A Letter to My Ex-Wife

Jill,

I know this letter is a long time in the making. I know that I haven’t explained fully what I decided to file for divorce against you. I know that there are many unanswered questions. I’m hoping to help answer some of those in this letter. This is a letter explaining it all.

It explains why I left.

It explains what I’ve learned.

It explains what I now believe.

It explains my new life and your place in it.

Let’s begin.

When I woke up almost 5 years ago, on a cold February night, and told you I wanted a divorce, it wasn’t because of you. True, you had your faults, I won’t go into them in this letter, but I will at least give you one token.

The man you married wasn’t the man I am now.

You were sold a bill of goods that wasn’t what you signed up for.

The man you thought you married was a man created by all the people in my life. It was a fictitious character, one invented by family, friends, and acquaintances, a robot designed to be a happiness machine.

It wasn’t me. I was a timid yes man. Someone who was trying to gain approval from everyone by doing everything they wanted and nothing for himself. I was playing a role that was designated by my family as something that I “had” to do. Something I was “supposed” to be.

That man you married who was all smiles the day I said “I do” was not real. He was all parts of all people who he had determined was the best of all worlds. He was trying to put himself into a mold that would never fit him, all because he was trying to act out on the stage of life, starring as the happily married, oafish husband who was a good man and did what everyone told him.

You see, men like me have lost their way. My generation, including my countless friends and acquaintances, were told by the generation before us that we had to play this role. We were told to be family men. We were told to get a job, buy a car, have kids, have a wife, and live the white picket fence dream that they did. However, they aren’t living that dream either. It’s a farce.

Many want the dream. Many don’t. I wanted something more. I wanted “me” back.

We can be all these things, but if it’s not on our terms, then it isn’t real. We let others decide our paths in life, we don’t stand up and say “STOP!” as soon as possible. We are just herded into the life that others want.

5 years ago, I decided to say “STOP!”

This wasn’t the life I wanted. It was the life they wanted. It was the life you, my ex-wife wanted.

I failed you. I didn’t keep my promises. And I know that deeply hurt you. And for that, I am eternally sorry.

But that man that you saw on your wedding day wasn’t the real Tim. The real Tim had to emerge through 3 years of therapy. The real Tim wanted his life back because this wasn’t what he signed up for. This is what he was TOLD he was supposed to do.

And, rather than possibly let down all the people in my life, I played the role.

I played it so well, I forgot who the hell I was. I needed a jolt to get me back to my senses. All of this life was a lie and unfortunately, you were a part of it.

I’m not taking the fall for the bad marriage. I’m taking the fall for the man I was when we got married because he wasn’t real. Just like you have told me that the person I married wasn’t the real you, the same thing applies to me.

I’m not taking the fall for the sexlessness in our marriage. I’m taking the fall for the man who didn’t know shit about what he was doing.

I’m not taking the fall for the listlessness of our kids and our unhappiness. I’m taking the fall for not discovering who I really was sooner and being a real, unapologetic version of Tim Beckett.

You’ll read this and debate in your head what truly could’ve been if we’d both been the real versions of ourselves, I know. But we can’t change the past, so we must change our presents and forge ahead to a good future, knowing now that we have finally accepted who we really are and the fantastic relationship that has emerged from accepting this reality.

Our kids are happier, we are happier, our families have finally accepted our decisions and they are happier for us, regardless of their personal feelings.

I couldn’t have asked for a better co-parent. Instead of taking feelings of bitterness, anger, and resentment out of me and our kids, you instead took the whole thing in stride, decided to be an adult, and worked with me on raising two beautiful daughters. You’re an amazing mother and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

Photo credit: Verywell Family

I decided on that fateful February day to change my life because that life wasn’t mine. Nor was it yours. It was like a painting that everyone enjoyed except those that were in it. We were the picture of happiness but when life was applied to it, it was anything but happy.

So I broke us out. I did us a favor. Instead of a journey of unhappiness, depression, and the problems that would arise from it, I decided to take back control. In the short term, it promised some issues, but in the long term, as you have witnessed first-hand, it’s blossoming into an amazing situation.

Selfish? Probably. Thoughtless? Hardly. Three years of taking stock, thinking about the direction of my life, and the consequences of my actions boiled up inside me and blasted out on the cold, winter night. I know you didn’t understand it then.

