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A little background…

… 6 years ago my wife and I separated and got a quickie divorce (her choice) and we had a 5 year old daughter. I was devastated, desperate and couldn’t see past the hour, let alone the day. This site was invaluable in helping me to recover -which guys you do!

Fast forward 6 years and things are much better, I have a good friendship with my ex-wife and I see my now 11 year old daughter Monday nights and every other weekend. It works and days I don’t see her we will video chat; she only lives a 15 min drive away. I personally have not moved on with a relationship of my own as the divorce just broke me, but I can function normally and truth be told, I’ve gotten so used to my own company-I just love it!!!

Anyway, my reason for posting is that I’ve always had low self esteem and lacked in confidence.  This has been since I was a shy young boy.
For the past year and a half, I have been workin a 9-5 NHS teaching job which was great for seeing my daughter and I needed the break from 18 years of shift work as a paramedic to have set days with her.  

However, the 9-5 contract was coming to an end and I have recently got a full time job in a local A&E. This means shifts again and I had mentioned that I have my daughter on certain days, they’ve said they can try to accommodate but I’ve been in the NHS for nearly 20 years and I know they won’t. 

I won’t sacrifice my days with my daughter while she is still young and with the pressures of learning a new job too, my anxiety and lack of confidence have reached high levels in the last two days. I’m training at the moment, but on shifts next week and includes Monday!
I’ve been doing what I normally do when I feel like this, go to bed  as soon as I get home, think things through and don’t get up until work. I don’t have many friends as I am quite an introvert, so don’t turn to people often. My ex-wife is a good support and I have been chatting to her. 

I do still have a bank contract as a paramedic and work shifts that I can pick, so that’s an option but I don’t get the security if if sick. 

A bit different from the normal posts, but any advice as I need to work, but also want to see my daughter. 

Topic starter Posted : 09/03/2023 9:27 am
Honorable Member

Well done for moving on since the divorce and establishing a good relationship with your ex.  Congratulations too on the new job.  As you have a good friendship with your ex, can you explain to her about the new job and that you'd like to be flexible about the days you see your daughter in the week.  You can also explain it to your daughter as she's old enough to understand the working situation.  Maybe you could do Sunday instead of Monday for example.  You are a paramedic so clearly a very sympathetic and understanding person but it seems you may need a bit of support for yourself.  Can you arrange any counselling through work?  I'm sure your'e aware of the various support available through the NHS which can be obtained anonymously as well.  You say you like your own company but it might help to get out a bit more.  Do you have any hobbies or interests?  Could you join a local group so you meet people with similar interests?  Good luck with the new job - they have confidence in you and so should you

Posted : 09/03/2023 11:05 am
Estimable Member Registered

@champagne Thanks for your reply. I’ve always been an introvert and liked my own company over others, so getting out more is not really for me. I do read a lot of novels and go out cycling with a few other solitary hobbies so I keep occupied and am happy with that. 
my ex is really supportive and I have been talking to her this morning; she said the same as you, have confidence in yourself etc. Although my ex is supportive and a good friend, she’s a stickler for the days I can have her due to her own work schedule so I couldn’t change this around really. 
I’ve used the NHS counseling service a few times in the past and found it useful, but I’m not depressed just new job anxiety and worried about not having my days with my daughter. I’m sure it will settle down, but when the anxiety comes I panic.

Topic starter Posted : 09/03/2023 11:46 am
Estimable Member Registered

Hi Dads

6 years ago when I separated from my wife, I used to work shift patterns and on my days off I would have my daughter who was only 5 at the time.
Over the next few years, I was pressured by my ex to change jobs to a more 9-5 role as the irregular days I would have my daughter was unsettling for her. 
18 months ago, I did that and got a 9-5 job, but it was only for a fixed term contract. But in that time, I had set days that i would see my daughter, who is now 11, on Monday nights and every other weekend which worked well when I got used to it. 
2 weeks ago I started a new job as the fixed term contract was coming to an end and it is back to shift work again. I have spoken to the person who sorts the rotas and asked if I could have the set days I currently have had for 18 months and work around that, which she is trying to implement.  I know with staff sickness and leave, it will go out of the window! 
The next 2 Mondays I know I am working which is annoying as I won’t have my daughter, so tonight I video chatted her and she made it obvious she didn’t want to speak to me instead wanting to group chat with her friends. 
Her Mum whom I get on with and usually reassures me, when I asked her if I could see her tomorrow evening as i won’t see her on Monday, was cold in her message saying that I have already spoken to her the other night (very briefly) and that my daughter has nothing to say to me on the call. She also said that my daughter has made plans tomorrow night. 
my ex has never stopped me from seeing my daughter so I don’t understand the coldness when she knows I’m struggling with new job anxiety and the worry that I might not see my daughter on my set days. 

It’s so easy for my ex to say “no” and “you’ve already spoken to her this week” but she lives with her and doesn’t see it from my point of view.  
This is a dream job which I’m finding hard (only been two weeks) but I am willing to quit if it means it interferes with my time with my daughter. 
My ex won’t deviate from the set days which I find bizarre as I have had my daughter extra days for her when my ex has plans. 
As always guys, keep talking and sharing.  

