My Testosterone Journey

I am on steroids. Really. I mean, if you want to be scientific about it… that’s exactly what I and millions of other men in the world are taking on a regular basis. Steroids. Yes, it’s perfectly legal.

To be fair, I’m not on a “cycle” or a “stack” of anabolic drugs that work to make me as strong and muscular as possible.

I am a “hormone replacement” patient. Or on “hormone optimization“… or “testosterone replacement therapy (TRT)“… or whatever else you want to call it.

Twice a week, I inject Testosterone Cypionate into my buttocks. I also take HCG to keep my balls alive (another injection), and Arimidex (a pill) to keep my estrogen from getting out of control and causing me to grow breasts and cry uncontrollably (read up on aromitization of testosterone). I’ve been doing this for over four years now.

Why do I do this? Good question. Let’s look at a very brief version of DSO’s hormonal history and see if this rings true with any of you.

My Teens:

Puberty hit me HARD and early. I started shaving at the age of 11. This was probably also due in large part to my swarthy southern European background.  I started working out around the age of 15 and realized I could stay lean and put on muscle pretty easily.  I was very active. Lots of basketball. We lifted weights in the off-season for “conditioning” and I was the number one lifter in terms of weights AND repetitions (granted, all of the football players weren’t part of the conditioning program). I was a stud. I sucked at basketball, but I could make weights go up and down really well.

I have no past blood test results to back it up… but I’d say I had an abundance of testosterone at this time. Maybe more than the average kid. My libido at this time was, understandably, off the charts.

After high school I went to college and continued lifting weights. I worked out regularly with some college football players as well as steroid-taking competitive bodybuilders. What I learned from this brief time period:

  1. Wow, these guys look like cartoon characters. They are very open about their drug taking. It’s way more common that I thought.
  2. The dumb musclehead stereotype exists for a reason.

I continued lifting weights and never dipped into the world of steroids.. I was strictly a “eat right and work hard” kinda guy. Because of this, my physique never went beyond “In pretty good shape” levels of development. You could tell I worked out… but nothing that said “bodybuilder” by any means.

During this time I was very much a go-getter. Hard-working in the classroom plus several jobs at the same time. It was a tough grind. It exhausts me to look back on that time, but I did it with ease. I ended up at a pretty nice job with the university my senior year and that led to a really great job waiting for me for a large Fortune 50 company right out of college.

I had drive. I had energy.

My Twenties:

I left school and entered the workforce and quickly found a gym in my new city. I lifted and played a lot of basketball with coworkers. I kept in really good shape. I was also pretty successfull, career-wise. Upward trajectory. I was all about self-improvement at this point in my life. Always hanging out with friends. Starting a family wasn’t on my mind. Wife was there… but I was still very much my own person and so was she. This worked out well for us both.

More drive. More energy.

Then It Happened:

Life. Age. Kids. Stress. Job changes. Money problems.

Kids. Especially the kids… they took the biggest toll on me. It was as if human nature said “Hey, you won’t be needing this body for anything anymore!” and sapped me of my inner drive. The gym went bye-bye. Energy: GONE. My sense of well being went south. I was a mess. This happened over a period of several years.

Divorce. The whole world I knew crumbled. Time for self-discovery and reinvention. Time to get back to the guy I was before the big change.

I hit the gym again and ate right. Not much is happening, really. I don’t like what I see in the mirror. I read up on ways to improve and keep coming back to articles about the supposed epidemic of low testosterone amongst men. I read more and more and end up getting a blood test that confirmed my testosterone was low and my estrogen was a bit higher than normal range. All this stress and kids and father time has turned me into a woman. Nice.

Hello Testosterone:

My research leads me to a clinic that specializes in hormone therapy for men and women. They are pretty liberal with their dosaging (especially when compared to endocrinologists or GP’s), but they do a good job of drawing blood every 8 weeks, looking at my symptoms and adjusting dosages accordingly.

My Results:

Physical –

  • Lower bodyfat
  • Muscles look fuller
  • Strength up
  • Faster workout recovery. Could lift weights every day and still feel good.
  • Certain muscle groups get noticeably larger than others. Traps and deltoids, especially.
  • More vascularity.
  • Skin really oily. Some acne on back and shoulders.
  • Testicles smaller.
  • Fingernails growing faster.
  • Hair growing faster.
  • At first, sleep was worse. Then, back to normal.
  • SWEATING. I wake up a smelly, sweaty mess every morning. After working out, it looks like I jumped into a pool.
  • Blood pressure remains at a healthy level and has never gone up.
  • Red blood cell count went up slightly, but never beyond “normal range”.
  • Lipid profile improved.
  • PSA (prostate) numbers have never gone up.
  • Zero sperm count – confirmed by semenalysis (testosterone could be sold as birth control for men)

Mental –

  • Anxiety way down.
  • Confidence up.
  • Less patient.
  • More dominant in bed.
  • More stoic about things I have no control over.
  • 18 year old boy libido. Constantly checking out every female within 100 yards of me.
  • Less tolerant of weakness, especially in men.
  • Much higher energy.
  • More drive to improve and do SOMETHING productive with my time (I started a website, created a podcast, wrote a book… all while working my real job, raising three kids, taking care of a house, travelling, dating and working out regularly).

So, overall… sounds pretty good. Just more MANLY in general.

Then I had to go OFF of the testosterone temporarily.

When you cease testosterone, you don’t just go right back to “normal” levels. You go WAY down and then eventually things even out and you go back to your baseline levels. Some drugs can help with this “recovery” period.

My overall drive and oomph were gone. Like somebody turned the lights off.

Libido way down… but still there with some direct stimulation. More of a milder REACTIVE libido rather than the normal “ready to go at any time” level of horniness. I still recognized that my wife was hot and I wanted her.. but I wouldn’t feel bad if she said  “Not tonight honey“.  Thankfully, my penis still worked. No “erectile dysfuntion”.

Mentally, I wasn’t clicking. Words weren’t coming to me. I wasn’t mentally in the “zone” I was in before. Almost like a fog was constantly in my head. This surprised me the most.

Just overall… I was a lazy fuck.

Gotta fold laundry, unload dishwasher, help out with homework and go take the boys the basketball?  The chores can wait until tomorrow. “Testosterone me” would knock those chores out in 20 minutes. “Low testosterone me” dreads the work and puts it off until tomorrow.

High testosterone me only watched a select few television shows with the wife. Low testosterone me would planted on the couch and watching whatever… just to pass the time.

I’m more reserved and introverted when off. Happy to stay at home and do nothing. I’m not necessarily super outgoing extroverted guy on testosterone, but I’m open to hanging out with anyone, going out for drinks and will actively seek out new experiences and adventures. Not so much when off of the juice.

Physically, my muscles were deflated. I noticed it most in my arms and shoulders. My upper chest development disappeared. Strength down. Joints started hurting. My cardio endurance did not seem to be affected.

Going on Testosterone Made Me Look at the Nature/Nuture Argument Differently.

