Broken

I feared this day would come. The proverbial chickens have come home to roost, so to speak. My heart is in pieces right now.

I’ve often posted about my children and how they are thriving. I considered myself lucky to have them. As young expecting parents, we, like countless expectant parents always responded to queries about what we wanted for a baby always responded “happy and healthy.” As they grew, we never pushed them towards what we wanted but instead helped them find their own way. And despite the tumultuous, often hostile environment my wife and I subjected them to (real proud in that arena) they all turned out to be exactly what I had hoped for. Happy, healthy good people with kind hearts and good values. I really thought that we had dodged a bullet, I had always feared that their parents’ failures made a lasting, damaging impression.
My fears have been confirmed, my youngest is not doing well at all. My baby is sick.

It started with erratic behavior. The once sweet, kind-hearted girl had been acting out in public. Being loud and disrespectful, smoking a ton of weed, arguing with her mother about silly things, being sexually promiscuous, dressing provocatively, poor hygiene. She was getting in trouble at work. Her manager wanted to know what happened to the sweet girl she hired. She was disciplined several times. I spoke with her the best I could as often as I could but with COVID I was limited to how much I could see her and I had to rely on her mother for most of my information. Yes, the woman who is famous for histrionics, exaggeration, mood swings and her ability to make absolutely any fucking thing EVER worse, was my source of information. As it turns out, she wasn’t off by that much. My baby really is mentally ill.

We talked at length on the phone after I realized that it wasn’t a phase and that I needed to get involved. She confirmed that she was struggling. Body dysmorphia, self-esteem issues and her relationship with her mother (bad doesn’t begin to cover it) has resulted in Anorexia.

I saw her in person yesterday for the first time in months. It was very up in the air if she was going to attend Thanksgiving at her older sister’s house at all. Her mother has COVID and my daughter had been exposed. She high-tailed it to her girlfriend’s house (apparently she’s gay now) once she found out and stayed away. This of course was a major problem for her mother who doesn’t believe in the vaccine. In short, she refuses to get it because she doesn’t think it works yet where my vaccinated daughter is concerned, she feels that her being vaccinated will protect her. Fucking hypocrite. Knowing how differently it affects people, it is incredibly irresponsible to expose her because my ex wants to be cared for. It is a lonely disease for everyone, deal with it. So anyway, my girl was tested and was negative so she came.

I knew it was going to be awkward for her. She had recently had a bad argument with my oldest daughter, our host for the holiday and things were said. In short, my oldest told her that nobody recognizes her anymore and it’s like she doesn’t have a sister anymore. This cut my youngest deep and to make it worse her sister was unapologetic. She was also very anxious about everyone’s reaction to her weight and worried about the pending comments. She is horrifyingly thin and any mention of her weight is very damaging to her. Of course, several people commented and it was hard for her. She wanted to leave. I excused myself from the table and took her outside.

We had the most honest conversation we have ever had. But the things that I heard have rocked my very soul to its core. I think she told me more than she has revealed to anyone. She is so broken, so conflicted, so in need of help that I truly do not know what to do. She claims she is doing better emotionally. Maybe she does seem a little happier but she’s not her own self by a longshot. To put it in perspective, happier for her means she doesn’t want to kill herself right now. Her body image and food issues are killing her. She showed me a video she took in the bathroom. She merely looked in the mirror and began crying uncontrollably. I will never, as long as I shall live, get over seeing that. I was up most of the night. The only bright side I can find is that she is starting therapy next month and she really wants to get better.

At my darkest moment of my life this girl’s face appeared to me and gave me the courage and strength to face the life that was beating me down. I hope and pray that my unconditional love and support for this poor damaged soul has the same effect on her. I love all of my children to the moon and back but with her, it’s a little different. Maybe because the others were always so strong and independent that they needed me less and she always needed, and asked for, my attention. Our relationship is just unique and very special to me. I would do anything, and I mean absolutely anything to make her better. I would gladly exchange my life for her happiness. But it ultimately will fall on her to get better. I have never felt so helpless.

