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.

Incompatible Lives

“It’s time for you to be a father, not chase tail all over the country.”

The voice cracked on my cell phone.

Angrily pacing in the airport, waiting on my return flight, with the phone clutched tightly in my hand, I countered, “It’s about me at this point in my life, my focusing on myself is not wrong. You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

My daughter had been crying in the background when my mother spoke next.

“You’re a shitty father. Your kids need you and you’re flying around chasing pussy.”

I had never heard my mother speak this way to me, and it shocked me greatly.

“Has everyone lost their damn minds up there? Do I get time to myself to travel, date, and sleep with women? What business is it of yours what the hell I do when I don’t have my kids?”

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is that your kids need you and you’re not here”, she said.

I had this happen before. It was clear as day to me.

Back in my marriage, my miserable dead end marriage, my ex used to call me at work with kids crying and guilt me into trying to come home, saying “they miss you”.

She would leverage my job against my family and she knew she was doing it. And here was my mother, another women in my life, trying to guilt and shame me into coming home because my daughter was a mess.

My daughter had been suffering from anxiety, a curse that I passed down to her, and she wasn’t coping very well. And as her screams and cries harangued in the background of my phone call that day, I wasn’t having another woman in my life try to tell me what I needed to do, leveraging my lifestyle with my kids.

I wasn’t hurting anyone. I was just going out on my time that I didn’t have my kids, traveling and meeting new people, and yes, I was having sex with women. So? “What the fuck?” was going through my head big time as I tried and failed several times to calm down. So there I was, in an airport in Pensacola, yelling at the phone.

Before this altercation, I had spent the better part of 2 years traveling all over the United States, by car and by plane, visiting places I’d never been, meeting people from Twitter and other walks of life, and yes, sleeping with women.

I had spent the majority of my 20’s working, not dating, and being terrible with women. My 30’s were spent with marriage and kids. And after I jettisoned my marriage after 10 years at 40 years old, it was time, albeit late, for me to sow my oats. I hadn’t had this kind of power with women in my life and I wanted to try it out for a spin. I was doing it within the rules of my divorce.

There were weekends I didn’t have my kids, so what harm was it for me to go and enjoy my life?

“I really thought I had thought this through” was running through my head.

Conundrum

Why wasn’t I able to pull this off? I thought I had done my homework. Why in the hell was I dealing with this?

I wanted to continue to travel. I wanted to continue to date all over the country. I wanted to continue having fun with my free time.

But what I didn’t understand? With my particular circumstances, with who I was, and with what I was doing, I couldn’t pull it off.

Some men can and do.

My kids were suffering from my absence, even if I didn’t believe it.

Yes, when I was there, I was there for my kids. But, I wasn’t really there. Between work, hotels, flights, rental cars, date nights, and all the other stuff that was piling up, I was missing from my kids lives. My mind wasn’t where it needed to be. With pussy, dinner plans, and travel getting the lion’s share of my attention, I was mailing it in with my kids.

They needed a strong, grounded father who had built a foundation of strength and stability. They were getting neither from me. And when the inevitable blowups occurred, they (and the women in their lives) needed a strong, masculine calm to break the tension, something that I could not provide at that moment.

And I knew it. Damn I was having fun doing this life. But in a round about way, even if my mom was wrong for calling me a shitty father, she was right about one thing. This wasn’t me, and I wasn’t there.

I couldn’t pull it off. Some other dude could. I couldn’t.

So, as I left the airport bound for home that day, I had to rethink my entire strategy and if it was even possible to have these incompatible lives.

My mother had said very hurtful things to me. Things that I knew weren’t true, but things she had never said to me before. I had to grasp why she felt this way.

The women in my life (mother, sister, and ex) were losing control of the situation because I never had it under control. I took off week after week for a new destination, all while leaving these women in charge of a situation that I figured they had control over. But the minute I left, the shit hit. Why?

Because I wasn’t there. Not necessarily there physically. But there. My presence. My infrastructure. My frame. My setup. My processes.

I had done none of it to help offset any issues that I was hoping wouldn’t come up. I knew about my daughter and her volatility. I still did nothing. I blindly let myself get away with it, and now the check had come due.

She wasn’t getting her dad. She was getting a dude mailing it in on the days he was around and passing it off to others on the days he wasn’t.

The one thing I had wanted in life was to be good with women, and here I was, better than I’d ever been, and I was being asked to give it up for my kids?

Yes. Yes I was.

My kids needed me.

Putting It To Bed

Did I have to give it up?

