Yesterday and today was/is another hard day. I gave her the divorce papers last friday. She has an appointment tuesday with her lawyer to look them over.
I just feel sad. Crying. Praying she will change her mind. Its painful. I need to work but I just can't put my mind into my work.
I don't cry in front of her. I keep a stiff upper lip.
Everyone keeps saying it will hit her once this other guy is out of her life. I don't think so, I don't see that anymore.
Someone said it best when they described this like grieving over a loved one that just died. Thats what I feel like.
I try to hate her, I try to get mad. But I just can't.
We don't talk at all when we are in the house together.
I just hate these roller coaster emotions. Its like I'm back to square one.
I just hope we can get this done fast enough and she can go so I can heal. I know seeing my kids go will kill me even more. Just thinking about it makes me cry.
I just feel like I'm in Limbo. My wife has someone and is all happy and I'm just slipping into a bottomless pit.
I just never want to feel like this again, it's too much.
Let's start by putting your situation in perspective. None of your children have died. You have not been diagnosed with terminal cancer. You do not live in an impoverished or oppressed nation with no hope for the future. Actually, despite your present difficulties, you have a life that billions of fellow human being would swap theirs for in a heartbeat if they could. So stop looking at this as the end of the world and start counting your blessings.
You are at the beginning of a new journey that will change your life. You can choose to look at that as "bad news" but it may also be "good news," depending on how you respond. If you take charge and start doing what you need to do
, I can all but guarantee that you will end up with a much better life than you ever had before.
I'll describe in a minute the things you should do now, but let me first explain why you need to do them. Basically, your goal should be to make yourself into the best man
you can be. If you do this, one of two things will happen (or maybe both): (1) you will attract desirable woman and eventually find one who appreciates you, loves you and wants to spend her life with you or (2) your WW will come out of her fog, realize what she is losing and desperately want you to take her back. You will regain your confidence and life will be fun again. You will make new friends, do many more fun things than you ever did before and be more successful professionally. Your children will respect you more. You will find life more satisfying and fulfilling than ever before. OK, I know this sounds like an infomercial for some wacky diet plan but, trust me, it's true.
What do you need to do? It's all about the three A's: appearance, attitude and actions. Appearance
I put appearance first on the list because it's the easiest category of things you can do right now to improve your life.
There's an old saying that "appearance is everything." While this is a bit of an overstatement, it nevertheless holds a lot of truth. Human beings react to others' appearance -- and this is the important point -- the way people react to us affects us profoundly
. It's no coincidence that good looking people generally have a better self-image: people treat them better so they feel better about themselves. Thus, our appearance is critical to our mental well-being.
The goal is to be as physically attractive as possible, to both men and woman, young and old, friends and foes. The more attractive you are, the better people will treat you -- all people. The better people treat you, the better you will feel about yourself. The better you feel about yourself, the more able you will be to make the other changes that you need to make in your life to be happy.
There are four aspects of attractiveness: health, physical fitness, dress and grooming. Let's take them in the reverse order.
Good grooming is the easist way of improving your attractiveness and showing others that you respect yourself. I assume you know what a well-groomed man looks like (good haircut, shaved, teeth brushed, nails clean, etc.). Make this the first thing you do everyday so that everybody (including your WW and children) always see you in the best light.
Dress is also important. You don't have to look like a million bucks but you should look good. That means wearing stylish clothes that project the proper image. Again, you need to dress well for all occasions, even if you're just kicking around the house. Your WW, your children, your family and friends and even strangers need to see you as a well-dressed man at all times.
Physical fitness is important because a lean, muscular guy gets more respect from everybody, and the respect of others translates into more self-respect. Being physically fit isn't hard, but it does require self-discipline, effort and consistency. Lay off the booze, eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep. These things may be hard right now but, if you really try, they will become easier over time and the rewards will be amazing.
Finally, health. If you have any health problems, now is the time to address them. Sick people are just not attractive, nor do they have the strength and stamina to make improvements in their lives. Attitude
I know what you are going through is playing havoc with your emotions and this will continue for quite some time. But, as human beings, we all have the ability to put on a face to mask our pain and disappointment. It's easier for some than for others but everybody can do it if they really want to. As Shakespeare said, "All the worlds a stage and all men and woman ... players." Attitude is all about acting the part that's right for you.
What should your attitude be right now? You should project personal integrity, warmth and kindness, emotional and physical strength and stoic indifference to your personal problems. I know, you don't feel like this but, trust me, if you play the part, your feelings will actually change.
Your WW should see a man whose attitude says,
"I'm disappointed with what you've done but I understand that there is nothing more I can do to win you back so I'm going to get on with my life. I don't hate you for this and I even understand that I failed you in some ways. But you're the one that decided to cheat and, in the end, you will have to live with that for the rest of your life. I wish to get along with you for the sake of our children, whom we both love. But I will not let what you've done prevent or what you do in the future me from being happy. If you need something from me, I will give it to you if I can, but not at the expense of my own needs. I wish you happiness and hope that you wish the same for me."
