Recovering the Guard

What is it like to see your life fall apart in front of you?  A divorce or breakup causes truly uncommon versions of fear, anxiousness, anger, and nervousness.

How do you react when feelings you never experienced flood your senses. Maybe you had a recent breakup or an impending divorce.  In life it’s hard to know what will happen every step of the way. It’s possible for whatever reason someone you trust, love, and communicate with regularly may hit you with an unexpected conversation about why they want things to end.  If you are like I was you may never expect that type of conversation to occur.  

My marriage years ago was not one I would believe should have happened as I look at it from my eyes now.  I was a young kid about 19 when I was with my girlfriend at the time and I decided we should marry because we had a child.  It wasn’t just because of love, success, or happiness and I should have known the signs of a bad relationship would remain since we argued frequently during our years together.  

A main sticking point for marriage was I needed to take responsibility for my situation.  I needed to, “be a man.”  I did not want my daughter to grow up without both parents.  I was raised by a single mother and I believed it was the right thing.  I did not want to continue a cycle.

I disregarded older family members who advised against my reasons for marrying and waved away any thoughts of thinking harder about it.  I didn’t take account that I would still be around for my child whether we were together or not.  I remember feeling that if I wasn’t around daily I would be perceived as a failure and part of the problem for a younger generation.  

The woman I was with was never pleasant.  Values that were important to me were afterthoughts to her.  She never worked a job to help our household and at the time I wasn’t making much money to support us.  I may have made $10-$12.00 an hour to try to support her and the baby.  A joint bank account saw to it that we’d never have extra money because after bills were paid she used what little was left for her hangouts with friends.  

I remember my return from a deployment to Iraq with my unit in the Air Force Reserve.  I knew that the bills were being paid, but I never saw my bank account while overseas.  I was excited to find out what would be available because after making more than twice the money I was living on before, I figured one good thing to come home to would be a comfortable chunk of change.  I used a laptop in my hotel room to check my bank account. I looked and had a couple hundred bucks and after expecting thousands, I instantly felt crushed that a six month trip to Iraq netted me nothing, but memories.  Thankfully, we received a bonus check from our housing and subsistence.  I was glad to have that because I’d need a new used car.  I was able to afford a little green two door, 1992 Toyota Tercel, for $1,200, and it was my pride for the time.  

The message of my time being married is that it was never easy and often fueled with arguments and rage.  I never understood during that time period in my life that people cannot be changed.  I always expected that she would just understand how to be a better person some day.

When I began training for my career the days were long.  All day was filled for me from morning until night.  Through the first few weeks I realized that my ex was leaving our house as soon as I came home.  She’d return in the morning later than when I’d have to leave.  I constantly wondered what she was doing and if she’d come home.  My daughter would wander around the house as I’d find my ex-wife still asleep when I’d return.  There were a few times that I kept my clothes with me in my car and slept inside, next to a nearby church just to have a calm finish to the day.  I was a stressed and exhausted wreck.

I’d lay awake in my bed every night looking at my phone and dialing her phone number hundreds of times.  Sometimes she would answer my calls and I could hear her drunk and incoherent voice along with other people in the background.  Sometimes a different man would answer asking who I am.  Sometimes women would answer and hang up.  One morning I called to let my work know I’d be late.  Shortly after making that call, she pulled into our driveway as I sat outside calling her phone.  She parked crooked and she stumbled out of our car that had newly broken windows.  

On an occasion around Thanksgiving of that year, she told me over the phone that she had been cheating on me with a Latin King.  I remember the call.  It was an interesting moment because I always expected that I’d have no place for something like that.  I became scared of the unknown and I told her I’d forgive her if we started over.  She agreed, except nothing changed, and I was in a point of what felt like Purgatory.  I just did not know what to do.

I did not want to say anything to anyone.  I was afraid of people judging me and my situation.  I was afraid to tell the truth.  I was always looked at as that guy that always had a smile on his face.  When people saw me that was still what they saw.  No one ever knew that I was going through these things at home, because I thought it was on me to deal with my own problems and responsibilities.  My feelings were an airtight box trapped inside my own head and body.

What you can take from this part of the story is it’s never right for you to trap your feelings inside.  It wasn’t until I took my daughter to the mall one day and saw a friend from my high school. I hadn’t seen her for a long time and since I wasn’t in a rush to go back home, I stayed to talk and catch up.  We talked and it wasn’t long before she realized something was wrong with me.  That airtight box opened slightly and then I poured out my feelings while explaining my life to that point.

That moment served as one of my most important revelations.  After the conversation, I felt liberated.  Nothing was fixed, but I simply felt relief to get things off of my chest.  I also felt the strength to file for a divorce.  I did not believe in divorce, but I realized it was ok.  No one expects you or I to live a perfect life.  Maybe you are the person people look to for advice and now your life is in shambles.  

Please know that people love you.  When things happen in life it can feel like time has stopped.  When things feel like they are snowballing talk to someone you trust.  Shoot me a message and even I’ll communicate with you the best I can.

Understand that people and circumstances change.  In relationships some people change and others stay the same.  The problems happen when we refuse to grow together regardless of our differences.  Sometimes you’re just caught by surprise. It’s ok to admit defeat, but get back up when you fall.  Life kicks our asses sometimes whether we are ready or not.  

We have this one life. None of us asked to be who we are at the time and place we are in.  Love yourself.  Get up when you fall.  Accept your victories and accept your defeats.  Remember we are social beings and you are not meant to face a tough road alone.  Again, love yourself and know it’s ok to just talk and have a conversation about what’s going through your head.  Even if you don’t want help just talk because you will feel weight lifted off your shoulders.  

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu recovering the guard is a technique used to defend yourself before things get worse.  You go from a potentially vulnerable position to a position where you can see things coming again.  Whatever the circumstances are that have you feeling defeated, there is always a way to position yourself for success again.

Can I ask that we become wise from our experiences?  Some fighters philosophies are that they, “Win or they Learn”.  We can learn about ourselves through our good times and our bad times.   So are you going to Win or Learn?

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