There are No Rules in Domestic Violence – My Story

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 I was asked to speak today to some of our state senators and representatives.   Here are my remarks:

I am a survivor and former victim of Domestic Violence.

I have been mentally, emotionally, verbally, physically and financially abused by my ex wife.  I have been bitten, hit, kicked, cut, and bruised.

There is a lie in our society that men cannot be victims of abuse and that if a woman abuses a man the man is somehow weak, or they did something to provoke her and deserve it.

There are no rules in domestic violence.  It is not conditional based upon gender or age.   It is not specific to your level of education, race, income, religion or social status.  It is a plague that is destroying families and our children and we must act to put an end to this scourge.  Abusers will blame the abused for making them into the abusers they are.  This is part of the manipulation process abusers use.  Sadly, many of us fall victim to this lie and believe it.

If we falsely believe that domestic violence will go away by ignoring it, or if we fall victim to the many lies about this plague we are abandoning our children and grandchildren to continue perpetually down this evil path in our society.

Domestic Violence impacts every one of us in this room.  Whether or not it is public knowledge or anyone outside the victims immediate family knows about it, such as in my case, we all know someone who lives this hell.  It could be your daughter, your son, father, mother, grandchild, or neighbor.  It could be a leader in your church or a teacher at school or your coworker and friend.  Most victims are silent, looking for help and not knowing where to turn.

In Utah we are surrounded by many who by outward appearances have great and amazing families.  From an outward perspective, I had it all, a great family, a great wife, a great job, a beautiful home and great kids.  No one ever suspected the hell I and my children were living as a result of her abuse.

Many have asked me afterwards why if things were so bad would I stay in the relationship for so long.  First and foremost I will tell you that I love my children and am a deeply devoted father.  I worried for their safety and well being if I left.

Remember I had been told by the many police officers and those in the legal profession that I turned to for help, that a man cannot be a victim of domestic violence and if it is happening then he provoked her to it.  Utah has a terrible history in family law, one that quite frankly we should all hang our heads in shame over and that is the blind obedience of the judges to mothers and custody.  This was the single largest issue that kept me in this abusive relationship.  I didn’t want my children to suffer without my protection for them.

In the end, like most abusers, she left when she found someone new.  My relief at this being over was minimized as the courts gave custody to her.  My biggest fear in leaving came true.

My other primary reason for staying is abuse doesn’t always start off being physical.  Abusers manipulate and make the abused feel worthless and that they don’t deserve anything better and that they deserve what they are getting.  This lie held me hostage for years.

It was upon finally being freed from this abuse that I began to know about the resources in the community like the Domestic Violence shelters and what they do.

I have spent countless hours volunteering to help with anything the local shelter was in need of, from painting, to moving furniture, to fixing toilet seats and washing machines.  I have spent the time to know and understand what they do and why they do it.    While a handful of the shelters will take in men, and shelter them from abusers, there are many that do not primarily due to funding issues.  I don’t believe I would have sought shelter as financially I was in the position to leave if I needed.

What I wish with all of my heart and that would have saved me and saved my children from witnessing the abuse is the knowledge available through the community outreach efforts of the shelters.  The education and resources they provide that would have given me direction and support were not known to me.  I was unaware that anyone could help my children and I during this nightmare we were living.

The South Valley Sanctuary currently operates a community outreach center in West Jordan to assist those in need of resources and support prior to the need to seek shelter.  We need more of this in our communities.  We need to ensure that our children are protected and that the resources are given to those making a difference on the front line of this plague everyday!

The domestic violence shelters need your support to continue to operate and not only provide the shelter from the violence, but the ongoing community outreach, training and resources to those in need prior to the need to flee. It is far less expensive to make certain that resources are available to those in need than it is to prosecute and house the perpetrator and bury the victims when the violence turns deadly.

We cannot end the violence if we are merely reactionary.  We must provide the resources in addition to just shelter that many in this community are in dire need.

As you review the funding this year, I hope that my story resonates with you and opens your eyes to the need for additional resources that will help these shelters continue to provide safety as well as resources to your daughters and sons experiencing violence at home to get the help that they need, before your need to plan their funeral.

