There are very few things I'd say I'm actually really afraid of and most of those things are super random phobias.
- Water (insanely afraid of water... lakes, rivers, ocean, pools)
- Power lines and wind turbines (specifically really large power lines or windmills-- the big ones like in the middle of nowhere of Omaha Nebraska type shit)
- Large sculptures and/or large identical repetitive things (again like large power poles, giant wind turbines, Statue of Liberty)
- Air vents and drains
I don't even know how the hell this list of phobias came about and /or what the hell I ever did in my life that these even became an issue.. but that's my list of phobias.
The one I left off....
That's probably my #1 fear. I don't even know if I can categorize it as a phobia or a death wish or what. I absolutely fear failure.
Growing up my childhood was a bit complex (yes, this will be a separate blog post about some of the crazy things I've been through). I had to grow up fast and have a sense of street smarts that not a lot of kids my age needed to have. I was straight up in survival mode for several years as my mom battled a drug addiction which left us with no food or electricity, often struggling at the 11th hour to come up with money to pay the rent or getting our home foreclosed on.
My mom struggled with her drug addiction for years...and by years, I mean damn near my entire life. My uncle had a serious alcohol problem and ended up dying from it. Many of my family members had a substance abuse problem and somehow I had enough sense not to touch drugs or alcohol.
When I was 11 years old, my mom entered rehab and was trying to get clean and get her shit together. I'd attend her AA meetings or visit her on family day at Westcenter in Tucson.
How many 11 year olds you know that can recite the Serenity Prayer?
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
Mom was clean for a while, got her shit together, landed a great job and was on the up and up for a bit. Didn't take long for her to give up her sobriety.
This ugly cycle went on for years with her. Of all the things I'd go on to accomplish in my life, the only thing I would always tell myself, rather REMIND myself.. "Always work harder than the person next to you. Always give that last bit of energy into your work and let your work ethic speak volumes so you don't have to. Don't end up like your mother."
The "don't end up like your mother" was pretty much like the final thought to everything in my life. A constant reminder that no matter what I did, I needed to step up my game and try to not ever go back to the life she provided me and even more so, I needed to work twice as hard to not provide that type of life for my family (if and when that time ever came). It was almost like I was putting layers between my mom and myself. The harder I worked, I'd put a layer down and push her away. When my career continued to grow, I got to put another layer down and these "Layers" to me were like security blankets. I continues to grow in my career and was making more money with every job change. The money thing for me wasn't race to trying to make a million bucks, but I sort of became obsessed with saving my money "in case something happens". I don't know what the hell I was preparing for or what I was expecting to happen. I didn't like spending money on vacations or expensive purses or shoes and clothes. All I wanted to do was understand how to invest my money so that I would have a safety nest of cash if I ever needed it. I was so worried that if I ever failed, would I be able to survive or would that one time I failed send me in this radical downward spiral and I'd end up just like my mom, toothless, homeless, jobless and no family support.
That scared the shit out of me.
I met a guy when I was 19 who I ended up marrying 4 years later. We spent 10 years of our lives together and were married for 6 of those years. A year into the marriage things took a radical nose dive in our relationship and he was involved in drugs and alcohol like you wouldn't even believe. I tried everything I could to help him get help. Offered counseling, rehab, detox, literally was up for whatever to help him. He told me straight to my face,
I'll never quit. Stop asking me to get help. This is who I am."
I literally died inside. I just married into a life that I spent most of my childhood and adult life trying to get away from and here I was, made the commitment in front of our family and friends "for better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part". I was fucked.
Remember my last blog post when I talked about sitting at the airport in 2008 doing some soul searching... well.. this was the time I left Vegas for 10 days and spent time by myself at my Aunts home at the base of the Catalina mountains. There was shit for internet service and barely cell service. While most of my trips to AZ would be spending time with family- I needed these 10 days to be by myself and figure out what the hell I was going to do.
The thought of divorce I really didn't want to consider as an option. I signed up for this and I expected to stick through it. I was by myself for 10 days and I ran every possible scenario in my head about how I was going to get out of this miserable time of my life. We lived in Las Vegas, had no family or friends there and I was the only one working at the time, putting myself through school, paying for double of everything on a single income.. house in Tucson, house in Vegas, my truck payment, his car payment, two cell phone bills, two car insurance bills... I was STRAPPED but I wasn't going to let it all fall apart.
I finally decided I was going to come home to Vegas and tell him I wanted a divorce. It was the most gut wrenching feeling I had ever had in my life. I wrote down that list of things I wanted to do/achieve with my life for the next 5-10 years. In one respect it was a way for me to pick up where I left off from my list in 1998, but on the other hand, I felt like maybe it was me trying to overcompensate for one of the biggest failures I was about to experience in my life. Divorce.
I came home and told him that was my decision and of course I got the "let's work it out" reaction. In my head, in my heart, in my soul, I was done and I knew that was my final answer.
The next 10-13 months from that point was the most insane roller coaster of my life and a blog post on it's own right because, holy shit, it will blow your mind.
When we finally got around to filling out the divorce paperwork, we tried to be pretty civil during the process and wasn't trying to screw each other over on anything but doing what we deemed was fair. I remember signing my side of the paperwork and getting it notarized then it was up to him to sign, find a notary and mail it off.
April 14th, 2010... I got a big yellow envelope in the mail. It was my divorce decree. That was it. I was divorced. 10 years together, 6 years of marriage. Gone.
I was relieved. I was sad. I was empty. I was lost. I was hurt. I was confused. I was conflicted if I made the right decision.
I got in my Jeep called my dad and I lost my mind. I cried so hard I couldn't breath. I cried so hard it looked like I had been punched in the face. My eyes were swollen, my face was a mess. I felt so alone.
I. Was. Divorced.
Ugh. that word. I couldn't even say it. I hated it.
While I went through all this shit I was working for Cox and hardly anyone knew what was going on. I put on my happy face and I busted my ass at work. It was partly an escape from my reality at home and the other part was, I'm just a work horse.
When I finally came to terms and changed my name, saying the words "I got a divorce" was the worst thing to ever come out of my mouth. I wanted to vomit when I said it. When I would say "divorce", in my head what I would hear was "I failed".
It was the first major failure of my life and I felt like everyone knew. Everyone got to see me fail and I was standing out like a sore thumb. I tried to explain it to someone once saying "I feel like I'm in a big crowded room and someone just dumped a big giant bucket of water on me and I'm the only one in the room soaking wet and have a giant blanket of FAILURE wrapped around my body". It was the most bizarre way to explain it but thats what it was to me.
I've been divorced now for 8 years and I still have a hard time with it. (Not going to lie, I had to stop typing for a few minutes because I just burst into tears). It'e been a long time since I've thought about all of this mess and it's pretty emotional. No one could prepare you for what going through a divorce would be like. Not in a million years could you prepare for something like this.
From that point forward- everything else in my life couldn't possibly fail like this. I never wanted to feel like that again. So when it came to my work, I feel like maybe I pushed myself even harder because a personal fail was probably hurt less than a professional fail. I don't know that for sure but I sure as hell wasn't about to find out. Work harder, learn more, achieve unrealistic goals... that's kind of this overdrive I pushed myself into.
How about this for crazy... My wedding anniversary would have been April 12th, my first day working for UFC was April 13th, and my divorce was final on April 14th. Three significant dates back to back.