The thought and question raced through my mind as I flew back home.

The flights lasted longer than any other I’ve ever taken, because I was being asked to let go of something I like doing, but it was becoming detrimental to my home life.

I understood, finally, that I could travel and do some of the things I wanted to do, but just not to the scale of how I was doing them.

I had to get back home and plant firm ground to give my kids the foundation and frame they needed to thrive, even when I wasn’t around. So I did just that and established myself firmly.

And as if by magic, my kids improved dramatically.

As Zac Small says, “Presence is greater than presents.”

And it was proven after my flight landed that night.

A year later, I went back to my mom.

I went up to her, gave her a hug, and told her I forgave her for calling me a shitty father.

She apologized for calling me that as well.

She understood that I had improved as a father, by simply being there for my kids, as opposed to being there for unnamed women.

No amount of pussy is worth jeopardizing your family over.

The women in my life that were the most important to me were getting the full me, finally.

Daughters, mother, sister were getting me, but also, the real me. I wouldn’t put up with any shit, but I would respectfully acknowledge that I was lacking in certain areas as a father, and that was more important to me to correct than any other issue at that time.

And my job was to make sure that my kids got me first and often. I needed to be there for them, even if it meant sacrificing my short term goals, I had to focus on the long term of my kids.

My lives, for just me, were at the moment and for the foreseeable future, incompatible. I couldn’t be the single dad who picked up girls any more. I had to just be the dad. And be a good one, which I knew I was.

But I also had to come to the realization that a long term relationship is what I wanted.

I just had to come home.

Attractive Versus Hot

Photo Credit: Barnorama

She was gorgeous.

I saw her when I first walked into the room at the networking event. I went over to the bar and talked with the bartender for a moment, then ordered my usual Zombie Dust ale. I had been to many of these before, but this was the first time I’d seen this woman at this kind of event. She wore a light blue business suit, lace cami underneath, and a pearl necklace. Her eyes were as brown as mine were, and her dark brown hair was long and thick.

I sat at the bar watching her set up her booth, a sales table to give out free shit and promote her company. Her boss was flirting with another girl across the room while I looked into her eyes. She kept looking away. Her heels were on point. Fashion pumps with a fresh pedicure. I noticed everything about her. Her earrings, blue hoops matched her suit. She knew what she was doing.

So naturally, I went over to her. We started talking about her company, what she was doing at this networking event, and all the blah topics, but I eventually got her to open up and with a few drinks, we were having a good time as the networking event ended.

What was funny throughout all of this, is the mask was slipping a bit on her. She was obviously a drinker, party girl, but it was amazing how little it took for her to let her hair down and get out of her “business” mindset that made her nervous and unsure about herself.

Liquid courage does it every time.

Sure, she said she had a boyfriend, but she wasn’t acting like it. Touching my leg, whispering in my ear, other things that stated that she was unattached for the right guy.

There were other women there, but they weren’t as “hot” as she was. They didn’t command the room like she did. They were more homely, more reserved, less obnoxious, but they weren’t as hot as she was.

Men let women get away with a ton of shit when they’re hot.

This was the first 9 I had hit on, flirted with. My new found confidence, improved physique, and improving social skills were winning the day. This was what I had prepared for. This was the hotness I wanted in my life.

What I didn’t know at that time…..was that she was a 9, but she was also a damn handful.

I was just stoked to have pulled a hot girl. For months before, as I was working on my game and my approaches, I would go up to hot girls and be smacked down like a weak jumper in the paint. But, all of the sudden, the work was paying off, and I felt as if this was the big time that I was finally going to get some of that top-notch pussy that all the guys talk about.

Other women would look, try to get my attention, but I didn’t care. I had the hottest girl in the room flirting and touching me. Time to take this party on home and enjoy the spoils.

And enjoy I did. I’m sure we did things that her boyfriend didn’t get to do with her.

It was everything I had ever expected and more…..until I woke up the next morning.

Hot But Not Attractive

As I was learning, there was a difference in her attitude when she was not “in character” trolling for dudes in the dregs of the networking circuit. She would proudly claim “boyfriend” if her suitors were not properly attractive enough for her to deem worthy.

And this was just the tip of the iceberg. She was demanding. She had been used to men doing what she wanted because she was hot. When she came across a guy who didn’t, she immediately began the shit testing in earnest. And as I was finding out, she wasn’t a very deep person, meaning she kept her eyes on her phone one minute, and the mirror the next. She had tons of admirers….

