Eulogy

A black and gold birthday balloon shifts back and forth in the balmy wind on this rare, warm early November evening. The trees are almost bare, with a lush mixture of oranges, reds, browns, and yellows at their feet.

The birds, still talking up a storm about how fall’s forgotten about them, sing and chirp without end. Cars motor off in the distance with unknown inhabitants heading to their unknown locations. Just another day in a world that keeps ticking forward, minute by minute, driven by the ever onward passage of time.

The outdoor furniture, once filled with people laughing, joking, smoking, and drinking, either after a pool party, the holidays, or just one of the “too damn many to count” family gatherings on any afternoon in this beautiful house on the south side of Indianapolis, lies empty, with the only movement being the stink bugs on the window, or the aforementioned balloon, heaving from side to side as the wind pushes it right then left, as it gazes down upon the driveway, then the back porch, and then finally the leaf covered back yard.

For 20 years, this house has been the centerpiece of my family. Graduations, weddings, holidays, birthdays, the happy times and sad ones, all the gatherings, all the tree decorating, pumpkin carving, unwrapping of gifts, meals in the kitchen, either ad libbed pitch ins or planned feasts, happened here. And one thing was always the same…my father watching over the festivities.

He was there for all of it, watching over what he had built, the good times he fostered, which makes this blog all the more hard to write.

I lost my father on November 4th.

The morning calls as I stopped by at my parent’s house in early every week as he sat in the garage smoking his cigarette and reading his paper, calling for the dogs to come in, sipping his black coffee with two Sweet N Low packets, while an electric space heater buzzed in the back ground fill my memories.

But this morning, as my car pulled up with my older sister and aunt in tow, there wasn’t anything but silence, tears, and sadness.

It won’t ever be the same without him.

He grew up on the north side of Indianapolis, an area now known as Castleton, which now is a gigantic shopping center, but at his time, was a series of corn fields with a large white farmhouse in the middle of it all knows as the “House of Blue Lights”, named so because it would always keep small blue electric candles in the windows.

He and his younger sister, Linda, would play together all of their days, thick as thieves, until the family decided to move to Franklin, IN. My father attended high school there in the small county seat of Johnson County. At 15, his youngest sister, Judith, was born. He ended up going to college for a couple of years and decided to follow my grandfather into the freight business.

Grandpa worked on the railroad after he returned from the war, and my father had a knack for freight sales, so he decided to go into trucking. As with many things my father did, sales came naturally to him, with his bright smile, his infectious laughter, and his beaming personality.

He exceled at his job, and loved it as well, which is difficult to find for any person, let alone someone in trucking.

As he married his first wife, Barbara, he had three children with her, and during deregulation in the 70’s, where the government got out of the transportation business, he went from job to job looking for a stable environment. It negatively affected his marriage and it landed him in divorce court.

After a contentious divorce, Pop was suddenly a single father of three kids. Yes, it was his own mess, and yes, he did make bad decisions in doing this, but he still had to deal with the consequences, but managed to fight to continue to give his kids as good a life as he could.

Dad was of a different mold. He wanted to be more. And, although he struggled with self inflicted damage to his life, he still pressed on being different. He was driven by ambition to be successful, sometimes at the expense of his family, but he knew that he wanted more from this life, so he poured himself into the work he loved. He was a gifted salesman, had a way with clients, and could make any stranger feel like a friend within minutes of meeting him. One thing was for sure, he was set in his ways, and if challenged, he would not hesitate to burn a bridge, but if you were his friend, you were his friend for life, and if you were his enemy, it wasn’t unclear. With my father, you knew exactly where you stood.

My father met my mother in the early 70’s. She was not looking to marry a single dad of 3 kids, but his charm and sense of humor won her over and they were married. They then had me in 1976, and as I started as a toddler, Pop was going from job to job in an industry that was in a bit of flux with deregulation in full swing. It was a tough time, but my dad had a life he wanted in his mind. His ambition kept pushing him, and eventually, after working for so many businesses, my father finally decided to start his own.

He decided to take a huge chance with his best friend, and starting in his friend’s basement, they opened a franchise of another company based in Louisville, KY. I know this had to be a scary time for him, he had a 2 year old (my little sister) and me in high school, as well as his three older kids now in their 20’s, and with a ton on the line, he wasn’t going to miss. He created something out of nothing, and within 5 years, he was building a $1.5 million dollar facility to continue to realize his dream.

And as he was building his business, he invited all of his family to join him in realizing his dream. We worked together to make it a success. And as we moved on from one business to start another, one that was ours and our alone, we trusted him to lead us to the promise land. 12 1/2 years later, his legacy, his work ethic, and his drive still permeated this place, even after he retired 6 years ago.

He worked very hard to realize his dream, which was a thriving business, as well as lifting his kids and family up with his hard work and vision. He never made excuses, he always found a way, even if it meant asserting his will on others, which meant sometimes he was downright abrasive. But he had a vision of what he wanted, and wasn’t going to be told what he could or couldn’t do. If someone told him no, he did it anyway and made no apologies about the toes he stepped on.

He would not be denied his dream of caring for his family while doing what he loved. He made so many friends along the way, he helped his family, he made no apologies, was driven yet patient, and was an example that we all could follow, even if his means of getting there were unorthodox.

As a father, he was stern yet soft, and his bark was worse than his bite at times.

He had a wicked temper, but it was only because he cared so much. I had always said “if he didn’t care he wouldn’t yell at us.” He was a passionate man who defended his family and did everything he could to protect us and make sure we were taken care of.

So many memories revolved around our family vacations where we would just get in the van and just go. Bring a cooler full of bologna and Pepsi’s and just drive to wherever.

We’d go to Kings Island every summer and I’d watch as Dad would go on the biggest, scariest roller coasters with all the kids except me, because I was scared. But we still had an awesome time as a family. We went to so many cool places, like Yellowstone, Florida, Texas, the Grand Canyon, he felt it was important to spend time together as a family on vacations, so they were like religion for us.

Dad loved the holidays. He and Mom would always go overboard on Christmas, getting us what we wanted and then some, decorating to the hilt, and immersing the family in so many great memories. So many times I think back to awesome Halloween parties in their garage with all of their friends, Dad never shied away from a good time. Some of my most cherished memories are from the myriad of vacations, holidays, and just everyday love we had.

My father always had love in his heart, even if he was angry with us kids, he would dread us with “family meetings” and give us hell for whatever we did, but he would return afterwards with the a smile, a laugh, and a hug. We were loved very much and we knew it, because he truly showed he loved us in everything he did.

He cultivated lifelong friendships with so many people. His sense of humor was one of a kind, and his laughter was infectious.

Even though there’s no more laughter…that doesn’t mean the memories of the laughter don’t permeate our minds, hearts, and souls for our father.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t carry on our lives in his honor, doing what he wanted us to do, living our lives just as he lived his, with no apologies and no guardrails.

It doesn’t mean we don’t stop being the best people we can be, with his spirit guiding us, so we can live as well and as full as he did.

Yes, his life wasn’t without sorrow, conflict, or hardship, but he took those things in stride, took them as challenges he could overcome, and he smiled through all of it, even if he was struggling on the inside.

He taught me so much about how to be the man I am today, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

When a loved one passes, many have regrets that they didn’t say how they felt, or they burned a bridge because of the countless disagreements or arguments that have caused families to fall apart.

I have no such regrets. My countless interactions with my father told him where I stood and told me where I stood. And though we disagreed a lot, we still let our love show for each other when it counted. He always said, about his business, “When you walk in here you’re an employee, when you walk out, we’re still family at the end of the day.” He could be obstinate more often than not, but he also was playing for keeps, and for that, I can’t say that it’s wrong or right, because it was what he wanted and who he was.

People can believe what they want about Pop, and more than likely it’s the truth. Love him or hate him, you knew where you stood. He would give you the shirt off his back, the chance you thought you’d never get, and stand beside you when it got too hot to handle.

And yes, he burned a ton of bridges and didn’t think twice about it.

But that still didn’t stop him from unapologetically going after what he wanted, caring for his friends and family, and trying to build something that would be a part of our family for generations.

My father was told too many times that he couldn’t do it, he wasn’t good enough, and he’d never make it.

He turned that negativity into two successful business ventures, a storied trucking career, and a life well lived.

He wasn’t perfect, but as my father, he didn’t have to be. He loved hard, cared relentlessly, fought every day, smiling and laughing through it all.

Even in death, he loves a good time, so we’ll not be having a funeral

Tomorrow, we will hold a celebration of life, complete with live band, a choir, and a keg.

No time for sulking”, he’d say, “get up and get to work, there’s things that need to be done!

And that’s exactly how I will honor him. Yes, there will be sadness, loss and pain. But his smile, that crooked, beautiful smile, will live on in all of us and guide us through this time.

I’m going to miss you more than you know, Pop.

But you’ll always be inside my heart and my soul, your warm laughter and incredible life fueling me with a zest for my own existence, a zest you had in spades.

You always told me to live my life, and damn the haters, rise despite the consequences, and overcome despite the challenges. Your life was a road map to do just this.

Your fire will burn forever in those you touched and those you loved and cherished.

You aren’t gone, merely living as energy inside of us, giving us the strength and resolve to live our lives as you lived yours.

I love you, Pop. Thank you for everything.

Command

Many times, leadership finds you.

There were times I chose to stay away from the crown, yet the crown was always, at some point, placed on my head.

There were also times that I wanted the crown, but I didn’t get it. So I went after it.

This natural move towards leadership for me started very early. My father was a leader of men, a man who has inspired me to be the person I am today. Throughout his life, he has been a business leader, entrepreneur and while his management style left a ton to be desired, leadership found him, again and again, until one day, he took the crown and never looked back.

And heavy was that crown. I saw how leadership and the responsibility behind it affected my father, because when the shit hit the fan, he had to clean it up. It took it’s toll. He struggled with other parts of his life because he did prioritize his business life and career first. Every time he tried to turn it down, it still came for him, and so, this was his role in life.


I didn’t realize the burden he had to shoulder until one day, after I had agreed to work for him in 1998, he sat me down and showed me all he was responsible for.

It blew my fucking mind.

He had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Not only his family, but his friends, the people he hired at his business, his business partners, his carriers, his customers, EVERYTHING.

He had a list he wrote out to me very early on of 25 things that he had to remember every week for his business to succeed. I keep this list, now 25 years old, on my desk in plain sight every day. It’s a testament to his leadership style, and while it could be rough, he’s been successful in everything he’s done.

