Some of us are raised, unapologetically, to never show emotions; we’re taught to fight early, and as a result we end up competitive to a fault. Some of us grew up to cherish possessions over people. Those same individuals can experience textbook insecurity, and for good measurement. Some of us joined professions that complemented our hard-headedness, which is sometimes equated with masculinity. Others of us married and quickly realized we had never learned how to truly love another person. If you were like me, you were made to feel that you did everything wrong. I spoke to my first wife like she worked for me. I was just walking around the house believing a parade should be thrown in my honor for making money and paying the bills. I never felt obligated to check in on anyone day-to-day, to see if they were good, if they were having a good day or not. As long as I was good, I just assumed we’re all good. Right?
One summer we somehow found ourselves divorced, disconnected from things we absolutely craved to be connected with. The guilt of disconnection while wishing we could somehow care about things that others seem to care about innately haunts some of us. Many have found the guilt too much to bear and chose to end the fight by choosing a permanent solution to what is a temporary struggle. The fact is that our closest people may not be available when we need them. It’s important for each of us to actively develop a solid support system of peers with whom we can connect and who can help us through tough times. If we’re alone and unhappy with our current reality, it’s important that each of us face that we are the reason we are alone. It’s easy to disguise unhappiness with social media and fun travel photos, but that cannot change the fact that there have been times where, the last time you saw me, could have been the last time anyone saw me breathing. At the perfect time I found fuel to persevere, rather than fold and I want to help teach of you do the same. My fuel comes from a joy of reconnecting with my children.
While working on me, I was surprised to discover an ability to bond with my parents in a new and different way. It was only after I digested a huge hard truth, which is that no one can do everything on their own. It took extensive counseling and self-reflection to acknowledge my insecurities, ego, narcissistic tendencies, and toxic behaviors. Counseling has allowed me to view life through new lenses. I would usually escalate issues with family, specifically my mom. This was particularly true if she left me a message that said, “Don’t come to my funeral if you can’t visit me when I’m alive!” Rather than call her to tell her I love and value her, I would iInstead reply with, “If it is during shark week I wasn’t coming anyway.” I wish I’d had the ability to simply see she missed me and wanted me to come home.
I have had more arguments than I can count with my parents that boiled down to why don’t I call, or say I miss you. Remember these were the folks that told us to be tough and show no emotion, now aggravated with my doing exactly what they designed me to do. My folks came from humble beginnings; if you didn’t work hard you starved and if you were not tough you got robbed. There were no trophies for participating.
I share these words for those who feel disconnected and like failures at love. I still feel like I’m the worst at it; however, I am trying to improve and at the end of the day, that’s all we can ask of ourselves and others.