Make Believe

It was past 6:30. He was late.

“Jesus I hope he’s okay”, I thought. “Fuck this is so bad he may try to off himself”, I mumbled. I couldn’t stop worrying. I’d already downed two tall beers waiting on him, and a third was on deck.

He showed up disheveled, but in one piece.

“Sorry, man, I just got off work. It’s been a rough couple of days”, he stammered.

“I’d imagine”, I talked back.

“So what the fuck is going on? She cheated on you?”

“Yea, with one of my friends. At least I think so. She’s already left the house with the kids when she knew I knew, so….”, he looked exhausted.

This once proud man, who now was a shell of his former self, had the “perfect life”. He had a wife, 3 children, and, according to his social media, a white picket fence life of pure happiness. He worked as a dispatch operations manager for a large trucking company, successful, his wife was a stay at home mom who had recently gotten a new job after she had studied to be an accountant.

For years, this couple was the toast of my trucking friends circle. Beautiful house, a loving family, the whole dream that we are told that we should all aspire to, and the friend get-togethers were the best. Always smiling, rarely stressed, the picture of happiness. Family pictures every year, vacations, their social media was abuzz with the facade of perfection, joy, and general envy of all those around them.

He didn’t know where to start. I could see he was reeling. As he started to tell me what happened, I began to see the cracks in his facade.

“Dude, dude, you have to be kidding. You’ve always been the perfect couple. The marriage everyone wanted. What happened?” I asked in disbelief.

As he sat across from me on that humid August night, sipping a beer, nearly in tears, he then realized that his marriage had been an elaborate game of pretending. And now, shit got real.

The house, the cars, the wife, the kids, the life, all of it, was an elaborate ruse to show people how life was “supposed” to be, but not how it was. He was putting on a show, an expensive, debt crushing, false act whose consequences were now inevitably showing themselves in his mind.

And the more he spoke about it, the more terrified he became. It was hitting, it was real now, all the shit was falling down around him, and all he could do was watch.

She had cheated. She had gone outside the marriage. This perfect picture he had built, on a rusty foundation of lies, bitterness, jealousy, and mistrust, was gone. When the cameras were snapping, it was the picturesque family life. But when they turned off, the dark side of the marriage came up.

He explained that the arguments were off the charts. He would go so far as to punish the kids for not lying about how happy they were when they talked to their friends. He was in debt hundreds of thousands of dollars. He had a boat, two cars, a camper, and a gigantic house.

All for the show, it seems. All for show.

Paint the Picture

As he stuttered through his sentences, trying to grasp the gravity of his situation, I thought about my own marriage. I was struggling with my own life. I was still married, but not two years earlier, my wife and I had gotten ourselves a gigantic, 4300 sq ft house with 4 car garage, pool, two wings, and plenty of space for guests. We dreamed of entertaining our guests, making them envious of our new space, all while painting the picture of two people very much in love with each other and their lives being a natural growth of that.

But, under the picture perfect house and world….

  • My wife and I weren’t having sex, nor were we engaged in a marriage, it was now a business partnership.
  • I was killing myself at work at the time to pay for this monstrosity.
  • My kids were having issues at school and were seeing the dead marriage manifest itself into other areas

But what we were doing as a couple was trying to cover up the fact that we were both miserable. And the only thing that this house and this life did was stress the cracks that were already there, and they were getting bigger.

All of this happening as my friend poured over his drink talking about his wife’s betrayal to him. But was this a betrayal to him? After all, the dude he was wasn’t the dude he was portraying himself to be. She was cheating on that other guy, not the man who sat before me.

For 2 decades, he had carefully crafted a narrative and told his family to live by it, damn the consequences.

So they did, convincing themselves everyday that this was their life, even if it was the furthest thing from the truth.

And all of their friends, including myself, were playing the game as well. We all wanted to be pictured as successful, happy, and driven because, well, envy and adulation gives you that dopamine kick and makes you think you’re doing well, even when you aren’t even close.

So I made decisions that would come to haunt me in my future, all because I wanted to be liked and admired.

When people would ask, I’d lie. I had to. They saw my posts, they saw my life, I know they wanted to be just like me, successful, happy, and confident. But I was none of those things. Friends who I’d known for longer started to understand my moods. They knew I was lying about my life. And it took me talking to my therapist about it to realize that my life was a fiction.

But here’s the really scary thing. It seemed as if every person was inventing a life to be seen on social media.

Husbands cheating on their wives and the family showing a perfect face every time the camera was on.

Financial ruin or layoff that was played off as the rubble burned.

“Keep your face in front of your friends. Don’t let them know you struggle.”

And more and more of my friends were trying like hell to bury the body of their failed lives by buying new things, all while smiling as the snake bit their calf and the venom circulated in their body.

“You can’t show people weakness, they’ll not respect you….”

I was told this on many occasions.

You Can’t Invent A Life

Showing you have the perfect life most often means it’s not perfect.

Being married doesn’t guarantee good advice.

Being successful in view very rarely means you are behind the scenes.

We invent these lives because it’s not about what we want, it’s about what we want to prove.

Be careful, young kings and queens, putting your faith in those who’s world looks perfect from the outside, but on the inside, it’s crumbling.

Your advice should come from the goods, the bads, and the uglies of the marriage world.

The iceberg tends to be bigger under the water.

As I found out from my friend that night, you can’t invent a life, and you sure as hell can’t put band-aids on it to fix it if it’s irretrievably broken.