I always wondered why my father was in a bad mood most days. It’s because of what he had to shoulder.

I never understood it until I took over for him after he retired. It’s a tough burden to bear, but one that he bore for over 35 years. I used to be so critical of him because I just didn’t get what he was doing. It wasn’t sinking in, but finally did when I took the helm. And fuck was it hard.

You don’t sleep well, knowing you’ve got people counting on you to show up.

You always fret, because you’re not sure about all the unknowns.

Your setbacks could be fatal to the business.

You are always on. ALWAYS.

Too many folks want to be a leader without the consequences of being a leader. It’s great to win on the battlefield, but remember there was a losing general.

Especially in business, leadership is vital to it’s success. And that means you have to be aware of everything, plan accordingly, and steward the ship through all the bad weather, as well as the sunny days.

You command those who respect you. You gain respect by being in the trenches with your people.

You command fealty through your ability to weather these storms.

My father was a tough boss, but he also led us through some very difficult times, because he knew what I didn’t know, and he acted on it. He saw the big picture.

This makes me look up to him all the more, and his example taught me what it meant to be a leader.

Leaders Are Made

My father had a hand in my life early on, in high school. His leadership in all areas of his life got me to take on leadership roles. The first real opportunity was in school.

There isn’t a more textbook example for how I became a leader of men but for my story of my band career, one my father supported whole heartedly.

I don’t have some legendary meteoric rise story to tell, it’s one where I was the band geek that decided that I wanted more.

In my early high school days, I was a fucking nerd. No doubt. I had not yet understood what it took to be a leader, hell, I didn’t even care to show up to school most days, but I got into marching band and music in general (playing the trombone) and found that I loved it.

I wasn’t a leader, wasn’t thinking about being one, but my natural attraction to music and being able to enjoy something besides video games got me hooked. And as naturally occurs, as I was enjoying what I was doing, I naturally attracted people to my banner, regardless of what it was, but I developed some friendships to where I was the pace setter. As I participated more in marching band, my leadership skills grew. I would run practices with my fellow trombones, and when my senior mentor got drum major her senior year, I took over the section with baritones, tubas, and trombones looking to me for leadership.

My senior year, my opportunity came up for drum major. It was a role I coveted, so I prepared long and hard for the interview. When the day came, I sat and thought I did extremely well. However, I didn’t get drum major. I mishandled one small answer that cost me the role, and I was pissed about it.

But, the missed opportunity provided me with motivation to be the best damn section leader ever.

So, rather than stew in my disappointment, I decided to step up. My father encouraged me to keep fighting, keep showing up, and keep being present. That’s how leaders are forged.

I would be the guy who got the band out for warm ups. I would be the guy who played the best, taught the newbies the best, and worked the hardest. I got a solo for one of our performance songs from “Les Misérables” and continued to work my ass off. It was to the point that I was outworking the drum major. I had a major grudge over not getting picked to be drum major, so I took that and pushed myself to be the leader I could be, and humbly not overshadowing the true leader.

The results I got blew me away. I became a part of 7 different performance groups (jazz band, pep band, concert band, marching band, symphonic band, orchestra, and musical pit orchestra), and led every damn last one. I was far from the shy nerdy guy in my freshman year, I was in command of my trade and owned every damn minute of it. I shot up in height, now at 6’4″ from 5’7″ in freshman year, and I was exuding confidence.

It resulted in a sweep in the band department awards that year, including the coveted John Phillip Sousa award for most outstanding band member. I was so happy, as my father looked on as I accepted the awards.

And I hadn’t been looking for any of it. As a dorky freshman, I was just going through the motions. But after I developed a true love for something and went after it.

The best part about all of this, is my father watched as I did it. He supported me in my endeavors and encouraged me. I love to tell this story because it truly was the first time I had taken command of something, anything, and my father got to see my growth into a man first hand.

5 Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned From My Father

The lessons I learned from my band days were lessons that continued to be given when I went to work for my father. And it was leadership school every damn day. Good or bad, class was in session when my father went to battle to try and build a business. He really taught me so many lessons that I take into everything I do today. They’re the usual leadership lessons, but he showed me in real time what these lessons mean to building and maintaining a business, a family, and a life.

And here are just a few of them I’ll share:

  1. Leaders aren’t always popular

I’ve been called an asshole by many an employee over the years, and it’s one thing that I pride myself on. I don’t mean you HAVE to be a jerk ass to people, but sometimes, doing what’s right for your business and the people you are in charge of isn’t common knowledge, and you may have to make some decisions that won’t be popular. But if you aren’t looking out for your business or even yourself, what the hell are you even here for?

2. You will make mistakes.

You will be asked to make split second decisions and many of those decisions will be wrong. Your job is to minimize the risk and fallout from those decisions. It’s okay to be bold and take risks, but be very careful as you are playing with the livelihoods of people in your employ. They put their trust in you to lead and guide them. Stop playing with fire.

3. Trust your instincts

You are in the position of leader for a reason. You have earned the trust of people who are counting on you to make the decision. You have some skill, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be where you are. Trust your gut and make decisions based on what you feel is the right.

4. Choose your advisors wisely.

A leader cannot properly lead without trustworthy people around them. You must choose your advisors wisely. Look who’s been around you and has your best interests at heart, because they are inextricably tied to you and your success.

5. Stand up for your beliefs.

A leader will attract a following by being cemented in their beliefs. You operate with a set of values, morals, and convictions. Stay with them, even when everyone else is against you.

My father taught me so much about all of these lessons, by his own mistakes or by his own wins. Over the two decades I worked for him, I saw it all, I saw his struggles, I saw his triumphs, but all in all, I saw what he did to operate in a hostile environment, and it took balls of steel to do many of the things he did.

I’m sure he was scared at times, but he also stepped forward and forged his life, business, and world against some of the toughest things life can throw at you. And he did it many times, with a huge smile.

His influence on me as a leader can’t be discounted. I have no regrets having been with my father in both a family and professional setting for a quarter of a century. Much of what I’ve learned from him has been learned at the other end of an ass chewing, but he believed in himself so much, and got so frustrated when those who worked for him didn’t see his vision, that he would get upset.

But it’s because he cared so much for what he was doing.

A leader without heart isn’t a leader, they’re a pariah. He’s holding a chair for someone else, and you’re doomed to follow them to failure. A charismatic leader, someone who would do anything to help you find the way, even go into battle with you, is what you want.

And that was my father to a tee. There were days I cussed him under my breath, but there were other days I truly looked up to him, because I finally understood what he was dealing with, and finally understood what he was trying to do. He was trying to protect his family, trying to build his vision, and trying to take care of those who trusted him.

He is and was a true leader, and I’ll always respect him for what he did.

I love you, Pop.

Thank you for showing me how to take command of my life.

And thank you for all you did to help me become the man I am today.

Waking Up the Ghost

“I, I’m waking up the ghost
Not digging up the memories that were dead to me
Now, now I’m getting close
Closer to the enemy that’s inside of me”

  • “Waking Up the Ghost” – 10 Years

You can’t bury it if it’s not dead.

Our lives are a series of short stories cobbled together into a larger novel.

There are some stories we don’t share, however.

Some stories elicit such guilt and shame, because they symbolize parts of our lives where we made bad choices, choices that harmed others, whether we meant them to or not.

And, many times, without hesitation, we don’t publish them beside our victories, for fear that they will take away from us as a person, for fear that we didn’t properly hash out all the mistakes, all the self destructive behavior.

Because, let’s be honest, talking about the bad stuff, really getting our skeletons our of our closets, is a painful process that many of us don’t want to go through.

We are flawed creatures, we do shit we shouldn’t and know it, and then, like a small child who’s done something wrong, we try to hide it, deflect from it, lie about it affecting us, until the monkey on our backs is a seething gorilla seeing red.

The guilt and shame demands a response. It’s just going to keep sitting there beating on you until you say stop.

The largest goal of any person feeling these things should not be to stop feeling them, or push them down, or ignore them, but to unload them.

This was the dilemma I was facing a few weeks ago.

The gorilla broke down the damn closet door, demanding to be addressed. And I had to do it. Regardless of what mistakes they were, they needed to be looked at, sorted through, confessed to, and let go. This was a process that I had to adhere to if I truly wanted to forgive myself for my past indiscretions. And that was the goal.

But it mattered HOW it was done.

I was racking my brain thinking about this very process, how I was going to come clean with myself to the world, and I was wanting to write a blog post confessing my sins to EVERYONE. That was my plan.

As many of you know, this blog is my journal, and it’s almost always based on some song or music that I listen to. That’s why many of the titles are those of songs that I really enjoy, or songs that have touched me in one way or another. And while confessing my deepest, darkest sins on here might have done something for me, it would have done much more damage to those I either intentionally or unintentionally hurt with my actions. By bringing up a sore subject, I would be letting off a nuke that could irreparably damage many more relationships, even the ones I don’t think would be affected.

This blog will be referencing a particular song, “Waking Up the Ghost” by 10 Years, that perfectly encapsulates my situation of letting go of my guilt and shame, and forgiving myself for my past.

We have to get this shit off our chest, we have to throw the gorilla off our back, but not at the expense of so many other relationships that we value.

In short, silence is golden to those words would hurt.

“Under the skin, the soul of the guilty
Under the surface, lonely lies
Under the weight the sin is
Eating me alive”

We’ve all done shit we aren’t proud of. We’ve all fucked up. The problem is we don’t want to address these mistakes so they become a part of us, dictating our actions far after the die has been cast.

We might let things slip when we’re drunk, when we’re sad, we might scream because we can’t tell the world our secrets for fears of what they might think, for fear of being shunned or accosted by those we care about, for rejection, or even betraying every thing we say we stand for.

But we have to resolve it by addressing it, or it will eat us alive, it will affect every relationship, every interaction, every piece of our lives that we didn’t intend for it to.

“Why are you doing this, man? Why now?”

“No one knows the secrets that I keep
No one knows what’s in my head
I can’t control the other side of me
I have lost my breath”

The timing wasn’t special, but the weight of the guilt and shame was. I needed to get this out, my last skeleton in the way of an empty closet, the last sin that I had to confess.

I did it because if it was out there, released from inside of me, I didn’t have to hide anymore. I was so ashamed of these past discretions that holding them in wasn’t going to be an option any more.

I had to talk. And I was prepared to talk to the world in the form of a blog post.

