Monday, May 16, 2016

So Long and Thanks for All the Kind Words

I've been letting this one percolate for a bit to see how transient my feelings on the matter really were, and I think the mental lava has cooled enough to see the shape of the landscape now.

I posted on Facebook a link to my pompous meditation on marriage, and received a caustic comment that accelerated my thinking on how and why I use Facebook and this blog. That comment, part of which was "It's possible that every thought you have isn't meant to be thought aloud" didn't start me down this line of thinking, but it did bring it to the front burner of my mind. It did snap me awake to a perspective I hadn't had: that the focus of all my words, which I had thought of as firmly centered on myself, my perceptions, my emotions, my understanding of myself and my world, includes my perception of others, and expressing that perception can be selfish, hurtful, and pompous. Is that OK? Yes. I am not responsible for other people's emotions. And every person who reads the words written here is capable of doing exactly what billions of people around the world do, and even scores of my own Facebook friends do: don't read them. But still. My words do have an impact.

But what impact do my words have?

Why do I write this blog? Am I doing it now for the same reasons that I started it 9 years ago? Why do I link to my blog regularly on Facebook now when I didn't when I joined Facebook 7 years ago?

When I started the blog, I was reading a lot of blogs. I thought it would be fun to think out loud publicly. I hoped, but didn't believe, that mine might become one of the well-known, widely read ones. It didn't. But I still liked it. After the birth of my son, and my embarkation on the stay-at-home dad journey, it became a place to reach out when I felt isolated, to get positive feedback when I felt like a failure as a parent, a place to think out loud about what it was I was doing and how I felt about it. It was a place to write stories that I hoped would make my family and my son's know him and me better and to feel more involved in our lives. I wanted him to be connected to his extended family like I was when I was very young but was not as I got older. I wanted that for him, and I hoped that the blog would help keep him on the minds and in the hearts of his own extended family.

Now, I'm not writing about parenting. I'm not isolated. In my divorce, in my quitting drinking, in my dating adventures, I do feel like I'm doing something unusual that makes me think a great deal about what I'm doing and why, just as I did with my stay-at-home dad role. So I write about them here and link to them there.

I have received feedback that the impact of my words has been positive. That my openness about what I'm doing, why, and how I feel about it has inspired others to make changes in their own lives, and that they are grateful for that openness that many people do not exhibit. I made it easier for them, and I made it easier for them to talk about it.

Mostly the feedback that I get, though, is a balm to my ego. I don't kid myself that this space changes lives. This space feeds my ego. I know that. I post funny snapshots of my life on Facebook, and wait for the likes and comments to roll in. I write a blog post hoping that it's funny or clever enough to prompt someone to tell me how great I am. And some of you do. Thanks for that!

In thinking of my drinking, though, I know it was an addiction that I used to waste time that I could have and should have been using more productively. It was an excuse to not do something amazing out of fear that I could not do something amazing. I haven't had a drink in approaching a year and a half now, by the way. Please do feel free and encouraged to tell me how great that is. Because it is great! I'm very proud of it. And I'm still going strong. I quit drinking during one of the toughest, most emotional, most ego-crushing periods of my life, and I've not picked up a drink through plenty of difficult periods since then. It's awesome! I'm awesome! I'm kicking ass at not drinking!

But from that perspective, Facebook and this blog are exactly the same things. Addictions. I'm addicted to the positive feedback that I don't have to work very hard to receive. I don't have to really earn it. Friends and family are often very supportive and kind. That's part of being family and friends for many of us. We're nice to the people we know. And that addiction is an excuse not to commit the time I spend here or on Facebook to something more meaningful. And it's a time suck that distracts me from the fact that I'm not doing that more meaningful thing. If I write here, I don't have to work hard at crafting what I write. I don't have to try to convince someone to publish it. I put it out there, and people say, "Yay! Look at you! Good job!" And I don't write articles. Or short stories. Or poems. Or novels. And I certainly don't make any money at it. And I certainly don't have to face that fear-laden question of, "What if it's not good enough, and no one wants it?"

My dating adventures have put me face to face with my fears over and over again, and I've come out the other side of each episode still here, still alive, still kicking, still sometimes getting what I wanted and sometimes not, but always pretty much OK. Often more than OK. Often better than I was. So I think I'm ready to face that big fear that I've carried around ever since I first started writing, I think probably around the 5th grade or so. Maybe younger. I don't know. Carrying around fears from childhood, and shame about those fears, right through adulthood is how so many people end up closed off, defensive, stagnated, isolated. Afraid. I'm committed to never doing that again. It's not easy. But I can do it. So as someone I love often says, I'm going to say, "Nope!" And I'm going to say, "Fuck that shit!" And I'm going to write.

Which means I'm done here.

Thank you all for reading. Thank you all for commenting. If I know you personally, you probably came here from a Facebook link. The status update that included that link also included personal contact information. If we know each other in cyberspace, let's stay connected in the real world. If we don't, that's OK, too. I know I don't have as many friends as my Facebook Friends list would have me believe. None of us really do, I suspect. But if you want to, you'll know how to reach me. If you want my email address and you're not a Facebook friend, drop me a line in the comments or otherwise reach out. I probably like you.

See ya in the funny papers!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


I haven't responded to a 100 Word Challenge in 100 years. Last time I looked, it was Velvet Verbosity prompting us to write, but the torch has been passed to Thin Spiral Notebook, a regular contributor. This week's prompt is "Job." I gave it a whirl for old time's sake and because I need to get back to more creative pursuits:

"It's not my job to fuck you on your birthday!" She said it with a smile and a wink.

"Good thing it's not my birthday." I winked back.

She was hot shit, and used to be she didn't know it. Used to be she was pretty beat down, but she came back from that pure on fire. Tore up jeans, tight t-shirt, and no makeup. She could drop any jaw she wanted.

"So..." I asked, looking her up and down and grinning. "Whose job is it to fuck you on your birthday, doll, and where do I get an application?"

Monday, May 2, 2016


I've been thinking about and observing married people a lot lately, for reasons so obvious that I'm going to state them anyway, because that's how I roll: I was married for a long time; it didn't last forever, even though we both promised each other it would; my perception of myself was negatively affected; I'm rebuilding my self-esteem now, and I'm interested in how to avoid that damage in future relationships.

So I've noticed how often married people pick at each other. They deliver small criticisms with frequency in all sorts of conversation, publicly, in front of friends and relatives. Newly married couples do it. Couples married 50 years do it. Couples whose love and partnership I respect and admire do it. It's surprisingly universal, at least in my relatively small collection of empirical data.

And me, I internalized that criticism. I took the blame and built up a lot of resentment towards myself for not being able to be the man my wife wanted me to be, and towards her for not being the woman I wanted her to be. And towards her for not being satisfied with who I was. That's what I want to avoid in my future relationships: that moment when the honeymoon phase is over and the stars in the eyes have faded, when we begin to believe that we have the right to behave in a corrective manner toward this person that we love.

I want relationships with people who are happy with me and aren't focused regularly on ways that I should change. I want relationships with people with whom I'm happy and am not focused regularly on ways that I want them to change. If I'm in a relationship with someone who is not happy with who I am, I'd rather the relationship end than I begin to resent myself or her. I've done the resentment version of marriage. I never want to go back.

Is that impossible? Is it co-habitation, and not marriage, that makes us all snipe at each other? Is it just at root human nature to focus on the ways in which we want other people to be different from what they are right now? Or is it just that I'm the only one that took all those jabs to heart?
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