Despite our upbeat attitude and positive outlook, we had some dark days. More specifically, me, Stacy. On my first date with Autumn I told her I would never get married again and I did not want more kids. Not many people know our back story and how we came to be, but it's the primary thing we are asked about. More specifically, dating post divorce. How does that work? Well, easier said than done!
I was divorcing an attorney who pretended to mediate with me for a year while telling our family, friends, and neighbors that I had abandoned her and our children. During this time I worked two jobs as an emergency room nurse including night shifts to support my family. My soon to be ex wife was in law school. To hear that my family and friends believed I was missing or partying was one of the biggest wake up calls I ever received. I was supporting my family and three infant children while my wife fulfilled her dream to become a lawyer. These were not my friends. They turned a blind eye as I was bullied, called names, and harassed. Taking a side in a break up is now one of my biggest pet peeves.
Prior to meeting Autumn, I was traumatized. A story I have never shared, is that my ex wife was emotionally and physically abusive. I was choked, had my hair pulled, and was pushed around when she was intoxicated. I was suffering silently. I started by casually meeting friends. Friends seemed to be the easiest to make. They did not judge me for going to the gym and they did not push me to explain why I was not interested in dating. I met a few people to possibly date but nothing substantial. Some women judged me for having kids. Some women judged that I could not see my kids. (My ex would not allow visits while telling people I wasn’t visiting.) And some women wanted something too fast. Please, I am never getting married again!
Meeting Autumn was a breath of fresh air. She showed me that she was not judging my situation. In fact, she saw something in me and she was happy to help. She and her family became strong advocates for me, something I had never had. We obtained weekly threatening letters from my ex wife. Autumn assisted me in embracing what was ethical and right. She took the kids in with an open heart despite how terrible their other parent treated her. We just made it work. In between the accusations and harassment, we went on outings with the kids and kept up our positive outlook. We became stronger, traveled, and showed the kids the best parts of me. Autumn helped me become a better version of myself and every day I am thankful for that.
Autumn gave me the energy to do more. She helped me find my voice and my power. Don’t get me wrong, the first year was very rocky. Dealing with that much drama will drive anyone to the edge. We always came back stronger, more open, and more communicative. I was still afraid to get married again. However, I knew that we were better together and I did take that leap of faith with her. Autumn and I got engaged Thanksgiving weekend of 2016.
Even though my ex wife left me in 2013, she refused to sign the divorce papers. Four months prior to my wedding with Autumn a judge signed a document to dissolve my previous marriage which would allow me the opportunity to get married to Autumn in September of 2017.
Dating post divorce can be challenging for various reasons. Everyone has their own horror and turmoil. I was never able to share that I was held down and choked in the street. I protected my ex wife so that she would not get in trouble in law school. I was never able to share how her stories were lies to my family and friends to alienate me. I was ashamed to speak up. If you are suffering in silence, I encourage you to share your story. If you are ready to start dating again, know the traumas may not go away easily at first. An understanding person who is willing to fight for you is out there.
I was lucky to get a second chance at life. Autumn is an amazing wife, and an even more amazing mother. Oh, and I did have more kids! Our daughter Story is the love of my life, and I have another set of twins on the way. Although dating wasn't easy post divorce, I am eternally grateful to have found my perfect second chance. I love you Autumn, and good luck out there my fellow divorcees!