FINDING JOY IN THE JOURNEY

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Finding joy in our journey here on earth at times can seem daunting as life’s challenges and obstacles can create sometimes seemingly overwhelming sadness, sorrow and depression. Overcoming this cycle many of us find ourselves in at one point or another in this life is key to finding that lasting joy we all seek.  It is upon learning, understanding, believing and then acting upon the belief, that we are in control of our own happiness and joy, that we can finally take control of our own lives. We can discover the true joy that exists and that we alone control.  Perspective, gratitude and focus are some of the most powerful tools we have at our own personal disposal to change our own lives and find Joy in the journey.  We alone control these tools, ones that can be used to change or destroy our lives.  The choice is ours and ours alone, no one else can control that choice but ourselves.

Perspective and how we view ourselves, others around us, the circumstances we find ourselves in and the world around is critical to the level of happiness and joy we can attain in this life.  By shifting our perspective towards a more positive outlook and looking at things from a broader view of the world we can eliminate much of our self doubt we encounter along the way.  We will discover as we look through different lenses that the most difficult of life’s events can be overcome and that these moments can make us stronger. We will gain wisdom, understanding and clarity as we widen our view with which we see things.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

Gratitude provides us the opportunity in our lives to see the blessings we are given each day.  As we identify and write down the things we are grateful for our hearts and minds will be opened to seeing the positive in our lives.   It may be as simple as a shirt on our backs, a dry place to sleep, to our children and families.  Sincere gratitude for what we have in our lives and the blessings we are given, opens our hearts to recognizing that happiness does not come from no problems in our lives, it comes from our abilities to handle the problems we are given.  Epicurus said it best “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” Be grateful in all things.

Focus is a fundamental key to finding joy in our lives,  The law of attraction is immensely powerful, we attract into our lives that which we focus upon. Finding a clear perspective in everything allows us to master this law of attraction and bring these things into our lives we all desire, for “man is that he might have joy.”  The things that we focus upon in life are the things we attract in our life.  If we spend our time and effort focusing upon the negative things that happen to us, our circumstances, or what we deem “unfair” we will attract more the those negative situations into our lives.  An individual who is sick and spends their time focused on the sickness, always seems to get more sick.  Individuals who focus on others, and service to others, are always surrounded by great friends while those that focus inward and their loneliness, find themselves more lonely.  A positive focus in life will bring about positive effects in our lives.  We master that where we spend our time and energy (focus).

Our lives are meant to be filled with happiness, joy and love.    We alone control our success or failure in these areas.  We are the captain of our own ship, the choices we make with our perspectives, gratitude and focus will determine the level of success in life we find.

“At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets.”  Steve Maraboli

I OFTEN SIT IN SILENCE, I OFTEN SIT ALONE – A Fathers Heartache Part 9

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Last night was my sons annual football banquet.  Each year I put together a highlight video for the boys and their families to watch, each boy is given a copy as a memento of the season.  Last night was no exception and after hours of preparation the video was again ready to go and copies made for each boy.

I arrived at the restaurant early to make certain that everything was ready to go and that video would play on their televisions. Once this was finished I anxiously waited for my boy to arrive.  I hadn’t seen him in days and was excited for the opportunity to talk with him.  I quietly sat and  waited about twenty minutes for him to arrive. 

Suddenly I felt him place his arms around my shoulders as he hugged me and said hi dad, I love you.  My heart swelled momentarily until I heard his mother sternly inform him that he couldn’t sit with me and had to sit with her.  I watched a sadness appear on his face as he gave me another quick hug, whispered I love you and went to sit near his mother.   As I surveyed the room, I noticed that the other boys were all sitting together in the center tables, my dear boy was sitting head down next to his mother as he quietly obeyed her demands.

I sat there, my heart aching for my boy as he humbly and dutifully did as he was instructed, all the while watching the other boys laugh and play.  I was grateful to see his mothers friend arrive nearly 30 minutes later when she finally allowed him to sit with his friends, so she could have her moment to “talk”. 