But people will try to keep the mirage going, many times to a terrible detriment to their own mental and physical health, to show everyone else that they are the best, they are successful, they are better than you.

And it’s more relationships than you think. And the ones who outwardly give advice are the ones who so desperately need to take it. And their friends will defend them to the hilt until the billboard sign falls and charred remains of the fake life are there for all to see.

It all looks so good on paper, in photos, in the eyes of those you wish to impress, but if it’s all a sham, why even do it? People who see you for the person you pretend to be were never going to be your true friends anyway. They glom on to whoever is most successful in their eyes, amateur bullshit artists looking for someone who plays the game better than they do so they can emulate the pretend life.

Social media has given us the opportunity to pretend to be someone we’re not with much more ease and less push back. So many people gun the throttle into this new life and make mistake after mistake eventually leading to disastrous consequences, but like when a Miss America contestant falls and tries to get back up with a smile, it’s going to ring hollow for those that you are trying to impress.

It’s a pissing contest that way too many people are playing way too often. And it’s time for all of us to stop and accept the reality that we sometimes aren’t successful, sometimes we fail spectacularly, and sometimes, yes, we can’t be the best we can be because of limitations.

We worry far too often about the opinions of people we don’t like, but are desperate to impress.

Wanna impress? Try being real. I’ve had times in my life I’ve been called out for lying. Blatantly, and the only thing I felt was shame for trying to bullshit the bullshitters. I felt bad I got caught, not the fact that I actually fucking lied.

My life is boring as fuck, but that’s the way I like it. I travel to meet people on Twitter, I type a blog, I own a small family owned company, I am divorced with two great kids. I don’t scream excitement.

But…..

Let’s stop pretending. It’s a sham and you know it, so take down the walls and have folks see you for who you really are. You’ll make more life long friends that way, and you’ll also have less stress of trying to hold up the curtain in Oz.

And if you are pretending, hold tight on giving advice to others. You’re putting on a show for the audience but when you speak the bullshit that people are really listening to, you are forcing them to put on a show as well that they aren’t ready to perform.

It’s time to stop the make believe. That’s the real red pill.

Time Stamps

5/28/2016.

This date will forever be burned into my subconscious.

It was the day my new life began.

It was the day that my life officially changed and I was on my own, in my own house, the marriage a distant memory and the divorce, freshly finished not two months earlier.

I had just gone through the nightmare of selling my gigantic expensive house that my ex and I had bought, the 4 car garage, the pool, the separate wings for all the family and friends that didn’t ever come, the large basement we never used. The house that took all of my energy to move out of, fix up, and sell for a $50k loss, the house that was supposed to save our marriage, instead became one of the most expensive head stones in history.

The struggle was real.

For 4 dark months between December 2018 to March 2019, my life was a dark hole. I was depressed, broke, paying a gigantic mortgage for a house I was trying to sell, working on the said house getting it fixed up so I could lose my ass on it. All the while, I was packing up 4300 sq ft worth of shit I didn’t want. It all reminded me of my failed marriage, my life at that moment, I was convinced I had indeed let so many people down, including myself.

Two portable storage units stood coldly outside my house as I diligently, slowly, and deliberately, filled them up with my old stuff. I had to eat at my parent’s house a ton because I couldn’t really afford any food except Ramen noodles but I always saved enough to make sure my kids had full bellies. For some strange reason, women would come around, damaged women looking for a damaged guy like me, and while I entertained some of them, many of them only added to the misery of me, slowly trudging along trying to pack up my life for the hope of a new one. That hope was a fucking glimmer that I thought would only continue to dim.

My family wasn’t speaking to me, much. My mother and sister were angry at me for making the choice to “duck out” on a responsible marriage.

I was mindless at work, just going through the motions thinking about the misery awaiting me in the house I didn’t want, with the stuff I didn’t want, living the life I didn’t want, thinking I would be stuck in this monstrosity forever. So naturally, depression sunk in.

I was going to therapy once a week and it was helping. It really was the only light that kept this dark winter aglow. My therapist kept discussing that if I kept working, the time would come that I could look over the mountain and see my glorious future waiting for me. But with every hurdle, there would be 5 more.

My dog I had raised with my ex passed away from complications of diabetes in February of 2019 and I cursed myself that if I had not been in this situation, I could’ve saved his life. If I wasn’t so damn depressed, feeling sorry for myself, miserable, he would still be alive. I sat in the vet’s office looking down at the floor after I had carried my lifeless dog into the office, knowing that he was going to be dead the next morning. It added to the general feeling of just fucking grey.

Every part of that 10 years I spent married was either being removed, being thrown away, or dying in front of my eyes. It’s enough to grind a man to dust to see everything he worked for being lit on fire, but I knew I had to keep going.

I had a few friends, but my best friend Jack always came over to help when he could, and my older sister and brother helped me as well. But in this four-month period, it was a lonely time. With the occasional whore ringing my doorbell, I slept, ate, and worked day and night to try and get out of this hell I was in.

When you’re alone during and after a divorce, life tends to look pretty fucking bleak. You have no money, no life, the quality of people are lacking, the women are trash, and all you can do is watch the clock and hope that the things you talk about to yourself, the hope you give, the sun that shows up as the clouds part this purgatory you sit in, will all be just around the corner.

At least that’s what my therapist kept saying, as I sat staring at him in disbelief. Good things are coming? Bullshit.

