The letters I wore

I spent a good chunk of the past few years feeling like I’ve had a couple of giant letters stenciled to everything I owned. One was the letter “D” for divorce and the other letter was for “L” for loser. They were letters only visable to me.

The letter “d” was a hard one to get used to at first. Especially when you are starting out on this road. People in my family tend to stay together (better or worse, thick and thin, rich or poor). Whenever I go to a family function, I used to feel like I stood out. I had a wife, now I didn’t. I’d get a ride from my parents to a party or holiday gathering or whatever. Even though no one made me feel that way, I always felt like all eyes were on me. Even when I’d go to just hang out with my friends, everyone was either married or had a girlfriend. When July of 2009 came around and I moved back in with my parents. I like there was this giant letter on my back that stood for divorce. I couldn’t move forward as long as I wore this letter. I carried it around like this giant rock on my back. It was heavy and it hurt.

I’ve struggled financially these past 4 years. I’ve had troubles with keeping the personal aspects of my life out of the office. It has led me to be out of work for periods of time. It has caused me great financial difficulty, near ruin. I’d look at where I was pre divorce and then were I was, and it would be a reminder of just how far I’ve fallen. It was neither pretty nor fun. Losing everything will suck the life right out of you. I’d show up to parties with family or friends or whatever and people are talking about their great jobs and how they do this and that. And you are looking at the calander and trying to figure out the next time you can go to the food pantry. Or trying to come up with an excuse to tell your son that you can’t buy him all the legos in the world and why hiking in the woods is more exciting then going to see a movie in the movie theatre. I talked about the letter “d” being heavy. The letter “L” weighs twice as much, and hurts quite a bit.

Wearing both of those letters can make you bitter, resentful, angry, and any other host of words-if you let them. I let those letters rule my life for a really long time.

I woke up one day in January and let the letter “D” stop ruling my life. Then I took a look in the mirror one morning, realized that my divorce did not idenify who I was or what I was. There was more to me then just this guy going through a rough divorce.

It took me awhile longer to shed the letter “L”. One Sunday after a weekend of hiking, riding scooters, and watching James Bond with #5. He said to me, “this was a really fun weekend, dad. I had a great time”. I felt that letter “L” slide off my back. That, maybe for all of the struggles I am not a loser (no matter what the critics may say). And that any day you are above dirt is a day you are not a loser.

I am far from perfect and have a long way to go. Shedding my letters was a big step in the right direction.

I choose to not be bitter, I choose to be better.

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Invictus

I carry around a copy of this poem in my wallet. It has helped me over the past 4 years, when I have needed to hang on. The title is Latin for “Unconquerable”

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

-William Ernest Henley

In this life

I have a picture wall in my house. You have to walk by it to get to the bathroom. And on it there are all kinds of pictures, mostly of Frankie, but pictures of family, friends, and even one of Margarita (who is family). I love my picture wall. Frankie will ask me to tell him about people up there all the time. I love my picture wall.

I’ve found myself in a weird place lately. Struggling in my life with decisions that I’ve made. Full of more doubt then usual. The concept of “want to be sucessful, do the opposite of what I’ve done” really hits home with me.

I have found myself thinking about what if my life had worked out has I planned it. What if I had married someone who was sane, had not lost the great job, lived in my house with my wife and kids, happily ever after. What if I had lived out that life? 

I look at my picture wall. I realize that if I everything I wanted had come true, I would never gotten to taken all these great pictures. Create some memories that I carry with me always. The picture of my son a few hours after he was born. A picture of a round of golf with my college roommates Mike and Jason. My dad and I on the golf course. My sister, brother in law, and myself at a wedding.  Picture of Scott, Kevin, and I in a bar in Lawrence, Kansas. The list of pictures that never would have happened is endless and they are all on my wall. The pictures and memories would’ve been different.

In the other life I dreamed of, I’ve got a sucessful career, I’ve got the wife and kids that love me and adore me, I am firing on all cylinders. I wake up though. I am not that guy. 

In this life, the life I live. I struggle. I am not even close to firing on all cylinders. I am far from perfect. I have my picture wall, I have these memories. They have made the journey well worth it.