And powerless…I find myself again just wishing for happy and healthy

Gratification

I have been working a lot. My new boss has been very generous to me and in turn I find myself very willing to go the extra mile for him. I am really excited about working for him, and downright thrilled to be working at all. It’s always been one of my favorite things to cook for people. Making delicious food and watching people enjoy it is a honest and enjoyable way to make a living. When I worked at the Restaurant many, many moons ago I worked long hours often without breaks but I loved what I did. I had pride in my work. It wasn’t until I got married that it was pointed out to me that I was under-performing financially and that I could do better. This is a nice way of saying that my wife and mother-in-law thought that I was in a loser job. I knew that I wasn’t making a lot of money but I didn’t really have a lot of prospects then. When I started there the economy was in a major recession and my first “professional” job offer upon graduation was $18,500/yr. I was making 40k at the restaurant.

It’s sad that the jobs that we want often don’t pay the bills. The hardest working people make the least money in many cases. EMT’s get paid the same as someone flipping Burgers at McDonalds. They save lives, fast food workers do not. I don’t think there are many fast food workers who have PTSD from their vocation. Social workers barely make a living and they have one of the hardest jobs one can have. They do it for the cause, not for the money. My take is that if it makes you feel good it may not pay enough to support you. So many adults are forced to take the soul-sucking corporate jobs that drain our spirit for the sake of financial responsibilities. The takeaway is that you can chase your dreams, but do it after work.

I have always loved making food and at this point in my life I suppose that I can afford to live on what it pays. That makes me lucky. For the first time in 25 years I will again enjoy what I do. I also have for the first time a boss who respects me and wants to do things for me, to invest in me because he believes in me. A boss who wants to know what he can do for me. What a concept!

This opportunity is just one more positive thing that has come down the pike for me lately. I am experiencing an amazing wave of things going my way and I can’t explain it other than to think that the positive energy I try to put out into the world is coming back to me. I live with a grateful heart and I see the good in all situations, no matter how bad. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Getting easier

It’s been a week since someone pulled my heart out, backed her car over it and then tossed it to the Crows. But I have to say that it is getting easier. It still stings but I have a better grip on it I suppose.

My friends were very surprised when I shared with them my situation. They weren’t so much surprised that I got dumped, but they were surprised at how hard I took it. See, I am famous for concealing or downplaying my emotions. They’ve seen me wear my heart on my sleeve in many areas of my life; Freemasonry, charity work, my children to name a few. I’m not shy about sharing my feelings in most areas. Relationships are different, they are a known sore spot. My romantic struggles are well-documented. While I can’t say that it is all my fault, my penchant for crazy women has been the source of many a conversation. My recent attempts at love, post-divorce, have been messy to say the least. While I have no animosity towards any of them, there is a story to be told and I’m always the one holding the bag. But I famously and typically shrugged it off and moved on with my life. This one was different.
I was in a funk. My friends have never seen me show an emotion like hurt. I was hurting bad and they responded.

Sure, there were a few who offered the standard “fuck her”. It was well-intentioned. They knew that I’m better at coping when mad so they channeled that. Others, those who knew the situation, realized that it was a little more complicated than that, offered sage advice that I am indeed better off. Maybe I am, I don’t know. I would still like an explanation but that’s not going to happen. In absence of any contact I was forced to text my feelings to her. I kept it above board. No insults, nothing nasty at all I simply asked for more than she gave me (by text, classy fucking girl huh?) but she didn’t respond. So I finally sent one long one detailing my frustration and I briefly asserted that I deserved better and that she will find that no matter how many men she dates as she is “exploring” she will not find one that is nicer to her than I was. I know that for certain. I was very nice to her always. Her one response was to ask me if I felt better after all of that and then to tell me that “she thought we’d be friends”. I responded but I never heard another word from her.

There is no scenario in which we can be friends. I don’t need to be that guy that listens to the woman he cares about tell him about all of the guys she is fucking. That is reserved for the gay friends. I’d rather shave my scrotum with a rusty cheese grater. She chose to make us friends, not me. She doesn’t want to be the bad guy. Well fuck that, there is no way that I will ever be friends with someone who treated a genuinely nice guy, sure I have flaws, show me someone who doesn’t please) like the shit that a slug wipes off of his feet. I should have known that someone who went down on me on the first date would burn my ass eventually.

So in summation, I’m angry now. I like anger. I can channel it. And it always fades. Then she will be out of my mind. Just like that. And I have learned a valuable lesson. Listen to the man in the mirror. He knows the right thing to do.

The best revenge is living well. I plan on doing that.