All it took was the injection of one chemical into my system.. and I was a different human being. Seriously, it was that drastic for me. I was back to the old me I had long forgotten about. Is the level of one hormone really THAT important and crucial to your overall sense of well being?

Yep.

When I talk to guys and they tell me about them being in their 30’s and 40’s, out of shape, no drive, everything looks grim, etc… the first words out of my mouth are “Have you had your hormones tested?” With most men, they just dismiss the idea immediately. No, they’re not some dumb musclehead moron… and they’re not even going to go down the road of putting stuff into their body.

Meanwhile they drink beer, eat pizza, eat cookies, take ibuprofen like it’s candy, and never get up from the couch.

Makes sense.

Women have been altering their hormonal balance for many years.

For decades now, women have been able to pop pills or have hormonal devices implanted that drastically alter their hormonal makeup. All of this is done in an effort to allow them to have sex without fear of getting pregnant. These drugs can have HUGE number of side effects… some as mild as weight gain and irritability, some as drastic as suicidal ideation and complete loss of libido.

Any woman can walk into a clinic and say “I want to go on the pill”, and around zero percent of docs will say “Are you sure? There are some very real negative side effects with these drugs.” Nope. Instead, they will say “Well, you have the pill, depo shot, implants, the ring, etc… which one do you want?

Hormonal manipulation in the woman’s world is empowering. It gives them control over a body that, in their mind, everyone from their spouse to the government seems to want to exert control over. For once THEY get to decide when to get pregnant and if/when to have a period. They get complete control over their own hormonal balance and are given many tools to do so.

For men, going to the doc and asking to boost your testosterone is instantly met with scorn. “WHY?! You’re heathly. A testosterone level of 200 is now normal. You’ll just increase your risk of prostate cancer (wrong) and heart disease (wrong).

More often than not, you will be immediately dismissed. The doctor will spit back at you antiquated “facts” about your health risk and shame you for even trying to be some kind of Superman.

Dude… you’re a typical boring dad. It happens. Stop with this midlife crisis B.S.

YOU: “But, I feel like total shit. I have all of the symptoms of low testosterone. My levels are 275… and they should be around 700 – 800 for a healthy guy. I’ve done lots of reading on the subject. I eat right and workout and still feel like shit.

DOC: “No,  levels that high aren’t necessarily healthy. That will put you at risk for all kinds of problems. Sounds like you may be depressed. I can put you on a script for Prozac if you’d like to give that a shot for a few months.”

“No testosterone for you. You’re fine. Take this happy pill if you want. Go away. I have 34 other patients to see today.”

So why the stigma against Testosterone?

Well, I think there’s a deeply ingrained thought process in the mind of society: “Know your role“. In other words “If you need this stuff to feel good and be more manly, then we don’t want you taking it. We need to know who the real men are… not you imposters.” It’s the same reason why people hate the pickup artist type of guys. They’re not naturals. They’re just nerds who learned some simple phychological tricks of persuasion. They’re cheating.

By taking hormones, you’re cheating, too. A woman is looking for a true all-around good man to settle down with. Society needs to know which men they can depend on to keep the machine running.  Once you inject the man-juice, you’re putting on the Superman costume… but one or two missed injections and the world quickly learns what your cryptonite is.

“Wait… so you’re not really the tough, no-nonsense, handsome stoic guy who really fills out a shirt and bangs me like a Viking warrior 10 times a week!?”

People want the natural. If that’s not you… that’s perfectly ok. That’s why we have stay-at-home dads and computer programmers (sorry, guys). Everyone has their role. Just don’t fuck things up and come over to this side of the table. Stay over there.

“But, women fake it all the time!” Yep. They sure do. They slather on makeup to make themselves look younger. Tights to smooth out their cellulite.  Hair coloring to cover the greys. They shave a few years of age off their online dating profile. They take the total number of men they’ve slept with and divide by three. Being disengenuous in the mating game is the realm of women. It’s up to men to figure out the real from the fake (who are we kidding, with think with our penises and get fooled all the time).

Everyone is cool with this. It’s just part of the game.

Is there a danger to taking testosterone?

Absolutely. Remember the estrogen side effects I mentioned at the beginning? That’s for real. You absolutely can grow breasts, get hyper-emotional, increase anxiety and increase your risk of heart disease … but these are all from the ESTROGEN your body will produce to counter-balance all of the testosterone now in your system. This process is called “aromitization”. There are ways to combat it, of course. Drugs like arimidex, for one. Staying very lean, for another (fatter people have more aromatase in their system). Not taking too much testosterone, for another. The ideal situation is to dial in the amount of testosterone just right (not too much and not too little) and get your body lean enough so that you don’t need an aromatase inhibitor.

Every body is different, of course. Some men can take gargantuan amounts of several different steroids and never have an issue. Other men, like myself, can just look at a vial of testosterone and our nipples start itching.

Want to improve yourself? You may NEED testosterone.

For all of the people yelling at you to “just do it!” and “Man up!”,  you may have every reason to say “I can’t.” Take a man with testosterone levels of 100, and he will feel every bit like the 90 year old man his blood work says he is. A guy who has to psyche himself up to go check the mail is not a guy who you just say “Go to the gym. Lift. Gain 20 pounds of muscle to. That won’t work. At all.

If your foundation is weak, no amount of mental and physical work will do the trick. You gotta get the basics down first.

Testosterone is the most basic component of all.

At least get it checked out. You may be surprised.

You can’t trust yourself. Take time to heal.

While I was married to my first wife,  I used to cherish the rare moments I would get alone. During those quiet moments, I was able to re-calibrate and get a sense of self that I couldn’t have with three screaming kids, a nagging wife and all that work. A day to just sit… and do NOTHING? Awesome. Thank God.

 

It wasn’t until my “married life” reality was taken away that I realized how conditioned I had become. While I may have been alone and enjoying peace and quiet for a day, I always had the crutch and foundation of family and marriage to lean on.

Divorce peeled the scab back and exposed wounds that I never knew I had.

After the ex left, “What do I do now?!” was never in my vocabulary. I just turned into a post-divorce robot dad and was moving on auto-pilot. I was king of the to-do lists… and three kids made sure those lists were always full. Finding something to DO was not an issue. After a while, I would say my behavior bordered on “obsessive”. Lots and lots of cleaning. Lots of organizing. Trying to create order out of chaos. Avoiding the hard stuff. Avoiding the truth.

I had my fingers in my ears and yelled “LALALALALA!! NOT LISTENING!” as the harsh reality of my world was hiting me upside the head. As long as I stay in my little enclosure, I didn’t have to deal with it.

In hindsight, I would say I was suffering from some post-traumatic stress. I am stopping short of calling it full-fledged PTSD, because I think we should reserve that diagnosis for guys that experience combat, death and truly malevolent human behavior firsthand.

My wife just got caught fucking another guy and divorced me. In the grand scheme of things, that’s peanuts.

But still…. traumatic in its own way.

