So, in answer to his question and to all men who have exhausted all their efforts to improve their marriage but to no avail and have decided to leave... but are afraid of being alone, here is my response:
It took me a while to get used to being alone. Before I left my second husband, I had never been by myself. It was scary. I relied on friends and a therapist. Both were awesome. But I learned that what I really needed was myself. And this was a journey that has completely changed my life and any future relationships.
I learned to spend mornings by myself before the kids woke up. I'd drink coffee and read a portion of my bible. I'd spend a few minutes reflecting on it and how it applied to my life. Then at night, after the kids fell asleep in their beds, I went outside for a cigarette and some wine. I'd look up at the stars and think about how they looked to me when I was a child. It is amazing how life changes your innocent perspective the older you get. When I was a kid, I used to believe those stars were little secrets God placed in the sky for us find out when we went to heaven. Now, how often do we even look at the stars in awe? Spending time with myself gave me the opportunity to really go back into myself and speak to the soul I'd ignored for years.
|I took this while on a walk in the sunset.|
I read books that were entertaining and books that were soul searching. I learned that I loved photography and brought a camera with me almost everywhere. I took up hobbies that I found and learned what I didn't like or what I wasn't good at. I undid the co-dependency I had adopted from my childhood and discovered what kind of things I really liked and what I didn't like. And to be okay with that. The harder part of learning myself was learning those things I didn't like, the things that brought me into unhealthy relationships.
I found that I sought men as validation of my value. And I hated that. I felt like without a man, I really sucked. On my own, my kids filled that void. Being a good mom was almost an achievement that I could hold proudly for all to see. I had to learn who I really was and like myself, love myself, without depending on men or my kids to prove I was valuable. So I sought to discover my passions. What did God plant in me?
I discovered a few passions: children, animals, and the emotional and physical care they require. Seeking ways to fulfill my purpose is a beautiful thing. I've created art and written blogs about them. I've read books and joined groups. Pursuing my passions has fulfilled me immensely.
As for the physical stuff.... as humans, we crave it. We aren't meant to be alone. This was probably one of the biggest challenges. I actually made a few mistakes in this regard. I still managed to find a guy to sleep with. It was fun for about a week until I realized what a fool I was. I wasn't searching for love or even a friend in him. And he wasn't either. So I got my head out of my ass and ended that. After speaking with the therapist about it, I learned to forgive myself and to give myself credit that at least this time I didn't wait until I married him before I realized my mistake. I was much quicker. Now I had to learn not to find intimacy that way. It all went back to that one thing:
Once I became comfortable and HAPPY with who I was and that as an individual, I was a great person, then I had to figure out what I wanted in a partner. What are my boundaries? What do I not like? What will I NOT put up with? No superficial stuff like forgetting to put the cap on the toothpaste or putting the toilet seat down. I had to make boundaries that were important to me like loving kids and animals and treating their parents lovingly and having goals. My potential partner must not have issues that they were struggling with that would compromise who I was as a person and how my kids would be impacted. Even if I wasn't looking for a dad for them, I had to seek men who had good values and morals.
In the meantime, being alone without physical affection was really tough. I had to deal with that the way an alcoholic would deal without a drink. I had to learn to be patient. And to keep that part special and to only share it with someone who was worth it. In other words, until I found someone worthy of myself, I would need to rely on taking care of myself in that regard! Haha! Sucks, but it was worth it emotionally.
I know this is different for you in many ways. For one, you are a man. Men's needs are so different from women's. Second, you may be a single dad. Your time with your kids will be different than mine. That might leave you with MORE time with yourself and more expectations you'll have as a single dad. Your role to them is different than mine is. Society's opinion of your role is different than it is on mine. But one thing is not so different: You need to find out what God put inside you and how you need to use that to find your purose. That will determine the person you become, how you fulfill those things that are left empty when you become a single man, single dad, divorced man, etc.
I found that the hardest part in becoming a single mom was not the alone part but actually walking out the door. After that, the challenges were different and some seemed bigger than others, but none (even being alone) were as hard as actually making that step and sticking to it. It is the most important part and the one thing that will lead to change.