Blessed

With the exception of my Romantic struggles my life is really going well right now. It’s almost as if things are falling into my lap lately.
My health is excellent. My Team gave me a glowing Bill of health the other day. No protein or blood present in my urine, blood pressure is normal for the first time (still on meds but half of what I used to take) since I was 23. My labs showed normal levels of everything. They really couldn’t find anything wrong and believe me they tried! All they could say was to keep doing whatever I have been doing.
Financially I have been blessed with 2 windfalls. I have resumed detailing cars, despite the weather, and have been getting a fair amount of calls. I am a bit of a “even Steven” with this. Today a job cancelled and ten minutes later I got a call to do 2 more. Funny how that happens.
Then there is the new job. I will be working for a guy in town that I met almost by accident. A local detail customer referred him to me and after doing 3 of his cars we became friendly. He told me that he bought the local store and wanted someone to run the kitchen, Did I know anyone? Yes, Me! Long story short, he hired me on the spot. So I figured that I’ll play it cool until it opens in January (this guy doesn’t play he has crews working every day over there). I was wrong, he wants me to go on his payroll immediately so that I will be at his beck and call during the setup process. He has me doing the kitchen setup, buying the equipment, preparing the menu and lining up vendors. While I haven’t gotten a whole lot done so far because I have to wait for the construction he still insists on paying me.
Have you ever worked for an asshole? Silly question I think we all have. This guy is the polar opposite. He wants to know what he can do for me, not just what I can do for him. He wants to invest in me. Even when I told him he was paying me too much, due to everything still being under construction (I do that, I’m not a taker instead ever considerate) he insisted that I take it and not worry about it because there will be times when he will need a lot out of me and it will balance out.
Who does that? I am truly blessed to have met him. He has made me one of his 2 contacts, the business being divided in two parts, the Convenience store and the restaurant. The other person is the one who led me to Vinny in the first place and she is awesome. We get along great and I know we will work well together. She is very down to earth and very savvy. She also knows the value of community and really surprised me when she told me that I have a excellent reputation in town. Her words were “everybody loves you”. It’s not a very big town but I’ll take that. Being a small town, the word got out fast and apparently a lot of people are excited that I am going to work there. How about that?
I am going to really enjoy working with food again. I wish I could have made a living out of it before, it is fun for me to see people enjoying themselves and eating food that I prepared for them. It’s weird I know but it’s how I’m wired.
Is it possible that I may finally work for someone that appreciates me and treats me decent? Isn’t that what we all want after all?

All I need now is to find someone to share these blessings with. I know that in time I will. Hell, I have 2 dates in the next 5 days! Billy Mac don’t play.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that life is good. It’s going to take a lot to knock me off of this high. It almost makes me forget that I had my heart ripped out 4 days ago. The sting is much less because the one thing that I am most grateful for is my circle, WP readers included, that have reached out and supported me in this difficult time. Friends are everything and I have many great ones. In fact, if they cost money I could never afford the great friends that I have. If you’re one of them then thank you!

Always grateful is the way to be…

Should have known better

One consequence/perk of having a ton of scars is that I have learned to harden myself to things. I have a big heart and I give of it freely but I’m ALWAYS cautiously watching for the “other” shoe to drop. Meaning, if I am prepared for something to go south I can handle it. Grief, anger, disappointment, sadness, longing, regret…I can handle all of them. I’ve been called a cold fish, I’m not. I just know how to compartmentalize. But now I’ve found an emotion that I can’t handle.
Heartbreak.

The end is finally here, the jury is no longer out on the married woman and I. Shame on me for not seeing it coming, for believing that for once I was with someone that got me, that wasn’t judgmental of my quirks and pecadillos, someone that I could be truly happy with. So I wasn’t ready when I got the text on Sunday night. I’ve been a sad, droopy fucking head case since. I hate it. Every attempt to just wash it off and let it go have failed. The worst part is that I haven’t been given the luxury of an explanation as to her change of heart. All I know is that 3 weeks ago we went on a hike and during that hike she decided that she was going to dump me. I would love to know what I did.

For a year I have patiently lent a sympathetic and supportive shoulder as she came to grips with her lousy marriage and the way her husband treats her. I knew she would eventually divorce him but I was always careful not to offer unwanted advice or try to steer her in a direction that would benefit me. I kept myself open to see her when she had the opportunity and I tried not to ask for more than she could give. All along, we talked frequently of what it would be like if we were together, post asshole husband. To my encouragement she told me that she was finally ready to go through with it. Little did I know that I wasn’t part of her plans after all. With the whiff of freedom in her path, she apparently decided that playing the field, or exploring, was the way to go. Fuck me I guess, I just came on too strong and she can’t give me what I’m looking for.

