Yesterday, I was listening to a James Altucher podcast featuring Seth Godin (Ep. 86), and I heard Seth Godin say the words “I hit the parent lottery…” He then went on to share a story.
This got me thinking: I really did hit the parent lottery. I haven’t seen my father in 13 years, and last spoke to him in a real conversation 5 years ago. My mother and I have had our own problems (problem-free for 4 years), but despite all of this: I hit the fucking lottery.
I’m the youngest of four and my parents were divorced before I turned one year old. Throughout the first 10 years of my life were some pretty nasty custody battles, causing me to grow up rather early. My parents were obsessed, or so it seemed, with using the children as a weapon against the other.
I forgive them, they were learning to live. I realized at a pretty young age that adults don’t actually know everything and are on their own journey, too.
In June 2003, I lived in Germany with my father and my brother, sister, and I flew home to the U.S. to spend the summer with our mother. I didn’t know saying goodbye to dad at the airport would be the last time I’d see him. He got deployed to Afraqistan multiple times for many years and, while he’s still alive, I haven’t seen him since 2003. Our mother had custody of me from there until 2011 when I graduated High School.
I love my mother very much (this must be said because now that she’s on Facebook she’ll probably see this blog and read it). But really I do. However, there were plenty of mistakes made that should have, could have been avoided. If I were a grudge-holding person, I might not get along with her still. Alas, I’m convinced at the end of the day she attempted to do the best for her children.
So, with all of this dysfunction (and I’ve only scratched the surface), how did I hit the lottery?
I love who I am. Looking back on my childhood and my upbringing, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. Everything would remain the same. And this isn’t something I decided yesterday, I’ve thought this way since I was 16.
I love that as a result of this dysfunction, as a result of the chaos of my childhood, I was taught to have a respect for the acceptance of reality, albeit implicitly. In the depths of this tension and pressure, an iron will was forged. I was taught how to cope with reality.
That’s why I won the fucking lottery. For those who can cope with reality, who do not evade it, the world is theirs. And I’ve made it so.
So thank you, Mom, for learning to live. And thank you, Dad, for disappearing. I’m a better man because of it.