now was top priority. If I could have the kids overnight, then I could pick them up from school and drop them back at school. It would give everyone some space and allow things to settle down. It was hard enough getting over the relationship without seeing my ex and her new partner every second weekend. The kids going from one parent to another was also upsetting for them. It was better to pick them up from school and drop them back at school.

In the meantime, though, we would still meet at a busy restaurant for changeovers. This went on for six months. I was powerless to change anything. We only had a verbal arrangement. I needed a home of my own and a better place for changeovers. Everyone was uptight and tense, including the children.

[] Chapter Six

[]Drawing a Line in the Sand

We decided to set up a meeting at a mediation service. This is where separated parents can speak to each other with the assistance of another person. We could try and resolve issues as the mediators helped keep the conversation on track.

I had been going through counseling for a while now, and had been learning about healthy relationships. I was not interested in fighting anymore or talking about anything useless. I wasn’t interested in personal attacks. I wanted to talk about something productive or not all. My patience was wearing thin.

After a year of negative comments and accusations, I was now clear on where I stood. Our custody arrangement was the only thing we could do at the time. It was going to take time for me to recover financially and emotionally. I mentioned to my ex that I was working on getting a home so I could see the kids more and have them overnight. Our current arrangement was not perfect but the only option for me at the time. When I had the kids, I spent quality time with them. I spent more quality time with them now, than when we were living together. It’s amazing how my perspective changed when I could only see my kids at certain times.

My relationship with the kids was healing and getting much better than ever before. When I saw them, I made sure we would do something fun. I would always be there on the days I could have them. Many fathers would have just left their children and started a new family elsewhere. This was never my plan. I already had three kids. I wasn’t going anywhere. I wasn’t about to start another relationship until my own life was sorted out.

It was the day of our mediation appointment and I was anxious and nervous. I hoped after a year of fighting and bad feelings we could work things out.

We started talking reasonably to each other. But it soon became tense. After about 30 minutes I could tell we weren’t getting anywhere. The meeting had been a waste of time and the mediation was a failure. We were back to square one.

I wanted the kids to be healthy, loved and stable. It didn’t matter if we disagreed on how to live. We were always going to agree to disagree. That’s why we were separated. The main point was that the kids were loved appropriately and not in danger. The kids were being looked after well on both sides. When the kids had accidents, like tripping over or getting a bruise from falling off their bikes, there would be allegations of abuse directed at me. I was not abusing the kids at all. They were young and would play outside all the time. They were going to get some bumps, bruises and scratches.

At that point, I walked out of the meeting. I’d had enough. I was hurt by the accusations and felt we were getting nowhere. Anyway, even though my ex and I weren’t communicating well, my relationship with the kids was getting better as time went on.

I made an effort to do fun things with the kids whenever I had them. They enjoyed their time with me. I was not hurting them at all. I kept reading Christian books and applying the principles I was learning. I would also read the Bible and pray to God often.

The kids would tell their mother about everything that happened while they were in my care. She would ask them a lot of questions about what I said to them. The problem I had was that the kids were young, and would misunderstand the context of things. My kids would see things through the eyes of a child. Instead of asking me directly about a comment, she would treat what the kids said as gospel. I would then receive notes about the comments I allegedly said to the kids. When I had the kids I would try not to talk about their mother in a negative way. I knew that it would hurt the kids.

I asked my ex if she had any future concerns to speak to me directly. I was concerned for my oldest son especially. I felt he was being used to send messages. If the kids said anything to me about what their mother wanted me to do, I would say, “She can send me a note about it.” I didn’t like messages being sent through the kids.

We both loved the kids, but led two very different lives. We disagreed on many things; but what mattered most was making choices that were going to help the kids.

I would come back to some basic questions. Are the kids healthy? Are the kids happy? Are the kids healing? Are they heading in the right direction? For me, the answers were all yes. I knew I had to keep going and stay strong.

There was a book about fatherhood that I was reading at the time. The main theme of the book was that God designed fathers to have spiritual authority. Fathers were made to have great positive influence. To the author, nothing was greater than a father who was following Jesus Christ. He explained that a father needs to bring leadership to himself before he can bring leadership to his children. I realized my kids would always be a reflection of me.

When everything first happened, nothing much was changing in my life. I felt like I could never get out of this mess. But when I started learning new principles to live by, I started to take back control of my life. I was starting to make conscious choices instead of living by feelings. For most of the first year I played the victim. I was angry and hurt. Now it was time to hit the reset button. I couldn’t afford to be playing games for the next 10 years. The only way out was to start making better choices.

I knew I couldn’t keep walking alone, though. I needed some more friends in my life. I started to think about going to church. My memories of church were wooden seats, boring hymns and fake people. I wanted to give church another try. I had nothing to lose.

I didn’t know where to start, so I just searched for some churches on the Internet. I knew of a few churches in the area. I rang both of them but there was no answer. I left a message for someone to call me back.

[] Chapter Seven

[]A Leap of Faith

The pastor was from a large Pentecostal church. He asked me if I had been to church before. I had only been when I was young and stopped going when I became a teenager. He seemed friendly and encouraged me to come along on Sunday.