The funny thing is that I wasn’t even close to being the only intense one. She was as guilty as I about “glimpses” in which we talked of how it would be when (not if) she became a free woman. But her account now is that I was too serious and she doesn’t want to be in another “stifling” relationship. I only saw her when she wanted so how the fuck was I stifling?

I’m confused, I’m angry and I’m hurt and I don’t know how to process this. I loved her. She made me happy. Now I’m alone again and I’m beginning to think that I’m going to stay that way. It has to be me, it has to. Maybe I fall too hard, too fast and too soon. I think I suck at relationships, looking back I don’t think I’ve ever had a successful one. And now I’m gun shy. I’m going to be alone forever.

If it makes her feel better to make me out to be the heavy I guess that’s her journey. I can’t change that. All I know is that 6 months ago I broke it off because I didn’t feel right about running around with another man’s wife. The guy code and all. When I did she continually texted me, often with mean -spirited comments about how I hurt her by breaking it off, etc. How the fuck can I hurt someone who is married? Reluctantly, I started seeing her again. It was great for a while. I saw her on her terms and unbelievably, I actually said no to the sudden slew of attention I was getting from 2 or 3 other women. I chose to be only with her because I don’t like to confuse things. One person at a time and keep it simple. She even expressed jealousy over them, she called it being “territorial” and I asked her how she could be because again, she’s married.

Now I’m holding the fucking bag again. Half of me wants answers and the other just wishes that I could just forget her altogether. If only it was that easy.

See, the signs were there. The burner phone, the sneaking around on her husband. Her wanting to get together even after I withdrew my date offer when I found out she was married. If she did it to him she would do it to me. I’m not so dumb to think that it wouldn’t. In fact, I’m pretty sure that she already has someone in mind and she got bored with me. She definitely would have cheated on me had we stayed together. And that would have REALLY hurt.

I don’t like heartbreak. Anger is easy. Disappointment I can handle. But I don’t like being discarded like a old soiled napkin. I was too decent to her and I don’t deserve it. She obviously doesn’t give a fuck about my feelings and definitely didn’t realize just how good I was to her. She is going to recognize what she had someday and in the event that she comes back I guarantee I will not be down for that shit. Fuck me once shame on you. Fuck me twice shame on me. I gave her all that she would allow when she would allow it. Over time I gave her my heart. She returned it broken and bloody and covered with muddy footprints.

She may read this, in fact I hope she does. These are the things I didn’t have the courtesy of time to talk to her about. Nope, she just avoided me for three weeks and then broke up with me by text. It’s an indignity I have absolutely no damn clue how to handle. It hurts and I want it to stop. Now.

My conscience knew it was wrong to get involved with her. My brain also warned me. But my heart wanted what it wanted and now here I am. Please tell me that it will get easier.

My legacy

I don’t write often about my experience as a parent. I’m surprised at myself because raising my children is one of the few things I feel I was successful. It didn’t always seem that way, I have an awful lot of regrets about the environment they were raised in with all of the fighting and marital hostility. In fact, there was a time that I truly thought that my kids would have no chance at happiness after seeing some of the debacles that took place in my house. I’m not proud and I don’t think my ex is either. I stayed awake many nights lamenting the things said and heard and beat myself up mercilessly for allowing myself to get into it with her constantly in front of the kids. Yet she continued to bait me, like a fat kid with a cupcake, and I fell into it. The fighting was brutal.

For my part, I was quick to apologize to them and tried to explain to them what was happening but it was difficult to do without making myself look innocent, which I certainly wasn’t, and not making their mother the villain. I vowed that I would never ever play the kids against their mother ever, kids are not a pawn. I wish I could say the same for my ex. When I attempted to pack my shit and leave one day, her first reaction was to say, “If you think you’re going to waltz in here and see the kids whenever you want you’re sadly mistaken.”
Yup, I knew it. She was one of those parents.
Then the kids asked me to stay. My oldest daughter clinched it with one sentence. “Dad, you can’t leave, she’ll be so much worse if you aren’t here.” There you have it. So I stayed. For 10 miserable, hostile and sexless fucking years I stayed because of the kids. Many people advised me that it was a mistake but I know I did the right thing. First of all, my happiness is secondary to theirs and always will be. Second, I know it solidified my relationship with my children. They would be strangers to me today if I had left then.

