How I Thrived After My Divorce and Losing My Daughter
Mistakes can haunt you, but what they don’t tell you is that the reverberation of your actions can lead you down a path you never even imagined. By doing the right thing, I have grown disillusioned with the entire system. Get ready for some brutal honesty and a glimpse into my mind.
As I write this, it is my daughter’s birthday. And I can’t see her or even talk to her. I made an attempt to tell her happy birthday, but her grandparents would trade her happiness for any chance to hurt me. They do this despite the insane amount of money they got. Over a quarter million dollars over 5 years, just so I could escape a marriage from a drug addict that consistently chose drugs over family. The money is intended for my daughter but we all know how it will and has been spent. The fact that my ex struggles to get through a year with $50,000 tells me she is on drugs and won’t have the attention span to read this. It might as well be in Cyrillic. Now I should clarify that she is my step daughter, but when you raise a girl in your home for 4 years, that distinction seems insignificant. She may have never called me Dad, but I knew what I meant to her.
“A rose by any other name is still a rose.” – William Shakespeare
The family court system is broken. It is overburdened and apathetic. I’ll never forget the thanks I received for years of time and money spent raising a child who was unhappy and neglected when I met her and turned into a brilliant, funny and sociable child by the time she was taken from me. Everywhere we went, she would make people smile; she was a gift to this world. The judge words were emblazoned onto my memory for time eternal: “Why should he get her when he’s not even her biological father?” Because I am the only father this poor girl ever had the opportunity to know. Her biological father, who this judge never met, put a gun to his head and took the easy way out before my daughter was old enough to remember him. He did her a favor. This lowlife would rather spend his time at bars or with women than his own daughter. There isn’t enough beer or brunettes in this world to keep my attention from you if I had the opportunity to spend time with you, but the family court system doesn’t work on a basis of merit.
On merit…. I don’t like to brag, but I’m not humble and I promised honesty. I was a perfect student in high school and attended the University of Illinois for my bachelors in economics. I worked for a fortune 500 company and then moved on to a more honorable and higher paying job. I paid my taxes and never had any legal issues nor did I consume drugs. Yet, when I entered that court room, I found myself in a dogfight with a woman who had a DUI, was in and out of drug rehab and consistently left her children to go get high on opiates. But I am a man, and apparently my toxic masculinity means that I would not know how to raise a kid. I am telling this story because it needs to be told and other men need to know that they aren’t alone. Reach out to me if this story sounds familiar and you need help. After I finished my battle in court, I felt a conviction to be a voice for the voiceless and to help other men get through this. I can’t offer legal advice but I can share what helped me get through this challenging time. Ever since a young age, I felt a burden inside me with glorious purpose. I know I have found it.
How did I get through the divorce? I have a wonderful outlook on life and an even better support group. My father spent a fortune giving us every advantage because that is how things work in America. The rich get a huge edge on the poor and if you disagree with me on this, you haven’t seen the legal system in action. I never felt poor in my life until I spent a few months in court. We hired a private investigator who turned out to be an amazing friend who even offered me a job. I honestly considered taking it as it seemed like a cool job and I enjoyed talking to him. Sadly, he never quite got the home run that would have nailed my ex but we did catch her in a lot of sketchy situations, including one run to an abortion clinic, but not really anything actionable. Apparently, it is much easier to commit crimes than it is to convict criminals. I also had a business partner who did an amazing job helping me out while I was in court and for one week where emotionally I just couldn’t do my job. I’m not proud of that week, but sometimes we all need to collect ourselves when our world comes tumbling down. I also was fortunate to run into the right woman who somehow was willing to support me through all this chaos. If not for her and my mother who immediately drove down to help watch my son, I don’t know how I could have survived this. What really helped me get through all of it on a personal level was not very complicated.