He told me I needed to get my mind off of things. I was semi-active, going to the gym 3 times a week, but I hadn’t really done anything to challenge myself.

That’s when Spartan came up.

The Shift

I had done a Spartan in October of 2015. The easiest one, the sprint, was a 5-mile course of mud, muck, and obstacles in the Kentucky bluegrass.

I had done it, barely, but my therapist told me I should do more.

I told myself that I would do a Trifecta, which is all three races in a Spartan year. A sprint is 5 miles, a super is 10, and the beast is 15. So I joined a team and signed up.

How hard could a Spartan be?

And of course, the first Spartan was in May of 2016. It was the beast.

15 miles in Southwest Ohio. Mud, hills, trees, obstacles, getting around them all. I wasn’t going to run the damn thing. Hell, I could barely get up the stairs.

So I made a commitment and purchased P90X and started doing it every day.

I ended up losing about 30 lbs, but I was still chunkified and wasn’t sure I was going to make it.

And why the fuck was I even signing up for a Spartan race of this magnitude in the first place? I was divorced, broken, shattered and trying to build something from ashes.

The reason? Because I needed to prove to myself I could do something hard.

I had never, NEVER, challenged myself. My first hard challenge was breaking away and filing for divorce. And now it was personal. This was my new start. This was my goal to be the best man I can be.

As I was tearing down my old life, in the basement of my gigantic house, I was slowly building my new one. Every day, because I had nothing else to do, I went downstairs and did a workout. I started to get stronger. I knew this was the first step every man must take to reclaim their lives.

I knew something amazing was going to happen.

So on that day, I got with my team and started the 15 mile trek. Hauling logs, carrying boulders, climbing hills, scaling walls, then halfway through, I lost my team.

Spartan Beast – Ohio 2016

It was just me and the course. Rain was coming down hard as I slogged through the mud. I was by myself, on a 15 mile course, easily the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I had a half bottle of mustard, an energy bar, and my water pack.

I was terrified, I’ll be honest. Every hill I climbed, my legs cramped something horrible. I kept eating the mustard and kept going. There were other people around me, alone, overweight, fighting for every step, and we talked as we worked up this course. I would talk to strangers, other folks trying to do something amazing by finishing this course, jumping the fire, and getting their medals. I had that in mind too, as well as catching up with my team, but also, it became about proving something to myself. Proving that I could finish this course on my own. Proving that I could tackle the obstacles. Others quit around me. A 68-year-old man who was with me for most of my time and I talked. He’d been doing Spartans for years, and while he was slow, he did them, and he did them well. We worked over several obstacles together as we talked.

As I neared the last 2 miles, I was climbing a mud hill when I saw my team, waiting for me. It was almost dark. I wanted to get to the finish before the sunset. So I summoned what strength I had left, did the last few obstacles, and made the finish line by jumping over the fire. I was ecstatic.

I had done it. I had conquered a course. And it showed me what this second chance in my life really was about. Getting over the hard parts to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment.

But the Beast was also a microcosm of my own struggles in my life. That course took me 8 hours to get through. My life, currently, was a trudge that I knew I was going to get through, I just had to do it.

And suddenly, after the Spartan, the world seemed much easier to deal with. The small shit I was bitching about in my life became shit that I checked off of the list. I finished my house up, and after a few last minute panic moments, got it sold.

With it getting sold, I was able to move into my new house, my new life.

The last shackles of my married life were in that gigantic house, and now, without it, my world seems much more promising.

Then came the 28th. I came into work with a smile on my face. I had closed on my old house and was ready to move into my new house. As I left work that afternoon, I went to my new house, my new life, and stood in front of it.

This was a new start for me. A second chance to live my life MY way. A promise that I had made to myself that I was keeping. I stood in front of my new house beaming. Regardless of what happened from this point on, this was now on my terms. This life was now mine. I owned it, finally.

That night, I pulled out my bed, assembled it, and got to sleep in an empty house. But it was the greatest night’s sleep I ever got. Because deep down, I knew that my nightmare 6 months was now over.

I could breathe again. And I could finally live.

This is why 5/28 will forever be the number one date in my life.

Because I finally got to be me.

This is now my life, on my terms.

And I’m never looking back.

The Family Contract

So I don’t do a ton of dad posts on here simply because I have a lot of guys like me who are riding out the dating market, but I think that some things I’ve done in the past few weeks warrant me diving into this realm.

At this particular moment in our history, dads are needed more than ever.

So, as I move back and forth from a country traveler, dating enthusiast and woman lover to father, provider, and co-parent, I have a unique perspective into the world of the single father. And I’m still learning more and more.

More recently, my oldest daughter has been struggling with something that I struggled with my entire adolescence and young adulthood, anxiety and depression. I will say that I suffered from both when I was her age, but it hits home when your kid has to deal with what you had.

I should’ve prepared. I should’ve done more, but I didn’t. You can’t prevent your kids from having these issues, and indeed when they start to get them, you feel powerless to try to help. But there is a way you can help them.

Draw the Line and Abide By It No Matter What

So there we all were, in a quiet room, starting the discussion. I began:

“Today, we are going to be doing something we should’ve done a long time ago, we are going to draft a family contract. This contract will contain a list of covenants that we (all of us, no exceptions) have to accept as law in both of our households. We are all integral in crafting it, so everyone’s input is required. If at any time you choose to walk away from negotiations, you give up your input and still have to abide. Your mother and I are both giving you an opportunity to craft something meaningful that our family can get behind.”