For those ten years things were a little better in that I didn’t allow myself to get sucked into a lot of the arguments. We became barely friendly roommates and merely tolerated each other. I focused all of my attention on rebuilding and strengthening my relationship with my children. I decided that I had to be the adult and I learned to suppress my passions and anger and focus on them. My wife, for her part made sure that she tortured me about my job, my pay, my health and my apparent indifference to her negative bullshit. I only rarely took the bait. I didn’t know what my future held but I was certain all along that Bankruptcy, a foreclosure and a divorce were definitely part of it. The only question was when.

My wife spent money like a drunk sailor with a fistful of Viagra. And she was totally unaccountable for it. She bought elaborate gifts for her best friend, who she was unhealthily attached to (a symptom of her then undiagnosed Borderline Personality disorder) while requesting of our family that we not exchange gifts because we didn’t have the money, effectively alienating my Holiday loving family. She refused to show me her Credit card statements but continuously scrutinized mine and yelled at me in front of the kids. I bought a lot of alcohol, I will admit it, but anyone who has ever met her would easily understand the need for that. Money, and her attitude about it would be the biggest source of fighting and the kids knew all about it. I think it put them in a bad spot, as if they felt guilty. I never wanted that.

My devotion to the kids and my commitment to their turning out as “normal” as possible continued. As they got older they understood what was going on and, without my asking for it, they felt bad for me. I defended her, with difficulty, because I didn’t want to be that guy. What I didn’t realize is that they knew what she was about and they acted more out of fear than love with her. Consequently, I unwittingly became the favorite parent. It wasn’t all too difficult, when they asked her for help or advice her first reaction was usually based upon how it affecter her, not them. She was quick to assign fault and blame and less interested in soothing the pain and finding solutions. While I, on the other hand, tried to offer an ear and a solution without judgment or blame.

While I plan on discussing this dynamic in greater detail in future blogs, I want to jump ahead and tell you that despite the horrible and regrettable example that we once were, they turned out absolutely wonderful. In particular, all four have healthy relationships. I was fearful that our example might tarnish them but it didn’t. I’m also not afraid to tell you that despite my efforts to the contrary, I think I am the favorite parent.

My marriage was contemptuous at best. The only good takeaway I have is my relationship with my children. It negates the anger and bitterness that I felt for so long. And I am happy to report that I have a decent relationship with the ex because I chose to let go of my anger and bitterness. Emotional baggage makes my neck hurt and I couldn’t carry it around anymore. I did it for me, not for her. I’m proud of the sacrifices I made in the interest of winning back my children. They are and will continue to be my crowning achievement. I have four amazing ,good-hearted citizens who make the world a better place. They make me proud every single day. I need not desire or seek a legacy, they have done it for me.

Midnight Mass

I have a lot of down time. I’m still encouraged by my Doctors to take it easy and I do what I’m told because I still have days when the pain is formidable. My abdomen, now stuffed with 2 kidneys, is packed so tightly that any type of digestion issue will cause tremendous pressure on the new kidney and consequently the incision. I’ve cut way back on how much I eat to avoid the discomfort. And I rest quite a bit. I find myself watching quite a bit of Television because my eyes fatigue easily from reading. Fearful of becoming a couch potato, I at least try to watch something educational or at the very least something different.

Netflix hates me. I scroll through hundreds of shows and movies and some days nothing interests me. Netflix eventually prompts me with their new feature “play something”, which is their nice way of saying,”Jesus, asshole just fucking pick something will ya?” It’s not my fault, I’m just sick of the same old crap. Often I come across something and I will save it for later because maybe it’s too heavy for my current mood but I want to come back to it. That is how I discovered such gems as The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and most recently Midnight Mass.

I watch a lot of documentaries but Horror, well that’s my jam. Especially well thought-out and preferably Gothic horror/romances have always been my favorite. I have been reading Ghost stories since I was 7 years old. I read the original Bram Stoker’s Dracula when I was 12. Stephen King was a staple, many late night was spent under the covers, too afraid to look around my room. Especially after I read Salem’s Lot. That shit could happen.