As we started dating, I knew it wasn’t going to last very long. She wasn’t interested in anything but the attention she got from the guys she wanted. It was all about her, so it stood to reason that our little escapades weren’t going to last long at all.

Look, the sex was great. Her body and face would make me hard in a heartbeat, and I’d spend quite a few hours pounding away at her. But after the release, my post nut clarity (h/t to Donovan Sharpe for that little nugget) told me this girl was trouble.

Her liberal, “empowered”, independent woman mindset was getting older by the minute.

She belched like a trucker, she was a fucking slob, she was jealous of other girls who I spoke with, all while chatting away with other guys (of which I was slowly not giving a shit). I was under the impression of the many guys in PUA who had told me, “Dude, no matter how hot she is, some dude, somewhere, is tired of her shit.”

She would constantly try to start shit, even when we were out together at dinner. She would shit test incessantly just to try to get a rise out of me. Her self-esteem hinged on being able to challenge me at every opportunity, and it was getting tiresome.

The final straw came when one night, she decided to start talking shit to me when I was at a dinner event with some friends. I wasn’t going to stand for this anymore. So as she started to escalate, I left. And I never looked back to her.

I felt like I had won a prize at first, but then I felt as if the prize wasn’t as pristine and great as it had led me to believe.

She was high maintenance, an attention whore, a slob, and a deeply flawed human being.

But at least she was hot, right?

She would constantly challenge me in front of people, hoping I would erupt and fight back. Constant shit testing became a wear on my nerves.

But at least she was hot, right?

The sex was great. She was extremely good-looking. And I forgave many things she did because her ass looked good in a dress and she wore the heels I liked. But she was always on her phone, talking to who knows, planning her next dude, and this temporary fun time proved the point of the manosphere that “she’s not yours, it’s just your turn” was real as fuck.

But at least she was hot, right?

As I grew older, wiser, and dated more, I found out some things about women that I needed to find out. As soon as the leash of a dead marriage was off of me, I started to go all out in search of the hot women, because I was told they would make me happy. Having hot sex with a hot girl was what life was about. And in some way, yes, I’m glad I experienced it with her, but in many other, mounting cases, there was a reason she was single with a boyfriend for convenience.

Attractive But Not Hot

So after repeating this approach with hot women, and understanding that there were issues with the women I was dating, I started to up my own qualifications. No longer was it just about being a hot woman, it was about more than that. I started to look deeper into the women I was hitting on.

The thrill of banging a hot woman was getting old now. I understand that there are many men who would’ve killed to be in these positions and that I was looking a gift horse in the mouth if I wasn’t going to use my newfound powers to plow different girls, but I just didn’t see the benefit, especially if my mental stability was at stake.

So I pulled back. I regrouped and focused on what I really wanted in a woman that wasn’t being proudly displayed in public.

I started to talk to women and hit on them if I truly was attracted to them. The women I walked by so many times before at the networking events, at the restaurants, at the bars, that weren’t as hot, but were still good looking, were the ones I would talk to.

Many of them were non-starters, but more than enough of them were better and less work than the 8’s and 9’s I had struggled with.

And I was getting better with all women, but I was also raising my personal standards with women. I wasn’t going to just sleep with a woman for the hell of it, because while it was fun, the price of getting my dick wet wasn’t worth the mental anguish I was getting by dating these girls.

I was looking for a “Ride or Die”, a woman who would come into my world and be willing to be a part of it. It was her call. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say I’d take a few hotness points less for a woman who would support me and be my “Ride or Die.”

As the old adage goes, “I’d rather date a 6 or 7 than put up with an 8 or a 9.”

There’s something to be said about a woman who has her shit together and is attractive in other ways besides looks. I’ve seen women who were a 5 or 6 who were more feminine, softer, and more attractive than the hottest 8 or 9. That’s because attitude either adds or subtracts from a woman. The hottest girl can be the most unattractive asshole if she opens her mouth. Hotter girls are more entitled, as they’ve had men waiting on them hand and foot for much of their lives.

As I’ve always said, the most unattractive hot girl is one that knows it.

Humility and being humble are extremely attractive in women.

Look, I’m not saying find the ugliest, fattest chick you can get because she might be attracted to you. You’re allowed to have standards. But be aware of the hot girls and the baggage they bring with their looks.

As a guy, it’s important for you to sow your oats. And yes, getting experience with hot women is what every guy wants. But be aware that it’s not everything.

Get your dick wet with a hottie. And if you’re lucky enough to find a hot girl that is actually humble and has it all together, hold on to her like grim death.

