Tag Archives: Self-confidence

Writing a Letter Won’t Convince Him to Stay, and Your Life Won’t Be Better if He Does

crumpled paper

(Image/Recycle Nation)

My heart was in the right place, but I think maybe I got it wrong when I tried to write a generic letter in response to the question: “What should I write in my letter to my husband to make him stay?”

It’s not a particularly popular blog post, but it gets read a lot because people frequently type variations of that question into Google.

The combination of fear and sadness we feel when our spouses shake the foundation of our lives with comments like “I don’t know if I love you anymore,” or when they actually pack bags and leave, is a feeling hard to describe.

Abandonment hurts, even when you deserve it, because at the time you’re feeling it, you probably haven’t figured out how much them wanting to leave makes sense.

I can’t fathom how it must feel to people like children, or to excellent spouses and parents who don’t deserve it at all.

So, a bunch of people are reading this silly letter I wrote every day, and one of two things are happening:

  1. Readers are dismissing it because it’s probably a little bit bullshit to many people, or
  2. They’re ACTUALLY sending some version of that letter to their partners, and it probably comes off inauthentic as hell, because unless someone thinks and feels exactly the same as I did in January 2015, sharing a letter written by the Then-Me WOULD be inauthentic.

And this is important: Fake, inauthentic shit never works for long.

‘But, Matt! I Really Don’t Want My Husband to Leave! What Should I Do?!’

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of publishing a Q&A with author Mark Manson the day of his second book launch.

In that post, my final question to him kind of, sort of tackled WHY a stranger could never write any sort of meaningful letter that would convince a husband intent on divorce that he should change his mind.

Here’s that exchange:

Matt: The No. 1 question I get is: “How can I get my husband to understand what you’ve written here? He never listens to me any time I say anything he perceives as critical.” I care about helping others, and I believe husbands actively listening to their wives (hearing her, I mean; not following her directives) would dramatically improve relationships/marriage. What advice would you give women on how to communicate concerns or dissatisfaction in ways men are more likely to truly listen to?

Mark: Questions like this are hard because they’re so person-dependent. It’s hard to say with certainty without knowing the couple. After all, maybe there’s something in the wife’s communication style that is preventing him from hearing her. Maybe the husband has some deep insecurity that is causing him to avoid dealing with the issue. It could be a million things.

But in general, the short answer, is that whenever someone in a relationship has problems with their partner, it always needs to be communicated in such a way that responsibility or blame for each person’s emotions are not shifted to the other. For instance, many people naturally approach their partner by saying something like, “You don’t care about me and make me feel horrible because all you want to do is X.” Because this is said in such a way that puts all of the responsibility on the partner, they will naturally become defensive or seek a way to avoid dealing with it. After all, I can’t control how my wife feels 24/7!

A much better way to communicate it is something like, “When you do X, it often causes me to think/feel badly because I feel unloved. Maybe that’s my own insecurity, but is there something we can do to make it better?” In this example, the person approaching their partner with the problem is owning their responsibility for their own feelings and reactions, and are looking to find some solution. There’s no blame or guilt-tripping going on. This is far more likely to be successful.

Then again, a lot of men are raised and socialized to be emotionally shut down and distant from pretty much everyone (but especially women), so it can be a much more long-term issue that may actually have little to do with the wife herself.

Idealism is Often Irrelevant in Real Life

Never lose yourself to keep someone else.

I have issues with idealism. Many of my beliefs, life philosophies and political opinions are rooted in an Ideal World.

I have a habit of forming my strong beliefs based on The Way Things Should Be (which yes, is subjective). I sometimes describe common marriage scenarios that I believe most people can relate to, and sometimes I frame them as Husbands Often Do This, and Wives Often Do That. The Mars/Venus stuff. Sometimes people get offended by that.

I do it because I believe it’s pragmatic. Because EVEN IF things ideally shouldn’t be described in terms of gender differences, I believe in Real Life, explaining it that way allows MOST people to relate to it. I think it’s likely the most-helpful way to explain relationship conflict to the regular guys and couples out there like me trying to keep their families together.