As an adult I am a picky horror enthusiast. I don’t mind jump scares but I don’t care for Slasher flicks and “what would you do?” movies. I like a story. Give me a ghost story about tortured souls trapped in a house any day. But every once in a while I indulge in shows about religion. They connect with my ever-cynical approach to religion and spirituality and I almost always take away something from a well crafted story about God, fallen angels, Demons, etc.,.

Enter the Netflix series Midnight Mass. The series description was a little vague for me but I was intrigued enough to put it in my “to be viewed later” list. One day I was in the mood for something different and I gave it a try. I was immediately hooked and 8 episodes later I can honestly say that is one of the best, though-provoking shows that I have ever seen.

The show centers on a small island community. This is a common theme, at least in New England (my home), the isolation and despair of a people largely cut off from the mainland. Comprised of mostly fishermen, the island is dingy and run down, the people are discouraged and beaten down and keenly aware that their island is dying around them. The population is dwindling, the fish are drying up and there is little hope for a better life. There is but one church on the island and the story begins with the knowledge that their longtime Priest, Monsignor Pruitt, was on the mainland at a rehab facility for priests in their dotage. His replacement, Father Paul Hill, played by Hamish Linkletter, arrives to replace him and immediately strange things begin to occur on the island. Linkletter is not my favorite actor, I couldn’t stand his snarky character as the younger brother on that awful show the new adventures of Old Christine. But he was brilliant in Midnight Mass. The other newcomer is Riley Flynn, a young man who returned to the island after a prison stint for killing a woman in a drunk driving accident. With no place to go, he begins life anew on the island.

The catch? Father Hill is actually Monsignor Pruitt, his youth having been restored by an angel (or vampire) that he encountered while on a visit to the Holy Land. As Father Hill (Monsignor Pruitt 40 years younger) integrates himself into the community, he spreads the blood of the Angel through Communion wine and Miracles begin to occur. A handicapped girl suddenly walks. A woman with Dementia suddenly heals and appears decades younger. People with glasses suddenly don’t need them anymore. Desperate for something positive, this causes a religious revival in town and as people often do, shit gets out of hand.

Father Hill’s secret gets out. The town is caught up in a full-blown fervor. The believers in town go all in on the Revival only to find that Father Hill/Monsignor Pruitt will soon push the envelope and he introduces the Angel that changed him. The nude, winged angel is a blood sucker (vampire?) that renders his victims bloodless and dead, only to return to life moments later. Much is made of the transition, people claimed that they could see beauty and detail in the cosmos that they never could before. They entered a whole new realm of existence. The only catch is that they now need human blood to exist. Nobody on the island will be spared once they start hunting. Here is where it shifts from a profound meditation on life, despair, death, religion and faith to genuine horror. I will not ruin the ending for you. You must see it for yourself.

Midnight Mass is a brilliant mix of Horror and Religion. Faith, as well as the crises of faith, are showcased and thoroughly dissected. Despair and hope, or the lack of are consistent themes. Crises of faith and the urge to rationalize bizarre occurrences are spotlighted. The enigma of small town life is carefully detailed in all of its gossipy and provincial aspects. Even Islam is discussed in a fairly sympathetic manner through the eyes of the Island’s new Muslim Sheriff, who moved to the island to get away from his past. And of course, on full display throughout the series is the element of human behavior, in this case the response to miracles and the hysteria that followed that can only be caused by mob rule.

I’ve told you enough. It’s on Netflix, give it a watch. Tell them Billy Mac sent you.

letting go of the past

Perusing my old blogs, I can’t help but notice how much I have dwelled on the past. I’ve had it pointed out to me many times but I never realized how bad it really was. I think the secret to my future happiness depends on my getting a grip on this once and for all.

I think that the real sledgehammer to the forehead came as I was reading a series that I appropriately named “Diary of a FUS (fucked up shithead)”. While unfinished, it paints a pretty clear picture of my obsession with all that I have done that I regret but serves no real purpose other than to remind me of that which I want to forget. Digging deep into the possible psychology behind the posts the best I can come up with is that deep down not only do I regret many episodes and decisions, even entire periods of my life, but also have come to believe that my life would have taken an entirely different trajectory if I had taken a different path.