So we did it. For three hours. It was the most amazing thing ever. Sure, there were laughs, tears, yelling, arguing, as well as some compromise. But each person got their chance to get their voice heard, and through careful crafting, we came up with 10 main basic rules that needed to be followed as the “Law of the Family”.

As in your own life, setting boundaries is of utmost importance in this aspect of family. Kids need to be taught about consequences, both good and bad, that are in effect and will be enforced. Parents as well should abide by the rules, as there were several set for myself and my ex by the kids, and we have consequences that we must enforce as well.

The main purpose of this family contract? Accountability.

We all needed it, yet for years, even during our marriage, we left it adrift, choosing inopportune times to enforce, or not, rules that weren’t printed, filed, or even signed in agreement. Too often, parents are the tyrants and their kids are the subjects.

“Do as I say not as I do” is a parenting method that relies on parental power of the adult to make the rules. This “might makes right” may have been the only outlet for parenting that we know because our parents did it.

I was spanked as a kid, most of the time knowing exactly what I did was wrong, but once again, my parents didn’t have a “10 commandments” of right and wrong, and it can be confusing for a kid, especially doing stuff that’s borderline.

This is where myself and my ex had to be different. Not only did we have the challenge of two different households, but the challenge of a divorce was also present. Luckily, I am on the same page with my ex. And that’s an important aspect that I will discuss…

Be On The Same Page

None of the above, and I mean none of it, would be possible unless you and your spouse are on the same page. You have to be united in both installing and following the rules to the letter.

This same page gets a bit more dicey when there’s a divorce involved.

The vital part of this whole thing was my relationship with my ex.

Ever since the end of our divorce, my ex and I have gotten along so well (even better than when we were married) that this installation of these rules was EXTREMELY easy.

But before you present the whole issue to the family at large, you must have the discussion with your significant other about what you plan to install.

We had a catalyst of troublesome behavior, talking back, too much time on electronic devices, chores not being done, etc, we had to take back the house with little fanfare, and let the children know that not only were we in charge, but they were going to have vital say in how the new rules were going to be implemented.

But something had to be understood. I and my ex had to get our issues out and resolved before we presented anything to our kids. You want a united front on this one, because not only does it give the kids confidence in the implementation of the rules, but you have confidence in each other when presenting and working through the rules.

Luckily, we have very few issues, but if you and your spouse or ex have underlying resentment, disdain, or problems, you have to resolve those first and be ready to uniformly implement the contract as if either of you were the same person. Kids will more often than not try to bend the rules depending on the parent present, which is where problems arise, because naturally one parent will let something slide while the other one enforces.

This gives the kids conflicting info and makes a confusing situation even more so, as well as unenforceable as both parents set different rules.

So being on the same page is critical for this to be enacted. Once you are, you have to set aside some time to get it down on paper with your kids. And please keep in mind, THIS WILL NOT BE QUICK.

There will be tears, because, you are finally setting boundaries for your kids, and depending on how long you’ve waited, it will take some time to get everyone’s input. It took us three hours on a Sunday afternoon to hammer out 10 rules.

But we did it, and the understanding we got, especially when everyone was involved to help craft, made this agreement as strong as our family bond.

There are consequences, and they are understood. There are rewards as well.

And yes, I had to stop goofing off and teasing people. And my ex had to be present and accounted for when the kids needed something.

We all have to do things in this family to contribute, which makes this agreement stronger by default. We also left the open room to re-negotiate after one week, which we now agreed was working well.

While many of the below rules are common sense, you have to write it down to make sure everyone understands, from limited time on iPads to school work to a proper bedtime routine to feeding pets, there has to be engaged action and reaction for each. Written apologies, actions versus words for good and bad things. All in there.

Mutual respect, everyone behaving better, and a strong contract still being followed is what we wanted, and slowly, it’s what we are getting.

And now, it sits in a public place (my kitchen) as a reminder of the agreement our family made to be better in all aspects of our life, and what consequences, both good and bad, will come of this contract.

I can’t recommend this enough for every family.

Promises

Photo Credit: wordsIseek.com

Back when my marriage was spiraling out of control towards the inevitable conclusion of divorce, I was having to justify my decision to end this union with all of my family, friends, and co-workers.

The unavoidable question would always start the conversations.

“Why did you do it?”

There were many reasons I tried to justify my actions, with these being the primary:

  • Sex was non-existent
  • We were two people running a business, not a marriage
  • No communication
  • Lack of understanding
  • Change averse
  • Staying married for the kids was toxic for said kids

But the biggest one, after 4 years of reflection of my decade long marriage, was one thing.

I didn’t keep my promise.

I had made a promise to my then girlfriend, future wife, and future ex on a cold day in Noblesville, IN at a Wal-Mart. And no, I didn’t propose to her there, or the marriage wouldn’t have lasted longer than Black Friday.

It was a serious conversation we were having about her father, who disappeared from her life for 5 years. She straight up told me about this rough time in her childhood, where she literally didn’t have a childhood because of a crazy ass mom and a dad who left her. She was essentially abandoned by her dad and in absolute disgust, her mom took her anger for her dad out on her, her sister, and her cousin. There they were, living together while their mothers did everything but raise them, and their father, at least for two of them, had essentially abandoned them.

