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.

Beckett Drives # 13 – Online Safety and Responsible Social Media Use for Kids

As a father, I have a responsibility to protect my kids, not only in life, but online.

Monitoring and checking on their computer and social media use is an important part of any parent’s job to raise a child.

Don’t let your kids get involved in social media unless they know how to use it responsibly.

And always monitor what they’re doing online, because bad things happen, and the more you know what your kids are up to, the better position you’ll be to address these issues.

Fated To Be Fat

Credit: Gillette Venus

Earlier this week I was caught in the social media cross hairs a bit after a tweet I sent rubbed some folks the wrong way. As a person who has struggled with weight for most of his life, I wanted to make a statement that was a bold conveyance of what I’ve been exposed to in my quest to be healthy. Fat shaming.

This particular tweet was met with resistance from so called “fat acceptance advocates” who recoiled in disgust that fat people couldn’t be considered attractive. But, especially in my experiences, the above is true. But no one wants to talk about it. So let’s talk about it.

Obesity

Obesity stats are staggering in the United States. Nearly 66% of adults in the United States are overweight. That’s an increase of nearly 40% over the last 50 years. 70 million people (roughly 50/50 men/women) are obese, that’s about 20% of our population. 57 million adults are diagnosed as pre-diabetic, with 23 million now diabetic, and these numbers are predicted to go up as the health crisis of obesity affects more people. Life expectancy has gone down in large part to this epidemic. So what’s caused it?

With access to cheap, unhealthy food, and the severe lack of exercise and activity in children and adults in the United States, the problem only increases as we become more technologically savvy. These days, not only is the access to food easier, but you can now have it delivered. Cooking as a skill has vanished, and most folks eat out as in the early part of 2016, the food service industry reported nearly $750 billion in revenue.

Unhealthy foods are cheaper and access is easier than at any other time in history. This is fueling the fattening up of America, and my own experiences have helped to shape my views of this epidemic.

The Fat Pilled Dad

I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life.

When I started 6th grade, I was a whopping 220 lbs, but only 5’10”. I was bullied and harassed constantly as I also had ample man boobs. I was made fun of most every day, victimized simply because I was fat. I had the trifecta (fat, glasses, man boobs), so I wasn’t spared the punishments of bullies. This harassment then doubled in on itself, causing me to stress eat. It was a vicious cycle that many young Americans are going through now. I did, however, see a change as I started to get involved in sports and other activities in high school.

My sophomore year in high school, I shot up to 6″4, thereby making my fat disappear as it had more height to cover. I started to lean out as I continued to be involved in activities. This period in my life was my a good fitness time, where between high school and college, I was exercising pretty regularly. I played soccer, basketball, and racquetball, and was involved in marching band most of my high school career. I really started to see the benefits of exercise in this time, but my memory was short lived.

As I graduated high school and then college, I still had periods where I would be inactive and gain weight back. I would go between my target weight of 250 and back up to 280. I tried diets, and would again and again realize that my activity would seem to determine my weight loss. My senior year of college, I would leave class and do drive thru food everyday, sometimes eating 15-20 bucks worth of food. I didn’t go to the gym, and my inactivity was out kicking my caloric coverage. This yo-yo diet continued until my marriage in 2005.

After my marriage, the blue pilled beta took over and I ballooned to over 300 lbs. I would take down a large plate of nachos with ease, order 20-25 bucks worth of fast food, and continued my bad habits. My ex-wife didn’t like to cook, and although she was a dietitian, we would eat out at a record pace. My ex and I would have periods where we would get back into shape, doing Beachbody and getting back to the gym, but my diet would always hurt my progress. I flirted with 300 on several occasions after getting down to 270. Stress eating was the story of my life, with my sugar intake going crazy every time I was at work.

Then came my wake up call…

The Mortality Epiphany

I got the news one day at work.

A good friend of mine, a 40 year old divorced father of three, had suffered a massive heart attack, and died. Andy was a great guy, and this three kids lost an amazing person. He had just been through a terrible divorce after his wife cheated on him, and was engaged to another woman who we really didn’t support as his next wife. It connects that most men who are blue pilled suffer from obesity issues. But he was just trying to live his life and move on, start over. And just like that, he was gone.

I was in the middle of a separation with my wife, and at 39 years old, and as a father of two, I was shaken. This was a man who’d eaten about the same way I had, had also been a high school football star, and was very close to me in his life habits and experiences. This type of thing could happen to me. And where would my kids be? Where would this leave them?

