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This is 15 Minutes to Freedom. I'm your host, Ryan Neidell, and today's episode is Don't Feel Sorry for Me. episode is Don't Feel Sorry for Me. In today's episode, I'm going to take you back in time to one of the darker moments in my life. So if you've been a long-time listener of the show, you understand that I've been very vocal with my previous indiscretions. Right, I'm not proud to say it, but I had been unfaithful to every woman that I had ever dated. It's not a badge of honor. It's not something I'm pounding my chest about. It's just simply facts. And I believe it's so imperative to deal in facts. Feelings cloud our vision. We get to those eventually once we deal with the facts. And I bring all this up because I was having a conversation with an individual sometime in the past two or three days. I admittedly don't recall exactly when this conversation was. What I do recall is the conversation took a turn that brought up this memory that I don't know if I had repressed, suppressed, intentionally forgotten about. Or what had happened. But nonetheless, it brought up this time that I want to share with you right now. So go back with me the better part of six years. Actually, this year it will be, I think, close to seven. 2012, 2013, somewhere in there. It's the middle of summer. I'll say June or July. It's hot outside. Life is beautiful. At this point, I'm living in a small apartment in a little suburb of Columbus, Ohio named Dublin.
Dealing With Personal Struggles And Challenges
Resisting the Jig (01:59)
I'm living in this apartment and I'm up to my typical shenanigans. At this point, I've gotten myself in this conundrum that ends up having four different women be full-time residents of my life. Now, when I say full-time residents, this is not a thing in which I was housing them in an apartment building. This was that I had four full-time girlfriends that thought, by how manipulative I was, that I was their one and only, and vice versa. And at this point as I'm starting this story, it might be closer to eight years ago, so forgive me for not recalling the exact timetable. And it's middle of summer, and at this point I'm still working at a web hosting company. At this point I'm titled president and CEO, but I'm certainly not operating as one.
The Consciences of Past Choices (02:53)
You see, I have a firm belief at this point in life that how you do one thing is how you do everything. And as I was living my life through this duality of infidelity versus perceived monogamy, so was going on inside the business. I realize now that we weren't capitalizing on opportunities our revenue was not increasing because i wasn't focused it was easy for me to point outward and blame other people we didn't have the right sales staff which was my responsibility we had too much overhead which was my responsibility. People weren't working hard enough which was the opposite which was true but was my responsibility. And these are all stories that I was telling maybe not outwardly to the public but I was certainly telling it to myself. When in all actuality from the vantage point I now get the privilege of standing and looking back at my life at I realized it was all my fault. from the vantage point I now get the privilege of standing and looking back at my life at, I realized it was all my fault. But I'm driving back and forth to Akron and had a girlfriend for a long time. This girlfriend, her and I have lived together at points and not lived together at points and we're broken up but we're not broken up at this point and it's ugly. It's ugly because she as a woman deserved better than I was putting her through. There was nothing wrong with her nor with any of the other individuals that I was dating. What was wrong was with me and my self-confidence and my ability to speak outward And my ability to speak outward. And my ability to own my own truth. We'll get to that. And so I'm driving back and forth and I get this message from the longest term girlfriend. And she ends up sharing a picture of me with one of the other women. And I realize at this point. This is the second time I've been caught with this individual. That the jig is up. It's over. Little did I know that they had already had a meeting together. Face to face. And shared their stories. And put together the pieces of all the lies that I had shared. There was no way to back out of this. There was no way to lie, to sell my way through, to cry my way out of. I was caught. What I didn't realize in being caught in this moment is there were still two other women that were about to be brought into this situation. Now these women, yet again, deserve zero percentage of this. The first two, the longest two that I had been involved with had now met each other. All my cards, according to them, and really according to me now, were all on the table. And this is all as I'm driving home. Zeus, my pit bull, is a very young puppy, and I remember him being in the front seat of the car, and me just shaking my head like, what am I going to do here? I didn't know. What I also didn't know is as I was pulling into my apartment complex, condo, community, whatever you want to call it, in the front yard of my particular building, my particular dwelling, there were now four women. And they weren't having an argumentative conversation, but more like four friends catching up. You can feel the energy as I pull, and you could feel it was palpable, right? It wasn't a positive conversation, but yet it wasn't negative. And in this plot of land stands four women that as I approach closer in my car, I can see that I actually know all four. I can see that I actually know all four. I know all four because they at one point or another up to that point all thought I was their one and only and again vice versa. As I park my car, grab my puppy Zeus, I realize that the worst is yet to come, but it's about to be over.