Your children should see man whose attitude says,
"I love you very much and will always be here for you. I am sad about what has happened between your mother and me but I will not let that affect in any way how I treat you. I still respect your mother and want her to be a part of your lives. I will do what I can to comfort you but I will also expect you to make good decisions and act appropriately at all times. I am and always will be your father and you are and always will be my children, and there is no power on earth that can ever change that. You can trust and rely on me.'
Your family, friends and colleagues should see a man whose attitude says,
"My wife has dishonored her marriage vows and shown no remorse despite my attempts to win her back. Therefore, I have no choice but to divorce her and get on with my life. I will continue to be a good father to my children. I will also continue to meet my professional and personal obligations. I am strong and dependable and will get through this just fine. I am confident that, eventually, I will be happy again. While I am naturally disappointed with what has happened, I am at peace with myself and the world."
And, most importantly, you
should see a man whose attitude says,
"I can deal with the pain this has caused me because I must for the sake of my children and, most importantly, for myself. I may cry from time to time but I will do it in private. I may get angry at times but I will never let my anger show. I am unsure of the future but I will move forward in confidence because I have already proved to myself that I can face up to life's challenges and overcome adversity. I will do my best to treat others, even my WW, in the way that I wish to be treated. I will always try to act in a way that I can look myself in the mirror in the morning and say, I did my best no matter what adversity life threw at me. If I make a mistake or fail in any way, I will admit it, learn from it, pick myself up and do better the next time. I will live my life, grateful for what I have and not complaining about what I don't. I will be the best man I can be, not only for myself but for all the people who love and depend on me."
This is the attitude that you need to project to the world. At first, it will be hard and you will slip up often. But you'll get better at it and, eventually, it will become easier. Why? Because eventually you will begin to believe it and your attitude really will change.
Here's a tip. If you're ever in a quandary over how to deal with a situation, think about an actor or two who played roles you really admire. For an old guy like me, it's John Wayne (the strong, silent type) and Cary Grant (the devil-may-care sophisticate). When I'm in a situation and am not sure what my attitude should be, I ask myself how they would they have reacted. It's amazing how quickly it helps you figure things out.
Here's another tip. Smile a lot. A smile denotes happiness and contentment. People react positively to a smile. And a smile can disarm many a difficult situation. Actions
Sorry, but I need to give you another adage: "Actions speak louder than words." No truer statement was ever uttered. It is not what we say but what we do that reveals our goals, values and character. I left this for last because it is the hardest part of our lives to change, precisely because our actions are a reflection of our goals, values and character. A dishonest person finds it difficult to be truthful, a self-centered person difficult to be kind to others, etc. Nevertheless, despite our failings, we can -- if we try -- begin to act in a manner that more closely resembles the person we want to be and, in the process, we can actually change ourselves. The thing to understand is that action proceeds change, not other way around. We don't start doing the right thing because we've changed, we begin to change when we start doing the right thing.
So, if for example we want to be happy, we have to do the things that happy people do. You're not happy right now, but nothing prevents you from doing the things that will make you happy. Perhaps it's spending more time with your children, or being more socially engaged with family and friends, or becoming active in community service or charitable work, or playing sports, or ... well, you know better than I what will make you happy. The point is to start doing the things you would do if you were happy with your life and, lo and behold, you will actually start to be happier.
As I said, this is the hardest of the three A's but, ultimately, this is what you are working toward. Appearance and attitude lay the groundwork for your return to a happy life, but you won't get there until your start to live
a happy life. And there's no reason you can't start living it now, if only in a small way (taking baby steps at first).
Of course, do not lose sight of your two main responsibilities -- your children and your profession. Do the things a good father does -- spend time with your kids, do fun things and be patient with them. And be the best police officer you can be. Not only can you take enormous pride in your work -- I and I'm sure everybody on TAM admires you for it -- you will advance your career to the benefit of your children and the person who you eventually decide to share your life with.
This may sound like a daunting list of tasks but, if you think about it, you will realize that you've been doing most of it all your life. You just need to refocus and improve in the areas where you were a bit lacking. Having a conscious plan of improvement will help take your mind off your problems better than any drugs or counseling could do (although, if you need counseling, don't be afraid to get it). Don't just think about what you need to do, write it down, keep a list, check it from time to time to help yourself stay on track. When you've gotten comfortable with one goal, move on to another. Keep making progress. Don't just sit around thinking about your problems, do something about them.
It's your life. Begin to live it the way you want, starting with small improvements. As Lao-Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Take the first step today.