By Kenneth stepp
For you professional writers out there, I’m sorry about the title…But the title says what many of us feel. By myself is who I am when flying solo. Alone is a lifestyle, one I have found a way to get used to. The other, by myself, not so much.
My marriage was my life: an intact family, wife, kids, house, animals. It’s who I was. I’ve struggled with who I am since the split five years ago. The day I left was the first time in my life I felt alone. It was sobering. I found myself wrestling with who I was and what’s next. I felt like David staring at Goliath, and in my sling were absolutely zero smooth stones.
It’s while here that we stumble out of the gate like a racing horse on tequila. For a while, we aren’t concerned with our mistakes. It’s as if the morality that was part of our DNA, our default mode, had been put on pause and a whole other person took over. I’m not alone. This happens to so many, maybe most, of us.
I can remember my day of enlightenment. One day I was sitting in my kitchen, the sun had just risen over my back yard. All of a sudden I knew that I again wanted the depth that my life had had before. By now I knew I had to take myself back from this other person that had been living my life for me. Not only had he made a mess of me, but he hurt some others in the process. That was not my nature at all.
My old life, the one when I was in an intact family, was gone. The only hope I had to be my old self was to rebuild me and reinvent my values. Were they new values or a recreation of my old ones? More thought will go into this before I can answer that.
For myself, I have entered a new phase of my life. While I try to replicate what I once had, I know what is coming will be completely new. Not just me, but my forever will have gone through the same fire and become a new person again. I speak metaphorically, but I believe you understand my point. We all go through things and find we have changed.
“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination” – Jimmy Dean
Do we simply feel the wind and adjust the sails? Or do we really drift off course until we find ourselves completely lost in a sea of strangers? That was my experience. I found that I had become a cheap imitation of something really valuable, like a shiny gold watch that is really gold plated and without any value at all.
The day I looked in the mirror and saw that guy looking back at me. Well, it was a God moment in my life. I remember talking into the mirror, “You’re better than this.” I vowed that day to work on myself, to practice self discovery, to be the best man I was capable of being.
My mind quickly flashed to the best man I’ve ever known: my dad. Dad was a boxer in the Navy, a man’s man, strong as an ox with testosterone seeping from every pore, an alpha male by any standard. But he was so much more. He was a dedicated father, a dear friend, and the kindest man I ever knew. He taught my big brothers and me the value of being a gentleman. He said when you have nothing to prove, you can be kind to everyone.
I’ve told this story to my close friends. I was eleven years old and my dad and I were travelling from Kentucky to West Virginia, his home state. He said son, see that bridge there? “Yes, I do, dad.” He told me, “I took one of the worst beating of my life on that bridge when I was young.”
My dad was my Superman. I was shocked! “What happened, Dad?”
“Well, it was this girl…” At that moment I could only picture a 60 foot tall fire breathing woman beat up my dad. “Son, she got mad and started beating on me.”
“Why didn’t you fight back, Dad?”
“A real man never hits a woman son.”
“Why didn’t you just leave, Dad?”
“Well, a real man never runs either, son.”
Now you see my role model. That’s my guy. That’s my dad. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss hearing his voice. My family tells me they hear his words fall out of my mouth often.
This journey takes its toll on all of us. Dating these days means we will face all forms of narcissism, sociopathic behavior, and levels of self-centeredness we could not have imagined a generation ago. I have looked at the path I must take and to me, it’s worth it all. Stand tall, be brave, but most of all, be you. Do not conform to a person you are not. After all… You’re awesome, just be yourself.
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive that is youer than you.” Dr Seuss