Here’s the simple, honest truth of where I am as a person: my tolerance for other people’s bullshit is gone. If I didn’t directly cause the issue that’s got your ass puckered, don’t turn your ire on me because the backlash will be painfully honest, unfiltered, and more than likely profane. If I did create the issue, I’ll be the first to apologize and make amends for my transgression, but if I didn’t, don’t even think about taking it out on me. When I was young and insecure and weak, I let too many people walk all over me and take advantage of me and trample my self-esteem, but the great thing about a little stroll through hell is that it reforges your will into something stronger, something more resilient, and at times something a little meaner.
My trip through hell mostly consisted of losing my children and learning to live with that emptiness in my heart. I was stripped bare to my soul and forced to look at myself void of any facade. I saw myself pretty clearly: the flaws, the scars, the wounds, and the good. In those darkest moments, when I truly was alone and had nothing, something quite amazing happened. I learned to love myself. I have every excuse in the universe to be a son of a bitch, a user, a junkie, a drunk, or a derelict, but instead of allowing others to rob me of the goodness and decency in my heart, I’ve continued to live by compassion, respect, loyalty, devotion, and enterprise, and no one on this earth will ever dampen my self-esteem again.
I’ve also, quite literally, faced my own mortality three times so far. At 8, I got a serious blood infection from a tick bite and at the worst weighed 40 pounds. Obviously, I was too young then to comprehend the gravity of that situation, but as an adult, I get it. At 16, I endured the shotput accident and learned the fragility of life. At 38, I thought my body was failing me and had to deal with the prospect of losing my independence and possibly my life before my children were grown. To a man like me, that’s about as terrifying as it gets, but I’ve endured all three and come through the other side stronger, wiser, and yes, a little harder.
So before you step to me with some self-generated bullshit or something someone else has done to ruffle your feathers, you better take a long, close look in my eyes and make sure you’re prepared for the blow-back because I will not tolerate it, not from you, not even from my sons. I’ve paid my motherfucking dues and have earned the right to stand up for myself. And you best believe me when I say if I can live without my kids in my life every day, I damn sure can live without you, no matter who you are. If you come at me with respect and treat me with dignity, you’ll find a pretty decent man who will offer you courtesy and compassion, tolerance and acceptance, but if you cross my line in the sand, just be forewarned that this hardened piece of hickory has a little sting to it.