But I was stopped. I was preempted by those who cared most for me, the men of my fraternity, the men and woman of my men’s group, to think before I spoke into the megaphone.

I had to dig up these feelings again, to get right with the man in the mirror, and the best way to do that wasn’t to napalm the entire landscape, but to have a “controlled” explosion in front of those I respect the most, who’s opinions, support, and pointed criticism have guided me through this uncharted journey the past two years.

So, taking this sage advice, I decided to sit in front of a jury of my peers, confess my sins, and get right with me.

“No mercy, no forgiveness
Condemned to my own hell”

I truly believed that I was not worthy of forgiveness. I touted myself as a man who wasn’t good enough for Heaven, but not bad enough for Hell. I was in purgatory, and I chose to live there knowing that I wasn’t going to be forgiven.

I’ll be honest, I was terrified of talking about my past failures, my sins, in front of a group of men.

I thought I was going to be castigated for my mistake, having to relive the pain of my choices.

But the men of the Fraternity of Excellence rose to the occasion. Instead of scorn, I got support, I got comradery, I got men who, like me, have made mistakes and understand that bearing your soul to others, even in a small environment such as this, can be overwhelming.

I was told I was worthy of love. I didn’t have to hide anymore.

It was a cathartic 2 hour session that took my shame and lifted the gorilla off my back by just telling myself that I didn’t have to carry this anymore. I didn’t.

As the men uttered the words that they too have had to live with guilt and shame, that they too felt scared to talk about their transgressions.

So to have a group of men who were there to listen made the whole thing much easier to get out. The “controlled explosion” went off, with very little fanfare, but with huge implications to my mental health.

And with the confessional, I also decided, with awesome help from Dr. Taylor Burrowes, to have a ceremony to let go of my past guilt and shame and forgive myself. With my children’s help, I bought two balloons and a 3×5 card with a message to myself. I tied the message to the balloons, took 3 deep breaths, forgave my past self, and let those fuckers go.

“Breaking the pulse of a steady beat
Pleading for sanity”

I couldn’t have done this if I didn’t have the support of the men and women in my life.

I hid this for years because I knew I didn’t have a safe space to detonate this bomb.

I had people surrounding me who had the same or more skeletons in their closets, and they had resigned themselves to holding their secrets and not truly being authentic to themselves.

And that’s the bottom line, I was portraying myself as a man who couldn’t get forgiveness, who was living in the shadow of his mistakes, who reveled in the role of outcast. It was an act, an act I was sick of playing, and I had to throw off the makeup and costumes to become the man I want to be.

After the very light fanfare of all the things I’ve done to unload this burden the past two weeks, I had a chance to have some time hiking by myself, to really look at my decision and what it has resulted in.

I looked in my bathroom mirror, at the man staring back at me, a man I could not look in the eye for the past 9 years, because I was ashamed of his actions. But, recently, I’ve stared at him, I’ve smiled at him, I’ve told him I love him, because he’s human, he’s made mistakes, and he is worthy of forgiveness, even from his future self.

And every morning, of every day since letting those balloons go, since putting down the weight, since releasing the gorilla back into the wild, I have stared back at my reflection with a newfound love and respect for the man that’s trying to make his life better, trying to rectify his past, and trying to be a good man for his family, his kids, and his brothers.

The lesson here is simple: make peace with your past.

Make peace with the mistakes you made because you didn’t know what to do.

Make peace with the fact that the situation you were in was not in your control, and while making the wrong choices, you have to understand that you aren’t perfect and you won’t be.

Make peace with the war inside yourself. Both sides are fighting a battle for your sanity. You can’t continue to carry this weight and say it’s no big deal.

You need to wake up this ghost, and exorcise it from your life. The guilt and shame you feel, no matter how long you’ve felt it, can’t be ignored without affecting you in all you do. Even if you think it won’t, even if you think it doesn’t, it’s there, tapping you on the shoulder.

Get it out, safely, smartly, and take the steps to let it all go.

The more you can make peace with your past, the brighter your future.

Validity

“Validation, especially for men, comes from within. If you’re seeking validation as a man you aren’t going to get very far.” – Men Of Grit

Any man looking for validity in the eyes of others has to step back and understand one thing.

You are not defined by how others see you.

But too many men are extremely outcome dependent, especially when it comes to how others see them.

They will shift and change themselves to fit what people want of them, then become people pleasers as a result of the shift, then get resentful when their true passions, opinions, and beliefs come to life, then wonder why people hate them when they go against what they were selling as themselves.

I should know, in September of 2018, as the Red Pill Dad, I was looking for validation in spades. Toeing the red pill line in hopes of cultivating a following, even putting out crazy opinions that I didn’t hold myself but I thought would gain traction (many did) to grow my follower base. I would say anything and everything to get follows, even pretending to be someone I wasn’t to the point that when I was out hitting on women, I was using this persona.

Why? I wanted validation. I wanted follows. I pushed who I wasn’t to get what I thought I wanted.

And it resulted in a mess.

The Lessons I Learned About The Validation I Was Seeking

I started the Red Pill Dad because I wanted to help men in my situation become good with women. Men (like myself) who had a lifelong social disability with women were going to get help from me. I was going to do approaches, take notes, and (while reading other dudes presumably doing the same thing) be hitting up 8’s in no time.

But in reality, I hated who I was, wanted to be more, but didn’t want to put in the work or experience the consequences of failures I was sure to have.

And as soon as I started, I understood one thing that seemed to permeate the pick up and red pill community. There were many like me, but more were fabricating their experiences in order to get follows.

I didn’t realize how many or how deep the bullshit was until I saw and followed other men who were doing the same things I was, except they were getting 8’s, 9’s and 10’s without posting pictures of themselves, merely telling stories about the luck they had last night.

As shitty as I felt about myself, I didn’t feel right about telling fables about who I was and what I was doing.

I decided, after just a few months, that I was going to document my attempts at pick up in real time, with real results, because everyone else was doing the opposite.

I didn’t feel right saying stuff that wasn’t true, because many other men in my position were writing more than I was, and were writing puff pieces of picking up an 8 at the coffee shop while another girl waited on them.

I wasn’t doing that, in fact, I was mired in the opposite. I was approaching, but was getting nothing but psychotics, unattractive, depressed overweight girls with daddy issues, women leveraging their boyfriends or husbands for some attention, or fat dominatrices with an axe to grind against men.

I had an accountability problem with myself.

It was this split from the path that taught me much about my search for validation.

When I got the feeling in the pit of my stomach that making shit up wasn’t going to help me become the man I wanted to be, I hit the crossroads of seeking validation at any cost or actually justifying the work I was doing to be better with actual receipts. It came to a head in 2019 when I met a “real girl” and tried to flex my fake life and fell flat on my face in Los Angeles.

It was then that I realized the real world consequences of making it all up.

I was so intent on being this fake dude that got tons of likes, I forgot to make sure that I was becoming a real man who wasn’t looking for accolades. I should have been looking for validation from one person, that of the dude in the mirror.

This mindset mired the early days of my blog where there was a constant internal fight between the man who wanted to be liked versus the man who wanted to be honest. Many a blog post saw the bottom of the proverbial trash can because I was trying to write fiction and not real life.

I decided after spinning my wheels in the early days that the best blogs were the honest ones, and I was brutally honest. And it didn’t take off, and I didn’t get the cheap likes, but I knew that being honest with myself and the people I was trying to communicate with was the best path.

This fake validation is the trap many men fall into, especially those who really don’t have much in the way of accomplishment (or worse, don’t THINK they have accomplishments) in their lives.

They see a path to finding themselves is to be someone else, someone cooler than they really are. They are ashamed of who they are, what they’ve done or haven’t, and don’t want to do the work to make meaningful headway towards the real person they want to be, so they go the dollar store route.

Sitting by myself, after being friend zoned, in an old hotel near West LA, crying, dejected, and wondering what the hell I needed to do, while my kids and REAL life was waiting for me to act in Indiana.

I had abandoned my real life because I didn’t think it was sexy enough to pass the mustard and get me the followers I wanted on a computer screen, I started to have a sincere discussion with myself on what the hell I was actually trying to accomplish.

My value, it seemed before my epiphany, was created by the number of thumbs up I was getting on a post, number of views I was getting on a blog, number of hearts that popped up every time I tweeted.

But it was all pretend. It wasn’t really me. And when the rubber hit the road, what I was REALLY doing was going to determine my trajectory in my own personal goals, not the façade of some red pill dude trying to hit on girls.

So in the middle of this “fake Tim vs real Tim” battle, I decided to rebrand and focus, not on the likes, but on the content, the brand, the reality of my life as a single father trying to improve his life. The likes, the follows, the fake love I wanted didn’t compare to the real work I needed to do, and the real, quality accolades I would get by being myself, a dude just trying to get his life together.

So I had to go back to basics, and understand that the attention I was craving was fleeting, the real validation I was seeking was actually trying, failing, and yes, accomplishing REAL LIFE things.

I couldn’t hide anymore from who I was, and I couldn’t fake success if I was to move forward.

I had to get right and stop telling fiction. My story was more than enough to generate an immense following and at that point, I didn’t care, because the only person I wanted approval from was Tim Hicks.

And this is the bottom line guys. No matter what you are doing, playing pretend will always ALWAYS come back to haunt you.

You have a life that demands your attendance and if you aren’t proud of it, CHANGE it.

Anyone can create a fake life with a fake fan base and have fake friends, a fake career, and fake achievements, that’s called fantasy.

But to truly garner a loyal, concrete following, you must be good with you. You can’t be concerned with what others think, regardless if it’s online or in real life, because it means you are putting weight into total strangers and their opinions, and no one, least of all you, benefits from that.

Stop waiting for the cheers or the boos and go out and prove yourself to yourself.

Damn the critics and yes, damn the fake supporters who cheer you when you tweet well and damn you when you don’t.

People pleasing is the least rewarding job because you’re only doing it for the likes, not for yourself.

You’ll find that building that fake persona gives you no joy, only the hope that the next tweet, the next clever saying, the next fabrication of something you didn’t do or merely pretended to do, will temporarily sate that hunger.

And then, almost instantly, you’re back at it, posting your fiction again, fishing for someone to tell you you’re awesome.

You are awesome, but it needs to be seen by the person staring back at you.

THAT’s the key to all of this.

When you love yourself, you have your own validation, it’s an perpetual engine inside of you that burns regardless of who likes or doesn’t like you.

Your validity comes from no where else but from your struggles, your failures, your experiences, and your triumphs.

