Monday, September 24, 2012

The Lifer Series Part 10 - I will protect my domain, and those I keep in it

Years ago, Under Armour had this commercial where this jacked up football player was running around yelling about how they "must protect this house".

I'm sure that resonated with the young athletic male population, and helped UA sell a lot of their fancy shirts. There actually is a nice metaphoric parallel with life that statement can be applied to.  

In this installment, I am going to write about that.  Not about shiny shirts or Under Armour.  About protecting those you keep in your life.  

I will protect my domain and those I keep in it.  

This will be one of the most personal posts I've written.  

The latter part of my youth was spent trying to save a family member from self destruction.  My sister was an addict, and like most addicts, she was not only self destructive, but destructive to those around around her as well.  I won't go into all of the things I did to try and save her from such a life.  Most people wouldn't believe it anyway.  It really is the kind of shit you see in movies, and I refuse to glamorizing myself as some hero in this.  There was nothing that felt heroic about the things I did.  Saving her from beatings and possibly death on many occasions felt more like an incredible burden.  Riding around without sleep for days on end trying to find what abandoned house she might be holed up in never felt "heroic".  Taking care of my niece, whom I raised for many years, and is still like one of my daughters to this day, didn't feel heroic.  It felt like my responsibility.

Seen a few of these

Eventually, I learned what I wrote about in another lifer installment.  I had to cut off the leech that my sister had become.  I had a wife, a daughter of my own, and I needed to put my energy into that, and not trying to save her anymore.  I had already spent enough time and energy trying to do that.  How was I going to be a great father to my own daughter, if all of my emotional energy was being spent worrying about saving my sister?  I couldn't.  I had to let it go.  

I do not regret that part of my youth was spent that way.  I could have had a "normal" teenage life, and done all the shit every other teenage male did.  Gone to school dances (ok so I did go to prom once), have super dramatic teenage girlfriends, obsessed over drinking goat piss, aka beer, but I didn't.  I did have some moments of reprieve.  I played music for years, and I had a couple of really great friends during that time that I loved very much that were very supportive.  However the majority of that time in my life, was spent trying to save my sister from the people that wanted to hurt or kill her, and to protect my niece.  However, it was mainly spent trying to save her from herself.  

Rewind just a few years before all of this, and I found myself mourning the death of two of my dearest and best friends, and my parents divorcing.    

I refuse to say I had a bad childhood or misspent youth.  I learned so much in those years about being a man and what matters in life.  More than most "men" ever learn.

I learned about all of the things that I felt was important.  How quickly things could be taken away.  Why you should cherish your loved ones and friendship.  

I learned how to tell my friends I love em.  I learned how much I wanted to be a father, and how much a great girl meant to me.  I watched my parents eventually reconcile and remarry (and have been together ever since), and how it was ok to say "my bad, I was wrong.  Forgive me."  

I saw a lot of things that helped prepare me for life.  A few years later, a good friend in the military would tell me a phrase that has stuck with me, and become part of my life's philosophy....only spend time with the people who are going to cry at your funeral.

The people that really matter

Protecting those in your domain encompasses many things.  It can mean supporting a good friend when things are going well for them, or giving them a bit of tough love when they are screwing up.  I wrote about enablers, so make sure you aren't one.

If you have kids, it's about putting them as a priority in your life.  Everyday that you wake up, your thoughts should be on how to be a better father or mother today.  That has nothing to do with spoiling your kids either, or being their best friend.  Quite the opposite.  It has to do with preparing them for the world that is snarling outside the door.  Giving them the best chance to succeed, and giving them a role model that they can look to in any situation.  They aren't always going to be happy with you  laying down the hammer, but they will appreciate it later, when they understand the reasons you did so.

If you have a significant other, it's about always making them feel appreciated.  Most often in life, we say the worst shit to the people we care about the most.  Generally it's because the things they do to us matters more than the casual stranger.  Yet during those times where we are at odds with them, we show them less love when that's generally the time they need it the most.  This can be an incredibly difficult thing to do when you feel wounded by them in some way, however it's far better to do that than have to apologize later for words spoken in anger.  People say "they are just words", but that's really undermining the significance of life.  If it's just words then telling someone "I love you" has no more merit than telling them "I wish I had never met you" as well.  You can't pick and choose what words matter, when the other person ends up the recipient of the words you speak.

A king, an alpha, a man isn't ruled or overwhelmed by his emotions.  He knows it's his choice in how he feels about a situation, and he decides appropriately.  How can someone protect their domain when they allow their emotions to take over and allow them to do and say things they don't mean, or later regret?  A protector is smart and vigilant, in control at all times.  They don't flail about because of perceived slights, or make rash decisions based on insignificant threats.

The protector also does just that too, however.  To borrow my own quote from Strength, Life, Legacy...a protector becomes a destroyer of worlds against anyone who dare threaten his family.  If you don't know how to do this, I suggest you learn.  If you don't want to learn, I suggest you man the fuck up and figure out how not to be a pussy.  Being able to protect your loved ones is a basic skill every man should know.  No different than changing a tire or screwing in a light bulb.  Are you a man, or a hipster?