There are unicorns out there, they just need to be attracted by a beast of a man.

The Family Contract

So I don’t do a ton of dad posts on here simply because I have a lot of guys like me who are riding out the dating market, but I think that some things I’ve done in the past few weeks warrant me diving into this realm.

At this particular moment in our history, dads are needed more than ever.

So, as I move back and forth from a country traveler, dating enthusiast and woman lover to father, provider, and co-parent, I have a unique perspective into the world of the single father. And I’m still learning more and more.

More recently, my oldest daughter has been struggling with something that I struggled with my entire adolescence and young adulthood, anxiety and depression. I will say that I suffered from both when I was her age, but it hits home when your kid has to deal with what you had.

I should’ve prepared. I should’ve done more, but I didn’t. You can’t prevent your kids from having these issues, and indeed when they start to get them, you feel powerless to try to help. But there is a way you can help them.

Draw the Line and Abide By It No Matter What

So there we all were, in a quiet room, starting the discussion. I began:

“Today, we are going to be doing something we should’ve done a long time ago, we are going to draft a family contract. This contract will contain a list of covenants that we (all of us, no exceptions) have to accept as law in both of our households. We are all integral in crafting it, so everyone’s input is required. If at any time you choose to walk away from negotiations, you give up your input and still have to abide. Your mother and I are both giving you an opportunity to craft something meaningful that our family can get behind.”

So we did it. For three hours. It was the most amazing thing ever. Sure, there were laughs, tears, yelling, arguing, as well as some compromise. But each person got their chance to get their voice heard, and through careful crafting, we came up with 10 main basic rules that needed to be followed as the “Law of the Family”.

As in your own life, setting boundaries is of utmost importance in this aspect of family. Kids need to be taught about consequences, both good and bad, that are in effect and will be enforced. Parents as well should abide by the rules, as there were several set for myself and my ex by the kids, and we have consequences that we must enforce as well.

The main purpose of this family contract? Accountability.

We all needed it, yet for years, even during our marriage, we left it adrift, choosing inopportune times to enforce, or not, rules that weren’t printed, filed, or even signed in agreement. Too often, parents are the tyrants and their kids are the subjects.

“Do as I say not as I do” is a parenting method that relies on parental power of the adult to make the rules. This “might makes right” may have been the only outlet for parenting that we know because our parents did it.

I was spanked as a kid, most of the time knowing exactly what I did was wrong, but once again, my parents didn’t have a “10 commandments” of right and wrong, and it can be confusing for a kid, especially doing stuff that’s borderline.

This is where myself and my ex had to be different. Not only did we have the challenge of two different households, but the challenge of a divorce was also present. Luckily, I am on the same page with my ex. And that’s an important aspect that I will discuss…

Be On The Same Page

None of the above, and I mean none of it, would be possible unless you and your spouse are on the same page. You have to be united in both installing and following the rules to the letter.

This same page gets a bit more dicey when there’s a divorce involved.

The vital part of this whole thing was my relationship with my ex.

Ever since the end of our divorce, my ex and I have gotten along so well (even better than when we were married) that this installation of these rules was EXTREMELY easy.

But before you present the whole issue to the family at large, you must have the discussion with your significant other about what you plan to install.

We had a catalyst of troublesome behavior, talking back, too much time on electronic devices, chores not being done, etc, we had to take back the house with little fanfare, and let the children know that not only were we in charge, but they were going to have vital say in how the new rules were going to be implemented.

But something had to be understood. I and my ex had to get our issues out and resolved before we presented anything to our kids. You want a united front on this one, because not only does it give the kids confidence in the implementation of the rules, but you have confidence in each other when presenting and working through the rules.

Luckily, we have very few issues, but if you and your spouse or ex have underlying resentment, disdain, or problems, you have to resolve those first and be ready to uniformly implement the contract as if either of you were the same person. Kids will more often than not try to bend the rules depending on the parent present, which is where problems arise, because naturally one parent will let something slide while the other one enforces.

This gives the kids conflicting info and makes a confusing situation even more so, as well as unenforceable as both parents set different rules.

So being on the same page is critical for this to be enacted. Once you are, you have to set aside some time to get it down on paper with your kids. And please keep in mind, THIS WILL NOT BE QUICK.

There will be tears, because, you are finally setting boundaries for your kids, and depending on how long you’ve waited, it will take some time to get everyone’s input. It took us three hours on a Sunday afternoon to hammer out 10 rules.

But we did it, and the understanding we got, especially when everyone was involved to help craft, made this agreement as strong as our family bond.

