This is going to be a very open and honest post. My hope is by the end to come to some sort of resolution because right now I feel like a real asshole. I’m just going to write, with no editing or rewriting, please excuse any typos or nonsensical ramblings.
I have a feeling I’m going to experience what Brene Brown calls a “vulnerability hangover.”
A really good friend of mine, let’s just call him Dr. Bob has been studying ferociously for his exam to become a board certified physician. He previously failed it twice and if he failed it this time he would be pretty fucked. The consequences of passing or not passing were pretty extreme either way.
He passes the test he is set for life, basically gets the equivalent of tenure. He fails; his job and future employment becomes a very dicey situation. His entire family’s future rides on this test.
At this point he is kind of locked into being a doctor, going to clown college is probably not an option. So this one test is a pretty big deal. It’s everything he was worked the past 10 years for.
I just want to reiterate, I can consider him a very good friend, not just him but his family. My family and I love Dr. Bob’s wife and his little girl. There is no one, other than myself, that I want to succeed more than Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob works his ass off. He cares more about other people than himself. If you ever met Dr. Bob you instantly want to root for him. I can’t stress enough how much we love Dr. Bob and his family.
Dr. Bob took his exam and few weeks ago and has been anxiously waiting to find out if he passed. The guy has been an absolute mess for the past few months, between studying what seemed like around the clock and oh yeah, practicing medicine he has been super stressed.
The Dr. Bob I knew and loved had become more like Dr. Strangelove.
I swear sometimes when I saw him I’d wonder if he had just gotten back from a weekend bender in Vegas. Think Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas, where he plays a depressed screenwriter who came to Vegas to drink himself to death.
Honestly, if he did not pass this test, I would not have ruled out the possibility he would have gone postal. Dude was a wreck and understandably so. He has a wife, a kid, just bought a house, med school debt out the wazooo. The stakes of this test were huge. More than I think I could of tolerated. To have so much of your future determined by one test, one 60 minute test is unthinkable to me.
Other than Dr. Bob’s wife we probably were the most nervous to find out the results. We just wanted to know if he passed. It was as if Dr. Bob was our son and we were waiting to find out if he got into Harvard or would be enrolling the local community college this fall. The anticipation was killing us. We saw how hard he worked, day in and day out. The stress he put himself under. We were firmly in Dr. Bob’s corner.
So last night we finally got the word, his test results were in. He passed!!!! Yeah for Dr. Bob!!!! Yeah for Dr. Bob’s family!!!!! A truly holy day, after the birth of Jesus Christ from the Virgin Mary, this was the second most miraculous day in recorded history. We are just a few days from Easter so I guess Jesus is on my mind. What up J.C.? Can I get a what – what!!!
When I got the text from his wife that he passed I felt this instantaneous sigh of relief. It was like finding out the chemo worked and you were now cancer free.
Quickly after that my heart dropped straight down the elevator shaft to the pit of stomach and it kept going, hurdling towards my balls. I was in total free fall.
Immediately I wanted to start crying, not out of joy but out of sadness. I know, what the fuck, right?
The only thing I could think of was I wanted him to fail. I did not want him to pass. Why? Because misery loves company. It is not that I did not want him to succeed I just did not want it to happen before I did.
While I’m miserable I want someone else to be to and I fucking hate that about me. I absolutely fucking hate it. Whatever it is inside of me that makes me feel that way, I want to take a baseball bat and beat it to a bloody pulp. I want to keep bashing its head in over and over again even after it’s dead, only to later be identified by its dental records.
I want Tony Soprano to be appalled by the level of violence I’m capable of.
What type of low life piece of shit person would wish that on anyone, especially someone he considers a really good friend, who also happens to be a really good person? Why do I take success happens for someone else as an assault on me?
A big fat fucking middle finger right in my face.
Why can’t I be happy for someone else, truly happy? Why do I need to be successful before I can feel happy for someone else’s success?
Last night the thought of dying didn’t seem so bad. The fear that has been the gasoline on my panic and anxiety disorder now seemed like a friend. I’m in no way, shape or formally implying I’m suicidal, but I totally get how people can go down that path. I got a glimpse into some of the pain people like Robin Williams or Philip Seymour Hoffman must of felt.
All this because a really good friend got some of the best news of his life?
Marc Maron, the host of WTF podcast, totally resonates with me. He struggled for most of his life to find his place, never fitting in as a comedian or entertainer. He got plenty of breaks along the way but nothing clicked.
That lighting in a bottle that occurred for others around him never found its way to him.
He was resentful of others and as he admitted on the WTF episode with Louis CK, he was a shitty friend. He could not handle it when Louis became a success because things were so shitty for him, so Maron checked out of the relationship.
I don’t want to be that guy anymore. I want to be happy for other people’s success, especially my friends. How can I ever expect to be successful if I can’t appreciate the success of others?
Do you know how shitty it feels to not be happy for someone else who totally deserves all the success in the world just because you are a miserable piece of shit?
I may always be a piece of shit but I want to be a happy piece of shit. A piece of shit who feels nothing but excitement and joy when his friends, the people he cares, succeed.
