My Recovery: My Children


I have two grown sons who won’t speak to me.  Nicholas is 24 and Matthew is 22.  The last time I spoke to them or saw them was the day after Thanksgiving, 10 years ago.

They lived with their mother at the time and over that previous 9 months I noticed a serious turn for the worse in their demeanor towards coming with me on visitation.

Never mind that the ex-wife would schedule every possible sporting event so that I couldn’t really schedule my own events, as I was essentially a cab driver.  So Nick, who wasn’t that athletically inclined, pretty much checked out on us.  Add to that that her father would show up to all the sporting events–he hated my guts–and make things very awkward.  She would often do the same.

As the ostracized parent, hated by anyone and everyone having to do with my kids (my ex lived with her parents who hated me and told those kids any chance they got, as did her sister and their aunts, etc) Nick and Matt were getting a steady stream of poison relative to me.  As they got older I could just see the resentment growing.  This was more the case with Nick than with Matt.  I think it as because Matt was younger.

Nick – Me – Dad – Matt

Anyway, long story short.  It was after one of Matt’s hockey games that he, my ex’s father, and my son Nick were standing around together and I heard them making fun of me.  It was two days after Thanksgiving, which the ex had not bothered to drop them off to me for.

I finally realized that pulling them apart between two homes was NOT doing them any good.  And here is where you will judge me, but oh well.  I told the boys that I wanted them to stay full time with their mother.

That I wouldn’t be picking them up anymore.  Nick was unfazed, Matt seemed to be slightly emotional.  That’s right, I made the decision to allow my kids to stay with their mother and have no contact with them.

I saw that they hated coming to me.  They hated being with me and my then long-term girlfriend Maria.  She tortured those kids any time they would get things from us they weren’t even allowed to bring it home with them.  Anyway, I felt that I was doing the right thing.  I wrestled with my decision for a few years.

I tried to reach out to them over and over and over again.  They told me where to go on Facebook and blocked me.  I have missed almost half their lives.  It is time for me to contact the ex and bury the hatchet.  I am not going to second guess my decision.  I did what I did for what I thought were the right reasons.  Right or wrong, I’ve lived with my decision and now it’s time to get my boys back into my life.

crying in group on justruminating men's blog

When I brought up in my small 6 man relapse prevention group, the fact that I would be writing a letter to my ex-wife–and she is a separate post completely, soon I promise–something unexpected happened:  I started crying!  WTF!  I don’t think I’ve ever cried in front of a man before.  I was horrified.  Yes, I understand it’s ok to cry, blah blah blah.

However, NOT in front of relative strangers!  Anyway, I’m over that.  I was just completely taken aback that I just lost it.  So, obviously, this is HIGHLY IMPORTANT to my recovery that I write this letter.  But it will be very difficult.  She did hurtful things and could have fostered a mutual parenting agreement.  Instead, she was contentious, evil, ruthless once she found out I had moved on with a girlfriend.

The venom lasted for at least 7 years.  There is also some suspicion she may have faked her first pregnancy (with a child we supposedly later lost while I was waiting for her to come to Germany, where I was serving).  Anyway, in spite of all that, I am the one with guilt and remorse over how I treated her.  She is the only relationship I had in which I truly feel this way.  I have had fairly decent relationships since then (except, of course, with the infamous recent ex).

So, dear readers, my emotions are raw on this.  I do feel guilt over my decision to leave my children with just my ex, but I hope that you might possibly see why I did it at the time.  I do feel trepidation at contacting her; however, I have to get to her to get to them.  I am just not sure if I will be prepared for their response or not.  I am not even sure if now is the right time, but I think I am going to do it anyway.  Sorry, I don’t usually write such long posts, but this one just wrote itself.


  • This still breaks my heart.