Alone I sat at my table, watching my boy both quietly sitting next to his mother and also as he laughed with his friends. I fought the tears and anger at the way his mother controlled him.  I thought to myself how much I would have loved  to have been able to sit with him, yet this was his night to be with his friends, it wasn’t about what I wanted, it should have been about what he wanted, this was his night for him and his team.

I often sit in silence.  I often sit alone.  The numbness from the continual hurt at watching my kids many times from a distance pierces my soul.  I hunger for the days when they can express their love for me, their dad, without fear of the reaction from their mother.  My only hope and prayer is that one day my children will come to grasp the magnitude of my love and devotion for them, even if at times it is from a distance created by others…

A BLESSED WEEK – A Fathers Heartache part 7

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The school that my children attend is year round.  They are on a track schedule where they are out of school for 3 weeks and then go back for 12 weeks and then off again.  During the 3 weeks from school, I am able to spend time with them for one week during each off track cycle.   I look forward with great anticipation for this golden moment in time.  This is a time for my children and I to reconnect, a time when we can let our walls down and strengthen our relationship.

Last week was one of those precious moments in time that I treasure above everything else.

I left the office at noon everyday last week in an effort to maximize every single second I could with my dear children.  We went to the movies, the arcade, the ballpark.  We carved our pumpkins and went for hikes.  We laughed and we cried together.  It is in these tender moments of mercy that I am able to have with my children that keep me energized and capable of continuing on during the difficult times in between.

My children were able to participate in the primary program on Sunday. I fought the tears as I watched them sing and give their little parts during the program.  It was the first time I had ever been able to see them in a primary program, I savored the moment watching them.  During dinner Sunday night, my dear wife asked the kids what they liked most about spending this week with us, the answer that my son gave me brought tears to my eyes as he replied, “our family and being part of it.” Words are incapable of expressing what I felt at that moment.

Sunday night, as I sat on the couch with Londyn laying in one arm and Bridger laying on the other, we reflected together on the fun times we had during the week.  I was able to tell both of them how deeply I love them and how grateful I am to be their dad.  We cried together as we felt the realization that our week together was coming to a close.  We took courage and strength in knowing this would be a short week apart as the coming Halloween and weekend would be spent together, our first Halloween that had fallen on a night with dad.

As I dropped them off early Monday morning, on my way to work, I thanked my Father in Heaven for the time I was able to spend with them.  I pondered the coming silence I knew would take place without the phone calls and communication.  I looked forward to the coming weekend and holding them in my arms again.

I live for these moments with my children.  I yearn to be a full time dad to them, to tuck them in each night and to hug and kiss them each day.  It is through the weeks like we just shared that I know I am making a difference in their lives, and they in mine.

ABSENTEE FATHERS AND THE SYSTEM THAT CREATES IT

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I have spent innumerable hours fighting for the ability to stay an active father in the lives of my children.  My ex wife has always believed that children are the property of the mother and as such they belong exclusively to her.  She treats them as property, to be used for her own purposes instead of human beings, little children.  This opinion of hers and many others,  has over the years necessitated my need to fight  to ensure that my children’s rights are not trampled, especially in relation to them having a relationship with both parents.

As a result of these behaviors I have been very vocal about my feelings with regards to the rights of children.   They are too often overlooked and discounted in the process of separation and divorce.  States such as Utah have a very antiquated idea in the  opinions of children and the rights of children in divorce.  The mother is granted custody 100% of the time in Utah unless otherwise contested by the father.  Even when custody is contested by the father, the mother still ends up with custody 85% of the time.  These statistics in the Utah courts only fuel the opinions and ideas that people such as my ex have towards their children.  The maximum parent time in Utah for non custodial parents allowed, unless otherwise agreed to by both parties is the non custodial parent receives one 4 1/2 hour visit per week and alternating weekends and holidays.  This results in a child spending a total of 120 total hours per month, with a minimum of 16 of those hours spent sleeping.  This is the equivalent of only 5 days a month.

