What Screws Us Up Most in Life

There’s at least one missing child. A beautiful little thing I would love intensely. Maybe this would be the first holidays where she was old enough to be excited about a visit from Santa. Maybe she looks like her mom.

Of course, maybe she’s not a girl at all. Maybe my third-grader has a little brother instead. Three little boys, even if one of us is disguised as an almost-40-year-old.

The house is different. The plan was to move.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Day plans are different too. What was supposed to be busy and filled with family will be something else.

Maybe my imaginary daughter or son would have just been disappointed anyway.

I always had an idea in my head about what Life would look like. It never occurred to me it would be anything but that. But then Real Life happened.

We’d always talked about two kids. But after abandoning my wife in the hospital five hours after she delivered our son via emergency C-section, and then leaving the creation and management of baby logistics to her throughout most of our first year as parents, I think I sapped her desire to go through anything like that again.

I once asked her if I was the reason she chose not to have more children.

She said yes.

. . .

What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.

. . .

I read that yesterday in MBTTTR commenter Drew’s excellent blog post about marital affairs.

This is a Life Thing I had picked up on when I was still young. I always said: “Expectations are everything.”

And what I mean by that is, my enjoyment or disappointment in something—or rather, my initial perception of something’s quality—was based entirely on my expectations prior to the experience.

Things like movies and books taught me this.

I can go to the theater to see two movies of approximately equal quality, say Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Avatar; or I can listen to two new albums for the first time—say AWOLNATION’s Run and Brian Fallon’s Painkillers—and my feelings about all of them are predicated entirely on what I thought heading in.

I thought Avatar was going to be the greatest achievement in cinematic history. It didn’t achieve that for me. The Force Awakens met my expectations entirely. Both movies, in my estimation, are of equal quality, but I like Force Awakens quite a bit more, and I think that’s why.

Same with AWOL and Brian Fallon. I expected to like the AWOL album. And I did.

I didn’t have any expectations whatsoever for Brian Fallon (front man for The Gaslight Anthem). And that album kicks ass. I don’t know whether I think it’s better than AWOL’s or not. But BECAUSE it was an out-of-nowhere pleasant surprise for me, I have a major fondness for it.

Maybe everyone does this.

Maybe I’m a little extreme. Or maybe some people are much better at accurately predicting their emotional responses to things, and maybe those people have much happier and healthier relationships and lives as a result.

I only know that pretty much all of my life experiences are impacted greatly by whether Real Life meets, exceeds, or falls short of, my prior expectations.

This has implications for my human relationships I’ve yet to wrap my head around.

This Isn’t Where I Thought I’d Be

Divorce changed everything.

That’s a MAJOR reset-button push when you don’t see it coming, or are in denial about its inevitability once a certain amount of breakage and ugliness has poisoned the marriage.

Everything in the very beginning is a blur.

When everything is broken on the inside of you, the world looks skewed and it’s impossible to tell whether what you’re seeing is wrong because it’s actually wrong, or because your brain’s Reality Calibration is busted.

I had just turned 34 when Everything became Something Else.

After a lifetime of companionship and/or reliable care from loving and responsible adults, I woke up to silence and a reflection in the mirror I hardly recognized.

Everything felt unsteady and out of balance, and even now, I can’t be sure how much of that to attribute to the psychological and emotional trauma of ending a nine-year marriage and losing half of my son’s childhood, and how much was simply the radical change in environment.

Where there used to be a person making noise in the house—Being a mom. Eating dinner with me. Talking on the phone. Watching TV. Walking around.

Where there used to be life and conversation and full calendars and partnership and the pitter-pattering of little feet and the stability and reliability and comfort that comes from waking up to This Is Normal And Right… there was nothing.

A void.

. . .

I was obsessed with dating at first. Not actually doing it, per se because I wasn’t very good at it and it all felt so, just, off. Wrong.

But at age 34 the ticking clock was louder than I’d realized. And I felt like filling the new void in my life quickly should be a priority.

After all, I was clearly the kind of guy who got married and lived that kind of life. Which meant, I faced the monumental task of finding someone who fit what is probably an impossible list of criteria, that I then loved along with any children she might have, and was loved by her (as would my son be), and felt secure enough in all of that to get married again.

When you’ve never been single and divorced before, it’s easy to imagine that happening in a three- to five-year window (which I did).

But then Real Life happened.

The clock ticks.

The calendar pages flip.