I know you understand it now.

Many in our family were and now are supportive. Many aren’t. To those that aren’t, there’s a reason you aren’t apart of our lives anymore. You refused to accept the real me. You wanted me to be apart of your ideals. I refuse to live by anyone’s terms except my own.

And that’s where I am now, Jill. I’m living on my own. I’m living the life I want to live in. I’m creating great opportunities and decisions that I will own. They are mine.

You know now that instead of trying to lead a hapless family by default because I didn’t care, you now have a MAN, a LEADER, a DECISION MAKER, and a FATHER who loves his kids and will do anything for them.

You know now that you can count on me at any time to support you, whereas before you weren’t sure and doubted me all the time.

You know now my STRENGTH is unwavering. And you also know that I am taking good care of myself so that I will be there as a ROCK for as long as I can stand, walk, run, lift, and fight. My dying breath will be there as the foundation of this new family unit, not as the doting, do nothing complainer who never took action during our nuptials.

You know now that this Tim is the REAL, UNAPOLOGETIC Tim, one that makes the rules of his life, has boundaries, and does things not because of hopeful acceptance, but because he demands it of himself and chooses these paths for the betterment of himself and by association, his family.

You can’t pour from an empty cup. My cup is no longer empty. It contains ENERGY for years to help our family grow, sustain, and thrive.

So, enjoy the fruits of my acceptance of the real me. The real Tim will continue to provide and lead this family into the future. The past is in the past, my mistakes are mine and I own them. You may never own yours, but it doesn’t matter now. What matters is that we are both on the road that WE choose. Our paths now walk beside our kids in seeing them grow to be amazing, well-adjusted adults, all while making decisions based on what WE want in OUR lives.

The man you’ve met and who is proposing to you on your cruise is a good man. He’s an amazing father and Mike will be a great step-father to our kids. He’s become a great friend as well to me. I welcome him and his kids to our family with open arms. It takes all kinds to make a world, and we are a very special, very diverse family that I am proud to be associated with.

You are very special to me and you will always be a part of my life as the mother of my children. Know that I will be there to make sure they are LED by a masculine, strong, proud man who is honored to be their father.

I will always love you,

Tim

Bring It In

Photo Credit: LittleLeague.com

When I was a kid, I played a ton of sports including soccer, baseball, and football. And I’ve coached my fair share of sports with my two daughters. One of the things that you experience in these environments is the thrill of competition, the camaraderie of the team with its different strengths and weaknesses, as well as the personalities that permeate the team to try to make it a cohesive, successful unit.

Before and after each practice as well as before and after each game, I would remember the coaches yelling to all the kids “BRING IT IN” when they had something to discuss with the team. And as I grew into coaching my youngsters, I did the same thing. When you bring the team in, you have them huddle around you for some advice, some strategy, some wisdom, and some planning. Everyone on the team comes in close, watches the coach and listens. This is the main time that a coach truly bonds with his team as well as the time the team gets the coach to have a good discussion about why they’re all there, and what they all must do to succeed. Unless you’re coaching toddlers, then they are eating bugs, crying, or picking their noses. It’s really like herding cats.

The whole point of the gathering on the field, sidelines, or in the dugout, is to get the team focused, either assess or re-assess the situations and identify problems or issues during practice to work on, as well as getting all the team to understand concepts that they’re either to work on or did well.

It’s a tiny lecture hall outside that everyone can get on the same page, pull back from the action of practice to have an honest discussion about what worked, what didn’t, and how to move forward. It gives the team and coaches a chance to reflect on practice and games and what they did well, as well as what didn’t work. Each player takes time to assess their own strengths and weaknesses all while analyzing what takeaways there were from each play. What were the key plays? What hurt us? What helped us?

Today’s blog entry is about “Bringing It In”. What does it mean in context to you trying to get control of your life? Read on to understand.

Credit: soccertoday.com

Simplify, Don’t Overreach

So what does this have to do with life in general? Well, in my life, I had to assess my current situation. I was a mess. All over the place. Many things are unfinished not only in my home and my work but also in things that were undone in my side hustle. Podcasts, interviews, writing my book, I needed to focus. My finances were a mess as well. Everything wasn’t completed, laying about and I was flailing. So I decided to take control.

