Six Kid Chaos*

Single Dad raising kids, and my passions in life.

The Last Year of My Life

Hello world, my name is Ed Dillon and I am a 45-year-old father to four amazing children.  And there was a number of years where I had the pleasure of being a Dad to six kids and at times it was very chaotic.  I came up with the #SixKidChaos and it has kind of stuck ever since, so when I was trying to think of a clever name for this blog, well I already had one in place.

Life happens to all of us, I’ve been married twice and now divorced twice.  And at times it seems to be more than I can bear.  I struggled with addiction in the past, and I’ve spent many years battling the nothing.  That feeling when life is dragging you down, everywhere you look it seems as if despair and heartache are around every corner.  You just cannot seem to shake that feeling and it paralyzes you in doing nothing.

This past year I have learned more about life than the previous 44, it started with the decision to separate from my second wife as things were just not working.  That was in September of 2016, and I instantly became the happiest person in the world.  Everyday was an adventure, I was exercising more than I ever had, I was posting on social media my workouts, my runs.  I took my son on many great adventures through the woods, hiking and seeing some amazing things.  I was literally on top of the world.

In November of 2016 the world seemed to crash in on itself.  Two things happened in a short amount of time, first I decided to try to reconcile with my wife.  She was not the least bit interested and what was originally my decision to separate, I had given her back the emotional control and now it felt like I was getting rejected and the emotional pain became more than I could bear.

I immediately became miserable, stopped working out, the addiction worsened and I no longer was the happiest man on the planet.  It was like going from the highest of highs to suddenly the lowest of lows, had I known how this would all make me feel then I never would have suggested a reconciliation in the first place. It did, however teach me a valuable lesson about being in emotional control of your life.

It was shortly after this that I found out that I as being transferred from my job.  I was the Kitchen Operations Manager for the Vaughan Keg Steakhouse and Bar, and I had worked at this location since it first opened in 2006.  We were one of, if not the busiest dinner location in the company, I worked hard and I played hard.  My 10 years there I was able to experience so many amazing and wonderful things above and beyond the normal aspect of the job.

Getting to meet my childhood hero, and World Series champion might top the list, getting to cook him dinner and then sit down afterwards sharing a beer and some great stories..

What other job has things like that happen on a regular basis?  There eventually will be a section of this blog telling all of these amazing adventures!  However, just surrendering the emotional control back to ex-wife, and then finding out that I had to leave the place that I loved, well it became far too much to bear.  I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone I was leaving, as the company wanted to keep it quiet as we were about to head into our busiest season of December and it needed to be business as usual.

The reason I was asked to switch locations revolved around what is called a QWL, or Quality Worklife Survey.  The Keg would generally do them twice a year, and it allowed all the employees to rate where they worked, rate the managers (to which I was one of them) and a variety of different topics.  Some I scored well on, and others I did not…  As it turned out in a company of over 100 locations I had been rated the lowest of any manager.

This building, and the staff (well some of them) no longer wanted me in the building, and the company’s choice was to let me go, or move me to another location to start over if you will.  And so it was on December 31st, 2016 after working a long shift where we did over 1000 meals I walked out the door shortly after midnight, without saying a word to anyone I was done.  I gave that building almost 11 years and I was no longer wanted.

That month of December was the hardest month of my life.  I never really shared or talked to anyone about month but I did spent the next six months dancing around with the nothing, feeling oh so sorry for myself.  Just as I had spent the middle part of 2016 not happy with myself and my relationship to which my attitude and demeanor towards other people was noted and no longer tolerated.

This whole experience taught me some very valuable lessons on how to deal with other people, how to interact and talk with employees on a greater scope than boss to staff.  It also taught me about being in the driver’s seat of one’s own life and what can happen if you give that control to the wrong person.  I tried very hard at my new location to fit in and let the past go but I found it almost impossible to emotionally connect with this staff after what the previous staff had done.  I just could not see the difference in the two.

In May of 2017 I finally  moved out on my own, taking my oldest two daughters along as I had full-time custody of them, and saw my little ones every day that I was not working.  It was in the summer that I started to feel good about myself again, and I tried to re-establish some lost connections with Emily and Megan.  When school started in September I had already seen changes in my eldest daughter as she was getting into trouble and withdrawing from family life at every chance she could.

My experiences from the year before taught that I needed to change something if I wanted to connect with these children again, working an evening and weekend job as a single parent is not the way to raise teenagers.  Far too much freedom, and freedom to make the wrong choices became crystal clear, I had tried to quit but was talked into working a part-time schedule of three days a week.

Honestly if I had the knowledge today that I had back then it could have worked, but trying to run a kitchen on a three-day a week schedule only works if you have the support system in place to make that happen.  We didn’t and work stress increased immediately as things that I would normally do when I would be working on a Thursday or Friday were often left unattended and for me to deal with on Saturday when I would go back in.

And so I walked away completely from my job, I went in on a Wednesday wrote my resignation letter, left my keys on the desk, gave my buddy a call and went golfing.  I knew I had time to figure things out, from the sale of my house earlier in the year I had been living the high life, the Summer of George is you will but then realized that I could use this money to re-establish and reconnect with my kids.  After all my youngest was only going to home for one more year before starting JK, and that is exactly what I have been doing over the past 10 weeks.

I can happily say that I have overcome the addiction, got a therapist, joined some support groups, opened myself up to my neighbours and friends and started to create a system of support for myself as I have felt very alone living here with no family or friends around.  I started writing emails to my neighbour about my experiences and she suggested that I share my experiences with others, to help inspire change in their own life as I have started to do in my own.

The journey I’ve started on is a lifelong adventure, with real destination just the desire to enjoy the ride as much as possible.  What I really want is to find that happier than life guy that existed from September to November of 2016, he is living down inside me somewhere… I just have to dust him off and get him back out there.

I will be as open and honest as possible here, I will share intimate and detailed stories on my life and my experience.  I find the entire writing process to be a very good outlet on my mental well-being, and if I can help even just a single person in some small way then it is more than worth it.

Have a great day everyone, and thanks for visiting Six Kid Chaos.

Ed Dillon

Categories: Life Happens

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