I’ve recently come to the realization (and this is difficult for me to admit) that I’ve become the kind of person that I hated most when I was a married man/father of two young children:
Sometimes, throughout the six years of my marriage, my single/childless friends would feel compelled to tell me about their “problems”. I would listen intently, trying to sympathize–honestly trying to remember what it was like to be one of them. More often than not, however, I would end up envisioning them enduring grotesque, debilitating forms of torture (the evil deeds often being performed by myself):
“Oh, what’s that, Alex? You can’t seem to find enough time to exercise every single fuc$&@$ day of the week? Well isn’t that just the saddest thing I’ve ever heard! Here, hold still while I jam this ice-pick into your left ear.”
Now, before I go down my all-too-familiar path of self depreciation, I should be fair to myself and reemphasize the fact that I am a father of two young children. So, even if my current role in their lives is more like a distant orbiting moon, this fact alone should put me in a different category of “twenty-something-single-dude-that-lives-alone”.
Can I get “WHAT, WHAT!” from all my divorced-single-dads? (Jay-Z reference)
All the single-divorced-daddy’s, INDEPENDENT, throw yo hands up at maaaaay! (Beyoncé reference)
Well, for what it’s worth, here’s something I’ve learned about being a twenty-something-divorced-single-dude-that-lives-alone:
— It’s lonely.
Now, here’s something I’ve learned about loneliness:
— When you stay lonely for too long you become a weird person.
This is what I mean by that statement:
— All aspects of your life and internal psyche begin to deteriorate.
— You sleep too much, eat too little, think too much, play and laugh too little.
— You start staring at random things for extended periods of time–deconstructing those things until they become unrecognizable, meaningless, inanimate objects of the amorphous, ever-expanding universe inside your head.
— You stop doing things that you like to do, even though you have ample time to do all of those things.
— Instead, you spend your time doing stupid things, like signing up for Facebook and Instagram and Tinder and all that shit. You want people to think you are happy and normal. You stare for hours at all of the normal people’s pictures and wonder to yourself if they, like you, aren’t normal at all. You think about how easy it is to smile for a camera. You remember all of the smiles that you faked throughout your life–your marriage; your childhood. This makes you wonder what the point of everything is. You wonder how it’s possible to be happy for yourself instead of for other people. This makes you wonder what happiness is–if it’s real; if it exists, or if it’s like the Snipe in the woods that your cousins sent you out to look for when the sun was going down and you were all alone and you thought that you were going to get chased and eaten by a wolf or a bear.
— You consider the possibility that you might be depressed, which isn’t necessarily weird, but the weirdness of your actions and thoughts did get you to that point of recognition. You completely dismiss the thought, however, because what does that even mean? Depressed? Isn’t everyone depressed?
— When something unexpected and wonderful enters your life, you squander it; smother it; piss on it until the hot flames are nothing more than putrid pillars of smoke.
But why? Why do you always end up pissing on everything?
Well, it’s kind of like when you don’t eat for a long time and you’re STARVING so you go and eat a steak and rolls and mashed potatoes and collared greens and key lime pie and–your body doesn’t know what to do with all of the attention, so it just barfs everything up.
Perhaps right now you are thinking this, or saying this to someone over your shoulder?:
“Wow, Bryan is kind of a downer.”
But let me try and redeem myself.
Looking back on this whole “first-year-of-divorce” fiasco, I think that I’ve actually (so far) gained more than I’ve lost. The “gained” portion of the gain/loss ratio has by no means been a landslide victory, but I believe it to be a silver lining nonetheless.
It’s been really interesting, actually–experiencing the strange bend in time that occurs when significant changes have (in a relatively confined timeframe) infiltrated your life. Here’s what I mean by this:
Sometimes it’s difficult to judge the amount of progress we’ve made in a given amount of time. I think this is because we’re stuck living in the current moment. Everyday it seems that new problems and obstacles are being thrown our way–tripping us up and making us bad people. I think to see the progress we’ve made we need to distance ourselves from our current realities.
In other words: we need to take the time to step back and reflect on all of the shittier-times that we’ve had.
For example: I know that precisely one year ago I was moving all of my things out of the apartment that I’d been living in for six years with my wife and kids. That was a really shitty time.
To help you understand the shittiness of that situation, here is a poem that I wrote about it (I posted this earlier, but whatever–I don’t care if it’s tacky to post things twice):
WHAT YOU WILL REMEMBER
Your parents spent on love—
every last cent.
and your innocence up for rent.
Janey-Pie in her crib hugging Blanky,
all is not well on the home front.
Clothes, toys, and junk
spread out hanging,
dangling from every space
like flannel snow underfoot.
Your acute angle of vision,
slowly back and forth:
So close, face to face,
but not embracing.
So animated, like clowns,
we should all be laughing.
But this is the opposite
attracting, my son—
this is the opposite of love.
So, at least I’m not that guy anymore.
Or maybe I am still that guy?
Maybe I’m that guy and all of the other guys that I’ve ever been?
Maybe I’m a mass conglomerate of past “me’s”?
And maybe that’s O.K.?
I don’t have all the answers figured out.
But that’s not the point.
Life is a progression.
It’s a 10,000,000,000 piece puzzle and sometimes you want to keep giving up because gigantic puzzles like that suck major balls.
But you can’t stop now because you’ve already spent soooooooooo much time–soooooooooo many years and years and years trying to put the damn thing together.
Giving up now would be a quantum-sized travesty.
Besides, you’re kind of starting to see what the picture is.
Might as well keep going–