16 Universal Truths (07:14)
And so I go and face the music. The two that have been around the longest just simply want whatever belongings they have had that I have of theirs. They just want them back. Fair enough. In doing that, they didn't know that the other two women just happened to be in the neighborhood and wanted to stop by. Poor planning on my behalf, I suppose. And so what happens? Well, the two get their things back. The four have had their conversations. One of them is crying. One is mad. Two are numb to the situation, and here I am feeling horrible. Now I'm feeling horrible because, to start with, from my vantage point, I feel horrible because I got caught. I feel horrible because these four people that didn't deserve to be hurt fell victim to something that they didn't know existed. It was my fault, not theirs. these four people that didn't deserve to be hurt fell victim to something that they didn't know existed. It was my fault, not theirs. I feel horrible because I knew I could have prevented all of this by simply telling the truth. The truth of each one of those relationships is I knew at one point or another they were not the proper relationship that was going to end up in marriage. But yet instead of being alone and the fear of what that would feel like, I would lie, maneuver, manipulate my way through life to create this situation. So the dust all settles. The women all leave. And I'm left as a shell of a man. I'm this shell based off my own actions and I now have to look in the mirror and realize that it is my fault that four people are hurting. people are hurting. Which coming from a life in which I remember at a young age feeling pain consistently, the one thing I never wanted to do to someone else was to hurt them. But I did.
And in my mind, the hurt that I was putting them through was so catastrophic that I had concocted a story in my mind that there was no way they would ever be able to progress forward without me, that I had permanently scarred their life and they would never be able to trust someone else again. This is a story I'm telling myself as I'm in the second floor. My condo, my apartment, whatever you want to call it, was actually the second floor. So I'm on the second story of this building and I'm sitting on my black leather sofa. Tears are streaming down my face. Zeus, the little pitbull at this point, is underneath the coffee table and I'm just sobbing. Alone. I don't have someone to call. I don't have a conversation to have. I don't have someone that can provide solace for my bad decisions. Certainly, you might be asking yourself, what about the friends you had? The friends I had were running the same story or playing the same game that I was playing. So to call them and say I got caught would be foolish. It would also show weakness on my behalf, and I was already feeling fragile and vulnerable and wasn't ready to do that. So I'm sitting there. I believe this is happening on a Friday. The day progresses, day turns into night, and I'm able to at least go to sleep. turns into night and I'm able to at least go to sleep. If you've ever made in your life some of those catastrophic decisions, maybe you'd realize that cold feeling that rushes over your body, the one you almost can't get rid of, the one that almost inexplicably has your hair standing on end permanently. That's what I was feeling. And the feeling didn't go away. Sure, it got numb when I went to sleep because I wasn't aware of its presence. But when I woke up the next morning, like a cold rush of water, it was back to greet me. And so I tried to shake out of it. I tried to go to the gym. I tried to go through my normal routine. But here I am, such a habitual creature that I was so used to messaging multiple people all day long and having conversations that were simplistic in nature so I could remember which story I told to which person that I'm left in a situation where I should be feeling lighter. I'm now feeling dead. And I start to think in this little one-bedroom apartment. That with the pain that I have created for these four individuals. And how miserably I've lived my life. The fact that the business that I'm running is slowly going under. And not going under, going down in revenue. We weren't in the verge of bankruptcy. I don't have the body I want. The things aren't going the right way. Nothing is lining up the right way. And I get it set in my head that, damn it, I know the answer. And so I go to the back part of my closet and the back part of my closet tucked back in the left hand side is a 9mm handgun it's a Springfield XD9 this same handgun I purchased my sophomore year of college at Miami of Ohio this handgun had been to more shooting ranges and been in more people's hands than I care to admit. This was something I had immense respect for. Didn't have ammo anywhere in the same room. Had nothing easy to access because I know the danger in which is in firearms. And so I rifle around the closet and I find the gun and I pull it out and I look at it. I pull out the closet, and I find the gun, and I pull it out, and I look at it. I pull out the magazine. I clear the gun, fully pull it open, and realize there's nothing in it. It's empty, and I take that gun, and I move it out to my living room, the vaulted ceiling, the skylight, the black leather couches, the plasma screen TV, the entire bachelor pad that one would expect from a 26-year-old, maybe 27, that had done decently well for himself. And I set this gun right in the middle of the coffee table.