But I wouldn’t be the person I am today, for better or for worse, if not for those errors in judgment and behavior that haunt me to this day. Every stupid thing I’ve said; every poor decision; every time I failed to listen to the little voice in my head; every time I ignored my better instincts has in some way formed my current self. I am now careful to speak and quick to listen. I now question everything before I make a rash judgment. I now ignore my initial instinct to be trusting and instead ask the hard questions and dig deeper. I am hyper aware of what comes out of my mouth and very sensitive to what my face is saying when I’m listening. Perhaps most important, I always try to be kind to everyone: even those who don’t necessarily deserve it. Every one of these modified behaviors stems from one or more formative incidents that I wish that I could forget. Incidents that I have played out in my head and consequently beaten myself to metaphorical death over.

I have come to a major realization that in committing so many faux pas in behavior that it was always when I was trying to be something or someone that I was. The difference between the old, guilt-ridden me and the new me is that I now know who I am and I feel I know my place in this world. I embrace my smallness when I once chased success and stature. Despite my gruff appearance I am actually OK with being quite gentle. My facial expressions often express consternation but in fact it usually means that I am thinking about something and I am not aware that I look like that and I am in fact most likely thinking happy thoughts. While I often obsessed over my own predicament and weighed my worth in possessions, I now am happy with a modest lifestyle and I am quite generous for a man of my means. While I merely coexisted with my fellow man before, I now care deeply about the welfare of others and genuinely make an effort to alleviate the pain and sadness through simple acts and gestures.

Does it really matter what we were once or is it most relevant what we are now? How important is the past, if amends are made and lessons are learned, if we are now better people? Regardless of the twisted and winding paths we took, the obstacles we climbed over and how many times we had to turn around and start over, dusting ourselves off, isn’t the end result what matters?

I would love to change some things that I have done and said. I have hurt people and I know that I have missed many opportunities that, had I embraced, my life would be very different today. But I can’t. “Redo’s” only happen in the movies. What I do know is that lying awake at night beating the shit out of myself is doing nothing also. It’s time to recognize the past for what it is, it’s over and done with. I have definitely learned my lessons and I almost like who I am today. I can look in the mirror and be ok with the man staring back at me. He forgives me and I should as well. I have acquired many things due to my checkered past, the best of which is wisdom. I may not have known how to do the right thing before. But I do now and that is all that matters.

The rearview mirror is small, the windshield is large. That is because the past is only worth a small view but the present looms large before us and everything that matters is yet to come. If you are in the right place and frame of mind to receive it.

I have been blessed with opportunity after opportunity lately. Life is good. I believe that the positive energy I have tried to put out into the world has come back to me. Karma is not a bitch but instead the great reckoner and equalizer of the universe. Karma is not rewarding the me of the past, but instead the new me. The one that finally realized, no matter how late in life, that the past is just that. But today is a gift, that’s why it is called the Present.

Work ethic

The prospect of going back to work has been on my mind a lot lately. Probably because it is inevitable that I will be forced to, it is food for thought nonetheless. I have to say that despite never really reaching a level of security and financial well-being I did accomplish a lot in my career and if n0thing else I know that some of the things that I did mattered to someone. I was never a guy that took a day off and noone noticed.

My father was a huge influence on me as a worker. More than one person remarked on my work ethic over the years and I simply explained that it is impossible to not be this way if you knew who raised me. My Dad was always working, either at work or on the house or yard. It came naturally to me to help him without being asked and it was unacceptable to sit inside and watch him work. So from an early age I was cutting grass, splitting wood or pounding nails. I didn’t mind, in fact I liked it.

My Dad was the epitome of old-fashioned. He believed in loyalty to a company. He believed in retirement parties and gold watches after 25 years of faithful service. He believed that the company rewards loyalty and that noone will ever succeed by changing jobs every few years. Most of all, he believed in shutting your mouth and doing your job, if you don’t like what you are doing then quit. Otherwise be quiet about it. This approach worked for him and was permanently etched into my psyche. He was a Union truck driver for a good company that he retired with. My mother wasn’t so fortunate.

My mother was the first in our family to experience the “new” corporate America in the 80’s. She was a manager for a now-defunct publishing company that sold textbooks to schools and colleges. They put her through school and she moved up the ladder steadily. 6 weeks before her 25th anniversary with the company she was laid off. They had already ordered the watch. When she asked what the company planned to do about replacing her she was told that S.O.P. (standard operating procedure) would be to replace her with 2 or 3 young college graduates who wouldn’t make cumulatively in one year what my mother did and farm some work out to a developing country. It didn’t matter that she was experienced and very good at what she did and none of her replacements knew the first thing and that the job was sure to suffer.

