The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father Part 2

On the 18th June 2007 I wrote a post titled The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father which I had written after visiting a friend. Now, another year and a half down the track I can speak with a little more personal experience about my own situation and how things have unfolded.

When I separated from my wife in February 2006 it is true that I withdrew from the world to a large degree.  I spoke to no one about how I felt, I worried constantly about what the future held and spent much of my time away from work alone.  I didn’t see a lot of my kids that first year and that hurt.  When I look back now I find that much of the year is foggy.   No friends called, part of the family isolated me and the kids were being exposed to things about the situaton that they probably shouldn’t have.

There was an assumption by a lot of people that I was in a relationship with the lady who was the catalyst for the marriage break up.  The truth was for much of the first 15 months of that separation we were friends, in some ways we were our only friends.  And whilst that was continuing I was being told that the kids would never forgive her and never accept her.   So I struggled big time with what I should do, I didn’t wish to pursue a full blown relationship because I was frightened of the consequences.  Hence there were no discussions with my kids about my feelings or my perspective on the marriage break up.  In fact I regard that as probably my biggest mistake because everyone I knew had a perspective on what they thought was going on because of the story they were hearing.  And it was a story in which my voice was silent.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no blame here.  I was simply acting as blokes are expected to act.  We aren’t supposed to show our feelings, or talk about them with anyone.  Keep a stiff upper lip, shoulder the burden but, if like me, you shoulder all the blame as well, then maybe expect to lose friends as a result of that.

It took a while but I can remember the exact moment when my kids did start to come around.   In August 2007 my lady moved in with me and on Fathers Day that year my daughters visited my home whilst my lady was there for the first time.  I wrote about that on Sunday 2 September2007 in a post called Red Letter Day.

Now I see them at least once a fortnight, maybe not as much as I would like, but the initial awkwardness has gone.  If they hate her, as I was told they would, or if they have not forgiven her, there is no evidence of that.  Last night my oldest son brought his new girlfriend around to meet us and they and my youngest daughter had dinner with us.   Yesterday my oldest daughter was here with her boyfriend and today my second son dropped in for an hour.   I am a lucky person.

If you’ve been reading this blog over the past week you may have noticed that I’ve been looking at the stats and where the visitors come from and there are a couple of search terms that people use which bring them to this blog.  One of the most common is a combination of the words father, loneliness and long distance, so I am guessing that there are a lot of men out there who do look for answers when their marriages fail.

I thought, therefore, that it might be worth showing those people that there is hope, that children can come around, despite what they may be told, in the end it will be their reality and experience which is important, not that which may be imposed upon them by others.    I am still looking at improving my relationship with my kids.  I am far from the perfect father, but if I can give some advice it is this, maintain contact with your kids, even if it’s only a phone call.  Tell them you love them, if they are prepared to listen teach them that there are different realities, that no one is 100% right all the time.   Let them know that it is OK to have an opinion but respect that of other people as well, but never, take those opinions as gospel.

Life is way too short to hold grudges and to be bitter about things forever.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father Part 2

On the 18th June 2007 I wrote a post titled The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father which I had written after visiting a friend. Now, another year and a half down the track I can speak with a little more personal experience about my own situation and how things have unfolded.

When I separated from my wife in February 2006 it is true that I withdrew from the world to a large degree.  I spoke to no one about how I felt, I worried constantly about what the future held and spent much of my time away from work alone.  I didn’t see a lot of my kids that first year and that hurt.  When I look back now I find that much of the year is foggy.   No friends called, part of the family isolated me and the kids were being exposed to things about the situaton that they probably shouldn’t have.

There was an assumption by a lot of people that I was in a relationship with the lady who was the catalyst for the marriage break up.  The truth was for much of the first 15 months of that separation we were friends, in some ways we were our only friends.  And whilst that was continuing I was being told that the kids would never forgive her and never accept her.   So I struggled big time with what I should do, I didn’t wish to pursue a full blown relationship because I was frightened of the consequences.  Hence there were no discussions with my kids about my feelings or my perspective on the marriage break up.  In fact I regard that as probably my biggest mistake because everyone I knew had a perspective on what they thought was going on because of the story they were hearing.  And it was a story in which my voice was silent.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no blame here.  I was simply acting as blokes are expected to act.  We aren’t supposed to show our feelings, or talk about them with anyone.  Keep a stiff upper lip, shoulder the burden but, if like me, you shoulder all the blame as well, then maybe expect to lose friends as a result of that.

It took a while but I can remember the exact moment when my kids did start to come around.   In August 2007 my lady moved in with me and on Fathers Day that year my daughters visited my home whilst my lady was there for the first time.  I wrote about that on Sunday 2 September2007 in a post called Red Letter Day.

