A Letter to My Ex-Wife

Jill,

I know this letter is a long time in the making. I know that I haven’t explained fully what I decided to file for divorce against you. I know that there are many unanswered questions. I’m hoping to help answer some of those in this letter. This is a letter explaining it all.

It explains why I left.

It explains what I’ve learned.

It explains what I now believe.

It explains my new life and your place in it.

Let’s begin.

When I woke up almost 5 years ago, on a cold February night, and told you I wanted a divorce, it wasn’t because of you. True, you had your faults, I won’t go into them in this letter, but I will at least give you one token.

The man you married wasn’t the man I am now.

You were sold a bill of goods that wasn’t what you signed up for.

The man you thought you married was a man created by all the people in my life. It was a fictitious character, one invented by family, friends, and acquaintances, a robot designed to be a happiness machine.

It wasn’t me. I was a timid yes man. Someone who was trying to gain approval from everyone by doing everything they wanted and nothing for himself. I was playing a role that was designated by my family as something that I “had” to do. Something I was “supposed” to be.

That man you married who was all smiles the day I said “I do” was not real. He was all parts of all people who he had determined was the best of all worlds. He was trying to put himself into a mold that would never fit him, all because he was trying to act out on the stage of life, starring as the happily married, oafish husband who was a good man and did what everyone told him.

You see, men like me have lost their way. My generation, including my countless friends and acquaintances, were told by the generation before us that we had to play this role. We were told to be family men. We were told to get a job, buy a car, have kids, have a wife, and live the white picket fence dream that they did. However, they aren’t living that dream either. It’s a farce.

Many want the dream. Many don’t. I wanted something more. I wanted “me” back.

We can be all these things, but if it’s not on our terms, then it isn’t real. We let others decide our paths in life, we don’t stand up and say “STOP!” as soon as possible. We are just herded into the life that others want.

5 years ago, I decided to say “STOP!”

This wasn’t the life I wanted. It was the life they wanted. It was the life you, my ex-wife wanted.

I failed you. I didn’t keep my promises. And I know that deeply hurt you. And for that, I am eternally sorry.

But that man that you saw on your wedding day wasn’t the real Tim. The real Tim had to emerge through 3 years of therapy. The real Tim wanted his life back because this wasn’t what he signed up for. This is what he was TOLD he was supposed to do.

And, rather than possibly let down all the people in my life, I played the role.

I played it so well, I forgot who the hell I was. I needed a jolt to get me back to my senses. All of this life was a lie and unfortunately, you were a part of it.

I’m not taking the fall for the bad marriage. I’m taking the fall for the man I was when we got married because he wasn’t real. Just like you have told me that the person I married wasn’t the real you, the same thing applies to me.

I’m not taking the fall for the sexlessness in our marriage. I’m taking the fall for the man who didn’t know shit about what he was doing.

I’m not taking the fall for the listlessness of our kids and our unhappiness. I’m taking the fall for not discovering who I really was sooner and being a real, unapologetic version of Tim Beckett.

You’ll read this and debate in your head what truly could’ve been if we’d both been the real versions of ourselves, I know. But we can’t change the past, so we must change our presents and forge ahead to a good future, knowing now that we have finally accepted who we really are and the fantastic relationship that has emerged from accepting this reality.

Our kids are happier, we are happier, our families have finally accepted our decisions and they are happier for us, regardless of their personal feelings.

I couldn’t have asked for a better co-parent. Instead of taking feelings of bitterness, anger, and resentment out of me and our kids, you instead took the whole thing in stride, decided to be an adult, and worked with me on raising two beautiful daughters. You’re an amazing mother and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

Photo credit: Verywell Family

I decided on that fateful February day to change my life because that life wasn’t mine. Nor was it yours. It was like a painting that everyone enjoyed except those that were in it. We were the picture of happiness but when life was applied to it, it was anything but happy.

So I broke us out. I did us a favor. Instead of a journey of unhappiness, depression, and the problems that would arise from it, I decided to take back control. In the short term, it promised some issues, but in the long term, as you have witnessed first-hand, it’s blossoming into an amazing situation.

Selfish? Probably. Thoughtless? Hardly. Three years of taking stock, thinking about the direction of my life, and the consequences of my actions boiled up inside me and blasted out on the cold, winter night. I know you didn’t understand it then.

I know you understand it now.

Many in our family were and now are supportive. Many aren’t. To those that aren’t, there’s a reason you aren’t apart of our lives anymore. You refused to accept the real me. You wanted me to be apart of your ideals. I refuse to live by anyone’s terms except my own.

And that’s where I am now, Jill. I’m living on my own. I’m living the life I want to live in. I’m creating great opportunities and decisions that I will own. They are mine.

You know now that instead of trying to lead a hapless family by default because I didn’t care, you now have a MAN, a LEADER, a DECISION MAKER, and a FATHER who loves his kids and will do anything for them.

You know now that you can count on me at any time to support you, whereas before you weren’t sure and doubted me all the time.

You know now my STRENGTH is unwavering. And you also know that I am taking good care of myself so that I will be there as a ROCK for as long as I can stand, walk, run, lift, and fight. My dying breath will be there as the foundation of this new family unit, not as the doting, do nothing complainer who never took action during our nuptials.

You know now that this Tim is the REAL, UNAPOLOGETIC Tim, one that makes the rules of his life, has boundaries, and does things not because of hopeful acceptance, but because he demands it of himself and chooses these paths for the betterment of himself and by association, his family.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. My cup is no longer empty. It contains ENERGY for years to help our family grow, sustain, and thrive.

So, enjoy the fruits of my acceptance of the real me. The real Tim will continue to provide and lead this family into the future. The past is in the past, my mistakes are mine and I own them. You may never own yours, but it doesn’t matter now. What matters is that we are both on the road that WE choose. Our paths now walk beside our kids in seeing them grow to be amazing, well-adjusted adults, all while making decisions based on what WE want in OUR lives.

