“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.