Restitution | After the Storm
Divorce is a storm that will shake your whole life up. The recovery and rebuilding process will leave your mental health and finances off-balance.
Three years ago, marriage was the last thing I wanted. And having another child? That was not even a thought in my mind because the greatest thing a man could ever have was taken from me; fatherhood. I was fighting to stay in my son’s life. I was struggling to keep my professional career on track. I was struggling to take steps forward.
I used this experience as an opportunity to look in the mirror. I had to really be honest and identify what role I played to get to this point instead of focusing on what anyone else did to me. How can I be better? How could I use this as a leap forward rather than a step back? I remember speaking with God, recognizing my mistakes, and asking for restitution.
But I knew that to receive, I had to do my part. The first thing I worked on was self-love. The lack thereof in my life led me to seek it in the wrong people.
The second thing I did was dedicate myself to being present in my son’s life. A man can’t conquer anything until he learns to conquer himself and accepts his responsibilities. I resigned from my job, moved to his home state, purchased a house near him, and gave him all the time and love I could. For nearly 2 years, I put my professional life on hold to give my son consistency. No regrets at all.
At the end of 2021, something shifted. I had no clue what was coming but something told me that restitution was around the corner. And then on October 19th, my son’s birthday, I got a call. I was being recruited to lead an organization focused on Central America. After 3 interviews, I took the role and I moved to New Jersey.
But the blessings kept coming. I met my best friend and we were managing a long-distance relationship between New Jersey and Costa Rica. Suddenly, my job authorized my move back home to Costa Rica. We then got engaged in Guatemala, the place where I separated from my son. We got married in Costa Rica and now we’re expecting a little angel due November 2022.
The storm is over. A new, beautiful chapter begins.
I got married for the first time in less than 30 minutes. No guests, no vows, no pastor/priest. One of the court employees had to hold our son while we were signing the paperwork. That’s just what my first marriage was; paperwork.
My priority was to be a present father which also meant formalizing the relationship with his mom even if that relationship was broken from day 1. I was determined to be the best father in the world but I was never determined to be a good husband. I thought I was doing the right thing at the time but I was only creating a storm that would later rain down.
I'm grateful that my son’s mom filed for divorce. It’s the best thing to ever happen to us. My love for my son is so strong that I was willing to stay with a person for 18 years just to be by his side. I wasn’t capable of walking away no matter how necessary I knew it was. I’m thankful that she had the courage to walk away because she gave us both the opportunity to find the person that God created for us.
A few people asked me if I was nervous prior to proposing this time. I wasn’t. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to tell her that I want her to be the co author of my life and that I’d like to be hers. I couldn’t wait to feel her first embrace as my soon-to-be wife.
On paper, this is my second marriage. But in my heart this is my first. And under God, this will be my first and only.
I don’t regret my first one because God judges us by our hearts and intentions. My heart was in the right place. My intention was to give my son a household but my mind wasn’t ready to handle conflicting values; fatherhood vs marriage. Ideally, both are found in the same household. But in this case, as in many cases in society, they weren’t.
The key to my success in life is my ability to learn from failure more than I learn from success. My first marriage taught me to value my own happiness and well-being. I learned to think a whole lot more before acting. I learned to decipher love from lust. I learned that marriage is not to be based off feelings or emotions only. It’s a life-long union in which we both must be compatible.
Marriage is a sacred union in which two hearts come together closer than than the bodies ever could. Though we’re already whole and complete as individuals, we’re a stronger team together.
I thank God for creating her. And I thank my wife for understanding and loving me. May this relationship continue to be blessed.
Letting go: A Father’s PerspeCtive
There comes a time in a divorced fathers life when we have to let go of what no longer exists.
It took me a long time to accept that my son was no longer in my household full-time. That my house is now a weekend trip. That I’m always playing catch up on his life. That just when we start bonding, it’s time to say goodbye again. That he won’t run to me at the door like he used to when I got home from work. That another man will see him more than I do. That I won’t be there when he’s frustrated with his math homework, when he brings home a good report card, or when life just gets heavy for him.