Facing Hard Truths (13:37)
The same coffee table Zeus, the pit bull puppy, was laying under the night before. It might be of no surprise to you that I eventually go back into the closet, and on the far other side of the bedroom sits a little box of ammunition. And I get this box of ammunition out. I look at it, and I walk that into the living room as well. At this point in my life, I'm not emotional. I don't feel cold anymore. I feel almost steadfast in the fact that I know what I have to do. And so slowly I let the dog out and make sure he's taken care of, make sure there's food in his bowl, drink a glass of water, and I'm slowly loading up the magazine. One, two, three. Like I can feel the metal in my right hand going into the magazine held in my left and the clicking sound that it makes as it's entering in and it's stacking up.
How Many Bullets to Take My Life (14:49)
And I remember the thought flashing through my head, if I'm going to take my own life, why am I putting so many bullets in this magazine? So I stop. I put the box down on the table. I now have a magazine in my left hand and the gun is on the table right in front of me, still sitting in its box.
SATURDAY IN JUNE (15:13)
My phone's actually nowhere to be found. I don't want it around me because I don't want someone to interrupt this process. I'm sitting there. The dog is taken care of. He's sleeping again in the same place underneath the table. And I slide that magazine into the gun. And now it's becoming real. Now this situation, now the monumental weight of the decision that I have made consistently over the past seven years of my life is all bearing down on me like a freight train in this moment. And I'm literally thinking, it is truly going to make the world a better place if I'm just no longer in it. And I believed it. no longer in it. And I believed it. And I can vaguely hear my phone in the background buzzing and vibrating and ringing as it would because these women still had more questions. But I had just gotten tired of answering them. I felt literally like at that moment, on that Saturday in June, there was nothing left to really focus on to worry about. Sure, there were logical progressions as I went through this sequence of events that showed me that there was something to live for, but yet I wasn't able to find it in the moment. Remember sitting down, I'm in a pair of black gym shorts, no shirt on, sitting in the middle cushion of my couch, which is somewhere I would never sit. The door is back behind me. I grab the gun out of the case. The magazine is now locked and loaded, and I put a bullet in the chamber by pulling back the slide. locked and loaded, and I put a bullet in the chamber by pulling back the slide. I know at this point I have a lethal weapon in my hand, and I intend to use it to rid the world of the danger that I felt I was. I'm shaking at this point. I'm shaking at this point because certainly inside of me, it's not human nature to end one's own life. And I know at some carnal, deep-rooted level, this is not what I should be doing. But the other side of me, the side that's filled with pain and anguish and hurt and disgust for the way that I had conducted my life by my choice, these women didn't ask this of me. These weren't things that were impressed upon me.
