A year ago, I was crying at least once a week.
Drinking all the time, because distracted fun was the only way I knew how to not think about it.
Terrified, because I was online dating (even though I wasn’t ready) and no one was interested, confirming my worst fears of dying sad and alone.
Everything had been going according to plan for nearly 30 years.
Then fuck you, Matt, now you’re going to see how good you really had it.
I lost a job.
We lost her father.
Our marriage fell apart.
We spent more than a year sleeping in separate bedrooms.
And then everything inside me just broke.
Despite my parents’ divorce at a young age and being 500 miles away from one or the other every waking moment, and despite never having any money, it turns out I lived a VERY charmed life for my first three decades.
I had never experienced misery. True misery. You hear about broken hearts in books and movies and in whiny Facebook posts, but you don’t really know what that means until your insides break.
It’s spiritual, almost. And it pierces the soul. And there’s no medicine for the unreachable wound. You just sit there and bleed without the benefit of a merciful death. You simply hurt until you don’t anymore.
Everything in life had been going according to plan. Everything had happened, for the most part, exactly as I had mentally prepared for. I never knew failure until the job loss. And that’s a pleasure cruise compared to what happens when the person you love and trust the most checks out and decides life with someone else, or alone (doesn’t matter, so long as it’s not with you!) looks better than what they have now.
Life becomes a book full of empty pages needing written but you’re all out of ink.
I am so afraid of all the things I don’t know or understand. I am so afraid of all the questions I don’t have answers for. I used to believe that everything would always be okay, because for most of my life, everything always ended up okay.
But then something didn’t. Something didn’t end up okay. The most-important thing.
And now I don’t know that everything is going to be okay anymore.
And sooner or later, I need to learn that THAT’s going to have to be okay. That NO ONE knows how things will turn out.
And then maybe I can start filling those blank pages again instead of just rummaging around for ink.
A Year of Blogging
So far, the best thing to come out of my failed marriage is this.
That won’t seem silly to all of you who are writers, but may seem so to everyone else. Writers need to write. But I was never interested in writing for the sake of writing. I always believed it was important to have something to say.
Must Be This Tall To Ride gave me a platform for writing about things that mattered to me. A place to divulge all that human-being stuff stirring around inside. Stuff that had to come out because it was killing me all bottled up.
When you start writing stories about real-life stuff, things start to happen. People get it.
And then they realize they’re not alone. And they say “Thank you.”
And then you realize you’re not alone. And you thank them.
Then people are grateful.
And people feel connected.
And so much good can come from those things that the process bears repeating over and over and over again.
On June 21, 2013, I was drinking vodka, or tequila, or beer, or all three, and hit publish on a weird, rambling post. It was a process (minus the drinking, for the most part!) that would, for many months, become an addiction.
Writing about the things I was thinking and feeling and experiencing became more than just important for me. It became therapy. And I needed every bit of it. I probably need more.
People feel like me.
We’re not alone.
There aren’t a lot of feelings more helpful during difficult moments than the realization that other people know and understand your particular brand of misery.
We’re now one year in, and despite hitting that blue Publish button more than 300 times, I’m not sure I’ve found a groove. I’m not sure I know who I am or even who I want to be as a writer.
I want to help, but people don’t want to be preached to.
I want to be funny, but I’m sort of sad and borderline-pathetic half the time, and afraid you won’t laugh the other.
I want to document the journey because I think it’s important for people going through similar life events to see what happens and doesn’t happen to me because sometimes that helps people in their own lives, and I’m pretty sure it helps me.
I want to organize my thoughts and feelings and experiences as I try to make sense of this unexpected life.
Everything was going along as it was supposed to.
Right up until it wasn’t anymore.
I suspect that’s how everyone’s life is, and you just don’t know it until life starts firing shots your way for the first time.
Run for your life.
One year later, I still hurt and I’m still sad. But not nearly as much.
One year later, I’m still hopeful and I still believe good things are coming for me. I just don’t know what that might look or feel like or how to get there.
One year later, I still love writing. And now I have a place for that to happen.
I’m 35 years old and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
I’m a father to a six-year-old boy.
I’m afraid of all the uncertainty. I’m afraid because of money. I’m afraid because I don’t know what tomorrow looks like on every conceivable level.
But I’m a little bit strong, too.
Because I took the punch and got back up.
Because only shitty things seem to happen and I still have hope.
Because I look around and see a whole bunch of darkness.
And I intend to be a light.
Be one, too.