Rich O’Keeffe Contributing Writer
Originally, I was asked to give an update to an article I wrote a couple of years ago shortly after my wife left me. (Previous story HERE) Maybe two or three paragraphs. I started and got stuck a few times trying to fit it all into just a couple of paragraphs. I give up. Won’t do. So here you go.
How things are with Jean – filed, divorce, post divorce life, cordial
A couple of months after I wrote the article, she filed for divorce. It became final September that year. All along it has been cordial and friendly. One thing I said somewhere along the line was “Hey, we had a good run of it.” Three amazing kids (more on them later), lots of interesting and wonderful adventures along the way. Some good war stories to tell of our time together. I’m grateful that it ended so well, that so few of the horror stories that so many men tell about their ex just don’t apply to me.
In my clearer (read: better context) moments, the marriage was about raising good kids, the kids got raised and the purpose had been fulfilled. When choosing what next, she decided to follow a different path. It’s all good. In truth, things today with Jean are probably friendlier and more cordial than ever before.
In a lot of ways, the whole process has forced me to do and feel and experience a ton of things I would otherwise have coasted by without addressing. All things considered, the growth I have experienced has been stunning and amazing to watch.
The kids and the effect on them
The aspect of my divorce that I am most profoundly grateful for is the impact it has had on my relationship with my children. Each of them has struggled in their own way to come to terms with the divorce. At varying levels of emotion and upset and the like. And in all three cases, my personal relationship with each of them is vastly better than it was before the divorce. I think that I had been more or less walling myself off in my home – emotionally speaking anyways – for a long time.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a bad marriage, it’s just that neither she nor I had been very happy in it for a while. I was entirely unaware of just how much each had been noticing and seeing and not saying anything about. All three told me things about the last few years of my marriage that I knew, and know that neither she nor I had said anything to them about, and yet they knew. In a spot-on fashion.
In all three cases, each of them has remarked how much more available I am to them emotionally and personally than I was before my divorce.
The adventures, good bad and ugly
One thing that has happened, and it is a great thing, is that I have undertaken adventures almost as a lifestyle. Been to Burning Man twice now, drove a Ferrari at high rates of speed, sown more than a few wild oats, took a cruise, got ordained as a minister solely for the purpose of performing my son’s marriage ceremony (awesome experience, btw), traded in my middle class middle aged guy Camry for a BMW, and on and on. I had become pretty stale and sedentary in the way I was living. I had truly let myself sit in coasting mode for way too long.
In looking back at how I behaved in my marriage, it is clear to me that I had been sloppy and lazy. And all my upsets at her about what she was or wasn’t doing were really just excuses for me to be sloppier and lazier.
The health scares – weight loss, recent infection
The last note of import is that as I have aged it has become more and more crucial that I take care of my health. When she left I was fat. And in fair, at best, health. In the last couple of years, I developed a yeast imbalance that has forced significant eating changes upon me. (A nice by-product is that I have lost significant weight, which has the bad side effect of forcing me to go spend money on new clothing which is just about my least favorite activity of any type). I recently had a “if you hadn’t gone to the ER, you might have died” infection – ended up in emergency surgery to address the infection (old root canal went bad, got infected, spread into my throat … ick).
Many of us in MDI are aging. This is a subject we are going to have to be paying attention to on a bigger level. More and more of the men on our teams will need to be moved to assisted living as our lifetime friendships continue into our elder years.
What the fuck is next?
More adventuring. More fun. Figuring out how I am gonna play out the string of the rest of my life. I am starting college in January at night – I finally want to actually finish my degree and this time, it is for me and only because I want to.
I am glad I am on this ride. And glad I am on it with you.