Topic starter Posted : 09/03/2023 10:03 pm
Eminent Member Registered

@headspace  I'm sorry to hear that it is an anxious time for you.  You have clearly worked hard over the past 6 years to keep in close contact with your daughter and to build your relationship.  I am sure this will pay off in the long run, and would encourage you to keep doing what you are doing - I guess it is still early days for all of you with the new job.  Keep video-calling regularly, even if the calls are sometimes shorter or less conversational than you would like (not unusual for someone heading towards teenage years....they do come out the other side!).  Keep telling your daughter that you love her and are doing your best to sort your rotas so that you can spend more time together.  Maybe acknowledge that she might be feeling frustrated and disappointed by the change too.  Keep working with your ex - she may be struggling with the change as well - but it is in your daughter's best interest to be able to spend time with both of you.

I hope you can enjoy your new job - you are doing amazing work - and hope the rotas start to settle down.  

Keep getting out on your bike when you can - hopefully the weather will warm up a bit soon!

Fegan's Parent Support Volunteer

Posted : 10/03/2023 7:00 pm
Estimable Member Registered

@caravan thanks my friend, really good advice and I totally agree with what you’re saying.  
I am being my usual panicky self when I know I will be fine, but sometimes I let the panic overwhelm me. 
Im sure it will all settle down and things will be ok.

Topic starter Posted : 10/03/2023 7:08 pm
Estimable Member Registered

Hello my friends 

I have always been someone who enjoys his own company and all my hobbies are individual pursuits. 
I live alone, no relationship for about 5 years and have my 11 year old daughter on most Monday nights and every other weekend. 
my relationship with my ex is good (we divorced 6 years ago) and she’s the only one I really speak to as a friend.

I suffer from anxiety on occasion as have no self esteem or confidence, but I get by with meditation and independence.

I have been working a 9-5 teaching post for the past 18 months and now the contract has ended I’ve gotten a full time position in the NHS, but it’s back to late shifts. 
I have had an agreement with my employer  to try to keep the days I have with my daughter, but it’s not guaranteed and I can’t really plan my life as I only get a month in advance rota. 
My ex won’t deviate from our set days; it wasn’t done in court as we did everything amicably. 
I’ve just been really low as i started this new job 2 weeks ago and there is so much to learn, back on shifts and I have a university module to complete -and I’m in my 50’s!!! I’m just not enjoying it.

Plus, my daughter who I mentioned is 11, when I video chat her she just doesn’t want to speak lately and says I that I disturb her chatting to her friends on group chat. I realize that her friends are more important at her age now, but 5 mins to speak to me won’t do any harm! We until recently used to call and message a lot. Her mum is normally reassuring and agrees, but recently has been harsh and told me “she’s got nothing to say to you” and “she’s made plans” when I asked to see her on a non set day.
Also, her mum and I agreed that the mobile should be switched off at 20:30 at the latest which I do at my house -albeit with  some resistance, but she seems to be on it past 9pm with her mum -despite her mum setting the rules (which she did with all aspects of my life when married). 

I’m only missing this coming Monday and the next due to work so it’s not a big deal, but as I’ve had a big change these past 2 weeks, I’m feeling overwhelmed, lonely and sad. I’ve spent my 3 days off in my house, no interest in getting dressed and in bed by 5pm and only eating one meal a day. 

Topic starter Posted : 11/03/2023 8:36 am
Estimable Member Registered

Hello Headspace,

thank you for sharing and for being so open and honest. This is a very difficult time for you. A change in career, working practices and hours will be hard enough, without the added stress of difficult relationships between yourself and your daughter and her Mum.

But, there is always hope. I would suggest you make an appointment to see your GP and update them with how you are feeling. You may need to have your medication reviewed and altered accordingly. Please keep taking care of yourself. If you don’t eat, sleep etc, it will be harder for you to think clearly and logically about your situation. You can do this, you have proved that by managing your teaching job well and having hobbies, despite anxiety issues - and this is positive! 
So, with your daughter, perhaps suggest to her a time once a week when you FaceTime, and ask her when is a good time - so giving her the choice to decide. She is at a time when hormones are taking over, and friends and peer groups have a lot of influence. (Being a teacher I’m sure you appreciate this! ) But, she is only 11 and needs boundaries too - these make children feel secure. So I would stick to the mobile phone curfew of 8:30pm when she is with you. When she’s with Mum, however hard it is I would try not to focus too much on, but when things have settled down, talk to your ex and think of a compromise re the mobile phone. A family agreement could be set up - where the parents and the child agree to do things and sign a contract. For example child would agree to turn off mobile at 9pm, parent would agree to no mobile at meal times. 
Have you thought of mediation sessions as a family ? Or for yourselves ? 
As for the Monday arrangement you are perfectly within your rights to seek a compromise and I think your ex needs to know how your new shifts work, what you have to do re study and how important seeing your daughter is. Sometimes people don’t realise how much someone is struggling until it’s spelled out for them. You’re not doing this to make your ex feel bad, but to show her you love and care for your daughter and want a relationship with her and as her father you have that right. You don’t want to have to involve the courts for access unless the relationship breaks down. 
Ask your ex if she is ok? Is she worried about anything? Sometimes through simple communication things can be sorted. 
I wish you well, let us know how things are going,

best wishes, Fegans Parent Support Volunteer 

Posted : 11/03/2023 10:04 am

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