Many  of the problems our youth face are a result of the father not being a significant enough role model in their lives, and fathers not being in the home with their children.

  • One in 3 children in the U.S. live in homes without a father.
  • Children in fatherless homes are 4 times more likely to live in poverty.
  • Youth in fatherless homes have a significantly higher incarceration rate.
  • Father involvement in school has a direct impact on their grades

We see continual benefits for our children when fathers can play an active role in the lives of their children.  Study after study supports this, yet we see the blatant disregard for this within the family court system.  Our laws and our societal opinions actually contradict the value of fathers in society.  Take for example the maximum visitation for primarily the father in a family friendly state like Utah.  The laws protect the mother while forcing distance between the children and their fathers.  Mothers can deny visitation to the father in Utah with no real consequences as the courts view them as the preferred parent as is evidence in the custody rulings.  When visitation is denied, the father is informed it is a civil matter and must go back into court to correct at their cost.  In court, the mother is told not to do it again and the process repeats itself.

On a national scale, abortion is considered the woman’s right to choose.  No thought is ever given to the rights of the child or the father in this matter, thus eliminating from society the role of a father and their importance.  We have in essence, in our society determined by our laws and our actions that fathers are of minimal importance.  We wonder why so many fathers end up moving on with life and leaving behind the children, yet we force a father to fight daily just to maintain the ability to be of significance in the child’s life.  Limited time with the children and countless obstacles to make visits possible are at times overwhelming and deeply discouraging.

We have proven that the role of the fathers is of utmost importance to the future and success of our children, yet pass laws that are counter to these studies.  After we have by our laws and legislation made the role of fathers insignificant, why would we then question why our children show aggressive tendencies and behavior?  Why they struggle in school?  why they commit crime at a higher rate? It is crazy to think that we can correct the problems without addressing the deeper causes behind why many fathers are absent.  They are absent not by choice, but by our laws that take no interest in preserving and protecting  their role as fathers.

Our children deserve BOTH parents equally in their lives.  Our future depends on it.

 

http://www.fatherhood.org/media/consequences-of-father-absence-statistics

 

 

 

MY PRINCESS WITH A HEART OF GOLD AND A BROKEN WING – A Fathers Heartache part 6

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My dear sweet little girl turns 9 next month.  She was only 20 months old when my ex left.  Over the years this precious little girl has experienced tremendous turmoil in her life.  The man that my ex left with turned out to be very abusive physically and emotionally, not only to my ex but to my children.  My kids would tell me stories of his abuse, how they would hide together under the bed every time this man became angry, which apparently happened a lot.

When my kids were little, I used to be frustrated at finally getting to spend time with them and they would crash!  Within 20 minutes of my getting them they would be fast asleep.  This happened nearly every single time for two plus years.  I longed to play with them and to be able to spend quality time, yet each time they would come over they would spend the vast majority of our time together sleeping.  I would normally sit on the couch holding both of them, one in each arm for hours as they peacefully slept.  This was difficult for me to have my time with them spent sleeping.

I spoke with a friend who is a psychologist to express my feelings about this.   She informed me that my kids were falling asleep so quickly because they felt peaceful and safe with me.   Their lives were in such disarray and turmoil that they were exhausted when they came with me, the peace they felt allowed them to relax and fall asleep.  She told me that they needed this time desperately.  I was relieved to know why, yet heartbroken to think that they would be living this way with their mom.

My daughter was being potty trained at the time that my ex left and married him, as you can imagine, all the changes and turmoil led to many accidents for her.  Bridger expressed their fear to me again one night and told me how Londyn had been spanked hard bare bottom for having an accident and how Wade had yelled and yelled at her until she was too scared to even move.

I confronted them on their doorstep that night regarding this, I had called the police and met them at the house.   The police simply told me it was a civil matter and I needed to go to court again to resolve this issue.  Again I headed into the courtroom to protect my children from this abuse.  The judges ruling was appalling.  Since it was not her mother abusing her she would not change the custody and I was reprimanded for getting the police involved.

