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.


“Light Redemption” – Richard George Davis

“Arms wide open
I stand alone
I’m no hero and I’m not made of stone
Right or wrong
I can hardly tell
I’m on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell”.

Five Finger Death Punch “Wrong Side of Heaven”

I’m not a religious man, never was.

My family was officially Protestant, but my father, as my grandfather before him, was agnostic. My mother took his lead, and my exposure to church was periodic trips on special holidays, or the rare every year Sunday “guilt trip” my mother put our family in that we were going to all burn in hell if we didn’t go and start making a habit of it. But in general, my father helped the family avoid the church because of his uncomfortable relationship with the afterlife. My father was fearful of death, still is to this day at 74, and wasn’t about to have his life, nor his potential afterlife, explained to him in a fiery diatribe from the pulpit. So he did what we all do when we have uneasy thoughts about anything, he avoided it.

I couldn’t totally avoid it, as I was an impressionable young man who needed to be trained in the correct way to worship, led by family friends and eventually by my own friends, whose family would gladly drag the “devil kid” to any service they could on days I spent the night at my friends’ houses. A chance to show him the right way to worship, at the right church, with the right congregation, with the right sermon, from the right priest, reverend, or bishop.

My experiences in church were quite unremarkable. I would go with friends who were Catholic, spend my 90 minutes on Sundays not kneeling when the congregation knelt, feeling like the priest would call me out any time I didn’t know what to say during the hymnal, or yell at me if I dared to come up and take bread and wine. As I got older and went to these functions with friends, I always joked that as soon as I entered the church I’d catch fire because I was “THAT” bad, but I wasn’t even close. God’s light nor Hell’s lighter could touch a kid that didn’t know any better.

My family, at first, when I was younger, would go every Easter, myself and my three older siblings, being force marched by our parents to church to try and atone for the sins of the past year. When my younger sister was born, we started going again sporadically, but we eventually stopped again. It was like each child born was a new attempt to salvage the faith my family didn’t have, until it got to the point where we stopped going altogether.

My mother would occasionally bring up that we should go to church again, meet people in our community, become a family of faith, but my father would grumble and tell her to forget about it. He wasn’t going. He wasn’t having it. No place of worship was going to take the fear of dying away from him, so he continued to stay away, as did his family.

As my adolescence bloomed into adulthood, I was pretty much in the same boat as my father, save the fear of dying. I was uncomfortable in churches, I didn’t understand the sermons dooming me to eternal hellfire if I didn’t worship the way that was required, the music was nauseating, and my high school and college years were spent being socially backward while experimenting with recreational drugs, so the cross wasn’t even in the ballpark of my mind.

I do remember the college religious crowds were annoying. The women, sworn to virginity during the meetings, would hook up with frat guys on the weekends after getting wasted, do the walk of shame home (I saw three girls who were the most religious of the group walking from Fraternity row on three separate occasions, disheveled and hung over) just in time to get back to their halos and the Monday – Friday sanctimoniousness that permeated every aspect of their pretend lives.

Like the parents that sent them there to be good girls (one floor in one of the dorms was called the “Virgin Vault” for super overprotective parents (quick hint – it wasn’t a vault nor were they virgins)), the parents lived their lives differently when the Jonenes were watching and the complete opposite when the curtains and the garage door closed.

I remember hearing my religious floor mates chuckling about who was real and who was fake and I just wondered if church, like high school and college, was just another popularity contest.

As I got married, my now ex-wife, who was about as religious as I was, tried to get me to change my set in ways, but I wasn’t having it. We’d go to church services on Easter, or Christmas Eve, but every church was the same. When my ex and I were on our Dave Ramsey kick, we even went to the church for over 3 months taking Financial Peace University, taking the kids to Sunday school while we did it (the church’s trap for free child care, hell it worked) and learned to manage our finances. But I kept seeing the church trying to aggressively sell us on their services, their message, and their congregation and spirit in the community, and I just saw through all of it. To me, I saw a facade of helpful people hiding a glorified social club, made up of people trying to jockey for prime positions in the church and in the community in case they wanted to run for public office someday.

The local churches even had soccer leagues we enrolled our girls in, hoping to meet new people, gain some perspective, but everywhere I went, I saw the same bullshit people crowing the same bullshit lines that I had heard for years. “If you don’t worship, you’re going to hell. And by the way, our church is the best.”

The church and I have never gotten along….

Sinner, Not a Saint

Sins, I have them. A lot of them.

In my writings, I’ve spoken at length about all of them. My past is full of it.

Cheating (sleeping with married women knowingly and not so), hitting on wives and girlfriends of friends, stealing, anger (I’ve put many a hole in walls), lying, drugs, you name it, I’ve done it all, and the mile long rap sheet would make any priest in confession have to stop and ask for a breather and a glass of water.

That’s why I know there’s no forgiveness for me. I don’t deserve it.