She didn’t trust men, and why would she? Having that stuff happen made me realize that despite all of my parent’s issues, they stayed together, worked on stuff together, and truly loved each other. What compels a man to leave his family, even if he didn’t like his wife?

So there we were, on that day, talking about my commitment to her.

How I wouldn’t leave her….

How I wouldn’t run when the going got tough….

How I would be different than her father…

All because I wanted to make her happy.

I was keeping a promise because I thought that was what she wanted me to do. We had been dating for almost a year when this happened, and I wanted her to think I was different. I wasn’t. I failed.

A Choice

So, flash forward to the end of our marriage, my justifications for leaving, and my reaching for anything that would make this choice feel better.

There wasn’t a way to feel better, it just sucked. I had to go through two years of therapy to try and avoid the major issues confronting me and my marriage, and trying to find a way to keep my promise. I kept coming up short. I had written a check that was going to bounce. And it was past me’s fault.

I knew I’d be breaking my promise. It was all my fault for doing so.

I had told her that I wasn’t going anywhere, no matter what. I had made vows to the same commitment. I had reneged on my promise.

I hadn’t just broken it, I had shattered it, ran a lawn mower over it, and taken a sledge to the rest.

I’d made a promise to not leave her, no matter what, because I’d be proving her right, because men leave.

At every therapy session, at every discussion with my then wife, at every family function when asked “How are you guys doing?”, I had to think about my answer very carefully and lie to cover up the promise I made.

So here I was, breaking promises to family and friends to keep the promise I made to my wife. I had to miss events, I had to tell my friends I couldn’t hang out. I had to tell my co-workers they couldn’t count on me because my wife needed me to be there. And be there ALL THE TIME.

What promises are worth keeping? What promises are worth breaking?

NONE.

But what do you do when a promise you made is affecting your life so adversely that keeping it is destroying your soul?

What do you do when a promise you keep is keeping you from making other promises or worse, breaking promises to other people you love?

What the hell did I do? I was torn between a choice of the promise I made to my wife and promises I was breaking to everyone else, especially myself….

That was the reason I had to have two years of therapy to convince myself of the correct answer. No one was going to understand it except me, and even then, I would get backlash from all of the family and friends I was trying to protect by making this decision.

In other words, it was a shit sandwich with no choice but to take a bite.

When you make too many promises to too many people, you’re eventually going to be forced to break all of them….no matter the situation.

So I had some soul searching to do as I pondered my decision. I knew I needed to take my life back, because I had made a promise to myself to change, put myself back in charge of my life, stop doing things to make people happy and start doing things that made a difference in my own life.

And I knew, when I made this choice to leave my wife, EVERYONE was going to hate me for it. When you choose your own self interest after years of choosing everyone else’s, you’re bound to be on part of the journey alone because of all the hurt feelings. Once again, a shit sandwich….

So, I made my decision. And 4 months later, I was alone in a gigantic house, no furniture, going to my mother’s place for dinners, 40 year old grown man trying to get his life together. But I knew that my decision would have short term consequences, the long term of being able to look at myself in the mirror again was severely outweighing the short term stuff.

But I still couldn’t escape the fact that I broke my promise. I screwed up royally, and this break would affect me for the next 4 years, in all facets of my life.

Getting Passed It

My life was a mess, but it was at my own choosing. I’d much rather rebuild from the rubble into something I wanted versus trying to balance all the promises I made that I couldn’t keep. It was me trying to make myself happy versus trying to make the world happy.

I still had lit the fuse….and the shit had blown.

So, I continued therapy to make sense of the rubble and piece it back together into some semblance of order in my life.

I remember a night in particular, drunk off my ass, three days before my closing with a shit ton to do to the house, deeply in debt, depressed, suicidal, and having empty sex. I was stressed beyond belief, contemplating bankruptcy. It was then I was at rock bottom, and I saw me for who I really was. This was my decision, but this was what I needed in order to be who I wanted to be.

You always second guess decisions that are going to adversely affect your life as if they are even needed. You look back and wonder what you could’ve done differently, but as I stared at my drunken reflection in the mirror, I realized that the promise I broke freed me from a life that wasn’t real, that wasn’t me. And I needed to break the promise in order to get on with my life.

But I knew it was going to suck, and it sure did. But slowly, the rubble of the broken promise started taking shape into a life that I could actually have to make the promises I really wanted to make. The promises that I knew I could keep.

You can’t pick the promises you want to keep. You have to have the confidence to make a promise you’ll be sure to keep. Breaking promises is a serious issue and I, of all people, know the consequences of it.

You have to be able to understand that you make mistakes, that we all make promises sometimes that we shouldn’t, and we all do horrible things to ourselves in order to keep them, JUST TO MAKE ANOTHER PERSON HAPPY IN THE SHORTEST OF SHORT TERMS.

Promises are what you do for people, not how you feel for people. If you truly love someone, you won’t have to make a promise because your presence, your true self is enough for that person to know you are there for them. A promise is a task, not a goal.

But you still have to keep them. You still have to have your integrity. A promise is an extension of yourself to someone else. And if you can’t keep your word, you really don’t have much left to keep.

Which is why, 4 years later, after countless hours of guilt, shame, and perceived failure, I can finally make promises again, but I’m careful what I promise and who I promise to. You have to take what you can do very seriously because when people count on you, you have to come through for them for yourself, not for what they can give you. A promise is trust in yourself, what you can accomplish, and who can trust you.