The IDEAL way would be to promote gender equality across the board, because it’s something I believe strongly in. Without all of the people who protested my word choices and story framing, I would have never come to believe what a powerful force I believe Accidental Sexism to be in the destruction of modern male-female relationships.

Ideally, you could write a letter to a husband saying all of the “right” things about why the couple is always having the same fight, and why it’s HIGHLY ILLOGICAL to leave a marriage over most common relationship problems to go be with someone else because hedonic adaptation GUARANTEES many or all of the same relationship problems will crop up with them too.

But the world is not ideal. Not even close.

I have no idea what kind of men these women are with. While I will never advocate divorce, I think it’s safe to say that at least some percentage of women are married to men they SHOULD NOT be married to.

In real life, people are broken.

I don’t want to write letters that might convince a dangerous someone to stay, or that might reinforce feelings of inadequacy within a wife desperately craving her husband’s approval.

Listen up, ladies: You might be messing a few things up, just like every other human in world history, but you don’t need to sacrifice your identity to appease some guy intent on abandoning you or your family without cause.

Either: A. You’re an obviously horrible spouse, and a very healthy, intelligent person is wisely moving on, or B. You’re experiencing the injustice of a man refusing to fulfill the vow he made to you.

And in either case, my personal goal is not to write some crap letter that can’t possibly mean much to guys on the brink of ending their marriages.

My personal goal is to encourage you to look at the mirror and not see the distorted image your broken insides trick your mind into seeing, but the human being—the most wondrous and miraculous thing the world has ever seen—who possesses the freedom and capability to wake up every day and choose to be whoever you want to be.

No one gets to decide who you are. But people will try.

And it doesn’t matter that you and I have never met for me to know this about you:

You’re already tall enough.

It takes a long time to see it. Like some dusty old antique or oil painting, it isn’t always obvious to us how much something’s worth.

But once you figure it out, you get to start feeling proud of it. You get to appreciate and value it. It gives you balance. Strength. Courage.

When you have those, you don’t plead with other people to choose you. Because YOU get to choose yourself.

People who don’t choose you back aren’t welcome in your life anyway.

So, “What should I write in my letter to my husband to make him stay?”

Maybe instead of writing that letter, you can begin the work of loving yourself as much as you deserve.

Get that part right and I’m pretty sure the rest takes care of itself.

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How to Be a Man

Like this. Only metaphorically.

Like this. Only metaphorically.

I’m going to turn 35 in 2014. Just a few short months from now.

My life is not what I thought it would be.

But, to borrow a phrase from a wonderful song: Tell me when it ever really is.

I have no choice but to deal in reality.

I’m trapped firmly in the middle class, with just enough money to almost keep up the appearances of moderate success, but not have the financial resources to truly live.

I’m an office drone with about five bosses. I live in the suburbs. I have a five-year-old son who is my top priority.

But I can’t be a good father to him if I can’t even like and respect myself.

And to like and respect myself, I need to live with purpose.

I need to be progressing mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I need to be progressing in my career—whether it be within the ranks of the corporate world or finding the mettle to strike off on my own.

I need to be progressing in my human relationships. After a 12-year relationship with my ex-wife, I can’t get it out of my head that I want more of that.

Even if casual was my thing, I suck at attracting women like that. I’m not sure who the girl on the couch with me on a Friday night, or on my arm at a Saturday night party, or who I see first thing in the morning is supposed to be. But I’m looking forward to meeting her.

She’s looking for a man.

What does that mean? To be a man?

The Guide to Being a Man 

GSElevator—a blog operated by Goldman Sachs—published recently a guide to being a man in 2013. It’s clearly geared toward New York City Guy, not Suburban Ohio Guy.

Even though places like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, etc., have the highest concentration of people, there are still more of us out here in the middle than in all of those places.

So, let’s borrow from the smart guys at Goldman Sachs. And lets toss in a little Random Ohio Guy opinion, too.

As always, your criticism and suggestions are welcome.

Things to do:

Learn how to cook.

For yourself. But mostly for her. I once read a hilarious blogger write that he once overheard a girl say: “A guy who’s hot in the kitchen is hot in the bedroom,” and he’s been honing his culinary skills ever since. I cook because I love cooking. If women like it, too? Bonus dot com.

