Family is a treasure

My five-year-old sleeps in my wife’s bed.  He has for a few months now.

He goes to sleep a lot earlier than she does.

He always wants someone to be with him.

My wife is usually busy with homework.

I don’t mind laying down with him.  Most nights that’s what I do.

The other night I was laying down with him.  I was rubbing his hair.

My mind kept wandering.  I reminded myself that my time with my boys is short.  I tried to stay focused on being with him.

I realized there wasn’t anywhere else I wanted to be right then.

What better place could there be?

I was afraid to go on a mission

I was pretty sheltered as a kid.

My dad died when I was three.

My mom kept me home most of the time.  I was happy there, so I didn’t mind.

In the LDS church young men are expected to serve a full-time mission for two years.  At that time they would go at age nineteen.

I was afraid of being on my own for that long.

I’d been on my own at scout camps and events, but that was it.

I was afraid of being far from home.

I had always wanted to get married.  That seemed a lot safer, and I’d always been romantically inclined.

I had a plan.

Right after high school I would go to college for a year.  While I was there I would find someone to marry.

Never mind that I had never gone out on a date before.

Never mind that I was afraid to even talk to girls.

My plan was foolproof.

What could possibly go wrong?

Rock Bottom

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

– J.K. Rowling

I haven’t hit bottom. Not yet.

To be honest, I’m kind of looking forward to it.

I’m not looking forward to being divorced from my wife.

I’m not looking forward to living in my mom’s basement. (Sigh…)

I’m especially not looking forward to being separated from my boys

I’m looking forward to making progress. To getting myself on the right path. To really working toward achieving greatness. To being a good example for my boys.

With the help of a loving Heavenly Father I can do it.

With his help I can do anything.

Boom!

Last Thursday I blew up at my wife.

She was filing for divorce online and asking me questions.

I got irritated and eventually exploded.  I said a lot of hurtful things that I regret.

At one point I thought about killing myself.  I hadn’t thought about that for a long time.

Eventually I calmed down and apologized.

Later I realized I wasn’t as okay with the divorce as I had thought.

Part of me was still hoping she’d change her mind.

Depression

I try to be optimistic.  I tell myself the future can be better than the present.

Sometimes it’s hard though.

Yesterday morning I was watching old family videos.

Wife and kids happy.

Now it’s coming to an end.  That makes me feel depressed.

I wish I could go back and fix it.  But I can’t.

I used to think about killing myself a lot.  I’d have a fight with my wife and think “I can’t take this anymore!”

I rarely have those thoughts anymore.  They still show up occasionally, though.

Therapy helps.  Anti-depressants help.  Thinking about how I can improve helps.

I still get depressed.

I don’t want to get divorced.  It doesn’t seem like I have a choice, though.

But I can’t give up on life.

I don’t want to rush into a new relationship

Don’t worry about finding the right person.  Become the right person.

– Source Unknown

The first step to being the right person is loving yourself.

I’ve hated myself for a long as I can remember.

I’m working on loving myself now.  I feel pretty good about myself now.  I’ve got a lot of bad qualities, but there are a lot of good ones, too.  I can work on the bad ones, and the good ones can always get better.

My relationships with my boys are more important than any romantic relationships right now.  I’m a better father than I’ve been in the past, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

I’m not satisfied with a lot of things in my life right now.

I want to be able to go to the temple, and that’s not something I can do right now.  I want to improve my spirituality and get to the temple.

I’ve been doing phone jobs for most of my life.  I hate talking on the phone.  I ‘m burned out and I really need to do something else.

I’m not healthy.  I’m fat.  I go for walks, but not every day.  I don’t eat healthy.  I’m on an antidepressant and blood pressure meds.  I want to get off those.

I need to start reading books on a daily basis.  I want to learn and develop new skills.

I want to be my own boss.  I wants to build websites and make money from those.

I want to be able to afford to support myself, my wife and kids.  I want my mom to be able to stop working.

I don’t feel like I have to self-actualize before pursuing a romantic relationship.  I do want to get moving in the right direction and make some real progress first.

Making the changes I want will make me a different person.  Someone who would fall in love with the man I am now wouldn’t fall in love with the man I want to become.

The woman I really want to marry is someone who’d love that guy.

Divorce

My wife told me at the end of June that she wanted to separate.

This wasn’t the first time she’d said that.  This time was different, though.  This time she wouldn’t be talked out of it.

She felt like she couldn’t trust me anymore.

I’d lied to her about watching porn.  That was worse than the fact that I’d been watching porn.

Six months earlier I’d decided to come clean to her.  We’d been going through marriage counseling, and I started feeling a lot closer to her.

I knew my lies were getting in the way of us getting closer.

One night she confessed something to me.  So I confessed to her that I’d been lying.

At first she seemed ok.  By the time I came home from work the next day I could tell she wasn’t ok.

She went into a deep depression for several months.  I was worried, but I didn’t know what I could do.  Most of the things I tried to do were mistakes.

We went through cycles.  She’d let me know she wasn’t happy with me.  I’d work hard at being the best husband ever.  After a while I’d slack off.  I couldn’t stick with it.  She’d get upset again.

She was gentle when she told me.  More gentle than I expected.  I cried.  She comforted me.

I told her I was really going to change this time.  I meant it when I said it.

Eventually I got used to the idea.  She was going to divorce me no matter what I did.

I decided once we were divorced I’d change.  I’d become the best version of myself, and hope she’d like the new me.  Then maybe she’d want me back.

Later it sunk in that she was probably never going to take me back.

Now I’ve accepted it.  I’m ready to move on with my life.

I think…

I want to have more kids

My wife doesn’t.  At least that’s what she says.

