All we need is somebody to lean on...
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Morgan Freeman + Louisville Slugger = Cinematic Magic....
Being an adult can be isolating. Being a dad can be even more isolating.
Work. Kids. Time with partner. Household duties. A tiny bit of relaxation time. Not enough sleep. Repeat.
You know you have friends somewhere out there in your world. Friends you used to have tons of time for. Road trips, video games, watching sports, playing sports, the works really.
Essentially what my living room looked like in 2006....
Life has changed, your friendship dynamics have changed, but that's okay because other priorities get in the way and you know they care.
At the same time, it's also so easy to isolate and insulate yourself when you spend most of your non-working time with your kids. You can talk superhero origin stories and the importance of not talking with your mouth full til you're blue in the face, but at the end of the day you have to decide between a meaningful conversation or setting your fantasy lineups for the week in the ten minutes you have alone in the bathroom.
Possibly the most relatable dad scene in movie history
There's never enough time, and thus never enough opportunity to connect on a real and meaningful level.
I myself have never been a talker. This started off at an early age with a bad stutter that made me incredibly self-conscious. My sister taught me how to read before I even started school. My brain worked at an incredible speed, and my mouth couldn't keep up.
Mix that in with growing up in a household where I would get screamed at and threatened with or subjected to bodily harm for simply looking at my stepdad, and social interaction wasn't my strong suit. I was always listening, always watching, always trying to figure out how the world worked and what my place was. I always looked for opportunities to connect with people, but had no idea what to do once I initiated the connection.
Things got better over time, once I found my team and my squad that I mentioned in my last post. All of my friends were aware on a surface level of what I had been through. It was terrifying to be vulnerable, but once I had enough beers in me I sometimes couldn't keep the walls crack-free, and words and feelings would slip and then pour out.
Despite this, I stayed stuck in the mode of "if you don't ask, I won't tell." To this day, I find solace in being there and helping others and providing what they need. Having a meaningful place in your own world is the easiest way to make your soul feel alive. But you're more likely to find Justin Bieber slip and sliding down a double rainbow in your backyard than you are to have me reach out to you and tell you something that's bothering me or something bad happening in my life or in my mind that I need support for.
I think a big source of this struggle is twofold.
The first? Feeling like no one truly cared. I grew up reading well, answering questions usually properly, sacking the quarterback, and getting buckets. But beyond that people who knew me probably couldn't tell you the first thing about me on the inside.
The second source of this struggle would be the raw terror of being exposed. People finding out I was damaged and broken and becoming even less comfortable being around me. I went something like 43 weekends in a row in high school where it was me, the remote control, Saturday Night Live, ICQ, and PC Cola. I think I stopped counting at 43 because the number got too depressing. It's more comfortable to not fail.
Eventually, one of the beauties of getting older is that you become comfortable with who you are. You read enough, you listen to enough people who get it, you suffer and survive enough, you eventually come to terms with the fact that "this is me."
I've always felt well-supported by those who know me. I always limited this support myself to a "quid pro quo" level. I've led by example on being consistent, stable, available, and supportive; and felt that I put enough of this energy into the universe that I would always get it back.
After a tumultuous Christmas season that saw the three year anniversary of the death of my dad, health problems for my father in law, and issues with my New Zealand family members, I eventually got sick of the tension headaches, the panic attacks, the biting my nails, over snacking, and constant worrying and said "fuck it". I can't afford $120 therapy sessions whenever I need them, and thus now is a better time than any to suck it the fuck up and start talking about my feelings. Over the past week, I have thrived in ways I've never thrived before simply by stepping out of my comfort zone and being vulnerable. I've reached out to friends and told them what's going on and how it makes me feel. I've shared my thoughts, feelings, fears, and worries with my wife without her asking. I've written a blog that's included my incredibly dark past, and pumped it out to the universe to large volumes of people I've never even met.
And I feel awesome.
I tried therapy and liked it but stopped because it's so flipping expensive. I tried anti depressants for two plus years and they didn't take away the panic attacks and mood changes and made my brain feel gummy and slow. I've DMed, group chatted, texted, blogged, chatted on a meaningful rather than superficial level, and IT WORKED.
Sharing your feelings - a dad's mental health version of oxi-clean
For the last five months, I've made my health one of my biggest personal priorities. A bigger one than trying to answer every social media message, lest I worry that someone feel let down by me and stop liking me as a result. For the last two weeks, I've stopped living in my own head and stopped convincing myself that I'm the only one who feels this way, thinks this way, and struggles in these ways.
I've finally let go, and shared. It's been an indescribable experience. The best way I could sum it up for any guys reading this blog would be to take the biggest pot in your house, and pour into it the feeling from the time you saw your first boob, won your first trophy, and did some unexpectedly achievable and awesome physical feat (for me dunking a basketball at 12 but I'm sure that many that read this can't specifically relate to that), and diving into it backwards like a late 90s Brisk iced tea commercial.
That's Brisk, baby
Instead of being the steady force that was always accessible, always willing to help, and always being what everyone else needed, I've initiated the need to be supported by others.
And it worked. Like the contra cheat code, it worked beyond my wildest expectations.
Everyone who knows me, knows I got chu. Everyone I know, I assumed you got me, but I was always too afraid to experience even more letdown than I already have experienced in my life by testing the waters and finding out otherwise. These past few weeks, I cannon balled in that pool of uncertainty and made a splash that the cast of the movie "Deep Impact" would've been impressed by.
If you know me, and you're struggling, reach out. I always listen and never judge. If you don't know me, reach out to someone you trust and share where you're at and how you're feeling. It's one thing to pm your friend and discuss how hard the Patriots choked or what that thot in your spin class put on her insta story, it's something totally different to say "hey buddy, you got a minute? I need to get something off my chest" and the response to be everything you need and more.
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” ―Charles Dickens Lean on your team, watch your fears worries and stresses wash away, and picture it playing out like the movie Good Will Hunting, minus the terrible Bawstahn accents. The first step is always the hardest, but the results will probably shock you.
Will Hunting: He used to just put a belt, a stick, and a wrench on the kitchen table and say, 'Choose.'
Sean McGuire: Well, I gotta go with the belt there.
Will Hunting: I used to go with the wrench.
Sean McGuire: Why?
Will Hunting: Cause fuck him, that' why.