When in doubt, always kiss the girl.

Cheating and bad breath (always carry gum or mints!) aside, of course. If you’re wondering whether you should, try. Be courageous. Worst-case scenario, she pulls away. The results are the same as you never trying at all.

Act like you’ve been there before.

No matter where you are. Exhibit class. Graciousness. Confidence.

Be spontaneous.

Don’t shirk critical responsibilities. But ALWAYS seek unexpected adventures—big or small.

Never be fatter than you were at 30.

And if you were heavy then, do something about it. Living longer is almost always better than the alternative.

Measure yourself only against your previous self.

You can’t be as tall as him. You can’t be as smart as him. You can’t be as funny as him. You can’t be in as good of shape as him. You can’t be as rich as him. What you can do is walk taller, read books, be yourself, work out, and always be growing professionally.

Buy the drinks. Buy the dinners.

I know it’s almost 2014. I don’t care. Be a gentleman.

If you are wittier than you are handsome, avoid loud bars.

If you’re going to charm her with words, it’s not going to be while drunkenly yelling into her ear.

Never take an ex back. She tried to do better and is settling with you.

Ouch.

Read more.

All great ideas are born from other great ideas masterfully mixed with your own.

Things to avoid:

Wearing ear muffs.

Do not wear ear muffs. Or mittens. Ever.

Talking about where you went to college.

No one cares. I have four words for you: Google. Scholar. Is. Free.

Having more than one girlfriend.

One’s enough. If you want a new one, let the first one go. Be a player if you must. Just be an honest one.

Driving a compact car that isn’t really fast.

Your Yaris isn’t cool. I’m sorry. Neither is your Smart car with the Rudolph nose and antlers.

That final round before closing time.

You’ve had enough. You’re wasting money, brain-power and sexual functionality.

Saying your clothes match.

They do not. They go together. Look the part.

Dating your friend’s ex.

Just don’t.

Saying no to fun because it might shave years off the end of your life (smoking aside).

It’s not stupid to sacrifice part of your 80s and 90s in exchange for guaranteed fun now. We are not promised tomorrow.

As a divorced father, the cause I’ve grown to care about more than any other is wanting to help families stay together. The ripple effects of broken homes and divorce are great.

Above all else, being a man is putting your wife and family’s needs ahead of your own.

Every day. Like a soldier. Words like duty. Like honor. Like code. Can apply to your marriage and parenting, too.

So, when you’re reading those books, take time to learn how to be the best husband and father you can be also.

Because that’s how you help change the world.

That’s how to be a man.

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The Writing Itch and a Love Song for One

I've got the itch.

I’ve got the itch.

I woke up today and thought to myself for the first time in my entire life: I can write a book.

I’m not saying anyone will read it.

I’m not saying it will be good.

I’m not saying I have any good ideas. I don’t.

However, I can write a book.

I believe that because of what I’ve been able to do here. It’s a productivity thing. I’ve been averaging north of 1,000 words a day for close to a half year. You can fill a couple books with that many words.

There are people in this world—amazing, creative people—who splatter good ideas all over the place. These are how successful businesses are made. How great movies and television shows are made. How the most delicious food is made. And how the best books are written.

They start with ideas.

And that’s kind of a problem, because…

I Never Have Good Ideas

Case in point: My 10-year career as a newspaper reporter prior to my layoff in late 2009.

I could write a decent story when news was happening. Piece of cake. Event X happens. I write about it.

Same’s true of this blog, really. Some life event happens. I write about it.

Easy. Don’t have to think about it. Just tell you what happened and how I feel about it.

With the news, I just had to tell you what happened.

But some days, I had to come up with “enterprise” stories. That means, I have to dig. Find an angle on some random thing and manufacture a good story out of it. Those were my most-challenging days.

The same is true here with my daily blogging efforts. If I don’t have something specific to report on, I have to come up with some enterprise idea. I try to resort to what’s top of mind, when in doubt. To document the journey as best I can. And this is what I’m thinking about.

I Want to Love Myself Again

I stood in the shower first thing this morning. Hot water stinging my neck.

