This date will forever be burned into my subconscious.
It was the day my new life began.
It was the day that my life officially changed and I was on my own, in my own house, the marriage a distant memory and the divorce, freshly finished not two months earlier.
I had just gone through the nightmare of selling my gigantic expensive house that my ex and I had bought, the 4 car garage, the pool, the separate wings for all the family and friends that didn’t ever come, the large basement we never used. The house that took all of my energy to move out of, fix up, and sell for a $50k loss, the house that was supposed to save our marriage, instead became one of the most expensive head stones in history.
The struggle was real.
For 4 dark months between December 2018 to March 2019, my life was a dark hole. I was depressed, broke, paying a gigantic mortgage for a house I was trying to sell, working on the said house getting it fixed up so I could lose my ass on it. All the while, I was packing up 4300 sq ft worth of shit I didn’t want. It all reminded me of my failed marriage, my life at that moment, I was convinced I had indeed let so many people down, including myself.
Two portable storage units stood coldly outside my house as I diligently, slowly, and deliberately, filled them up with my old stuff. I had to eat at my parent’s house a ton because I couldn’t really afford any food except Ramen noodles but I always saved enough to make sure my kids had full bellies. For some strange reason, women would come around, damaged women looking for a damaged guy like me, and while I entertained some of them, many of them only added to the misery of me, slowly trudging along trying to pack up my life for the hope of a new one. That hope was a fucking glimmer that I thought would only continue to dim.
My family wasn’t speaking to me, much. My mother and sister were angry at me for making the choice to “duck out” on a responsible marriage.
I was mindless at work, just going through the motions thinking about the misery awaiting me in the house I didn’t want, with the stuff I didn’t want, living the life I didn’t want, thinking I would be stuck in this monstrosity forever. So naturally, depression sunk in.
I was going to therapy once a week and it was helping. It really was the only light that kept this dark winter aglow. My therapist kept discussing that if I kept working, the time would come that I could look over the mountain and see my glorious future waiting for me. But with every hurdle, there would be 5 more.
My dog I had raised with my ex passed away from complications of diabetes in February of 2019 and I cursed myself that if I had not been in this situation, I could’ve saved his life. If I wasn’t so damn depressed, feeling sorry for myself, miserable, he would still be alive. I sat in the vet’s office looking down at the floor after I had carried my lifeless dog into the office, knowing that he was going to be dead the next morning. It added to the general feeling of just fucking grey.
Every part of that 10 years I spent married was either being removed, being thrown away, or dying in front of my eyes. It’s enough to grind a man to dust to see everything he worked for being lit on fire, but I knew I had to keep going.
I had a few friends, but my best friend Jack always came over to help when he could, and my older sister and brother helped me as well. But in this four-month period, it was a lonely time. With the occasional whore ringing my doorbell, I slept, ate, and worked day and night to try and get out of this hell I was in.
When you’re alone during and after a divorce, life tends to look pretty fucking bleak. You have no money, no life, the quality of people are lacking, the women are trash, and all you can do is watch the clock and hope that the things you talk about to yourself, the hope you give, the sun that shows up as the clouds part this purgatory you sit in, will all be just around the corner.
At least that’s what my therapist kept saying, as I sat staring at him in disbelief. Good things are coming? Bullshit.
He told me I needed to get my mind off of things. I was semi-active, going to the gym 3 times a week, but I hadn’t really done anything to challenge myself.
That’s when Spartan came up.
I had done a Spartan in October of 2015. The easiest one, the sprint, was a 5-mile course of mud, muck, and obstacles in the Kentucky bluegrass.
I had done it, barely, but my therapist told me I should do more.
I told myself that I would do a Trifecta, which is all three races in a Spartan year. A sprint is 5 miles, a super is 10, and the beast is 15. So I joined a team and signed up.
How hard could a Spartan be?
And of course, the first Spartan was in May of 2016. It was the beast.
15 miles in Southwest Ohio. Mud, hills, trees, obstacles, getting around them all. I wasn’t going to run the damn thing. Hell, I could barely get up the stairs.
So I made a commitment and purchased P90X and started doing it every day.
I ended up losing about 30 lbs, but I was still chunkified and wasn’t sure I was going to make it.
And why the fuck was I even signing up for a Spartan race of this magnitude in the first place? I was divorced, broken, shattered and trying to build something from ashes.
The reason? Because I needed to prove to myself I could do something hard.
I had never, NEVER, challenged myself. My first hard challenge was breaking away and filing for divorce. And now it was personal. This was my new start. This was my goal to be the best man I can be.
As I was tearing down my old life, in the basement of my gigantic house, I was slowly building my new one. Every day, because I had nothing else to do, I went downstairs and did a workout. I started to get stronger. I knew this was the first step every man must take to reclaim their lives.
I knew something amazing was going to happen.
So on that day, I got with my team and started the 15 mile trek. Hauling logs, carrying boulders, climbing hills, scaling walls, then halfway through, I lost my team.
It was just me and the course. Rain was coming down hard as I slogged through the mud. I was by myself, on a 15 mile course, easily the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had a half bottle of mustard, an energy bar, and my water pack.
I was terrified, I’ll be honest. Every hill I climbed, my legs cramped something horrible. I kept eating the mustard and kept going. There were other people around me, alone, overweight, fighting for every step, and we talked as we worked up this course. I would talk to strangers, other folks trying to do something amazing by finishing this course, jumping the fire, and getting their medals. I had that in mind too, as well as catching up with my team, but also, it became about proving something to myself. Proving that I could finish this course on my own. Proving that I could tackle the obstacles. Others quit around me. A 68-year-old man who was with me for most of my time and I talked. He’d been doing Spartans for years, and while he was slow, he did them, and he did them well. We worked over several obstacles together as we talked.
As I neared the last 2 miles, I was climbing a mud hill when I saw my team, waiting for me. It was almost dark. I wanted to get to the finish before the sunset. So I summoned what strength I had left, did the last few obstacles, and made the finish line by jumping over the fire. I was ecstatic.
I had done it. I had conquered a course. And it showed me what this second chance in my life really was about. Getting over the hard parts to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.
But the Beast was also a microcosm of my own struggles in my life. That course took me 8 hours to get through. My life, currently, was a trudge that I knew I was going to get through, I just had to do it.
And suddenly, after the Spartan, the world seemed much easier to deal with. The small shit I was bitching about in my life became shit that I checked off of the list. I finished my house up, and after a few last minute panic moments, got it sold.
With it getting sold, I was able to move into my new house, my new life.
The last shackles of my married life were in that gigantic house, and now, without it, my world seems much more promising.
Then came the 28th. I came into work with a smile on my face. I had closed on my old house and was ready to move into my new house. As I left work that afternoon, I went to my new house, my new life, and stood in front of it.
This was a new start for me. A second chance to live my life MY way. A promise that I had made to myself that I was keeping. I stood in front of my new house beaming. Regardless of what happened from this point on, this was now on my terms. This life was now mine. I owned it, finally.
That night, I pulled out my bed, assembled it, and got to sleep in an empty house. But it was the greatest night’s sleep I ever got. Because deep down, I knew that my nightmare 6 months was now over.
I could breathe again. And I could finally live.
This is why 5/28 will forever be the number one date in my life.
Because I finally got to be me.
This is now my life, on my terms.
And I’m never looking back.