February 19, 2022
When you grow up in the South, age 33 is supposed to be the transformative year. After all, that’s the year that Jesus got his shit together to fulfill the prophecy of getting himself executed. Southern wisdom is that if you’re not married by 33, maybe with a kid but definitely with your economic house in order, you’re are letting Ol’ Jesus down. For me, 17 was the year I got out of the house and figured out I was going become an academic instead of dentist. Thank Jesus. That was a year my sense of self felt like it was really coming together.
This is my last day as a 57-year-old and that brace-faced teenager seems light years away (and so does the 33-year-old). The past 12 months have been more transformative than anything I’ve ever encountered. When I look back at February 2021 me, I barely recognize the guy. Somethings are sadly the same. I’m still lobbying for a job in the Biden Administration and there still isn’t a fully functioning kitchen in this house, but the person in this spot has shed that skin. 2021 me looked like a lost boy, bouncing in the glee of the moment, but taking everything around him for granted.
If there was any year I wish I could have a do-over it would be 57. Previously it was 16 (so I could go to New York and save John Lennon) and then it was 21 (just because it was so incredibly awesome). But 57 was a year of stupid mistakes, like beginner blunders on a chess board. Beside forgetting Andi and my wedding anniversary for the second year in the row, I had fairly spectacular meltdowns in New Orleans and at the final night of Mary’s Club that had her questioning my sanity. In between those, I uncovered my history of child sexual abuse but not before I further sabotaged her trust in me. The new year began with me back on the proverbial cliff, contemplating non-existence. It was a hard year. Hard on my family.
The good news is I got back on the anti-depressants and found a therapist who really helped me get to the root issues, leading to what feels like a complete rebirth from the troubled narcissist I was. My journey in therapy began in 1998 when I was forced to confront some of those issues around depression. It generated a good book on the subject (that I’m proud of and everyone should buy), but it never really got to the starting point of my tendency to shoot myself in the foot over and over again. Thanks to Andi encouraging me to read more on my issues, I picked up a few books on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) and then found a somatic therapist who specialized in hypo-therapy. It was time to go deep. This is the year my Saturn is in return, so big change is inevitable.
The time spent in therapy has been revelatory. The first time she put me into a relaxed state where I could actually talk to that 4-year-old boy who had been abused changed my whole way of being. I began to let go of my constant anger (which I visualized as the Incredible Hulk) that I laid on anyone in my radius, including my family and my wife. Developing skills to be mindful of my emotions reminded me that I can center other people and not be dangerously vulnerable. And being safely vulnerable is actually a good thing. (Yeah, I now know all about Brené Brown. She’s a rock star.) I can finally breathe. It’s going to be alright.
Today, our daughter asked if Andi was going to move back home. On the weeks Andi has Cozy, I spend as much time in her apartment as I do in our house, often laying next to her in bed in the early morning minutes before the alarm clock goes off, watching her sleep and thinking about how I used to complain about her snoring. I am in love with that snore. Old Randy might have asked his daughter to play some Jedi mind tricks on Mom, but I just said, “I hope she does, but I don’t really know. It’s up to her but whatever she chooses, we want her to be happy.”
There was a moment in this process where I saw a truth that Andi had long known, that when you truly love someone, you live to serve them, not your ego. I am here to serve her and our daughter, in whatever capacity the universe allows. My journey through the challenge of self-work this year highlighted that our complacency with our selves and our relationships is our biggest threat to our happiness. It’s too easy to be lazy in our culture, scrolling through life. We’re not done. There’s work unfinished. At least there is for me.
I turn 58 tomorrow. That used to seem so old. But I feel like I just grew up.