I thought about something I read before bed last night about how a man changed his life by making “I love myself” a personal mantra. By truly learning to love himself again after the rigors of adult life had stolen his innocence.

And then I got to thinking about how shitty I feel sometimes. About how I felt awesome as a kid. Every day. Even with my parents divorced. Even being alone a lot.

I felt great. I was sad when people died. I was sad when one of my best friends moved away. I was sad when I had to say goodbye to my dad after summer and winter visits. But I was also resilient. Bounced back quick.

I smiled. I was positive. I was kind. I was friendly. I loved.

I loved my family. I loved my friends. I loved myself.

Then adulthood hits. Christmas stops being magical. No one cares about your birthday. You lose touch with all your friends. You don’t go to huge parties with a hundred people anymore. You don’t get the same attention from the opposite sex that you used to. Your hopes and dreams begin to die as you watch other people achieve things and wonder what they have that you don’t.

You make bad choices.

The sins pile up.

Your insides get poisoned.

And then you frown a little more. You laugh a little less.

You darken. On the inside.

I’ve spent most of my adulthood believing this phenomenon happens because we have the wool pulled over our eyes as children. We’re innocent. We don’t know how ugly the world can be. Most of us—the really fortunate ones—don’t experience extreme tragedy and hardship as children. Those moments tend not to arise until we’re wading through adulthood. We thought we’d have life figured out once we got here.

Then we arrived. And we feel less ready than ever. Less confident than ever. More unsure than ever.

The clock ticks a little bit louder now.

Tick, tick, tick.

The bottom of the hourglass constantly filling, reminding us that time isn’t on our side.

Then we feel sad.

Angry.

Depressed.

Lonely.

Unfulfilled.

We search for meaning.

Believers ask: Why me, God?

Some believers stop believing because of this. Why have you forsaken me? I guess you’re not really there at all.

Non-believers say: I told you so. Nothing matters.

Some of us die hopeless and alone.

But not all of us.

Because maybe I’ve been thinking about this all wrong. Maybe the wool wasn’t pulled over my eyes.

Maybe I just really loved myself as a child. Respected myself. Took care of myself.

I chose good over bad. I was physically fit. I got plenty of sleep.

I had friends. I felt purpose going to school. I had goals and hopes and dreams.

But mostly, I had love.

Meant to Be More

I think I stopped loving myself after my layoff.

When I would lay around all day, unshaven in sweats and a t-shirt watching TV with my two-year-old son at home while my wife went to work.

It was a new kind of worthlessness.

I don’t remember how long my wife put up with me, but I should be grateful for whatever amount of time she did.

How could I expect her to love and respect me when I didn’t even love and respect myself?

I came close to getting it back.

In 2011, I started eating right and working out every day. I lost 30 pounds and became physically stronger than I’d ever been before. People would always compliment me when they saw me. That’s always an amazing feeling.

My confidence soared.

I was offered and accepted a job in June 2011, right around my son’s third birthday. I was now making significantly more money than I’d ever made before, plus I had income from my freelance writing business.

I thought I’d finally beat back my demons at that point. Everything felt really good. Back on track.

And then in October, just a few months later, the bottom fell out again when my father-in-law died suddenly. We had dinner with him. He was the same amazing guy and grandfather he always was. Then we left. And got a phone call the next night.

Then my life spiraled out of control.

I lost everything that mattered to me when my wife walked out the door on April 1 of this year.

I fell hard. And I’m still on the floor. I just fake not being there sometimes.

And I was reading that book last night before falling asleep. I love myself. I love myself. I love myself, the guy repeated over and over and over again.

He faked it for a while.

But then the message finally started to sink in.

I love myself.

He started to believe it, because we can trick our brains.

I love myself.

Then he started living like he loved himself.

Took care of his body. Took care of his mind. Took care of his soul.

Because he loved himself. Genuinely.

And then everything changed.

He felt happy again. That really pure happiness we feel as children. Not fake happy. Not drunk happy. Not drugs happy. Not sex happy. Not money happy.

Real happy. And then all the other pieces of his life fell into place, too.

This idea makes sense to me. You say we can’t go back? We can’t have what we lost?

