The Gray Area

Comments 53

gray area

I prefer things to be black and white.

Good or bad.

Right or wrong.

When there are choices to be made, life is much easier when common sense dictates the best course of action.

I believe I have a good sense of what to do in those situations. Sometimes I choose the wrong thing because of selfishness or fear or pleasure or impatience or a full moon.

But it tends to be me knowing something is wrong and doing it anyway. I can live with that.

Something is often black. Or white. And I can usually tell the difference.

Then there is all the stuff in between.

The gray area.

All Bottled Up

I am firmly entrenched in the gray area.

For several months, I was publishing a thousand words a day here. I almost never missed.

I always had something to say because I wasn’t afraid to write exactly what was happening and how I felt about it.

It mattered because other people got it. Other people have shitty, broken relationships and feel hopeless, too.

It’s important to know you’re not alone.

It’s important to see how other people deal with things so you can copy them when they get it right, and do the opposite when they don’t.

I felt a strong calling to do just that.

To do stuff. To feel. And write it all down.

To write mostly fearlessly. So what, I’m scared? So what, I was having trouble dating? So what, I don’t know what to do with my life?

My wife left and my life exploded into chaos that affected me emotionally, spiritually, physically and financially.

I was fucking pissed. You know, when I wasn’t crying or drinking. And I told you all about it.

And it felt good.

Because I’m so damn scared all the time. Here in my real life. In this body. When I can’t sleep at night. When I’m indulging in self-loathing. And doubt.

What am I doing? Why?

I’m trying so hard to determine what it is that really matters to me. And what doesn’t.

I’ve spent the past 13 years living for other people. Poorly, at times. But for other people.

And so much of that purpose went away when my family broke.

It’s just my son now.

What’s best for him?

Is it ultimately a well-balanced and happy father?

Is that the best gift I can give him?

What does that even look like?

I haven’t been able to write because I can’t write honestly without hurting or exposing people.

The truth affects my personal life in profound ways.

I’m dying to tell you.

All of it. Everything.

And not even for you. But for me. Because this is the best way I know how to work through things. To find myself hiding amidst all the shit and chaos swirling around inside me.

What matters most?

My personal, social, professional and spiritual life is at stake as I sort through the mess. Picking up the things I need to keep close to me. And tossing aside the things I need to protect myself from.

The Search for Black and White

I don’t have a preference. Things can just be whatever they are.



No judgment.

I just want to be able to see them. Identify them. Know what I’m dealing with. So I can move forward with confidence and choose the right path.

It doesn’t have to look safe.

It doesn’t have to look familiar.

It doesn’t have to look easy.

But they can’t all look the same.

Maybe there are clues.

Perhaps little things hidden among all the gray.

The universe tends to be constantly balancing both sides of the equals sign in our lives.

I was so sad and angry and broken a year ago.

And now I’m not.

Now I’m not really anything.

The opposite of sad is happy. I’m not that.

The opposite of angry is peaceful. I’m not that.

The opposite of broken is whole. And I’m not that either.

I’m somewhere in the middle. Somewhere in the gray area facing major decisions that have no obvious answers.

No blacks or whites or colors of any kind.

Just gray.

Just uncertainty.

What Do I Know?

I know finding spiritual peace, emotional balance, overall good physical and financial health and social connectivity would seem to be the obvious pillars on which to rebuild the foundation of my life.

So with every choice, I need to ask myself what moves me closer to those things.

I read something from my favorite writer James Altucher yesterday.

Sometimes you read or hear things that speak to your soul. That make you feel like the words were meant just for you. Altucher often does that for me.

And I think I’m going to take his advice on this one.

From “How To Go Out At The Top”:

“At every fork in the road you have a choice. This is what I try to do now: I ask, ‘which choice makes me feel better?’

“Then I don’t think about it. Thoughts are too biased by evolution, society, our past, our neuroses. My only job is to ask the question.

“Then I take a breath. Maybe more. What’s my heart say? What’s my stomach say? Eventually, if I’m healthy in other ways, my body will tell me the answer. (maybe this sounds corny, but it’s what I do)…

“Choose the path at the fork where your heart goes on fire. Go down that path.