It was a huge step for me. I was on my own and didn’t know anyone there. I was skeptical about God and battling with my own doubts. The church was only 10 minutes walk from my apartment and located in a rough neighborhood in the city. Over the years I had spent many nights drinking and wasting my life in this area. Now, instead of going to a club, I was going to church. It felt crazy to me.

Walking towards the front door, I felt nervous and anxious. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I had been living a lonely life for 12 months. I needed to take a leap of faith. When I arrived there, I noticed many people hovering around the entrance. I shook hands with at least five different people before I was inside. I looked around and saw people everywhere. The church I grew up in had a congregation of less than 50. This church had a total congregation of 5,000, split across three campuses. This campus had 1,000 people attending every week. It was overwhelming, busy and loud.

The church was leasing a multi-story building that used to be a cinema complex. The people would eat and have lunch together on the lower floors. The services were located on the top floor. There was a staircase leading up to the main worship area. It was a contemporary church with a modern feel. There were no crosses anywhere, only modern furniture and decorations. It was 2010 and everything in the church felt 2010.

A man serving behind a counter came up to me and asked if I was new there. I told him it was my first time at church. He introduced himself and went back into the crowd to find someone. He came back with a young man called Scott. Scott introduced himself as the new people’s pastor. He was around my age, slim build and looked like a footballer. We briefly talked and he offered me a coffee in the connect lounge. I had no idea what the connect lounge was. Scott explained that it’s an area set up specifically for new people.

I hadn’t had a coffee yet that morning, so it sounded great. We walked through the huge crowd of people and there were some lounges with other new Christians. Scott handed me a coffee that was in a takeaway cup. It looked like he had been bought it from a coffee shop. I took $5 out of my pocket and offered to pay for it. He laughed and said, “It’s on the house.” I later found out they had their own coffee machines in the church, and this was normal practice.

Then came all the food. There were cakes, savory snacks and nice food. I felt like I was in a club, not a church. I hadn’t even gone up to the service yet. Everyone was immaculately dressed. I was wearing sneakers, jeans and a t-shirt. I looked tired and weighed down with problems.

We had a brief chat about the usual things. Where I lived, worked and what made me come to church. I didn’t know how to answer the church question. I just told Scott I wanted a better life and to meet new people. The service was about to start. Scott and I started walking up the stairs. I shook the hands of another twenty people along the way as Scott introduced me to everyone he could.

We were now about to enter cinema five. That’s what they called the room where the service was held. The room was similar to that of going to the movies. The main screen had been removed and a stage put in with three large screens. The worship band started playing. It was louder than what I had been used to in a church. It also seemed a lot more professional than your average church choir. The kind of band I would have paid to see in real life.

Everyone was standing with their arms and hands in the air. They were singing along to the songs as the lyrics were displayed across the screens. Scott introduced me to someone in a black uniform. They were part of the hospitality team. The team helped people to their seats and would look out for any new people.

For the first twenty minutes I was just looking around the auditorium at all the lights, people, and screens. I had never seen anything like it. People were singing to the lyrics, jumping in their seats and holding their hands up high. The last time I had experienced something like this was at a rock concert. The worship seemed to go on for a while. Everyone kept singing with their hands in the air. Occasionally they would put them down for the slow songs. I felt awkward because I was doing nothing. I was like a deer in headlights. Just stunned at all the activity.

After the worship finished one of the pastors jumped up on the stage. He was full of energy and welcomed everyone to church. He explained what the church was about to new people and where the connect lounge was. The pastor was young and wearing trendy clothes.

I tried not to pass judgment and just listened to the message. The pastor starting preaching a message from the book of Matthew. He related the principles back to everyday life. It was clear and simple. I understood the message well.

It was a good message and I learned something. At the end of the service, Scott lead me back to the connect lounge. I filled out a card with all my details. He asked if I enjoyed the service. I told him I was nervous and anxious but I did enjoy it. Scott told me that I was welcome anytime, and that he might call me during the week.

I said, “No worries. Thanks, Scott,” and headed back to my apartment. I couldn’t believe how many people I met and the style of the church. I didn’t lose anything by going. For the first time in a year I felt like I had taken a positive step forward in building new friendships. At the time the church was holding multiple services in one day. There was another one planned for 5 pm. I went to that one as well. I was just sitting around the apartment all the time. I thought, why not?

Over the coming months, I attended church every Sunday and often multiple times in one day. I was learning a lot about the life and love of Jesus Christ. The first three to six months I would cry all the time at services. I looked like a mess. My heart was hard and I was healing from the devastation of divorce and abuse. Counseling opened my heart enough for all my suppressed hurts and emotions to pour out. Many times I would be sobbing like a baby. One day I spoke to Scott about it. He said that was normal. He explained God was doing some work in me and that it was healthy to let it out. The crying was part of the healing process. I felt embarrassed but every time I went to church I felt more healed. I had twenty years of bottled up emotions. I never dealt with anything properly. Finally, through counseling and the church, I was dealing with things in a healthy way.

