One Year Later

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It's remarkable how one year can seem so long and so fast all at the same time.
It’s remarkable how one year can seem so long and so fast all at the same time.

A year ago, I was crying at least once a week.

Drinking all the time, because distracted fun was the only way I knew how to not think about it.

Terrified, because I was online dating (even though I wasn’t ready) and no one was interested, confirming my worst fears of dying sad and alone.

Everything had been going according to plan for nearly 30 years.

Grade school.

High school.


Gainful employment.



A child.

Then 30.

Then fuck you, Matt, now you’re going to see how good you really had it.

I lost a job.

We lost her father.

Our marriage fell apart.

We spent more than a year sleeping in separate bedrooms.

She left.

And then everything inside me just broke.

Despite my parents’ divorce at a young age and being 500 miles away from one or the other every waking moment, and despite never having any money, it turns out I lived a VERY charmed life for my first three decades.

I had never experienced misery. True misery. You hear about broken hearts in books and movies and in whiny Facebook posts, but you don’t really know what that means until your insides break.

It’s spiritual, almost. And it pierces the soul. And there’s no medicine for the unreachable wound. You just sit there and bleed without the benefit of a merciful death. You simply hurt until you don’t anymore.

Everything in life had been going according to plan. Everything had happened, for the most part, exactly as I had mentally prepared for. I never knew failure until the job loss. And that’s a pleasure cruise compared to what happens when the person you love and trust the most checks out and decides life with someone else, or alone (doesn’t matter, so long as it’s not with you!) looks better than what they have now.

Life becomes a book full of empty pages needing written but you’re all out of ink.

I am so afraid of all the things I don’t know or understand. I am so afraid of all the questions I don’t have answers for. I used to believe that everything would always be okay, because for most of my life, everything always ended up okay.

But then something didn’t. Something didn’t end up okay. The most-important thing.

And now I don’t know that everything is going to be okay anymore.

And sooner or later, I need to learn that THAT’s going to have to be okay. That NO ONE knows how things will turn out.

And then maybe I can start filling those blank pages again instead of just rummaging around for ink.

A Year of Blogging

So far, the best thing to come out of my failed marriage is this.

That won’t seem silly to all of you who are writers, but may seem so to everyone else. Writers need to write. But I was never interested in writing for the sake of writing. I always believed it was important to have something to say.

Must Be This Tall To Ride gave me a platform for writing about things that mattered to me. A place to divulge all that human-being stuff stirring around inside. Stuff that had to come out because it was killing me all bottled up.

When you start writing stories about real-life stuff, things start to happen. People get it.

Not everyone.

But enough.

And then they realize they’re not alone. And they say “Thank you.”

And then you realize you’re not alone. And you thank them.

Then people are grateful.

And people feel connected.

And so much good can come from those things that the process bears repeating over and over and over again.

On June 21, 2013, I was drinking vodka, or tequila, or beer, or all three, and hit publish on a weird, rambling post. It was a process (minus the drinking, for the most part!) that would, for many months, become an addiction.

Writing about the things I was thinking and feeling and experiencing became more than just important for me. It became therapy. And I needed every bit of it. I probably need more.

People feel like me.

We’re not alone.

There aren’t a lot of feelings more helpful during difficult moments than the realization that other people know and understand your particular brand of misery.

We’re now one year in, and despite hitting that blue Publish button more than 300 times, I’m not sure I’ve found a groove. I’m not sure I know who I am or even who I want to be as a writer.

I want to help, but people don’t want to be preached to.

I want to be funny, but I’m sort of sad and borderline-pathetic half the time, and afraid you won’t laugh the other.

I want to document the journey because I think it’s important for people going through similar life events to see what happens and doesn’t happen to me because sometimes that helps people in their own lives, and I’m pretty sure it helps me.

I want to organize my thoughts and feelings and experiences as I try to make sense of this unexpected life.

Everything was going along as it was supposed to.

Right up until it wasn’t anymore.

I suspect that’s how everyone’s life is, and you just don’t know it until life starts firing shots your way for the first time.

Run for your life.

One year later, I still hurt and I’m still sad. But not nearly as much.

One year later, I’m still hopeful and I still believe good things are coming for me. I just don’t know what that might look or feel like or how to get there.

One year later, I still love writing. And now I have a place for that to happen.

I’m 35 years old and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I’m divorced.

I’m a father to a six-year-old boy.

I’m afraid of all the uncertainty. I’m afraid because of money. I’m afraid because I don’t know what tomorrow looks like on every conceivable level.

But I’m a little bit strong, too.

Because I took the punch and got back up.

Because only shitty things seem to happen and I still have hope.

Because I look around and see a whole bunch of darkness.

And I intend to be a light.

Be one, too.

55 thoughts on “One Year Later”

    1. Hi. 🙂 Thank you.

      You have to do it to understand. But yes. It most certainly helps.

      Thank you so much for taking a moment to read and say hello.