I remember getting home from work and he’d be on the balcony looking down, waiting for me, and then he would run to the front door to give me a big hug. Those moments are now memories and I fought this reality for 2 years. And that is what turned my pain into suffering. I’ve lost hours of sleep, thousands of dollars in courts, and countless tears wishing I could see him everyday. Because how do I let go of the only true love I’ve ever felt?
I’m at the stage where I’ve finally accepted my new reality as his father. I get approximately 80 days a year with him. So there are approximately 285 days that he lives a life I know very little about. Discipline becomes tricky because I spend most of the time we get studying where he’s at mentally and understanding what he’s going through. I try not to shower him with material items because I know that doesn’t fill any voids. So I’ve focused on showering him with love, confidence, and security. I’ve focused on being impactful in his life with the brief time I get rather than focusing on the fact that I want more time with him.
But there’s a level of guilt that comes with letting go of the past. I can’t fully allow any woman into my heart or mind because it feels like I owe all that love to my son. And how do I move forward to create a new life with someone without my son feeling like I left him? Will he understand?
I’m nervous at the thought of having more children because perhaps I won’t love them the same. Of course not purposely but subconsciously. Perhaps I’ll subconsciously be trying to recreate with them what I used to have with my first son. That wouldn’t be fair.
I’m nervous to continue progressing in my career knowing I’ll have to move away from him. Does prioritizing myself mean I’m not prioritizing him?
Some fathers run away from these feelings. Some of us don’t confront ourselves. We don’t look in the mirror because we know there’s a broken man that will look back at us that requires a lot of work. But we deserve a better version of ourselves. Our future spouse deserves a clean heart and soul. Our kids deserve the best version of ourselves. We pay so much child support but don’t pay enough attention to how we feel and how to deal with it.
We carry so much on our shoulders. Weight that no one sees. No one notices. They only notice when we mess up. They only notice us on the first of the month when child support is due. We’re considered providers and it’s not often that anyone provides for us unless there’s something in it for them. I get it. Hang in there dads. The prize will be seeing our young boys grow up to fulfill their potential because of the love we gave them.
Meeting the right person at the wrong time and the wrong person at the right time
We’ve all met that perfect person. They understood us, put up with us, helped us, and loved us. When we were sick, they were there. They were everywhere we needed them to be. They knew what made us smile and they knew what ticked us off. They noticed the little things and turned small moments into meaningful memories. They would have gone to the moon and back for us while we were barely willing to stop and get them chocolates every once in a while. This person would have been the most amazing life partner. But we just weren’t ready. We were too young and scared of this person because it required a version of us that we knew we couldn’t be yet. A version of us that required accountability, fidelity, and dedication. This was the perfect person. But it just wasn’t the right time.
So you probably broke this person’s heart and easily moved on while they embarked on the hardest and darkest moments of that year. Then they probably moved on, got married, and had kids. And now you’re older and you start missing that person because now you’re ready for that caliber of a person. Seeing them happy burns but it just wasn’t the right time.
Like Usher said, "You gotta let it burn."
So you say to yourself, “the next time I fall in love I want her to be just like that.”
But life just isn’t that simple. We end up falling for the opposite. The one who doesn’t understand us. The person whose love language is the opposite of yours and won’t take the time to learn you, to study you, to love you. This person won’t water your love, won’t feed your soul and won’t fill in the voids in your heart. But we fall anyways. We become attached and almost addicted. But why? Because this is the wrong person at the right time.
Perhaps we had overcome a defining life event. Perhaps we faced adversity, loneliness, or divorce, or heartbreak. So this person dropped in after we learned a life lesson. After we made it over the hump towards maturity. When we needed color in a page of our lives that was dull and sad. We’ve gotten older and have lost that young sparkling confidence and this person may just stroke our ego enough to keep us around. But this person doesn’t notice the little things. In fact, they forget the important details and don’t notice when something is off. This person doesn’t love us like that perfect person we once had. But they like us and we like that they like us because it feels like the world doesn’t sometimes. This person becomes our coping mechanism. Our oxygen. We know they don’t love us but we can’t let go. This is the wrong person at the right time.
Have you ever experienced any of these?
According to divorce statistics, only 50 percent of us will find the right person at the right time. This stuff is complex. Love is hard. Love is probably one of the scariest but somehow the most beautiful thing in this world. And I truly believe that we’ll never find that right person while we’re looking. Life will just bring us together by chance. When you least expect it.