Since she’s divorcing me it doesn’t matter.

I don’t want to get married again right away.  I want to become the man I know I have the potential to be.  The wife I find now may not be compatible with the man I want to become.

I love babies.  Whenever I see babies or toddlers it makes me want another.

It’s not because I don’t love my boys.

They’ve been asking my wife for years when she’s going to give them a little sister.

A few weeks ago they told me Mommy didn’t want to have another baby.  I reminded them about the divorce.  They seemed sad.

I told them I was probably going to get remarried, and when that happened I might have another baby.  They were happy about that.

When my oldest was born I wasn’t excited.  I’m ashamed of that.

He showed me how wonderful being a dad is.  He made me want to have another.  Now I have two wonderful little boys.

They make me want to have even more kids.

I was secretly relieved to get kicked out of college

I didn’t want to get stuck in a job I hated.

I didn’t want to be mistreated by employer after employer.

I was a computer science major.  I was planning on becoming a programmer.  Then I read this:

Now let’s talk about death marches, mandatory uncompensated overtime, the beeper on the belt, and having no life. Men accept these conditions because they’re easily hooked into a monomaniacal, warrior-ethic way of thinking in which achievement of the mission is everything. Women, not so much. Much sooner than a man would, a woman will ask: “Why, exactly, am I putting up with this?”

Eric S. Raymond, Women in computing: first, get the problem right

For those who are unfamiliar with ESR, he is sort of the godfather of the open-source software movement, and a master programmer.  He knows what he’s talking about.

I wanted to be able to be a family man.  That blog post didn’t give me a lot of confidence I’d be able to do that, or much else I wanted to do.

My enthusiasm about school had already started to cool.  I had to take classes I wasn’t interested in.  A lot of the work seemed like busy work.

I talked to my wife about the doubts I was having.  She left me know she would be very unhappy if I quit.  So I tried to soldier on.

I didn’t do a good job of it.  I wouldn’t do assignments.  If I did them it would be hurriedly, at the last minute.  A lot of times I skipped class altogether.

This went on for a few years.  Then when the university told me I had to switch majors it ended.

I was disappointed, but also relieved.

A few months before the end of my last semester of college, I discovered James Altucher.  Glenn Beck had him on his show to discuss an article he’d written, called 10 Reasons Why You Have to Quit Your Job This Year.

I started reading through his blog and listening to his podcast.  Among other things, he says he regrets going to college:

When I was 19, I won some money in a chess tournament. So instead of using that money for my college tuition I decided to drop out of college and buy a car.

I bought a used 1982 Honda Accord. I drove it around for a few hours since they let me drive it right out of the lot.

But when I saw my girlfriend and everyone else taking their classes I got a little jealous. I returned the car and cancelled the check and entered my sophomore year of college. But I regret it now.

James Altucher, 8 Alternatives to College

James was a college graduate.  A computer science major, like me.  He graduated college and did programming work for them for a few years.  When he got a programming job in the real world, and he couldn’t even program.

I was more conflicted that ever.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to finish school.  I wasn’t sure I wanted a programming job anymore.  I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to get a programming job if I finished school.

But I didn’t want to upset my wife.

That summer the university gave me a reprieve.

I didn’t finish college

I went to college right after high school.  It was a little college in a rural town.  I didn’t know anyone there.

Before long I made friends.  I started dating for the first time.

I worked hard at first.  I took seventeen credits my first semester.  I practically lived in the library.  I didn’t shower for a week.

After a couple of weeks I burned out.  I started skipping classes and not doing assignments.  I hung out with friends instead.

Or I played on the internet.

I never really used the internet before college.  Once in high school our class went to the library to do research on the internet, but I had no idea what I was doing.

In college the internet and I became best friends.  I’d spend hours in the computer lab looking up everything I could think of.  Sometimes I’d take CDs and headphones so I could listen to music while I surfed.

As the year went on my grades got worse.  After going home for the summer I got a letter saying I would have to take a term off.  I decided not to go back .

A few years later I tried teaching myself Japanese from a book I got from the library.  That wasn’t very effective, so I decided to take a college class.  Then I thought, “If I’m going to take one college class, why not take a few?”  So I signed up for several fun classes.  After a couple of years I started feeling burned out.  I didn’t know what I wanted to major in.  So I stopped going.

A few years after that I was married and had a toddler.  We were living in my in-laws’ basement.  Then I was laid off from my job and having trouble finding another.

My wife suggested that I go back to school.  She suggested that I go to the small-town school I’d gone to previously.  I’d dreamed about going back, but I didn’t think it would happen.

I jumped at the chance.  We moved just after Christmas and I started school in January.  I was going to be a serious student and get good grades this time.

I did really well the first semester.  After that my enthusiasm waned.  After a year or two I had a conversation with my wife about whether college was right for me.  She was working to support our family while I went to school, and she let me know that my degree was her hope for the future.

After five semesters at the small-town school I decided to transfer to a university in a larger town.

I was at the university for a year.  When I attempted to sign up for computer science classes for the next fall semester I got a message saying I needed to be in the computer science program.  I was already a computer science major.  I emailed my adviser to find out what was going on.

My adviser informed me that I had taken Calculus II too many times without getting an acceptable grade.  I wouldn’t be able to take it again.  I had to change majors.

I wasn’t interested in another major.  I had gone back to college to get a programming degree.

I left the university.  For a while I thought of other ways to get my degree, including online courses.  I decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do.  There were other paths to success, and I wanted to pursue one of those.

It broke my wife’s heart when I told her.  She had pinned all her hopes and dreams on my degree.

Things haven’t been the same since.