  • How painful for you and what a hard thing to do. I have 5 children, my 4 eldest live with their father but I am eternally grateful that he has been mostly very supportive of me and has never spoken badly of me in front of them. We have definitely had our moments over the years but at the end of the day, he’s a decent guy and loving father who understands that it would only cause the children more pain if he were to push any of his resentment for me onto them. Reading your post has made me want to thank him (again) for that.
    I think you are doing the right thing by trying to reconnect with your boys. Even if they are not ready for that, I’m sure, deep down it will feel good for them to know that you care. They are adults now and at some point (maybe not yet as they are still young men and have had a lifetime of negative influence when it comes to you from their family) they will learn there are always 2 or more sides to a story. I think that honesty and giving a heartfelt apology will go a long way. If it doesn’t work now, it might in a year. Don’t give up on them. Good luck.

  • I have lost my sons in a divorce as well. I have not spoken to my oldest, nearly 30 years old now for 8 years. My younger son 28 communicates a little, but now fully. Only emails. I don’t have their phone numbers or addresses. It has been a very difficult journey but I am finding closure in the way that I can. <3 I hope all is well for you and thank you for this blog.

    • Thank you for sharing this. Ultimately we can only try to be the best we can and I’m making the effort, again. Whatever happens I am prepared to accept it fully and move on

  • My parents separated when I was about 12-13 and my mother decided to escalate it to divorce without telling my father; this was accomplished by essentially kidnapping us and taking us out of the state. My father (bless him!) didn’t make a huge scene of it; all he asked for was summer visitations, and my mother agreed to it (partly because he would pay for everything). Not once did he ever say anything unkind about her; instead, he admitted his mistakes and hoped that we would eventually understand once we got older.

    Not so with my mother; to her everything was his fault and she was utterly blameless. I am sorry to say that I didn’t talk to my father for a couple of years because of my mother’s steady accusations and remarks. My and my sisters (thankfully) did not have the horrible chorus shoring up my mother’s statements, but it was painful all the same.

    It took me until adulthood to realise what really happened and I gladly forgave my dad for his part; better late than never, I suppose, but I know it was extremely difficult for him in the interim. It is obviously tough for you as well (and understandably so), and I fervently hope they too will also come around as I did.

  • I just wanted to leave a quick word of encouragement. No matter how much damage is done or how treacherous the pathway to recovery & forgiveness is, there will always be a path. We can hate each other’s decisions, the pain they caused us, and the following effects, but we have to respect their truth. We all make decisions we think are right at the moment and accept the consequences. I wish my father would pull out of his dive before its too late. As long as you’re still breathing, you have time to try.

  • I’m really proud of your progress, and your blog could be giving hope to many. I think you just wanted the best for your kids, it’s understandable. All my love to you, Rob.

  • Sorry, my phone sometimes has a mind of its own. I was trying to say “Realize that you love them enough to allow them space to develop into the young men that they need to develop into versus holding onto their anger”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค“guess I need spelling lessons ๐Ÿ˜‚

    • Yes and now they think I’m a piece of garbage, what my one son said on Facebook to me, my other was less kind. I’m sure they think I abandoned them. I can only try

      • You hang in there. If my mom had given up after many years of me being so ruthless to her, I would not have what I have now. And yes it’s not perfect but you know what, I appreciate it because at least I have the opportunity to really get to know my mom. And for the first time I get to see her for her beauty and acknowledge how strong she was to endure such a difficult life with me. The addiction is something real… I was so childish and stupid that I didn’t realize it until I myself fell victim to my rage inside to which I chose alcohol to try to defuse it. And we both know where that got me…

      • Indeed we do, ugh! Sometimes ya gotta wonder, wtf?

  • No judgement on your decision. You app to remember that as parents we have to make some very tough decisions in life. At that moment, you saw the frustration and hurt in your child’s eyes and you realize that you love them enough to to allow them space to develop into the young them that they need to develop forces holding onto their anger towards you. As they get older they will see this. My mother was a drug-addicted alcoholic floozy when I was younger. She put me through hell and never owned up to the fact that you should have done was allowed count list of family members just raised me. She was too proud to let me go and in her decisions light a better consequence. That is the fact that I grew to resent and hate every aspect of her. It’s only been 6 years now that we have slowly developed our relationship. I’m 34 years old and I can tell you that I still have sleepless nights from the different things that she says or does. The long-term effects still rips an emotional gash in my mind and heart. You took took the hardest route to follow but none the less, I have no doubt in my faith that you made the best choice that was best for your particular family. How brave you are to share such a personal story.๐Ÿ’ž๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ’ž