Maybe we can. I’ve never bothered to ask. I’ve never bothered to try.

What if life didn’t ruin us? What if we just stopped loving ourselves the way we did when innocence was all we knew?

And what if starting again is how we get to where we want to go?

Can’t hurt to try.

It’s okay if it feels corny. It’s okay if it feels fake. It’s okay if we don’t believe it.

Because if we just say it enough times, we’ll start to believe it: I love myself.

An Idea Machine

That’s what I want to be. A guy who has ideas. So I can write something that matters.

And to have ideas, I need energy. And to have energy, I need to feel good. And to feel good, I need to love myself.

I like the hot shower first thing in the morning. Some of my best thinking happens there.

I want to work out. I want to look and feel good.

I want to be good even when no one’s watching.

I want to be a better friend, father, son, grandson.

I want to be financially responsible.

And then.

I want to write a book.

I’ve always wanted to write a book. For many years, my ultimate fantasy was to sit in a movie theater watching a film based on something I’d written.

As I aged, becoming more interested in the things that make human beings do human-being things, I began to gravitate more toward non-fiction.

I like simple stories. Few characters. Emotional heartache. Forbidden lust. Poisoned hearts. Ruined lives. Healing and forgiveness. Redemption. Or stories of greed. Deceit. Or simple comedy.

I like complex stories. An EMP attack. The world goes dark. Society breaks down. It’s everyone for themselves. What’s a husband, wife and two kids to do? When the cops don’t come. When there’s no more grocery store. Or pharmacy. Or hospital. Or military defense. Or anything.

I like ongoing stories. Like great television shows or novels with reoccurring characters.

I like books that offer solutions to problems. Books that help human beings become better versions of themselves.

I need to pick one and try. Because I finally believe I can do it. And that’s a big step.

But first I need energy.

Physical fitness. Spiritual wellness. Reduced stress.

And I’ll get that by treating myself with the love and respect I feel for those who matter most.

I love myself.

I want to take risks.

Take my shot.

Choose myself.

Because I miss that happy kid from all my old photos.

And I intend to find him.

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Mr. Balls Proves Anything is Possible

Mr. Balls. An actual, real thing.

Mr. Balls. An actual, real thing.

If anyone ever tells you that you can’t do or be anything you want, you now have irrefutable proof they are wrong.

It’s a message of hope from Brazil.

And because of its existence—its simple purity—I can no longer doubt that ANYTHING is possible.

You want to be president of your country? It’s possible.

You want to move things with your mind? It’s possible.

You want to be a movie star? It’s possible.

In fact, after seeing something so unlikely, so impossible, I’m beginning to think my hopes and dreams are likely to happen.

And now, you can too.

Oi, Senhor Testiculo

Meet Mr. Balls.

His mission: To raise awareness about the dangers of testicular cancer.

His appearance: Tall, dark and handsome. A friendly face. Plump cheeks. Nice dental work. Covered in pubic hair. Clearly doesn’t manscape.

His existence: Improbable. Yet, real.

He’s the mascot for the Associação de Assistência às Pessoas com Câncer in Brazil.

“Both children and adults love taking pictures” with Mr. Balls, the AAPEC website said.

So, to recap: Mr. Balls is a massive, friendly faced, pube-covered, glistening ball sack to whom children are encouraged to nestle up next to for photo ops.

This is real, ladies and gentlemen.

This gargantuan, smiling, two-toothed, Portuguese-speaking scrotum man exists. A marketing team thought it up. Spent money creating it. And now it’s a thing.

Not only is it a thing, it has been so effective in raising awareness for testicular cancer (and for being a huge, noteworthy hairy man bag) that some random guy in Ohio found out about it and is sharing it with even more people.

Mr. Balls is a champion for hope. Hope that we can prevent, treat and perhaps one day cure testicular cancer. And hope that there is no dream too far-fetched to be realized.

Dream Big

One of my friends says this a lot. She has it tattooed on her wrist in her father’s handwriting, because it’s something he always said to her.

Dream. Big.

Nothing can stop you. Nothing.