Stop trying to pretend your way to a successful life.

The check always comes due.

And those who have receipts are the ones who truly win.

Stuck

“Everybody wants to change the world, no one ever wants to change themselves.” – Nothing More – “Do You Really Want It?”

Lately, I’ve been unengaged because with almost every facet of my life, my progress has ground to a crawl.

My weight loss is still steady, but certainly not the numbers I was pulling earlier in my journey. As I get closer to my goal, the scale numbers tick smaller, as I’m starting to get closer to my second, and final, goal of 215 lbs.

My dating life has been unremarkable, getting ghosted and flaked on by girls I want to date, and getting hit on by girls I wouldn’t, leads are low.

My family is struggling with my father’s increasing health issues.

My job has been stressful, and even though we are doing well, the frustration of potential stagnations are always over the horizon.

Lately, it seems that “hurry up and wait” is the buzz phrase for my life.

But that’s the problem. I think that I have to “wait” for good things to come my way and instead of waiting, I need to be proactive and make things happen.

So in essence, I feel “stuck” by claiming that the circumstances around me are putting me in a box.

That’s not empowerment, that’s victimhood.

Looking for validation so that you can move forward is like waiting for a sign from God in the form of a burning bush that doesn’t burn.

You wait and as you wait, the walls close in around you. And it becomes more difficult to scale them, let alone tear them down. You’re looking around now and find that your situation has become a bit more tricky because you’ve not planned for this eventually.

Life will block your ass in.

I’m really good at dispensing advice but not taking it, especially my own.

And one of my favorite tweets I’ve ever written is – “If you’re feeling stuck, MOVE.”

Like being in a cave and trying to move through a 3 foot hole, you can’t go back, so you keep pressing forward (I’m claustrophobic so this analogy works for me), and it’s the only way to go, even if it’s INCHES at a time. This agonizingly slow progress, especially for me, a person who has zero patience, is part of the reason it seemed easier to just stop and wait. But the hole isn’t getting bigger, the cave isn’t going to magically open up to a staircase to the light, nor are you going to be able to find another way around this portion of the earth.

But you just can’t convulse or wriggle just to do so, you have to move with purpose and meaning. Doing jumping jacks in a cave isn’t going to get you out of the cave any faster, and it will only wear you down when you really need the strength to climb past a wall or through a crevice.

Which is why I am calmly stepping back from the mess that is currently around me and figuring out the best way forward. But mind you, it is a way FORWARD, not simply staying still. Too many times, I’ve defaulted to blaming the situations around me as the reasons that I’m not progressing the way or the timing of what I want.

“It’s where I live that I can’t meet the girls I want.”

“I’m not losing any more weight so why go to the gym?”

“My progress has stopped on my finances, time to impulse buy something that makes me feel good but I don’t need.”

“It’s pointless to try new things because I don’t have any real interests.”

Comfort zones can kill you, especially those you continue to push to justify inaction.

My inaction is a direct result of being afraid of what my actions will bring.

So, I’ve decided to move. I’ve written down things that I CAN do to make some progress in other areas, as opposed to running a list through my mind of things I can’t do.

It’s too easy these days to lament the things we want but don’t have, as opposed to taking real stock in the things we do, as well as plotting a course on how to get the things that elude us. It’s too easy these days to complain about the world at large being against us, raising a fist to the sky and cursing the “forces” that continue to keep us down, not realizing it’s our own actions or lack thereof that keeps us in the same place.

As FoE (Fraternity of Excellence) has taught me, in the absence of anything, action still makes a difference.

But it still needs to be hammered into me, by me, that I need to continue to take action, even if things out of my control are taking hold of parts of my life I want to improve.

Fitness dialed in? Awesome, continue going to the gym and being consistent so that you can get your goals.

Not seeing results in other parts of your life at the moment? Find some part of your life where you can take quick, immediate action and fix. In my case, it’s annoying things that I haven’t fixed in my home (leaky faucet, stuck toilet seat, trimming the landscaping, pulling weeds).

Not getting the girls you want to date? Start looking at why and focus on what you are doing to attract (or not attract) these women. Also, where are you going to meet new women? If you’re sitting at home after work by yourself cursing that there’s nothing you can do to meet people, realize that in REALITY, you are doing nothing to meet new people and sitting at home cursing the fact that you won’t go out and try new things to meet new people.

Altering reality to fit the fact that you don’t want to do the work to get better doesn’t change the reality, it’s only purpose is to make you feel better about your inaction.

I’ve tried to justify my lack of forward progress, in dating especially, by lamenting that I’m not in the right area to meet a good woman, whining about having to go back to online dating to swipe and sleep with unattractive women because there’s no one else out there, all while I’m sitting at work trying to motivate men to go out and make things happen. I don’t take my own advice, until now, and it’s my way of trying to motivate myself to get out of this victimhood rut. So my tweets trying to get myself out of my own head are only words, and they haven’t inspired any action from me, only wishing I would take action but not knowing how to proceed forward.

But sometimes doing something, ANYTHING towards another goal in your life can make the other parts of your life seem much easier to fix and control, and instead of waiting, you are taking action to make something positive happen.

We don’t know how close we are to a break through, but we’ll sure as hell drop the pickaxe because we’re convinced the diamonds don’t exist, even though we know damn well that they do, because we’ve held them, we’ve seen them, we know.

So, in the meantime, we sit, we wait, we hope something good will happen. We damn the bad shit that’s going on as the universe trying to kick our ass.

It’s testing us, and we are failing the test, because we are upset we have to take the test, not truly working on trying to get the best grade we can. We have to study, we have to prepare for these tests every day, so that we can pass with flying colors. But instead, we dread the test, we curse it. This has been me for the past few weeks.

“Why me?” is the question we ask as we look up at the sky.

It’s not you, it’s the world. It’s how it tests everyone. Some tests are harder than others, and that means that you have to be extra prepared for the tests.

And here’s the funny thing, WE KNOW THE TESTS ARE COMING. Yet we still postpone, get angry, piss and moan, but we know they are coming. And we still procrastinate or justify inaction, or cram and fail.

So, I’m writing this to remind myself that nothing is going to change until I take action. Regardless where the action is taken, a positive move to ANY direction is still forward. The cave isn’t going anywhere, the mountain isn’t going to disappear because I complained I have to climb it.

Tim, get your head out of your ass and get to work. You’ve dominated many things in your life, and these are just more things you need to dominate. You aren’t going to die alone, but you sure as hell aren’t going to get any women you want by sitting and complaining about it. You aren’t going to be rich if you don’t get your ass out there and do your thing by making money.

You aren’t going to weather your family through a crisis if you constantly lament that bad things happen because reasons.

You aren’t going to show anyone you’re serious until you face the fact that you have to stand up for who you are and fight everyday towards your own independence.

You aren’t going to truly have the life you want until you fight and claim every inch of it for yourself, and be prepared to fix it, to defend it, to build it sturdier, to admire it, and be the man you want to be with no more doubt in the pit of your stomach.

Doubt is the spark in the house of your life that can burn the whole mother fucker down.

Action is the hammer, the nails, the screws, the concrete, the structure you need to make sure your home is stable.

Get building and don’t stop.

1000 Days

“Daddy, what’s wrong with you?”

Those words still echo in my head to this day. I don’t remember much from that night….when I was driving home from my local pub after getting loaded with a couple of friends.

I don’t even remember driving home, but I do remember stumbling into my house as my ex was dropping off the kids and the look of fear, confusion, and morbid curiosity on their faces. Like they’d just seen me shoot up and were absolutely shocked by it.

They shouldn’t have had to experience that. They shouldn’t have had to wonder why they, at that point 8 and 10 years old, why their dad was coming home reeking of booze and bad decisions.

The night was a blur, but what wasn’t, was the looks my kids gave me. And it’s burned into my skull.

My kids hadn’t seen me this blackout drunk before, sure, I’d drank in front of them, but as of that point, my drinking was getting worse. I was drinking heavily at least 3-4 times a week, to the point where I had a growler that I would routinely fill and drink by myself on nights I was at home without the kids.

The auto pilot drinking life, the bar flies, the people who filled my life with “have another one” because their own lives were filled with it, was the cornerstone of my social game with women, with my friends, with everything I was doing. If I didn’t have a drink in my hand, I wasn’t having fun. If I didn’t have a drink in my hand, I was offending those who were just “having a good time” and “blowing off steam”.

Along with my being overweight, this was a lifestyle that I had cultivated for most of my adult life. From the time I was in my early 20’s, it’s all I knew, it’s all I did. Very seldom, during the tailgates, bar trips, clubbing, or winery and bar crawls did I think that someday I wasn’t going to be taking a sip. This was an automatic in my life, as was just eating the shit out of everything. It was me. I had gotten so used to these things defining me.

But I had to make a decision. It seemed like a hard one, but in the bigger picture, it was the easiest decision I ever made.

I was going to stop drinking. COMPLETELY stop.

Yes, I had to, for my sake, but also for the people who depended on me, the people who look up to me, and the people who were looking for a healthy, strong example in their lives.

I finally realized my kids were watching me, and this was the biggest stage of my life.

Counting Days

I’ve heard many things in the addiction world, but the one thing that stuck with me was that addiction goes away easier when you find something more important to be addicted to.

And for some, it’s easier to “snap out” of an addiction than others. But, they all have to have their “come to Jesus” moment. And some never get that moment, and even more aren’t strong enough to break away.

And it was this fact that I had to come to terms with. I didn’t want my kids, seeing a father addicted to bad food and alcohol, getting addicted to things the same or potentially worse than those things.

The behavior cultivates their behavior, and if I was going to pull out of this, it wasn’t just going to be for me. I had to do it for them too.

And at that point in my life, my addiction to alcohol was getting worse by the day.

I drove home drunk multiple times (over 100 as far as I can remember). The consequences for doing bad things would eventually haunt me, even if I wasn’t getting caught.

So as I laid awake and still buzzed with my kids sleeping in their beds, I got up and I walked my house for over an hour. I watched them sleep, kissed their foreheads, and made a promise to myself.

It was immediate.

The very next night, when my kids were with their mom, I went to my normal bar.

When my usual bartender asked me if I wanted the usual drink I usually had, I stopped her.

“Water, no lemon.”

She looked at me like I had just shot someone at the bar.

“Water? Really?”

“Yes, Lisa, really”, I responded.

So she filled it up. And as I sipped it, I saw all the people I had hung with during those drunken nights. And they weren’t very interesting on no buzz.