Needless the say my children have experienced much pain and heartache over the years as a result of the many men my ex has brought in and out of their lives.  This has created, especially for my precious little girl, an emotional distance from people.  I see the walls she has built to protect her tender little heart.  I see glimpses of hope in  her eyes as time goes by, especially during the times when she is with us for longer than a weekend.  Those few opportunities each year that they get to spend more than 2 days in a row in our home seem to open her up where she can express her love.

Londyn is my Angel With Broken Wings.  My heart aches each time I see her struggle to say I love you to anyone.  Her heart is so incredibly large, she is the first one in the family to help others.  She shows her love through her actions each and everyday of her life, yet the emotional sharing and connections she struggles with deeply as a result of what she has experienced.

We try so hard to carefully help her take down her walls.  My wife and I focus on her needs as they relate to feeling unconditionally the love and acceptance and safety in our home.  As she gets older, she is able to more effectively express her thoughts which have led to a greater opportunity for those moments when she will share her feelings.   I make certain that the days when Bridger has practice and Londyn does not have cheer when they are with me that time is sacred time for Londyn and I.  We have our regular daddy daughter time when it is all about her and her needs.   I wish deeply that I could have more opportunities to spend one on one time with her.

A couple of times each month I will have lunch with her at school.  Each time I walk into the school cafeteria her eyes will light up and she scoots over to make room for me at the table with her friends.  It warms my heart with each opportunity to sit at the table with her and her friends as they talk about school and their recess plans.  The hugs in school when I leave are getting stronger and stronger.  She will whisper in my ear each time I love you daddy, thank you!  I pray that these little things that I am able to do will help to heal her broken wings.

I dream of the day when I can see my little girl soar.  When her tender heart has healed enough to be able to fly on her own.  When sharing her feelings and emotions with those she loves comes naturally.  In the meantime, I watch her put on a brave smile everyday as she tries to conquer the world, while knowing how much her tender heart aches.  She is a Princess, with a heart of gold and a broken wing.

THE DAILY HEARTACHE – A Fathers Heartache part 5

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The hole in my heart never leaves.  I feel its presence with each heartbeat.  I feel the pain with each breath I take.

There isn’t a single day when my heart doesn’t ache from missing my children.  Each morning as I drive to work my thoughts are on them.  I wonder what outfit they wore to school.  I wonder how they did on yesterdays test.  I wonder how they slept.  I worry that they didn’t eat breakfast. I wonder how practice went, how Londyn is doing with her cheer classes and how football is going for Bridger.

These thoughts race through my mind complicated by the lack of communication I am able to have with them.  Sometimes they will sneak me a text message from their ipod when their mom isn’t looking just to say I love you dad!  I live for those precious little messages and moments in life when they aren’t with me.  While I drive, my mind stays focused on them, I fight the urge to cry as I long to see them, to hear their voices and talk with them, to see their smiles and feel their hugs.

I yearn for the time when my children can spend time with me without the shadow of the issues we are forced to deal with from others.  I see the sorrow in their own eyes with each goodbye, as they too know that the communication and contact will be vacant from their lives until our next visit.  I know all too well the pain that I feel daily, I see that same pain in my children’s precious tender hearts with each hug and kiss goodbye.  We hold on just a little longer and little tighter each time we part.

I worry what this does to my children.  I get angry that someone would hurt their children in this manner.  I get angry that by her choices to leave our family and run away with another man that my dear children are forced to suffer and hurt.  My heart explodes in sorrow each time I think about the life that has been forced upon them by her actions.

Then I take a deep breath and slowly let it out.  I regain my composure and put on my happy face for the day.  Time to work.  I take a few moments to look at the blessings I do have in my life.  I have amazing children, including sweet Alexa,  whom I love deeply and they love me.  I have the most wonderful and amazing wife possible, who’s unquestionable love and devotion to our family and myself provides deep rooted anchors in my soul for me to weather the heartache.  I have a beautiful, kind loving mother who never fails me and 5 brothers who will always be there.