There are consequences, and they are understood. There are rewards as well.

And yes, I had to stop goofing off and teasing people. And my ex had to be present and accounted for when the kids needed something.

We all have to do things in this family to contribute, which makes this agreement stronger by default. We also left the open room to re-negotiate after one week, which we now agreed was working well.

While many of the below rules are common sense, you have to write it down to make sure everyone understands, from limited time on iPads to school work to a proper bedtime routine to feeding pets, there has to be engaged action and reaction for each. Written apologies, actions versus words for good and bad things. All in there.

Mutual respect, everyone behaving better, and a strong contract still being followed is what we wanted, and slowly, it’s what we are getting.

And now, it sits in a public place (my kitchen) as a reminder of the agreement our family made to be better in all aspects of our life, and what consequences, both good and bad, will come of this contract.

I can’t recommend this enough for every family.

The Narrative

Photo Credit: Masterfile.com

Ah, Hollywood.

For decades now, the city out west has been trying to define pop culture and change society. Hollywood and it’s products have a larger effect on people than we realize, especially in defining changing roles in the world between the sexes. Hollywood has always been a catalyst for change, but with more and more people watching more and more Netflix, movies, etc, you start to see patterns develop on how Hollywood and the liberal culture that drives it want men and women to behave.

And as a younger man, I fell for it hook, line and sinker. With such a far reaching entity such as this, it’s bound to affect many people with it’s misleading stereotypes as well as it’s fairy tale endings that always seem to work out for everyone involved at just the right time.

When I was terminally single in my 20’s, I always watched a ton of movies and shows that were showing the plight of the single man and how if he just did that one nice thing, a gorgeous woman would drop out of the sky for him, and he would live happily every after.

The sell for TV shows like Friends, movies with Hugh Grant, etc., was that no matter how emasculated a man was, his quirky, funny, and wholeheartedly feminine self would always get the girl in the end, because that’s how it always works, right?

Many of the producers of such shows were either women trying to project what they thought men should be like, or weak willed men who truly believed, as many millions of men before and after them have been raised to believe, that men were supposed to be nice. Niceness, in all of it’s unfettered, unmotivated glory, would get the girl in the end.

I’ve spoken at length on the nice guy phenomenon and how I was just like all those other guys, truly believing that the Hollywood way was the only way, as this was all you ever saw on TV in my time (90’s). Ross Gellar was going to get Rachel. Everyone roots for the underdog. The problem is, like you see in many sports these days, the underdogs don’t win very often because they aren’t the quality of the winners. But where did all of this perpetual bad dating information resonate from?

The “Just Be Yourself” crowd and most of the other feminized sects of TV came from feminism and it’s influences creeping into TV and movies. The real start of this intrusion was in the 90’s, right about the time the male tough guy hero was at his peak and as the ought of the 21st century came around, gone were the tough guys and out of the blue appeared the guys who were quirky, socially awkward, video game nerds who weren’t particularly masculine, but still commanded the female attention because this was how it was supposed to be.

I was a nerd, still am to a certain extent. I had two friends in school and they had no friends. I played Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, video games of all shape and size in the 90’s. Generation X, my generation, was the generation that was going to re-define men in to a more pleasing, less conflicted feminism induced shape. And as I was that in spades, I decided to take the Hollywood version of the “Homo Novos” and apply it to my life, with disastrous consequences.

I literally went out into the dating pool with the “poor me” syndrome that permeates modern men and their single lives. Never did I try to learn a new skill, work on improving my life, or even get my whole career in shape. I focused on looking for women and trying to look as pathetic and needy as I could. Because that was what I was shown would work. Any woman I had any remote interest in, I would decide to be as nice as I could and my misery was the focus of my life. These miserable guys? On TV they would always be in a scene where they’re at the grocery store with sad music playing, pining for their “one”. And their “one” would feel sorry for them and come running. This is how it was!

Was I weak? Hell yes I was. But it wasn’t like the single man narrative was changing outside of the glowing electric box. Everyone in my world believed the same things I did. My friends, family, co-workers, every damn man I knew believed the same things I did. The ones that didn’t? The ones that never watched the crap. They were too busy winning football games, fighting the enemy on foreign shores, and cutting down trees into firewood.

As I no longer watch much TV or movies, I have been peeking in recently to see what Hollywood continues to try and sell men, and quite frankly, it hasn’t changed at all and if anything, this behavior has gotten much more ingrained into the male psyche.