“Don’t look back.”

Okay, James.

We’ll try it your way.

53 thoughts on “The Gray Area”

  1. Two quotes from the awesome Ralph Waldo Emerson that might help you in your journey. I posted them on my blog recently:

    “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

    “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

    Blessings. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Kylie.

      I owe you an email. I hope you can forgive me for being difficult. I AM difficult. But circumstances have been particularly busy and consuming.

      I hope you can forgive me, and I’ll look forward to our chat. 🙂

  2. Hi Matt, Good to see you!! Great post!! Been there, seen it.. got the tshirt!! And believe me when I tell you, that when you reach one side or another (black or white) you appreciate it all the more for having been through what you are going through now! Altucher is so right on this one. Go with what makes your heart sing .. and ignore the naysayers (be that society, the media, friends.. whoever)!! it’s the tyranny of should’… do what feels right for you in your heart, body and soul. Textbook happiness doesn’t exist!! Have a great day!!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Verity. I’m going to try and do just that. Hope all’s well with you!

  3. “Sometimes you read or hear things that speak to your soul. That make you feel like the words were meant just for you. Altucher often does that for me.” <— YOU often do that for me.

    Kisses! xoxo

    1. Super-flattering to be thought of that way. I hope you know how much I appreciate that, Andi.

  4. Reblogged this on AndiMirandi and commented:
    One of my absolute faves…I’m living in the gray area right now too and frankly, it sucks. But a very wise man told me to just write the truth and to use the “go fuck yourself” approach. I am 🙂

  5. I am so choked up right now. Tears are streaming down my cheeks, as I feel my life and it’s fucked up situation in the words that you write, every single one of them. I’ve lived a good portion of my life in that grey area. I used to think that that was a good thing. Not so much anymore, I too search for answers. You’re right It doesn’t matter whether they’re black or white just being able to find the answer is the key to getting out of the grey. I hope you find your way because I know how crappy grey feels.

    1. I’m so sorry you’re sad.

      The gray area is, indeed, shitty. Thank you very much for reading and leaving this note.

  6. I get this. I’ve been there. I just read a book that addressed it in a way I wish I’d thought of years ago. “Decide” You might like it.

    1. Thank you so much for reading, and especially for the book recommendation.

      Even if I don’t like it, I suspect it’s thought-provoking and worth reading. Appreciate it! 🙂

  7. It’s hard isn’t it? Those gray areas. I love this post; because not too long ago I had a major fork myself. A gift, a blessing was put in my hands. But at the same time, this gift was the potential for a knife in my ex’s back. Karma? For some reason, the universe had decided to allow me to control something major in my life and even more major in his. Black and white would have been so easy; anger and retribution justified in my mind. For a month I agonized over what was right; and in the end I did just what James did. I saw the hurt and disillusionment and asked my heart what the right thing to do was and what would make me feel good about myself. It was then that I realized I had forgiven; and shared a blessing I didn’t have to – and all the difference in MY life it has made.

    I think too often we dwell so much in our heads trying to do the smart thing, that if we only asked our hearts instead and went with our gut feeling, it would direct us on the right path. Good luck making the right decision for you – sometimes we just have to take the leap and know that no matter what happens we will get through the consequences.

    1. Thank you! Particularly for the reminder in the last sentence.

      We WILL get through the consequences even in a worst-case scenario.

      Shouldn’t let fear keep us from jumping. But we do. Because we’re people.

      Leaping gets easier once we do the first one and land safely.

      Getting there. 🙂

      1. I think it’s a great post. As is that guy’s Facebook post. Very inspirational and well written. Thanks for crafting and sharing it.

  8. There is safety in blogging anonymously… but you specifically chose not to do that. I can imagine it’s hard. I know, personally, having only a couple of people from my real world reading my blog that it does affect how I write.

    I think you do have to choose the option that feels good. When you do, if there are consequences, you’ll deal with them. Anyone who knows you could recognize that you are not deliberately trying to hurt anyone.

    Find your hope, Matt. Hope destroys fear. <3

    1. Thanks for that, Mel. I appreciate that very much. Definitely not trying to cause harm. But this is also all pointless if I’m not being real. It’s finally clashing.