I realize daily that I have been surrounded by loved ones to strengthen me so that I in turn can be strong for my dear children.  I only pray that they can borrow my strength so that their tender little hearts aren’t shattered.

BRIDGERS COURAGE – A Fathers Heartache part 4

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My son is devoted to his football team.  He loves playing football, he even turned down a trip to Disneyland with me so he wouldn’t miss a practice, he wouldn’t let his team down.  He has spent the past 3 1/2 years playing quarterback and loves to be in the middle of all the action.  His team took 2nd place two years ago and are the defending champions from last year.  Sports have helped keep my dear boy on stable ground during all the tumult of his short little life.  In spite of all his mothers moves, we have been able to keep him on the same teams throughout these years which has allowed him to develop some deep friendships on the team, many of the boys play on the same competitive football, basketball and lacrosse teams.

One week ago today after practice Bridger called me, which is extremely rare and NEVER happens so I knew something was up. I could hear the sorrow in his voice as he fought back the emotion coming from his broken heart.  I quietly listened to my son through his cracking voice as he told me that the coaches had decided to bench him because he missed a block in Saturdays game.  Immediately my mind raced back to Saturdays game and I could recall the block he missed, I couldn’t forget it as I vividly remember the assistant coaches tirade directed toward my son from the sidelines.  As a parent, it is often difficult to hold my tongue when a coach goes off on the 11 year old boys.  I choose instead to discuss privately with the coaches that my opinion is that the yelling is overboard and that they can be more effective and get better play from the boys with a calm criticism instead of the ranting and raving.

My heart ached for my son.  I knew how deeply important this is to him.  I know all too well that this is what has helped my son cope with the heartaches he feels and the sorrow at not being able to see me when he wants.  Sports, especially football have been a lifeline for him, he has devoted himself to his team and being there for them.  His example of commitment and what that includes has been inspiring to me.  His focus and dedication to practice and game time has been exemplar.  My immediate thought as a loving father was how can they do this to him for one play?  Wisely I kept my tongue and asked first how he was doing with the change.  His voice broke now, with tears as he told me he understood and wanted what was best for his team.

Now it was my turn to fight back the emotion and the tears as my heart broke for my son.  I cleared my throat and asked him what now.  He informed me that the coaches said he could play on special teams and fill in at safety.  I asked him who the new quarterback was going to be and if he would still be the backup.  He quietly told me that it was the coaches son who would take his place and that he wouldn’t even be backing him up.  Never in my life had I had to deal with the politics of little league sports in this manner.  How can I explain to my son that it is ok that after 3 1/2 years in his position and being very successful in it that he was now taken out so that the coaches son, who had never even taken a snap could be the star player?

Then as I was fighting the building frustration at the incredulous politics of little league football, my son said, “it’s OK dad, it will be best for the team.  i just want our team to do well.”  My son reinforced in me at that moment that all the long conversations over the years we had shared, about being a leader, about teamwork, about lifting those around you and making them better, about how leaders lead from example, that these conversations had sunk in.  My boy understood more about life, more about people, more about leadership, more about compassion than most adults do.

Sadly, the call had to end as I could hear his mother telling him he had to get off the phone now.  I expressed my deep love and admiration for my boy as he quietly whispered, “I love you Dad” as he hung up the phone.

My heart was breaking for more reasons than my sons sorrow.  It was full of love and gratitude with the knowledge that although our time is extremely limited and our moments to talk rare, my son had learned the important things in life that I have tried so hard to teach him.  My efforts have not been in vain and those small moments of time when we are together have impacted my sons life.  I had made a difference in his life that I never thought possible given the circumstances we were forced into.  I ached to hold my son in my arms and comfort him, yet I knew he could feel my arms around him without me being next to him to hold him.

