I was 37.
On paper, I had everything I wanted in life. A great Silicon Valley tech career, wife, big house, 3-year old son, friends, and money. I was living the American dream. Any Asian parent would be proud.
But there was a problem.
And as any good, independent Asian kid did, I dutifully tried to handle the problem on my own. I didn't share much with my friends, and definitely didn't involve my parents.
I kept trying to manage the problem, but as the days, weeks, and eventually months went by, this "secret" became too much for me to handle on my own. I felt like I was trying everything to make things work. But somehow it felt like the harder I tried, the more I actually lost control. Eventually, I shared the problem with a few of my closest friends. But I really needed help, and from more than just my friends.
I took a couple of days off from work to do some serious soul searching. And then I finally mustered up the courage. As I drove up to my parents' driveway, my heart raced. On the drive to their house, I thought of 50 different ways to frame the problem before telling them what was going on. And as I walked up to their door, I quickly rehearsed exactly what I had prepared. And when I finally sat down at their kitchen table where the two of them were seated, it happened.
"Hey, Carey. What's up," my dad said. He seemed to read the worried look on my face.
I looked up at both of them, and a tear streamed down my face. All of the preparation for the conversation went out the window.
"Mom, Dad...I'm going to need your help and support. I'm getting divorced."
Neither of my parents had ever suspected problems brewing in my marriage. I read the initial shock on my mom's face. My mom, who had grown up on the streets of New York and had made a practice of always appearing strong on the exterior, saw the sadness in my eyes. She was always a tough parent. But for the first time in as long as I can remember, there was softness in her eyes. Tears welled up. She seemed to know that I had thought very deeply through this, and that there was nothing left.
I was incredibly nervous and sad to tell my parents. But it was such a relief. It wasn't my choice to get divorced, and for a while I held extreme bitterness at my ex for having destroyed what was, at least on paper, a "perfect" life. In the end, however, I realize it was for the best.
It took some time for me to piece my life back together. And although my life is not quite conventional in the family sense, I have a ton to be thankful for. My parents were a lot more understanding than I gave them credit for. That was a huge relief.
It takes strength to reach out for help. No matter how bleak things appear to be, there is life after divorce. I learned the difficult way, as I suspect many men in similar situations do, that trying to deal with divorce in isolation is a clear path to added stress. Don't kid yourself -- you're going to need help from members of your support network. As challenging as it is, you must force yourself to open up and become vulnerable.
Going through the awkward conversation with my parents was a turning point for me. It lifted the burden of having to tackle many of the challenges on my own. Opening up to others and maintaining a positive outlook, despite the challenging circumstances, is what gave me the strength to get through the divorce. Once it was official, I felt sadness, but I also felt liberated. I could carry on with my life without the pressure of upholding the "dream".
This is my family now. For two years I've been blessed with a great blended family. My partner's son and my son are best friends, and I'm happier now than I've been in the past two decades.
This blog post is part of HuffPost's When Men Divorce series. For other posts written by men about the divorce experience, head here. If you want to share your story, email email@example.com
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