I know they don't realize that they're doing it, but that doesn't make the pain of rejection any less.
It just occurred to me that I'm a bit of a pariah in the only social circle I have right now.
I'm not a regular in the crowd, but the homeschool/drama circle frequented by my children and wife is about the only social exposure I get these days. With work and school and trying to keep two households in check, its a bit of a strain to get out and about lately.
I've felt fairly uneasy at recent events, noticing too many quick glances and far too many folks who don't look me in the eye or speak to me unless I speak first, and receiving a minimal to moderate response in reply at best from many of them; not all, but enough to notice and enough to feel uncomfortable. I'm the guy who walks around the circle, never quite fitting in; a stranger in full view.
I should have expected it, I suppose, and I probably deserve some of it. My wife and I have been separated for a bit over a year now and its common knowledge that I'm the husband/dad who "left". I'm the guy, preceded by far too many other guys, who "has a problem", "left his family" and "walked away". I'm the guy the girls mention when they're "going to dad's house" or talk about "staying with my dad for the next two days".
I'm the guy who "caused" the depression, anxiety and I'm the husband who is forcing his wife to get a job instead of being able to stay home with the kids. I'm the guy perceived as behind my wife's tears.
It must be puzzling to some, I'm sure, to see me walk up to my wife, put my arm around her and give her a quick peck on the cheek. It must be even more curious to see her respond in kindness to my overtures and to see the two of us together at times, coming and going, and seemingly enjoying each others company.
But they can't help it, I'm still "the guy" who has a problem staying with his family, lives alone and only sees his kids a couple of days a week.
They can't help it, but they don't hear the phone calls, see the support or have any way of knowing the entire picture, that I haven't "walked away" and didn't "leave my family". I continue, as always to support them financially, keep the roof over their heads, feed them, hold them close when I can and cry with them and for them when I can't. They can't see or know that I'm always there when called or needed, always there in a rush, always looking for ways to help out and keep the stream flowing, losing precious sleep and fighting a physical, mental and emotional strain that I think would topple many men. They only know what they hear and they imagine the rest.
Some of my wife's friends, even some who don't know me personally, are tender hearted and compassionate and I love them for it. They greet me and treat me with mercy and I suspect they mention me in their talks with our Lord, at least I hope so. A few of my daughter's friends always have a smile for me and a kind word to me; they can't know how much that means to me.
I'm the guy who "lives in a van down by the river", not because I want to, but because, for now, it seems to be the only thing to do. I'm the guy who cries in the dark, along with my wife and children. I'm the guy in pain with nothing to hold me together but Jesus. I'm the "guy" who could use, and needs, a little kindness.
I'll erase this in a day or so, I just need to throw it out into the night. One of my girls is having problems sleeping and she needs to know her daddy is up and watching over her so she can sleep. I give up my sleep for hers, any day, any time; that's what dad's do.
Good night and happy Fathers Day.