My parents had very different work experiences. I wanted to believe in my father’s way but my mother’s experience was not lost on me. I vowed that I would be a loyal employee and work hard but if the company was not loyal to me then I would always be prepared to look for something better. But I always stayed true to the basics my father taught me; your employer and you have a contract that if you provide a service then you get paid. It’s not a complicated relationship so don’t let pride and hubris get in the way.; work harder than everyone else and you will move up; be the guy who offers solution, not one who points out the problems; do good work and the rest will fall in place.

I started out in retail, then food service, then sales and finally management. I always managed to be a guy that my employers relied on to go the extra mile per the lessons of my father. I also learned to recognize a zero-sum game when I see it and if the job was a loser or the employer didn’t value me then I applied the lessons of my mother, move on before you become extinct. I developed my own hybrid work-ethic, work hard for those who value you and suck up what you have to because an an adult with responsibilities I needed the job and there was no room for ego unless somehow ego can pay my bills for me.

So going back to work is an intimidating prospect. On one hand I would like to be needed again, especially now that my kids are older and my parental superpowers are no longer needed. On the other hand I don’t know if I am too old-fashioned and jaded to work in certain industries. The last job I had before I got too sick to work was one that hired me for my experience and then never asked me to apply any of that experience despite having more of it than my manager. It was the final time that an employer failed to deliver to me when I delivered for them. How do I avoid that happening again?

I guess that I will know the right opportunity when it presents itself. I have learned an awful lot about people, in particular employers, in my life and my Bullshit detector is calibrated and fail-proof. I will know right away if I can work for someone or not. I know there is someone out there who appreciates a guy with his father’s work ethic and his mother’s resilience.

There has to be.

Pet peeves

Pet peeves, we all have them. Those things that people do and say that just make our skin crawl. We can’t help those things that go against our grain it’s how we’re wired. I probably have more than most, I’ll admit it. Spelling, grammar and punctuation always get a rise out of me when perusing social media. I hate to make it an indictment of intelligence but some people should really proofread their posts. It is very revealing, even more than the often stupid or controversial political nature of the post itself. I try to keep myself in check and worry about my own presence online. I’m spoiled by WordPress, my fellow bloggers actually know how to spell and structure a sentence.

My biggest pet peeve is one that bothers me more than most. I find myself calling people out when they say it. That saying is “to be honest”. When you answer an inquiry with “to be honest” what you’re really saying is, “I may not always tell the truth but this time I am”. It’s one of the most disingenuous things I’ve ever heard and it is everywhere! I hate it.

The very least that you can do for anyone is to be honest. That’s why they call it a virtue. It might as well be a virgin because nobody uses it anyway. Honesty is synonymous with the truth and we’d all be better if we told the truth. It’s less painful, it doesn’t require a good memory (see compulsive liars), and it takes a lot less time. Have you noticed that in the process of sugarcoating the shit out of something you take a statement that could be short and to the point and drag it out with filler words and lengthy diatribes just to soften what is the truth because we are so afraid to offend?

It’s painful to watch and as society gets more concerned with feelings and the line between right and wrong becomes blurry and grey this will only get worse.

People admire honesty. They admire the courage that it takes to tell the uncomfortable truth. I made a pretty decent living in sales just by being honest. Of course, my honesty has always been served with a side order of bluntness. I sold luxury cars and Honda for a long time. I was always top dog at every dealership I ever worked. And I was never slick and polished with customers. I just talked straight, knew my product and its competition and I told people the truth. More often than not I said things that could have gone either way but most people left me feeling that the car buying process was the best they ever had and it was just because I was honest. A lot of situations that often derail a sale were avoided by doing it my way, the biggest being when someone explained their budget and being able to keep them on a vehicle that they can afford. Many people don’t understand financing and may really believe that they can afford a vehicle when in actuality they are completely shocked at the numbers when presented and they leave. Time is wasted by both parties and a sale is usually lost. Totally avoidable. Especially when people often tell you in the beginning something that you recognize as not manageable. So when a customer asked. “Can I get this car for 200/month with no money down?” and you know that it will actually take $10,000 it is helpful to say no, not wait an hour to tell them that it isn’t possible. I had a customer thank me for saying no.

In short, don’t say “to be honest” because all it really infers is that you lied to them before. Nobody needs that. Just be honest all the time. It’s so much easier for everybody.