The story’s the same. Man pines for any woman in his life, flash to him carrying a basket in the grocery store, sad music. It keeps replaying like a bad film with no audience, but the narrative has to continue to be pushed.

A man’s goal is not a woman, but watch any movie or TV show, and you see a man working towards that goal. The two dimensional place holder guys who are just there to prop up the “strong female lead” play the same role in every last movie they’re in. Men are secondary, females lead. Not at all how life was intended, but muh feminism.

I think of the movie “Rocky” and how all the narratives need to fall the way that one does. His woman was an afterthought in that movie. The goal was to win. The goal was to get better. The goal was to train.

The ultimate goal for any man should be what’s in his best interest. Whether it’s taking down terrorists to save the world, fighting an opponent in the ring, or finding out who the hell he is and loving that person, regardless, the whole fairy tale that Hollywood indeed gift wraps in a crap sandwich every month is a WOMAN’S fairy tale.

Every story that floats down the crapper water coming out of Los Angeles every week is a female’s wet dream. Men have no place in it except as breeding stock or arm candy. And it’s not as if women have had a chance to have better ideas, they just chose not to use them and instead pined for the days when they could be the “men” in the story.

And here, they now have it, and like clockwork, the feminization of media continues, but it’s not what women expected.

Nope, instead of getting billions of dollars for a new remake of the female version of Die Hard, they are getting shit canned by the American public, a group tired of listening to the tired wails coming from the place that used to be a magical town that defined masculinity in actors such as Cary Grant, Sean Connery, and John Wayne, and femininity in actresses like Katherine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Grace Kelly.

Instead, it’s the narrative that drives Hollywood now. And as we saw earlier this year with “Joker”, Hollywood hates men, but men still sell, and sell very well, and will continue to sell. Production companies aren’t selling a product as much as they are trying to push a way of life, but unlike in the decades before, this way of life is turning off a majority of the American public.

The bottom line of this and every other story that’s come out of that town is what makes money will ultimately win over. Why a flick with a strong male lead is a dying breed is a feminist wet dream, but the strong male lead will continue to be successful.

And men aren’t going anywhere.

Get Away From the Box

So, that begs the question, what can we do?

Well, my biggest issue that I had to overcome was to recognize the crap and get the garbage out of my life. The narrative can’t be disseminated if it’s not being watched.

So turn the damn thing off.

The best part about my life is that I’m not shaped by the events on an electronic screen. And I appreciate that my views are no longer influenced by a device that has no interest in my life, only my money and my time.

When you start to realize that none of the FICTION that is produced in those studios have any relevance in your life, you’ll look forward to making your own movie, under your own direction, about the triumph that your life truly is.

I really wish that I would’ve discovered this sooner in my life, because my ignorance got the best of me and my real beliefs that this was how the world really was drove me into my marriage and my fake life until 4 years ago.

Unplugging isn’t just about taking responsibility for your life, it’s truly about unplugging from all devices that give you a false sense of what’s really going on out there. It really is the Matrix, because it’s developed by people with an agenda that really don’t care about you or your problems, but want to spread a belief or behavior that they wholeheartedly endorse.

Taking responsibility for your life begins with accepting what is real and what isn’t. And a narrative parroted on TV isn’t real life.

It never was.

A Letter to Myself

Photo Credit: VisitSpokane.com

Dear Tim,

How’s it hanging? This is you writing to you. I wanted to say how proud of you I am for all that you have accomplished so far in this life. I can say that the last 2 years of this (so far) 43 year journey have been some of the best in your life.

You know, you’ve been through a ton of stuff in the past 4 years. They always say you have to hit rock bottom before you can get to the top, and they weren’t kidding. Between battling depression, anxiety, obesity, and monetary problems, you’ve been there. You were suicidal, but I want to tell you, I’m so glad you chose to live you life. Killing yourself is the most selfish act in the world, but it’s even worse because you wouldn’t have seen the heights that you have risen to as well as the heights that you no doubt will get to in this life.

I want you to know something. I love you and I’m proud of you.

However, this isn’t a reflection on what you’ve done, this is a reflection on what you are and would do. This is a reflection on what you still have left to accomplish. This isn’t a swan song for a live well lived, this is a battle cry for continuing to hoist the shield wall of your life every day. This is setting the “what would I do?” from the “what will I do?”

This is your wake up call, even if you think you’re still awake. You aren’t woke enough yet, sir.

I want you to answer this question. What would you do if you died today? What things would you regret not doing?

What are your goals, wishes, dreams for this remaining life?

