Doug Zeigler hadn’t realized how much anger he held against women—and he almost missed out on love of his life because of it.
Happiness is a choice you make. At least that is what I believe now, more than 40 years into this life. I didn’t always have this optimistic outlook on our shared existence on this pretty blue orb floating through space. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was an angry, bitter man. Very angry and sadly bitter.
Backtrack 6 years, I’m at the end of my first marriage. I’m frustrated in a myriad of ways, and I wake up angry most mornings, despite having two fantastic young sons. I live in hatred. My job inspires abject rage and my failing marriage snowballs that whole mindset even further.
I need therapy. Unfortunately I can’t afford a therapist, so I decide to do something else I’ve found therapeutic: writing. I’ll start a blog that is just for me, to allow myself a space in the ether to vent everything that is weighing me down mentally. I had hoped that this outlet would be the key to saving my marriage.
Things were just too broken, so my first marriage failed anyway. But I was still proud of what I wrote in that blog, and when my future wife and I started dating, I decided to share what I was going through in that dark time. She read it and told me that my writing style was good. She didn’t have the heart to tell me her real thoughts on the content. A few months later we were discussing that very blog that I had kept, and to my surprise, Jill said that reading that blog had given her pause if she wanted to continue dating me. When I asked why, her answer was simple and biting: “It was obvious from that writing that you had a hatred of women and thought we were all the same.”
I have considered myself to be a generally happy soul. Not only that, I genuinely love women, especially the differences they bring to a relationship. I determined to read my old blog with new eyes and see if I could see the vitriol that she did.
Was she ever right! My words seethed and my tone was vicious. How did I not see that before? And why did my wife decide to stay with me after reading that hatred? Her answer was again frank and succinct: “You weren’t choosing to hold onto that hatred, pain or bitterness, so I knew you were going to be fine.”
It was turning point for me and how I approach life. I determined that I would try my best to enjoy every moment, every experience. The nuances of hope that even the simplest of things can give I now revel in.
These days, I do not need a therapist. My therapy is the joy I get in waking up next to the woman I adore, the pleasure I receive from our children saying something profoundly silly, and the thrill of being alive and breathing.
Photo: Flickr/Tobias Mandt