“If you knew you only had 6 months to live, what would you do differently?”
My life changed when I first heard that question. We spend our lives being who other people want us to be, fitting into a mold, and working tirelessly while making someone else rich. We become so busy and so preoccupied. We become so many things except our true selves.
So I took a step back. Actually, I took several steps back. I eliminated all the things that were causing me to drift from who I truly am. And then I traveled the world and experienced life.
I learned that the richest people in the world often don’t have happiness and the happiest people in the world often don’t have money. Sounds crazy, right?! Especially while living in a society where we’re taught that cash rules everything around us.
The last 5 years have been imperfect and turbulent. But that’s what is required for growth. Comfort is the enemy of progress and I made my life very uncomfortable until I became comfortable in my own skin and created a life I can smile about.
I’m finally making the years count rather than counting the years.
“I didn’t come here to fit into anyone’s world. I came here to create my own.
At 28 years old, I have officially reached my two year mark with the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service. What a ride it has been so far! This is truly a remarkable experience that I am so grateful to be a part of. It is an experience that requires immense flexibility, bullet-proof resilience and a hell of an optimistic perspective despite all that you will see and feel along the way.
The foreign service will ignite the adventurous spirits and warm nomadic hearts of those who serve. I have seen pure authenticity in towns I never thought I'd visit. I have explored hidden gems and popular destinations. I have seen poverty and genuine happiness coexisting until I begun to analyze the correlation between the two. Because I've met and bonded with people who have no water, no electricity, and little to no income but they transmit more peace than people who have countless commodities. I have explored parts of my identity as I have explored parts of the world and I have reprogrammed my perspective on politics, the global economy, and social issues. The foreign service will completely rewire parts of your personality and uncover elements of your being that you did not know were there.
But on the other hand, the foreign service has challenged me and required sacrifices I did not think I would have to make. I came here with my ex-spouse and my amazing son. But 6 months from now, I’m leaving to my next assignment divorced with a very slim window of time to see my son throughout the year. The Foreign Service takes a huge toll on family life and it will test parts of your relationship(s) that perhaps have not been tested in the past. And as with any test, some people pass and some fail depending on how prepared we were. For those who are single in the foreign service, it becomes difficult to date. A relationship will inevitably become a long distance one once it’s time depart for the next assignment. Or, you and your partner may have to consider moving together to the next country. Or, your relationship will result in separation. Or, you simply date knowing that feelings will complicate your situation, therefore, you lock the door to your heart. Whether you have a partner or are embarking on this journey alone, the foreign service requires flexibility and an immense ability to adapt to new environments quickly. It requires many goodbyes that sometimes hurt more than others. And you will spend many months and many miles away from your parents, siblings, and other loved ones.
Professionally, I do not plan to serve in the foreign service throughout my entire career. But it is comforting to know that this chapter of my professional life is applicable to whatever I choose to do next. The skills, the character traits, the experiences you pick up along the way will make you invaluable to your next employer. Of course, that’s assuming that you choose to truly absorb what the job throws at you and that you maximize the experience.
So what's next for me? It is no secret I have political aspirations. In the next few years, I will roll out my first business venture in Costa Rica, publish my second book, and begin my political run for office. I am immensely excited for what's to come and I am so grateful for such a strong supportive group of family and friends.
To the Unsung Fathers
Separation, legal fees, custody fights, and watching the person you loved become someone you never knew. These are some of the darkest time of our lives in which we cry in the dark and smile when it’s daytime. If we let them see us cry, they will mistake it for weakness and guilt. But if we smile, they will think we never cared. So we stay silent and it burns.
We are fighting a war with no weapons and no armor. And if we lose, our kids will think we were weak and absent. They will resent us without considering that we had to break chains with no keys and we had to earn custody time after enormous legal fees.
The judge doesn’t see the weight we carried on our shoulders. We moved mountains and boulders just to make sure our kids grow older with everything they need. But the judge’s job is not to judge reality. His job is to hold us accountable. Meanwhile your child’s mother’s word is considered gold while her heart might barely be bronze. But there’s no accountability system for morals and values. The courts don’t value morals and values.