This was officially the low point of my life. I tipped the scales at 305 lbs. and was in the midst of severe depression. My kids, upon hearing the news of my friend’s death, told me they were worried about me. They didn’t want their dad to end up in the same way. Nothing shocks a system more than listening your kids tell you that they’re worried about your health.

“Dad, we love you and we don’t want you to die.”

The Long Fight Back

So, I had to do something. Along with my kid’s concerns, my ex-wife’s insults of my weight, and even women I was trying to date commenting that “they don’t date or sleep with fat guys,” I knew what I had to do.

I’ve often extolled the benefits of therapy in my blog, and once again, I was helped in yet another way by it. One day, not long after my children expressed their concerns, my psychologist told me straight up, “You’re fat. you’ve been fat most of your life. Why don’t you change that?” I was speechless. I was being fat shamed by my doctor…

“The nerve”, I thought. But what could I do? He was correct. I needed to get this done and never look back. So on the eve on my 42nd birthday, at a bit over 295 lbs, I finally committed to my new life. I renewed my gym membership. I started walking during work. I turned down the donuts. I started cooking more. My meal preps would be legendary. More water was consumed. I started intermittent fasting. The weight started to come off. My clothes were fitting looser. I watched my pants size drop from 42 to 38. In a matter of 6 months, I dropped close to 30 lbs, and went from 40% body fat to 29.9%.

It was happening, finally. I was doing it.

My gym commitment jumped from cardio two times a week to 4-5 days a week strength training. My meal prep included less carbs, and more veggies and protein. I was learning. I was reading. I was doing it.

Today, I’m down to 265 lbs. I’ve lost 40 lbs, and 5 inches off my waist. I still have work to do, but I’m feeling the best I’ve ever felt. I’m in better shape than men 10 years younger than me.

I do a ton of body weight exercises, as well as squats and dead lifts. Strength training, meal prep, and intermittent fasting have been my go to’s. My goal is 250lbs and 15 – 18% body fat. And also the ability to be active with my kids, as well as inspire them to stay healthy. My poor relationship with food has been replaced by my kids and I cooking healthy meals together. They will respect the food they put in their body, as well as the importance of being active.

So back to the crux of this blog post. Fat shaming worked for me. It took everyone telling me they were concerned about my health, and several women I was interested in telling me straight up that they weren’t attracted to fat guys to get me to take action. The shaming felt bad enough to get me to make a change, finally, especially when I had a decent support system to do this.

I will say this. Every person out there who’s had a problem with weight their whole lives needs to see a therapist. Being fat is not only a physical problem, but it’s primarily a psychological one. Low self esteem fuels the collapse into terrible eating habits and lack of activity. So getting in to see a good shrink is paramount to starting your weight loss journey. I would also recommend a personal trainer who pushes you. People need to get out of their comfort zones, and with fat shaming, it really pushes people to take control and make progress. So yes, I’m saying that fat shaming is a good thing.

The Fat Acceptance Phenomenon

Credit: Cosmopolitan Magazine

Just like those who avoid asking a girl out due to their overwhelming fear of rejection, fat people have accepted that they’re fat while fearing the work and pain it takes to get themselves back into shape.

So, the relatively new Fat Acceptance movement has come about. A fear has promoted a movement, and it’s growing day by day. It’s also a symptom of the JBY (Just Be Yourself) movement, stifling other options for being a better person and getting active and fit. Now, just like feminism, it promotes an atmosphere of fat people as a minority status, even giving them protected minority status with the likes of LGBT movement.

Fat people should not be treated as a protected class. They aren’t. Fat acceptance is treating an obvious mental and physical health disorder as something that should be celebrated. Ill health should not be celebrated. It should be treated. So yes, I’m with the women who fat shamed me. It’s not attractive to be fat. It’s not sexy to be fat. Fatness is a turn off. And most importantly, it’s unhealthy. It’s not like being gay, lesbian, trans or a minority. It’s not a class of people. It’s a poor state of body and mind.

The newest reach of the fat acceptance genre is the “dad bod”. We’re told by countless magazines that the dad bod is in. It’s not. It’s still unhealthy, and in general experience, women want a six pack ab set over a dicky-doo any day.

So, America, you need to be fat shamed. I’m taking action to correct my lifelong issues with weight. I’m still working on it, but I know I’m going to get there. So start seeing your mental health professionals, set up a meeting with a personal trainer, and start eating like your life depends on it.

Because it does.