First were my finances. What are you paying for that you don’t necessarily need right now? Subscriptions that you have for stuff you don’t watch. Paying for games on your phone you don’t play. Services you don’t use.

Get rid of that stuff. Then, when you get your finances back, you can then truly identify good services versus bad. What are you using? What can you live without? There are short term cuts I made as well as long term cuts that will save me more money. My debit card got stolen so as I was looking at my figures, I truly realized it was death by 1000 cuts in terms of expenses. Strangely enough, thinking all of this clearing would be difficult, it only took a 20-minute assessment and a few phone calls and clicks of my mouse to be cleared of some much needed monthly revenue that I could use to pay my debt. Clear the clutter.

Then my job. So many unfollowed leads, so many unanswered emails, so many voicemails. Get to them all and get them out of the way. Then, when your phone rings, answer it. When you get an email, reply promptly. Get rid of all of your junk mail. Drop your to-do pile in the dust and fix the other piles on your desk. Clear the clutter.

Next was my home. So many projects undone, clothes piling up, dishes, errands that had to be run. I had drywall to repair, toilets to fix, lights to install, and other items. When I first moved in 4 years ago, I let the stuff sit while I hoped my life would get better. All of a sudden, one day, I decided to get up and get it done and my life, surprisingly enough, got better. Less to do when I got home meant more to do on things I loved. Clear the clutter.

My side hustle has been a mess. Keeping up on podcast episodes I didn’t feel were meeting the standards meant shutting it down to re-tool. I stopped writing for Youtube, Twitter and other aspects, when what I really needed to do what write and write a lot. I needed to clear my head and focus on what was really important to me, the written word. I have a book I’m working on, so I needed to drop back and punt on all the other crap I was trying to take care of. Clear the clutter.

Jordan Peterson’s first rule is “clean your room”, and it really hits home how much it really does help you clear not only the spaces in your life but also in your mind. It’s amazing how many things can get built up, not managed and can just flat out overwhelm you. Powerlessness is never a good feeling and if there is one thing I mention over and over again in my blogs and on my Twitter (@TW_Beckett) is that to truly start to improve your life, you need to have your finger on every button in it, watching it carefully and making sure you are making moves with nothing hindering you.

So I’m bringing it in. I’m hitting pause, stepping back, assessing my goals, strengths, and weaknesses and then moving forward in a direction that I know will be the most beneficial for me.

Always Be Recalibrating

Life can get out of control. You can spread yourself too thin. Your expenses get out of control. You have too much on your plate. Too many irons in the fire dulls the heat.

One thing that I was guilty of was always diving in headfirst before figuring out if this particular path would be a good idea and how would it be beneficial to me. As a recovering nice guy, I would plow forward to help people without regarding my own feelings. This was a recipe for disaster. I sometimes slip back into that thinking, but with my new conditioning, I tend to catch myself very quickly before falling back into old ways. But it still does happen. You have to always be recalibrating your life to make sure you are getting the most out of it and doing the most to try and improve it. The problem? Most men don’t do this and when something bad happens, they look around for organized mobility and get nothing but a crap sandwich. Don’t get caught with a mess on your hands.

As many of you know, my current life path reflects this blog and my thoughts are written down as quickly as I can get pen to paper. This was on my mind last night and this morning I have taken steps to unclutter my life and prepare for a better future.

Many men feel the task of cleaning up is so daunting that they leave the mess and you see it from the way they carry themselves to the way they work to the way they live. They are suffering from this heavy burden of not doing the work to get things cleaned up and it weighs them down. I know because I was one of those men. After things out of your control destroy your life, the only thing many men do is just look around, survey the damage and say “fuck it” and either move on or stay stuck. The men who prosper are those who refuse to let any setback define them. Clear the clutter.

Like a coach at the end of practice asks the players to “bring it in”, you must stop all the business and activity to assess your own life. Take all of it in. Remove that which weighs you down. Is this adding value to my life? Or is it an unnecessary burden? Addition by subtraction.

So get to work clearing the clutter of your own life.

And always stay vigilant to how you can continue to improve your life all while clearing the clutter and making moves to establish yourself.

It’s your life, clean it up.