Saturdays game came. The team suffered their worst loss of the year.  I watched him as he awkwardly paced the sidelines while his offensive teammates were on the field.  I watched as he cheered for his friends and congratulated the new quarterback when he made a good play, i could see his heartache and longing to be in the game written in his eyes, yet he hid that from his team. I took tremendous pride as I watched as my son stepped in on defense and prevented 2 touchdowns. Yet during all this, he made a contribution to his team that I am not certain even the other boys realize,  my son showed by tremendous courage and true leadership on Saturday. Although he wasn’t the one leading the offense, he led the team from the sidelines with his quiet courage and strength as he accepted willingly the decisions others had made, while cheering on his teammates in a futile loss.  My son has learned that choices of others impact everyone, even his own.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN – The Personal Perspective

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We have all heard the mantra “No Pain, No Gain”.  We see this in the local gym and is referred to most often in terms of exercise and physical fitness.   This too applies to personal growth.

I have often stated that I would never change anything in my life because the struggles I have personally experienced have made me the man that I am today.  I look back over my challenges and I can see clearly the growth in personal strength, an increase in my compassion, understanding and wisdom that could never have been developed within me without the struggles of life.  Just as in the gym, with pain comes gain.   The greater the pain, the greater the opportunity for gain.

Our lives are filled with wonder, opportunities and joys.  Many times these treasures are overshadowed by the heartache, grief and sorrow that also come with life.  I have many family and friends whom have experienced much greater trials and obstacles than my own.  As I have watched the different methods that each of them have employed in overcoming said obstacles I am struck by the differences in personal outcome depending upon the method chosen to handle the trials.

There are several differing ways that people handle trials.  One is to blame others, including God.  Another is to accept that trials are a part of this life and try with grace and dignity to overcome them.

Life is not fair!  There are no limits to challenges that some will face. 

My experience with those that play the blame game in their trials in life actually create more obstacles and hurt in life.  As we blame others, we build the walls that keep out the very help that we can receive from others that will aide us in overcoming.  Blaming creates hate and poison within us that actually cause us further harm, it weakens us physically, mentally and spiritually thus creating for ourselves additional challenges and trials in life.  This includes the blame game that many play of blaming themselves.  Blaming others or ourselves actually creates PAIN, where there can be NO GAIN.

When we choose to accept the trials that are before us, no matter the difficulty or the journey with the effort to understand and use them for personal growth and development we allow others into our lives whom can help us and oftentimes teach us through their own experiences in ways to handle trials with dignity.    Trials in life are meant to help us gain something that we could otherwise not achieve.  Some of the greatest leaders that have ever lived have experienced tremendous personal loss and burdens in their lives.  Great leaders have always used that heartache to grow and then share that growth and wisdom they have learned in ways that lift and help others they encounter.

I have had opportunities in life where I have been able to experience the pain that deep personal heartache can bring.  I have spent times on both sides of this equation.  It is through the deepest of despair that I led myself into while blaming others for choices that affected me that I was taught this lesson.   When I began to embrace my heartache with the knowledge that I was going through this and I could come out a bitter individual or a wiser one, I chose the latter.  It wasn’t easy to change my outlook.  I am deeply grateful that I did.

Tremendous growth comes from tremendous pain when allowed to work within us. When against our challenges, and we play the blame game we create more pain and postpone the gain or growth that will occur within us.  Our perseverance and acceptance will help us through our struggles in the healthiest manner possible, which will more fully open our eyes to the wonder, opportunities and joy of life that exist for each of us thus enabling each of us to grow and become what we are destined to become.

 

FOUR HOURS – A Fathers Heartache part 2

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Four hours… that’s it.   One weekday visit of four hours.  The time flies by, so many things race through my tired mind as I pull up to the school to see my children.   My heart is pounding again with the anticipation of their little arms around my neck hugging tightly as we embrace.

I have spent this week in a convention for work in Southern, California.   After a week of meetings I anxiously jumped in the car Wednesday afternoon with the sole purpose of being home on time to see my little ones.  I allowed myself plenty of time to get home and experience any delays.  My life is planned around this four hour window of weekly time, especially during the weeks when I don’t see them on the weekend.  Two traffic jams and 14 hours later I arrived home with little time to sleep.  The adrenaline at the excitement of seeing my children was sufficient to propel me through the shortened workday Thursday.  Anxiously and exhausted I left my office and found myself standing under the familiar tree at the schoolyard where I wait for my children each week.