Answer truthfully. Because I already know what you are going to say.

What would you regret? Here goes:

You should’ve gone to Argentina when you had the chance. In college, you had a glorious opportunity to go and do a major in Spanish. You would’ve been immersed in a beautiful country for 6 months. Yes, it would’ve been some debt, but the life experiences you would have had can not be replaced. Yet you just wanted to get out of college and get a job, girlfriend, house, car, etc. You know what you missed. Don’t do that again.

You needed to work other places besides your father’s business. You needed to explore your interests, rather than putting yourself in a position that you didn’t have any flexibility. While this has worked out in the end with you owning your own business, fulfilling one of your top goals, it still would’ve helped you more in your life to have those experiences.

You needed to go and try new hobbies. You didn’t have a damn clue on what your interests were until you were over 40 and starting over. You have a life in your 20’s and 30’s meant for exploring life and living, not working and trying to check off someone else’s goals.

You’d regret not dating around more. You know the spice of life and the way to truly find your partner in this life is to date as many women as you can. And yet, you sit in an office much of the time running the same places, never looking for new avenues or new leads. They won’t come to you. Time to switch up and get out there more and more.

I know what you are going to say. There’s a ton more. These are just the ones I can think of on my mind at the moment. Think of your wishes. What do you want to do with the rest of your life? Allow me to tell you.

You want to travel. You want to explore. You want to meet new people. You want to strengthen bonds of people you already know. You want to continue to be successful in business, learning new skills like sales and ownership.

You want to be independently wealthy. You want to get your finances in order. You have 20k left of debt. You can get past this damn wall. You will. You will be financially independent. You want to earn a good salary from your side hustle and writing a book is a huge goal. Get to work.

You want to continue to help men who reach out for help. You want to make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes you do. You want to share your life and make your mistakes an example of what not to do.

You want to continue your fitness journey. You’ve lost a ton of weight, but you still have that six pack that’s waiting for you on the other side of hard work. You want to do Spartan. Get new T-shirts and medals, get more trifectas, compete in the Elites. You’ll get there, don’t stop.

You want to learn new things, read, absorb. You want to learn to box, fight, and protect your loved ones. You want to continue to learn more firearms training, as well as other outdoor activities.

You want to date around. You would love to have a harem. Don’t lie, you know you want two to three women sharing you. And if you keep doing what you’re doing and get out more, you’ll be there. GO TO NEW FREAKIN’ PLACES, BECKETT.

You want to be more involved with your kids. You already do a great job, but you need to do more. You need to exude a masculine leadership and be a role model for your kids. They’re counting on you.

But you know deep down, at some point, you want an LTR with a woman who supports you and your mission.

But most of all, you want to continue to grow. You have come so far, done so much. But this is only the beginning. You have to do more, better, faster, and harder.

You will make excuses, you have in the past. This morning, for instance, you made an excuse that you wanted to sleep in instead of going to the gym. You didn’t. You went. You worked. I’m glad you did. Your body and mind are glad.

No more excuses. Go up to that girl. Ask her out. Take your kids places to experience life. To be the best they can be. To live without regrets.

Bottom line: You’re an amazing person. You’ve decided after a tough divorce to live your life. You are taking opportunities instead of making excuses. But you can’t let up on the gas. The time when you think of giving up is the time you need to push the envelope. It’s time for you to do more, be more, try more and accomplish more.

For 40 years I wasn’t able to say this, but I love you, Tim Beckett. I love every part of you. You are an incredible man, amazing father, and lifelong friend. You have a ton going for you, don’t squander it. I know you won’t.

Love,

TW Beckett (You)

Men In Divorce

Source:  Armistead

This is Part 1 of my “Men In” series:

