Getting divorced/splitting up is hard enough. It’s hard on the body, mind and soul. Not only do you often feel sad, depressed, or lonely, but depending on which side of the divorce you’re on, you’ll feel left behind.
There are two sides to every divorce. The “good side” and the “bad side”. How much you feel on that particular side, depends on how devastating the divorce or split is.
There are some of you lucky readers who are thinking, “My divorce was amicable and things are great between my ex and me” or “My ex and I are doing really well and we’re doing it for our kid(s)”.
Well, good for you.
But I’d bet that the majority of us aren’t in that boat and are on one of the two “sides”.
The “Good” Side
It’s nice to be on the “good” side of the divorce. Although, I’m not sure “good” side is the right term. It’s the side where you have decided that you can’t live with the other person anymore, and you initiate the split up.
I’m not foolish enough to think that this decision was decided upon lightly. You probably had several sleepless night deciding how/when/where to bring this decision up with your significant other.
In many cases, you tried several things before coming to this conclusion. Therapy, Self-therapy, etc.
I know that some of you went through traumatic instances that led you to this decision. Abuse (physical, emotional, mental) and other life issues can lead to this.
I wanted to acknowledge this because being on the “good side” of the relationship, doesn’t mean that your “bad”. Sometimes you’re the “good-guy” who ends up on the “good” side. And that’s a wonderful case if you’ve gotten yourself out of a bad situation.
I can’t write about this instance with any firsthand knowledge because I was the “good guy” on the “bad” side.
The “Bad” Side
This is the “side” I have intimate knowledge of. So it’s the side I’m going to talk about the most.
This is an extremely painful topic for me for a few reasons.
- It’s extremely relevant to me right now. Clearly, I’m still living it to this very day.
- Admitting that I’m on the “bad” side, means I was vulnerable and got taken advantage of. This isn’t the case in all people ending up on the”bad” side, but it was for me.
- It’s just hard for me to write about, because I have so many emotions toed to this topic. I’m going to have to write about things I haven’t told many people about before, in order to explain my points.
It’s entirely possible to be on the “bad” side, and be a bad person. But more likely than not, if you’ve been on this side, you’re probably the innocent party.
How Did I Get Here?
This is a question I ask myself daily. “How did I get HERE?”
The answer is . . . through a series of decisions you made in your life. I wanted to be up front about the fact that YOU are responsible for YOUR actions. I’m responsible for where I’m at in my life. Others may have contributed to the outcome, but I’m where I am because I made the decisions in my life to get here.
“When you stop blaming others for the circumstances you’re living in, then you can start figuring out how to fix the circumstances you’re living in.”
Nobody but yourself is going to bail you out of what you’re going through. The only true attitude is one where you accept responsibility for where you are, and then you rely on yourself to fix it.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t lean on or ask for help from friends. I think that being surrounded by your best friends is the smartest way to survive this. I use the term “survive”, because every day it’s a struggle to survive. You have to WANT to get up. Sometimes you have to “will” yourself out of bed. I know the feeling. I’ve been there.
I wrote a recent blog about this titled The End and that talks about the end of a chapter of life. I know it’s difficult.
Surviving Being Left Behind
I remember the first day I woke up and Kailyn was with her mom. Without going into too much detail here, I was jobless, wife-less, and kid-less. It was a weird feeling. It was an empty feeling. Loneliness has set in and had infected my mind.
I remember asking myself if there was a reason I was alive. I had no purpose in life, no reason to get up and start my day. So I didn’t. I decided to lie in bed and not get up. I did this for a few days, feeling sorry for myself, my circumstances, and for the life I had been left with.
The words kept going through my head, “Get up Ben. You have to get moving or you’re done for”. So I did.
Getting left behind is a lonely feeling. It’s a feeling of exclusion and deference. I felt like the world kept moving and I stayed stationary. It was horrible.
It’s important to note that this phase is all about survival. Surely, life would get better. People had been through worse and survived. I was alive, breathing and still a friend, brother, son, and father. I actually had a lot to live for.
But I couldn’t see that.
That’s why I refer to it as “survival”. I had to survive this phase to get to the next phase. None of the phases are easy, but they are survivable.
Part of the anger that comes with divorce, is the fact that I was jealous that my ex moved on.
In my case, so did my business and my employees that were like family moved on. All while I was stationary. I got left behind.
I think that the jealousy phase is a common and naturals phase. Sometimes this phase can feel a lot like the “anger” phase, but it’s really just jealousy. The formula looks something like this:
(Your ex’s life) – (your life) = (the life you SHOULD have)
Here’s the key . . . If you know anything about algebra, you realize that if you take “your ex’s life” out of the equation, you get:
(Your life) = (The life you should have)
I don’t talk much about my story here on my blog. The reason being is that it’s not really fair to those who I’d be referring to. They’re not here to tell their side of the story, so I try to stick to facts and not “my version”, but for the purposes of talking about being left behind, I think I need to fill in some of the backstory.
My ex wife and ex-best friend both worked for me. At some point they decided they didn’t want to work for me and ended up planing and executing a hostile takeover of my biggest clients and key employees, leaving me with practically nothing. In all fairness, my business was shaky at best and in their minds I think they thought they were saving themselves and a few select employees. But this was just an excuse to do what they wanted to do.
Then, it turns out that they were having an affair. I’ve never confirmed (nor do I want to know) if it was before or after we were separated, but let’s just say there are a few instances looking back, where I should have picked up on some signs.