Because if you can’t trust yourself, who the hell can you trust.

There Is No Chad

Chad Thundercock, the famed internet meme and PUA boogeyman for nearly 2 decades, has been the stuff of blue pill beta nightmares.

He’s the dude that makes all of your wives or girlfriends wet with just a single smile, the guy who lives in the gym and fucks your girl.

He’s the “dream” for any woman who’s looking for that quick score, the guy on Spring Break in Cancun who hosts the wet t-shirt party, the guy who smashes the beer can over his head, the guy with confidence for years.

Here’s the issue: He doesn’t exist. He’s a figment of an imagination of guys convinced that hypergamy is an immovable object and Chad is the unstoppable force. He’s painted as the main villain to guys who don’t do enough in their lives to lead their wives / girlfriends.

“Chad” lives in the minds of terrified men.

“It’s Not My Fault”

Men are lost in these troubled times.

But what’s worse, men aren’t taking responsibility for being lost. In our current climate where victimhood is rewarded with attention, men would rather blame some faceless meat head than admit they have work to do. They’d rather fire off the “hypergamy doesn’t care” trope than look at the dude in the mirror and realize that maybe, just maybe, he’s responsible for his own life, and not some steroid induced alpha trying to spread his seeds all over God’s green Earth.

I’m here to break it to you, guys. “Chad” doesn’t exist. He’s just a dude who outworkes, outshines, or out-talents you in a certain aspect of your life. That’s it.

Men, you have a responsibility to yourself to make strides and improvements in your life.

Nowadays, men instead settle for the fact that they must do things to gain intimacy with their wives, high fives for eating a whole pizza (I’ve been there), watching porn, cheering on other guys playing sports, playing video games, and generally not doing anything to improve themselves or their relationships with their significant others.

They allow themselves to get fat, destitute, and slovenly, as well as refuse to work towards any kind of self improvement.

So imagine their surprise when their girlfriend or wife sleeps with another man. Instead of facing the potential embarrassment of realizing the issue was possibly their fault, they rely on “Chad” in all of his perfection, to come to the rescue and keep their pride intact just enough to push off any doubts that he was the “loving husband” and supportive man.

“How dare she sleep with another man? She’s obviously letting her hypergamous nature off the leash and Chad Thundercock was the right man at the right time for her.”

See how it works? He’s let off the hook for his actions, and hers are absolutely abhorrent. “Chad” saves the day again, and saves the man’s face.

The cycle repeats. “Chad” is both a villain and a hero.

“It’s Hard to Take Responsibility for Yourself”

So why does “Chad” exist?

Because it’s hard to admit fault. It’s hard to take responsibility for shitty choices in life. It’s hard to get rid of destructive habits.

It’s hard.

People don’t want to accept they’ve made a mistake, especially men. It’s emasculating to men if their significant other cheats on them, especially with another man who they may deem “less” of a man than they are.

So “Chad” is invoked, and it makes men feel better.

“I couldn’t possibly competed with this dude, he was jacked, runs a million dollar business, has a nice car, etc.”

What they don’t want to admit is that their wife / girlfriend cheated with Rob in accounting or Dave who buses tables at the local pub.

The point?

“Chad” exists because men allow him to, rather than becoming their own version of “Chad”.

Self improvement is hard. I know. I’m living it. I make mistakes daily. I admit them and sack up and move on.

But is it so hard to try and make a better product for your wife or girlfriend so that “Chad”, evil “Chad”, doesn’t take her away from you?

Apparently, yes. Men no longer challenge themselves to be better, instead opting for victim hood and the prize of sympathy. “Chad” cures a lot of ills, especially any indication of a man’s lack of character, strength, sexual prowess, and leadership in a failed relationship.

Men don’t want to be seen as weak. We don’t like showing our deficits.

But here’s the thing.

If we’re going to grow up and get out of blaming “Chad” for everything, we need to start by owning it. Every fucking ounce.

“Kill Your Beta and Kill Your Chad”

Just like a blue pilled beta, the “Chad” crowd likens him to an untouchable man, someone so perfect that no one could compete. Six pack abs, football star, killer smile, the woman getter, etc. You have to kill the “Chad” fantasy. It doesn’t exist.

So what’s the quickest way to kill “Chad”? Well, start by acknowledging that he never existed, and that only you and your situation exist.

Acknowledging that you made mistakes and failed in your responsibility of a doomed relationship is the first step in getting rid of “Chad”.

Seeing your faults and weaknesses and working on them is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of growth and strength. Make this mindset the cornerstone of your new outlook, and Chad continues to fade away.

Look at ways your life is below average. Do a self evaluation about what happened to your relationship. The only thing you can control is how you act, react, and contribute. That’s it. What shortcomings did you have? Get them all out on the table and work on every last one of them.

Can’t talk to girls? Learn game.

Fat? Work out.

Crappy clothes? Style.

Carry yourself better, work to improve, and all of the sudden, “Chad” is gone and the real world “Chad” that is you emerges.

You’ve become “Chad”. What a fucking concept.

But you’ve got to want to do the work.

Most men wait out their self improvement phase until something bad happens in their life. Stop waiting.

The more you work, the less you’ll tend to blame “mysterious” outside forces beyond your control, “Chad” included. He’s not to blame. You are.

