It was only a few short (but really long) weeks ago that my mind and life seemed to be in utter chaos mode. If I am being honest, it was probably one of three times in my life (so far) where I was just so generally lost that I started to panic.
At that time, I left behind the Single Dad Laughing name forever. I have no regrets about it, but it was something I definitely did out of desperation, not out of some grand plan for how to fix things. I didn’t know what I would do after it was gone. I just knew that the same formula, which I had repeatedly tried again, and again, and again was not working.
Ditching SDL really left my mental ass hanging in the wind for a chilly minute.
I was already having a years-long identity struggle, which suddenly turned into a full-blown identity crisis. Most of it you didn’t see, but some of it you did.
“Single Dad Laughing” had apparently become such a major part of who I felt I was to other people that when I finally abandoned it, I had no idea who I was (as a whole) at all anymore.
I think deep down, I knew that I had been using SDL as a crutch for quite some time in my life, and I knew I needed to do something different to feel actual integrity to my life.
The biggest part was the (close-to) fame dynamic. Single Dad Laughing was really well-branded on social media. Most people or companies didn’t necessarily know my actual name, or sometimes even my face, but they knew who I was when you mentioned SDL.
I’m guessing most of you have never been kind of/almost famous in some way. In many ways it is just as fun as it sounds…
Companies would send me all sorts of free products to sample in exchange for reviews. I received some really cool stuff over the years.
People just kind of respected me and trusted me as a person when we met for the first time.
I got invited to all sorts of fun events and opportunities because of it.
Friends would brag me up to strangers.
In many ways, women and dating were just easier. If a woman knew who I was and wanted to go out, then she already liked me… And, guaranteed she had already done a little internet stalking to know that she already liked me. I didn’t have to put all that much work into the getting-to-know-you part of dating.
Sex was super easy most of the time, too. Sometimes too easy. Never underestimate the seductive power of perceived popularity or fame. It’s very real. And it wasn’t just easier to get sex in the bedroom, either. I would receive all sorts of messages from random women who hinted at things with sexual flirtation, and within no time at all, those conversations turned to sexting.
Ahem. I told you, TMI. But too much information is what I do. Writing and sharing too much is how I cope with things and learn from them. I do have a point to sharing all this. It’s not just to say, fuck, I was awesome and popular. I was talking about the crutch it had all become, if you’ll recall.
And it was a crutch. All those dynamics were part of the crutch, and every one of them definitely had their dark sides.
Sometimes (not very often, but it happened) I got involved with companies where I was forced to follow through by contract even though I came to dislike the people or products behind them. I try to live with integrity, and so these moments were always so damaging to my sense of self-worth, which is heavily weighted by my sense of integrity.
As it turns out, respect and trust that are earned between two people mean something significant, but respect and trust that exist for no real reason are extremely fragile and they mean very little at all. Being respected before ever meeting naturally caused a lot of really shallow friendships and partnerships to exist in my life.
Sometimes I was invited to things because of what my name could bring, not because of what I could bring as a person, and I was sometimes used as a puppet for other people’s gain. Sometime I’ll blog about my Katie Couric experience, and how it was one example of precisely that.
Friends bragging you up may sound nice. It’s fun at first, but eventually, you realize that they’re only bragging up the fact that they’re hanging out with someone kind of famous. It was more about them than it ever was about me. They never actually bragged up any real part of me or who I am as a person.
I could write fifty blog posts about how the ease of sex and dating was actually probably the worst part of all of it and was probably the biggest portion of my SDL crutch.
Women would show up to the first date already in love with me, but never in love with me. They’d show up in love with an idea of who I was and who I should be based on tiny slivers of what I had shared with the world.
On two different occasions, I honestly feel like I was raped after I kept saying no and they kept pushing. I suffered from nice-guy syndrome at the time and it was only after the second one that I finally put my foot down after it was over and told her to get the fuck out of my house. After the sex had finished, she rolled over and said, “I just had sex with Single Dad Laughing.” It was a really harsh reality for me at the time.
As it turns out, sex is just better when it exists because of a natural connection and progression. Frivolous sex for the sake of having it never fulfills me and always leaves me wanting more to try and fill the void left behind in the last encounter.
Sexting with strangers was always harmless fun, sure, but it also had a way of really cheapening the legitimate experience with someone in my real life when it finally happened.
I could go on and on for volumes. The point of all of this is two-fold.
First, the crutch. That’s all SDL had become, and I knew it. I was leaning on the moniker to get me through all sorts of things, to acquire new things, to have fun experiences, to fill my self-esteem bucket, and to not have to put real work or effort into finding love or real connections.
Second, the identity struggle that came with being SDL, and the identity crisis that followed its final abandonment. When so much of who I was only existed because of my perceptions of the perceptions of others, and when that lasted for an entire decade… I think there’s a very good reason it took me years of trying the same thing over and over before I finally threw my hands up in the air and said ENOUGH.
It wasn’t me telling all of you that “I wasn’t Single Dad Laughing.” It was me declaring to myself by telling all of you that “I wasn’t Single Dad Laughing and I need to figure out who I am now.” I had to let it go. I had to let myself feel that giant hole that I knew losing it would leave in me. I knew I would have to finally deal with that hole, AKA the identity crisis.
It was such a strange and horrid feeling to be almost 40 and have no idea what I was going to do next or who I really was in this world anymore. I had no idea what I would do for money. I had no idea how to go about dating again. I had no idea how to exist at peace in this world.
Those were a tough few weeks for me as I dabbled in and out of different ideas, none of which worked even slightly.
Eventually my panic escalated enough that I threw my little “woe is me” tantrum to you all. That was embarrassing, for sure.
It was also probably my rock bottom, if I had to guess. That was a pretty low point for me… Not necessarily the post itself, but where I was emotionally and mentally at the time.
But, hey. Rock bottoms are called the bottom for a reason, and I never would have guessed the rapid chain events that blog post would set off in my life that would begin to save me from all of it and let me discover my true self again.
That’s a blog post for next time. To be continued.
Dan Pearce | Dan Pearce Was Here