It was like taking the beer goggles off and never putting them back on again. The whole world was different. The women I had been hitting on weren’t as attractive without the buzz. The guys I’d been talking to while blitzed had very little to say except what alcohol they loved, the sports teams they were betting on, and why they hate their home lives with a griping wife at home.

Sports wasn’t interesting anymore. It wasn’t even a topic for discussion. I figured now that I wasn’t drinking, the novelty of it all was wearing off.

And it certainly was. So, slowly, I stopped going to the bar. A bar that I had frequented 4-5 days a week, a bar where my visitation points were going to get me a personalized mug. A reward for being a drunk.

So 5 days passed, and while not craving a drink, I was craving the life again, so I went to the gym.

Every time I started to feel like I was falling back, I kept thinking of my kids and those faces the night I walked in drunk.

As the days turned to weeks, I started noticing my weight dropping. The hundreds of dollars a week I had been spending on booze was put towards debt. I could go places without having to worry about driving while drunk. I cleaned out all the mugs and growlers in my home. It’s like taking all the bad food out of your house, you know it sucks, but you know it’s for the best.

My weight loss, a result of focusing on fitness, was accelerated without all the extra calories. I felt better, was sleeping better, and had more energy. I was more confident in my body so I didn’t need the liquid courage to talk to women, I had my improving physique, my improving finances, and my improving outlook on life was gaining the attention of more attractive, but also more healthy, women.

We as humans tend to look more longingly at the short, 30 second montage than the months and sometimes years it actually takes to get over something, achieve a difficult goal, or break through a tough obstacle.

But it’s hard. It’s supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be for everyone. I’m firmly in the camp that there are just some people who will succumb to addiction because they just aren’t strong enough.

But I also believe that people CAN become strong, they just have to either avoid or disbelieve the lies they are being told. It’s on them, but it also takes good friends and family that provide good influences.

But what do you do when you get there? Many people become bored and fall back into the addictions, because they achieved then fell back to what they knew, instead of pushing further.

The Next 1000 Days

I don’t take 1000 days, or 1000 anything, lightly. Nearly 3 years ago, I decided to make a choice, a choice for me, a choice away from a life that, at least for me, wasn’t fulfilling at all.

It was bouncing from one manufactured high to the next, trying to escape a mediocre life through booze.

So I decided to rewrite the story to one that, even if minute and insignificant to most, is of great importance to me.

My journey has always been about righting the wrongs of my past, all while trying to show men that a second chance is always there for the taking.

Your life story CAN be rewritten with you as the hero walking away into the sunset.

You just have to pick up the pen and start writing.

It will be the hardest thing you will do, changing a book you are writing in the middle of it to something that you can be proud of, something that you can say you achieved, something that you can say fulfilled you.

But don’t throw the writings away in the fire. They are there because they represent you, a different you from the current you, but you nonetheless.

Learn from those pages. The years you were addicted weren’t lost, they were a lesson for you to navigate this life, a map for you to follow to the point you want to be at. It taught you that things aren’t easy, but they can be overcome.

But more importantly, look who is watching you. Many times, we can’t see who’s watching our journey, but they are out there, rooting us on to make a better life, wanting to be a part of the rocket takeoff, wanting to succeed right along with us.

They’ve seen us at our worst, but they still hope for our best. That was the reality I was dealing with on that cold, autumn evening when my kids stared back at me in disbelief.

My kids are watching me. They are counting on me. They are on the journey with me, and I owe it to them to make this journey worth it. My success is their success. My happiness is their happiness. My world is where they live.

They need to thrive, not question. They need to be protected, not lost. They need strength and stability, not consistent doubt and confusion.

And they’ll now get it from me, after years of wondering.

My addiction is over.

The next chapter of my life is being written being high on life.

So, I raise my glass of water to the next 1000 days, may they be the best of my life.

Medicate

“It’s just for a little while, until you’re yourself again, until we can control the anger, until you can learn some techniques for helping with your triggers.”

I had just walked out of his office after another outburst at work, and I really wasn’t looking forward to what he had planned with me.

“We will prescribe this, and you can take it side by side with a session of therapy per week.”

I didn’t ask what it was, I didn’t ask what the side effects were, I was just going along with it because I was angry, angry much of the time in my life. I trusted that this, along with therapy, would finally solve the issue of my anger.

My anger had been a problem before. Several times, throughout my career at my first job at my father’s trucking company, I had outbursts. Throwing stuff on the dock, punching a hole in a wall, yelling and screaming at co-workers. I had a handful of confrontations when I was “squeezed” at work, meaning that I was put into a fight or flight situation, and the flight wasn’t an option. This would involve irate customers or carriers and having to speak with them. I wasn’t good at diffusing situations and would absolutely lose it if put into a situation where I had to accept responsibility for a screw up.

So I got hauled to anger management three times between 2007 and 2015. Each time I passed with flying colors, but most of the crap I did wasn’t effective (only because I didn’t practice any of the techniques). I was going just because I had to, not with the goal of getting better.

So I was sitting in the psychologist’s office for my first session, because it was finally time to make a change.

My mother and younger sister had been pushing me to take pills to “help” me with my issues.

So today was the day I was starting this new path. A path to peace, I thought.

It certainly was a path, but the way I felt, the way that the drug affected me, felt like it hollowed me out inside. No passion, spirit, or drive, but more of an auto-pilot option, just to weather life.

One A Day Chases The Blues Away

“It’s going to take a bit for the pills to take effect.”

At this point, I didn’t care, I’d tried everything, anger management wasn’t helping (because I wasn’t working to be better), so I took a pill.

The drug I was prescribed (Zoloft) was called sertraline. It’s purpose is to increase serotonin in the brain, essentially helping with mood, memory and “leveling” you out.

I was having horrendous mood swings, so my psychologist figured that prescribing it (standard with most of his patients) would help regulate me and keep me more “even” headed.

And, it worked. It evened me out, keeping me “sane” (or what I thought was sane) because that’s what everyone around me wanted me to be. Sure there were side effects – one being I had trouble climaxing during sex, but I figured I wasn’t having sex anyway (at the time, I was in a sexless marriage), so I took the pill.

I was struggling with my anger and I sure as hell didn’t want to start punching walls or throwing stuff out on the dock, so I took the pill.

My mother and younger sister were worried about my mental health. They wanted me to be more even headed (which later felt more like me being “complacent” or “obeying”) because they could see the stress of my struggles, so I took the pill.

Everyone around me wanted me to get better and with therapy, I could. So I took the pill…

It’s only a pill a day. It’s easy. It’s quick. It’s painless. Small side effects are nothing compared to the feeling of not feeling.

And I think that very reason is why people do this.

They’re afraid to feel strong emotions, and when they do, they don’t know how to express them. And this was my problem. I wasn’t allowed to have these emotions, because they are “unnatural” (actually perfectly natural) and when I was being unhealthy in expressing them in unhealthy ways. But no one ever told me how to do it, they only told me how to avoid doing it.

So I took the pill….

But what it did to me, how I felt, wasn’t right. It never felt right. All of my life I’d avoided the rollercoaster. But instead of finding out WHY I hated the rollercoasters (the falling feeling, the noise, the fear of the hill), I just avoided it. Why subject myself to that mess? So I took the pill…

It gutted the passion, the thrills, the fear, the joy, the fun of the emotions. It was assumed I couldn’t control myself (which I had shown) but had I really ever tried? So I had a choice to keep taking them and avoid the coaster.

And that’s what I did. I chose safe. I chose to level out my feelings because I didn’t like how they made me feel, as well as everyone around me telling me it wasn’t healthy to feel them.

So it hollowed me out, and even when I was supposed to get angry, passionate, or show emotion in a healthy way, I didn’t (or couldn’t) because it wouldn’t let me. And it affected my relationships, especially with my mother and sister, because I became more pliable again. My wife and I were too far gone, but my even-keeled mind was avoiding anything that required passion, reaction, and emotion. I was a Vulcan, and it sucked because this pill sucked the life out of my at the expense of my emotions.

I had swapped problems. Sure, now I wasn’t having the anger outbursts at work, nor was I having the erratic mood swings, but now, I was a hollowed out man. And as I did more research on the drug I was becoming more and more convinced that this thing I was taking was hurting me more than it was helping.

Cease and Desist

So, in September 2021, I called my doctor. I told her, after much research, that I wanted to ween myself off of this medication. I had found out that it affected my testosterone levels as well, after I had tested at a lower level (but normal to the regular medical community) and was concerned that the low T was affecting everything in my life. And I had her full support. I was a bit scared on what it would do to me.

Would I have the mood swings again? Would I have untapped aggression towards the world? Would I have to warn people that I was off my meds?

Still, I almost wanted that over the feeling I was having. There were times during sex I couldn’t cum, and that feeling alone pushed me to stop these meds. I was tired of not feeling anything, not having those hormones pumping through my body, not being able to have an emotion without an unnatural check on it.

I was tired of being a hollow man.

So, with the wind at my back, I re-lit the pilot light.

And as each day passed without the dose, my mood improved. My blood began to feel electric again. My energy level increased. I started to take my aggression out where it was healthy, the gym and the bag.

I kept even-keeled, even after a month of no meds. I looked for triggers and addressed them. My ability to control my emotions, yet express them in a healthy way, without the constant drug induced “meh”, was getting better with my mind out of the fog.

Two months passed. My mood got better, my energy increased. Whenever I was confronted with tough situations, I stood my ground, stuck my chest out, and weathered it.

I continued to get better. Months 3 and 4 came and went. My worry about relapsing to violent, emotional Tim became less of a concern. My new concerns were wondering why I didn’t do this sooner, what I had missed, and more importantly, what I was going to do with this new found ability to control and emit my emotions in a healthy manner.

The iron helped tremendously. I dropped the pills and picked up the weights. I channeled any raw emotions into the gym. I took situations that I had just drifted through on the medicine and manned the helm to push through them, learning how to navigate those situations with my emotions and sanity intact.

I was ACTIVELY trying to get better and managing my life, as opposed to letting the drug take the wheel so I could sit back and relax.

Doing that forced me to face emotion and deal with it.

We all have to deal with it, we can’t run away from the fight.

Now, at 6 months drug free, I have turned a corner. I continue to work hard everyday to address any raw emotions that bubble over, but instead of medicating myself, I work through and face the issues head on.

The best part? I’ve actually become calmer. I’ve channeled my inner anger, an anger that I thought would come roaring back, to becoming a better father, calmer and more direct boss, and a better, more masculine, more civil son and brother.

