Hi, I’m Darren (that’s me in the picture over there) and I guess you’ve visited this page to find out what this site is all about?

Near the end of 2009 my life took an unexpected turn. My wife (Sarah) left me and took my two amazing daughters (Alice and Elisa) with her back to the Medway Towns. I thought things were good between us, but apparently a lot of things were just buried deep down inside eating away at her until she reached that point where she couldn’t “fight” any more. I didn’t know until she uttered those fateful words “I don’t want this any more” and will always feel bitter about not getting the chance to really try and save our marriage. Too much has happened since then to even contemplate that happening now unfortunately.

This was just another step in the “crap life of Darren”. My father died out of the blue at the end of 1998 and it hit me hard. If that wasn’t enough, Sarah and I never seemed to have a plain-sailing year during our relationship together; there was always something to take the focus off of “us”. My mother died in 2008, again out of the blue, and just another example of us never getting a chance to really be together. All very sad indeed and looking back I don’t think we really stood a chance and should be thankful we lasted ten years together!

It wasn’t until Sarah told me she was going to leave me that I realised that I harboured a lot of guilt from the time before and immediately after dad died, among other things. It was through a very dear friend – and a lot of hard work (Andy, you are truly an amazing person and I owe you my life!) – that I managed to sort my head out and became whole again. If I hadn’t done that then I think I would have seriously fallen apart after Sarah dropped the bombshell.

Granted, I wasn’t happy with the thought of the end of my marriage and I struggled to come to terms with it all, but because of all that hard work I was in a much stronger position to deal with it all.

So the name; where did it come from?

Throughout our married life our goings on were documented for the world to see – well the extended family at least – on my old Swagatam site. You’ll be unsurprised to hear that since Sarah left me the site is now well and truly tainted and to be honest, I can’t even look at it any more. It will remain for posterior’s sake but there is just no way I can continue to update it…too many memories.

I always knew I’d start another site to be used as a space for general musings, photos etc. but I was struggling to find the right name. “darrenking.co.uk” was available, but that was a bit naff, and maybe a little on the egotistical side? I wanted something with a bit of meaning behind it and one evening, probably after a few glasses of wine, I came up with “Learning to Smile”, signifying my journey back to a state of happiness after all the crap! A hasty check to see if the domain was free showed that it was and the rest, as they say, is history!

Hopefully this won’t be used to continually go on about how bad my ex is/was as I don’t want to fixate my life on that – that wouldn’t be healthy at all and I know I wouldn’t want to continue the site as, yet again, it would feel tainted by her. I hope this really does document my journey and maybe even help others in a similar position with some of the things I’ve learnt during the magical-mystery-tour that is my road to recovery.

Only time will tell I guess?!