      1. You definitely have to do it to understand. It’s funny, I try to hide the fact that I even have a blog from people I know because I fear their criticism. “You blog? For what?” They just don’t get it. But that’s SUPER ok with me, because I think I like the people who get blogging a little better 🙂

  1. All I can say to you, is Thank You. Thank you for your honesty, for your raw emotion, for your candor. I appreciate you and your writing. It does help those of us out there that have lived it or are living it. I’m afraid too. Every day of my life.

    1. I can’t thank you enough for reading and feeling and caring.

      While I would LOVE to be fearless, I’m learning to embrace it in the interest of learning how to be courageous.

      Hugs, miss. Thank you for being part of it.

  2. LOVE THIS!!!! Community in misery was, perhaps, even a little sweeter than community in the good times. But there is little in the world that give us greater fulfillment and purpose than being a light in the darkness. Awesome post, Matt.

  3. Many thanks. I know you get it on a variety of levels. Your support and enthusiasm for what I’ve tried to do here means more to me than you can know.

    Thank you very, very much.

  4. Every time a new post from you appears in my reader I smile. I don’t know what you’re writing about today, what sort of emotional place you will be writing from, but it is always a thoughtful experience for me, and nearly always relatable and relevant.

    It’s been a great year of reading, even if a lot of it was compressed into a couple of months of multiple posts per day when I was going through your archive.

  5. fantastic and powerful post, matt. and just think what you’ll be doing and writing next year! best, beth

  6. Incredible how our stories are similar, including facts as the death to one of “their” parents and loosing a job. I’ve been writing my blog since 25 days, really hope that in one year I’ll be where you are now (with your life, your blog is topless! ) Thank you Matts! (or my tanks 😉 , as you prefer )

  7. Blogging, what would we be doing without it?

    No, really. That thought scares me sometimes, if I didn’t have this place as an outlet.

    Here’s to another year on here, and great possibilities.

  8. Happy blog-birthday! I for one am glad you decided to hit publish, and that you continue to do so.
    ps. I am 52 and still deciding what I want to do when I grow up. Or should that be if?

  9. I hear ya – about the fear probably most of all. Those of us who have gone through this process and come out the other side know the worst part of it all. You had your future all planned out, secure in the knowledge that your family would be there. You loved someone and they loved you. Then all the sudden they didn’t and you were left with a future that was nothing like what you thought – flipping and flopping until you aren’t even sure what pond you are in. Decisions are impossible, because you start to question every decision, every conversation until you are in analysis paralysis. And then you have to jump off a cliff of some decision with no safety net. But here’s the thing – you’ve already walked through fire and proved you can survive. You’ve known fear but had the courage to do it anyway – and that is brave.

    You are afraid you aren’t funny – you ARE.
    You are afraid people won’t get it or understand what you are trying to say – they DO.
    You are afraid what you are sharing isn’t meaningful – I can absolutely tell you it IS.

    All those readers (including myself) who have found you and follow this journey you are on, know the most important of things. You are REAL; what you are sharing is REAL, not just for you but for thousands of others who walk that same path.

    It takes time – so cliché but so true. And no one can ever give you a timeline, other than we all feel similar things. You’ve found that connection with so many others; know that what you are doing is extremely valuable. And KEEP doing it – you do make a difference. Happy blog anniversary!

    1. The “real” part is important to me. I’m so glad you feel that way. Especially the part where you believe it matters. That it makes a difference. Thank you so much for saying so.

  10. I’m going to Internet-hug you {{{{{Matt}}}}} because I got my heart broken, too, recently. My favorite saying, one that I believe to be true, is that everyone has a story and needs someone to tell it. That’s what an editor told me years ago, and I believe it. And I live it. I write because I need to, and no one has to read it. I need to get it outside of me so it doesn’t stay inside. Congratulations to you for being true to yourself, and to your readers. Honesty is how writers gain trust, and I’m glad you blog about your life. The most difficult writing I ever did was almost four months ago – I wrote my father’s eulogy. “Real, honest, and raw” is what my friend told me as i struggled until past midnight. Real honest and raw is your blog. Happy blog anniversary!

  11. 300 posts in one year of honest, raw, sometimes funny, usually beautiful, always gripping, blogging. That is called ‘being the light’ for sure. You go, Matt.

  12. For your readers, followers it’s been a year of reading your blog. I may have said this before, you are a talented writer, on all levels. Have wisdom and the rawness of your journey reflected with honestly, thanks you. I still get a lot from reading your posts. Ivan

    1. And I know I’ve told you how much I appreciate you’re always-kind and thoughtful comments. Thank you very much, Ivan. Awesome to see you. Thanks for saying hi.

  13. Thankyou for this. I’ve been writing online dating fails and I find myself branching out to other relationship fails, because it’s so damn cathartic. Thanks for sharing, and I know you’ll be alright, you are stronger than even you know.

    1. It really is cathartic. Those are important stories. People are scared to talk about those things sometimes. You’re doing important work. Thank you for saying hi.

  14. Yes yes yes. Yes to you are not alone. Yes to you got punched and got back up.
    Imagine another year from now…some of those fears will seem silly. You will stand a little taller than you thought you would. You will have gained some new friends, and maybe watch a few go.
    Yes, Matt….what a difference a year makes.