Marriage.  Man and woman, joined as one in the eyes of God.  In sickness and in health, ’til death do them part.    This was the way it was supposed to be.  Find a good woman, settle down, have kids, white picket fence, 50 year marriage.  
My, how times have changed.
Divorce rates, although down, are still hovering around 50% in the US.  Divorce is big business, funding family law offices, and financially stifling those unfortunate enough to be caught in it.  So what are the basics on divorce?
Divorce is a state level jurisdiction, which means the Federal Government never usually gets involved (it has only ever gotten involved in child support).  Almost all states have a form of what’s called a no-fault divorce system, which means one party can file for divorce at any time.  There used to be a “fault” divorce, premised on reasons for the divorce (abuse, adultery, etc.), but now it’s not really about the reason, it’s about the divorce.  There are really two main ways a divorce can go monetarily, and it depends on what state you got married in.
The first is called a “communal property” state, which splits the divorcing couples assets 50/50.  This is what Jeff Bezos will be going through in Washington.  There are other states that do what’s called an “equitable distribution”.  These laws take into account to what the state thinks each person is worth in the divorce.  It’s a misnomer as “equitable distribution” is not equal, it’s what’s “fair” as deemed by the state. 
As you can see, marriage has become less and less about love and companionship, and is exclusively a business transaction.  When the government became involved, the decline of marriage became inevitable, especially today, where family law, still antiquated and not updated in almost 40 years, savages people financially. 
I’m writing today to talk about men in divorce, and not just men, but men who actually take responsibility.  In many cases, these men are punished more than men who shirk their responsibilities.  Family law is so backwards these days, there are many examples of men being arrested for not paying child support for a child that isn’t even his.  Men can spend years in jail for being unable to pay alimony.  Custody of kids is skewed towards the woman, as men only received custody is 10-15% of cases.    
Men are hit harder by divorce.  Men are more likely to develop suicidal thoughts after divorce.  Men don’t have the social network that women have.  Men are the hopeless romantics.  Even in my personal experience of divorce, even when I initiated, I was devastated.  It was the most difficult time of my life, because I thought my marriage defined me.  It’s a blue pill norm that I couldn’t handle.  I’d lost myself.
 
However, my divorce was not typical.  It flew in the face of a lot of the norms, and I can confidently say that my divorce was very smooth.  I filed against my ex, and, by acting like mature adults, we had very little issue with the process.  We agreed on everything in principle, and with my job, I was lucky to be able to afford what was thrown at me.  We went through mediation, and never went to court.  My feeling was the money I was spending on lawyers could be better used by my kids.   
Child support in my state is figured with two factors in mind.  First, and most important, is time spent with the child.  The second, lesser figure, is income.  There are some states that factor income over time spent with the child, but the big picture for any state court is the child’s well being.  “Well being” is a broad definition in family court, so whatever the judge decides, is the law.
But for every example you give of a “deadbeat dad”, I can give you examples of men, who just want to be in their child’s lives, being victimized by a woman who knows there are times you can exploit the system, and it brings horrible tragedies to families already going through tough times.  While fathers not paying for their children is still a major problem, and with men still cheating more than women, family law has yet to address these new problems.  
The system is weaponized over hurt feelings.  This has to change.

“He’s Going to Pay for What He Did To Me.”

Women initiate divorce 69% of the time, according to a recent study by Stanford University.  The reasons are many behind the study, however, the study also recognizes that women have an easier time after divorce, because divorce, for many, is good for women.  Men who make more than their spouses have much more to lose.  With states that provide alimony, women have a base for which to grow economically, while men finance their endeavors, with jail time hovering over them if they don’t provide “an income for which she was accustomed to”.  The playing field is rigged much of the time, with the State becoming the de facto third parent, dolling out justice to those it feels have wronged the other party.  But it takes two to tango, and while we weep for those that feel they were wronged, both parties need to examine why divorces occur and if we need to re-examine the entire concept of marriage, much less why we get married in the first place.
With all the talk of gender equality, no where is gender more proportionally misrepresented than in the family courts.  We need to update family law, so all sides are more equitably represented and protected.  I’m all for women making more money than men, because then family law will have to contend with the fallout of traditional gender roles in marriage.  When you apply gender dynamics of the early 50’s to today’s family law decisions, it makes judge’s decisions that much easier (men work, women stay home).  But as we all know, it’s changed, and the system is hurting those it was designed to help.
As a man who constantly discusses divorce and what not to do, I always say that, especially in states without alimony, it’s child support, not spouse support.  I make sure to support my kids in every way possible.  I see fathers everyday who do the same thing, but are punished by a ex who uses the system to their advantage.  For every man cheating on his spouse, I have examples everyday of a woman cheating on her husband, claiming abuse where there wasn’t any, and ruining his life simply because she can, with the state as a willing accomplice. 
I have been soured on marriage.  I recommend to all of my readers to not get married.  Not even prenuptial agreements are safe for you.  Until you understand the consequences of marriage, you have to make sure you’re protected.  Always err on the side of caution, especially if you don’t know the whole story.
I lead with a story on divorce because when it all boils down, marriage and love are secondary to the very real effects that divorce has on a man’s life.  
If, and that’s a very big “if”, I get remarried, it will be with the express understanding of both parties of financial consequences and fallout from divorce.  It’s not about love anymore.