I was sitting in a small, two-bedroom apartment that was situated in the upstairs of a private home.
I had just moved back to my old neighborhood. I went back to where I began and where I grew up. Perhaps I went here for comfort. Maybe I went here because there was a part of me that felt I had nowhere else to go.
I was entering into a divorce and facing the uncertainties of being a divorced father. I had just left a big home, two-car garage, built-in pool, and a Nanny’s quarters. None of this was mine, however, but to add a picture, I went from living a somewhat particular and wealthy life to a state of instant, financial concern.
My finances were depleting and my list of friendships consisted of previous friends that I no longer spoke to and married friends that could no longer speak to me.
In an effort to create a trace of familiarity, I found myself a small place in my old town. In a sense, I went back home. I went home but there was no one to go back home to. I made the choice to move back to my hometown because I believed (in a sense) this was my life in full circle. At least here, the streets knew who I was. And they would accept me and hold my secrets without judgement.
I went back but there was no one to go back to. My childhood home was sold. My Old Man had passed away. My Mother moved. My family was spread out to do their own thing. People went on to live their lives and deal with their own problems. It seemed to me as if there was nowhere else left to turn.
I was alone for the first time. I was alone in a way I had never experienced before. But worse, I found myself at a bottom, which was hard, cold, and lonely.
There was always someone around me before. I had always been in some kind of relationship —perhaps none of them were healthy and some of them were just a settlement to beat the loneliness, but still, at least there was someone around. At least there was someone to speak to or a hostage to keep me company.
I was alone now. I was alone and unsupervised.
I had my own place, which is something I never had before. I moved away from my family but there was always a roommate or a girlfriend in the mix.
It used to be there was always someone looking to offer me their opinion, which I would listen to, at least to some degree.
But now there was no one. There was no one but me in my small apartment, which was mainly empty with undecorated walls and echoing from my solo footsteps. There was no one to speak with or argue with. There was no one at all but me and my sad reclusion.
I had been the way I was for as long as I could recall. I have always lived with uncomfortable levels of anxiety, which can be crippling at times. I have always felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I was never able to stand firm and be me. I always need a shield or some form of personal protection.
I sought approval. I always wanted to be included, so I included myself, but I never knew the compliment of being invited.
I wanted to fit in—above all things, I wanted to fit in the most. I wanted to feel “Comfortable” in the “Crowd.”
I wanted to feel “Good enough” and “Desirable.” Moreover, I wanted to believe in myself and have enough confidence in my opinion that I could speak openly without a second thought.
And feelings —God, who could possibly know about my true feelings? Who could I tell my real thoughts to?
Who could I share myself with and be me without any sort of mask to hide behind? In addition, how could I be noticed without a decoration to flower my personality to a more likable nature?
I had always lived with depression, which is odd to admit because I always knew what the word depression meant.
I just never knew this meant me.
Besides, I had no way of knowing other people thought this way. I never dared to speak honestly about myself. I was emotionally weak and afraid to be emotionally weak.
At best, I revealed me in half-measures to protect my deeper secrets. Rather than be me, I always found myself a personality or image to hide behind.
I had to have something to cling to because in fairness, I was literally petrified of being alone, being unwanted, uninvited, unincluded, and worse, I was afraid to be unlikable or unworthy.
It was here that my breakdown began. And when I say breakdown, I mean this in the sad, hysterical sense.
I swore this was it. I swore that I would never find myself out of this hole. I lost everything but yet, at the same time, I never had anything to begin with. So where did this leave me?
Everything I had was either shared or belonged to someone else. And now that I had no one else, I was left to fend for myself, which was petrifying to me. Who do I cling to now? How do I support myself? Who can I blame for my mistakes now that there is no one left but me?
All of this was real and I detail this as accurately as possible. However, this is not sad or weak. No, this is where i found my strength.
I started to feel emotionally claustrophobic. It seemed as if the walls of life were closing in on me. I was alone.
I was worried that nobody would want me. I was worried that I would fall to the inaccurate predictions that I would not only end up alone but I would die alone as well.
I was worried about starting over. I was afraid to be open to someone, to be honest with them, to be vulnerable to them, and to be subject to the uncomfortable process of new courtships.
I was afraid of the new mask or image I would have to find to make me more attractive. Also, there was a belief that I needed to be marketable in the world of a divorced dad, trying to start over again, and find someone with at least a semblance of sanity.
Moreover, I was beaten into submission and heartbroken. I was fine to be divorced because I was tired of living a loveless life. I was tired of living in a loveless household.
I was so tired in fact that I went to voluntarily face my biggest fear of being alone; however, if the truth is to be told, I felt like a failure. I believed I was an absolute loser.
I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered, “Who the hell would want you now?”
I understood why my divorce happened. This plan had been in the works for a long time, perhaps since the day after the wedding.
It was clear that she and I were not made for each other. Instead of finding our appropriate match, we settled in fear.
We settled because neither she nor I had the understanding of what happens when you settle for less. This is why we hated each other —it’s not because either of us were bad people. No, we hated each other because we were resentful that we settled and never got what we really wanted, which I assume was a life of happiness.
I knew the divorce was on the way. So did she (and I say ‘She’ meaning my previous other half in a respectful way).
There was no blame here nor was there reason to blame one another. However, at the time, I was less than mature.
At the time, I was looking to find accountability and a way to place blame on someone else.
I needed a way to understand why I volunteered for the life I had. I gave myself away so cheaply. I married the wrong woman no different than she married the wrong man, but why?
There were warning signs all over the place from the beginning to the end —so then why did neither she nor I wake up one day and say, “You know what? This isn’t going to work.”
