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If you’re interested in participating in the Wins and Losses Series, please send me a note here (you don’t have to be a blogger to participate!)
This week we have: Robert from Real Money Robert!
Mike: Alright… I should give you a heads up about a few things before you dive into this post.
There are some pretty graphic moments that detail Robert and his experience with self-harm. If this is not something you’d like to read about, please feel free to head over to Robert’s site as he has a ton of great personal finance content and it is 100% worth reading. Alternatively, you could check out some other great Wins and Losses posts that we’ve already seen.
BUT… Before you bow out to avoid some potentially difficult situations, please understand something else
I created this series to examine real moments of either pure joy or rock bottom. Why? Because invariably there is a multitude of moments that eventually led to those memories. And if we can work to listen and understand how someone arrived at that point in their life, maybe – just maybe – we can learn a great deal from each other.
This is, without a doubt, one of the best, most honest, and “real” things that has ever been published on this blog (and that includes a story about a close friend and breast cancer survivor and a story about a wounded warrior and my best friend who was injured in an IED blast on Mother’s Day). There is a wealth of information in this post, 75% of it does not relate to the incident mentioned above, and I strongly urge you to check it out.
With that, I’ll let Robert take it from here:
Hello! I’m Robert!
I’ve got a beautiful wife, five kids, three dogs, and some chickens and ducks! I work as a production scheduler for one of the largest printing and marketing companies in the world. I also own a digital marketing business and run a personal finance blog when I’m not trucking back and forth between extra-curricular activities for the kids!
When Mike asked me to participate in this series, I was pretty thrilled to get to the keyboard and start writing because it’s something that’s outside the norm of what I talk about over at Real Money Robert.
Then I started getting to it and I quickly found that I was not quite prepared to talk about the worst moments of my life.
However, I’ve come to the realization that these are the stories that need to be shared and talked about. If I can help someone in a similar situation to navigate through their struggles, then I should certainly talk about the experiences I went through.
So before I begin, I would just like to thank Mike for asking me to share and inspiring me to publicly share my story for the first time, even though he didn’t know what he was getting!
Well, here goes….
Worst Moment #1: The Death of a Loved One
I had dealt with death a little bit before. Family members had passed away.
I went to funerals.
I saw the pain and grief and experienced some of it firsthand.
But I wasn’t quite ready for the pain of losing someone close to me.
Within 6 years, all three of my living grandparents passed on.
Each one of these deaths hit me in different and unexpected ways.
My Grandpa was the first to go. The patriarch of our huge family. We knew it was coming as he battled cancer for years, but that didn’t make it any easier.
Then, my Grandma, my dad’s mom. This one was sudden and unexpected, and I played a helping hand in planning the funeral arrangements. A new kind of difficult and challenging type of grief.
Then, my other Grandma, my mom’s mom. She suffered a stroke and quickly went downhill. Surrounded by family in the hospital room, I watched as she faded away and as our family struggled with the decision to pull her off life support after the MRI showed no signs of brain activity.
Each difficult, each challenging, each in different ways, but yet they all hurt.
I was very close with all of them, and death is something that impacts each and every one of us.
As I said, death is something that impacts each and every one of us.
We will all have people close to us pass away, and someday, we’ll be the ones to pass away.
Death I a subject that not many people like to talk about, but when I think of my Grandparents, I think of the life and legacy that they left behind. Their families and friends and the memories of them will last for eternity.
Those are the important things in life.
Worst Moment #2: Attempted Suicide
I’m not going to lie, this one was really hard for me to share. I have not talked openly about this yet, with the exception of close family and friends that know the situation very well.
This was absolutely, hands down, the worst moment of my life.
To give brief backstory, I had my first child and married young at the age of 17, during my senior year in high school. Things went great for a few years and I had 3 amazing children. I worked multiple jobs and obtained a college degree while working full time to get to a place where I could start to quit working so much and focus on my family!
Well, once this happened, I came to the realization that things in my marriage were not as they seemed. My wife and I had both grown a lot and in different directions, and now that we had time available in our schedules, I realized that it was going to be a lot of work to get things healthy again.
We were both drinking every single day
And we aren’t talking having a couple of beers.
We would regularly go through a fifth of Whiskey or Vodka in one day.
But outside of a couple close friends, no one knew what was going on.
From the outside, we were a perfectly normal, functioning, happy family.
After trying to make things work and patch things up to stay together, I quickly realized that staying in this marriage was not going to be healthy for me.
I filed for divorce.
And then, for a few months, I felt happy and fulfilled for the first time in a long time.
I would go days without even taking a drink of any alcohol because I was no longer self-medicating my depressive state by drowning out my feelings at the bottom of a bottle.
Things were good, custody with the kids was joint, and the divorce was progressing along as planned.
Then, the holidays came around.
I felt an empty hole not being with my kids 100% of the time.
One day as my ex and I were preparing some things for our impending bankruptcy, something happened inside of me and we attempted to make things work one last time.
Looking back, I now know that my only motivation was the fact that I was missing that time with my kids.
I had no feelings for my ex, and there was no love left there. I was trying to make things work for all the wrong reasons.
Less than a week in, and things were right back where we left off. The fighting and arguing were constant, and we were both back to drinking again.
We got through the holidays and things continued down this path
I consulted the pastor at the church we attended on a Friday night. Even though I was drunk and depressed, he told me to keep working on my marriage.
That was the right thing to do, he said.
Then, on a cold Sunday morning in February, it all came to a head.
My ex was already passed out in the bedroom after consuming vodka all morning.
The kids were playing peacefully in the living room.
I was in the bathroom, sobbing uncontrollably with a bottle of whiskey on the floor next to me.
