It was early evening. It was dark. I was sitting in my car at the grocery store quietly coming apart. I finally found out what rock bottom was like. It means that everything that you hold dear is about to go away. Your reputation, your family, your career, all gone. It’s when you have to decide if you’d trade the stuff you are doing for the stuff you are losing. I knew this day would come. I suppose everyone in my boat does. But chasing that next thing is too compelling. Earlier that day, many things had been revealed and my wife told me she was done. She told me some very real truth. “I don’t have to be with you to love you.” I was in that parking lot, coming apart, afraid she was going to leave me. What’s my biggest fear? My biggest fear is falling back and being that man I was.
I’m doing much better now, but for my whole life, I have felt about three steps behind everyone else. Everyone was always better prepared or had a better idea what was going on. I have an October birthday and growing up, in my grade, I was always the youngest person in the room. I also didn’t seem to mature very fast. I was the first person in my family, on either side, to go to college. I was so clueless I had no idea how clueless I was. It wasn’t a good experience. To this day when I walk on that campus, I feel queasy. I am embarrassed about how I behaved and who I interacted with. I have no desire to really see anyone I went to college with. My hope and prayer is that they realize that I have changed. That I’m not that guy.
I suppose I could blame all this on how I was raised. I could blame my parents, the school system, etc. But to be honest, I didn’t have it too difficult at all. As an adult, at some point, you need to own your shit. Sure, I feel like I would have preferred a few things that were different, but maybe, growing up the way I did is why I am who I am today. And generally speaking, now, there are much more good parts than bad. But who was I?
It seem anti-climactic to say “I was selfish”. But really, to anyone driven by just one thing, that’s the word you use. Sure, I had other issues, but at the end of the day, my decisions were driven by what I wanted. I was also introverted, awkward, insecure, and anxious. I had no real self confidence and I didn’t think I was very smart. Part of the annoying thing of being me is the fact that I *still* feel all of those things to one degree or another. But it is the collection of all those insecurities that made me selfish which lead to all the acting out. I spent money I didn’t have, wasted time that was not mine to waste, lied to people close to me, all to pursue the things I wanted to do.
But back to that parking lot. As I mentioned, it had been a bad day. A day of revealing truths and slowly watching a person who loved and trusted me realize that I did not guard the gift she was giving me. To be honest, I don’t even remember why I went to the store after dinner. Maybe it was simply to get out of the house. But I was sitting in that parking lot wondering what I was going to do if she left. I had no idea. When I got home she asked me what was wrong. I told her what happened. How scared I was. The fact I had no clue about the future. She listened. She was quiet. Finally, she picked up a book from the coffee table. It was a year long daily devotional. One of the pastors we met with handed it to us earlier that day. She told me that if we met on the couch every morning and did a devotion, she wouldn’t leave. I cannot begin to describe the faith my wife has in God. I firmly believe it was her faith in God that sustained us. She had been praying for an intervention for a while. God is faithful.
Every morning, we met on the couch and did a daily bible study. In the margins we wrote down who we were praying for. We did life together through that book. In addition, we went to a phenomenal marriage counselor. He help us work through a very painful period in our marriage. But when you spend many years walking “into the woods”. You don’t walk back out in a day. I had to grow. I had to accept. I had to change. In addition to marriage counseling, we had an amazing christian couple who are the most grace filled people we know. They walked along side of us. Listened. And helped us heal. Additionally, I found a support group to meet with at church. A brutally honest group of men just as broken as I was. It was raw, driven, and healing. I wasn’t special in this group. We all had similar stories. It was an amazing time of growth.
That was many years ago. I’m happy to report that I’m a much better version of me these days. We are a much better version of us. I am more grace filled, accepting, and kind. I am not the man I used to be. I would like to believe that guy is gone, removed, never to return. But sometimes life happens and I find myself stressed out, angry, feeling like things are “not fair”. Those are the times I can get a glimpse of that guy. Fortunately, it’s from a distance. But he’s there. Uncomfortably close. But by the grace of God and my wife, today, I am not that guy.