I know a lot of us have been there, or are even currently in the process of splitting up with the other parent of our children, and it’s a heartbreaking time to say the least.
I’d like to share my story and show you that there can be light at the end of that dark, seemingly endless tunnel.
2012 was the worst year in my life.
I was a stay at home dad. I had quit my full time job as a junior sous chef in 2008 as I had no time with my fiancée and children, and as she earned a lot more than me at the time, it seemed like the sensible decision.
I had a part time evening job and things seemed to be working out ok for us (or so I thought).
My older brother, the best father figure I had ever known, unfortunately passed away on 2nd January 2012 after his transplanted heart gave up after 11 years.
I was heartbroken and I still am.
My grandfather then died a few months later, which knocked me even further down the pit of dispair. But, I tried to focus on my partner and my kids and our lives together.
Skip ahead to September 23rd. The children and I made breakfast and wrapped presents for Mummy’s birthday. We all sat together around the table laughing and having a great morning. The plan was to then take them all out for the day as a treat.
After breakfast my partner seemed to be taking a lifetime to get ready to go. She hadn’t come back downstairs and the kids and I were getting restless. I ventured upstairs to see what was happening and saw her packing my suitcase.
She told me she had fallen out of love with me and I had to leave.
There was no discussion and the kids, who had followed me upstairs, were now crying in the bedroom doorway.
Not wanting to cause anymore distress I agreed to leave and let her calm down. Within 5 minutes I was sat in my car, with a suitcase full of pants, socks and t-shirts, watching the pouring rain batter my windscreen. In the rear view I could see my two kids faces (age 6 and 10) at the front room window all red and wet with tears.
I had no full time job, no money and no where to go.
I spent the next 3 1/2 months living out of my car and crashing on a friend’s sofa. My job would not take me back on full time and I had no idea what to do.
As a single man who had no reason not to work, and who had left the family home “voluntarily”, the council would not help me with housing and I wasn’t entitled to financial support.
Thankfully with the help of friends, some that I hadn’t seen for a long time, and the power of social media, I managed to secure a new job within 6 weeks. I was on my way to getting somewhere with a deposit for a flat that I could share with another mate in the same position as me.
I spent that Christmas alone in my friend’s house while they were out with family.
I cried for hours straight.
Suicidal thoughts were at the forefront of my mind. My life was turning around but I hadn’t seen the kids for weeks because I had no where to take them and communication between their Mum and I was at a dead end.
My friend and I moved into our flat in January 2013 and slowly my life started to improve. Eventually I had my children to stay for the weekend, every other week. After 18 months and a change of flat mate, I was in a good place and felt ready to move on.
At this point I bumped into Emma, an ex girlfriend of mine from before the kids’ mum. It was like we had never been apart.
Jump ahead again to 5th October 2017 and Emma and I had the most amazing wedding day. I now live in a lovely home, my children are with us regularly and we are planning on having our own little person very soon. The relationship between my ex and I is now actually very good.
So, although that tunnel looks never ending and you don’t believe people when they say “it’ll be ok” or “you’ll be alright mate, trust me”, they’re right, it really does get better.
Don’t succumb to the dark thoughts. Your kids need you and they need you to be strong.
Stay strong guys.