    • Thank you so much for sharing your own story, it meant a lot. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you recognizing why i did what I did. Because that’s exactly why I did it. She had my contact info too she could have called to work things out. Anyway, I have to be brave and be honest if I’m to continue to evolve purely and for the right reasons. I wrote her that letter this evening. It will be posted tomorrow morning some time. Thank you so much for your thoughts, I can’t tell you how healing they are

      • Trust and believe me Rob, I still battle my inner demons late at night by myself. This is a lifelong struggle and to be honest with you, life is meant for us to grow and evolve. Thank God that you have chosen to better yourself and even though some people from your past may not respect or understand you; you just remember that there’s going to be good people that is going to be in your future and those same people will appreciate the man that you are…just remember that… it’s in the imperfections that we find perfection by resting in our strength and acknowledging our weaknesses and transforming those weaknesses into something great.๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—much love your way!

      • You are one wise woman. I’m lucky you’ve chosen to share that wisdom with me. I hope your inner demons die a pitious death!

      • ๐Ÿค—๐Ÿค—me too! …psst…I’m not that wise๐Ÿ˜‰ today I blew my fuse for something Petty… to which I had to go and apologize and if you know anybody that is a Scorpio , you know the words I’m sorry is not part of our genetic makeup.๐Ÿ˜‹ I’m still learning every day.

      • Hmm. What do they say about aquarians…i wonder

  • That’s very sad, but it sounds like you’re in a good place to write a new chapter in this story. The boys are hopefully old enough now to be able to look back and see their past with adult eyes. Also, hopefully they can see all of the progress you’re making. Good luck – keep us updated.

  • Me too Rob. Different circumstances…but me too. Maybe this will help, it helped me through it & my adult son calls me daily now.
    1 Kings 3:16-28English Standard Version (ESV)

    Solomon’s Wisdom
    16 Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 The one woman said, โ€œOh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. 18 Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. And we were alone. There was no one else with us in the house; only we two were in the house. 19 And this woman’s son died in the night, because she lay on him. 20 And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. 21 When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.โ€ 22 But the other woman said, โ€œNo, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.โ€ The first said, โ€œNo, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.โ€ Thus they spoke before the king.

    23 Then the king said, โ€œThe one says, โ€˜This is my son that is alive, and your son is deadโ€™; and the other says, โ€˜No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.โ€™โ€ 24 And the king said, โ€œBring me a sword.โ€ So a sword was brought before the king. 25 And the king said, โ€œDivide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.โ€ 26 Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, โ€œOh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.โ€ But the other said, โ€œHe shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.โ€ 27 Then the king answered and said, โ€œGive the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.โ€ 28 And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice.

  • Hi Rob,
    I think you will find healing no matter the outcome. It’s your honest intention that matters. They need to know that you love them and wanted them and that you are sorry. Well done for making the amends, ultimately that paves the way for self-love and forgiveness.

  • They’re adults now, they can decide for themselves. Any peace you need to make with the ex is a good thing … for you and for your kids to see.
    Involving kids in our divorce / bitterness is a horrible thing but happens pretty frequently. I too left my children with their father. Me and my kids, had left him, 2 years prior. He made it such a hell for my oldest in particular, by discussing with her all my failings and what he didn’t like about me … he was just hurt though, i get that now. In the end i just said to him, if you can do a better job, way you go. He lasted 2 years and then gave them back. All this did a couple things … yes i carried guilt … but I made peace with him … the kids hated me, but got over it … and they also got to see what his real intentions were.
    Today, they have tentative relationships with him … and he’s since apologised to them and me for being an asshat. But through all of it … I never said a word against him. And thats what won out in the end.
    I wish you well on next part of your journey ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Your story is heart wrenching, I can’t even imagine it, and yet it is also hopeful.