The red pill’s primary goal is to get men to take responsibility for their own lives, and stop living under the guise of not having control over yourself. “Chad”, just like being blue pilled, is another mechanism used to try and push blame away from ourselves and onto another entity. It shows that we lack control. It shows that we’ll gladly preempt responsibility for anything else. It shows laziness and lack of self esteem. It’s the easy route, it’s the comfort zone. That line of thinking sucks.

Blue pilled men who take the red pill try desperately to avoid the hard truth. And one of those hard truths is that you alone control your destiny, not imaginary dudes with a six pack. Your failures, your setbacks, your disappointments, your lack of control, your general lethargy to your own life are all yours.

Stop blaming “Chad”.

The Red Pill Dad Podcast – Episode 3 – Live from the Red Pill Brewery with Not So Special Guest Jack Gefferson

So I thought we’d have some fun and get away from the serious topics of the last two episodes, and so I went over to the Red Pill Brewery, connected to the Red Pill Dad Studios and had my good friend Jack Gefferson on for some beers and some man talk.

Completely unedited and unscripted (the “you know’s” fly fast and heavy from me), but it was a nice change of pace from the personal topics I’d covered in the past.

So pull up a chair, pop open a beer, and enjoy our discussion.

It’s 90 minutes you’ll love.

Beckett Discusses #1 – Getting Along With Your Ex in a Divorce

As most folks know, in a divorce, especially one that has kids, they suffer when both sides don’t get along.

Betrayal, hurt feelings, and resentment make for a bad time all around.

But as a man, you have to stow your feelings, and move on with the ultimate protection of the kids in mind.

I don’t care what she did. It’s immaterial now as you are getting divorced.

Your love is now dead, now your relationship is a ledger with credits and debits. Your contractual agreement now must be figured out.

And the best way to move forward for both parties, is to act like adults.

Men In Divorce

Source:  Armistead

This is Part 1 of my “Men In” series:

Marriage.  Man and woman, joined as one in the eyes of God.  In sickness and in health, ’til death do them part.    This was the way it was supposed to be.  Find a good woman, settle down, have kids, white picket fence, 50 year marriage.  
My, how times have changed.
Divorce rates, although down, are still hovering around 50% in the US.  Divorce is big business, funding family law offices, and financially stifling those unfortunate enough to be caught in it.  So what are the basics on divorce?
Divorce is a state level jurisdiction, which means the Federal Government never usually gets involved (it has only ever gotten involved in child support).  Almost all states have a form of what’s called a no-fault divorce system, which means one party can file for divorce at any time.  There used to be a “fault” divorce, premised on reasons for the divorce (abuse, adultery, etc.), but now it’s not really about the reason, it’s about the divorce.  There are really two main ways a divorce can go monetarily, and it depends on what state you got married in.
The first is called a “communal property” state, which splits the divorcing couples assets 50/50.  This is what Jeff Bezos will be going through in Washington.  There are other states that do what’s called an “equitable distribution”.  These laws take into account to what the state thinks each person is worth in the divorce.  It’s a misnomer as “equitable distribution” is not equal, it’s what’s “fair” as deemed by the state. 
As you can see, marriage has become less and less about love and companionship, and is exclusively a business transaction.  When the government became involved, the decline of marriage became inevitable, especially today, where family law, still antiquated and not updated in almost 40 years, savages people financially. 
I’m writing today to talk about men in divorce, and not just men, but men who actually take responsibility.  In many cases, these men are punished more than men who shirk their responsibilities.  Family law is so backwards these days, there are many examples of men being arrested for not paying child support for a child that isn’t even his.  Men can spend years in jail for being unable to pay alimony.  Custody of kids is skewed towards the woman, as men only received custody is 10-15% of cases.    
Men are hit harder by divorce.  Men are more likely to develop suicidal thoughts after divorce.  Men don’t have the social network that women have.  Men are the hopeless romantics.  Even in my personal experience of divorce, even when I initiated, I was devastated.  It was the most difficult time of my life, because I thought my marriage defined me.  It’s a blue pill norm that I couldn’t handle.  I’d lost myself.
 
However, my divorce was not typical.  It flew in the face of a lot of the norms, and I can confidently say that my divorce was very smooth.  I filed against my ex, and, by acting like mature adults, we had very little issue with the process.  We agreed on everything in principle, and with my job, I was lucky to be able to afford what was thrown at me.  We went through mediation, and never went to court.  My feeling was the money I was spending on lawyers could be better used by my kids.   
Child support in my state is figured with two factors in mind.  First, and most important, is time spent with the child.  The second, lesser figure, is income.  There are some states that factor income over time spent with the child, but the big picture for any state court is the child’s well being.  “Well being” is a broad definition in family court, so whatever the judge decides, is the law.
But for every example you give of a “deadbeat dad”, I can give you examples of men, who just want to be in their child’s lives, being victimized by a woman who knows there are times you can exploit the system, and it brings horrible tragedies to families already going through tough times.  While fathers not paying for their children is still a major problem, and with men still cheating more than women, family law has yet to address these new problems.  
The system is weaponized over hurt feelings.  This has to change.

“He’s Going to Pay for What He Did To Me.”

