Friday, July 15, 2011

Purpose, Goals, and the things you leave behind.

I am writing from a motel room in Houston TX. I have been in the process of relocating here since this spring. It's a long process because I haven't had the money to do it the right way, so I come here and train for the new job, then go back to Nashville for a few days to see Morgan or go to Philly for a few weeks to work and pick up some cash. Then I come back here and train on the job again. Ideally I would just come here and stay and probably be farther along on the ladder of success right now. But I don't have that option.
Many of you know my story so I won't repeat it. The highlights are I divorced in 1999. I have not remarried. I have one child, a daughter. I adore her. She is the axis upon which my world spins. I was a mortgage banker for 10 years and in 2007 I lost my home when the industry collapsed. By 2008 I was homeless, and sleeping in my car. I could have left Nashville and moved home to Philly or to some ranch in Wyoming or some chicken processing plant in Iowa, but I stayed in Nashville because that's where my daughter is. I can't imagine her growing up without her dad so I endured homelessness for 15 of the last 36 months. Actually I have been homeless for that entire time but sometimes I had a place to stay.
Now I am in Houston because Nashville holds no promise anymore and I can't stay and watch another year slip away. She'll want to go to college in a few years and I need to provide that. I have lost my wife, my home, my career, and most of the time I spent with my daughter. When you have no home you have no where to spend the night with your child. You have no stove to cook strawberry pancakes on. You can't lay on the couch and watch Cartoon Network. You can't tuck her in. You have to give away your pets. You lose everything you lived for. You run out of motivation.
I am running on shear stubbornness and will. The people I loved and the people I still love...the people who motivated me to keep going and keep getting on my feet are gone. Gone totally (in the case of my ex wife) or almost gone, in the case of my daughter.
I think most divorced men go through this from time to time. Divorce removes our motivation and our purpose. And let me tell you, paying child support is NOT the same as coming home at night to your family and budgeting out the money. Writing a support check is not the same as sitting at the kitchen table with the love of your life and planning the future. It isn't even close. Child support feels like baby-rent. Like this is the price I pay for my 5 days a month. It removes a man from the feeling of fatherhood. Yes you need to pay it...I'm not debating that. But it damages your soul. Because you really do feel like you are paying a fee to be the daddy that you dreamed of being. I know there are bad dads out there, but most are not. There are bad moms too but they don't get press.
Remove a man's loves and you remove his passion. Remove his passion and you remove his purpose. Remove that purpose and you have a robot. A robot won't go on forever.
I am a robot, sitting in a motel in Houston. I make myself do the things I have to do because I have to. It's that or fade away altogether. I miss the things I've lost. Every heartbeat hurts. My daughters face is the ever present picture in my mind. There is great fulfillment in your job if you have a family. There is great fulfillment in your hobbies or your dreams or anything else in your life, as long as the people and things that drove you to dream them are still around. Take away the inspiration...or severely limit your access to it...and you extinguish a life, a breath at a time.
Moms feel this too when they are away from their kids. It's not just a dad thing. "God hates divorce" the Bible tells us and the preachers love repeating it. God hates it because of the toll it extracts and the damage it does.
There are a lot of dads reading this right now and wiping away tears of agreement. Press on...that's all I can on.