“Mr. Balls!?!? Are you freaking shitting me right now with this!?!?!” the executive director of the Brazilian non-profit organization MUST have said in Portuguese when first presented with this idea.

But then some earnest little marketing person stood up to her or him, saying: “Yes. Mr. Balls. Because he’s the hero testicular cancer deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

“And so we’ll exploit him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not a hero. He’s a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A massive, hairy ball sack.”

And then the executive director shed a tear.

“My great uncle Gustavo had testicular cancer. And maybe Mr. Balls could have saved him,” she/he said. “Let’s do it.”

And now at public events, parents are snapping photos of their children hugging a walking set of huge, unshaven testicles.

It defies every bit of logic I possess.

It is almost, literally, inexplicable that Mr. Balls walks this Earth.

Yet, he does.

A smiling mascot. That looks like this.

I still can't believe this. If this can be real, then there is truly no stopping me. I can do ANYTHING. And so can you.

I still can’t believe this. If this can be real, then there is truly no stopping me. I can do ANYTHING. And so can you.

Doesn’t this mean anything is possible?

Doesn’t this inspire you and give you endless optimism about life’s possibilities moving forward?

If Mr. Balls can be a thing—a real thing—posing in children’s photos. Doesn’t that mean the sky’s the limit?

That I can make all the money I ever need from writing?

That I can find Mind-Body-Spirit balance once again?

That you can do anything your mind can dream up?

I say yes.

Mr. Balls says yes.

And now it’s time for you to look in the mirror, and say “Yes,” too.

Because I believe in us.

Today, we spell hope: B-A-L-L-S.

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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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The Underdog

Rocky. Great underdog. Eye. Of. The. Tiger. I got it. You just don't know it.

Rocky. Great underdog. Eye. Of. The. Tiger. I got it. You just don’t know it.

I have to set the record straight.

Because a lot of people seem to think I’m this big mess of self-doubt with no self-confidence.

It became clear yesterday when the author of Broken American Dream Diaries wrote the following to me:

“Dude, you might need to do some dating affirmations because only women in similarly desperate situations (moi!) find such a lack of confidence endearing.

“Say this in the mirror 10 times every morning:

“I am fuckable.

“I am cute.

“I will get laid.

“I am attractive to others.

“Etc.”

I smiled. She’s just looking out for me and offering some practical advice I already know to be true. Please visit her blog if you’re interested in good, honest writing.

Women have always and will always be attracted to confidence.

Well, hold onto your vaginas ladies because I’ve got some news for you: I am totally confident. About a great many things. Most things, in fact.

Dear female readers: Don’t be alarmed by all the blood rushing to your privates. That’s just you thinking: Whoa. I KNEW I wanted to bang that guy!

David and Goliath

Who doesn’t like a good underdog story?

People who suck, that’s who.

Everyone else likes them. Especially me.

Always have. Always will.

You like Mario? I like Luigi.

You like Mickey? I like Donald.

You like Ferris? I like Cameron.

I loved it when Napoleon Dynamite danced. And maybe even found a girlfriend in the end.

I loved it when Rocky took out Ivan Drago in Rocky IV.

I loved it when Rudy got that sack for the Notre Dame football team against impossible odds.

I love underdogs.

I root for underdogs.

And I love to be the underdog.

The Art of Self-Deprecation

I can’t decide whether I’m really good, or really bad, at self-deprecation.

It’s just my shtick.

There’s probably some beautiful sweet spot between humble and cocky where we’re supposed to live.

But because I think humility is such a wonderful human characteristic, and cockiness, such a shitty one, I err on the side of self-deprecation.

And if that makes me come off whiny and unattractive sometimes, so be it. Because I’d much rather be that than vomiting cocksure self-puffery all the time and leading people to believe I think I’m better than others.

Because I most certainly do not.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t think I’m kind of awesome.

Because… (*lowers voice to a whisper*)… I am kind of awesome.

Don’t tell anyone.

My I-Don’t-Suck Affirmations

I like who I am.

And I’m smart enough to try to change the things about myself I don’t like. I will always look for opportunities to grow in that way.

But today, we shine light on my positives:

I am kind.

