When I began this writing journey during Covid19 Lockdown I never believed for one minute I would be sharing it with anyone. Why would anyone want to share their personal experiences of struggle, hardship, and pain? These stories were my way of facing brutal truths about decisions that had cost me personally and professionally over 25 years.
Why would anyone want to read my stories? They asked questions some people don’t want to face. We can spend our lives running, hiding, or making excuses for mistakes we caused. Not a lot of people want to own those mistakes, so they conceal them. How? They create fake truths, alibis, and fabricated stories in their minds to get away from them. Now, I got to be an expert in this way of being.
Believe me, you don’t want to live in that mental state. These thoughts manifested into feelings of judgment, low self-worth, anxiety, anger, depression, and piss poor motivation to take action. When you let suffering consume you, a man of momentum you will not make.
So, how did I get out of the quick sand? The writing enabled me to stand and look at the man in the mirror. It was one of the hardest periods of my life. How had I enabled myself to get so low? And who was this person looking at me in the mirror? The man was unrecognizable. What happened to this man? It’s time to find out.
The Truth Every Man Fears
Over the past 25 years, I’ve had some unbelievable highs: buying a house, owning a couple of businesses, beautiful cars, the birth of twin girls, getting engaged, great friends, physically fit, obtaining a degree, and riding on life’s wave. Now, some men would say that’s a great list of accomplishments. Me, I sabotaged most of those accomplishments by taking risks. Why did I take risks? Chasing more.
Why was I not happy when I had more than enough? After each success, I started to believe I was invincible. In some cases, men can be successful and keep moving along a path towards even greater success. In selfish terms, that’s what I wanted.
However back to reality bites again. The decisions I took when in a winning position cost me everything. Remember those businesses, cars, houses, and happy times? They were all lost to sheer stupidity. Once everything began to crumble around me and I couldn’t find the strength to get back on feet again the alcohol, avoidance, and resentment started to consume me.
These thoughts led me into wanting to rip off my arm and slap myself repeatedly. The fear of poverty can render you powerless, and until you have to face such situations as a man you will find it difficult to relate. How can you face yourself? How can you provide for your family? Who can you talk to about these feelings? These are all questions you need to answer quickly. Or the path to ruin awaits.
An Outlet for Writing
How strange is this: After baring my soul on pages that I had written to hopefully assist me gain clarity on what I wanted to do with my life, I now find myself compelled to share them with a select group of people to get feedback. The only way to test if I am being foolish was to get some thoughts from others. The group was selected from close friends, former colleagues and some book authors I had connected with on social media. It was one of the most nervous periods of my life awaiting their comments. The thoughts were like an express train inventing all these questions associated with negative feedback.
What made you do this, I kept asking myself. As the feedback started to return those feelings of fear, anxiety, and trepidation were replaced with joy, pride, and a determination to release these stories more widely for others to read. But how was I to do this? “Are you aware of Medium?” one of the select group asked me? I had never heard of it. I did some research online and discovered it was a platform for writers—even novices like me—to share their stories.
All I had to do was create an account and start sharing. They even have a partner program where you can start making money from your writing. It will take a lot of time, effort, and commitment to start generating revenue for my stories. How many others were doing the same? However, the fact was this: I was on a platform to start sharing them, and it was time for action.
Discovering a Gift
When I began to consume other writers’ stories and review tips, tricks, and advice about how to grow an audience on Medium, I was fearful. Why? Some writers were publishing 2-3 times a week on the platform. How was I going to do that? What was I going to write about? Where do I get inspiration from? Who wants to read about growing up in West Belfast? These were all questions I was asking myself daily. However, I knew that I wanted to write as every day at 5.30 am I was doing just that.
At first, these were just ideas in a journal, which after time started to connect and form the basis of a story. The passion, drive commitment, and enthusiasm I felt every morning as I started to reflect on moments throughout my life had a profound impact on me. Why hadn’t I did this sooner? Do you have to reach the depths of despair to discover why you’re here? Why, do you want to share these stories with others? What is the purpose?
These questions require self-analysis that a lot of people won’t find comfortable. But, that’s the whole point. For me, the purpose was clear, take ownership and responsibility for all the shit I created. No one else, just me. In real terms, it’s called understanding you’re why. Once I got clear on this fact the ideas came at me like a typhoon. Now I’m ready to share these stories.
Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time and energy needed to develop yourself.
~~ Dennis Waitley
Jesus, I’m a writer. It would be hard to explain the happiness I felt when I published my first story to Medium. How had I arrived at this moment from sitting at the kitchen table during a lockdown? Medium also offers the opportunity to share stories through social media to generate interest and hopefully readers. I used my professional/personal Twitter to start communicating with others that I was writing.
This is it, the real test of what you put down on paper begins. It’s time for judgment, opinions, and critique. But, so what. These were my truths, and that’s what matters. I had written six stories and entitled them “The Journey”. They were accompanied by video content setting the scene for the stores.
These were released in six weeks during September — October 2020. They covered periods in my life where the shit hit the fan, and how I managed the struggles. These were lived experiences, so writing about them was difficult. It was amazing to read the reactions of others to the videos. Mostly in Belfast, Ireland, but that was probably the toughest audience I would face. These are the people you grew up with, work with, or played sport with. They know you and what you stand for.
At least that’s what I hoped. Just seeing your bio, photo and the title writer at the bottom of the story online was amazing. Once I started writing about these difficult moments I couldn’t stop. I found myself getting up at 5 am every morning to write, read books, and listen to audio on changing your path. Those six stories turned into 26, just over 60,000 words, and I can’t stop! I’m reliving memories from a journey that would give the roller coaster at Disney Land new meaning.
Life takes on new meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner.
~~ Les Brown
Turning the Page
The year of Covid-19 has been one of the most challenging I’ve experienced in my life. From lockdown, self-isolating with family twice, a court case reaching its conclusion, being out of work and on social security, and living way below what I even thought possible. However, I started writing, established a new platform to share information and add value to men who are struggling, became a columnist for the Good Men Project, took on a moustache challenge to raise funds for mental health services, and turned all those negative feelings around Mental Health into a motivation to sort my shit out, To say it’s been transformative, would probably just scratch the surface.
The feelings of low self-worth and dread in getting up in the morning have now been replaced with energy, enthusiasm, and inspiration to get out and attack everything I can. New habits have been formed so the mornings are my favorite part of the day. Who knew all I had to do was take action?
On reflecting on just how far I let myself slip while going through all these negative experiences, I’m minded to slap myself again. Why, did I let it get this far when I knew through life experiences that what I was doing was going to lead to piss poor outcomes? Even the strongest of minds sometimes need a fresh challenge, to understand who they are, and why they’re here. Life is always a test, it’s how you manage those tests that enable you to get back up, or run and hide. Now that I’ve experienced both sides of this coin, the time for talking is over. Let’s get ready for another chapter!
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