After six months of attending the church, I knew the people and pastors better. I was becoming more familiar with the way the church operated. I had been there long enough to know that it was a healthy church, and their teachings were based on the Bible. They put Jesus Christ at the center of every decision they made. I had not brought my kids to a service yet. I wanted to make sure this church was right for the kids and me before they came.

After months of coming to church, bawling my eyes out and going home, Scott asked me if I would like to join the hospitality team. They served once a fortnight. My job was to show people to their seats and help keep the auditorium clean. Scott mentioned it’s a great way of meeting people and making new friends.

I agreed and started serving on the team the following fortnight. It was good for me, and I got to know people better. As the months went by I grew spiritually and became stronger. Other people in my team had also gone through marriage break-ups. Some people had gone through drug addictions, abuse and many other problems.

I didn’t feel like an outcast anymore. My anger and guilt faded over time. Now, I just wanted to heal and get my life back on track. I would often talk about the kids and my situation with others. We all helped each other and I had a support network. I would still go to counseling, more only for a check up. David was happy I was part of a Church and learning about Jesus Christ. The first night I saw David I had suicidal thoughts and was deeply depressed. A year later, I was calm, smiling a lot more and part of a local church. I still had a lot of issues, but I was growing every day.

I also joined a Bible study course the church was running at the time. I didn’t know the Bible that well and I thought it would be a great opportunity to connect with others. Scott was running the course. I would help him set up the room and make coffees for everyone. I really enjoyed the course and as time went on I realized how many people had been through difficult situations like me. I was skeptical of the church at first, but every time I applied a Bible principle, it worked. As my life became better, I trusted God more.

It was near the end of my first year at church. Scott was being transferred to another campus. There was an opening for someone to run the Bible study courses. A man named Peter took over. He had been at the church for many years. We got along really well from the start. He was English and had a funny sense of humor. He liked cars and was a bit cheeky. I related to him well. He was married with a young son.

I missed my kids every day, and also missed having a wife. Two years had passed since the separation and I was still a single Dad. The last two years had been extremely hard for me. I was glad that I didn’t start another relationship. I needed to get myself right first. Peter would often say every relationship you have reflects what your relationship with God is like. If that’s not right, then your relationships with others won’t be right. It reminded me of Dad’s comment. ‘Get your self right and your kids will be right.’ To Peter the most important relationship was the one with Jesus Christ. Everything flows out of that. It was life-changing stuff for me. The last twenty years of my life had not gone well. I was determined to start fresh and do life with Christ this time.

[] Chapter Eight

[]Walking Through the Storm

I was still living in my apartment and desperate to find a home. But I was broke and there was nothing left after I paid my bills. Peter and I had now been friends for a while. He was a wealthy and successful businessman. He knew I had been struggling and could not have my kids overnight. Because of this, I would be doing a lot of driving to pick them up and drop them off. I would also have to see my ex-partner, making it hard for us both to move on.

One day Peter invited me out for a coffee. He noticed that I’d been serving at the church for a while now. I had been leading a simple but clean life – going to work, paying my bills and seeing the kids whenever I could. He started talking about houses and what my plans were. I said to him, “I’ve been desperate to move out of my apartment for over 18 months now, but I just can’t afford the bond.” Most real estate companies asked for six weeks rent. I needed at least $3,000 before I could even start looking for a house.

Peter smiled and said, “I tell you what. You start looking for a home and I will loan you the money for the bond. I want to help you and the kids. You can’t live in an apartment for the rest of your life.” I was blown away. There was a small tear in my eye. It was such a generous offer. I thanked Peter and went back home really excited.

Immediately, I went on the Internet searching for homes to rent. I wanted a three-bedroom home on a safe street that was closer to where the kids were living. I had no furniture of my own, only a single bed and desk that came with the apartment. I didn’t want to ask for any more money from Peter. So I just tried to secure a home and work the rest out later.

After looking for a month, I found a house twenty minutes away from the kids. It was a three-bedroom home with a nice backyard in a safe neighborhood. The following weekend, I packed up everything and moved into my rented house, thanks to Peter. Scott called me and offered me some second-hand single beds for the kids. My ex had two lounges and I asked for one of them back. She agreed. After 18 months of living in a hotel room and apartment, I finally had a home.

This was a game-changer for me. Now, I could pick up the kids from school and drop them back the following Monday. No more changeovers in restaurant car parks. I didn’t have to drive as much because I could have the kids overnight now. I didn’t have to take them to my parents all the time; instead they could just come home with me.

Fortunately, the owner of the house was travelling for a year in his caravan and he left most of his furniture in the house while he was away. This was a huge blessing because I couldn’t afford to buy my own. The first night the kids came over I made a special dinner with all the things they liked. I rented some of their favorite movies and tried to make the first night really fun. The boys slept in one room. I slept in another room with my daughter. She was only five and scared of being in a new house. Every weekend I had them I would plan a small outing and spend as much time with them as possible. I told them about the church and how I really enjoyed it.

I was so grateful to Peter and to God. I started to realize how much my life was changing. I was learning about God’s character and getting the help I needed. I was still broke and battling with my own insecurities and guilty feelings, but I was getting much better. The biggest thing for me was that I could see my kids more often.

