When We Screw Up…What Then?
You know right from the start when I decided to put this podcast together, I did so with the intent of inviting other men to join me on a path I was already on. The path of perpetual improvement, getting better in every area of life every day. That’s why I call myself “your fellow man in the trenches” in the intro. Because I really, really am right there in the trenches with you, last night I proved it.
I’ll tell you something else too. Doing this podcast for about a year and a half now has created some changes. Changes in my life, changes inside me. Another one of those changes is in the level to which, I am accountable.
In addition to all the regular ways in which I am accountable, I have realized that I am also accountable to you—the listeners. I feeI feel like I owe you a higher level of forthrightness. It is for that reason that I am going to share something personal with you today.
I sit here three times a week telling all of you ways in which you can be a better man. Because I’m the one doing all the talking, some of you might assume that I have it all figured out. You might assume I am a finished product, that I don’t make mistakes or doing anything wrong. Knowing me only through this podcast could present the illusion that I never have a bad day, or that I am never plagued with weakness of character.
Well my friends, I’m here to tell you that if you have made any of those assumptions, you are in error. I’m really no different than any of you, I’m just a man. I am an imperfect, fallible, sometimes stupid, and sometimes weak man. Like you though, I am also a man that wants to be a better man, and that’s why we are all here.
Last night, I was NOT a better man. Today I woke up ashamed of myself. I woke up angry and disgusted with the guy in the mirror. I’ll tell you what I did, but I want to be very clear about my motives for doing so. I’m not sharing this for sympathy or condolences. Nor am I doing so hoping to appear noble or contrite or anything like that.
The reason I’m sharing this is for the example it can provide. My experience may be able to help someone else. Also, because like I said earlier, I feel somewhat accountable to you. I let myself down and in doing so I let down my wife and my family, everyone who looks towards me as an example. It also means that I let you down, so I want to come clean as the first step toward correcting that.
Four years ago when I met my wife she shared with me what her ‘deal-breakers’ were. She doesn’t drink at all and one of those deal-breakers was that I would manage adult beverages like an adult. If I drank socially I would do so responsibly, in moderation, and I certainly would not become falling down stupid drunk. I agreed to these stipulations of my own free will and we had an accord.
For the most part I have maintained that agreement these past four years. I fudged it a little here and there, like getting a little tipsy at a gathering but I always managed to recognize it and put the brakes on before anything got out of hand. Last night was an exception to this.
My brother, who is an amazing singer, got a gig playing and singing at a little resort. My dad and I went out to watch and support him. My dad brought a friend with him and I brought a friend as well. My wife elected to stay home and do her own thing.
The night started out pretty well, I was having a great time. I was reveling in camaraderie with my friend and the other people at our table. The music was incredible, my brother was singing as well as I have ever heard him. The atmosphere was relaxed, and joyful. We were drinking beer; really exceptional beer from a local brewery.
I was having so much fun in the moment that I didn’t pace myself. In fact, pacing myself didn’t even cross my mind. About half way through the night I realized that I was getting drunk, as such my judgement was severely impacted so, I just kept on drinking.
By the end of the night I had become a stumbling, mumbling, incoherent drunk. I was dropped off at home. Even though I was no longer drinking my belly was still full of beer, and my condition continued to decline.
I came in the house bouncing off walls and furniture. I left the door open and my dog escaped and went on her own little rampage. As I was helping my wife try to get the dog I fell down several times, which explains the cuts and abrasions I have today. The details after that are foggy, but suffice it to say that I made a big mess…of everything.
I woke up this morning shaky and dehydrated. I was stiff and sore because I had gone to sleep where I landed. I woke up in complete shame, with the knowledge that I had let my wife down, I had broken an agreement, and I had behaved like a child rather than a man.
I was prepared to accept whatever consequences I had brought upon myself because, there was no excuse. There simply isn’t one single good excuse for what I had done. When I spoke to my wife I expected to see rage, what I saw instead was hurt. I had hurt her profoundly, something I had sworn never to do. Also visible was the lack of admiration she once had for me, it had left her.
So there I was, where a lot of men have found themselves at one time or another. This is the part that I hope you get some value from. You see, in this position I was in I had choices to make, like everyone in this position does. I could feel sorry for myself and wallow in my self induced misery. Or, I could try and act as though it’s no big deal and get defensive if anyone says otherwise. I could have begged for forgiveness and made a bunch of promises.
What I chose to do, was move forward. I went and looked in the mirror. I noted my flaws and I owned them. Then I decided upon a remedy to improve those flaws. I decided that I simply won’t drink when I am away from my house. Even at my house if I drink there will be a standing limit of two.
In light of the fact I had proven I am not capable of being responsible with adult beverages, it was an easy remedy to discover, there isn’t another option. It is a remedy I am committed to.
So now I am back on the path of being a better man. I’m also on the path of restoring the damage I did, and regaining admiration in my wife eyes. It may take a long time, but these are the consequences for not paying attention, for not focusing on the right things at the right time.
I know there are people who would hear of this situation and say things like; “Every body makes mistakes, boys will be boys, it happens…whats the big deal?” These are all just invalid excuses. The bottom line is that I broke an agreement with someone I love. That is simply unacceptable.
So now you know of my wrongdoing, and you know of my remedy. By telling you about it I have made myself accountable to you to accomplish this remedy. This is me, moving forward.
I hope some people can find this helpful. Remember, whenever we screw up, then we have choices. You can wallow, deny, blame others, or…you can move forward by owning your crap, and then making a remedy to fix the things that are wrong. From there, we just have to keep being a better man than we were yesterday.
Until next time, this is Alf Herigstad, signing out.
Hey remember to to check out my new book, Forging A Man, available right now on Amazon.
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