Now I see them at least once a fortnight, maybe not as much as I would like, but the initial awkwardness has gone.  If they hate her, as I was told they would, or if they have not forgiven her, there is no evidence of that.  Last night my oldest son brought his new girlfriend around to meet us and they and my youngest daughter had dinner with us.   Yesterday my oldest daughter was here with her boyfriend and today my second son dropped in for an hour.   I am a lucky person.

If you’ve been reading this blog over the past week you may have noticed that I’ve been looking at the stats and where the visitors come from and there are a couple of search terms that people use which bring them to this blog.  One of the most common is a combination of the words father, loneliness and long distance, so I am guessing that there are a lot of men out there who do look for answers when their marriages fail.

I thought, therefore, that it might be worth showing those people that there is hope, that children can come around, despite what they may be told, in the end it will be their reality and experience which is important, not that which may be imposed upon them by others.    I am still looking at improving my relationship with my kids.  I am far from the perfect father, but if I can give some advice it is this, maintain contact with your kids, even if it’s only a phone call.  Tell them you love them, if they are prepared to listen teach them that there are different realities, that no one is 100% right all the time.   Let them know that it is OK to have an opinion but respect that of other people as well, but never, take those opinions as gospel.

Life is way too short to hold grudges and to be bitter about things forever.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father Part 2

On the 18th June 2007 I wrote a post titled The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father which I had written after visiting a friend. Now, another year and a half down the track I can speak with a little more personal experience about my own situation and how things have unfolded.

When I separated from my wife in February 2006 it is true that I withdrew from the world to a large degree.  I spoke to no one about how I felt, I worried constantly about what the future held and spent much of my time away from work alone.  I didn’t see a lot of my kids that first year and that hurt.  When I look back now I find that much of the year is foggy.   No friends called, part of the family isolated me and the kids were being exposed to things about the situaton that they probably shouldn’t have.

There was an assumption by a lot of people that I was in a relationship with the lady who was the catalyst for the marriage break up.  The truth was for much of the first 15 months of that separation we were friends, in some ways we were our only friends.  And whilst that was continuing I was being told that the kids would never forgive her and never accept her.   So I struggled big time with what I should do, I didn’t wish to pursue a full blown relationship because I was frightened of the consequences.  Hence there were no discussions with my kids about my feelings or my perspective on the marriage break up.  In fact I regard that as probably my biggest mistake because everyone I knew had a perspective on what they thought was going on because of the story they were hearing.  And it was a story in which my voice was silent.

Don’t get me wrong, there is no blame here.  I was simply acting as blokes are expected to act.  We aren’t supposed to show our feelings, or talk about them with anyone.  Keep a stiff upper lip, shoulder the burden but, if like me, you shoulder all the blame as well, then maybe expect to lose friends as a result of that.

It took a while but I can remember the exact moment when my kids did start to come around.   In August 2007 my lady moved in with me and on Fathers Day that year my daughters visited my home whilst my lady was there for the first time.  I wrote about that on Sunday 2 September2007 in a post called Red Letter Day.

Now I see them at least once a fortnight, maybe not as much as I would like, but the initial awkwardness has gone.  If they hate her, as I was told they would, or if they have not forgiven her, there is no evidence of that.  Last night my oldest son brought his new girlfriend around to meet us and they and my youngest daughter had dinner with us.   Yesterday my oldest daughter was here with her boyfriend and today my second son dropped in for an hour.   I am a lucky person.

If you’ve been reading this blog over the past week you may have noticed that I’ve been looking at the stats and where the visitors come from and there are a couple of search terms that people use which bring them to this blog.  One of the most common is a combination of the words father, loneliness and long distance, so I am guessing that there are a lot of men out there who do look for answers when their marriages fail.

I thought, therefore, that it might be worth showing those people that there is hope, that children can come around, despite what they may be told, in the end it will be their reality and experience which is important, not that which may be imposed upon them by others.    I am still looking at improving my relationship with my kids.  I am far from the perfect father, but if I can give some advice it is this, maintain contact with your kids, even if it’s only a phone call.  Tell them you love them, if they are prepared to listen teach them that there are different realities, that no one is 100% right all the time.   Let them know that it is OK to have an opinion but respect that of other people as well, but never, take those opinions as gospel.

Life is way too short to hold grudges and to be bitter about things forever.

Fatherhood, loneliness and what happens after the cliffhanger ending.

Of all the posts I have ever written “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father” is the one that consistently gets hit through google.  And I am sure that is because it is usually the father who gives up parts of his contact with his children when a marriage fails.   Maybe fathers are searching for those of us who experience the same pangs.