Off in the schoolyard I see the blonde heads of two children as they weave in and out of the other children as they race to me.  They race into my arms and as we hug, I fight the tears again of gratitude and joy of seeing them.  Our little time is precious.  As my kids have gotten older, the Thursday visits aren’t like they used to be.   The activities that keep my kids grounded with normalcy in their lives often make their way into our short weekly visit.  These make for our time together all the more fleeting, yet deep down inside as I fight the pain of our shortened time together, I realize with great love that I have for them that this is what they need.  The dance, football, basketball and soccer provide my children with the opportunity to live and enjoy life, free from the sorrow that has been brought upon us by another persons choices.

Quickly, we head for home.  The car ride is full of conversation as the kids talk over one another in the excitement to tell me about their week.  I catch up on school and how the assignments are coming.  We talk about the tests they have that week as we make certain they are prepared.   The spelling lists, vocabulary lists, the math, all discussed on our 20 minute drive home.   Their mother prevents us from talking on the phone during the weeks.   Our only conversation occurs during these short visits or on the semi monthly trips I make to eat school lunch with them, just to see them again.

We get home where we can play with the dog and get something to eat.  I sign their homework assignments for the day as we finish them, and then we are off to drop my son at football practice.  Oh how he loves football, he works so hard at it,   It has been good for him.  I remember the first day when he told me he had landed the starting Quarterback position.  How his eyes lit up!!   He was so proud of his accomplishment and I was so proud of the young man and leader he was becoming.  I pray daily for them to continue to press forward with their goals in life, so they can overcome the obstacles we are presented with.

On the way to football they call their mom to let them know that my son stopped at home to get the football gear.  I hear her ask them how their day was.  I find myself fighting down the pain, anger and frustration at the irony of her preventing our phone calls.  How I desire to be given the same.  I replace the hurt as I focus on the deep love for my children, the desire of mine to keep them free from the heartache at my home from this situation.  I focus on my desire to love them and not allow them to be hurt when in my presence and painfully I swallow the bitter pill, consuming it internally so that my children can be free of the poison, if only for a short time while they are with me.

Two of the four hours, my son is at football.   Sometimes we watch his practice, however today was some quality daddy daughter time.   I ask my 8 year old daughter where she would like to go…  She wants to look at Halloween costumes so we spend the next couple hours looking at costumes while we walk hand in hand with her skipping along, she talks incessantly.   We talk more about her cheer classes, we talk about school, her friends.  She asks about her step mom and sisters, who are out of town at a different convention.  She asks me about my trip and how it was.  She squeezes my hand and says I love you dad!  My heart melts, the tears form, as I fight the emotion from overwhelming me.

The two hours with my daughter fly by.. she sings roar and the fox song to me on the way to the football fields.   I smile and sing along with her.  We get my son and head home for him to change, we grab a pizza on the way.  They play with the dog, eat pizza and we laugh about silly things.

It’s again time for them to go home.   I dread this time.  It is always painful for me and wish how it didn’t have to be this way.   The drive to their moms is never long enough.  Never enough time.  We talk.  They inform me that they are moving again, this will be the 10th move in 7 years at their moms.   My heart breaks for them again with the constant change.   I wonder why they can’t stay with me permanently in the home they know and love.  We don’t move.  We stay in one place.  I wonder why her and this husband can’t stay in one place.  I wonder why my kids must suffer for the choices of their mother.  I wonder why the courts believe that the mom is always the best place for the kids.

We arrive..  I keep the tears in check as I tell them how much I love them.  I promise to see them at the football game on Saturday.  We hug,  We Kiss and then it’s another goodbye… they are gone for another 7 days, 168 hours, 10,080 minutes, 604,800 seconds until I can talk to them again.  As my dear children walk away, the tears are now flowing freely, my heart is breaking again, my sorrow is full.  On my drive home, I rebuild the walls to keep the emotion at bay as I begin looking forward to the next week.  It will be better, we have the weekend.