Divorce is what the kids call a huge “mind fuck”. Reality altering. For me it was so very sudden. One moment I’m boring dad on the beach with my aging nag of a wife and our three energetic kids… and the next moment I’m alone in a house looking at online dating sites drooling over 20 year olds. I had put myself into that “dating” world with the same obsessiveness and tunnel-vision that I applied to house cleaning and organizing the kids’ lives.

Fingers still in ears. Making order out of chaos.

Looking back, there is one overwhelming question that comes to mind when thinking of my immediate post-divorce self:

“WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?!”

I can now, after years of contemplation and hindsight, answer that question.

I wasn’t THINKING. I was FEELING. I was “broken” in every sense of the word. The brain was randomly firing, looking for a fix, and I was acting out.

I just wanted to feel good. I wanted some kind of justice.

Hmmmm… maybe if I assemble a group of young, horny 20-something sex-addicted college co-ed commandos to carry out a raid and murder my ex and her affair partner.”

When I get messages from guys, you can always tell the ones that are new to the game. They don’t even have to tell me all the details. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that their behavior is strange and emotion-driven, and they are ALMOST completely blind to it.

Every situation is different but still the same.  For some guys, it takes just a few months of hell and the fog clears and they are back on the path of normalcy. For others, it may take years. They keep living in denial and kick the can down the road again, and again, and again.

They are too scared to face the truth.

I remember a guy I met at the gym years ago. I don’t remember how we got to chatting, but we worked out together once. Really good guy. He’s what I would call a naturally good-looking dude. Tall. In really good shape. Still young. A little stand-offish. Not the most confident man in the world. He, his wife and two kids just moved into town from out of state. He worked IT for one of the local companies.

After that one workout day and a few messages here and there, he disappeared. I found out later that he ended up moving to a neighboring state to be closer to her family (that sounds familiar).

Then outta the blue, years later and about a year after my own divorce, we started chatting on Facebook. His life had changed dramatically. The wife went crazy, took out lines of credit in his name, racked up debt …AND she cheated on him. Very typical borderline personality behavior. He had admitted to having numerous warning signs/red flags throughout their relationship. He ignored for the greater good of the family…. and now he was paying the price.

She was moving in with her new guy. He was fighting for custody of the kids. He eventually ended up getting full custody due to all her issues and the identitity theft.

A story like that wasn’t anywhere close to being new and shocking to me. I had already heard from a dozen other guys just like him by that time… and had also read countless stories just like his online.

What WAS new to me was seeing his immediate post-divorce/infidelity behavior. It was, I would say, a little concerning.

He had drafted a very long and detailed letter that he insisted on giving his ex-wife’s new boyfriend. He just HAD to warn him about her and her BPD ways. He must save this man and get back at her!

This was Nice Guy “save the world” behavior, plus a need for justice and revenge. Not good.

I told him he was asking for trouble. The letter will just kick a hornet’s nest. He was in the middle of trying to get custody of his kids and sue the ex for stealing his identity. Reaching out to her new boyfriend was not a good idea.

He vehemently disagreed. We went back and forth on this for quite a while.

I never did find out what happened with that letter… maybe he gave it to the guy and the ex-wife never found out about it (he is still alive, after all). Maybe he came to his senses and realized that nobody gives a shit and he needs to move on to more important things in life.

Regardless, the strange behavior continued.

Next thing you know, he is posting videos of himself online, shirtless, singing songs he wrote. From what little I knew of him, he wasn’t really the “look at me, I’m shirtless and asking for attention” kinda guy. He was a wallflower when I met him.

Then he wrote strange poetry and shared it with everyone.

Then he started frequently posting photos of himself and his kids on Facebook. He did this every day. Multiple times a day. He needed to remind everyone “I’m the good parent here! Look, no wife in the picture!”

  • Petty revenge behavior
  • Posting photos and videos for attention
  • Patting himself on the back about what a great parent he is
  • Denial of reality

Hmmmm… Almost sounds like typical divorced single mom behavior. But I digress…

It was all just very odd. He was mentally broken.

He was looking for attention. Admiration. He was looking for confirmation that that he WAS doing everything by the book his whole life and that SHE was batshit crazy.

“Would somebody PLEASE recognize how great I fucking am, already!?!” 

Nobody gave a shit.

The truth was that he was on his own. He’s always been on his own. The wife was not his, it was just his turn.

The truth was that in his 30 some odd years on the planet he never put the hard work and time in that he needed to develop his SELF. It finally caught up to him.

He was dependant on a severely broken woman to give him a sense of completion. With her out of the picture, he went off the rails.

I see this more often than I would like.

Maybe not “take your shirt off and sing for Facebook” levels of weird, but I see very emotional and irrational behavior from guys out there ALL the time.

The timeline is usually like this:

  1. I’m so devastated. This is terrible. How could she do this? I don’t understand. I did everything right (lots of crazy behavior here).
  2. I really need to focus on getting better. I can’t go on like this. I’m a mess. (more crazy behavior but the fog is beginning to lift)
  3. I realize I have some deep issues that have caused bad things to happen to me over the years. That eventually led to where I am today. It’s sad, but I’m glad I have the clarification now. It’s all uphill from here! (the fog continues to lift)
  4. Oh, look! A woman! She likes me! I’ll proceed to ignore everything I just learned because she makes me feel REALLY good right now! Yay! It’s almost as if all that bad stuff never happened! What’s that? A red flag? BAH! It’s nothing. I can’t always walk away from this relationship if I have to. I mean… I’m not marrying this woman tomorrow or anything! (back to crazy town)
  5. I would totally marry this woman tomorrow if I had the chance. Jesus, she’s perfect in every way. How did I get so lucky? I’m going to bend over backwards to keep her around (he’s deep in crazy at this point).
  6. Oh. Never mind. It’s over. Fuck. What was I thinking?? Ok… where was I with this self-improvement thing again? (fog lifting again)

It’s on step 4 that they usually stop talking to me (too busy with their new girl.. and they’re ashamed)… and step 6 is when they come back with their tail between their legs.

100% of men I talk to jump into relationships too soon. 100% of them wish they would have waited a while longer.

Jumping into a relationship too soon is a sign of being broken. A rational person sits back and recognizes their need for help. A rational person realizes that bringing other human beings into their broken world will not end well. It’s not fair to themselves, their loved ones, or the new “girlfriend”.

Men I talk to often qualify their new girlfriends to me. They know they’re not mentally firing on all cylinders just yet… so they need to convince me that “It’s ok… This one is different!”

“Oh no… we’re just casually dating. Nothing serious. She’s fun. Are we dating other people? No… we both agreed not to. I took her to meet my parents last week. They love her.”

“So far no red flags. She’s really very normal in every way. She has two kids from a previous marriage. We already talked about what it would be like to blend our families. We know it’s too early, but we’re tired of being single and we’re awesome together.”

“She’s going to move in with me. She’s going to school right now to get her Phd. She’s really driven. I’m helping her out so that she doesn’t have to work so many hours and can concetrate on her studies.”

Everything is great, casual and fun. Nothing serious. Except that there’s no dating others, she met his parents after week #2, you’ve already met her kids and you’re paying for everything.

