Over the past several years, I gradually became a more selfish person.
It didn’t happen on purpose, and it doesn’t align with who I am or want to be. But more than one of the people who know me best said they noticed it, and it didn’t take a whole lot of self-examination to realize they were right. Over the same time period, I also began self-imploding. On this I needed no outside warning — I knew it myself. I began drinking too much, even at work. I spent money on frivolous shit, despite money management being one of the few things I’ve naturally been good at my whole life. I quit taking my job as seriously as I should have, working fewer hours as well as allowing my performance to slip below my standard. I disengaged physically and emotionally from my family, seeking escape from a reality that 99% of the world would trade for theirs in a heartbeat.
I had to fight the urge to punch myself in the face. I didn’t want to kill myself because I knew the pain it caused me when my dad did it, but I was actively rooting for something bad to happen to me.
I found the recipe for the cocktail of my own destruction — one part dumbass, one part asshole.
I’ve been open about my struggles with depression, and while that still carries a social stigma, it’s easier than owning up to things I’m personally responsible for fucking up.
If you put cow manure in a microwave, you shouldn’t expect to see (or smell) a filet mignon when you open the door. Yeah, I have anxiety and depression — occasionally malfunctioning brain chemicals and all that — but there were a lot of things within my control that needed to be changed.
Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those “views from the other side of the mountain” posts. I don’t pretend to have everything — or even anything — figured out. I’m not trying to give advice. I still have lots of work to do, and there are things I need to make right. There’s also the possibility that things could go backwards from here.
But I have made progress to be proud of, and for that I have lots of people to thank. Some I’ve known almost my whole life, others I’ve just met as I’ve gotten involved in new groups and activities.
So thank you, in no particular order, to
- Chad — You had to listen to hours of my bullshit, starting way before anyone outside my family knew there was anything wrong. You put up with me for a weekend baseball trip that was dampened by my disposition. Thanks for being everything one could look for in a best friend.
- The guests, employees and fellow volunteers at City Care — It’s been such a blessing to meet so many amazing people there. I look forward to every Wednesday night. I’m receiving much more than I’m giving there.
- Mike — I haven’t even seen you since you moved roughly 1 million miles away but you helped talk me through one of the lowest nights of my life. Love you man.
- Brian, Grady and the rest of the Southside Warriors — I always used to make fun of men’s groups that meet at some ungodly hour before the sun comes up. But now that I’m in one I am learning firsthand the value of iron sharpening iron and implementing tools that make all of us better men.
- Scooter, Byron, Jamesy, Rychy (can’t put his nickname on here) and the rest of my true poker and ex-poker friends (too many to name them all) — Thanks for being less gossip-y than others in the community and looking out for my best interests. Thanks for understanding when I couldn’t come to the last get-together, and didn’t drink at the one before that.
- Summer — EMDR therapy has been a huge game-changer for me in dealing with stuff about my dad as well as how to move forward through the mess I’ve made. I’m glad I found you.
- Clay, UNChurch, and my homies at Omerta — My relationship with Christianity and the church is complicated right now, so it’s been a blessing that God put it on Clay’s heart to start UNChurch (we meet at the Stag Lounge every other Saturday). The idea is to cut out the theological and political bullshit that clouds the message and example of Jesus. Cigars might give me cancer but they’ve also introduced me to a lot of amazing people. Calvin…I will be better than you at chess someday.
- Keith, Josh, Ryan, Gibby, Zach and other friends that have known me since I was a virgin — The definition of a loyal friend is one who is there for you in different decades and on different continents.
- Dave, Daniel and my Sunday night crew — It turns out I’m not the only person in the world going through some of this stuff. Thanks for the friendship, accountability, encouragement and strength you give me.
- Will and Francine — Francine, thanks for consistently checking on me, sending me things and battling the robots on BBO with me. Your loyalty is priceless. Will, so much of this came from advice you gave me. Your honesty keeps me in check. As far as bridge…eventually I might be okay at it.
- Mom, Allison and Andrew — I know I’ve pulled back from you over the last few months. Know that I love you all and value your support and prayers.
- Addie, Myra, Maddux and Hawk — If you happen to stumble upon this when you’re old enough to remember what was going on, know that I needed every single one of those drawings, hugs, kisses and games. I love you more than you’ll ever know.
Trust me, I didn’t forget about Missy. The internet isn’t big enough to hold everything I need to say to her, and I don’t want to give her a half-assed paragraph. I know I’ve revealed a lot of personal shit here and in other posts, but it’s not my place to tell her business. She is an amazing woman. I’ll let everything else be between the two of us.
In general, I’ve taken more than I’ve given over the last few years. I also realize that I used the word “I” about 175 times in a blog about being less selfish.
Today, it’s about making the next right decision. It’s about having pure intentions and grace for myself and others when the execution doesn’t match the idea. I want to be there for you in the same way so many others have been there for me. Let’s build each other up.