I’ve become more even headed that I was when I was on the meds, but without the lack of testosterone and the fear of overflowing emotions. My self control has kicked in. Breathing exercises, along with some quiet meditation as well as taking time for myself has really paid off in terms of my mental health.

I didn’t need the pill, but I thought I needed it.

Everyone was telling me it was the only way to improve my life.

And all it did was take me out of the driver’s seat and just sit in with no control.

In order for me to have control, I had to understand that there was a possibility of a wreck. But if I drove my own life well, and paid attention to how I was driving, being defensive at times while at other times taking advantage of what the road gave me, I would enjoy the drive much more.

There’s a reason cars have high speeds on their speedometers. And it’s not always about driving the limit.

But you have to use the brake, you have to steer away from trouble, and you’ve have to be aware of everything going on so you can get through it.

And you don’t need to drive under the influence of any drug, no matter how many doctors tell you it will “take the edge off” of your life.

Stress is a part of life, and if you have anxiety, no pill is going to help you face those pressures. You have to pit yourself against life and get tougher, not take a pill to give you an excuse or a way out.

There’s one way out of life and that’s in a cedar box.

You must get tough and fight it out, learn to deal with setbacks, and address your emotions face to face, toe to toe with them. Understand your triggers and work them out in other areas.

There are many people that need medication, but the over-medication of society has to stop at some point.

Stop medicating, especially if you use it as a crutch for the issues in your life.

The bitter pill is the only medication you should take, and accept that hardships will surface and overcome them.

Because life isn’t going to stop tossing you around.

You have to become the boat with the strong sails to smooth it out.

The ability to be mentally healthy is inside of you, and no amount of medication is going to change that fact.

Lessons From A Failed Marriage

Photo credit: Huffington Post

“The lesson divorce teaches you isn’t to not get married, it’s to not get divorced.”

The lessons. So many, too many to count. But I’ve managed to boil it down to 20 lessons.

I’m still learning, every day.

But I’ve honed these lessons to make sure that when I get married again, it won’t end in divorce.

Because, as bad as divorce is, it’s worse the second time.

My experiences are lessons that I can share with those willing to understand their own fallacies as well as understanding that they control who they marry, who they sleep with, and who they allow in their lives.

You control it. You have the keys. The system is unfair. It won’t be changing anytime soon, but you still have control. Stop listening to those that tell you that you don’t. Because they didn’t and don’t have control either.

I’m not a relationship expert, I’m a “what not to do in a relationship” expert.

So, without further ado, here’s my list. Enjoy and learn from my mistakes:

Lesson 1 – If You Don’t Know Who You Are and Love Yourself as Such, You Cannot Marry Someone Else Without Encountering Major Issues

I didn’t know who I was. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t. And it showed in the marriage. The baseline, foundational things that you need to be in order to love someone else must be there. Your convictions, beliefs, purpose, and boundaries must be there in order for you to make good on your promise to love, honor, and cherish.

How can you marry someone when you don’t know who the hell you are? If it’s checking a box, it’s wrong. Marriage is for good and you better damn well know who you are, your likes and dislikes before you walk down the aisle. And if she can’t respect any of it, she doesn’t get to be your wife.

Lesson 2 – Stop Escalating and Start Connecting

In the heat of an argument, the best thing you can do is stop letting emotion dictate your response. Her emotion is boiling over and she needs to know you’re there to stop it from completely spilling. She wants to vent, not argue, many times over, because women are emotional creatures. She needs to feel you there for her, your strength, your control over yourself and the situation. Sometimes, she just needs to let emotion take over. Nothing may necessarily be wrong, and if it feels like she’s picking on you, sack up and understand that this is something she does to make sure you are there for her.

She values you as her husband and values that you take the time to connect with her, listen instead of dictate, as well as understanding her and what she’s going through.

Lesson 3 – She Won’t Love You Unconditionally, But She Will Love You

The biggest issue that men have to deal with is that they won’t get love the way they want from a woman. She will not love unconditionally, but neither will you for her. It doesn’t work that way, especially for a man and a woman, as conditions do dictate love. So provide conditions that you are happy with. Men have to provide, it’s what we have to do. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can have it your way. But she will love you, but you have to give her something to love and adore. You are the key to all of it, be it your own self love and what you’ve built in pursuit of that love, for her to truly love you for who you are and what you stand for.

Lesson 4 – Vet and Vet Often. You Can’t Prepare for Every Eventuality, But You Can Have A Damn Good Idea of Who You’re Marrying

Take as much time as you need. The honeymoon phase in a relationship over, time to start vetting her. Put her in as many situations as you can to see how she handles herself. That will tell you all you need to know about her. You can’t prepare for everything, but you can have her in enough situations to see how she’ll do when the real deal is upon you. This is good, bad and neutral situations. Get experience with her, gain knowledge about her faults, bad habits, and general demeanor. If she greets you with an ultimatum, walk.

Lesson 5 – Neither Person Gets to Dictate Terms

Terms are agreed upon and negotiated.

Both parties understand what they bring and they bring it.

You want contractual obligation? The State wants marriage in those terms, but you aren’t the State, nor are you a monolithic organism. You’re a human being and so is she. If either side starts dictating, the other side needs to walk. There has to be compromise and agreement on principles in the relationship. Know your roles and be comfortable playing them because it’s who you are. Be prepared for quick negotiations or unforeseen disagreements that must be hashed out. But do it together, and in ways that both of you are comfortable with all that each of you are doing.

Lesson 6 – Communicate. You Can’t Read Minds and Your Partner Can’t Either

Talk early and often and your marriage will be solid as a rock. Get to know each other by talking to each other, early and often, over anything and everything. Know where each other stands on things that confront the marriage and overcome them. Communicate how your partner made you feel, good or bad, and face those issues head on, together. You don’t get to not engage, especially when it may be important to her. If it was important to you and she walked off, you’d be pissed.

Lesson 7 – Sex is Critical

No sex is a deathknell for any relationship. If you’re not having sex in your relationship, it’s dead and needs to be revitalized. No sex is a critical problem that many marriages cannot overcome. Because without sex, she’s just a roommate who helps you with the bills. Your intimacy is of the utmost importance in your marriage. Take it from a guy who didn’t have much sex in the dying days of his marriage, you need to be having sex, but also, having fun with your partner. Try new things in the bedroom, be adventurous, and be aggressive towards each other in the bedroom. You both love each other, so show it, dammit.

Lesson 8 – Better People Make Better Marriages

The bitter truth that most people don’t want to hear is that when you and your spouse are striving to be better, it improves your marriage significantly. Because you are a better, healthier person, you can have a good, strong, solid marriage when you and your partner have boundaries, share in triumphs, regroup after setbacks, and have each other’s backs. The proof is in the pudding, for take a sputtering marriage and add two people trying to get better either physically, mentally, spiritually or all three, and see the infusion of that energy revitalize that marriage. I’ve seen it happen so many times with men who weren’t motivated in marriage suddenly turn things around to the point where everyone associated with the marriage is re-energized. Kids, wife, everything starts to level up as the man rebuilds himself.

Lesson 9 – It’s Okay to Be Wrong. Own It, Fix It, and Move On

Yes. It’s okay to be wrong. But you have to do the one thing you don’t want to do. Swallow your pride and own the fuck up. You aren’t infallible, and neither is she. But you are capable of being an adult, and that means taking the heat when you screw up. The heat is the easy part, because you then have to fix your fuckup to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Because you’re a functioning part of this marriage, your humility will be mirrored by her, because when she sees you screwed up, when she does it, she’ll want to show that she’s human too. If she doesn’t, you still take the L and move on. Because you are the lead in this relationship, you will hold yourself to a higher standard. And with that higher standard comes her having to raise her standard as well. You set the tone, regardless of what you do, be it right or wrong. Learn from it and move the fuck on.

We get wrapped up in the State and why they get involved in the institute of marriage. If you don’t want the State involved, you can most certainly choose other options. But as of right now, this moment in time, and for the foreseeable future, your local government is involved. That means that in the eyes of the State, you are in a contractual agreement with your spouse. And depending on the state that the marriage occurs, you may or may not be able to draft a prenuptial agreement. All the more reason for the man to know who the heck he is marrying and the woman to take her time to make sure that this is the real deal. But never, ever does the State get to be involved in the spiritual aspect of your marriage. If you are religious, the church has that on lockdown, and so make sure you aren’t losing the real reasons for marriage in a myriad of tax implications. The state only matters when you get married or when you get divorced. Kick those fuckers out of the bond.

Lesson 11 – Do Things, but Do Them With Meaning and Purpose – Enjoy Each Other on Purpose

The issues I had with our marriage was that my wife was always goading me to do “something” instead of what I was doing, which most of the time was playing video games or watching TV. She wanted me to go experience life with her, and that isn’t an inconvenience. It’s a necessity. Enjoy your spouse by enjoying your life with her. Cherish the things you do (active or passive things) and share that with her, as well as her with you. Try new things with her, be adventurous, solve problems together. This will only strength the bond between both of you. Then, as you do these things, you become better together and start to enjoy more. The snowball gains momentum and gets bigger. Enjoy your marriage by doing things together that you love.

Lesson 12 – Be Her Biggest Cheerleader, and She’ll Be Your Biggest Fan

Support in marriage is one of the biggest deficiencies for men. They are looking for loyalty and a support system, but you have to do the same. She needs to know you’re there for her to support what she wants to do as well. Keep cheering her on what she wants to do, and you will see a woman ready to support her man with anything he’s doing as well. But you gotta show up in her corner, every time.

Lessons 13 – When Your Values Align, You Both Win

When vetting for a woman, pay close attention to her values. If they are radically different from yours, you will have an issue that will be a killer for the marriage. You have to have a partner that is paddling the same way you are, because if you don’t, the boat spins. And you want to move forward and beyond, not stay stagnant. So watch how she conducts herself. Does she hate kids? Then why try to make her a mom?

Does she have liberal values? Then why marry her if you’re a staunch conservative. Does she have issues with her family? Then why try to bring her into yours if she can’t have a healthy attachments to her own kin (save for extraordinary circumstances). You wouldn’t buy a dog person a bunch of cats so stop trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

Lesson 14 – Your Kids are Neither Conspirators Nor Accessories to Either Parent

They’re kids, and they function best in peaceful settings. Your kids are the souls you are raising. Stop trying to weaponize them against your spouse in the hopes of them proving your right or wrong. It’s not fair to them for you to put them squarely in an adult situation when they are anything but adults. You are acting like a child if you are using kids to exert power over your spouse. These aren’t chess pieces, they’re your flesh and blood and they need parents who are adults.

