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September 14

Twenty years ago today, I got married for the first time. It was 5 p.m. on September 14, 1996. I was 26 years old and had one child, a 2 ½-year-old boy. I was working at a dream career in my hometown of Owen Sound, Ontario. I don’t remember thinking anything specific about the future, but I know I felt very optimistic and positive despite the rain that poured down that day. How could I not?

Nine years ago today, I was recently separated and was the full-time single father of three boys, aged 13, 10, and 8. There was little to feel optimistic and positive about. My marriage had failed, and in fact had ended in spectacularly ugly fashion. My former dream career had turned into a nightmare. As it was the first anniversary without my wife, I spent this day feeling sorry for myself, feeling overwhelmed, and feeling very much alone and lost in the wilderness.

Five years ago today, I was lying on my living room couch with a broken vertebra in my back, a broken hand, bruised ribs, and a bruised knee – souvenirs from the car crash of the previous evening. I had been spreading myself too thin, working three jobs in order to make ends meet, and as a result I was neglecting some of my responsibilities as a sole-support parent. It all caught up with me late one night on a lonely back road between Meaford and Owen Sound. Five years ago today, I was beaten up, physically and emotionally. Being optimistic and positive was so far beyond me at that point. Again, I spent the day feeling overwhelmed and sorry for myself. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt lower than I did on this day.

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