Everyone outside of the relationship looks at them, shakes their head and says “This won’t end well.” They recogniz the crazy manic state he is in. For the guy… he’s in too deep and in love. His brain is firing away with all those feel-good chemicals. Rationality is out the window.

He is now officially open to make a huge number of life-changing mistakes that he can’t see yet. The fog and confusion of love, lust and happiness blinds him. This could get really bad in a hurry.

When the fog finally clears, he discovers that the woman cheated on her last husband, she has borderline personality disorder (medicated) and she is still actively texting three other guys. Soon after finishing her Phd, she leaves the relationship and has a new guy immediately.

That’s when I get the email.

“Dude… things are really fucked up right now.”

So, where did he go wrong?

Where he went wrong is that he never fully erased the programming he had from all those years of marriage. He never removed the crutch of marriage that he leaned so heavily on all those years. The “strong” foundation of marriage that was always there was comfortable… but at the same time limited his development as a human being. Having that wife to fall back on was a safety net. Once it was taken away, it made everything a hell of a lot scarier.

He falls flat on his face. Time to get a new net, right?!

The healthy way of looking at it is saying “Do I really need that crutch? Why do I need it? Can I operate to my full capacity in life and gain happiness by being alone?” If the answer is “no”, then he has issues he needs to address.

After a man realizes true happiness on his own, he realizes that the fickle nature of love, romance and women isn’t the foundation of life… but just a really nice accessory.  Romance is the heated leather seats in your new SUV. It’s great to have and it makes things nicer and more comfortable and puts a smile on your face, but you don’t need it.  You can still get from point A to B without it.

There’s nothing wrong with love and romance. Most of us WANT a long-term romantic relationship with just the right woman. We LOVE being in love and having that person to go through life with.  It’s an amazing feeling. The irony is that you won’t find that love until you don’t need it. It’s the great cosmic joke.

Find happiness within yourself. Concentrate on YOU. Tear down those safety nets and kick away those crutches… and the world of normalcy opens to you.

Her: “I have two kids and want to pursue my PhD while you pay for everything. Sound like a plan?”

Mentally Healthy Guy: “It was great meeting you. Take care.”

Her: “Wow that was some great casual sex we just had. I would like to date exclusively now. Can I meet your parents next week?”

Mentally Healthy Guy: “I can appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not interested in jumping into a serious relationship so fast. I hope you understand. You were great. Let’s keep in touch.”

Mentally Healthy Guy (MHG) knows his worth. He knows the PhD and Needy Girl have something off about them and he doesn’t want to waste more time being around them. It was fun… but no thanks. They are literally two of about 500,000 women in his demographic that he would be willing to date. Maybe one of those 500,000 end up being a really great match and she is worthy of settling down with.

Chances are that won’t be the case… and he knows that. He’s cool with that.

My typical reader doesn’t know that. They are broken. They CAN’T see that right now. They have no true sense of worth. They’re in a very confused state. They see the monogamous long term relationship as the finish line because that’s all they’ve known all these years.  If they happen to hit that finish line in week #2 of their divorced life… great!

Take time. Step back. Reflect. Work. Think. Work more. Be honest with yourself.

The women aren’t going anywhere. That ONE girl is not THE ONE. Trust me. If she is your perfect one-in-a-milion match, she will wait for you. She’ll understand, back off, and be a friend.

That’s what good, healthy people do.

Chances are, with time and distance, you will realize just how much she is NOT the one and just how broken she also is. See… when in a broken state, you tend to attract other broken people. Mentally healthy people recognize your brokenness and avoid you. They’re the girls at the bar who look at you wide-eyed and say “Okay… well, it was nice meeting you.”

They’re not playing hard-to-get… they’re running away. There’s a big difference. They have a finally-tuned “broken guy” meter.

Take time. Lots of time. Enjoy life. Discover yourself. You will very quickly slip and fall and find yourself right back on Step 1. Then you’ll go through the process again. Then again. Then you’ll find you’re not slipping anymore.

You’ll be failing a lot over the next few months/years. No need to exponentiate the suffering with a quick new wife replacement.  You can ride the rollercoaster by yourself.

You’re a big boy now.

My Story – Part 3 – The Phoenix Rises

Rock bottom. I had hit it. From my perspective at the time, it was very sudden. The last 10 years were a blur. Moving across state lines. Failed business. Kids. Wife’s job changes. More kids. My job changes. Death. It all went by in about 10 seconds.

Somewhere along the line I lost touch with that young guy I used to like so much. The guy everyone else seemed to like, too. The guy who had so much enthusiasm and joy that he infected everyone. The good looking guy who loved the gym, loved playing guitar and loved basketball. The guy who read a lot. The guy who loved films. The guy who loved art.

Where the fuck did that guy go?! How did I forget all about him?! He was pretty cool. How did I let everything have such a negative effect on me?

So many questions. So many “what ifs”. Such is life.

Now here I was this single dad with no real close friends, no real passions, and no oomph for life left. No more wife. Three young mouths to feed. Three little ones looking to me to be their model for “normal”. Mom was not recognizable in her new life. She was, by all accounts, fucking crazy.

My daughter is 9 when everything goes down and takes it very hard. She cried herself to sleep most nights. We had long talks.. always being careful not to bad-mouth mom in any way. There was a tense but unspoken understanding of our new reality… but we didn’t ever acknowledge it. Mom ain’t coming back.

My son who was once goofy and extroverted was very passive and shy. The littlest one is in his most formative years, so time will tell how he is affected.

This really fucking sucks.

I went to a therapist. It helped a little. She put me in touch with a few other guys who went through the same thing. That was the biggest takeaway from my sessions. Wow, our stories were so similar. Like… almost identical. One of the guys suggested I check out some forum online. More stories. All the same. Just a bunch of “I swear… I used to be awesome” stories.  Pussified pushover dads whining about their crazy slut-wagon of an ex-wife.

What is going on here?

I read. I read more. I read even more. This whole idea of figuring out this phenomenon, while also going down the path of self improvement… this was my new passion. It took a giant smack upside the head to get me there… but there I was. SOMETHING to get me going in the right direction. A fire under my ass.

One thing I read again and again is about testosterone. Seems to be an epidemic of “low T” going on… if I believe the commercials. Maybe the pharmaceutical companies are just trying to push product. I read all I can on it. Very interesting stuff. There is something to it. Can’t hurt to get tested.

Yep… my testosterone levels are lower than what they should be… by a long shot. That explains some things. Is it the stress? Just being out of shape? Age? I know I used to have high testosterone years ago when I had a blood test done.

I hit the gym. I don’t feel the energy like I did in my 20’s, but I do feel better. The anxiety-induced weight loss has stripped pounds of fat from my body. That’s one positive aspect all this craziness. I need all new clothes. Now I want to fill in my frame with muscle. I was determined to step-by-step bring back that guy I used to like so much.

I go to a clinic in my area, get checked out and start a regimen of testosterone. They are a decent group and they help monitor all my vitals on a regular basis. Over the years, my blood pressure has never gone up, my PSA numbers are steady and my blood lipids have improved. About a month into the program I start to feel it. HUGE difference. This was the missing ingredient I needed. The only negatives are that my balls are smaller (somewhat remedied by injecting HCG) and I get acne on my back and shoulders like a teen again. No biggy.

