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Life after divorce

by Donna Sealy

If there’s one that Alex has learnt in the last 10 years is that anything can happen.

You can either let the situations that come your way break you or you deal with it and move on.

Alex (not his real name) is divorced.

After five years of marriage his wife decided she had enough of his philandering ways, his nonchalant attitude to family and their marriage and left him.

Divorce proceedings didn’t start immediately, in fact they were separated for eight years before it was a done deal.

During that time their two daughters were shuttled between their homes. He moved back home with his parents and she moved in with her lover.

During the early days of their strained relationship, before she moved out, she told him she was pregnant.

He recalled his immediate thought was “it’s not my baby” because by then they had stopped having sex. She was adamant it was until finally she broke down and told him the truth and packed up and left.

She had another child during the period of separation.

After years of introspection, Alex can talk openly about the breakdown of the marriage. He took his blows like a man because he said he contributed to the demise of his relationship even though. So did she he said.

“Divorce wasn’t easy. I know the meaning of the saying ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. [Some people] say she was a bitter woman but maybe I gave her a reason to be. I accept everything that happened because, looking back, I did a good set of wrong. I was looking at it as pay back for me and the majority of things I did that were wrong even though at some points I said ‘no one deserves this’.

“We met, we were together from school then we just grew together. You know when you’re young and impressionable and you just want to follow your friends. Even though I would take care of the household, I still wanted to be one of the guys. I don’t think we ever sat and tried to settle our difference. This was one of things of being married and being young and not having enough people to look up,” he said before sighing loudly.

“You do as you please but that doesn’t always work out. It goes like this: you have a problem and even though you hear people say you don’t go to bed angry but back then if there was a problem you get vex and if she got vex I was out the door and gone. If I came back and she was still vex so be it. I would go to sleep, get up and then go out in the morning. She wanted more and I couldn’t give it to her.

“When I decided that I was going to settle an try to make everything work, maybe it was a bit too late because all the frustrations from before had set in and then at that point in time I was out working to better our lives. She didn’t get that. To her I was out doing what I usually do,” he said.

Her asking for a divorce was not a shock but as his relationship continued to break down, his main concern always centred around his baby girls and he had to wrestle with his emotions after realising that another man would be in their lives.

“At first it made me bitter. Then I grew to accept it because there was nothing I could do at that point. Being young I never sat down with them to try to explain things to them I got frustrated with her frustrations. I was home baby sitting the children and she would be going out with her friends or friend. She would say she needs to get away from this stress.

“How did the girls deal with it. I did everything for them. I became everything to them and we bonded even more,” he said with a smile.

Alex was one of those hands-on dads and did everything he could for his daughters but the living arrangement was not the best.

“At some time it seemed they were taking sides and I had to be cautious about what I did and it was ticklish. You have to work it out because one child was behaving badly and I went to discipline her, she would say ‘my mummy say you can’t do this’ or ‘my mother say you can’t do that’. You have to work your way around that. When children sense a division between parents they use it to their benefit,” Alex asserted.

Today his oldest daughter Tracy, has a child, making him a grandfather at 42. And while he feels he could have done more, such as speaking to her about sex and using birth control, he is over his initial disappointment that she’s a mother when she’s not started to live her life.

Tracy left school “just the other day”, Alex said. He wanted more for her, as most parents want for their children. As he expected, his ex-wife blamed him for letting it happen.

“I never spoke to them about anything so. I thought it was their mother’s job. It is not what I expected or wanted for her. It was shocking but then I looked at the situation I said these things do happen, accept it, there’s nothing I can do about it and make the best of it. She was living with me. She was also with her mother when we were going through the divorce but not for any long period of time.

[Tracy] kept it from me…. She hid it from me. I was caught up with work and didn’t look at her so it slipped me. She didn’t want to face me and tell me. Then, when I discovered it I just accepted it because it already happened.

“I told her that her life had drastically changed because it just wasn’t her fending for herself, it was her and a child. She was now an adult and that’s how the world would look at her. People who would give her things would give the baby. It wasn’t scolding her but schooling her and she had to learn the word responsibility,” he said matter-of factly.

She understood what her dad said and is ensuring that the baby’s father is playing his part in raising his child.

The birth of his grandson has given Alex hope.

He sees it as a chance to start over and avoid the “mistakes” he made with Tracy and Lisa. He is determined to right the wrongs and be a good grandfather.

“When I held him for the first time, I said this child is not going to come out the way they did, this child has to be better, it’s natural for us to think that way. I enjoy being a grandfather,” he said with a laugh.

During his tribulations he met someone and she has been with him through everything including some very nasty bouts.

He shared that she wants to have a child and whereas he dismissed it before he’s seriously contemplating it now.

His reason?

He wants to make her happy.

“She’s in my life she was there every step of the way and honestly, I’m thinking about another child. I can’t say yes or no at this stage,” Alex said.

In his 40s, he’s been divorced for two years now and has moved on.

As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20/20, and so armed with the knowledge from that brutal lesson, Alex said he’s ready to step positively onto a new path. He is ready mentally and spiritually for whatever life throws his way.

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