As I sit down to write a little about my story of how I ended up a 38 year old man with 3 kids, divorced and alone I realize that is not what I had hoped for growing up. However, my hope was not as strong as the mental conditioning I hammered into my head over the years. That conditioning that relationships simply do not last. Someone will reject the other if you give it enough time.
A few things before we totally get started. 1) Im not a babe (at least I don’t consider myself one) 2) brave: I am becoming this more and more every day I wake up. It is a battle but how can a man expect his children to be courageous if he does not exhibit courage and bravery every day.
So my story is a little different than others that I have read over the years. I really have had a pretty good life overall and it is less about what has happened to me and more about what I did to cause the hurt and pain I have gone through. Yes there is a background that created a belief pattern that did occur. No matter how bad of an example I was given if I had opened my eyes a little there were better examples all around. However I did not and this is what I will share.
Growing up the first 7 years of my life my Mother and Father were married. I had an older sister who really didn’t want me around but she was still good to me. From the outside looking in I had a great family. The truth was my Father was an addict. He did bad things to my sister, tried to hit my Mother all the time and was high more than sober. We had enough good moments that I fought for his acceptance over and over. The harder I fought the more he pushed me away until my he and my Mother divorced. Over the next several years my Mother would take me to every rehab to see him. I attended so many AA and al anon meetings I cannot count and what I learned over those years in my head was I simply was not good enough. I learned that drugs were more important, friends more important and I learned that relationships only matter when convenient. At least this is what I thought. I felt rejected by the person I wanted attention from the most. As much as my Mother loved me all I felt was a sister who hated me because I resembled my dad and a dad who thought drugs were more important than me. My happy little family was destroyed. We moved in with my Grandma and I spent the next several years watching my sister and mom go in and out of relationships while my Grandma would not commit fully to hers. Everyone stayed at arms distance. So what did I turn into?
I turned into that little boy that found value in getting the girl to like me. I wanted to be loved by everyone but once I accomplished that “feat” I was quick to move on. I told every one I would never get married or have kids. My dad was married twice only one he admits and my mother 3 times, my grandma twice, my sister twice with a brief stint with women. Everywhere I turned was failed relationship after failed relationship. So for me rejection was not an option. I would determine they like me, hang on until I started to feel something and run at the first opportunity. I would either drink and do something offensive or simply hurt them by walking away having it seem like I didn’t care at all. Every relationship I had was a race to leave before I was rejected. This lasted from ages 12-31 and then again for the few years after my divorce. So where did the real pain begin?
After college I was working and doing very well when I spotted a girl across the room. I knew instantly that she was the one. I was pulled to her and before you knew it we were hanging out. She had a 7 month old daughter and I quickly fell in love with both of them. I finally did not care or even think about rejection. I went all in. She was pregnant fast, then engagement, then marriage and another child. However, things got rocky because of me. I know it takes two, but I hurt her really bad. I don’t know that we would have lasted anyway but I really did not give it hope. Right after our marriage I got intoxicated and she says I kissed another woman. It’s true I assume. I was so drunk I don’t remember a thing. I only remember waking up in my car’s back seat in my driveway. When I entered into the house I saw a woman more broken than I had ever seen. For me I knew I had done it. I had successfully ruined another relationship but this time I did not get out before I was fully invested. I was both crushed because I had “rejected” the one I loved and crushed because I was everything I never wanted to be. I was a man who chose “alcohol” over family. I was my dad. I was a failure I was a cold hearted person who hurt people. The divorce was not immediate. Five years later after I tried to buy my way back into her good graces, after she went on to “get back at me,” after I moved us away from family in hopes to learn to count on each other, it ended. We had come a long way. We had grown a lot and now we were the family that people thought had it all but it was a facade. I spent all the money I made as fast as it came in. I successfully blew what could have been early retirement and play. On December 3rd 2009, I was served divorce papers and by the 19th she and the kids had moved 2 hours away. I had never felt more alone, crushed and hurt in my life. Even though I played a significant role in that decision once again I was shown that perfect or imperfect, I’m simply someone who cannot be loved. I am unlovable. If I care too much it will not be long before that person decides there are more important things in life than me.
I moved back to be with the kids, left my job and went from 6 figures a year too living in a house being short sold, with no refrigerator, no job and child support to play and 3 kids that I had every other week. 2010 was the year that began to shape me. When you are stripped down to nothing you learn gratitude. When you have to get on your knees nightly and pray and hope someone is listening, you are humbled. When you spend nights realizing you had become everything you despised growing up, you simply want to give up. I’m thankful for that year now. You see, I had no clue how to love someone. My Mother the greatest person ever modeled so much good ,but even love for her is a mystery in some ways. For the last 6 years I have been learning to love myself for all my flaws, fears and failures as well as my successes. I have been learning how to treat myself, how I desire to be treated, what I feel is acceptable and more importantly I’ve been learning to love someone else some day.
For the sake of space and time I have left out so much. However, what I hope anyone who chooses to read this gets out of it is the following: When people reject you they are hurting in some way. They are not truly rejecting you, but they are essentially rejecting themselves. You are a recipient of their pain. In turn you feel pain that you may not have earned or deserved. I’ve learned that everyone receives love differently and it’s important that we learn this and show whomever we love them in the way they receive it. It really does change everything. Ive learned that even though I hated the man that I was I don’t have to stay that man. I cannot let my fear manifest into my actions. I am in control of my choices and my perspective. One of the last messages I received from my Father was that he was “really really disappointed in me.” At the time I received this he was alienating everyone and driving a successful business into the ground because of drugs. It stung really bad but I realized that he was hurting and he was projecting the feelings he had for himself onto me. We never spoke again, but I know that he loved me. Somehow I know this now. Today, my ex-wife, and I remain best friends. I have stood by her as she remarried divorced, said she wanted me back only to move in with a man 2 weeks later and become engaged. I know she is hurting and I know she is looking for answers and although that hope hurt it was actually my freedom. After 6 years of hoping we could be together again I realized that we are better off as friends. I’ve learned that being able to be independent first, loving myself truly, opens the doors for the woman of my dreams. I no longer seek company for the sake of company. I prepare for the woman that I hope to run into some day. I do believe in second chances. I do believe that I will be given the opportunity to have what I really wanted all my life. I do believe I will fall in love and we will have the very best relationship. My son is adamantly against it. He refuses to share me. He has gone as far as saying he won’t share me. I get it. All I can hope is that I continue to grow as a father, friend and person to become what someone may be looking for. I was hurt. I have felt unworthy of love and respect my whole life. When I had opportunities my actions represented someone who was waiting for it to fail. I’m not that man anymore and never will be again. I am a man that hopes to teach and encourage others that to give a full effort to someone you must give a full effort to loving yourself. I also hope to show that we should never ever give up. Not on ourselves and not on hope.
If you stuck with me through that whole thing I just want to say thank you for listening. Your past does not define you. Whether you were the victim or the victimizer in my case, we can recover and thrive. As Ryan Holiday said in his book The obstacle is the way. May you take from this that love is an action. We cannot let others determine our self love. We cannot wait for others to show us were worthy we must walk in confidence knowing we are worthy.
I am Matthew and I love and accept myself.