I started dating almost right away. Online dating accounts were created. So stupid. I was nowhere near ready, but I was horny and wanted some company. Some people I knew also put me in touch with women they think I will like. Every single woman in their own way was another step towards taking away the last remnants of the fog I was living in. Nearly every one was a divorcee with a history of infidelity. Seriously. They also all had horribly terrible abusive ex-husbands with small penises. Weird how that works. *massive eye roll*

My dating experience alone is enough for a 20 part essay. Let’s just say… wow. Yeah. Crazy.

I start to take up guitar again. Not to obsessive levels like before, but I fiddle every now and then, and it’s fun.

I go to the gym now about 4 – 5 days a week. No matter what, I go. It’s my medicine. I play basketball regularly with my boys. I’m in pretty good shape. Compared to other dudes my age, I am in fantastic shape. My weight creeps up on my easily if I don’t watch it. I gain 10 lbs just by looking at a piece of cake. Damn you, old age.

My job situation has improved. About a year after the divorce I realized I needed more money and I needed more time at home with the kids. I met with my boss and came up with the idea of working for more than one company (as an employee). They each get a chunk of my time and I get a nice combined salary. I work from home. The hours can sometimes be weird (sitting on the couch at 1:00 AM on my laptop), but it’s my life now. It affords me the time I need to maintain my self, maintain my house and keep some semblance of being the dad my kids need. I get regular paychecks, so that’s a plus. I make more than I ever have. I don’t have to worry about paying bills or getting kids the things they need.

I hear from a guy on the internet who is going through the same thing. And another. It’s always the same story. And about 100,000 more out there just like it with a little Googling. I become the “You can do it, too!” guy to many of them. A little ray of sunshine to some men that are in a very dark place. I start this website and eventually the podcast. I enjoy the writing a great deal. It’s a form of therapy like any other outlet.

My kids are doing better. My daughter is now a teenager. She had issues with depression and self-harm. She’s riddled with anxiety. But… she seems to be on the upswing. We talk more as she gets older and more mature. We still don’t mention how or why her mom left. My oldest boy is back to normal and is a great student and very sweet and good-hearted kid. My youngest has started grade school and has his moments. He’s very hard-headed. Makes you want to drive him out to the woods and leave him there for a few days. But.. he’s my boy. I laugh just thinking about him. He’s the spitting image of me when I was his age.

As the years have gone by I have the normal ups and downs. Nothing nearly as drastic as that of the previous 10 years, but I can say with confidence that my trajectory is going upward. Now that the fog has completely lifted I am left with a great deal of regret. I keep telling myself that those 10 years were filled with great life lessons. I wouldn’t be ME without them.

Why on Earth did I let that young guy so easily slip away? I think it was the perfect storm of reasons. My ex-wife just wasn’t the right person to go on my life journey with. She folded entirely too easily. She pounced on the first sign of weakness and didn’t let up. She didn’t have the respect for me to say “You can do it. We’re in this together.” Instead, for the last 10 years of the relationship, she was left with an ongoing feeling of “I think I made a mistake with this guy.” I made a mistake with her too (obviously), but I was too caught up in the minutiae of LIFE to see it.

To use the terminology you’ll see so often on this site:  I was a good mix of Lover and Provider (more Lover) that later morphed into 100% Provider… but I unfortunately failed at providing. That left me with.. nothing. Effort doesn’t count. Results count. There’s no participation trophy in life.

I was stripped of all that was ME and was left with some pitiful shell of a guy.

Never again.

My current love life? I’ve talked about it before in other posts, and I feel weird mentioning it in the context of this post. I don’t want to taint what IS now with what WAS then. I’m a completely different human being compared to who I was 5 years ago and I’d like to keep it that way.

I have married again. She’s an absolutely wonderful human being in every way. I don’t know what  lottery ticket I won somewhere along the line to find her, but I did. We are a very good match. The romance and sexual side I lacked in my first marriage has been found in spades in this relationship. The love and support I never felt before is there as well. I’m not a hindrance or failure to her. I’m her man. I’m her man that was put in a shitty predicament and came out smelling pretty good. She likes that. She also likes that I am opinionated about our roles in this relationship and I’m not afraid to say when I don’t like something or if I want to go in a different direction. I have a vision for our future and she agrees.

She’s a wonderful step-mother to my children. They love her to pieces. If I had just found her 20 years ago… Sigh.

Some dudes will read “married again” and roll their eyes, groan and shut their browser window. Marriage is a losing proposition in many men’s eyes. I get it. Really, I do. You can get divorce raped. Your masculinity stripped from you. Any spare time you have is taken away. The nagging wife. The kids. Freedom gone. Your friends all gone (they too have a wife, kids and no life). Hobbies gone. You get fat. She gets fat. Ugh… it’s not fun.

But whose fault is that? Women can knock you down and mold you into something you may not want to be. I hear that a lot. Yep, that is true. They will poke and test you until you show your true self.  So does life in general… If you let it. Stop making women your excuse and stop hanging any semblance of individuality and happiness on their shoulders. They’ll resent you for it, and rightfully so.

Don’t lose your edge. It’s tough to hold on to… but if you don’t, the consequences are brutal. This world has ZERO patience for a dude who doesn’t measure up. Life will stomp on your neck and walk right over you.  You have a choice in the matter. Say “NO” from time to time. Frame your existence as a husband and father in a manner that serves you well. Be there for your wife and kids but be there for YOURSELF, too.

Get up early, make your bed, hit the gym, clean the house, go for walks, hang out with friends, romance the shit out of your wife, read, stand up to your woman, bang her like tomorrow is your last day, make money, keep learning, make more money, be a good model for your kids,… you know the drill.

Deal with the bad times. They will come. They always do.

Learn from me, amigos. This could be you. Ten years goes by quick. Hell, 20 years can go by fast. I was 25 yesterday.

Now I am again.

My Story – Part 2 – My Holy Shit Moment Has Arrived

So my wife starts working with the personal trainer. She literally spends at least 2 hours each day at the gym.. and longer on weekends. How the hell does she accomplish this? She gets up at 4:00am every single day. This is her mission now.  This is on top of her very long work schedule. I rarely see her.

I continue playing Mr. Mom at this point. I cook. I clean. Not ALL of the cooking and cleaning… but a good chunk of it. I help with the kids’ homework. This is on top of my full time job and 2 hours of total commuting each day.

Did I ever have enough of this BS and actually tell her that we need to make a change? That she is spending too much time away from home and I need to get out and do things, too? Yep. I sure did. Her response?

“You have never supported me in anything. You made me take this job and don’t let me to do anything I like.”

I… wait.. what just happened??

I still remember that conversation in the kitchen. Seeing her very crazy looking face as she spits out these words. Wow.

I was flabbergasted. This was a total fabrication. I made her take this job? I don’t let her do anything? What in the hell?

