Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hope for the Hurting after a Broken Relationship

As we prepare for our Upbeat Dad Community Forum, I have had the privilege of interacting with so many people. Some have heard me on the BBC radio interview I had last week. Some have heard me on the radio here in South Florida. Others I have met at different local events. Just yesterday I was at a political event for a cousin of mine who was recently elected as a City Commissioner in a neighboring city.
It seems that as I talk about the forum and the vision of The Upbeat Dad organization, collectively, the phrase I hear from people is, “This is so needed.” And that’s so gratifying to hear. It has been a passion of mine to share this beautiful message about fatherhood. I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised that it has caught on so quickly. I do not know anyone else who does just what I do so I thought it would take some time for the word to get out. I strongly believed in the message from day one but in my view, I’d have to become established and then get the right contacts in order to get this organization to where I envision it going.
But let me tell you that I’ve been blown away by the response. Online, this blog has gone viral, in a sense. Over 12,000 hits, over 800 Twitter followers, over 300 Facebook fans – all in just 4 months? Wow! And it really has nothing to do with me – it’s all about the message. I’m simply a messenger who’s passionate about sharing these valuable life lessons and recommendations about the institution of fatherhood.
So I thank you for tuning in each day. And I especially thank you for sharing the different posts with those who you believe will benefit. I believe strongly that as we receive, we should also give; that’s what life is all about.
As I’ve spoken with both men and women about our organization, one thing has become so apparent to me – people are hurting. They may smile when you see them; they might look well put together but they’re hurting. Men are hurt and women are also hurt.
This brings to mind something that occurred several years ago just before my divorce in the early 2000s. I was in the US Virgin Islands conducting a seminar. I had just left Puerto Rico and was on a high after full-filling a dream of doing a seminar in a Spanish speaking country. The morning of the Virgin Islands event, I made a phone call home and without disclosing the nature of that discussion, I’ll just say that based on what was said, I knew that the end was near.
At 6 AM in a luxury hotel on a beautiful tropical island with my room overlooking the blue sea, I was crying my eyes out. I cried so much that my stomach hurt and my eyes became red. But guess what? I had to do a seminar that day. I was the only speaker. So despite my hurting heart and all that I was dealing with, the show had to go on. At 8 AM, there I was, in a suit with a smile on my face, registering the participants and smiling.
That was one of the most difficult days of my professional career. Yet, I did my presentation and shared good information. I injected humor and got some good laughs and all went great! When the seminar ended at 4 PM, I was so relieved. When everyone departed I went back to my room and had to deal with the reality of my situation.
In my book Poems of Inspiration: A Daily Dose of Self Motivation, there’s a poem that I consider an autobiographical work; it really summarizes my entire life in a very real way. The opening lines are:
Don’t be fooled by the smile that I wear
For each smile you see has cost me a tear.

I believe the same can be said for so many individuals who you and I meet on a daily basis. Maybe right now these words have struck a nerve inside of you because you’re one of those who masks your tears with a smile. Believe me, these emotions are real and I very much understand them.
Just yesterday I was speaking with a gentleman who will be attending the forum. I never met him before but we made an immediate connection. He shared with me the horrific experience he went through when he divorced 5 years ago. He has since remarried but it’s quite apparent to me that he’s still wounded.
I also spoke with a mom yesterday who says she just wishes her former husband could be dragged kicking and screaming to the event because there’s no way he would attend willingly. He was a good dad when he was married but since he divorced, according to her, he also decided to divorce the kids. And they feel rejected and alone. She wants him to know that despite the ending of the relationship, the kids are innocent so they still need the unconditional love and support of both parents.
I can attest to just how real these emotions are. Have you ever heard the expression, “It cuts like a knife?” Well that, it does, believe me.
In preparation for the forum, I have reached out to other professionals to hear their thoughts on different matters. Yesterday I met with a family therapist. He’s a gifted man and his specialty is divorce. He has authored books on the subject. I will do a separate blog post on him before long so I won’t share all his information just yet.
But as we talked about my journey and why I even got to the point of starting The Upbeat Dad, he told me of some statistics that are downright scary. Over 50% of first marriages fail. The parties from those failed marriages, as they remarry, within 8-10 years, 75% of those 2nd marriages fail. And the parties of those 2nd marriages that fail, when they remarry, 90% of them fail within 5 years. In other words, the more you remarry, the less likely your new marriage(s) will survive.
We have many walking wounded among us and many of us have no idea. If you are one of these individuals, fear not – there is hope. You are not alone. Because you’ve been hurt by a former relationship, that’s not a death sentence. Your life goes on and in time, you can find love again. In my posts The Story Behind the Upbeat Dad and The Story of My Blended Family, I share my personal story. Life is a beautiful thing – it really is. But it’s not without its bumps and bruises along the way.
When relationships are broken and kids are involved, it makes it so hard. Sometimes you have such anger and resentment towards your former spouse. Yet that person is the mother or father of your child(ren). It just doesn’t seem right, I know. But that’s reality.
If you’re in the South Florida area, please do come out to our community forum. I think that you’ll find encouragement in a supportive setting. Dads, moms, singles, divorced, everyone’s invited to this event. And that to me is a beautiful thing. People with varying life experiences will be present and it’s all for a good reason – to highlight the importance of fathers in the lives of children.
If you’re present at the event, do take the time to introduce yourself. Over 10 years ago when I just began speaking professionally, one of my mentors told me, “Always be the first to arrive and the last to leave.” I try to live up to that responsibility because people make major decisions based on information that you share with them. I want to be attentive to each individual because, to me, everyone’s thoughts and opinions matter.
I very much look forward to our forum. It’s the kickoff of the new phase of our organization – live public events. To me, that’s when the fun really begins. Stay engaged along the way. And hang on with us for this beautiful ride!

Enjoy your day today and every day.
The Upbeat Dad

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