I received an awesome note this past week from a former colleague, who said:
It’s kind of odd, but I’d been thinking of writing to you for awhile to ask what the inspiration was that got you to completely change your life, and a couple of Saturdays ago, there [your blog] was! I think what you’ve done with your life is amazing, and you look like a completely different human being than you did when I first met you. Keep the writing coming–it’s authentic and inspirational…
That was really cool… and exactly why I’m writing again.
It also begs a fair question: what the hell did actually happen to me? A lot, really. More than I can cover in one post. But, here are some highlights I hope inspire you…or plant a seed for something better in the future.
I was broken. To the core.
My life was miserable and unhappy. I was overweight and depressed. My marriage was dead. I wasn’t the father I wanted to be.
That’s what I said in my inaugural post. My marriage wasn’t just dead, our relationship was in tatters after years of both of us struggling against our own flaws, the expectations of others, the damage of our past, and the grind of parenthood and life. There was more pain and anger there than either of us can put in words today. We were on the cusp of a divorce; living in the same home only because we couldn’t financially manage the physical split.
I was also at a crossroads in other relationships in my life that were (and are) the cause of great pain. I was avoiding that issue, for a lot of reasons, which only made the wound fester more.
I was on anti-depressants and in counseling. And my God did I need it.
I decided to make a change.
Not a consciously comprehensive one either. Just something different, that ended up having more of an impact than I expected.
I said yes.
Then quickly realized I had to get serious about training for it if I was going to avoid being that guy who is a drag on the team. I went from working out moderately 3-4 days a week to working 7 – 10 times a week. Hard. And eating right too…because sustaining that regimen requires the right fuel, or you’re wasting your time.
I completed that Tough Mudder on October 5, 2013 , built a deeper friendship with Ryan, and found the infusion of working out and eating right changed me physically, mentally, and emotionally. I emerged thinner (size 30 pants today, down from a size 36), fitter (yep, I look pretty good naked), healthier (anti-depressants and blood pressure meds are gone), and more confident.
Something happened I couldn’t control.
I have trouble putting this one in words.
I was really close to my wife’s paternal grandfather, Jim, as were my lovely bride and our children. His health was declining over time, eventually spiraling rapidly over the course of several weeks before he passed away on July 14, 2013.
It was a brutal, emotional experience for all of us. We were there all day at the nursing home when he died. I was very young when my own grandparents passed. I had never experienced death up close, let alone of a love one. It was not pleasant.
And within 24 hours of his death, everything had changed.
My wife and I didn’t quite know it immediately. But the burdens of pain and anger that had become an insurmountable barrier in our relationship faded away. I don’t know what exactly Jim did when he left this earth, but he took some of our shit with him. Call it a final gift from a truly generous man. It was more spiritually and emotionally freeing than I can describe. And my God was it meaningful.
The following weekend Stephani and I reconciled. And on August 1, we married again. In Las Vegas. In a wedding chapel with just us and the officiant, straight of the Goo Goo Dolls song, “Come to Me”:
Today’s the day I’ll make you mine
So get me to the church on time
Take my hand in this empty room
You’re my girl, and I’m your groom
Other lyrics from that song now adorn our corresponding arm tattoos “Come to me my sweetest friend” (mine), “this is where we start again” (hers).
And yes, holy shit do I love that girl.
We kept at it.
She quit a job she hated and started a new career she loves. We moved out a neighborhood we detested and a home full of horrible memories, to a much better place to call home for now.
I joined her doing yoga, and fell in love with it. Soon we’ll both be freshly certified yoga instructors.
I got back in the water last year,19 years after swimming in college, then competed (pretty damn well, thank you!) in a 2 mile open water race.
Stephani and I continue to put intentional effort into growing continuously, as our journeys as individuals and as a couple evolve. It’s not easy. It has involved getting painfully real about some of our faults as human beings. There are bumps in the road. But, we keep moving forward.
So, that’s what the hell happened to me.
That telling isn’t incomplete. It leaves out a lot of details and thoughts I’ll write about in other ways over time. But, that’s what happened.
What will you take out of that? I don’t know. That’s probably pretty personal.
I hope someone reads this and realizes there really is hope left when the days seem darkest. I hope someone is inspired to do their own version of a Tough Mudder. I hope someone finds the courage to make the leap to live a life they’re passionate about.
I spent way to many years not doing those things, which is why I’m writing this blog. Because I hope you don’t ever have to.
Thanks for reading…this was a long one.