  • I honestly can only imagine this kind of pain. I’m so glad you are releasing this. In my prayers, Rob, that they will want to hear you. ๐Ÿ’

  • The most powerful words in the English language are “I am deeply sorry for hurting you” and “I need you to know that my door is always open.” Good luck Rob– making those amends takes bravery, humility and vulnerability. Good for you that you are ready to take that first step.

    • Thank you so very much. It’s vital to do this. I’m finally in a condition to take this step. I just have to be prepared for the worse

      • I think it helps sto stay focused on that fact that you need to say your peace for you, no matter how the message is received. .YOU need to know that you are a man who can be accountable for his actions, can ask for forgiveness where it is needed and free your own soul from that weight.

      • Exactly. I could not have said it better, thank you.

  • Oh, how painful. As you go through this process, keep in mind that you can only control your own heart, choices, and actions. She will or will not cooperate. Same with your sons. You can’t go back and change the past, you can’t undo anything already done, and wishing so will only keep you stuck. But you can go forward and extend an invitation to your sons to do the same. It may take some time and they may not accept despite your best efforts, but you will know you tried. My best to you.

    • Thanks so much. I don’t live in the past. You are right, this is something I have to do for me, and I’m hoping for my sons

  • I can’t find the right words here to offer comfort and support – but that’s what I am trying for. It’s not something I am comfortable sharing publicly – I am on the other side of this situation with my eldest son…minus me poisoning my child because I felt that as hurt & bitter as I felt it’s not a child’s burden to bear. This is a very long story for another time (but to get at the heart of what I’m trying to say to you) I think it was right to not force children into an uncomfortable situation: you gave everyone a chance to be free, and that’s love. What is really awful is that you had no control or no way to protect your kids from being fed poison – and that my friend, is not on you! I had to “fake it till you make it” in my situation, because I didn’t want to damage my child with my bitterness – and I had plenty to be bitter about! This was probably a huge overshare, but I really feel for you in this situation! I support you

    • I loved your share! Thats why i have a blog, so thank you so very much. Your words brought tears to my eyes even as I type this. Your words mean so very much to me. Thank you Kate!

      • I’m so happy that I was able to share with you (I’m not good at it!). Reading your perspective is helping me…I have so much guilt & confusion with my own situation. So thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I am so happy for you! Guilt is a very crippling emotion. It can bring you to your knees. I hope and pray you can release yourself from it eventually. I am proud of you for the incredible post you shared with me. It deeply affected and touched me

  • Good for you, Rob. Your HP forgave you along time ago, it’s time for you to do the same, make whatever amends you feel are necessary, and get on with life. I qualify my advice ( I hate sounding preachy) with the fact that I was the son you are talking about. My mother and her parents turned the natural love I had for dad into hatred. When I was 34 years old I finally contacted my dad, we kissed and hugged and, more importantly talked for hours. He died 1 year later. Did I do the right thing? You betcha. Meg’s thought is spot on. Your sons are adults now.

    • Thank you. Whatever the result, I will do my best. I was a doring, loving caring father. I never drank in front of my kids, or with them round, ever

      • Understandable, Rob. Speaking from experience, work your program as best as you can and then turn it over. It’s truly amazing what can happen when we turn over the control factor. Good luck, brother.

      • I’m not entirely clear in turn it over

      • OK, for me it’s a matter of earnestly taking up the issue with HP and just resting in peace and assurance. I control nothing. Look, Rob, I don’t want to infer that my way is right. You’ve been sober awhile, trust your instincts. Good luck

      • Larry your experience and perspective is important to me. Ultimately it’s my life, but I write publicly to share my story and for the dissemination of ideas. The more commentary and activity, the more I feel my writing has purpose. Anyone can click “like” and move on right? So I appreciate your feeeback, always!!

      • Likewise, bro, keep the faith

      • Always and undeniably truly

  • They are men now, not boys. The maturity they have gained may allow that door to crack open. I hope that time has softened the feelings of your ex-wife as well. Especially if she knows how you are working so hard at changing your own life. It’s good that you cried. That buried pain needed a release. Peace my friend!

  • Yes. Do it. ! Great decision. The very thing to do now. Happy for you, really. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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