Mum and Dad came down for a visit. They were so excited and could see we were happy. We talked about church and God. Now I was heading in the right direction. I had a long way to go, but I was doing much better. Peter also came over and shouted me a beer. I couldn’t thank him enough for giving me the bond money. He hadn’t just helped me, but my three kids as well.

We had now been living in the new house three months and I had been going to church for a year. I wanted to start bringing my kids to church but they were nervous about going. They had never been before. I decided to take them one Sunday. They didn’t like it at first. They would scream and cry almost every time we went. I was committed to going every Sunday and could see the massive difference it was making in my own life. I wanted them to meet my new friends and grow the same way I had.

It was hard work, though. The kids were still young and very dependent on me. I was a new Christian trying to take three young kids to church that had never been before. I believed God was healing me and setting my life straight. I believed he could do the same thing for the kids. The church had a good kids’ program, and it looked fun. It didn’t matter to my kids, though. They just hated going and were always upset.

Sure enough, the communication book arrived the next time I picked up the kids. There were pages of negative comments about me making the kids go to church. I was trying to be a good parent. I knew the kids were upset, but over time I thought they would calm down and start to enjoy church. I just wanted a better life for them. To me, I wasn’t forcing the kids; I was being a good father. I wasn’t taking the kids to a casino, hotel or nightclub. It was church. Their mother wasn’t a Christian and didn’t like the church, either.

I tried my best to make it fun and easy as possible. The kids relaxed more as time went on. But the first year was really hard work. Peter asked me one day, “Is it all worth it?” We both looked at each other and said, “Absolutely.” Peter asked me, “Was there anything more important than bringing your children to Christ?” It was a profound question. It was his way of encouraging me to keep going. He believed God would always reward you for doing the right thing. At the time, though, there were no rewards; just whining and screaming kids. I would take the kids to church, try to listen to the message, and come home absolutely exhausted. As soon as we got out the car the kids would be happy again, like church never happened. I would just fall on the lounge. I wondered if taking them was making any difference. Peter would show me Bible verses about training kids up in the ways of the Lord so they don’t depart from it when they’re older. I hung onto these verses and God’s promises very tightly.

This season had a blessed but burdened feel to it. Blessed that my life was more stable and I had a house now. Burdened because I was still struggling financially and emotionally. It was like being between my old life and a new life. Old habits and ways of thinking were slowly evaporating. New habits and new ways of thinking were under construction. The Bible messages for me were fairly straightforward. Applying them was much harder. Especially when it came to the kids and my ex.

Every fortnight on a Sunday I would continue to take the kids to church. They would cry and cling to me the whole time. I would get more pages of negative notes and accusations from their mother.

Most people at the church would be nicely dressed and sitting down with their well-behaved children. I was the single dad that was tired and stressed, trying to comfort three upset children. I didn’t have many nice clothes. I had two good shirts in my wardrobe, one blue and one red. I would alternate these every time I came to church. I couldn’t afford anything else. I was only just paying my bills and getting by. I would notice Peter a lot. He would always be wearing nice clothes. He drove a BMW and lived in a wealthy suburb. He was, however, a humble and generous man that would help anyone he could.

Peter would invite the kids and I around to his house after church. He could see that I was tired. It was a nice break for me. It was good for the kids to see their Dad forming new friendships, too. We would often talk about what God was doing in my life. He would encourage me to keep going no matter how hard it got. Peter had a simple strategy for living his life. It was to learn the principles of Jesus Christ and apply them. Peter would often say, “God rewards those who seek him first and live a life that honors him.”

Most of the time I didn’t feel like a mighty man of God. More like a hurting little boy struggling to hold his life together. I would hang on to Peter’s words of encouragement, though. I would continue to hope for a better future. I always believed better days were coming and would take note of how far I’d come.

When the kids and I were at home, we would have a great time together. We would play in the back yard, go to parks, and watch movies. I would try and find something fun to do. My relationship with the kids was better than it had ever been before. I didn’t have a partner, but I had three kids that I loved. I had my friends at church and, most importantly, a growing relationship with God.

Peter, Scott and David would call me often and catch up at different times. Their support and help was invaluable. One day Peter mentioned he was part of a connect group that met every second weekend. The group of people would get together in someone’s home. It was a good way of meeting people and doing life together. He gave me the number of a person called Matthew. I called Matt and told him about my story. He was more than happy for me to come to his house the following Saturday. I had been separated for two years now and when I didn’t have the kids I felt lonely. I was excited about meeting more people.

[] Chapter Nine

[]The End of the Tunnel

Matt was married with a young daughter. He and his wife had been at the church for over ten years. They were a strong Christian couple. Matt’s wife helped a lot of young women in the church recover from sexual abuse and addictions. Over the years they both had counseled many people that had gone through separations and divorce.

There were about ten people that attended the connect group each fortnight. I had been at the church the least amount of time out of everyone. It was good to chat to people outside the church and get to know them more. We would often have lunch and talk for a while. Matt would pray and give everyone the opportunity to talk. Many people would bring up difficult things they were facing. Others would pray for people that were sick or for anything they were hoping for.