Panem et Circenses

Juvenal – Roman satirical poet
In Satire X, Juvenal laments about the days past of a strong, united Rome that took it’s civic duties seriously, fought for the empire, and represented the strength of their conquests.   Roman men fought in wars to expand their empire, participated in government, and gave all other civilizations pause as to the impressiveness of the Roman civilian / soldier / governmental representative.  
It was a time when honor, strength, and abilities of it’s subjects made Rome the greatest empire in history.  In fact, one of this blogger’s most admired men, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, a legendary figure who at one time abdicated absolute power, was a symbol of Roman manliness and virtue.  I recommend reading up on him…for there’s a reason a city in the US was named after him.
When Juvenal wrote about “bread and circuses” in the early days of the early 100’s A.D., he was in the midst of a period of incredible stability.  The period was known as “The Five Good Emperors”, was the longest, uninterrupted peace in the Roman Empire.  In fact, when Juvenal wrote Satire X, Trajan was just beginning the expansion of the Roman Empire to it’s largest extent, from Spain to the Arabian Sea.  
So what are “bread and circuses”?  It was a saying developed by Juvenal to describe the declining Roman citizen.  After years of taking up arms, the Romans had let others fight their wars, enslaved all they conquered, and had resorted to a life of sloth, greed, crapulence, and laziness.  They did not take pleasure in ruling, they took pleasures in eating, drinking, socializing, and enjoying their spoils.  Thus, the “bread and circuses” distinction was one of the Romans becoming mindless sheep, only interested in drinking, sexual experimentation, and who won the latest race at the Circus Maximus.  
So why do I do a blog about this topic?  What does this have to do with being Red Pill aware?
The term “plugged in” was obviously from The Matrix, a movie with so many comparisons to Ancient Rome.  We are in a plugged in environment, with social media dominating us everyday, our need to get validation from total strangers continues to grow.  We actually get a dopamine high from someone liking our posts, and just like a drug, we continue to post hoping that next comment, retweet, or like will go viral, making us popular with the human race.
As a blue pilled beta, my life was dominated by social media.  I followed thots (those hoes over there) on Instagram, hoping that my one comment would get their attention and they would DM me.  I posted on Facebook hoping for validation of my feelings, my aspirations, my desires.  I posted on Twitter and started internet fights with complete strangers, hoping someone would validate me and my opinion.
My screen time on social media as a blue pill exceeded 4 hours a day.  Always worried about who would like my post, always screening any notifications that someone liked my post.  I was a sheep.  I was more plugged in than I had ever been.

So if you’re immersed in the world of social media and not focusing on yourself, your goals, your dreams, and your ambition, you’re in effect enjoying “bread and circuses”.

You’re watching all the life around you while not working on yourself.  You’re sheep.

Source:  Gizmodo Australia

CUT IT OFF

So what to do? You cut if off.  I decided to distance myself from social media.  I deleted all apps.  I went dark on all platforms for almost 3 months.  It became necessary to focus all of my attention on myself.  I needed validation, but from me.  I became more self aware of what destructive habits I was involved in online.  I unfollowed the thots, some of whom wondered where I went.  
“Why aren’t you following me anymore?”  one asked.  
“Because, I need to follow myself.” I stated bluntly.
I didn’t need to waste time validating others or trying to validate myself in their eyes.

So, do it.  Uninstall Facebook, Instagram, Twitter…everything.  Until you are ready to use it in a manner that doesn’t require you to check it every 10 seconds for validation, it should be gone.  Don’t explain it to anyone either.  Say, “I needed my life back.”

So what were the results of this self imposed exile on social media?
I began to discover that the world around me was more than just fleeting internet dopamine gains.
I went to the gym, I read, I discovered.  I talked to people.  I hit on girls, I dated, I had amazing sex.
In short, I was living the life I was trying to portray to complete strangers on social media, except I wasn’t sharing it with any of them. 
After I had cut off social media, I wasn’t in any hurry to get back and show off my new life.  The only reasons, I figured, to get back on social media was to make money, help others, and teach men about what I had went through.  So I made a plan for when I actually got back on, and I haven’t wavered from it.  
I strongly recommend giving up social media to focus on yourself.  It will be tough, as those who relied on you to be their validation will come calling, wondering where you went.  And when they do, just say one thing.  
“I got a life.”

Dear Younger Self

Recently on my twitter feed, I had the opportunity to do a quick top ten list of things I would tell my younger self.  I was so proud of it, I have to post it here as well.  
While it doesn’t necessarily cover everything I would say, these points of emphasis are very important to not only older men going through a life reset, but also younger men in need of guidance.

And, also, unofficially,  the last bit of advice I can give, is LEARN.  Be willing to learn.  Don’t ever miss an opportunity to learn from those that have been there before you.  I continue to learn from all sorts of sources, and I won’t stop.  Absorb.  Grow.  Be the best man you can be.