That Awkward Moment You Realize How Embarrassed You are By Who You Were 10 Years Ago

I’ll start by pointing out the obvious. This is 2022. Nobody reads blogs anymore. I know that.

And that very fact likely reveals how much time has passed between the version of myself I do not wish to remind anyone of (though ironically, that’s what I am doing here), and the now 40 year-old version of myself who is finally beginning to process the shame, fear, and anger that I didn’t realize has been here this whole time.

Would it be silly for me to apologize to everyone who knew me during the most challenging and darkest time of my life? I can if you need me to.

Because trust me- I don’t like that guy from a decade ago!

He came across as very self-righteous, eager to prove others wrong, and way too caught up in conspiracy theories.

At the time, I was Parents magazine’s official Daddy Blogger; a side hustle that lasted a solid 4 years. During that time, the plant-based trend was really picking up. So naturally, I found myself exploiting the fact I was a hard core vegan, in my blog posts. Sure, it helped my views. But my vegan lifestyle also served as an avatar to reveal my anger and confusion.

If it wasn’t me being a vegan, it would have been something else. My subconscious would have found an alter-ego to demonstrate what is completely obvious to me now:

I was not at peace. I was reaching.

I was reaching for the idea that I could be in control of… something.

Because during that time, I felt like my life was out of control.

My wife and I had moved from Nashville (where we had decent jobs) with our newborn son, back to my hometown in Alabama. Keep in mind, this was shortly following the Financial Crisis of 2008. And not knowing better, we moved there without securing jobs first.

Unlike now, where people my age are migrating back to their hometowns because so many of us are working remotely anyway, it proved impossible back then to find a decent job where I could support my wife and newborn son.

So after nine stormy months, we had to swallow what was left of our pride and ask for our old jobs back.

We moved to Nashville again, but not before our car broke down on the way up.

And of course, we had been living off our savings the whole time we were jobless in Alabama.

That means we returned to our life in Nashville, with no savings- and for me personally, very little dignity. Starting over.

I couldn’t have known it at the time, but I was very angry and was living in much fear; in addition to the shame I felt, for years following our move back to Nashville.

It was about four years ago that I began to wake up from the fog. The company I had been working for all those years shut down their branch where I worked, which forced me to find a new job.

That new job as a recruiter, where I still work today, would prove to be the best place I have ever worked. I became part of a team for the first time. I polished my leadership skills. I felt good about my life again, finally.

Subconsciously, I was beginning to find my inner peace again.

The biggest epiphany began to present itself a just few months ago, after I became inspired to earn my certification as an Enneagram coach.

I learned that I am an Enneagram 7. I am the optimist and the extrovert, out of the 9 Enneagram personalities.

The downside is, my specific fear as an Enneagram 7 is that my time is being wasted, so I constantly feel I have to keep myself busy all the time- and I have to feel like I’m being productive.

Otherwise, the anxiety kicks in. And I realized that the unsuccessful move to Alabama changed my Enneagram wing of a practical 6, to an aggressive and often angry 8.

I will say- it means I’m really good at my job: Convincing people what to do all day; thanks to my aggressive, energetic edge.

But outside of the character I play at work, it can be challenging for me to feel relaxed. Because I have this angry, anxious energy running through my veins.

For me, this is a year of focusing on mental health. I feel like a lot of people have been saying the same thing, here recently.

As an Enneagram 7, my “growth personality” is an Enneagram 5. In other words, the best version of myself is when I am a more analytical and balanced introvert.

Contrary to that is who I was a decade ago, the self-righteous vegan. That was me in my “stress personality”, which is an Enneagram 1, the Perfectionist. That was the worst version of me, on public display.

Thanks to my new insight, I am able to see progress begin.

As recent as… yesterday, actually… I actually began crying tears of sadness, anger, and shame; as I came to terms with the emotions I repressed for over a decade, from the move to Alabama not working out.

This past weekend, I joined what I am ultimately going to call a “Men’s Support Group”; some of us are specifically there to sort out our repressed anger issues.

And while I haven’t been a vegan for years now, I have been secretly going to the gym 6 days a week each morning before work, to help my mental focus before any other challenges can present themselves.

I’m focused on my mental health, my physical health, and my spiritual health.

My anger, my shame, and my fear from a decade ago are still inside of me; yes.

But I am learning how to unpack all of that. How to manage it. And slowly, to release it and redirect it.

And you guessed it: My typing these thousand words here now is part of the therapy for me.

You’re witnessing the beginning of the release.

 

Every Breath You Take of the Air Tonight

What were Phil Collins and Sting really singing about?

It happened just a few weeks after I was born, then again exactly two years later in May of 1983. A man living out the final months of a dying marriage releases a song that goes on to become one of the biggest hits of the ‘80’s and most replayed songs on syndicated radio stations like Jack FM. Both of these men’s songs were destined to be misinterpreted and misunderstood. Songs that were sad realizations from a man watching the love of his life slip away from him, though she shared his bed every night. I’m referring to Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” and Sting of The Police’s “Every Breath You Take”.

Known for its memorable drum introduction over two minutes into the recording, its ghostly atmosphere, and its refrain of “oh Lord” that allows the song to exist not only has a premonition of his soon divorce and confrontation with his then-wife, but also as a desperate acknowledgement that God is overwatching the nightmare unfold, “In the Air Tonight” remains the perfect song for a drive on the interstate on an overcast day in October.

However, to many fans of the song (who wouldn’t be?), the meaning has always been vague and abstract.  Obviously some mysterious big event is about to happen and the accusing tone reveals anger, distrust, and sadness. So it only makes sense that a believable urban legend was born: A man watched Phil Collins’ brother drown and didn’t try to save him. Phil Collins years later invited the man to his concert and gave him a front row seat and sang the song to the man to drench him in guilt. The man later died of a heart attack. I believed this story for three years, until I did some research myself (on Wikipedia) to find out the truth. The Drowning Man Theory makes sense and it’s easy to want to believe it. But once I found out it’s a song about Phil Collins’ fading first marriage, the depth and weight of the song became so much clearer to me.

In a strange parallel, Sting woke up in the middle of the night and wrote “Every Breath You Take” as he watched his first marriage disintegrate. It went on to become the #1 single of 1983, surprisingly beating out all of Michael Jackson’s mega-hits that year (Thriller, Billy Jean, Beat It, P.Y.T., Human Nature, The Girl is Mine, Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’). While the song comes across as a vow of undying love to many, with its promise to keep watch over his object of affection, it’s actually the opposite. It actually described Sting’s feeling of deep loss, knowing he would never fully get over losing his first wife. He didn’t want to let her go, but the marriage was ended regardless. Therefore, the “stalkerish” feel of the song is completely intentional.

Two British men who fronted successful pop rock bands in the 1980’s both wrote a song at the end of their marriage that went on to be a classic and unforgettable hit. And many people will never know the truth about the background of the writing other than what is written here. That’s often the case though: Some of the biggest legendary things in life are surrounded by mystery, only adding to the intrigue.