Lesson 15 – She Doesn’t Owe You Anything, Nor Do You Owe Her

The concept of entitlement should not exist in marriage, especially not one way and not the other. No one owes anyone anything when it comes to marriage, but you both owe it to each other to be present and engaged in the marriage. She doesn’t owe you sex because she’s your wife, and you don’t owe her money to pay off her loans because you’re her husband. You both are giving because you are both getting reciprocated by being this way. Stop hanging expectations on someone with no intention of holding them up.

Lesson 16 – Alone Time is Important; Never Underestimate the Importance of Spending Time Away From Each Other

You need your alone time. You need time to decompress and get yours. Refilling your energy meter is important to every person in your life, because you can pour from an empty cup. If your significant other is trying to monopolize your time, it’s because they don’t value your alone time. You have to be able to get away to get right sometimes, and they have to respect that. As a matter of fact, alone time is essential in a marriage because if you were around your spouse 100% of the time, you’d cease to exist as a person. You both were separate people before you got married, and you remain that way even after. Your alone time is golden to do the things you like to do to relax. And if your partner loves you, they’ll respect that time and take some of their own.

Lesson 17 – The Work Doesn’t Stop When The Honeymoon Ends

Never stop working to be a better person, regardless of marital status. You set the standard and you keep improving each week, each month, and each year. Bring it, and she’ll bring it as well. But you have to keep dating your spouse, you have to keep working to be a better person, and you both will revel in the rewards as you continue to grow as a couple and individually. There should be no let up for either of you after the wedding cake is eaten. Too many folks suffer from “get married and let it all go” syndrome. Don’t be that person. Cherish yourself and your significant other by getting after it every day.

Lesson 18 – You’re A Team, But You’re the Leader

Men lead, women follow. The traditional roles may be the new bad words of the 21st century, but it still holds true. You are the leader, you set the tone, and you protect the clan. You’d better be ready to lead, because she’s counting on you. Just as I have said men are the frame while women are the painting, it falls to you to be the foundation on this marriage. The strength and protection you provide is what she needs in order to do her thing and assist you in yours.

Lesson 19 – How You Handle The Hard Times Will Make The Good Times Better

Hard times make better marriages. How you both overcome obstacles says a lot about the health of your marriage. Blame, guilt, and shame have no place in a marriage, when you can replace them just as easily with strength, fortitude, and perseverance. See the tough times for what they are and work through them, never blaming each other for anything out of the other’s control. You can’t be resentful of someone because something happens to them or someone they love that isn’t in the cards. Even when you or your loved ones make critical mistakes, stop, listen, and connect then fix it. Seeing through these times will strengthen any marriage more than anything.

Lesson 20 – It’s Marriage, It’s Messy, It’s Difficult, But It’s Worth It

Marriage is work, but it’s also a teammate for life that supercharges your life. It’s nitrous in your engine, and when you have a committed and dedicated person to your cause, your goals get that much more attainable. But also, you get to share a life with someone you care about, someone whom cares about you, and together, you dominate and build an empire. That’s a “Ride Or Die” to me, and the most successful people in history have had a significant other who watches their back.

I don’t have to tell you that these lessons will work for everyone all the time, but through my trials and tribulations with my marriage and divorce, I can tell you that doing them will only help you and your spouse grow a stronger, more loving bond.
Be the man that she wants to follow. Be the woman that he wants to protect and nurture.

But do it together, and do it for each other.

I hope that I get married again someday. And following these lessons, I know my second marriage will be my last.

And there won’t be a second divorce.

The Almighty Notch

I was as bad as you can get with women.

Kissed the first girl at 18.

First date at 19.

Lost my virginity at 27.

My social awkwardness and ineptitude shown through every time.

At 22, I took a first date to dinner and then to my new home being built. That was my plan, and she silently seethed as I told her the layout and how I was so proud.

“Take me home, okay?”

Dated a bigger girl just to try and lose my virginity because my friends ragged on me. Got cold feet after taking her to a friends wedding and had another friend do the deed and take her home because I couldn’t bring myself to have sex with her.

Went out with a girl 4 times and we never even kissed, just did awkward things and chatted as friends over dinner until I invited myself to her house and ghosted her before I came over.

Embarrassing fails, then came my ten year marriage and the trials and tribulations with 4 of those years being nearly sexless (1-2 a year) and my continual struggle with women, as I saw it, was the cause.

During and after my separation and my divorce I stopped giving a damn. Broke, depressed and downtrodden, I let any girl with a passable face and a penchant for saying yes in my life, and these broken women made it even more miserable.

But hey, at least I was getting laid?

Then, I discovered the Red Pill, and Pick Up Artistry.

As I got better with, the women got hotter, but also more fucked up.

My definition of success was to “get good with women”. I had no other goals beyond that. I had no aspirations for a healthy relationship because I honestly thought that just be getting good with women, all the other things would take care of themselves. After all, it wasn’t me, it was the women I was meeting, right?

Tried to fake it at first. Faked my way right into the friend zone in LA. Then back to the dead zone for having the temerity of being a player with multiple leads.

But I was having a blast, and enjoying something that had eluded me for my whole life, the experience of dating multiple women.

So, consider it a checkmark on a box that I had set out with long ago.

But it’s not, and will not be for me, considered a success.

Because all it did was bring on more problems, bigger problems. The short term brought me more sex, more women, but in the end, it brought me no closer to a long term relationship. It merely told me that I could have as many short term flings as I wanted, but that I wasn’t going to be loved, nor would I love anyone, because love is weak. Love is for men who have feelings, who have emotions, and who are simps.

And for as much fun as I was having, this was the bottom line. You have to always be hard, emotionless, and use dread game to keep your woman in line, because “all women are like children”, and they need to be in the “presence of someone who can tell them what to do”. “They won’t ever love you the way you want”, nor will they give you the deep, meaningful love you seek.

As I’ve found, PUA and LTR are incompatible terms.

In PUA, you get what you wish for, but you also get dead ends that don’t lead to anywhere good, because it all boils down to playing the game in the shallow end, when really what you need to learn is to swim in the deep end, and then you get to jump off the diving board.

As part of my journey, I’m having to deprogram myself from PUA thinking and it’s been incredibly difficult. With every passing day, I still catch myself using pick up terms, lines of thinking, even trying to be mindful on how I’m communicating to women because many of the ones who I would be willing to have a LTR with are turned off by these statements.

“The NOTCH is the GOAL”

PUA thrives on escalation, quick and extensive, in order to get to the almighty notch.

And it doesn’t matter HOW or WHO you get it with, just that you get those numbers.

And this goes with everything, approaches, either cold or lukewarm, day game, everything, because the bottom line is hasn’t changed, it’s not about getting you comfortable with talking to women, it’s about getting you comfortable talking to women then sleeping with women.

Because it’s really all about the notch.

When you get the notch, you can brag to the community about it, because you’re doing hard things. And they pat you on the back and you go out and do it again and again. But notice when they get the notch, notice how it doesn’t fulfill anything but going out and getting another one.

The beautiful unicorn is the goal, but it isn’t having a relationship with her, it’s about landing her for even a brief moment (she’s not yours, it’s just your turn) and moving on to another one.

If you’ve read “The Game” by Neil Strauss, he got so good at picking up women that it became nothing fulfilling in his life. Only when he started to have feelings for women did he start to understand the consistent dead end of this lifestyle. And by that time, the damage was done. Many PUA’s have had horrible relationships, including Mystery, because they didn’t understand that simping doesn’t die simply because you said it does. They didn’t understand that self mastery and “fake it until you make it” don’t jive in real life. They became personas, never found the real “them” and tried to apply that to all parts of their lives, with horrible results. So now it’s “don’t catch feels” and everything is cool. And it’s led to an absolute mess of a dating scene.

Look, I get it, some guys want this lifestyle and die with a smile on their face after climax. But it isn’t realistic, nor is it sustainable. Which is why many of your gurus are happily married (or at least pretend to be) with one woman. If you can pull of haram game go for it, but a majority of guys just want a ride or die to support them, love them, and be there for them. We can argue all we want about monogamy being a broken concept, but the fact remains that a majority of this world still believes in it, and as a man who didn’t believe after his divorce, I am a believer too.

Quite simply, the long term love of one trumps the fleeting love of many. It’s shallow, empty, short lived and transparent. And it gets old. You’re the dude in the club at 55, with the pony tail, who fucked his way through the city in the early 00’s, and now you’re hoping for that magic to rub off. But all you’re getting are ladies from the retirement bus, because you never bothered to make a life for yourself, a real life, and lose all the other bullshit that worked for a while, but has since stopped. There’s only one Hugh Hefner, and you ain’t it, and even after that, man made it seem as if this was the life, the world that every man wanted, even as Hef bungled his way through different marriages and arrangements.

“But at least he was getting laid by beautiful women.”

Men consistently have trouble getting laid, and this was the deficiency that PUA was supposed to eradicate. But it took the feels from the game, and it took the reason for being and boiled it down to whether she spreads her legs for you on the first date, whether you’re getting that girl in accounting to go down on you after a meeting, or whether that girl you approached on the street is a “good girl” that you have no shot with. It’s a “Dear Penthouse” that men dearly want but can’t get. It tried to quantify EVERYTHING, so that you can just look at the numbers to see what women are doing, how they act, and how a majority of them believe in “monkey branching”. Hypergamy doesn’t care, until you realize that the majority of women who we blame for hypergamy were broken human beings in the first place, with either bad upbringings, domineering or no fathers, and have no interest in taking responsibility for any of it.

And if you dare to believe in monogamy, you’re labeled blue pill and you’re doomed.

However…..

I’ve seen, in person, many men who have good women in their lives, and I see what it can do for them.

With some PUA, dishonesty was a hallmark. “Don’t tell women anything you’re doing” was the go to. Then, it was “you spin multiple plates and tell them up front what you’re doing”, but brutal honesty only works in a progressive, dystopian dating market where everyone’s trying to fuck everyone else.

You may win in the meat market, but you lose in the life partner game.

And I want to win in that game. Because it’s what I want to do.

The Reality

Nothing punched me in the face more than when I was trying to get into a real relationship and the reality of my PUA programming came up.

