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Entry date: 12-17-2022 - Tough words - Letters to My Friends

Dear Friends,

I don’t know if I can drop a bomb like I did yesterday and come back with something happy for a Saturday morning. I don’t know if it is soul crushing or soul freeing to admit you are an asshole. I’d love to say “were” but I don’t know if that is up to me to decide.

On the positive, I have been working very hard since 2012 to be the man I promised to be when I married Rhondi. I have worked to be a good dad and stepdad and to be a good son, grandson, friend, nephew, employee, bandmate, co-worker, etc.

I look back and I don’t even know who I was in 2011 and 2012. There was good stuff happening in my life on other levels in those days, but I got wrapped up in a work relationship that became an affair. I am not going into the details out of respect for Rhondi. That is personal and only our business, but it definitely almost ruined our marriage and my life.

I’d like to chalk it up to some sort of mid-life crisis and maybe there is some merit to that, but I think my “crisis” was one that had been happening since I first began dating in 1985. I had no clue what a healthy relationship looked like until I started teaching about them at Casa and even then, I didn’t know how to have one.

I was a serial cheater.

Looking back, I don’t think I was ever faithful to anyone until the last decade. 1984 to 2012. That’s a long time of having to lie and avoid and just know, deep down, that I was a fraud when it came to love. Fuck! Almost 30 years of bullshit on some level or another.

Some of the people I dated were doing it right back to me. I can't say for sure on my ex-wife, but almost everyone else I was with in a "committed relationship" cheated on me but I probably deserved it. Either way, it's not an excuse. It was just the way it was.

I put my wife through hell for someone else. I may have thought it was the right thing to do at time for some weird reasoning going on in my brain at the time, but I now know it was just another person for me to project my bullshit onto in some sort of weird ego thing or, worse, a way to lash out at the best person who has ever come into my life.

To say I took Rhondi for granted for a couple of years is an understatement. It could have been one of the best times in my life, too, but I didn’t know who to communicate or do the work or just be honest about what I was thinking and feeling and needing. Rather than just have tough conversations and work through them in my early life, I had usually tried to sabotage things or force others to reject me.

The thing was, when it came to the realization of what was really important, I realized that I didn’t want to be rejected by Rhondi and the kids. I wanted them to be part of my life more than anything, so I changed. I worked. I built trust. I communicated.

It was hard.

I deserved to be kicked to the curb and I am fearful of what would have happened in my life had Rhondi told me to fuck off like she probably deserved to back in those days. I don’t even want to think of what the last decade would have been like. I almost ruined my life and I am grateful every day that didn’t.

When I left the prison job, I left a couple of years of terrible decision making behind me. I didn’t get terribly far, at first, because I went to work for another company in the same space that had some of the old Televerde people working for it. It was far enough for me to put some distance there between myself and the "woman" and start working on myself and repairing things, but not far enough.

The one good thing that came of that next job was the time I got to spend on the east coast for work. During each month from January to October of 2013, I spent about a week in New Hampshire and grew to really love it. I think the distance was helpful, for me, to be able to focus on what I had done and feel like there was nothing I could do wrong. For some reason, being closer to Rhondi's dad (even though I was a few hours away), helped me feel like I could be a good person. Weird, right?

I actually wanted for us to all move to New Hampshire and to stay working there, but it wasn’t in the cards. The company, eCoast, ended up closing their Phoenix call center and I experienced my first lay off. It was a bummer, for sure.

Slowly, though, during that year, I started building a little trust back and worked on communicating and expressing my feelings. It was baby steps, for sure, but it was steps. I felt like a giant karma bomb had been dropped on my head, too, as I had never been laid off from a job before.

It was scary as hell, to be honest, and made me take a long look at who I was and what I was doing. I was going through an intense period of personal discovery and, eventually, growth. It was a hard five years after leaving the prison. I had to bust out of that weird cycle and become a man Rhondi could respect again.

I learned during that time what it means to live by the “actions speak louder than words” motto.

Prior to that, I always convinced myself that I could get by on words. I could make everyone happy and keep everyone happy with the right words, even if they were not honest. I had convinced myself that I could feel like I was living an authentic life, even if I wasn’t. I always figured, “Well, there are people who like me and think I’m a good guy, so I must be a good guy.”

Words can be just as dangerous as drugs and alcohol. They fend off feelings and keep the bullshit river flowing fast enough for you to feel like you are cruising through life. As much as I wanted to people to like me, I didn’t even really like myself. I felt like if I had some good relationships and was a good person to as many people as I could be good to, it would make up for the destruction at home I was causing by not being able to really talk about what I wanted and needed.

But then I realized that Rhondi didn’t need me to be perfect. She just needed me to be me. I learned how to show her me. I learned how to trust that she was loving me unconditionally and not waiting for some shoe to drop or whatever I was afraid of a decade and more ago.

I still have work to do, but I can see how far I have come. I don’t feel the need to please everyone anymore as long as the people close to me feel good being close to the real me. If I get in a tough spot, I talk to her about it. If I get scared, I reach out for her hand. If I need a kick in the ass, I ask for it and take it so I can get back on the right path.

See you tomorrow.

Shitty picture for a shitty post. I bought this amp to play acoustic guitar through and I used it once, I think, in a live setting. Couldn't think of a good picture for the words I shared today.

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