The seasons change.

You mark another line higher on the wall where you measure your child’s height.

You tell him to put on a pair of pants only to discover they no longer fit.

One Christmas turns into two, and then three with a fourth fast-approaching.

And then you wake up, and it’s today.

Divorced and Single Four Holiday Seasons Later

There was a part of me during the early days of this blog that believed I’d eventually have a relationship to tell you about.

Not all the nitty-gritty. I keep too much private for that.

But at least a birds-eye view of giving Round 2 a genuine shot while armed with what I believe I’ve learned about life and love and relationships. I thought maybe that would help people. I thought maybe that would help me.

But that’s not where things are.

That’s not Real Life.

In actuality, I’m just a guy who read a crap-ton of New Zealand travel guides so I can tell you all about the country, but I’ve never actually forked over the money nor invested the time to experience it myself.

(That was a metaphor. I haven’t actually read a bunch of New Zealand travel guides.)

But I’m not even sure that’s right.

That suggests fear. And I’m not afraid.

I guess I feel more like the tired old man coaching basketball (even though I certainly don’t think of myself as a “coach,” or that I’m qualified to instruct others in any way). I know what good basketball is supposed to look like, but am not inclined to get back out on the floor to play in any games.

Maybe I feel too tired. Or too old. Or too busy.

I don’t know.

I also don’t know whether to feel good, bad or indifferent about it.

As in all things, there’s some good and some bad.

But I’m learning to have fewer expectations. Less disappointment, you know? Maybe less joy, too.

I wouldn’t know.

. . .

I’m trying to remember what my daughter’s name would have been. The one I never had.

Julianne? Julie Anne? A J-name that stopped mattering the second I held my son.

Or did it?

I think about that little girl a lot. The one who never was.

And the family that isn’t. The one I used to know. And the one I’d imagined with them. And the one I was forced to imagine for a reimagined world.

But I wish I would stop. Because in The Way Things Are vs. The Way They Should Be, I’m not sure we’re always smart enough to know the difference.

And with these little ones involved, real or imagined, how much can we afford to get disillusioned by reality falling short of what we’d expected or hoped for?

. . .

Thank God she didn’t die after birth or from miscarriage.

Or that she didn’t fall ill.

Or that she never ran away or went missing.

Or that the courts never said I couldn’t see her.

Or that her family never lost her precious life.

Or that my son never lost his little sister.

And that we never had to sob over that too.

Maybe I don’t make it to today, had that not been the case.

But there’s still a bit of tragedy in Never Was.

And I can’t help but wonder sometimes about an alternative life where I chose other options and turned to different Choose Your Own Adventure pages with entirely different outcomes.

Because that would have been cute, right? Watching the Thanksgiving Day parade? Showing her massive balloons? Reminding my eldest to be kind to his sister? Putting up the Christmas tree and watching her face as we plugged in the lights for the first time?

I’d have liked that, even if the real-life version would have gone an entirely different way.

I’d have especially liked the part where I told her about that first night in the hospital where I stayed awake all night holding her so mommy could sleep.

Many years later, we’d teach older children how things that seem innocuous in a moment can redefine everything in the future.

We’d talk about having expectations. About the bad. And the good.

About regrets. And triumphs.

About fear. And hope.

We’d all show up, and just be.

Because that’s everything, really. Showing up. Being present. And being invested.

The reason my life is as it is today is virtually 100% because I failed to show up because I was too ignorant to know I was supposed to, too irresponsible to actually do it, or too selfish to actually want to.

It’s not always Life and Death, but maybe just Life and Never Was.

But sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference.

This post was previously published on Must Be This Tall To Ride and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Handling Infidelity in Your Relationship

Dealing with Infidelity in Your Relationship

Dealing with Infidelity in Your RelationshipIn regards to coping with adultery, it can be a dreadful and emotional experience, no matter gender. As much as men might attempt to put on a front of being tough and strong, dealing with infidelity may be an emotional venture. The girl doing the cheating doesn’t have the fortitude to be upfront and honest. It’s an issue of someone’s personality when they cheat on a partner or significant other. A cheater’s heart is torn in different way, and they attempt to hang on to individual they’ve been with while at the same time finding comfort in the arms of another man or woman.