I know in my heart that my chances of success are not thwarted by other people’s success.
It is not like there is a limited amount of success available and the more people that achieve success, the less there is available for me. Fuck no. There is still more than enough abundance left over for me.
Plus, when I’m successful do I want everyone’s life around me to have gone to shit just because I didn’t want them to be successful before me?
I think what about this struck me the hardest was Dr. Bob got what I prize the most, what I’ve been striving for, recognition and financial security. That is really at the heart of my struggles.
Passing the test makes him a board certified doctor who now never has to worry about money for the rest of his life, unless he does something stupid, but the point being it is in his control to fuck up.
Don’t do anything stupid like invest in ocean front property in Nebraska and he is set for life.
I want that. I want the financial burden to be taken off my shoulders. I want that sort of guarantee my future is set both financially and professionally set.
Listen I know there are no guarantees in life, but something’s are closer than others and this is pretty fucking close.
Like Maron I’m craving and identity. I’m tired of others finding their groove while mine seems to be somewhere in the ether, far far away with my initials in bright white lights just waiting to be found.
Like Stella, I want to get my groove back, assuming I have a groove to get back.
I want to be happy, but I want to be happy for my friends, not jealous. Sure it is tough watching what seems to be everyone else getting on with their life, finding their path, while I’m still stuck searching for mine.
Last night I was reading Rob Bell’s new book, “How to be here” and came across a passage that was pretty timely.
“We rob ourselves of immeasurable joy when we compare what we do know about ourselves with what we don’t know about someone else. You have your life. And your life is not her life. Or his life. And his life is not yours, and neither is hers.”
Preach it brother Bell. My path is my path.
Now I feel like I know Dr. Bob and his family pretty well, we have a pretty open and honest friendship, but I’m sure there are things I don’t even know. But that does not even matter. What does matter is what I’m doing to find my path, to be grateful for what I’ve found so far and to believe that my story is not yet complete.
There is still another chapter to be written, the chapter where I find success.
It feels like time is running out and Dr. Bob and I were the last two left whose success chapters had not been written yet.
I was no alone on the boat. He had been rescued. I sat starring up at the sky watching Dr. Bob fly away on the helicopter taking him to the promise land.
Feeling alone sucks.
His chapter had been written, submitted to the editor and was now on the shelves of retailers where books are sold.
Do I know when my book will be published, when I will submit my success chapter to the editor? No. But maybe it is not ready to be written.
There is no timetable for greatness.
My life is my life. It is not his life or her life. This is my story.
My story is not his story or her story. Some books are 50 pages others are 500.
Maron had to watch colleague after colleague make it in show biz, while he didn’t.
His success chapter was not ready to be written at 25 or 35. It took a little longer. Does that mean it is any less worthwhile?
Had it been written sooner things might have turned out different for him and probably not different in a good way. He even admits he was not ready for success. There were still more failures and disappointments he needed to learn, demons that need exorcising.
Maron’s path is his path, Louis C.K.’s path is his path, Dr. Bob’s path is Dr. Bob’s path and my path is my path. Just because some people hit lighting in bottle years before the rest of us, does not mean the “rest of us” should just throw our hands up and stop walking.
So to Dr. Bob I could not be happier you passed your test. You earned it, you deserve it. I’m sorry it took me about 2,300 words and this blog post to truly feel it, but hey I got there via the scenic route.
The old Todd would have most likely pulled away, not wanting to see you or hangout with you because your success would have just reinforced my lack of it.
Now that I can feel genuinely happy for you it puts me one step closer to feeling genuinely happy for me. Unless that space is created inside of me, how can I ever expect to be successful let alone happy?
I do know this, being happy for other people and their accomplishments feels way better then being bitter, jealous and resentful.
The space for my success feels a little more open.
Misery does love company, but that is company I no longer want to keep. Like when my inlaws come to visit, I just want them to get the fuck out.
The path I’m on lights me up, but it also brings me down. Some days I feel like I have everything figured out and I’m moving in the right direction, then I have nights like last night, WTF moments.
What am I doing? Where am I going? The whole world seems to be moving on, while I remain stuck in neutral or worse yet reverse.
As I wrote the last few lines I picked up my phone and turned on, “Every tear drop is a waterfall” by Coldplay.
“I turn the music up, I got my records on
I shut the world outside until the lights come on
Maybe the streets alight, maybe the trees are gone
I feel my heart stop beating to my favorite song
Maybe I’m in the black, maybe I’m on my knees
Maybe I’m in the gap between the two trapezes
But my heart is beating and my pulses start
Cathedrals in my heart.”
Who knows, maybe I am in the gap between the trapeze, not knowing if I will fall to the ground below me or grab the handlebars and get to the other side, but my heart is beating and my pulses start cathedrals in my heart.
My heart is ready to create something meaningfully for me in my life. I just got to keep plugging away, pushing through my shit. I hear that line over and over again in my head, “But my heart is beating and my pulses start Cathedrals in my heart.”