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Accountability: Where It All Begins

Everyone needs a good origin story right? Captain America was a 90 pound weakling who got the super soldier serum. Frodo inherits a ring that changes his destiny and that of Middle Earth. But what about us? Us ordinary men living our lives – not necessarily unhappy, but not thriving either? Where do our epic moments come? Where is our origin story that we’ll look back on and point at as the inflection point in our own personal evolution to be something more?

Unlike the movies, I’ve found that for us generally good -albeit it flawed – men amazing opportunities to change our lives for the better aren’t thrust upon us like they were for Steve Rogers or Frodo. Disaster and tragedy are often what it takes to shake us out of our own heads, out of the mundane routine we found ourselves enslaved, and force us to think about our lives in a way that nothing else could.

This all sounds heavy and deep and a little ‘head in the clouds-y’ – so let me it explain it terms of my own origin story and put a little meat and color around all this. From the outside, my life seemed great – good white collar job, house in the suburbs, two cute kids and a beautiful wife. And by my account things were at least ‘good enough’ not to rock the boat. Granted life had its troubles, but that’s to be expected. I had financial troubles stemming from biting off more house than we could chew, years of sleepless nights from children that couldn’t seem to ‘cry it out’, and a gradual distancing both physically and emotionally between my wife and I. But all this was supposed to be ‘endured’ right? That’s what I told myself. I told myself that this was normal, a rite of passage of sorts. In fact, years earlier when I had been engaged (but not yet married) I got to speaking with a rather cynical fellow who told me about the three rings of marriage – and no, we’re not talking about the kind of ring Frodo and the Fellowship drag to Mount Doom. This man said that In marriage there are three rings. The engagement ring, the wedding ring, and the suffering!’

What a cynical asshole this guy was and so jaded. I thought that there was no way this would EVER happen in my marriage. My marriage was special, different, it was going to last forever – we had so much love and excitement and I was 100% sure this was the woman I would spend the rest of my life with. Well, if you’ve read this

far I’m sure you’ve figured out that my marriage did not, in fact, last forever. It died a slow, painful death for years before the divorce was actually finalized. The crazy thing is – I didn’t see it coming. I’d accepted that marriages were supposed to have a fair bit of suffering. I was suffering, my wife was suffering but for reasons that wouldn’t make it into my consciousness for years to come, and I simply accepted it. Accepted it and didn’t take the action necessary (or take action soon enough) to either save the marriage or end it on my own terms.

It's not all doom and gloom- although I have been quite adept about going that route more times than I care to admit. In fact, I can look back now and understand that jaded fellow I spoke to more than 15 years ago and kind of laugh at it. Not to laugh at the suffering – and make no mistake that man was clearly suffering – but to laugh at how relatable it is to all the men I’ve spoken to over the years (divorced or still married) that laugh at how clever – and accurate – the story of the three rings can be. But like anything negative, it’s only truly a tragedy if you don’t learn from it. So while, we can all relate to the suffering – what is harder to admit and own up to is your part in creating a reality that let that suffering flourish. Where you are today is a direct result of everything you did – or didn’t do, said – or didn’t say, and chose – or didn’t choose. And don’t misconstrue what I am saying – I’m talking about being a man and taking accountability for your life, I’m not talking about blame – because let’s be honest both you and your partner have part in that and that’s a topic for another post.

So the beginning of my origin story – and yours – starts with accountability for your current situation, understanding your starring role in it, learning from it and becoming a better man because of it. It’s not an easy journey, in fact most men you meet aren’t brave or strong enough to go to those depths or do the work. It’s a choice whether you decide to make it – or not.

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