  15. I like that you are figuring out how to be vulnerable, strong and hopeful. Bad things happen sometimes, even to the best of people. When they do, we can wallow and raise our fists in fury or we can let the hurt flow over us like a wave knowing it is a tide, the wave will carry it all back out and we will still be standing.

    Truly Matt, self-determination is one of the best things. Deciding to be a light, for yourself, for your son this is one of the best things you can do. It takes a real man to stand up and do this.

    1. You strike me as strong and brave. So it means a lot to me to read you say that. Thank you so much.

  16. There really isn’t any certainty ever. If the first 30 years felt like everything was going as planned, it was because you were young. 🙂

    Life is messy, broken and beautiful. I don’t know where I’ll even be living 2 months from now.

    But today was absolutely beautiful out. My kid and I went to an outdoor festival, with food and games and live music.

    AND we climbed the highest rock wall ever. We were both kinda scared shitless, but he double dared me. We did it at the same time; him on one side, me on the other.

    It was AWESOME.

    I don’t know any more than you do, but I think, maybe that’s life? The moments. The awesome ones, the scary ones, the painful ones. Lean into them. And blog about it. THAT’s who you are as a writer.

    And we love hearing about it. Thank you for devoting a year of your life to this.

  17. I wasn’t coming back to visit your blog as often as I would have wanted (involved in my personal struggles – moving, still looking for the job etc.), but I thank you so much! Each time I would read your stories I would feel how things are not always what they seem, how we are all so different and the same, how sharing you deepest struggles can help and how supportive wordpress community really is. You made me feel like I should blog more and I will try to (most of my blog posts don’t end up online and I hope that for the rest of the year I will change that). Best of wishes from Brussels, Signe

    1. Thank you for saying thank you. I appreciate so much that you took time to read and decided to care. 🙂

  18. Your light is more brilliant than diamonds. I’m encouraged by your journey. No matter what please continue. Much love.

    1. You’re the sweetest. But you know that already. Thank you so much for you support. No one shares this stuff on Twitter more than you. Can’t thank you enough for that.

  19. One year later, you’re still on an enlightening path. Keep you’re head up, man. I’ll be sipping on some scotch while you’re enjoying your vodka. Just give me a shout, so you don’t have to enjoy alone.

  20. Another wonderful post, Matt. I too like knowing that I’m not alone, and that there are people going through a lot of crap just like I am, and that through blogs like these I can be connected to them.
    Actually, the whole ‘one year later’ thing has been torturing me too, as of late, because of so so much that I’ve gone through. I can’t believe it’s already been so long since I joined this site – well, for me it’s actually another month or so until it will have been a year exactly. But still, unreal how time has flown.

    I was actually wondering if you would grant me a favour of perhaps reading my last 2-3 entries and giving me your input? I find I don’t have that many male readers (or that many readers in general!) and a lot of the time I just really wish I could get more of a male input on certain things.
    Definitely you are busy dealing with a lot, and probably have far too many other blogs to keep up with on here – but I’d really appreciate it if ever you get the chance. That goes to any other guys who maybe catch this comment btw.
    Gotta network somehow I guess…

    Hugs to you, as always, and best of luck.

  21. The really sad thing is not being able to figure out everything after a year and not knowing WHY you cannot figure it out. I hate the feeling of being stuck and fight it diligently, every day. This is a great article. It’s great to know that we are not alone. Thanks for this, Matt.

  22. Matt – I appreciate your honesty and openness, your story could easily be mine – or my story could easily be yours – thanks for being a light. with light we will ALL find our way.

  23. I wish my husband would take the time to read your blog… He’s that mindset tho ( yanno HIM right n me WRONG) he wont cis he thinks I’m controlling him… I’m at the stage of out is the only way … It’s like playing tennis with a person who’s never held a racket before, the ball just wont bounce back even after waiting for 15 years for it to happen! Today is my 15th wedding anniversary and all I can think about is running to escape the horrible pain I feel… And didn’t sign up for … You make sense matt keep writing !

    1. I’m so sorry, Diane. Thank you for reading and writing.

      15 years is a long time. This is a story I hear over and over and over again, and I always want to know why.

      We don’t get to make other people do things. We need them to choose it. I hope you can find a way to have a very happy anniversary day.

      You and your husband have my very best wishes.

  24. “Because only shitty things happen and I still have hope.” That sounds like me and what happened in my marriage. Nothing worked out as I had planned it, a lot of stuff in life was an uphill battle. So when that started happening in marriage. I still had hope. or have it. But shitty things keep happening, so I’m losing hope a little bit every day. I guess I’ll be even more sad once it’s all gone, because I gave it everything I had and it still didn’t work. Although, two people have to give it everything they have to make it a good marriage. I know things will hurt less later. I know. Just the hope thing gets me, reminds me of the movie Swingers when the Mike goes to California and his relationship is over, he’s hoping it won’t be and that she’ll get a clue, but his friend reminds him that she probably won’t get a clue until after he’s over it. It usually happens that way, when the hope window is closed. That’s the rub. Good post. Thanks for helping out.

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