It didn’t take long and that bottle was empty.
But there was no peace and the end of this bottle.
I felt so much guilt over what I was putting everyone through and the pain my decisions were causing.
I started to self-harm, slashing my left wrist three times
I felt like I deserved the pain.
It still wasn’t enough.
With my judgment compromised and the weight of the world on my shoulders, I got into my truck and drove to my best friend’s house and parked in her pole barn.
She wasn’t home.
I messaged her with a cryptic message that only she could decipher and there I sat.
Windows down, truck running, pole barn closed.
Fade to Black played on the radio as I rested my head on the door and just sobbed
Things are getting a little fuzzy, but my phone buzzed in the center console, I ignored the calls.
This was it.
As the song says…. “Death greets me warm, now I will just say goodbye.”
I don’t even know how long I was there or how many time I heard those words as I awaited my demise.
But, that cryptic message was enough for my best friend to take action.
She was out of town but got in touch with another friend, who was just around the corner.
The next thing I know, I was being pulled out of the truck, taken to the hospital, and finally given the attention and proper care that I so desperately needed.
That was my absolute rock bottom.
Depression sucks and this entire situation could have been avoided had I simply recognized earlier that I need to be more open about how I was feeling and talk to people about it.
I needed to put myself first on focus on making sure I was a healthy and happy individual.
That was hard for me.
I’m someone who always put others first.
But after going through all of this, I’ve realized that sometimes I need to put myself first.
I can’t help anyone if I’m not here.
If you’re struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts and just need to talk to someone, feel free to reach out to me. Shoot me a message on any of my social media channels and I’d be glad to give a listening ear and help in any way I can.
I look back and I am happier now than I’ve ever been, and if I’d have completed the job that day, I’d have missed out on all of the amazing things that have happened since, and all of the awesome things that are still coming!
Best Moment #1: My Recovery
The days, weeks, months, and years since recovering from my attempted suicide have been the best years of my life. My kids being born and marrying the woman who is my rock are first on that list, but Mike tells me I’m not allowed to share those ones, haha!
But, remember I said I had a best friend who deciphered my cryptic message and helped get someone to save me from myself?
Well, that woman happens to now be my wife. (Mike: this made me smile a very big smile)
After I attempted to take my life, I spent 10 days in an inpatient therapy program and another 2 weeks in a daily outpatient program.
It was the first time in over 10 years that I had really just focused on myself and getting my mind and body to a healthy and happy place.
I came out of that program with a renewed focus and appreciation for life!
I’m now at a point where I feel like am I legitimately the happiest I’ve ever been.
I have an amazing wife.
I have 5 children who I love!
Best of all, I’ve removed toxic people from my life, and I no longer struggle with depression or drinking! Full disclosure, I do still drink occasionally, but I don’t feel the need to drink anymore and I never drink more than 1-2 beers or a glass of wine. I had a depression problem, not an alcohol problem.
The path down sucks.
The downward spiral sucks.
Everything about being in that moment sucks.
But, there is hope.
On the other side of rock bottom lies a place of calm.
A place of happiness.
A place of peace.
Going through what I went through, I know I can make it through anything that life decides to throw at me. I’ve been to the bottom and came out stronger than ever.
Best Moment #2: Launching My Business
2018 was a huge year for me! Not only did I get married this year, but I also launched my blog in January and I launched my business in March! It has been a year full of tremendous momentum and I am really excited to see where 2019 takes me!
So, let’s talk a little bit about my business!
Ever since the divorce and bankruptcy, I have taken a very hard look at my personal financial situation, and have turned things around in a major way!
That led me to launch my blog, with the hopes of helping other people who have done some of the crazy stupid things I’ve done with money to get out of their situations.
I’ve done a lot of stupid things and made a ton of mistakes when it comes to money, so I’ve got plenty of material.
Another reason I launched my blog was to keep myself accountable and help keep my finances at the top of my mind.
I got to a point where I’ve pretty much cut all extraneous spending from my budget, but wasn’t hitting the goals I set fast enough. We also had an upcoming wedding to pay for, so I started looking for ways to earn some extra money.
I’ve always been a side hustler, trying many different ways to make extra money, so this was no large challenge for me.
But then I came upon a course that teaches how to run FB ads for local businesses
Pretty interesting I thought, and the course was co-created by a successful member of the personal finance world that I’d been following for quite a few years, Millennial Money Man, so I jumped into the course so I could make some extra cash to throw toward my financial goals!
I fully immersed myself in the course and decided to launch a business that focuses on offering this service! Gale Force Marketing was born!
What started out as a way for me to pick up some extra cash quickly turned into a business venture and I’m really excited about where this thing is going to go next year.
If you want to learn more about how I learned, and possibly jump in the course for yourself, check out this side hustle post I wrote a few months ago that will give you the proper deets!
When I look back on all of the things I’ve been through and where I came from, I never imagined I’d be a business owner.
If you would have told me a few years ago that my salary would be double what it was at that time in a few years I would have laughed in your face.
I’ve always been a hard worker, but I just never saw myself doing something like this!
The best part about it is that I get a chance to help business owners and release my creative side all at the same time.
That’s a win-win for me!
I’d like to again thank Mike for allowing me the opportunity to share my story and as I mentioned above, please feel free to reach out to me if you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts and I’d be happy to lend an ear. Feel free to reach out via Twitter @RealMoneyRobert or shoot me a message on my Facebook page at Real Money Robert.
I was able to take so much from Robert’s post – so what about you? What would you like to share, did you find something in Robert’s story that may help you or someone else you know? Please let us know in the comments and we’ll keep this discussion going!
Thanks for reading!