An extra shove (17:44)
These were decisions that I made. And yet here I am about to end it all. So I have the gun in my right hand. I'm sitting there. Tears are streaming down my face. Yet once again, my hair is disheveled. There's no shirt on. There's a black gym short. Zeus is sleeping underneath the table. And I'm ready. This is it. And as either luck would have it, divine intervention would be present, or the fact that I knew deep inside of myself I didn't actually have the balls to end my own life, which was completely appropriate for that time in my life. As horrible as that sounds to say out loud, I didn't have the balls to face the pain of hurting people and telling them I didn't want to be with them. I didn't have the balls to sit down with our employees and say we weren't going in the right direction. I was going to have to lay you off or fire you. I didn't have the balls to take less of a pay wage rate for myself because I was too steadfast on living the life I wanted to live. Why would I have the balls to actually end my own life? But as I say all that, there's this little knock at the door. And I think for a second, should I just do it now? And I'm like, no, I don't want whoever's at the door to have to hear that. So I put the gun down. I leave the case open. I walk over to the door and I answer it. And wouldn't you know it's one of the women from the day before. That something told her, for whatever her reasons were, to come over and ask more questions of me face to face. So I invite her in. I invite her in and she can obviously see I've been crying. There's no secret to this at this point. And I invite her in and I sit her down and she sees very clearly what is presented in front of her. Clearly what is presented in front of her. And as she sees what's presented in front of her. She starts sobbing as well. Saying no matter what's going on. You don't have to take this path. And of course I know somewhere inside of me.
You were looking forward (19:57)
I probably wasn't able to actually take that path. Right. There's no need to feel sorry for me from this conversation. These are just facts. That existed. So as her and I's conversation continued on and I'm sitting across the room from her as far away as possible, I agree to dismantle the gun and give it to her as well as the ammunition because I don't need it. I don't need it around. I don't really want to hurt myself. I'm convinced enough in those moments at least there's a chance of something better for my life. And I get to continue and live another day. I share this story because the same type of story was had by another man with me just a few days back.
Momentary pain & ending your life (20:41)
That he literally thought that ending his life would be a better opportunity than continuing on because of the decisions that he had made. I share all that because as I sit here with you listening and or watching, had I made that decision, this moment doesn't happen. Had I made that decision, the millions of lives that I've already impacted don't ever get touched. Had I made that decision, the beautiful, caring, loving, compassionate wife and incredible daughter that I have now, I would have never got to meet. The momentary pain that was going through me, that was coursing through my veins with such a voracious pace, was not worth ending my life for. But in the heat of the moment, that's where my mindset was at. You see, no matter how bad something is that you're going through right now, no matter the financial dire straits you feel like you're in, no matter the relationship you're having with your wife or husband or lack thereof, no matter how alone you feel, how void of love, how unworthy of all the above that you really feel, I can assure you with complete certainty from my current vantage point in life, that's just not true. You see, had I taken that way out, the weak way out, the coward's way out, none of this would have existed. Seven, eight, nine years of my life that I've now gotten to live and much to the fullest of my ability would have been struck off the list.
The dash on my tombstone (22:36)
The dash on my tombstone would have been much smaller. And admittedly in that situation. I don't know if someone would have even come to my funeral. With the way that I had been living. And I truly believe. The quality of a man's life. Or a woman's life. Can be gauged so much by those that mourn them when they're gone. And I don't ever want this to be a morbid show. I don't want you to mourn me when the day comes that I leave. I'd love life to be celebrated, but I know I'm destined for impact. So no, I didn't taste the gun oil in my mouth. I didn't get to that point.
Overcoming Selective Memory Loss
Breaking the Selective Memory Loss (23:16)
No, I didn't have a misfire. No, it wasn't that catastrophic, right? There's all these stories that I've heard others tell. But until this conversation was had with this individual, I forgot all about this moment. I'll call it selective memory loss. I'll call it fear of addressing what really went on I'll call it shame in the fact that I wasn't proud of not only what I did leading up to that moment but also the way that I handled the moment as a whole but nonetheless it existed and I'm honored at the fact that I get to sit here every day and share a life lesson with you that hopefully presents a new perspective. That maybe opens just a crease in the door. To the window of opportunity. Of the next season of your life. Because there are plenty of dark times before there's light. And even as someone now that is in light times consistently, there's still moments of darkness. No matter what those moments look like, no matter what happens, I can promise you someone actually cares. And someone cares so much, that person is me, that I'm encouraging you when you have those bad days, when you feel like hope is lost, when you don't know how to continue, think of this very conversation and the fact of me not doing that has led you here. And know that when you decide to step into that level of your own awareness, it's going to put you in the position later in life to get shit done.