COMMON RED FLAG: Sudden obsession/addiction that usually revolves around self-improvement (actual or imagined) or in some way takes them back to a more youthful time. Examples are joining the gym and working out for hours at a time, going back to school, staying out late, making new younger friends, etc. This combined with a sudden rewriting of history is a VERY common red flag and cause for concern. The two always seem to go together.

 

After working out with trainer dude for a few months, the wife is buff. Not really in a good way. Too much so. She was never a petite gal, but this was just bulky, man-like muscle. Not the fitness bunnies you see in the magazines at all. I’ve worked out with athletic women before (when I was a younger attractive gym goer) and I know that chicks who lift weights can look extremely good… but this was not good. Not at all. Steroids? Who knows.

She is now glued to her phone like a teenage girl. Her speech and overall behavior is changing. She’s much more… trashy. Her southern twang is stronger than ever. She didn’t have an accent at all for the first 10 years of our relationship. Even her text messages to me look like they are coming from somebody else. Random misspellings. She has suddenly forgotten the difference between “there, their and they’re”. How weird. Who was this woman? She used to make fun of people like this.

COMMON RED FLAG: Being glued to their phone 24/7 is bad. Sudden change in behavior and personality is also bad. Becoming what she always hated? Watch out.

 

Bad News: My grandma was dying. She was in a nursing home down in Florida. She suffered from dementia and now kidney cancer.  Her days were numbered and my mom wanted to know if I wanted to go down and see her. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in years (since the dementia kicked in and they put her in a home). Maybe we can stay the week at the beach there and make it a vacation. See dying grandma, say our goodbyes, enjoy some sunshine. Sounds like a plan.

(In hindsight… this was every bit as weird as it sounds)

So, we all load up in the minivan and head down to sunny Florida.

We arrive. Wife still glued to her phone. She still wakes up at 4:00AM and goes to the beach to workout.  We hang out at the beach and her physical appearance is jarring. She posts photos on social media… another obsession of hers. Her sister sends me a text. “She looks like a man.”

Day two of our stay in Florida was D-Day. I was in the condo alone putting our baby down for a nap. Wife and two other kids were down on the beach. My mom was away. She spent most of the vacation with my Aunt, thankfully. I fired up the laptop. Wife was logged into Facebook. I saw a conversation between her and her personal trainer dude. This was not appropriate talk for a married mom of three to have with another man. Oh, god. No way.

Is she having an affair!?

No. Fucking. Way.

I approached her right away with what I saw. This was a mistake. The rest of the week was spent very openly talking about all things related to our relationship. This involved her denying any kind of misbehavior on her part… It was only flirting via Facebook. Nothing else.  OK… they did kiss that once. Oh boy.

COMMON RED FLAG: This is called “trickle truth”. The awful truth is not so bad if you let it out just a little at a time. Usually the trickling goes something like: We were just being friendly -> We were just flirting -> We just kissed once -> He came over a few times but all we did was talk ->We may have kissed more than once -> Ok we had full blown monkey sex right on our bed while the neighbors watched and it’s all recorded and on the internet forever.

We agreed to do couples counseling. You can read about the results here.

The next several weeks of my life were pure hell. I’m going to purposely leave out the details. Just trust me, it was bad. It does me no good to expose those old wounds again.

She moved out. The sad part was that she was gone so much anyway, that the kids didn’t even notice. Seriously. After two weeks of that we decided enough of the charade and we sat the kids down to break the news. I remember sitting in our little living room and my wife looked at me with puppy dog eyes… as if to say “Can YOU do it, please??”  I just motioned towards the kids “Oh no… this is all you. Go ahead.”

She told them. No hesitation. Mom was going to go live somewhere else. My daughter collapsed on the chair and immediately cried. My oldest son just sat there with his hands on his knees like an old man. Staring. Frozen. My wife called to him to come sit with her. He screamed like somebody shot him. My littlest boy was 1 and a half years old.. he had no idea what was going on.

Toughest day of my life.

I wished every type of cancer on her that day. I hoped for her to have a long, slow and painful death. She hurt my kids. She put her selfishness above their well being. Their lives will never be the same… and neither will mine. How could she do this?

This was all happening so fast.
Looking over what I have just typed… it seems so sudden. Boom. Boom. Boom. Done. Yep, that’s exactly how it was.

They say when things like this happen that you should “keep busy”. Oh, I kept busy alright. That’s never been a problem. Mom just wasn’t around at all for the kids anymore. She would pick them up from school, drop off, and go to the gym. I would feed them and put them to bed and she would pick them up in the morning for school. I was still commuting to work.

A divorce agreement was written up by her attorney. It was surprisingly fair. She recognized her contribution to our debts and took half. She also took one of the vehicles that was paid for (she would later crash it three times and finally total it). Left me with a car and the little house.  50/50 custody of kids. No fine print. No gotchas. She just wanted out fairly and fast. She had a new life waiting for her.

I couldn’t sign fast enough.

READ PART 3

My Story – Part 1 – The Beginning

Things I hear a lot from guys online: “Well, did YOU ever run into this…” or “What did YOU do when this happened to you?” I just realized,…I never really did share my full story with the world. I hinted at it a bit in the About Me page,  but I haven’t gone into any kind of detail to paint a picture of just HOW and WHY some blowhard bald guy in his forties decided to make a website and declare himself an expert on all things relationshipy.

So, here it is.. PART 1 of my story. Hope you get something out of it and learn a thing or two. If not, at least poke fun at me where applicable.

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I will start with what I consider the PRIME time in my life: My twenties. I was fresh outta college with a degree and a set of skills that actually made me marketable in the workplace. So much so that I had three job offers right out of college. I realize this is basically unheard of these days, and I just want to say to you new college grads out there: “HAHAHAHAHAH!!” Just kidding, you kids are getting hosed. Sorry. Now if you could put almond milk in my cappuccino, that’d be great.

So, there I was in a new town, in a new state, with money, full of dreams and ambition. To have a giant Fortune 50 company ask YOU to come work for THEM and offer you a nice salary and even nicer benefits… well that put me in a good state of mind right off the bat. I’m wanted. I’m pretty ok. The hard work finally paid off. Life is good.

My wife-to-be (high school girlfriend) is living still back in our home state. She’s finishing up school. We meet from time to time, but mostly it’s just me in my apartment. I am quick to make new friends. Coworkers. Actually, they sit right next to me in the cubicle farm we all work in. That’s how guys work. We just randomly point at some dude nearby “You. You’re my new friend. Let’s go hang out and make fun of each other.”  So we all become best buddies. We learn that our job requires that we travel a great deal. Cool. Field trips together!

We go on airplanes, land in a variety of different places, work long hours, go to bars and strip clubs and have a jolly ol’ time. None of us are married. None of us have kids. I have money leftover every month and I save.  I buy toys for myself.

The girlfriend joins me in the new town and we get married. I help get her a new job through my job connections. We move into a nice house. I continue hanging out with my friends most of the time and she has her friends. I develop hobbies that take up a great deal of my time (guitar playing, for one). As with most things I get interested in, I dive into it 100% and become kinda good at it. My two best buddies join me. They don’t last long with actual guitar playing, but they’re happy to tag along when I want to go watch live music at a dive bar.

