My life recently fell apart, and it started a domino effect that I couldn’t stop. Peter Drucker said it best in a nod to Murphy’s Law when he coined Drucker’s Law – “If
It all started with some marital turmoil. My wife and I started our second real fight and things went downhill from there. And please don’t jump to conclusions, you’re probably wrong. Suffice it to say that we were having issues that I was afraid we couldn’t resolve.
That fight bled into other areas of my life that I didn’t expect it to, like my tattooing career, being a father, being a friend, and my personal businesses. This eventually caused a family financial crisis. All of this compounded my stress and I found it very difficult to get back on track.
It actually amazes me how much I forgot when my marriage was in danger. I’ll start with the small stuff and work my way to the bigger stuff. Because even the small things can have a pretty big impact if left unattended.
Like personal hygiene. When you fight with your spouse, you stop caring about much else. I didn’t shave for 2 weeks. It didn’t really matter, because hardly anyone saw me, but still! I’m a clean-cut guy most of the time, and it stopped looking that way for a bit.
I quit journaling and meditating. These were two very important routines, but I didn’t have anything positive to say for a while, and my mind was too noisy to meditate. These habits would have been an enormous help when I was in so much distress, but I forgot that.
My entire routine and my philosophy on life fell apart. As a creature of habit and discipline, this was an enormous blow.
The big stuff, too.
It wasn’t just the small stuff, but the big stuff, too. I forgot that I love the things I do for an income. I stopped writing articles, recording videos, even looking for new clients for tattooing.
This led to being behind on a few of my bills (nothing ever got disconnected, though!). At first it wasn’t because I couldn’t afford it, I just forgot to pay them. Then the late fees added up and I truly fell behind and couldn’t come up with any more emergency funds to pay for the things my family needed.
Falling behind was my major failing as a father to my son. I have never let my family go hungry, but I have to wonder how much this has affected our future comfort. My failing as a husband was worse, though
I forgot that you can’t change the past, no matter how much you wish you could, or how much you wish somebody else could, it just doesn’t happen. Judging someone over something that they have no ability to change isn’t productive or loving.
I forgot that I had a partner.
My wife has always been my partner, my teammate, and I treated her like an enemy. She looked at me like I was her enemy, too. I suppose we were enemies in love there for a bit, and I understand why , I just wish we could have realized that we were still a team .
We were still teammates when it came to being parents. We were still teammates in public. In private we were something else. We were quiet roommates who were uncomfortable being around each other.
Taking steps to start talking about the shit going through our heads is what made things start to get better. Even if it was uncomfortable, it had to be removed from the dark corners and pushed into the light.
We had to rediscover what it meant to be a team, whether that was tackling our own issues with one another or coming up with a plan to dig out of the financial disaster our life had become.
It was a slow and painful process, but I’m proud to say that we’re stronger than ever. Our pain gave us strength in the end.
The things I learned when my life fell apart.
Fortunately, I learned things when my life fell apart, too. I didn’t just forget things, I discovered new strengths in myself and my relationships.
First up, I really discovered what matters most to me. When everything else was falling apart I focused on repairing my marriage . Even if I didn’t realize, it was my marriage – my family – that mattered most to me. I’ve always been a family man, so that was no real surprise to me. Of the trials my family has endured, I don’t think this was the worst by a long stretch.
And, like I always do, I decided to consume as much material on an area of my life that I was having trouble with as I possibly could. I read book after book on making marriages stronger, repairing relationships, being happy with the woman I love. It paid off!
My wife and I now read together almost every night (when the boy child hasn’t exhausted us). We’re stressed, but happy. We’re looking at every problem that we meet as an opportunity to become stronger together.
Dropping our poisonous attitudes toward each other was the most important thing we’ve done in our marriage. We were never horrible to each other, we just ignored problems out of fear. But our fears were nothing compared to the damage we did to each other when we tried to avoid our issues.
Happiness is simple.
I’ve also learned about some things I can live without. Fast food and bad habits top the list, but the most important things that I can live without were unnecessary time sinks.
I’ve simplified my routine to the most effective few things that I can do consistently to generate the best results in my life.
- I write daily for my mental and emotional health.
- I meditate daily for my spiritual health (not in a religious way).
- I draw daily to keep my skills sharp and to constantly strive for improvement.
- I do at least one romantic gesture for my wife every day to support a healthy relationship.
- I exercise 3 times per week for my physical health.
- And I read constantly.
I don’t need fancy tools. I don’t need subscription services. All I need is the determination to make a better life for myself. Like I’ve said before – you create your own story. Mine is one of love and triumph, of rediscovering discipline and doing whatever it takes to make my family stronger.
What’s your story?
Have you done the same thing that I did? Did you let your life collapse because you couldn’t move past something? I’m lucky in the way that I turned things around.
I decided to look at my failures as an opportunity to try something else. I simplified my life, focused on the things that were important to me, and I learned from my frustrations.
That’s exactly what I would urge you to do. Make your own story, fail hard and often, but learn from your failures. And never forget the things that make you who you are.