Please understand, this text is not expressed with animosity or mean intention towards my previous life. Instead, this is simply an honest inventory, which will come to a point shortly
It was here that I fell to the floor of my small apartment. It was here that I came to the conclusion that I could not live this way anymore.
I could never feel this way ever again. It was here that I realized that either I stand up or simply wither away, which at the time, seemed like a possible idea.
It was here that I fell to my knees and cried to God or to whomever would listen. I had my arms out and my head leaned back, face upwards towards the ceiling as if to be sat on my knees in a position that begged for mercy.
Tears drained from my eyes and with all that I had, I pleaded out loud for something to save me.
There is more to this story; however, for now, I will spare the details and leave them for another chapter. More to the point, I will outline this as a moment of awareness. Either way, I had to make a choice. I could stand up and regain my life or choose to stay down and never dare to walk another step.
It was here that I decided to stand up. It was here that I made the choice to put my sadness to a better place of rest.
I walked into the bedroom and pushed my chair away from my computer table. I sat down and turned on my computer.
Then I began to write. I began to type every word that entered my mind. And admittedly, typing was not one of my primary skills. Neither was spelling. Neither was proper grammar but none of that mattered. I didn’t know how to write (and there are some critics that say I still don’t know how, but fuck’em! I’m still at it).
I was on a mission. I was on a mission to rid myself of the thoughts in my head. I made this a point to sit down and type until I could not type anymore.
I sat down and let everything go, all of my shame, all of my secrets, all of my guilt and shame; I wrote about my sins. I wrote about my hopes for personal redemption, which to me was a word, similar to salvation; to be saved, to feel protected and cured, to be rid of my internal persecution, and to deliver myself from my mistakes and failures.
The first words I wrote in my journals were, “My redemption has nothing to do with your response.” And I meant this with every bit of my heart and ever bit of my soul.
I realized that whatever had to happen, I had to be sure that this happened without hesitation. I had to stop my thinking in its tracks and learn how to unplug from my old ideas. I needed to learn how to step away from my trained opinions. But first, I needed to understand where this training began.
The second entry in my journals began with the words, “Sometimes there are no victims, only volunteers.” I did not want to be either of the two, ever again.
I had to find out why I was the way I was.
Why did I feel the way I did? Why did I always find myself in the same circumstances and making the same mistakes? Why were my relationships always leading towards the same outcomes? I had to learn about this.
Why did I always give into insecurity? I wanted to learn where I first experienced a lack of self-worth. Where did I learn the messages that I played in my mind and how (or if) were they even valid?
It came to me, very suddenly. I came to the supplication of self and realized; this is my ground zero. This is where I build from. This is my line in the sand and I will not retreat or retire from this point onward or ever again.
I looked at myself, wholeheartedly; only when I looked, I did not view me from the eyes of a scared, incapable, or emotional little boy.
Instead, I viewed me with all honesty. I needed to know where all of this came from. How did my ideas and opinions come to be this way?
The truth is the ideas I had about me and my life were never based on my own personal blueprints. Suddenly, it came to me like a fresh needed breeze.
I was trying to adhere to the wrong plan. I was trying to fit into the wrong life.
I wasn’t me. In fact, I hadn’t been me for a very long time. Perhaps, one could argue that I had never been me to begin with. I couldn’t have been because I never dared to try.
Instead, I lived as a preferred version of myself. I lived in response to ideas of whom and how I thought I should behave.
I was too afraid of rejection—I was too afraid to speak openly about real thoughts. I would have never dared to be honest about the life I wanted or the things I liked because I was afraid what I wanted would make me unlikable or unwanted by others.
Yet, at the same time, I was tired of living as someone else. I was tired of believing there was something wrong with me.
I was tired of hating myself and tired of overthinking everything.
I questioned everything about me. I second-guessed myself, which became painfully draining and thieving all of my energy.
I couldn’t think or focus—all I could see were the obstacles in front of me. All I could think about were the wrongs and the resentments that plagued me, which prevented me from ever having an association of peace.
I just wanted to be me, in whichever way possible. I wanted to be rid of the ideas of impending doom, as if something was always going to be wrong. I wanted to be me, yet at the same time; it had been so long since I knew who or what I was.
What did I like? What was I looking for? What was my type? Who was my type? And why was it that I never felt secure enough in the interest of my intentions?
I never felt comfortable with my interests of love and always feared to show my true self (because what if it doesn’t work out? Then what?).
I never had the ability to be comfortable with my choices. I was always afraid that what I liked was not cosmetically or commercially acceptable. And because of this, I missed out on the most beautiful opportunities. I wasted the best surprises on the wrong people.
I feared that I would never find my match or my equal. Therefore, I settled for whatever or whoever would have me.
I gave myself away to the wrong connections and the wrong people, which in turn, left me emotionally raw—or bankrupt, which is where I was at this point —in a state of emotional bankruptcy.
It came to me here in this small apartment. It came to me that what if everything I believed about myself was a lie. What if all my opinions and assumptions were wrong?
I had to unlearn what I had learned about me. In order to rid myself from depressive thinking, I had to learn where my depressive thinking began. Where did this stem from?
And why did I allow myself to internalize this? It was here that I knew if I wanted to feel better, I had to strip myself of all the misinformation.
From this point onward, I would have to learn about me. I had to learn to not be a victim or a volunteer.
This was the start of my road to redemption. This was the day that I realized that everything I thought about myself was a lie.
In fact, this was the same day I realized that if I wanted to be free, I had to find out the truth about me. And the truth is I was always better than I believed. I just didn’t know it because the lies I believed told me otherwise.
By the way, there will be more about this, but for now, I will close this chapter here. Tomorrow is another day—