  9. When our worlds (aka the various versions of who we are) collide we are left scrambling to pick up the pieces of what was…the dust rises. Welcome to the grey (sorry, I’m Canadian ?) area. It isn’t as awful as it appears or feels. It is an opportunity. An opportunity to rebuild. Give it time. Let the dust settle. Then, the colours will start to seep back in…
    Bests to you, my friend.
    Oh, and chin up (you know you’d miss the “toughness” if I didn’t throw some in ?)!

    1. Things are neither good nor bad. They’re just weird. Off.

      I can’t find the words. I used to freak out. Now I’m just waiting for it to return.

      And trying to find the new rhythm of life in the process.

      1. I can relate. I’m sure most people can. But sorry you are going through such an “off” time.
        Sometimes it isn’t words we need. Sometimes we shouldn’t be looking.
        The rhythm will come. As long as you keep walking. It takes time. But you’ll find your footing.

  10. This resonates. I used to take comfort in (and direction from) the black and white and when my world exploded and all that was left was gray, it was so difficult to wade through that. A wise woman challenged me to, “learn to sit in the discomfort of ambiguity.” At the time, I thought it was bullshit, but over time I’ve learned to appreciate her comment more and more. I’m still learning, but am finding that sometimes the gray areas hold more freedom and joy than the black or white ever did. Hoping whatever color scheme you go with brings you joy and peace 🙂

    1. Thank you very much. I keep waiting for things to change.

      I still haven’t fully accepted the truth that I will have to cause those changes.

  11. Hey Matt, great post. I feel your words have more meaning here then you might realize. The gray area is what I call the setback. Or the pulling back of the arrow…right before you figure out what the right path is. You are on the right path moving forward. Learning and growing the “gray” is part of growth.
    I guess I’ve been here too and not able to really write what was on my heart for fear of it all getting out there.
    I’ve been in a gray area for the last 2 months…maybe because I’m not able to see the outcome…yet…. dating and trying to be in a healthy…not sure what that looks like….When I’m used to reacting/doing for others for the last 20 years.
    As of yesterday I feel like I’m finally getting it. How to react in what I call healthy ways to normal situations. Despite my panic of overwellimg anxiety for 4 days and not really writing about it.
    Learning how to emotionally react naturally is not natural to me..Un learning learned behaviors…fear
    Fear is the devil…He attacks us when we are on the right path…just before we got it figured out..right in the gray area…

    But i had to make a conscious choice to remember why I’m here…it’s for my children.
    GOD gave us these blessings to get through this part. To have a purpose. don’t see when we can’t figure it out..they live in the moment. Something I’m trying to learn. “Relax and go with the flow” maybe we have our children to remind us to enjoy the little moments.
    Always a pleasure Matt.

    1. Thank you for you steady kindness and support.

      And yes. I’m here for my son. Every waking breath.

  12. Sometimes our interpretation or others interpretation is not always the same. Our values may also differ, however I am a person who looks at things being right or wrong. I do tend to not see the grey in the middle. And that sometimes leads to me being too hard on myself. Maybe I want perfect too, and a failure is actually the only way we can survived and succeed. Great post. Ivan

    1. Nothing wrong with high expectations except for a greater chance for disappointment.

      But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expecting excellence. Particularly from oneself. Thanks a lot, Ivan.

  13. Karah Womack-Hosek

    As a so-not-gray person this really hits home. It seems like i do nothing but make the best choice of several bads ones now. I’m at the beginning of my separation journey, and like you i was left. Thanks for sharing what you can.

    1. I’m so sorry you’re just starting all this. Also, please forgive me for the delay. I spent most of last year living and breathing this blog and I’ve been trying to take a step back as refocus. Turns out that’s not working either.

      I think I belong in here.

      We need to tell and share our stories. Maybe a little for ourselves. But mostly, for others. Because we can help someone who hurts.

      Really appreciate you reading and commenting. 🙂

  14. Just posted about living in the gray area. For me it’s a place of this AND that, versus your current place of neither this NOR that. I’m sorry it’s a dark and cloudy place. Wishing you light enough to see your way through and the patience to wait out the gray.

