After my first marriage ended, I had time to think about whether or not I did the right thing. Its natural I think…not necessarily to second guess but to measure the consequences to everyone involved and ask yourself if it was worth it. I wondered if my ex-wife would be able to make it on her own. She is the mother of my children and though we would never be together again, I needed to know she was able to take care of herself. I wondered if I would be able to support myself, pay alimony and all our other obligations…kids and college and everything we had accumulated. I wondered how my kids would handle it. Though they were grown, I knew that no matter how hard they may try to stay neutral, they would feel in some ways that they would have to choose a side. The rest of the family wouldn’t understand either because they too had painted this pretty picture that in truth was nothing more than a facade. I found out the hard way how true it was that everyone wanted it to be the way that they wanted it to be. I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t going to matter what the circumstances were or if it was the right thing to do or not. I would always been the one that ended it which is all that would ever matter to anyone…but me.
In the years leading up to that time, I was dying inside…spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I tried to make the best of it and buried myself even deeper in my work overseas. I was making a good living but I wasn’t living and it was taking its toll. There was some loss of life and a few more close calls that occurred in my work that my family thought may have affected me on a deeper level but it was much more than that. I thought I was tough enough to handle anything and rarely ever showed any emotion but more and more I was having difficulty controlling the resentment that I was starting to experience. I cooled it with alcohol and continued to bottle up what was left. As my tolerance got higher, the drinking got worse and more and more the anger turned to rage. I feared that it would turn to hate. I was grinding my teeth, my blood pressure was out of control and a bottle of scotch didn’t last much longer than a can of soda. There were a number of circumstances that perpetuated that anger progressively over those last few years but in the end I just swallowed it and kept going. It was like getting a preview of my own personal hell. I became paranoid and eventually, I didn’t trust anyone anymore, including my wife and especially myself. Life had become a prison sentence. I worked continuously and never once saw that light at the end of the tunnel. And while others saw a perfect marriage, financial stability and happiness, nothing was further from the truth. Once I decided that it was over, I tried to soften the blow with words because as much as I hated what my life had become and where it was going, I never wanted to hurt anyone. In hindsight I probably should have said what I really felt.
My life is and has always been a fast moving train. I spent most of it in the Army where my troops were my kids, my brothers…my family. I was always there for them, even when I wasn’t for my own flesh and blood. Between short tours, exercises, deployments, schools and just living my commitment as an Army leader, I missed holidays, birthdays and all of the “firsts” of everything. I am not proud of it and I can’t get back all of the years that I wasn’t there for them. But I can talk about it now because I am at peace with it and I can try to do better in the second half of my life. I got off the alcohol and rededicated my life to Christ. I have since remarried a wonderful woman and found a peace and happiness that I never knew before. To some that I care about she seems to represents a bad ending to a sad story. But without her, I may have never made it back to Christ. I may have never found the man I now know myself to be. I know that she loves me, but it is amazing to me that she unconditionally accepts and loves those who I love despite their difficulties in accepting her. I know how important it is to her to give of herself and be accepted. I can see how painful it is to not have that. I pray that one day everyone will open their eyes and see the real me…the me they never knew…the me that she helped to find. So far, they aren’t looking, but maybe one day they will.
Much has changed but some things have stayed the same. I am still moving way too fast…far away from home working more than 16 hours every day, 7 days a week. I get a couple of weeks off, a couple of times a year. Another Thanksgiving and Christmas will come and go…I have been home for the holidays only twice in the last 8 years. I can’t complain because it wouldn’t change anything. I’m not doing this because I want to. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I ever did.
Soon, though, everything will be better than ever. The anger has finally subsided and God is working miracles in my life. I have my Bride and an even bigger family than ever…including Grandkids. I am ready to be a Grandpa…and I plan to be a much better Grandpa than I was as a Dad.
Life is good.