Women initiate divorce 69% of the time, according to a recent study by Stanford University.  The reasons are many behind the study, however, the study also recognizes that women have an easier time after divorce, because divorce, for many, is good for women.  Men who make more than their spouses have much more to lose.  With states that provide alimony, women have a base for which to grow economically, while men finance their endeavors, with jail time hovering over them if they don’t provide “an income for which she was accustomed to”.  The playing field is rigged much of the time, with the State becoming the de facto third parent, dolling out justice to those it feels have wronged the other party.  But it takes two to tango, and while we weep for those that feel they were wronged, both parties need to examine why divorces occur and if we need to re-examine the entire concept of marriage, much less why we get married in the first place.
With all the talk of gender equality, no where is gender more proportionally misrepresented than in the family courts.  We need to update family law, so all sides are more equitably represented and protected.  I’m all for women making more money than men, because then family law will have to contend with the fallout of traditional gender roles in marriage.  When you apply gender dynamics of the early 50’s to today’s family law decisions, it makes judge’s decisions that much easier (men work, women stay home).  But as we all know, it’s changed, and the system is hurting those it was designed to help.
As a man who constantly discusses divorce and what not to do, I always say that, especially in states without alimony, it’s child support, not spouse support.  I make sure to support my kids in every way possible.  I see fathers everyday who do the same thing, but are punished by a ex who uses the system to their advantage.  For every man cheating on his spouse, I have examples everyday of a woman cheating on her husband, claiming abuse where there wasn’t any, and ruining his life simply because she can, with the state as a willing accomplice. 
I have been soured on marriage.  I recommend to all of my readers to not get married.  Not even prenuptial agreements are safe for you.  Until you understand the consequences of marriage, you have to make sure you’re protected.  Always err on the side of caution, especially if you don’t know the whole story.
I lead with a story on divorce because when it all boils down, marriage and love are secondary to the very real effects that divorce has on a man’s life.  
If, and that’s a very big “if”, I get remarried, it will be with the express understanding of both parties of financial consequences and fallout from divorce.  It’s not about love anymore. 

Faith In Yourself

I sat up in bed, on a cold, snowy February night.  I had been unable to sleep for some time, tossing and turning in a sweaty mess.  It had to be tonight.  I couldn’t go on.  It was pitch black in the bedroom.  I turned on my night stand lamp.  My mouth dried as I tried to summon up enough saliva to begin talking.  This was going to be tough.
I was about to make the biggest decision of my life.  One that would change not only my life, but the lives of my kids.  I looked over and saw my wife sleeping.  It was time.  
“Hey, wake up.” I impatiently chortled.
“What do you want?” she sleepily asked.
“I’m done.  I done with all of this.  I want a divorce.” I said showing no emotion.
She gasped.  The blankets shuffled rapidly.
“What the hell do you mean?” she angrily asked.
“I said, I’m done.  I’ve had enough.  I need out of this marriage,” I said.
Questions followed.  Why?  How?  
Then the anger.  “I knew you’d do this.  I’m so angry at you.  Let’s just give up on marriage.  You’re hurting our children!  I should’ve left you long ago.  I’m not happy either.  You’re fucking selfish.”
Eventually, their came the inevitable bargaining and desperation.  “We need to go to counseling.”
But it was too late.   
I had really made the decision some 6 months ago, in a psychologist’s office.  I had been going to therapy for over a year.  I knew my life wasn’t going to get any better as a married man.  I needed to forge my own path.  I had never discovered who I was, only what I had to do in order to “be happy”.
Get married.  Have kids.  Get a good job that pays a lot.  Happiness will just come.  
Wrong.  
This is not correct.  
It took a decade for me to figure it out. 
So here I was, at the precipice of my own life, a life I had lived for everyone but myself. 
When you own misery in your marriage outweighs your fear of being alone (a fear that was completely unfounded, thanks red pill), you tend to take on a fight or flight mentality.  I flew.  
I had no idea what I was doing.  I hadn’t been single for a decade, and even then, I was a fresh faced beta male who was terrible with women.  And on top of all of this, I had two kids.  But I was determined to move forward.  Nothing could be worse than being unhappy in a loveless marriage.  
Dark times followed.  Divorce is not kind, especially to men.  It took a tremendous amount of money, time, and pain to take this path.  Being a single dad is horrible especially when everyone including the state is against you.  There are many laws that are completely unfair to divorced men, especially fathers who want to take care of their kids.  Deadbeat dads are a terrible problem, but when women have the overwhelming power of the state to debilitate a father on their word alone, men fear not only for their financial freedom, but the custody of their kids is at stake.
I was lucky.  I had an ex-wife who was willing to work with me as an adult.  It wasn’t easy, nor was it cheap.  Houses to fix up and sell, trying not to disrupt the lives of my kids.  This particular path was difficult, but not as bad as others that have traveled.

In that time, the thing that kept me going was the fact that I could do this.  I had faith in myself.  I had never experienced such a feeling when I was plugged in.  The system was set up for me to be a beta.  I had never been concerned with my own happiness, but the happiness of others.  And this is a recipe for failure.

So what did I learn?  I realized what red pills already know.

You are what stands between the live that’s chosen for you versus the life you choose.  As a red pill male, you have tremendous power over your own life.  That is the key to it all.  When you choose yourself over everything else, the gravitational forces shift from going away from you to coming toward you.

The best advice I can give to men going through this process is that through it all, you must have faith in yourself.  This provides you with a suit of armor that protects you from a cruel, unforgiving process that is divorce.  Regardless of your situation, self-empowerment can only help you navigate the new world.  Not only will you be better off, your kids will have more respect for someone who has not only fought for them, but more respect for someone who has fought for himself.