We also go to the gym a lot together because I like lifting weights and playing basketball. I look pretty good. I get hit on every now and then when we go out. My friends tease me over it. I know I look good. I workout hard. Makes me feel good about myself. I would never cheat because… well.. it honestly never even occurred to me that it was an option. I wasn’t wired like that.

Looking back I realize that I was kind of the “Alpha” of my pack. I wasn’t really all that “strong” or “ultra-manly” of a personality… more like I just really enjoyed a lot of different things, and I think my enthusiasm was infectious. I was a good dude who loved life and loved hanging out with friends.

As I moved on in the company and further up the chain, the buddies and I separated. We all went to different groups. One guy got fed up with his group and went to work for a consulting firm. Then another guy did the same thing. Another guy hates his new job but sticks with it. Me? I’m starting to hate mine, too.

Work is getting depressing. There’s an overall malaise to the the new area. My boss is a giant grump. She hates life and lets me know it. Repeatedly. She’s been at the company for a gajillion years and never fails to tell me how much it sucks. My coworkers are not fun. They’re not anywhere near the definition of fun. They’re all boring parents who can only talk about kids. One time we all decided to do a company volleyball tournament together as a team. The whole time was spent with me getting pissed at them for not giving a damn. One guy showed up to games in jeans. For fuck’s sake… jeans!

I have approximately 19 bosses. None of them are what I would call “Pretty intelligent and cool people.” I am still convinced to this day that one of them was genuinely retarded. The politics are laughably bad. People around me dropping like flies. One guy leaves due to stress.  We still see him at company picnics. He got really bad hair plugs while gone. That’s awkward. One woman died after getting her stomach stapled. Guy next to me has ball cancer.

That’s it. I want out.

I was told I can’t go to any other group for a while. I’m stuck in this position.

I get the harebrained idea to start my own business. This is around the time that my wife wants to have a kid. The big 30 is closing in and her biological clock is ticking so loud the neighbors are complaining. A new kid AND a new career as an entrepreneur?! I can do this! Besides, the wife has a nice career herself! She’ll support us (financially and otherwise) no matter what, right?

HEY YOU: So often I hear the stories of failed careers, sudden firings, layoffs,  start with something to the effect of “Yeah, it sucks… but my wife has a nice job so I don’t have to find something right away. We’ll be ok for a little while.” Dude, NO NO NO. Never take your foot off the gas. In my case I should’ve kept my career and worked a little on the side if I wanted to explore the entrepreneurial thing. My wife’s well-paying job gave me a false sense of security. Like her money was a crutch that would be there just in case. It’s not. I know if the opposite were true you’d be expected to step up for her… but it’s a double standard and that’s reality. She needs the security, not to play the part of provider.

 

Almost everyone I know is telling me not to do this. I listen to the handful that stroke my ego and tell me that I’m smart and work hard and I should strike the iron while it’s hot and take advantage of my youth. I ignore everyone else telling me “Are you fucking out of your mind? You’re going to have a kid and start a new biz at the same time?”

Strangely one of the few to support my idea were my disastrous in-laws.  As much of a mess as they were, they always looked up to me.

Speaking of… did I mention we also move out of state to be closer to her very dysfunctional family? That was a condition she put forth. “Oh you want to do your own business? Then we’re moving closer to my childhood home so I can have my family around me.”

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***I will pause here as you all stare at the screen and say “DUDE!” repeatedly. I know… I deserve it.***

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Nothing could stand in the way of my success. I was determined to move to a new place and get my piece of the pie. I didn’t need to conquer the world right away… but I needed to start work immediately. Hit the phones. Drive around. Join all the networking groups. Go go go. I was up for the task and I was going to show the world what I was made of.

The wife… she’s not really my biggest cheerleader. More stressed and doubtful than anything. She had a job lined up right away. It paid her more than the last place and with good benefits. Still… I need to bring in cash. I know it won’t be a success overnight and it will take time to build my client base. Her patience is very very thin already.

Baby comes. Baby is awesome. Baby is perfect. I love this little girl. She is the apple of my eye. She has turned me into a ball of mush.

We live in a rental home because we can’t afford to buy a new one. Still haven’t sold the old place back home. We have tried but no real bites yet. Priced too high? We lower the price. Stress stress stress. Wife takes time off to be with baby. Three months. She returns to work. She hates that she has to go back and resents that I am not bringing in enough money for her to take off indefinitely. She’s pretty blunt about it. Even though she has a new job, the baby changes everything. I feel worthless, too. I work harder. Everything comes second to my business at this point. I gotta make this work.

Money starts coming in, but in spurts. Feast and famine. I drive all over the state. I work hard, but tell myself I can always work harder. I haven’t seen the gym in months. I look horrible. My hair is falling out. Oh great.. now I’m bald. That does wonders for my self-esteem.

I point out the need for budgeting. It’s ok to not buy things just because you want them. Prioritize our purchasing. Our situation is not forever… doing without now will pay dividends later. We’re still young. The wife’s attitude is basically “You should be better at providing. I shouldn’t have to do without something just because you had the harebrained idea to become an entrepreneur and get rid of a regular paycheck. I’m playing by the rules and bringing home a paycheck. Do your part.” She has a point.

Instead of clipping coupons, she spends. It’s her way of coping. We rack up credit card debt. I’m the only one who seems to care about this and put plans together to pay the debts down. She chooses to ignore the issue. Just bringing it up reinforces my failure. Every negative thing is tied to my failure. Washing machine breaks? Well, maybe if we could afford a better one.

COMMON RED FLAG: Poor coping skills. What do they do when things go bad? Look at it as a problem to be solved? Look to you for help and guidance and support you along the way towards finding a solution? That’s great. Do they blame you and everyone around you and stomp their feet like a child because they don’t “deserve” such awfulness? Do they seem to be sabotaging your efforts to improve? You’re in for a world of hurt.

 

Caring for our finances was now my job. She has zero interest and didn’t want to talk about it.

We live about 45 minutes away from her parents. This introduces a whole other world of problems. Where we lived before was about 7 hours away from her family. This provided a protective buffer away from her dysfunctional past and kept her baggage at bay. Now we have a front row seat into that chaotic world.. and it’s not pretty. Non-stop drama.  This is when my wife begins to morph into her past self. The part of her I never really got to see before.

We move to a different town that’s closer to the area where most of my business comes from (and thankfully two hours away from her family). She’s offered an even better job right away. We buy a home (yes we sold the previous one). A small little starter home… just to last us a few years until we can afford something bigger. In the meantime I am still chugging away in my business. I finally string together a couple of decent years. I had to work my butt off to get there. My network is growing. Clients are happy and I’m getting referrals. Sweet. About fucking time.