The moment we step in that courtroom, we are secondary. And that’s a difficult pill to swallow after we thought that fathers and mothers were supposed to be equal. So this is my advice to all the fathers out there.
Silence burns but it earns respect. Let people say whatever they want to say about the things they know nothing about. All that matters is that we take care of our fatherly matters and that our kids never feel our absence and that they never feel forgotten. Because if they do, we have created a cycle of emotional baggage that will take decades and generations to break.
Once you’re in a good place, find yourself a woman who will love your kids and who will push you to be the man you were born to be. But most importantly, do not allow these dark times to dim the light you had for yourself. You are still a man. You are still a king in this world capable of accomplishing all the dreams you had for yourself.
Separación, honorarios legales, peleas de custodia y ver a la persona que amas convertirse en alguien que nunca has conocido. Estos son algunos de los momentos más oscuros de nuestras vidas en los que lloramos en la oscuridad y sonreímos cuando es de día. Si dejamos que nos vean llorar, lo confundirán con debilidad y culpa. Pero si sonreímos, pensarán que nunca nos importó. Así que nos quedamos en silencio y eso arde.
Estamos luchando una guerra sin armas y sin armadura. Y si perdemos, nuestros hijos pensarán que estábamos débiles y ausentes. Nos reclamarán sin saber que tuvimos que romper cadenas sin llaves y que tuvimos que ganar tiempo de custodia después de enormes honorarios legales.
El juez no ve el peso que cargamos sobre nuestros hombros. Movimos montañas y rocas solo para asegurarnos de que nuestros hijos crezcan con todo lo que necesitan. Pero el trabajo del juez no es juzgar la realidad. Su trabajo es hacernos pagar la pensión. Mientras tanto, la palabra de la madre de nuestros hijos se considera oro, mientras que su corazón apenas puede ser de bronce. Pero no hay un sistema de responsabilidad para la moral y los valores. Los tribunales no valoran la moral y los valores.
En el momento en que entramos en esa sala del tribunal, somos secundarios. Y esa es una pastilla difícil de tragar después de pensar que padres y madres supuestamente eran iguales. Así que este es mi consejo para todos los padres.
El silencio arde pero se gana el respeto. Deje que las personas digan lo que quieran decir sobre las cosas de las que no saben nada. Lo único que importa es que nos ocupamos de nuestros asuntos paternos y que nuestros hijos nunca sienten nuestra ausencia y que nunca se sienten olvidados. Porque si lo hacen, hemos creado un ciclo de carga emocional que tomará décadas y generaciones en romperse.
Una vez que esté en un buen lugar, dese la oportunidad con una mujer que amará a sus hijos y que lo empujará a ser el hombre para el que nació. Pero lo más importante, no permita que estos tiempos oscuros atenúen la luz que tenía para usted. Sigues siendo un hombre. Sigues siendo un rey en este mundo capaz de lograr cualquier sueño.
The most beautiful thing about this book is the value it adds to any library in the world, regardless of who is grabbing it off the shelf. A child of any background will benefit from reading Los Superamigos de Centroamerica.
As a parent myself, I tend to gravitate towards books that can relay social messages to my son. I prefer fun and conscious reads with diverse characters and inclusive content. I worked really hard to create a book for kids that fits that standard.
Though I can find so many more, here are 3 great reasons why EVERY child should own this book!
The desire to pursue a life on the other side of the wall is leading to generational consequences. In 2018, more than 50,000 unaccompanied children were detained at the border contributing to almost 400,000 total apprehensions. Families are spending up to $10,000 to hire help transporting a family member across the border. On a daily basis, people succumb to dehydration and heat exhaustion while crossing deserts into the United States. In the United States, millions of families are separated as kids often watch their parents get deported to their countries of origin. So as a first-generation immigrant, I can't help but wonder. Is all of this worth it? What if Central Americans knew what life is truly like once they arrive to the other side of the border? Would they still walk miles, pay thousands of dollars, and sacrifice the lives of their family members?
Allow me to elaborate....
In 2017, I spent over 3 months on an 80-stop tour across the United States. I went from high school to high school offering each student body a 50 minute inspirational speech and a 45 minute mentoring workshop. From California to Minnesota. From Seattle to Louisville, Kentucky. School after school, I met and spoke with hundreds of first and second-generation immigrant teenagers who opened up about their life in the United States.