I am. On the inside. I feel empathy for others. I want to help people. I don’t want to be mean, ever. I’m sensitive about people’s feelings and work hard to be someone who lifts people up and not someone who tears people down. This is not something I earned or worked for. I have always felt this way about people. I was blessed to grow up surrounded by a lot of loving and caring people. That, combined with my genetic code, yielded me. A pretty nice guy. Probably nicer than average. And I would not trade my propensity for kindness for any other human trait. I don’t know if I want anything for my son more than I want him to display kindness to others. I think it’s fundamental to succeeding in life.

I am smart.

Not like Harvard smart. And not like old-grandfather wise. But I’m relatively good at figuring things out. Being smart is important. Being smart keeps me from hating that gorgeous young woman who was crowned Miss America because she’s of Indian descent. Being smart allows me to string grammatically correct sentences together. And read stuff. Being smart allows me to think critically, ask good questions and draw fair and reasonable conclusions. These are important things.

I am funny-ish.

Humor is relative. My ex-wife thought I was less funny than most other people do. I’m rarely the funniest guy in the room. But I’m almost never the biggest stick in the mud, either. If 10 is some super-funny person, like Will Ferrell or Daniel Tosh or Louis CK, and 1 is some humorless lump—like, say a ham radio enthusiast or Dane Cook—I’m probably like a 7 or 7.5, depending on my alcohol intake and the number of kids present.

I have values.

I’m not good all the time. I’m cross-the-line flirty. I like drinking more than most productive and successful human beings. If my job didn’t randomly drug test, I’d probably smoke pot once in a while. But I also have a moral code, and for the most part, I stand by it. I believe in my God. I aspire to Christian principles, which I like to break down into three simple steps: 1. Love people. 2. Give more than you take. 3. Don’t be a dick. I think having some level of baseline values is important.

I’m good in the kitchen.

And I don’t just mean when I’m licking chocolate syrup off my dinner date. I very much enjoy food. There was a long time in my youth when I wanted to go to culinary school and be a chef. But I decided it would be hard to have a family working 70-hour weeks, and being absent every Friday and Saturday on the busy restaurant nights. Glad that decision worked out so well! In the meantime, I very much enjoy preparing meals for friends. And I’m pretty good at it, too. Reason #162 on the Why Dating Matt Is A Good Idea list, is that you definitely want me bringing you omelets and French toast in bed before you orgasm for the second time that morning. Which brings us to…

I am unselfish (in the bedroom).

Because I’m a person, I’m totally selfish about lots of things. Everybody is. But you know what I’m really good at? Not being a selfish douchebag in the bedroom. I take immense pleasure from the person I’m with enjoying herself. I love making people feel good by saying something nice to them, or helping them with something they’re working on. Multiply that times 69 for how much I enjoy making a girl feel in the bedroom. I’m no Adonis. I am not God’s gift to women, physically. But for the women who deem me physically attractive enough to de-robe, I am a viable bedroom partner. And by viable, I mean totally rad.

The Not-So Grand Finale

You get the idea.

I can sit around all day long and tell you nice things about myself. I was raised by wonderful people. I’m God-fearing and aspire to love everyone—literally everyone. That automatically makes me easier to get along with than about 70 percent of the world’s population.

I’ve spent my entire life having very positive feedback from people.

When I was young, my friends’ parents always liked me because I was polite and respectful.

When I was in college, most people liked me because I went out of my way to introduce everyone I could to everyone else. And I was almost never a dick.

When I was a newspaper reporter, sources liked me because I never burnt anyone. And even when I wrote something they didn’t like, it was always based in fact and completely on the up and up.

People tend to like me at business networking events.

People tend to like me at parties.

People tend to like me at work.

I have an entire lifetime of people responding to me mostly in positive ways.

I am kind. Friendly. Respectful. Polite. Well-mannered. Thoughtful. And fun-loving.

There are only four kinds of people in this world who don’t like me:

1. My ex-wife

2. Terrorists

3. Girls on Match.com

4. Dicks

Are we all good now? Are you convinced that I like myself?

May I go back to cracking on myself and whining about stuff?

Cool.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled program of me not being tall enough…

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I May Have Serious Issues

My face cut doesn't look awesome and badass like Bruce Lee's. It looks stupid and weaksauce.