Talking about the challenges I was facing helped me a lot. Sometimes I didn’t know where to start, but Matt would often ask questions to help me along. Peter and his wife would come to the connect group as well. It was great to have some mentors in my life. They would inspire me to keep going. They lead successful lives with no unnecessary drama. It wasn’t their bank balances that inspired me. It was the peace and happiness they had in their lives.

I could start to see how God was working in my own life and how he was changing everything for the better. David, Scott, Peter and now Matt were all involved in helping me through different stages. They all added something unique to my life. I attended connect group for 12 months and healed a lot through that time. Matt would often ask me about the kids and would help me anyway he could. Sometimes he would offer me dinner when I was really tired or catch up with me for a coffee.

We would talk about what it means to have a new life in Jesus. I didn’t want to just recover from a divorce. I wanted a whole new life for my children and me. Matt confirmed that’s exactly what God wants for me too. I would talk to Matt about the mistakes I’ve made in my life. I would often ask for God’s forgiveness and tell him I’m sorry for living a life without him all those years. I would ask God to restore the wasted years and to create a new person in me.

I did my best to clean up my life. I wouldn’t drink much and only on special occasions. I chose my friendships more wisely. Even in the church I was careful whom I hung out with. Scott mentioned once that the church is full of broken people and that I still needed to be careful. Many people in the church would invite me out to different places, including girls. But I chose friends that seemed to have successful marriages and families. I would always get to know people first before spending time with them. I had been burned enough in my life. I had three young kids and we didn’t need any more drama. When it came to relationships, less was more for me. It wasn’t about how many friends I had, but who was in my life that really mattered.

It was now Christmas time, 2013. It had been nearly three years since the divorce. I had dealt with many issues in my life, including childhood problems. The kids were much healthier and had adjusted to their new life. I was at home one night with the kids when my middle son told me I looked lonely. I had been single for three years. He gave me a hug and he said, “It’s okay, Dad, if you want to have a girlfriend.” I nearly cried because I had felt lonely for a long time. I just wanted to get all our lives back on track first.

It had taken three years to get to a stable point emotionally and mentally for all of us. I felt like I had so much more healing to do, but I knew that I couldn’t live on my own forever. I didn’t want to make any more mistakes. I loved my kids and they had gone through enough in their short lives. After the kids went to bed I prayed to God. I told him I would often feel lonely. I asked him to lead me to a woman that was right for the kids and me one day. I didn’t want to search for her; instead, I just focused on God.

I had been serving on the hospitality team at church for over 18 months. I had made many friends and really enjoyed it. I began to notice an attractive girl that served on the children’s team. Her name was Carolyn. She would always look lovely and she had an angelic look about her. There were many girls in the church, but Carolyn just kept catching my eye. I would say hello to her and have brief conversations. I was always busy on the hospitality team and she was busy on the kids’ team. We would only cross paths occasionally, but not get much time to talk to each other. Her brother Jason also served at the church in other areas.

I asked one of the pastors if I could join the kids’ team. I think a few people noticed that I liked Carolyn but they didn’t want me to join the team just because I liked her. I understood their reasoning, but I wanted a change, and after a while the church allowed me to join the team. I put my name forward, and one day Carolyn called me. A few weeks later, I started serving on the team. I loved the way Carolyn interacted with the children. She had such a lovely way about her. She was also hard-working, diligent and Godly. I tried to keep focus on what I was doing, but often I would sneak a look at her because I thought she was beautiful.

One Sunday the church decided to hold grandparents day. I invited my parents along. They had never been to my church before. I wanted the kids to see their grandparents liked church, too. The church had rides, balloons and other fun activities for everyone that day. At that time, Dad was 84 years old and very frail. We found somewhere quiet and sat down together as a family.

Carolyn was holding some balloons for the kids. She was near our table and I asked her to come over and meet mum and dad. Carolyn was very polite and respectful. She gave the kids a balloon each. After she left, my cheeky Dad whispered in my ear, “You should ask that girl out.” I just laughed and told him to be quiet. I did want to ask her out, but I just played it cool. Dad was a good judge of character. He knew a good woman when he saw one.

I admired the love Carolyn showed towards all kids. She didn’t have any kids of her own, but loved everyone else’s. Carolyn was 34 years old and had been single for years. Both of us had been serving at the church and just leading simple lives that honored God. Both of us wanted God to lead us to the right partner. We both trusted God to choose the right person for us and didn’t want to go searching for relationships. I got to know Carolyn really well as the months went by. I prayed to God to give me a sign when he thinks I’m ready for another relationship. It sounded like a silly prayer, but the kids and I had gone through hell. I needed to be sure this time and couldn’t afford any more bad choices.

A few weeks later I was cleaning up after a church service. Most people had gone home and I bumped into Carolyn’s brother, Jason. We started talking and he had a smirk on his face. He said, “When are you going to ask my sister out?” I nearly fell over. Obviously Carolyn liked me as well and had been talking to her brother. I said, “Thanks, Jason, I’ll think about it.” He said, “Just between you and me, I think she will say yes.” I was so excited, but tried to remain calm. The kids already knew Carolyn through kids church. They also liked her and could see that she was a lovely person.