Even if I decided to go to church and absolve my sins, they are too burned into my personal psyche to think that a few thousand hail Mary’s and a dip in holy water (which would boil if I stepped in it, I’m convinced) would absolve what I truly know can’t be absolved. A blessing from a holy man doesn’t help me overcome the fact that I did these things. It doesn’t cleanse my mind of the acts, nor does it help me to sort them out any further. People are under the impression that you can wave a magic wand and be cured of sin when in fact it just gives them an excuse to go out and sin again.

Confessing that I cheated on my soon to be ex-wife with another woman doesn’t take the sting out of my mind. Should ‘t I have worked on the marriage, even if we were separated? Shouldn’t I have tried? Why did I walk away? Why didn’t I do more? No amount of getting it out will make the pain of what I did go away. Emotional affairs with friends wives, sex with women who were married, cheating on a girlfriend, lying to women about seeing other women, hell, even lying to the cops to cover for a troublesome friend gets to me everyday.

There aren’t magic words to make it all go away. The point of it all is I still did it.

What matters is I have to live with myself and my past. I don’t get to forget, nor do I get to move on until I know, myself, that I have done all I can to redeem myself. And, honestly, that probably won’t be enough.

I don’t want pity. I’m telling you there’s a lot of men out there who’ve done worse that I have, that are haunted everyday by the parts of themselves that they can’t change.

But what I am realizing, slowly but surely, is that I can take my troublesome past and create something with it. I can create a future that I can be proud of. And I want to show that any man, with any past, can overcome and push through to redemption.


“I’m sorry for the demon I’ve become.”

  • Five Finger Death Punch – “Walk Away”

After a life of tough lessons, lost friends and family, and absolute disregard for any kind of nuance or respectfulness, I had to change this life. My red pill unplugging was the first part of this, but seemingly I was getting into the same issues even after that, except now, there wasn’t much of a conscience to this new scorched earth policy of alienating myself from friends, lovers, and family with my actions. I didn’t care as long as I got mine and while many call this the “black pill” I can tell you it was putting my life on self-destruct for the sole purpose of getting my dick wet or at least the potential of it. I was better with women with the explicit distinction that all attractive women were fair game to me. It landed me flirting with married women who’s husbands had had affairs on them. I tried to become the equalizer with some success, but I was trafficking in a dangerous trade.

It’s become one of the worst moments in my life, but also one of the biggest realizations and awakenings that I’ve experienced. This low point of this supposedly new me was breached.

This is not me finding the church, or God, or anything else. This was an experience of finally finding MYSELF and knowing what was important.

My first 31 Days to Masculinity was at about the same time last year and during this time, I started to use my past to build for my future. I made amends with those I’d hurt and broke off relations with those that weren’t salvageable. I knew that my life, at that point being dedicated to helping men, wasn’t looking so good for men who were wanting to improve their lives. A dude who’s sex life thrived on jilted lovers, broken marriages, outright lies and deceit, or unhappy house wives wasn’t what I was trying to sell. Men didn’t need to walk the fucking razor line to truly find a better life. 31 DTM made me face this fact head on. And, even as a man without a country, I was an island at this point, but it was time to start swimming back to shore.

So I started to make it right and started to apply the red pill the right way. No more of this bullshit. It was time for me to grow up, sack up and make my life better by focusing on it primarily, and practice what I was preaching. At that time, I was really covering game and attraction in my tweets and blog. I was applying it to women I shouldn’t have been applying it to, but did it anyway because “enjoy the decline” right?

Dammit, there had to be more to this fucking life…

There is. I’ve found it. Renewed vigor towards my own goals of fitness, finances, foresight, and yes, even a little bit of faith. Once again, the church and I don’t see eye to eye, and probably never will.

The game is never as fun when you have the cheat codes, so I reset and started it over, this time making sure I covered all my bases. I made it a point to go out and meet new people, men and women whom I admire on Twitter and elsewhere, and to go out and meet the men of FoE. It was time for the world to meet the man that sits in between the forgiveness of God and the eternal damnation that I know may be waiting for me.

So, I wake up tomorrow working on a new future for myself. Living the true red pill life. Taking the game that I’ve learned and adding confidence, honesty, authenticity, and a shit ton of attitude. It’s about me now, not anything else. I’ll still approach women, I’ll just be more mindful about their intentions, especially if there’s a ring on that finger. Never rub another man’s rhubarb, even if you think he deserves it. You’ll cash that check with your life if you aren’t careful.

Bros before hoes really does cover it.

The worst I can think of is that I continue to improve my life with the prospect of no forgiveness and no LTR, or a MGTOW wet dream, but I would appreciate a women in my life who supports me in all my endeavors and truly enhances my life.

But if I am running the rest of this life marathon alone, then I am absolutely prepared to do that.

The best I can hope for is being on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell, as Five Finger Death Punch put it so eloquently.

Forgiveness is lost, but give me redemption so that I may live as a symbol to those who walk in my footsteps.