My face cut doesn’t look awesome and badass like Bruce Lee’s. It looks stupid and weaksauce.

I have a small cut on my right cheek due to a shaving accident yesterday morning that I may let affect my entire weekend.

While it represents the worst cut of my shaving career, in the grand scheme of wounds, it’s not exactly a conversation piece.

Might be a centimeter wide. Like this freaking guy. Whatever.

It took me 90 minutes to stop the bleeding yesterday. I actually came in late to work because of it. At least three co-workers gave me shit about it.

However, when I look in the mirror, it’s the only thing I see. Like when you have a large blemish. Or a small coffee stain on your shirt.

My brain is savvy enough to understand that most people aren’t really paying attention to it. But it’s not savvy enough to not care.

When God was handing out I-don’t-give-a-fuck genes, He gave my share to someone else. Someone who is probably living in Turks and Caicos earning 20 percent on self-made millions and drinking fine tequila every day like a boss. Or my wife’s boyfriend. One of the two.

The Thought Process

I totally care about shit like this. All the time.

I’m not Men’s Health-cover hard bodied like I want to be. So I talk about being fat, even though I’m not really fat.

I’m not 6’2” like I want to be. So I talk about being short, even though I’m not THAT short.

My house isn’t 5,000 square feet with an in-ground pool and theater room like what I want to live in. So I talk about it being old, humble and shitty, even though it really is a decent and pleasant home.

My car isn’t a fully restored and resto-modded 1961 Chevy Impala like I want to drive. So I talk about how shitty my Pontiac Grand Prix is, even though there’s plenty of shittier cars on the road.

When I’m embarrassed about something, I call attention to it. I want everyone to know that I know I have some personal defect, or that some room in my house is cluttered, or that my grass needs mowed, or that my car needs washed. I want everyone to know that I’m not oblivious. That I’m totally self-aware. As if it’s going to excuse the thing I’m embarrassed about, when every wise person knows you should either NOT be embarrassed, or fix whatever condition is embarrassing you.

The Decision

So, as many of you know, I’m trying to get back in the game. I’m dating and look forward to new opportunities to meet women as they arise.

Tonight was supposed to be another great opportunity. We have an Italian Festival in the town I live in. It will be going on all weekend. That means the downtown bars will be packed. And since my son is with his mom, this is exactly the type of situation I’ve been trying to take advantage of.

Additionally, I promised you more courage—that I would introduce myself to strangers when I want to meet them and trust that rejection won’t be as bad as my mind predicts it will be, and being conscious of the fact that the rewards of being bold could be great.

But I have this damn cut on my face. It’s not like I got it taking out some ninja assassin. I cut it shaving. Like an asshole.

How can I act confident and be myself when I don’t feel confident?

“Hi, I’m Matt. Sorry about this big cut on my face. For the purposes of this conversation, try to imagine me cut-free like I am most of the time. Thanks. Oh, and also pretend I’m not a total freaking spaz,” is what I’d want to say.

Because of a one-centimeter-length cut on my cheek, I may skip going out and having fun tonight with friends and girls I might want to meet.

What if my friends ask why I’m staying home? Do I tell them the truth? Or do I make something up?

Despite my strong desire to always be honest, this falls within the realm of “little white lies.”

And I don’t really have a problem with little white lies because they’re the ones you tell when you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. So, I do that sometimes.

A girl I know said staying home because of this cut is stupid. That I should go out and make up a rad story about how I got it.

“Make up a total badass story about the gash,” she said. “GO OUT. Nothing happens to those who choose to stay in. The Domino’s delivery girl will not be the woman of your dreams.”

  1. I don’t want to lie about the gash. That wouldn’t be a white lie. That would be a regular lie.
  2. I would never order Domino’s. I’m kind of a food snob. Even with pizza.

I’m not sure what the right play is here.

Go out with the cut and feel self conscious all night until I drink enough to not care?

Or stay in and use some early morning responsibilities tomorrow as a cover for my chicken-shit decision?

Jury’s still out.

Hi. My name’s Matt. Nice to meet you. I make bad decisions.

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