Tag Archives: Conquering Fear

The First Date

Here's to a good night.

Here’s to a good night.

I have a date tomorrow night. My first in eons.

We have dinner plans. Pretty old-fashioned. It’s a good restaurant, so the eating part will be pleasant no matter what.

But Matt!?!? Your first date?!?! I thought you said you went on dates with girls from Match.com!?!?”

Yeah, yeah. Online dating is bullshit. This is a real date. A person I met out in the world, then expressed interest in hanging out with some day, and was fortunate enough to have her reciprocate.

I know very little about her.

I know she’s pretty.

I know she’s about five or six years younger than me.

I know she just finalized her divorce about a month ago under circumstances very similar to mine.

I know she’s not a parent.

I was scared to tell her I was a dad. At least with online dating profiles all those “red flags” are just out there for people to accept or reject upfront.

In real life, you have to drop the hammer and wait for the reaction. My date knows I have a five-year-old son. And still she wants to go out.

So. Yay me.

The Floodgates of Fear

So, I’m afraid of a million things. At least.

Nothing petrifying. I’m not particularly nervous. She and I have already met and spoken for a half hour or so, and then again on the phone. So there isn’t that weird online-dating dynamic where you don’t really know what you’re walking into.

But I tend to over-think things. It’s kind of my modus operandi.

Do we talk about our divorces, since that’s what’s most in common and what’s most affecting our lives?

Do we ignore that topic to avoid discussing emotional and deeply personal things?

I don’t know.

But there really are a million things to be afraid if I allow myself to indulge the fears. Fears, both big and small.

Because I haven’t done this in about 14 years.

What if she doesn’t like me and never wants to see me again? Ouch.

What if she likes me and wants to see me again, but I don’t want to see her? I hate hurting people.

In the big picture, regardless of whoever I date seriously again, isn’t my next relationship doomed from the start? Isn’t your follow-up relationship to a marriage by definition a rebound? Don’t those always fail?

I think they pretty much always do.

I’m not just writing about my date tomorrow. I’m writing about any date. About any girl I meet from now until eternity.

What if I like her but we’re far apart philosophically?

What if she likes me but would make a lousy partner in caring for my son?

What if she finds out I write about my personal life and decides she could never be with someone who does that?

What if she likes me but then reads my spaz-fest writing here and decides she doesn’t?

What if she reads this post!?!?!?!?!?

State of Zen

None of that shit is going to happen.

Well, maybe some of it will. But who cares?

Maybe the world will end today.

Maybe I croak before I pick her up tomorrow.

Maybe we get salmonella poisoning from the food and end up in the hospital together and she falls in love with our doctor.

Maybe spacemen will beam me to another galaxy.

Being afraid of the unknown—while common and sort of standard operating procedure for me—is wasted energy.

When your entire life turns to shit, you toughen up in a hurry. I know I don’t always act like it, but I’m going to need you to trust me.

I’m now tougher than I have ever been.

I don’t know that I’ve been to hell and back, but I’ve been somewhere close. Hell’s suburbs, maybe. Everything’s really shitty there. I didn’t like it.

But it didn’t kill me.

And none of this is going to kill me, either.

I’m confident in ways I’ve never been before. I’m still insecure about my physical appearance sometimes. I don’t like that I don’t have washboard abs. I don’t like that my arms and back aren’t what I want them to be.

But mentally? Spiritually? Emotionally?

I’ve never been more put together than I am today. I’ve never been more confident in my ability to navigate personal waters with grace. With humor. With sensitivity. With wisdom.

Maybe after tomorrow night, she and I will never see each other again.

Or maybe we will.

I can’t control tomorrow.

I can’t control other people.

I can only control me.

So, I’ll smile. I’ll listen. I’ll care. I’ll feel.

I’ll be grateful for the moment.

The silver linings.

The opportunity to feel alive after all that time I felt like dying.

Because there can be no bad outcome as long as honesty exists.

And honestly?

I feel lucky.

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Follow the Yellow Brick Road

It might be long. There might be some scary shit along the way. Keep going anyway.

It might be long. There might be some scary shit along the way. Keep going anyway.

The words were piercing.

“I want to die—I can’t do this,” wrote the broken 26-year-old. The one with the cheating husband. The one who’s being abandoned. The one just trying to figure out how to breathe. How to pick herself up off the floor.

I don’t know this young lady. But I know what all of that feels like.

She writes:

“I gave him everything.

“I have nothing—I hate myself.

“I’m empty—I’m a shell.”

Attitudes are more important than facts. – Karl A. Menninger

Hopefully she doesn’t really want to die.

I certainly don’t want to die. But for the first time in my life, I can at least relate to the thought process.

Sometimes, something hurts enough where flipping the switch to the OFF position doesn’t seem like the worst idea.

But it’s cowardly. Selfish. Wasted thought.

It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, “Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Absence of Hope

People feel this all the time. Hopelessness. It’s heartbreaking.

Because that’s one of the things we need the most—hope. Hope is how you persevere. It’s how you (insert cliché metaphor here) climb the mountain, break through the wall, conquer fear.

Hope is why we wake up in the morning.

Hope that today can be better than yesterday. That tomorrow brings the promise of unlimited possibilities.

Hope is why we educate ourselves and our children.

Hope is why we pray.

Hope is why we go to work.

Hope is why we love.

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. And sings to the tune without words, and never stops at all. – Emily Dickinson

Motivational clichés are annoying. I know. But they’re clichés because they’re predominantly true.

When one door closes, another door opens.

When you get laid off from your job, you eventually get a new one. A better one.

When your spouse or partner leaves you, in theory, you eventually get a new one. A better one? I don’t know. But that’s my hope.

We build muscles by breaking them down.

We temper steel in fire.

Diamonds are formed under the Earth’s most-intense pressures.

If You Can’t Be Strong for You, Be Strong for Others

I don’t know much.

But I do know this: NOTHING eliminates fear, worry and stress in my own life quite like the news of someone else going through tragedy.

What were you worried about around 7:30 a.m. EST on Sept. 11, 2001?

What was bothering you on Dec. 26, 2004 when the tsunami hit the Indonesian coast?

How bad was your day last December when 20 beautiful children were fatally shot along with six teachers trying to protect them in Newtown, Conn.?

Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others. – Plato

People need you.

If everything’s great in your life, people need you. Help them.

If everything is total shit? People STILL need you. Help them.

Light Up the Darkness

You may not believe in fate. Or karma. Or that everything happens for a reason.

I don’t really know what I believe in that department. Nor do I particularly care.

I believe in math, though. In statistics. Are you getting spoon fed copious amounts of shit? Hang tight. Because good is coming to balance the math equation. To level the scale on the other side of the equals sign.

I also believe in being a good human being. In treating other people with kindness and compassion. With respect. With love in its most basic human form.

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves. – Thomas Edison

It’s how I’m going to beat this.

It’s how I’m going to keep breathing.

It’s how I’m going to experience the sweet taste of whatever good thing is coming down the pipeline for me.

It’s how I’m going to keep my head up.

It’s how I’m going to be strong for others even when I don’t feel strong for myself.

Because we have LOTS of takers in this world. Shit tons of them. And I don’t want to be one. And I don’t want you to be one.

Find a way to give more than you take.

To be a positive force in a sometimes cruel world.

To light up the darkness.

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