Tips on Handling Infidelity on your Relationship

It’s a deceitful and selfish action to cheat on someone behind their back because the cheater isn’t committing to either spouse. The cheater lies somewhere in the middle, either planning to opt to leave the former man or is on the fence about which man to pick. Many men don’t expect to be cheated, but when it occurs many men don’t know how to react.

If she cheats…

If a guy finds out his wife or girlfriend is cheating then let her to dig a deeper hole for herself by staying silent as she informs lies. If she’s upfront and honest from the start then there’s a smidge of personality left within. If she’s stubborn and refuses to admit the truth then it’s not only an issue of adultery, but it speaks to the character of an individual who will always tell lies to escape trouble.

What if you do?

Men respond differently when dealing with adultery, but the sensible thing to do is to end the connection with no questions asked. Mending a connection after infidelity isn’t impossible, but there’ll be a lingering sense mistrust if the girl steps outside alone. There’s not any simple way to begin dealing with infidelity, but when a man chooses to take a woman after she’s cheated then a lengthy and deep-rooted talk is essential to clear any issues or hidden issues. Everything has to be brought to the surface so any issue doesn’t rear its ugly head later in the connection.

The best way to proceed…

You must remain company, regardless if he takes the cheating girl again or not. Being a doormat won’t just shred any ounce of self-respect or manhood, but the girl won’t respect a guy who backs down readily when such a massive event happens in a relationship. If going to maintain a girl who has cheated then guys should allow the girl know that if she feels again the connection is finished with no questions asked. Men must always make this announcement concrete and final with no wiggle room.

For men who wish to proceed, this might be the best step. It’s a method of setting standards while refusing to connect with those who lie and snore.

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Will These Zodiac Signs Cheat Even If They Love Their Partners

Infidelity is something quite common today, yet it is most often regarded as a moment of weakness of one of the spouses.

Some people do not know the notion of fidelity and cheating frequently on their spouses is nothing out of the ordinary for them. Additionally, the 2020 horoscope informs us that next year will include new challenges, accomplishments, and disappointments, particularly in love, but also from the relationships with other men and women.

Although you still expect that your partner will change and give up the infidelity moments, maybe it would not be advisable to discover which astrological signs are vulnerable to infidelity.

Yes, the aspects of a zodiac sign can provide clues about the behaviour of someone in a relationship, regardless if it’s short-term or just in the start.


The Geminis despise the minutes of relaxation in a relationship, when everything becomes a regular. They’re tempted to be unfaithful exactly because of this.

They’ve a tough time making commitments when they’re involved in a connection, and they want more freedom.

The Geminis can not stand getting bored and, if experience and delight have vanished from the life of this couple, they will attempt to find them with somebody else. Afterward, they’ll be exceedingly affectionate, generous, and they’ll shower their partners with loads of compliments.


The most unpleasant part of Libra’s infidelity is they don’t feel any guilt, and they do not even consider it something terrible.

If they feel liberated or believe that they don’t spend as much time as they need with their spouses, they’ll cheat with any available person coming their way.

Entertainment is quite important for Libras, and their spouses ought to be aware of this right from the start.

That is not to say Libras intentionally hurt their spouses when, in fact, they do not know why cheating is such a large issue.

Besides, Libras love everything beautiful, and they can’t resist when they see a pretty face.


The Leos need to be the center of attention and, even if they do not get it from their spouses, they won’t think twice before cheating. In regards to the people they love and desire beside them, Leos can not complain that they lack choices.

Whenever the Leos are unfaithful, they wish to believe {} the last time, but it’s the last time a lot of occasions. The fantastic thing is that when they find someone who is truly their game, the Leos doesn’t believe even for one moment to be unfaithful.


The Pisces are incredibly sensitive individuals, and they do not want to hurt anybody around them. But when they are unhappy in their relationship, rather than telling the partner what they truly feelthey preferably cheat rather than breaking up.

The Pisces fall in love so fast, and as fast they move from one spouse to another, that sometimes it is tough to keep them up. They enjoy being in love, and they like showing and demonstrating their feelings.

If they’re caught being unfaithful, they feel terrible, and they do everything in their power to compensate for their error, which does not mean that they won’t repeat it.


The Aquarius isn’t after a conventional and rule-abiding lifestyle. They like to cause to complicate their lives just for the sake of getting some excess action, whether this affects their spouses or not.

They love being surrounded by people, attracted by the special traits of everyone they meet, which sadly means cheating on their spouses. That doesn’t mean that they do not love their spouses. It merely means they love everybody else.

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