Why Can’t I Make this Work?

I see it crumbling right before my very eyes. I stare into her eyes and see the pain and there is nothing I can do. I want to reach out to her, tell her how much I love her but my words are empty without the supporting actions. Every move I make is handcuffed. I cannot release who I really am because of this prison in which I exist and yet I know it will be the demise of my marriage. I look up into the night sky during an isolated evening and I pray a simple pray: God, why can’t I make this work?

A man’s vulnerability is a complex issue. But most women don’t care to understand this vulnerability we men deal with. Women believe if a man is in love he should open himself in such a way that whatever vulnerabilities he is feeling will be squashed by the love she brings. The truth of the matter is men don’t operate this way. When we open ourselves to experiencing such heavy psychological and deep-rooted vulnerabilities we feel weak. Weakness might be one of the strongest negative characteristics for men. It might be the kryptonite that destroys our soul. Submitting to being weak is a “no-no” in any language. Weak men are squashed and no woman wants a weak man.

Then how does a man express his deepest vulnerabilities without feeling weak? How does a man show that while he might have vulnerabilities he can remain strong? Aren’t vulnerabilities akin to showing a weakness? This conundrum in which men operate causes confusion. For all of us that Believe know confusion is not of God.

In today’s relationship-market our vulnerabilities become more exposed than ever. As a man of a certain age attempts to date he takes the risk of being rejected for some vulnerability if he allows himself to open up. We expect our maturity to kick in and for us to handle these situations like adults but the fact is we are human; humans with real emotions. These emotions are strong and uncomfortable. Many times to hide any weakness we downplay the emotions and focus on other things in life where we can approach them like robots. This includes our jobs, our golf games, exercise, or anything else that is not human, let alone female. And through this we believe we are able to overcome.

Well, what would happen if we allowed ourselves to be more vulnerability? What if we opened up without the fear of rejection? How would we be accepted by our potential partners? A man has to be very comfortable in his own skin to allow his willingness to be open not impact that whom he is. Only so many men actually reach this level of maturity. Many of us continue to wallow in the world of miss-illusions where we continue to shelter our deepest insecurities and harbor a false sense of who we are as men. The lucky ones, well, I believe they experience something much greater in their relationships. They experience a trusting bond with their partners that allow them to be as free as they can with no judgment.

It is only through this mutual trust that a relationship can thrive. Therefore, one can presume the question “Why can’t I make this work?” rarely occurs in a healthy relationship. It is replaced with “I am making this work.”

Get In Where You Fit In?

Kanye West’s song “Clique” says it best: “ain’t nobody f*king with my clique, clique…Ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, clique…” Well, some of you know the rest.

And what about getting in with a gang of folk? Who are my homies? What makes up my clique?

If you’re like me you might wonder whether you even fit in a defined group. I’ve never fit in just one group. I sometimes felt like an outcast searching my way through trying to get in where I fit in. Or should I fit in where I get in? Conformity. I tried this as well but it didn’t do it for me. Thus I was an empty vessel adrift at sea looking for similar vessels as me.

When you come from a diverse upbringing it may add to these feelings of exclusion. However, other people come from a homogenous environment and still feel the same. Those of us who feel this way usually fumble our way using a trial and error approach hoping and wondering whether we will find that friendly clique there for us. It is only human nature to belong to something; defining that “something” is the key.

I went through my punk rock stages but I didn’t dress the part.

I tried on hip-hop fashion, but didn’t dress that smart.

I even bought a pair of cowboy boots only to realize I wasn’t a Southern bunk.

It wasn’t even the clothes I was wearing that would hide my dismal funk.

When I was a young lad my father said to me and my siblings, “ya’ll are different because of your life experiences. You will forever have to deal with this.” He was right. We traveled around the world due to his job and always found ourselves trying to get in where we fit in. But what I didn’t realize is that eventually I would find my diverse clique merely by the laws of attraction. When I stop trying to fit in the universe guided me to where I needed to be.

The journey has taken me some time over my years and now I am lucky to have such a diverse group of influencers. These friends and family are all unique and I suspect we have all felt very similar with this journey. And the great thing is recognizing our uniqueness and cherishing it. It has made me a more enlightened individual who understands the value of being unique brings to our world.

So I finally found my clique, clique, clique. And ain’t nobody fresher than my clique, clique, clique.

