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