The man you’ve met and who is proposing to you on your cruise is a good man. He’s an amazing father and Mike will be a great step-father to our kids. He’s become a great friend as well to me. I welcome him and his kids to our family with open arms. It takes all kinds to make a world, and we are a very special, very diverse family that I am proud to be associated with.

You are very special to me and you will always be a part of my life as the mother of my children. Know that I will be there to make sure they are LED by a masculine, strong, proud man who is honored to be their father.

I will always love you,

Tim

Becoming a Father

There are two moments in my life that I will never forget and will cherish forever. These are the births of my two daughters.

First of all, I will say this, there is nothing, and I mean nothing in this world like being a father. It is a feeling you won’t get any other way but to truly be there from birth to watching them grow up. I can’t describe it. I can only live it and report back. I want all men to feel it, because it truly speaks to us on a basic, biologic level of our existence. It shows you who you truly are when you are able to help conceive and then raise a child.

The births of my two kids will be something I will never forget. My first was the most stressful, the second was a more common delivery, but they were both special to me.

Welcome to Fatherhood

My first daughter was a harrowing experience. I was not only intimidated by the trip to the hospital, but by all that happened during our hospital stay.

My ex (who was my wife at the time) went into the hospital for a planned induction in the AM. After waiting all day and most of the night, there were complications. My ex had to be rushed in for an emergency c-section after my daughter was deemed to big to be delivered (she was over 9 lbs). I went with my ex, held her hand as they delivered the baby, but heard no crying. My daughter was silent. Something was wrong.

As I helped the hospital staff with the umbilical cord and the first diaper, they noticed that she wasn’t breathing very well. They rushed her to the NICU and began to figure out what went wrong. Me and my ex were stunned and worried. This was not the best way to start off our first born experience.

We waited in the room as my ex recovered, and I would make regular trips to the NICU to see what was going on. My daughter had had her first bowel movement while my ex was delivering her, and she had swallowed and breathed in the waste. So she had contracted pneumonia from it as well as sepsis. She was put on antibiotics immediately. They couldn’t tap a vein on her arm, so they tapped a vein in her head. It was a gruesome sight, watching my newborn daughter struggle.

The hospital was a formula supported hospital, which means that they would discourage breast-feeding in the NICU. However, my ex and I found this out when we saw our daughter not recovering as fast. The NICU doctor insisted that she be given formula, but we insisted that breast milk would be required for our daughter to get better faster.

My ex wasn’t allowed to even breast feed our daughter, and times were contentious in the hospital as we did battle with the NICU director as we demanded to have access to feed our baby. Finally, he relented and she was allowed to breast feed. Almost instantly, her condition started to improve.

For 5 of the longest days of my life, operating on minutes of sleep, checking on my daughter and running errands for my ex as she lay recovering, I was a mess. It was hard, but as my daughter’s condition improved, I saw signs that this nightmare was coming to an end.

Finally, after 5 grueling days, my daughter was healthy enough to be released. We were overjoyed, and this experience had taught us some tough lessons right out of the gate on parenthood.

But what the most amazing thing? My reactions to my ex and my daughter as a father were instinctual. I leaped into action immediately as soon as my family needed me, without hesitation. This was an important moment and my first lesson of fatherhood, I was the rock, the foundation, the protector, the provider. At the time of greatest need, I was there. And through the years, I haven’t wavered on my dedication and commitment to my kids and family, regardless of my personal feelings for my ex.

Talk about being thrown right in the fire. But it’s an experience I’ll never forget and it is a part of our family lore for generations to come. The scar on my daughter’s head, (Ala Harry Potter), always reminds me of that trial that I went through. But I know it was worth it because I have my beautiful, healthy daughter. She’s just turned 12. I’m a very lucky man.

A Healthy Delivery

My younger daughter was more of a normal delivery. She was still delivered by caesarean, and was almost 10 lbs! My ex and I decided to schedule a C-section as opposed to trying to go through a delivery and have the same issues crop up from the last time.

We wanted avoid any and all complications. So, scheduling the surgery for the morning of December 30th, we went to the hospital. Unlike the first delivery, my second daughter came right out with a full head of hair and was breastfeeding within 30 minutes.

I got to clip her umbilical cord as well. I think she had a full set of teeth because she tried to bite me! She was crying, a complete opposite of my first child, and I got to put on a diaper, hold her and give her to her mother.

It was amazing because it was just how a birth was supposed to be.

My little girl and ex were released in 36 hours and we recovered at home with very little fanfare. And damn was I glad. After my first child, it was a welcome event.

One of Your Greatest Contributions To This World

There is no greater feeling in this world than holding your newborn baby. It’s something you’ve created, something special, and you can’t begin to understand the implications behind it. And that’s what life as a father does. It makes you deal with those implications headon. There are no cheat codes. There’s no shortcut. This little life is dependent on you to be there, keep it healthy, guide it through tough times, protect it with your own life.

That’s a lot of gravity to take it. Which is why not all men can be fathers.

However, recalling my memories of my kids’ births helps me explain why I became a father, and why I recommend it to any man contemplating his role in our little world.

Almost a decade later, my little girls are growing up. My fathering has changed little as they have grown. I continue to provide, protect, and lead as the patriarch of my family. They count on me to be there, standing a post, holding them to higher standards, and pushing them to succeed in everything they do.

I make them face and overcome their fears, I hold them accountable for actions detrimental to their own success. I urge them to get involved in not only activities that help themselves but perform actions that help others.

My bond with them is stronger than ever and it will only get stronger as I help them face and prepare for the next phase of their lives.

I’m proud to be their father and I love them both very much.