But the Words Just Slipped Out

I know I just met you and we’ve only just begun to hang out. And yes, I think you are the most beautiful creature this Earth has created. I couldn’t find another like you if I searched all four corners of the globe! I know you will bring the best out of me and me of you. Seriously, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Is this real or is it just fantasy? I…I…I feel a little confused because of this feeling. Yet, I want to tell you. I want to tell you, “I love you.”

Screech! “Hold on there little pony!” my inner being states.

Back da hell up! Did it really just come out of nowhere? Did I really say what I think I said? Was it an out of body experience? Or was I transported into another man’s body as he was just popping out the most loaded phrase ever – I love you.

Three little words that carry so much meaning and can transform a relationship. These words are not to be used lightly nor taken lightly. It is the phrase that can defuse most any situation and bring back peace after a calamity. We all have found ourselves in this situation at some time in our lives; whether we were 16 or 45. And there is that moment of unsteadiness, insecurities, and nervousness before we let it rip from our lips. But when it does come forth we exhale as if we were holding our breath for a million years.

What next then? It’s like I just climbed Mt. Everest. It’s like I just defeated Godzilla. How do I top that?

You don’t.

You build on it. You live it. You nurture it. You believe it.

So goes relationships. If you both believe in these spoken words you do what you can to make it happen. You will find yourself trying to do what you can to ensure that the words you spoke are real and the meaning behind them never fades. But as our day-to-day realities set in (bills to pay, kids to nurture, a job to perform, sanity to maintain) we have a tendency to move on with our lives and the phrase begins to carry less weight as it once did. Oh, we will say it constantly, and we might even show that we mean it but the first time we spoke it becomes a distant memory. And all we have left is that diminished memory of when that time first occurred. I imagine a fuzzy picture from the past that reveals something nice without the details to show.

Some of us will continue to believe in the “love” portion of the phrase for eternity. However, I am more skeptical that can be the case – there may be too much time passed to really truly solidify the statement in our hearts and any pain received during the relationship may bury the phrase as if it were the Evil Villain from a James Bond movie. We have separated the “I” and “you” to only reveal an empty “love.” And so ends that moment we hoped would last forever.

At some point after a breakup the phrase has to be discovered and uncovered like an archeological dig. It will be carefully excavated from our damaged hearts and delicately washed to reveal its wonderful form. The time it takes to bring the phrase back to the surface depends on so many factors and is going to be different for each individual; we just know that it is possible.

As for me, I’ll keep my thoughts and words to myself for now. I will closely guard them as the treasure I believe they are. I will use them with extreme caution and hope that when the moment comes for me to release these incredible words of hope I will do so with the commitment and fervor I once did. And there will be no second-guessing or confusion, just love with a purpose – longevity of the moment.

Daddy Dan

Cheerios in My Pockets

As I came into work this morning I grabbed a bag I hadn’t used in some time. When I got into the office and pulled the small bag from my computer bag much to my surprise I found something…

A few remnants of cheerios.

These small morsels have been there for a while. I’m certain they were there when my babies were…literally…babies. It made me smile and I realized how I missed them at that precious age. I’m sure many women can relate. I wonder if men relate to this as well – I know I feel sentimental when I am reminded of my kids during the early years. The time passes by so fast. Enjoy it for sure.

To our kiddos! Love them to pieces.

Daddy Dan

You ain’t got to lie to kick it.

Men, time to step up our game.

The Hitt List

If you know me personally you would consider me an eternal optimist. Hell, if you haven’t gathered that by reading my blog then you haven’t been paying attention. I’m the person that walks around saying corny shit like, “Everything happens for a reason” and “Be grateful for your hardships” or “This too shall pass.” AND not only do I say it and believe it BUT I also live it. I was the one rooting for Brittney Spears post rehab and Kim Kardashian after her 72 day marriage ended. I was all, “You can do it girl” and, “Don’t judge their pain….”and shit. (Even though I admit I don’t have the same zeal and fervor for Lindsey Lohan..poor little tink). That movie, The Pursuit of Happyness in which Will Smith plays Chris Gardner is like my own personal biopic. I truly believe in the good of people and that everyone will come…

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I Love You but I Don’t Like You

Oxymoronic? Maybe. Crazy? Possibly. Sensible? Debatable. A path to destruction? Very likely.

Work with me on this.

This phrase as well as many other similar phrases is a contradiction in terms when we go to the root cause of the definitions. If I try to understand this statement logically my brain explodes. In computer science we call this an infinite loop which ultimately crashes the computer. BAM! There it goes. So what then on how to re-program my brain to logically understand the statement? That is not possible. What is possible is to understand root cause and then to extrapolate scenarios. These scenarios are what scare me.

Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, and they fall in love (for whatever that is) and get married and live happily ever after. No? Right, because at some point girl says, “ooh, I really don’t like your butt right now!” Boy says, “I agree, I don’t like you either.” They go to bed feeling some dislike for one another. However, the boy is usually going to try and perform make up sex (because we like sex) but the girl won’t have this because her emotions are not there (feeling dislike). The couple wakes up still feeling dislike. This dislike is like a virus. If it isn’t squashed it will harbor in the crevices of our feelings and take root like cancer. The boy and girl haven’t resolved the dislike. Ultimately bitterness sets in. Now what?

The dislike has turned to bitterness, love has not been able to grow, and the couple now faces the daily tasks of trying to figure out how to undo the bitterness that has set in. This opens up the long road of therapy in some form or another; usually unsuccessfully. It unlocks the door to such more sinister things as infidelity, anger, and hatred. And how does one truly rationalize love and hate in the same sentence? You don’t. They are at odds. Like good and evil. Like yin and yang. Like Elvis and Costello? I am just kidding on this last one.

But what I am not kidding about is the destructive pattern the potential “dislike” created. An innocent admission of hurt or disagreed feelings and it escalates into something serious. Relationship problem #1 identified.

We gotta fix this crap!

Well, the fix is in. It isn’t rocket science and we all admit to it and we all say it – forgiveness; the lifeline of civilization. We can stop all wars with forgiveness. We can repair broken relationships with family and friends. We can make the world sing in perfect harmony! We can overcome – anything. We could live without pressures of disapproval knowing that our sins, either conscious or otherwise, would be forgiven. As I write this column I am reminded of the forgiveness from God. It is fascinating when you think about how to forgive.

This is not an easy task. It is much easier to exclaim “I love you but I don’t like you.” We all know that the two adjectives cannot coexist over a long period of time. Therefore, many of us have figured out that over time we do learn how to forgive. Forgiveness comes by choice. However, it can only come after wounds are healed although scars may remain. But we tend to feel better when we sincerely forgive. It ain’t easy but it is vital in this thing called life.

Go well and with love my good peeps.

Sharing the Love of My Kids

We are jealous by nature – because we have a jealous God according to the Good Book. Jealous thoughts can dangerously consume us if we are not careful. Jealousy leads us into unhealthy places during our lives, especially in relationships. It moves our hearts to a destructive place and can damage the relationships with our kids. When jealousy is triggered as a result of the introduction of your kids to the new mate of your Ex, we don’t know how to function. I have seen this challenge.

It is painful to hear your children mention the name of another man when that individual is sharing your children’s time. When I imagine the sweet laughter of my young ones enjoyed by the boyfriend of my Ex I am disgusted. I hear my kids talk with excitement of the new experiences they have shared with this new found friend, and it makes me cringe. I, like many people, shiver at the words of affinity my children first speak of this friend, but I would never let them see this in me. I believe this is a battle taking place between my ears and I have to overcome; for their sake.

It isn’t something I am proud of – this feeling of jealousy, resentment, and contempt. It isn’t something I enjoy. It is there. I recognize it, and I desire to put a stop to it. But this is not a simple battle.

I wonder aloud in a quiet corner of my house – how can they see any good in this person? Why would they feel the way they feel around this new person? Is this person trying to take my place as their father? It doesn’t take long for me to recognize the obvious answers to all of these questions. More importantly, it doesn’t take long for me to substitute myself in the place of this stranger. I imagine me meeting the kids of a potential mate for the first time and hoping to make a solid impression. Me believing that I am a great person and putting my selfish feelings aside and get into the mindset of my little ones. I should not be quick to judge for I may become the judged.

I recognize that my kids want to be open about this new relationship, but they are sensitive. They are sensitive to my feelings and how the relationship affects me. So I press on and attempt to squash their insecurities in hope of enlightening them to all of the other great possibilities that might come from the new mate. I help them to see that I am not bothered. I have to do this with sincerity and regularity or they will see behind the thinly veiled mask I wear and see the pain that lies beneath.

My kids will attend events or go on trips with their mother and their mother’s boyfriend. I will get used to it. I have to condition myself to believing this is okay. I understand this is part of life and the adjustments we have to make in these types of circumstances. I may not be in agreement with how I came to be at this stage of my life, but I owe it to my wonderful offspring to provide them with the best experiences possible – even if it involves sharing the love they give. Frankly, with my kids I know they have a whole lot of love to give.