In different ways, they expressed a degree of emptiness and confusion as they shared their experiences living in the United States. They revealed their heart-breaking encounters with substance abuse, gang-affiliation, poverty, and depression. Among these teenagers were 15-year old recovering addicts, 16-year old sexual abuse survivors, and single mothers all under age 17. After about 30 school visits, my experience with America’s immigrant youth revealed a truth I’ve ignored ever since I immigrated myself; our journey to the United States is not the romantic story that we’re all told when we’re in our home countries. No one told us that on the other side of that wall, we exchange our well-being, sanity, values, and our identity for the minimum wage. No one told us that on the other side of that wall is the highest rate of incarcerated people in the world and that black and brown kids like us are the most frequent targets. No one told us that on the other side of that wall our parent(s) would have to work 2-3 jobs while we raise ourselves. These teenagers were conscious of the fact that their transition into the United States had consequences and they were desperate to wake up from this American Dream.
What I witnessed on this tour was tremendously insightful. I witnessed young children who look in the mirror uncertain of who stares back. They are expected to grow tall and strong in a society that does not understand their roots. I witnessed young children who fell victims to the same threats their parents ran away from. So I asked myself...what if the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is not the wall that really matters? Because I believe the most divisive wall that exists is the wall between us and the belief that dreams are possible in our home countries.
What if instead of believing that the grass is greener on the other side, we worked together to water the grass on our side of the wall? What if we believed in a Central American Dream instead of just the American Dream?
Growing up, I always wanted to see a superhero I could identify with.
I am proud to present the official cover of my new upcoming book, Los Superamigos de Centroamerica. Each superhero represents a Central American country and they use their super powers to unite the region and improve the conditions within each developing country.
This book will be released throughout Central America and the United States in Spanish and English.
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To my first son, Jaxson R. Cubillo | Your Social Responsibility
In the 1930s, the United States had to take a tough stance. The Nazi momentum was incredibly overwhelming and no nation in the region had the artillery or funds to fight back. But there we were, faced with the decision to become allies or bystanders. The American people opposed a costly and bloody war, but President Roosevelt knew that preserving freedom and peace was essential. Today, the Nazi regime no longer exists because we chose to become an ally to Great Britain.
Today, humanity continues to struggle against other extremist ideas, policies, and wishes. And just as guilty are those who turn a blind eye as those who do and / or think horrible things.
Never forget that your father is an immigrant from Costa Rica. And although I could have tried to hide behind my passport, my second language, and my college degrees, it was always clear to me that our roots cannot be denied. Our identity is deeper than the surface. And who I am is part of you.
Currently, many families in Central America are leaving their homes on a daily basis to escape various conflicts. Millions travel to the United States, legally and illegally, in search of opportunity. At the same time, Hispanics living in the United States face discrimination and harassment from people who developed a misleading image of us. We are a people who struggle to find a true home and identity in the midst of the search for opportunity.
You are in an interesting position. You were born white and blond and could easily look away and still be the beneficiary of the privilege of people who look like you. I could easily reject the disadvantages faced by people who look like me. Because statistically, you will beat people of color for a job. A police officer is less likely to stop you for a search. You don't have to constantly be reminded that the people around you question your legal status, your criminal history, and your every move simply because you're of a darker tone. I am not predicting that your life will be easy. In fact, your life could be difficult and challenging. But what I'm saying is that your skin tone will never be the reason.
You have a decision to make, Jaxson. Will you be an ally or a bystander? The easy thing to do is isolate ourselves from the issues that do not affect us. The right thing to do is to defend the silenced and defend the marginalized.
A tree can withstand rain, winds, and storms if it has deep roots. Don't forget your roots regardless of the color of your leaves. Let your roots determine the paths you take in your life. You are the product of an unlikely bond between two people. You are the product of a bond between two humans who would not normally get involved with each other. Somehow, a child came from a different country and ended up meeting someone as different as your mother. It wasn't luck. You were born with a purpose.
I may no longer be here when you read and understand this letter. And that's why I wrote it. So you never forget who you are and why God put you here.
Your father, Juan Diego CUBILLO