04/17/2012 06:51 pm ET Updated Jun 17, 2012

Surviving Separation: Getting to Know Myself Again

Separation meant that many of my life plans became redundant. I felt I had to start from scratch in many ways. My marriage was so much of my identity, I even felt the need to get to know myself again.

Who was I? Where did I want to go? How would I get there?

This journal entry about a friend's photograph was an important point in the journey.

"We spent most time talking about a close up shot of a cupid at the base of Queen Victoria in a statue in Dunedin [New Zealand]. The head was of a three-year-old, bowed as if under the weight from above, and the body was of a fit, but tiny man. No cherub this. A strange part-boy, part-man... The face was stained as bronze does in the weather. Streaks on his forehead making him seem sad to me. Then it clicked that this statue was a representative of what I felt sometimes. The head of a boy operating a man's body, with a man's responsibilities ... I started to get choked up. Tears in my eyes.

It may seem odd to get emotional over a photo of a statue. But I felt and still feel sometimes, like a man-boy. I am a man and I do many things as a man, yet I also feel like a boy. Vulnerable. Unsure. Not yet educated in all the arts of manhood.

As the father of three boys, knowing about manhood is doubly important to me, as I am one of their chief examples.

But what is it to be a man? Tough question. I decided I would examine it in my journal. In one passage, I wrote about often feeling lonely, about wanting a male to show me the way, to be a resource, to be there for me when I was upset. I wrote that I sometimes felt I worried I didn't have the knowledge or the skills or the wisdom to truly be a man.

I felt weak writing my feelings down. But by recognizing my insecurity, I was on my way to dealing with it. By asking the question about manhood, I started a journey toward my own understanding. I met, and meet, men who teach me by their example what manhood means to them. I examine their lives for ideas that fit me.

Through this process, I learned something simple about being a man, about being a dad. If I am brave enough to accept the truth, if I am brave enough to love, then that is enough. My manhood will fall into place naturally.

Endurance, honor, loyalty, leadership, teaching, creativity, self-discipline and all the other great qualities of men come from love and truth. That's what I discovered.

This is part of my Huffington Post blog series. I call it "For Men Who Have Everything, Including Separation -- Thoughts on Surviving Separation."

My goals are straightforward:
  • Offer hope and humor to men who are disconsolate after a relationship has hit the rocks
  • Offer a resource to women -- sisters, mothers, friends -- who care about such men

I wrote "For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart" because I would have liked a book like this when my first marriage nose-dived.

I offer it in a spirit of brotherhood and with a strong faith that once our broken hearts mend, we have the capacity to be more compassionate, wiser, more resilient and stronger than we were before.

For those interested in reading the earlier posts of this series, links are provided below:

#1 -- For Men Who Have Everything, Including a Broken Heart, Thoughts on Surviving Separation #2 -- Grieving is Healing #3 -- Beware Precipitous Action #4 -- Love Thyself #5 -- Deal with the Real #6 -- Blame is a Trap #7 -- Create Multiple Explanations #8 -- Freedom, Courage & Splitting Up #9 -- Parenting Apart: Soccer and Wandering in Life's Changes #10 -- Cut the Conflict in Front of the Kids #11 -- The Next Relationship #12 -- Beware the Penis Imperative