In the meantime I had been talking to Peter and Mark about Carolyn privately. I wanted their advice and knew I could trust them. They both said she was lovely and encouraged me to ask her on a date. They would often pray for my family and me and were happy that I found someone.

[] Chapter Ten

[]The Promised Land

A few weeks went by and I finally got the courage to ask Carolyn out. I was nervous for many reasons, but mainly because I hadn’t asked a girl out in over 10 years. I called her and asked her out for dinner. She said, “I’m babysitting my nephew but maybe another time.” It was the end of a one-minute conversation. I felt worried. I was hoping that she would say yes and be more excited. Suddenly, a text message appeared on my phone. It was from Carolyn. It said, “I’m available next week on Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday night.”

I was so relieved that she was still interested. I booked a nice restaurant by the beach and sent her a message with a pick-up date and time. She replied, “Looking forward to it.” I was really excited and hadn’t been on a date in a long time. I washed the car, bought some nice clothes, and picked Carolyn up the following Friday.

Our first date went really well. We shared our stories and talked about the church a lot. We went for a long walk after dinner on the beach and chatted for hours. We continued to date for a few months. Then we told everyone at church one Sunday. They were so excited and really happy for us. Carolyn had been single for six years and me for three years. It had taken us both years to recover and get our lives back on track. We were both very grateful to God for what he had done in our lives. Many people said we were good together and complemented each other well. Our friends were all pleased that we both were leading Christian lives before entering another relationship.

We weren’t just two nice people dating. We were two people that were focused on God and living clean lives. We were also obeying the principles of the Bible. To me, the most important part of our relationship was that we both believed in Jesus Christ. We shared the same values and beliefs.

The next 18 months went really well for us. We grew closer and closer. We were living separately the whole time and would not spend the night at each other’s house. We felt if God brought us together and gave us a second chance, then we would honor him. I also wanted to show Carolyn that I truly loved her and not for just physical reasons.

Our families met each other and they had a lot in common. Carolyn had three brothers around my age and a younger sister. Our families fitted together well. One day I prayed to God and asked him if I should propose to Carolyn. Everything felt right but I wanted His timing and wisdom. I proposed to Carolyn in November, 2013. She excitedly said, “Yes! I would love to marry you.”

The next time the kids came over we shared the announcement. The kids hugged us both and we all went out for dinner to celebrate. I couldn’t believe the work God had done in our lives. Peter was right when he said, “Keep obeying Gods word and he will reward you.” Carolyn didn’t come easy. I thanked God everyday for giving me a second chance at marriage, and for leading me through years of difficult challenges. I didn’t deserve a second chance. I couldn’t believe God’s grace.

A few weeks later I was at work and my boss called me into his office. My job had been a lifesaver for me the last four years. I had flexibility in hours that helped me with picking up and dropping off the kids. I was also able to work overtime and earn extra money. Without this job I would have gone under a long time ago.

We were planning a wedding in four months time. I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if my boss offered me a promotion? When I entered the office, my boss had a sober look on his face. I started to get nervous. He then mentioned that the company was going through a restructure and they were downsizing. As a result, some of the management positions were now being made redundant. One of the positions was mine. He explained that I would receive a payout and my last day would be in four weeks’ time. He considered me to be a great employee, but was under pressure to make a tough decision. My boss offered me employee assistance and his endorsement to help find another job. I was shocked, but excited at the same time.

I talked to Carolyn and explained the situation to her. She was working full-time in childcare and her wage was much less than mine. I told her about losing my job. She was shocked as well. I told her not to worry; that I would just get another job soon. Unfortunately, though, it wasn’t that easy. I had good knowledge and experience, but couldn’t seem to find a job anywhere.

The first few months, I wasn’t too worried. But after three or four months without work I started to get more concerned. The money I received from the payout was going fast on bills and rent. The payout was no longer enough to pay for our wedding. If I didn’t find a job soon we would be living on one wage. Another five months went by and still nothing. Now we were getting married in only a few weeks and I still had no job. I had been trying for months and attended many interviews. I was starting to get depressed.

Our parents helped pay for some of the wedding and we used all our savings to pay the rest. We had nowhere to live afterwards. We couldn’t even afford a house to rent on just one income. Carolyn was now marrying an unemployed man, with no house and three kids that weren’t hers. After the wedding and honeymoon, we didn’t know what we were going to do.

The wedding was beautiful. We were married in our church by a pastor that had helped Carolyn for many years. All our friends and family attended. Our reception was by the beach on a cool summer day. Everyone had a great time. My daughter was one of the flower girls. We were both very emotional. It was one of the happiest days of my life, and I was so proud to have Carolyn as my new bride. She was going to be a wonderful wife and a stepmother to my children. We then travelled to a resort and relaxed for a few weeks. It was a well-deserved break. We were now a married couple, but I didn’t have a job or a house to live in when we got back. My lease had ended and I couldn’t afford another home. Carolyn had been sharing house and didn’t have a home, either.