    1. Patience is what I require, Jen. It’s been a very odd few weeks.

      I miss the writing. Hope you’re well. Did I see you celebrated your 12-year anniversary?

  15. I have learned to be okay with the gray. A little. More than before. I have faith that your gray will be an area of inspiration and growth. I have found that nothing was ever as black and white as it seemed, anyway, I just felt safer there.

    1. Safety in the gray. Not a bad way to look at it.

      Hope everything’s going well for you. 🙂 Thank you for saying hi.

  16. It’s good to still see you here Matt. You’ve come a long way in a year. It’s inspiring. I would like to blog too but don’t know where to start. I think you’re very brave. Keep writing.

  17. Matt, every single day we live in the Gray Area, nothing is black and white but a blend. It would be easier if it was simple forks in the road with a GPS. It isn’t, that isn’t life. Certainly not life for Grown Assed People, not any of my acquaintance any ways.

    Here is a suggestion I would like to make to you. Might be difficult, nevertheless I think you might gain some insight into just where you have come from and where you are.

    1. Grab yourself something to drink. I would suggest a nice chilled quad shot of Herradura Anjeo but if that isn’t your favorite, pick your poison.

    2. Pull up your own blog and start at your very first post. Now read. Yes, I said it. Read as if you didn’t know what you wrote. Read it as if you were me or anyone else that didn’t know your story. Read as if you were reading from the outside looking in. DO NOT SKIM the hard parts. DO NOT SKIP the hurtful parts. Read every single post, read all the parts that hurt. Cry if you have to, some of your posts made me cry.

    Pour yourself more if you need it. Rage at the moon if you need it. Call your ex names if you feel like it, Hell call yourself names if you want to.

    The point of this exercise is for you to see just how far you have come as a man, a father and a human being. Just how much of the Gray you have actually been living in all along and just how well you have handled it.

    Life is never black or white. It is constant shading. Branch out read other people who are going through what you are going through. See what they are saying and doing. You have come a very long ways.

    1. This is very interesting advice. This is inspiring even. Thank you for this suggestion. More on this soon…

  18. I think I’m in the same boat. There is a fork. I’m standing there with absolutely no idea which way to turn. There is also the issue with writing how I’m feeling in an open and honest way…and knowing that people who are involved (sort of) are reading.
    At this point I’m looking for a sign too. Something to tell me which direction to go…they both have good points and bad. They both are very emotional.
    I like what your ‘friend’ said “Choose the path at the fork where your heart goes on fire. Go down that path. “Don’t look back.”
    I’m going to try to figure out which path that one is.

    1. It’s not quite as easy as I thought it might be. Just eliminating your brain and following your gut. Hard!

  19. Do what is best for YOU Matt. I have read enough to know that you are worthy. I hope whatever path you choose is the one that makes you smile on the inside. Faith or fear is the choice. Wishy washy sucks. JUST JUMP! I have faith that whatever choice you make will be the right one.

    1. I’d like to believe we can make any choice the right one and deal with whatever comes no matter what. I hope that’s true. 🙂

  20. I, too am operating in the gray area although I didn’t have a name for it. I keep saying “I need to feel safe” but I couldn’t really explain why I wasn’t feeling safe. Thank you for articulating my feelings and giving them a name others can understand. The gray area is a terrible place to be and I’m sorry you aren’t able to process using the outlet you have had for the last year. Hopefully things will sort themselves out in a way that you can start blogging about them without fear of hurting others. If not, maybe start a new, anonymous blog (but be sure to tell all of us where to find it). Please take care of yourself. Hugs.

  21. A great post and you helped me express myself in your words. I could have written some of this myself, about me. I’m lost in grey areas, it’s a mist for me.
    I’m trying to recover from my latest break up – my boyfriend stopped communicating and is gone and it’s one of those moments – when you realize that you are all alone with your faults and anxiety and questions and you must get the closure by your own. No one is going to be there understanding and talking about the mistakes. Somebody just left the room, and you have to deal with never getting the answers.
    Thank you again for this post and for your blog Matt.

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