This ex-best friend was my best friend since 8 years old. Best man at my wedding as I was at his. I gave him a career and he was great at his job (I’m not taking credit for his success, only the for training him and giving him a chance). I introduced him to, what would become his best employees and most valuable clients.
And then he took everything. My wife, my business and eventually my child (1/2 the time). He destroyed me.
Fast forward 8 years and here I am writing a blog for you. Obviously I’m still crushed by the betrayal, but every day things become a little more clear for me.
I’m not quick to dismiss their actions, but understanding why they did what they did, in the fashion they did it, helps me better settle my mind about the situation.
They’ve got two more kids of their own, Kailyn’s 1/2 brother and sister. He just sold his company and I think my ex is genuinely happy. In the end, I have to believe that everything happened for a reason. It’s taken me 8 years to say it, but I think they are a good fit for each other. I don’t mean that in a sarcastic way, I truly believe it.
Part of being left behind, is looking at how “unfair” everything can seem. I’ve got news for you . . . life’s not fair. If you’re sitting around waiting for the “fair-police”, you’re going to be sitting there a long time.
And I think this is a great metaphor actually. If you’re waiting for someone to correct all the wrongs, or make everything fair, it would explain why you’re standing still and everyone else is moving forward.
Pretty much, I had to let go of trying to figure out why life wasn’t fair to me. It’s still the biggest question I have on my mind. And I know I’ll never get an answer to that question . . . “Why wasn’t I treated fairly?”
Here’s what I figured out about this. And maybe this will shed some light on your situation if you’re in a similar one to me:
In my situation I HAVE TO BE THE BAD GUY in their eyes. I’m the guy who’s at fault for everything. I almost ruined their career. I was a terrible friend, a terrible husband, etc. The really bad guy.
Because, if I’m this REALLY BAD guy, then doing what they did to me is justifiable. You can’t marry your best friend’s wife, try and get him arrested and thrown in jail (long story, I won’t go into that here), take over his business and leave him with all the debt or say the things they’ve said about me, UNLESS I’m the really bad guy.
I’ve often thought that if I could ask my ex one question, it would be, “What did I ever do to you, besides give you a job, love you and try to provide for you?” Unfortunately, I’m never going to get that opportunity nor would I really ask if I had the chance.
Now to the title of my blog. I’m sure I share the same feelings of being left behind that many of you do. The minute my ex left me, she had a plan. A replacement. And I was left trying to pick up the pieces and figure out how to be a single dad.
My ex, never skipped a beat. I believe she moved on long before our divorce, but I was still hanging on. I got left behind emotionally and physically.
When it came to business, my ex-best friend had taken all of my assets (clients and employees), and left me with all of the liabilities (debt and remaining employees). His business is to my knowledge, wildly successful, while mine is also doing good, but 5 years behind.
I’ve come to grips with feeling left behind, but I haven’t figured out how to stop feeling that way. It’s a helpless and lonely feeling. I don’t have a catch-all answer to tell you how to stop feeling this way. All I can say is that the way I dealt/deal with it, is by reminding myself that it’s not a race or competition.
Even though I know it’s not warranted, I still feel lonely and left behind. It’s been 6 years now and that feeling hasn’t subsided. I’ll let you know after another 6 how it’s going in 2025. 🙂
My mom was asking me how I felt about me ex-best friend selling his business and I replied, “I’m happy for him”. I honestly am. He’s worked his ass off for 5 years now building his business. For what it’s worth, he deserves the success he’s achieved.
But it’s not my path.
I don’t want to live on a plane or in a hotel. I already travel enough. I’ve decided to live my life in a way that I can be at EVERY event Kailyn has. I missed ONE school assembly a year or so back, but besides that, I haven’t missed in game, award show, event or concert in her 9 years of being on this earth. I’m PTO President and plan over 40 events at her school every year for the past 5 years and I’m always there for her.
That’s my path.
Somewhere along the way, my ex-best friend and I took different paths for our lives and I can’t even compare the two. He’ll never remember the business meeting he went to and missed his kid’s event, but I’ll always remember Kailyn’s kindergarten hula concert. Or her piano recitals, or her award ceremonies.
That’s the difference.
I wouldn’t change my life with Kailyn for anything. And that’s how I know I’ve chosen the right path for me. I may not be married, have other kids, or have sold my business, but it turns out I’m a damn good dad . . . And a good human being.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel left behind. This goes for my professional and personal life. For me, they’re very intertwined and always have been. Maybe it’s not as complicated for you.
Left Behind: The Aftermath
When it’s all said and done, I’ll end up where I need to end up. I have to believe that. I can’t compare my life to someone else’s and you shouldn’t either.
We will became the sum of our life’s decisions and I know I’ve been making good ones. Ones that matter. I believe that these will lead me to the right ending. I hope the same is true for you.
I’ve been blessed with friends and opportunities that I would have never been given or introduced to had I remained married and/or the CEO of DAV Productions.
Call me a “glass half full” type of guy, but I prefer to consider myself a realist. One who tries to see all of the perspectives before he makes a final decision.
Everything is as it should be in my life. Maybe through writing this blog, it has helped me realize that I didn’t get left behind. That I’m exactly where I need to be for my friends, family, employees and Kailyn. That’s a much better feeling. I can fall asleep a happy guy tonight
. . . And with that, I’m going to sign off here. Thanks for letting me tell my stories, share my thoughts, and give some advice.
If you found this blog helpful, please share it. I’d love to reach as many people as I can, and I’d like to keep writing more and more blogs.
Good night all.