Our only option now was to move in with Carolyn’s parents. They were retired and living in a four-bedroom house. After the honeymoon, they allowed us to move in for a while until we found a house. We slept in a bedroom that was smaller than my apartment. The boys slept on a bunk bed in another room and my daughter had her own room. The house was now full.

Carolyn’s parents were lovely but they weren’t thrilled and neither were we. I was 36 and Carolyn was 33. We were a newly married couple and needed our own space. We wanted to start a new life together, but instead our lives seemed to be going back to when we were teenagers. Our bed was a mattress on the floor. The kids and us shared one wardrobe for all of our clothes. I had furniture and other things in storage but sold them all just to pay for bills and other things. Our family of five was now crammed into three small bedrooms in my in-laws house.

It was a tough start to our newly married life. Three months later, after being out of work for eight months, I finally landed an interview with a large utility company. They were advertising for sales consultants. I tried to come across confidently, but on the inside I was screaming for a job. Weeks went by with no phone call; then, suddenly, the phone rang to say I was successful. I couldn’t believe it. Finally, I had a full-time job again. Carolyn was incredible through the months I was out of work. She just kept working hard, trying to make our budget work and making sure the kids and I were looked after. I really saw her true character during our first year of marriage. I had definitely chosen the right woman. We now had two incomes and could afford to rent our own home.

We suddenly had a different idea. We were tired of renting other peoples’ houses. This was our only chance to try and save up for our own house. We really wanted our own space but instead of moving out, we chose to start saving like crazy for our own home. Losing my job forced us to move back home. Moving back home forced us to start saving for our own home. It was a blessing in disguise.

It wasn’t easy living with Carolyn’s parents. We were thankful and appreciated them, but we desperately wanted our own place. Every week that went by we put money away for our own home. The kids would often ask when we were going to move out. I would say very soon but I really had no idea when. We needed a lot of money for a deposit. It was a tough uphill climb to save the money. But it was our only chance to try and save.

We ended up staying there for 18 months. Finally, in May, 2015, we had enough money for a deposit on our first house. We found a great home on a safe street. We signed the documents and celebrated with a glass of champagne. It was a massive achievement and a fresh start for all of us. We were incredibly excited about having our own home. The decision to stay for a while paid off.

Shortly after, Carolyn and I visited my parents. We shared the great news and showed them pictures of the house. They were very happy for both of us and knew we had gone though a lot of challenges over the years. They thought the house was well-deserved and could see we were all happy.

After we left that night my Dad started to get severe pains in his back. He could no longer get out of his chair. Dad had been slowly getting worse with Alzheimer’s disease over the last five years. Later that night mum called an ambulance and they took Dad to hospital. No one knew what was wrong with him. The doctors later found out that his gall bladder was inflamed and needed to come out. Our family was relieved that it wasn’t something more serious. Dad had his operation and they removed the gall bladder. Everything seemed to go well.

I then visited him in hospital but I noticed he was different. He looked a lot more confused and very weak. His body wasn’t recovering and week-by-week he got worse. He was too weak to come home and was forced to stay in hospital.

The first month, I could talk to him and help him eat. The second month, he could only say a few words and needed help constantly from nurses. The third month, he didn’t talk much at all and eventually stopped eating. One day I visited him with my two sons. It would be the last time we would see him awake. After four months, his body could no longer function consciously. Mum decided to stay with him all the time, as we knew it was his final days. The inflamed gall bladder unfortunately was the beginning of the end for Dad.

I told mum to call me if Dad got any worse. The following Tuesday morning mum sent me a message to say Dad was close to dying. We were all preparing that we could lose him at any moment. We headed straight for the nursing home where he was staying. The hospital had moved him there about six weeks earlier. My brothers and close family headed there, also. Dad had been moved into a private room where patients could die at any time. We all sat around him quietly. He was lying in bed peacefully, but laboring for breath. We had been there only an hour and then I noticed Dad take an unusual breath. He then suddenly passed away with his family by his side.

It was a very sad time for us all. But in the last five years Dad saw me recover from divorce and get my life back on track. He saw me get married to a lovely woman and buy a new home. He saw his three grandchildren become happy and strong again. But most of all he saw his son come to Jesus Christ. Dad was there in my darkest hour, and I was there in his last hour. I was so glad that he lived long enough to see me start a new life and recover from crisis. I was so grateful for everything he did for me.

We now lead a wonderful life as a family. I see my kids a lot now and they are healthy and happy. They continue to grow every day as I do. God gave me a second chance at marriage. We have a home, good jobs and the future looks bright for us. Whatever comes and goes, I know that we are building our lives on the right foundation this time. God also has done a lot of work in me. I no longer have low self-esteem and trouble in my life. I am loved and secure in Him. He brought healing and restoration to my life and has promised to restore the wasted years. I can already see that unfolding in my life.

Carolyn and I thank God every day for what he has done. I always hug my children and tell them I love them. I appreciate them more than ever. I know the second half of my life will be far better than the first.

I still remember my first night in the apartment when I prayed to God and said, ‘If you are real God please help me.’ He certainly answered my prayer. I believe He sent key people into my life. First, my parents, then David, Scott, Peter, Matt, and now my lovely wife, Carolyn. God was with me at every step. All I needed to do was believe in Jesus Christ and keep walking forward one step at a time. What could have been a twenty-year struggle instead was a five-year life transformation. This only could have happened through the power of Jesus Christ.