My father dies. This is unexpected. He is only 53 years old. Heart attack. Over the next few years my mom ages approximately 20 years. She leans on me a great deal to help with all the logistics of life my dad that took care of… and to empty emotionally on me. She’s a mess. Her entire well being was dependent on that man (codependency 101)… and now he’s gone. She lives almost 4 hours away from us. She refuses to move closer. As a business owner, husband and parent, this is draining and very stressful.

Kid #2 arrives. A boy. My new best buddy. Over the years he will grow to be quite the awesome young dude. Wife takes a shorter maternity leave. This time it’s no big deal.  Daycare it is. Worked well for the first one. That’s what everyone else does, so no big deal, right?

I don’t have hardly any really close friends since we moved. Just acquaintances from work and husbands of my wife’s friends. When you work from home alone, are on the road a lot and raise two kids… you don’t have any random dudes to point to and say “Let’s hang out!” My wife has friends. They’re all her coworkers she sees every day. I’m still in regular contact with buddies from back home, but it’s not the same. I’m lonely. The culture in this new state is completely different… Lots of good ol’ boys and cliques… or maybe I’m just making excuses?

The wife is going back to school. Yay, more debt! She needs her doctorate to compete in her field. I completely support the idea and further pick up the slack as she goes down the road of self-improvement. My wife is now a “Doctor”!? Cool.

She is offered a big fat promotion. Her company wants to have her run one of their business locations. More hours. Lots more hours. I let her know that I don’t like the idea of her being away from home more… but I will support whatever decision she makes. More money is possible if the business does well. She’s been making more than me the last few years. Now she will really make more than me.

I support her and give her lots of advice on how to navigate the new work environment (I have a great deal more business experience than her) and I use my expertise to  help out her office with some things… doing everything I can to make sure she succeeds.  I will also have to step up as dad even more. Kids are getting older and more into sports. I coach them all. I’m there doing what I can to help out around the house.

Uh oh, the economy has crashed. Clients aren’t paying their bills. People are closing up shop. Oh shit, this sucks. What the fuck now!?

Stress. We ain’t leaving this little starter home anytime soon. She is not a happy camper. She’s the breadwinner now. This can’t go on and I know it. I’ve reached the end of my rope. The entrepreneurial world has come to an end.

I asked one of my clients if he would consider hiring me to work for him full time. He says yes. I now have a regular full-time salary again. Hallelujah. I come home with the news and my wife hugs me like she hasn’t in years. The stress has taken a huge toll on her. I am a failure.

Child #3 arrives. Another boy. This is a surprise. Especially considering how infrequently we have sex. She always wanted three kids and I was happy with the two. I actually looked into vasectomies. My doc cancelled on my initial consult appointment and I never got around to rescheduling. Ouch.

(Yes, the kid is mine.)

Wife takes nearly zero time for maternity leave. Her work is above all else. She has started becoming more distant from me and the kids. More time away from home for a “girls night out”. I do the right thing and stay home and continue playing Mr. Mom.  I commute an hour to work every day. I still coach teams. I am exhausted. Stressed. This point in my life is just a fog. I’m on automatic pilot.

I work out sporadically. I’m still out of shape. Wife has lost weight, but she’s also a physical mess. She starts working out more with coworkers.

“My boss uses a personal trainer, and I want to use him, too” she texts me one day. We basically have zero time together and she never sees the kids… and she wants to go to a personal trainer? Well… ok. I will support whatever she wants to do to improve herself. We’re starting to bring in some money and I would like to more stringently pay down down debt instead… but I support her. That’s what being a partner is all about, right?

READ PART 2

Hitting Rock Bottom

Ever notice how the most interesting and famous people in the world have been through some of the worst situations in life? You often hear stories of awful early childhood abuse, neglect, drug use, death, disease… and yet there they are on television talking to a rapt audience hanging on their every word. They reminisce fondly about failure after failure. They talk about that crucial life moment where they were juuuuust about to hang it up, but decided to give it one more try. You hear something like “I had $3 in my pocket and I was three months overdue on my rent… then my parents died. I had nothing left to lose.”  They’re stripped of everything. All they’re left with is their passion. Their craft. Their calling. Then things finally turned around. The fog lifted. Things clicked.

Finding out your wife is living a double life is about as traumatic as you can get for a man. It rocks the foundation of your reality. You may not have had a horrible childhood or a long history of abuse, but you’re not out of the woods by a long shot. It’s as is the gods of chaos have been snoozing away for years… then you went and did one little stupid thing and they woke up angry and vengeful. They’re pissed and they’re going to give you a taste of reality. They’re surprised that they overlooked you all these years. You slipped through the cracks. They have to make up for lost time. They pluck you from your comfortable sofa/cubicle/soccer field/pizza party existence and thrust you into a dark cave with an angry dragon.

Oh, shit.

Hitting rock bottom is a gift. STARTING OVER IS A GIFT. The dragon is a gift. Not everyone gets a chance to strip away their ego and rebuild. Not everyone gets the gift of realizing what they are truly capable of. The best version of the gift is when you have NO CHOICE but to fight your way out. You turn around and the cave opening has been closed off. The only way out is through the dragon. There’s no “I’ll just watch Netflix today”.

This “no turning back” moment is when men find out what they’re made of. For many of us, we realize that we’re made of one part man, and three parts blubbering girl. The more self-aware among us realize that we’re not that good at truly coping with the really bad stuff. We’ve dealt with death and loss in our life and came out relatively unscathed… but this.. this is different. This is an altered version of reality we’re dealing with. This is a BIG test of our fortitude, and for many of us our initial grade is an F minus. It’s a true litmus test for our mental health. Thankfully we get several tries at it. We can fall again and again. Remember, nobody gives a shit. 

This is the beginning of the powerful ego flush. This is when we start to realize that life as we know it extends beyond our flesh and bone. It extends beyond that which we have created in our minds. The barriers of anxiety and fear we have put up have protected us but also blinded us to truths. To get a quick glimpse of the ugliest of reality is nothing short of traumatic. It’s a genuine look into a different world. A different state of BEING.  We didn’t quite realize what life was capable of… nobody told us these things (yes they did, we just weren’t listening).

We’ve been ego-centric for far too long.


You’ve hit rock bottom? Don’t know what to do now? Feel like dying?

GOOD. I’m excited for you.

Now real living begins. Get on with it, my friend. Get help. You’re not alone and never have been. Wake the fuck up and get with the program and realize that every little moment you have is a gift. Earn it.

“What about my ex?”, you ask? What about her? She’s an illusion. What and who you thought she was never existed to begin with. She is as much of a creation as that imaginary friend you had as a kid. Both were constructed in much the same way and both have the same effect on your mental well being: whatever effect you want them to have.

You have much bigger fish to fry now. You have dragons to slay. Missions to complete. A job to do. It doesn’t matter HOW you got here, now you’re here. When the dust settles and you walk out of the cave with the virgin under one arm, the dragon head under the other and gold in your pockets… you’ll start to see things as they are. Then you realize you got another dragon to slay, and another, and another… It doesn’t end. And you don’t want it to. If it does end, that means you’ve veered off the path and started swimming in your own virtual reality again.

Don’t do it.