Is not wearing Cardigan

Protecting the people you keep in your circle is really about doing what is best for them, so that they know you respect, love, and appreciate them and what they mean in your life.  A friend once told me "if you needed me, no matter what it was, I'd show up with a shovel and a bag of lime if that's what it took."  That's respect, and that's what friends and family do for each other.  You respect and protect the domain you keep each other in.  


  1. That was a great post. I'm a little misty-eyed here, no joke.

    Just a suggestion, why don't you and Jamie do a show where you talk about your pasts, and how you got to where you are now? Tell some cool stories, etc...

    I have to ask, what ever happened with your sister? I had an uncle who was a drug addict, and we all tried to help him him out, but in the end the drugs won. To para-phrase Rick James: "Heroin is a helluva drug."

    Also, what instrument do you play?

    1. I've played the drums since I was 9. I also sang for quite a few years too.

  2. Excellent as always. I do love the quote about true friends being the ones that cry at your funeral. In an age of 4000 facebook friends and everyone has a dozen BFF! It seems many people forget what it is to have that core of true friends and loved ones.
    I have lots of acquaintances, but maybe 2 people I could call to help bury the body.. I think it's important for people to consider as well, if they are the same to those friends.

    I stop and ask myself every now and then "Am I as good a friend to them as they are to me?" and it helps to keep me honest, and remember to call up a friend to grab some drinks and catch up if it's been too long.
    Thoughtful as always Paul, think I'll call up some old buddies to catch up.

  3. Great post, very personal and from the heart.

  4. Good article Paul, thanks for sharing.
    On a side note, I did my first set of curls with the bar for reps today. Set myself a target of 50. The first 40 weren't too bad, but the last ten were a fucking nightmare. My biceps just quit at 45 and I thrust like a madman to get out the last few.

    1. I usually do the same but not for curls

    2. I find that very specific to the 50 rep mark. If I'm going for 40 or 60 reps with a weight then I am generally fine. When I go for 50 reps I get to 40 then want to kill myself and will wait until I'm stronger and go for 60 reps with it later on
      inb4 pussy

  5. Wow, this post explains so much about you and your other writings. It is a shame that it often takes such hard lessons in life to bring clarity to what matters. Cheers.

  6. Quite possibly your best post Paul.

    I see from where your drive and your confidence are derived; that's a hell of a way to spend a childhood.

    I had an uneventful youth, with a good, supportive (thankfully boring) family. It wasn't until I finished school and started my own family did ALL of the traits you speak of above come into focus. I answer to no-one outside of my family and close friends; my moral standing and my word is all I've got in this life (other than the 'callouses on your hands' - Jamie Lewis), and protecting my house underlies it all. I double-dog dare someone to try and fuck with my wife or my would be pliers and blowtorch time...

    Keep up the great work, reading your posts are a part of my daily routine and I appreciate every word.

  7. Inspirational post Paul. Three years ago my best friend (more like a brother), had completely sunk into addiction. I gave everything I had to help, protect and support him. I did my best, but he had the responsibility to get up from that shit. For the past three years he became a chore in my life, not the brother that I had. He died 5 months ago due to a OD. It's an awful feeling to lose someone, even when we knew we did all we could but I don't blame myself.

    We may try everything, lay the ground and do it all to save someone, but they need to want to be helped.

    Being a Lifer sometimes is a hardship, that why we have to become it, training our bodies, our mind and our heart.

    Fucking awesome post Paul.

    1. Sorry to hear that man. I know how awful that burden can be sometimes.

  8. Incredible article Paul. I've had my own struggles with addiction and the pain it causes everyone involved. Thankfully, training and the culture of Iron has been huge in helping me get healthy. I used to be ruled by my emotions and oblivious of my destructive ways. Each day i try to keep it in perspective. I've lost family and friends to the beast of addiction, whether to the grave or to prison, and with the help of others who were wiser than me, I'm getting better every day. This article really hit home. Thanks.

  9. How funny that I stumble on your blog looking for information and I see this post. I have a sister who is an addict, abandoned her kid and choose a path of crazy. We are 18 months apart and I live most of my late teens driving around, searching for her when she would not show for weeks on end.. and in some cases months and years. Eventually I decided to not go down that rabbit hole anymore and that my life was worth living for me. I basically grieved the "death" of her many times over, learning better each time. My mother is equally as sick, living in denial and standing by her addiction and sickness at all cost. Cancers, the both of them.

    I focus fiercely on protecting my two kids and wonderful husband from the people who brought so much destruction and devastation to my life. It's hard to do... but so worth it. I too learned what is important and how I wanted to live my life though these life experiences.

    Thank you for your post!

    1. That's strange. My sister and I are also 18 months apart. And my parents for the most part, have done the same thing. Refusing to abandon her even though she's done every awful thing in the world to them.

      I have found time and time again that people who "survive" addicts in their family all have such similar stories.

      Good on you for learning the same thing I eventually did.