Epilogue

To The Reader,

Thank you for purchasing and reading this book. I hope you enjoyed it and took away many pearls of wisdom.

If you are having problems in your relationship, I strongly encourage you to seek help from a professional. It is far better to try and save a marriage than to go through the pain of divorce. The decision to see a church pastor can be an excellent choice if your marriage is struggling.

Most people who go through divorces are not celebrities with millions of dollars. They are everyday people just trying to lead peaceful normal lives. Divorce is devastating on everyone – not just kids. Many people have lost their lives or have never recovered. Instead, they have chosen substance abuse or gone through a series of bad relationships. Many people have estranged kids that they never see. Divorce is not to be taken lightly.

My story ended well but there are plenty that don’t. We read often about marriages ending in magazines all the time. But what we don’t see is the true impact it had on their lives. I don’t endorse divorce at all. It was the most painful and challenging time of my life. I was inspired to write this book because I believe there is a way out of crisis. Many people feel trapped and overwhelmed in these difficult situations.

If you are going though a crisis, there is a way out, and your life is not over. You can and will recover if you make the right choices. Take it one day at a time. Make sure you are heading in the right direction.

Here are some more practical tips that I believe can help you recover:

1. Don’t jump into another relationship. If someone told you the best way to get over your ex is to date someone else, they are wrong. It may feel good for a while, but it only leads to more pain. Two broken people don’t make a whole. Get yourself right first. Resist the temptation to jump into another relationship, no matter how lonely you feel. Most rebound relationships only last a few years and end in more pain for everyone. Some people repeat the divorce cycle over and over again because they haven’t healed from the first one. There is no set time for healing. It might take 3 years for one person or 10 years for another. Don’t rush anything. Make sure you allow someone wiser to speak into your life, before you decide to enter another relationship.

2. Find a Mentor. Don’t turn to alcohol, drugs, pornography and broken relationships. Seek help. There are churches everywhere. Even if you’re not a Christian, any pastor would be happy to help you or recommend someone who can. My life changed when I made the decision to get help. Find someone who is not emotionally invested in the problem. Sometimes the worst advice can come from family and friends.

3. Seek legal advice early. Take steps to protect your investments and finances. Don’t be ruthless and bitter. Be mature and try to work out the best solution for everyone. Do this early and don’t wait too long. It can get complicated if new partners start to get involved.

4. Don’t change the kids’ schools, if possible. This will help them cope with the divorce much better. The kids’ world is their school and their friends. If that doesn’t change, they have a much better chance of recovering from an already difficult situation. Most schools now offer counseling for children who are going through a family separation.

5. Respond to your ex; don’t react. Hold your tongue. Someone needs to be the adult in the relationship. Enough said.

6. Set boundaries. You are in the most vulnerable time of your life and are likely to be in a lot of pain. It might be better to close your social media accounts, re-evaluate your friendships and tie up loose ends sooner, rather than later. In a crisis it’s better to step back from everything while you get your head together. All the noise and other people’s opinions can be distracting and can slow your progress.

7. Spend time with your kids. Time equals love. Be there when you say you will be. Show them you love them; don’t just tell them. Spend quality time with them. Have some fun. Go to the beach, park, kick a ball, hug them, wrestle them, and laugh with them. Show them how important they are to you.

8. Find a refuge. The bookstore, a park, the beach. Somewhere you like to go to. Use this place to unwind, relax and clear your mind. Choose somewhere that feeds your soul. Go to this place regularly.

9. Set achievable goals. Imagine where you want your life to be and set small goals daily. They can be as simple as keeping your house clean or eating healthy food. Small steps lead to big changes over time.

10. Don’t talk negatively about the other parent. Talking negatively hurts your children’s self-esteem. It doesn’t matter if it’s about mum or dad. Children get their identity from their parents. Bagging your ex will not help anyone.


The Fight Back

"Timothy Hussey's new book, The Fight Back, is the courageous story of one man's struggle to rise above childhood abuse, poor self-esteem, and a failed, ten-year marriage to get his life back on track -- through a closer walk with God." Hussey tells with aching vulnerability of his early years in a country environment, running with the wrong crowd and doing rebellious things. It's an all-too-familiar theme these days, as big blended families like the one he grew up in overlook the trouble signs of a wayward youth. This is a story for anyone going through marital difficulties or who might be living a dysfunctional life, thinking there's no way out. Anyone who has been in a similar situation can easily relate to the author's pain -- and rejoice over his eventual triumph through careful devotion to God and open dialogue with his three children. Near the end, he imparts ten key points to keep in mind while going through a divorce. These tips alone -- from someone who knows what he's talking about -- is worth the price of the book alone. The Fight Back is a completely honest account of one man's battle through adversity to a happy ending. Read it today. - Publishers Daily Review

  • Author: Tim Hussey
  • Published: 2016-03-24 22:20:09
  • Words: 19771
The Fight Back The Fight Back