Women looking for a relationship don’t want to hear that you’re fucking other women and they can just take that to the bank.

And why would they?

I consistently say to men that if they found out a woman they were dating was screwing other dudes, they would be a bit concerned. And yet, many modern women do just this, and get upset when men do it as well. But it’s not ideal whoever does it, and while it shows disastrous double standards in dating, it also shows how detached we all are over sex and healthy long term relationships, and how the lines have blurred for everyone.

But the reality….the reality is much better than what the gurus tell you or want you to believe.

The Notch you get from strange women is much worse that the sex you have in a relationship.

Why? Because in a deep, committed relationship, you and your significant other open up sexually, and sex can be anything you want.

But they don’t want you to know that. Why? Because hate and anger sell. It’s easier to blame others for your lot in life than to take responsibility for yourself.

But more, it’s easier to sell gimmicks to guys who don’t want to do the work.

If you read “The Game”, you saw that in Los Angeles, when hundreds of men tried to get some of that genie in the bottle that was released, women started catching on to the ruse. Men who had used old time favorite pickup stuff like “The Cube” were suddenly being outed by women they were trying to hit on.

IT GETS OLD.

It’s cliché, but it’s true. We see men dropping out of PUA and the old guard weeps not because guys are doing what’s best for them, but because they miss the old days when they were hitting up models and actresses in the streets of the cities they haunted. Guys understand there are useful things in both PUA and the red pill, but it’s not a place they need to stay at for long. Because time doesn’t stop in those worlds, and eventually it becomes old, boring, and less important that a man getting on with his life.

“Get good with women” is and was the only end game, and once you get there, you’re adrift again because you’ve hit the mark and now you have nowhere else to go. You see men who in their prime were the best PUA’s ever, now reduced to shells of men talking about the days of game like a 43 year old over the hill dude talks about his 4 TD passes in the high school state championship.

Men have to have forward motion, they can’t just rely on inertia or momentum, because it ensures they’ll be stuck forever. Some guys can pull it off. But most cannot.

And instead of giving them consistent tools for building and growing a good life, they give them tips and tricks to get to that next phase, and drop them off like a bus stop. And we wonder why many guys are bitter about what’s happened to them.

You have to think past the notch. The best notches come at the hands of a woman who loves, supports, and is there for you. Men, married men that I know, that have taken control of their lives and become patriarchs, are having the best sex in life. Because they have a trusted person whom they break bread with every day, and they have someone who believes in them and what they are doing.

They’re having hot sex after breakfast, instead of hoping the fat girl at the end of the bar at last call is drunk enough to go home with you.

They’re going on amazing trips and doing fun things with their families, instead of getting high at a friend’s house before going out to the club to see if you can pull some girl younger than 35 tonight.

They’re having children, instead of pulling out and hoping that next phone call isn’t the girl you had sex with saying she’s late.

They’re living their lives, moving on and growing in other directions instead of harkening back to the halcyon days of when they had a threesome while high on cocaine.

I choose the group who’s creating more in the present, instead of remembering the good times, and I won’t apologize for it. It’s my choice to move forward and be more than I could have ever imagined, and there are women, many women, out there that I don’t have to dazzle with a card trick or a palm reading to get them to look. I am the game, and many women are eager to play.

Get out of the past, get passed the notch, and get on with your life.

Or be doomed to stay in the same place, in the same world, in the same dull life, forever.

Walk

“Sometimes, the best thing you can do to those that don’t understand or accept you for who you’ve become, is walk the fuck away.”

-Me – about 7 month ago

The hard truth to being yourself, really being yourself, is the fact that at some point, you have to say goodbye to those who won’t accept the real you. It’s a fact of life, especially for a life lived with a full set of boundaries, convictions, and beliefs intact. There will be those that seek to change you for their own purposes, your job is to say “no”.

And many people can’t say it. The mere utterance of the word terrifies most, with social repercussions on tap, when dealing with family, friends, and relationships.

And these days, with cancellations abounding on social media, standing up for yourself is very dangerous, especially economically, because the backlash of the mob will leave even the most seasoned, principled person gasping for their social breath.

Apologies fly after boundaries are set and enforced, showing those that tried to broach those sacred lines that it was all an act, that they can guilt and shame their way into bullying you however they want, whenever they want, and you’ll buckle like a belt.

Gone are the days of standing your ground, even if alone, for fear of retribution, humiliation, financial ruin, and castigation.

Those that do it have nothing to lose, or if they do, they’ve already lost it. That spirit needs to come back and there’s a reason it’s having a hard time right now.

But even in this time of crumbling morals and inabilities to stand up for oneself, there is something to be said about any man that can walk away from anything that doesn’t serve his interest. It’s a lost art that has been negated by the on-line experience, when words really don’t matter, actions can’t be seen unless someone’s recording, and the faceless mob either supports you temporarily or summons the torches and pitchforks for something you said years ago.

People these days are too scared to walk for fear of loss. Which means that they either don’t think what they gain from leaving is worth it, or they’re scared to leave because of what they would lose. But the people I’ve known who’ve braved the dreaded walk and do it over and over again know instinctively that they ALWAYS gain from walking away, because anything toxic in their lives is not worth keeping.

And it’s that mindset that has served me well for many years.

“I Never Said NO”

I didn’t know how to walk. For much of my life, I had been a people pleaser of the highest order. I would be shamed and guilted by those that loved me most, only because they knew they could get away with it.

My mother and I joke about this at times because when she wanted something from me, she would just give me “the look” which was a sad face with puppy dog eyes. All she had to do for years was flash that face and I would melt, giving in to any demand she had, be it homework needing to be done, chores, helping her with something, or even some trivial thing, all she had to do was the face and I was done.

It didn’t help that she’s a damn fine negotiator anyway, so I was at a disadvantage already, but she had this magical way of getting her way, and it worked whenever she employed it.

It didn’t get any better as I grew up and I would seldom stand up for anything for fear of bringing disdain from my family and friends. I lied so much to my friends if I didn’t want to hang out because I didn’t want to tell them “no I didn’t feel like it”, because I believe “no” was a bad word. This wasn’t manifested anywhere but in my own brain, so I continued to bend like a pretzel every time I was trying to make everyone happy.

So, I never said no. I would either lie, delay, come up with excuses, or just do it. My father would watch me in an uncomfortable situation and call it “dancing”, because all I would do was try to avoid the main issues to avoid the confrontations. And it seriously affected much of my social life as well, even in to my early 20’s, I had not dated much, and when I had, I was a sheepish, clumsy, people pleaser, not worried about my own needs, but the needs of my date at the time. No wonder I was terrible with women.

It continued to come increasingly give me stress in my life when I got married. I had three women that I was trying to please. My wife, my younger sister, and my mother, and most of the time, they were all in alignment, and I did what they needed me to do. I thought I was being a good husband, brother, and son by doing whatever they wanted. It was only when all three of them became diametrically opposed that I started to have major issues in my life, culminating in several angry outbursts at work and several sessions with an anger management counselors.

Tough situations at work with customers, clients, vendors, bosses, and co-workers was met with angry outbursts, punching walls, and pent up frustration, all over avoiding conflict, confrontation, and resolution. And the avoidance, the “dancing” was killing me from the inside out…

The build up was so stressful, I had to take on a full time therapist to start parsing through all of the issues I was having.

And while it helped, the one thing that my therapist told me that stuck with me was a question he asked one morning…

“Have you ever said no?”

It was a question I had never been asked.

And I didn’t have an answer, because deep down, I knew the answer. That answer was…no, I had never said no.

And a light went on, albeit 20 years too late, but it came on, and the wheels started turning, finally, mercifully, towards finally resolving my anger issues in the short term, but setting off a bomb in the long term, a bomb that needed to be set, the bomb of me finally becoming aware of my boundaries, what I wanted in my life, and what it was going to take to find myself. And it wasn’t going to be easy.

“Something Happened, Something Clicked”

On that cold ass December morning when I got asked that question, I started to really search for why the answer was what it was. And I got very surprising answers. People weren’t taking advantage of me over my life for being a people pleaser on purpose, they were doing it because I was allowing them to do it. This revelation started a domino effect for my job, my friends, my family, and my wife. I started to question everything that was in my life and why it was there….and more importantly, whether it needed to be there. Every session with my therapist continued to reinforce the fact that I had been living a lie for much of my life. A life that was supposed to be mine was being used to please others with no end in sight.

I had to really question why the hell I was doing all this because none of it was benefiting me. Which is when I made the fateful decision to file for divorce from my then wife. I wasn’t living MY life, I was living another dude’s life, and none of this was what I wanted, none of it.

The decision to divorce was the first decision I had made as ME. It was the first decision I had made as a man in control of his own life. And it was my first “NO” in my life to those that would want the opposite.

I took a ton of heat from friends and family from my decision. But there I was, standing up for myself, saying NO in the face of those who wanted different.

And my divorce was a sad event, it and the events leading up to it was the catalyst for who I have become today. Because I knew when I got divorced, on the other side was the person I truly was, and I knew that everyone in my world would come to accept my decision when they saw what it did for me.

For that one moment, because I chose to WALK away from something that wasn’t good for me, it empowered me to make more decisions for my own development. It taught me to not seek conflict, but not to be afraid of it. It showed me that the world wasn’t so bad when you stood alone for something you believed in, because you believe it’s right.

And, finally, after 40 years, “My Best Interest” became the guiding light of my life. There’s nothing selfish or wrong with pursuing your best interests because, as I’ve always said, you can’t pour from an empty cup, and pursued self interest, hobbies, convictions, purpose, and belief fills that bad boy up every damn day.

Now? I say no. A lot. And it’s not because I do it just to hear myself say it, although that was absent for the first 4 decades of my life, but it was because if it doesn’t align with what I am doing in my life, with the things that I want to accomplish, or takes away from my momentum, goals, and life choices, then it doesn’t get to be a part of it.

And that’s what Captain American says in my favorite quote. No matter what, believe what you believe, stand up for your convictions, and put what you feel is right ahead of all else. No wonder I love that damn quote so much, because it reminds me of me during my struggle to walk away from shit that doesn’t work for me.

No matter what, stand up for yourself, whether it be in politics, religion, social media, anything.

You stand for who you are, you stand for what you believe, you stand for your morals and convictions. And if they don’t like it, walk. You don’t have to tolerate anyone who won’t tolerate you.

We need a world that can grow a pair and use them to get shit done. Stop kowtowing to people just to please and avoid a conflict. You matter and your views are yours. Never forget that.