Whilst my relationship with my kids is a good one now, there were times when I was gripped with despair about what may eventuate.   But even now, there are times when I wish I saw them more often.  It is that daily contact, or lack of it, that makes things hard at times.  

Sometimes I just wish for a phone call from one or the other of them, just to ask how things are, what happened at work or school today, how are their relationships with friends going.  I miss the fact that they don’t just drop in.  That it sometimes feels like it has to be a formal invite or an occasion for them to turn up.  And the standing Thursday night date is sometimes overlooked if other offers come along.

I miss not having the regular interactions with their friends and finding out what they are doing, or just sitting and watching as my kids interact with them.

The football season is coming up soon and I know that will provide opportunities for me to just hang out with my kids.  It’s something to look forward to.

I think part of the melancholy is that when you no longer live in that original family unit, that your kids grow up and grow older in episodes.  It’s like watching a soap opera rather than being part of it.   And sometimes you miss how the cliffhanger ending turns out, the drama and laughter happen in places where you don’t exist.  And when you are able to catch up with things it is often passed off as not important anymore, so it seems that you only get the echo from distant mountains rather than the full on quadraphonic experience of the origin.

But there is also the knowledge that sometimes these things were going to happen anyway, because they did with me.  

I left far too much unsaid to my Dad, didn’t take the time to know him, or give him the chance to know me.    I’ve learnt that fathers don’t complain, that we accept it when our kids cancel on us, that we hide the hurt more often than not.    It’s easier that way.   And I’ve learnt that kids don’t see that, that fathers are often too good at hiding things.    And with that I’ve learnt that a father can be lonely even if he’s surrounded by crowds.  

Loneliness is a fickle beast.  It hides in circumstance, in ritual and in occasion.   And if you find your self experiencing this lonely father syndrome, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every aspect of your life is lonely.  Just sometimes, when you miss your kids, it can grab you and squeeze you till it hurts.

So instead of waiting for them to contact you, pick up the phone, say hello, tell them you love them and that you’re looking forward to seeing them whenever that may be.  And when you do see them, listen to what they say, engage with them while you can, because that loneliness is only a short time away again.

So I leave you with this song.

Fatherhood, loneliness and what happens after the cliffhanger ending.

Of all the posts I have ever written “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Father” is the one that consistently gets hit through google.  And I am sure that is because it is usually the father who gives up parts of his contact with his children when a marriage fails.   Maybe fathers are searching for those of us who experience the same pangs.

Whilst my relationship with my kids is a good one now, there were times when I was gripped with despair about what may eventuate.   But even now, there are times when I wish I saw them more often.  It is that daily contact, or lack of it, that makes things hard at times.  

Sometimes I just wish for a phone call from one or the other of them, just to ask how things are, what happened at work or school today, how are their relationships with friends going.  I miss the fact that they don’t just drop in.  That it sometimes feels like it has to be a formal invite or an occasion for them to turn up.  And the standing Thursday night date is sometimes overlooked if other offers come along.

I miss not having the regular interactions with their friends and finding out what they are doing, or just sitting and watching as my kids interact with them.

The football season is coming up soon and I know that will provide opportunities for me to just hang out with my kids.  It’s something to look forward to.

I think part of the melancholy is that when you no longer live in that original family unit, that your kids grow up and grow older in episodes.  It’s like watching a soap opera rather than being part of it.   And sometimes you miss how the cliffhanger ending turns out, the drama and laughter happen in places where you don’t exist.  And when you are able to catch up with things it is often passed off as not important anymore, so it seems that you only get the echo from distant mountains rather than the full on quadraphonic experience of the origin.

But there is also the knowledge that sometimes these things were going to happen anyway, because they did with me.  

I left far too much unsaid to my Dad, didn’t take the time to know him, or give him the chance to know me.    I’ve learnt that fathers don’t complain, that we accept it when our kids cancel on us, that we hide the hurt more often than not.    It’s easier that way.   And I’ve learnt that kids don’t see that, that fathers are often too good at hiding things.    And with that I’ve learnt that a father can be lonely even if he’s surrounded by crowds.  

Loneliness is a fickle beast.  It hides in circumstance, in ritual and in occasion.   And if you find your self experiencing this lonely father syndrome, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every aspect of your life is lonely.  Just sometimes, when you miss your kids, it can grab you and squeeze you till it hurts.

So instead of waiting for them to contact you, pick up the phone, say hello, tell them you love them and that you’re looking forward to seeing them whenever that may be.  And when you do see them, listen to what they say, engage with them while you can, because that loneliness is only a short time away again.

So I leave you with this song.