Two things saved me from destroying myself: the gym and the pen. I am who I am today because of all the events that came before me and this was just a stormy chapter in my life that honed me into the person I was born to be. It is astounding how infuriating the legal system and divorce is on a person, but the gym is the perfect avenue to vent these frustrations. During my six months of legal battle, I went down a couple inches on my waste and gained 10 pounds of muscle. I sound like I hate lawyers, and I do, but I should mention that I had a great one. He devoted all his time and energy into helping me not for the money, but because it was the right thing to do. He gave me a lot of great advice in the beginning that I was to naive to appreciate or listen to that made his job more difficult. I am as grateful to him as I am angry at the legal system, but that is no more in his control than it is in mine. The second habit that saved me throughout all this madness was my writing. I was never particularly fond of writing but when I could remove distractions like video games and sports, I had some talent. Now I have the passion. At first, I didn’t expect anything useful or interesting to come of the writing but my lawyer’s assistant told me I should get a journal and get down my thoughts. Write to my daughter so I could express my emotions; her wisdom of doing the job for years was foreshadowing my losing her in the court case. I’m eternally grateful for her subconsciously preparing me for that brutal loss and for inadvertently creating this website. The reverberations of our actions take us down paths we never anticipate like a butterfly creating a hurricane with its wings. So many late nights and frustrations later, I wound up with a few journals full of some insane rambling of a man that got wisdom at an early age. Once I was able to digest all the information I learned and figure out why everything happened, I created Helm of Awesome. I did this for my daughter. I did this for my sons. I did this in the event that I was murdered by a local biker gang, my words would live on. And yes, my ex confided in me that they were talking to bikers in the area about killing me. Not an unlikely event since I once had two bikers roll up my driveway in a failed attempt to threaten me. I did this so that despite not being able to be a part of her upbringing, maybe she would find my words and see that I didn’t abandon her. That I never stopped thinking about her and never stopped loving her. I hope she one day finds this and realizes the impact she had on my life and how this little 5 year old girl took a jaded bachelor and turned him into a positive and happy man.
How did I win my court battle? I lost. Plain and simple. I fought for 6 months, spent everything I had and more thanks to my generous father, but I could not do the right thing. I couldn’t be the best guardian this girl could ever ask for and now she is being raised by her grandparents because her mother chose drugs over her again. Despite my best arguments in the court room, it didn’t matter and I was lucky to get out of it with my one biological child. My son is mine and she has no right nor intent to see him. It is blessing that I am thankful for but I don’t settle. There are days where I burn inside at the injustice that was done to my daughter and that rage fuels me at the gym every day and it fuels me when I write. I didn’t know how at the time, but I vowed to create a platform where I could reach others and achieve a voice because this system made me feel voiceless. But the courts do not know me. I’m an eternal flame. Every time I fail, I just pick up the pieces and come back at it stronger than ever. Nothing can stop me because I hate losing and I seek righteousness. The family court system was more interested in syphoning off as much money as possible into the lawyers and courts as we had to give. And they got it all so I deserve to be jaded, miserable and pissed off, but I’m not. I’ve never been stronger and more focused in my entire life. All the stress and pressure turned me into a beast and everything I do now is to improve myself, my family and my community. When all is said and done feel free to judge me for who I am for I will have nothing to be ashamed of and I bare it all out on my website.
The craziest part of all this is how everything that happened here was the result of my own actions. Before the divorce got heated and turned into a drawn out legal battle, the ex and I were planning to split amicably. She was going to give me my son and her daughter, because it would be the best possible outcome for them, in her words. I would give her a small amount of money to get set up. My father even found her an apartment and I had given her my car. Shortly before all that when we were yelling and splitting up and it felt like our worlds were falling apart, she planned to commit suicide. Not a cry for help little cut either; full blown I’m going to take a bunch of pills and vodka and put a gun to my head. And I stopped her. It wasn’t easy or in my best interests, but I stopped her. Because it was the right thing to do. Because no child deserves to grow up with two parents that killed themselves. I always try to do the right thing. Mistakes can haunt you, but what they don’t tell you is that the reverberation of your actions can lead you down a path you never even imagined.
This experience should have destroyed me yet somehow, it created me. That proves that miracles do occur and it gives me hope.
Why do I write this? Because I need to get this off my chest and the keyboard has become my healthiest outlet. Without putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) my anger and frustrations would get the best of me, but I have become too strong for such base impulses. No… the real reason I write this is because one day, I know she will grow up and she will reach out to me. She will read this and if I only get one hit on this post, it will be worth writing. Happy Birthday