< Chapter 8
A dual life is a term that people usually associate with someone living a life of crime. Most of my life I have lived dancing between two conflicting worlds. Sometimes it was to protect myself from being exposed as I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle, and other times it was to protect others from being exposed themselves to that very same lifestyle. Over time I have learned to “embrace” that duality, but the cost of having made the choice to isolate myself from others for so long has definitely left its mark on my current relationships.
Just like everyone else I meet, I am continuing to learn the importance of creating healthy relationships. Such interesting and volatile things these relationships are. I can teach people great communication skills. I can use great communication skills. Yet the intricacies of how people interact and the breakdowns in communication can still amaze me. Every day I am still learning about how to create relationships, how to forge them into something deeper than a simple acquaintance, and how to make them last through the ups and downs that we will all encounter.
It’s funny to see how certain habits that still are present today were formed as I take the time to look back on my life. I never realized that during those years that I spent running around drinking and doing drugs in junior and senior high school, I was missing out on many of the formative experiences most people go through. While others were hanging out at school friends’ houses and learning social skills, I was avoiding people so I could do my thing. I distanced myself from my school friends to allow myself to be able to ride and party with a biker gang. But even though I was spending time with the bikers each night, I never really entered their world either. I was 6 years younger than the youngest, and 10-15 years younger than the average member of the gang. So even while trying to fit into their world, living this dual life I basically stayed on the fringes there also.
By the time I was in college my drinking and dual life had gotten so bad that I became an edge dweller there also. I would fit right in at the parties because of much I could drink and "hang with" the fraternity brothers, but when the party was over and other people were studying together or hanging out, I was off to ride with the bikers. Not really fitting into either group, I was mainly focused on finding a place where I could indulge in partying without appearing to the people around me that I was out of control. And this "dual life" became a common part of my lifestyle.
As an example, there was a period in my life when I was living in Baltimore MD where I was working for a company that our position was basically “street sales”. In layman’s terms, we sold pots and pans out of the trunks of our cars to anyone who would buy them. And as a side note, I have to say that experience was one of the defining ones in my life that helped to form who I am now, even though at the time, I was lost in a haze of drugs and alcohol. This company opened my eyes to the entrepreneurial mindset, was an introduction to personal development and exposed me to the power of new ideas. But I will share more on how that happened later.
In a very short period of time, I worked my way up through the ranks with this company from sales trainee to Branch Manager. And as I did, my tolerance for alcohol was reaching higher and higher levels. And because of that, when I got my last promotion to managing a branch, I don’t think they trusted me enough fully to leave the job to just me. They paired me up with a woman who was from one of our other offices so we were “co-managers”. And looking back, I don’t blame them. If I was sane and in charge, there is no way that I would have even kept me working for the company let alone be in charge of others.
But this period was a perfect example of how to explain the complete disparity that I was living as far as my “dual life”. I would drive into work in my nice sporty Pontiac Trans Am in the morning looking like a total professional wearing my three-piece suit and I would spend the day interviewing, hiring and learning more about the “inner workings” of the parent company. Then after work many of the employees and I would go to “happy-hour” at one of the local upscale restaurants and have a couple of drinks before heading home for dinner.
That is a common way of finishing a day at work for many people. But the party did not end for me when the others went home. As they left to go to the movies or back home to their families, I would head home and change identities. I would put on my leather jacket, my black t-shirt and jeans, get into my car and head to a part of Baltimore called “The Block” to take the party to the “next level” as I embraced the dark side of my dual life.
Now in the early 1980’s “The Block” was a section of Baltimore that seemed to be set aside specifically for the adult entertainment business. There were around 60 strip clubs in a two-block radius. It was the epicenter for hookers, pimps and drug dealers. This environment was where I would spend my evening from around 8PM until the clubs closed around 3 or 4AM. When the clubs closed I would make my way home to shower, sleep for 2 or 3 hours and then go back to the office.
This "pattern" of creating a dual life would be with me for quite some time. Patterns are specific ways that we operate our lives or ways that we respond and react to stimulus. This had become a pattern early in my life. And continued having gotten sober up to this very day, I still live a double life of sorts, what I like to call a duality. And until recently, I had believed that duality was something that made me “less than”. In time I would view that duality as something healthy... but not for a very long time.
As I mentioned, the pattern of living a dual life stayed with me into sobriety. I was still singing in a band when I got sober. So while everyone else I knew who was focused on staying sober avoided clubs like the plague, I was in them 5 nights a week. The people I was in the band with, and the people I knew from the clubs didn’t associate with my sober friends and vice-versa. I almost felt like I had to protect them from each other. I had this fear about my friends who were newly sober being influenced by the people in the clubs. I felt that I couldn’t let them near my club friends because they might be drawn into “the Dark Side of the force” and if they lost a grip on their sobriety, then I would be responsible for their downfall. I also wanted to keep my "drinking friends" away from the sober ones because I was making a lot of changes in who I was to stay sober, and I was worried that if my drinking friends saw the changes I was making, then they would not want support me in the clubs anymore.
It was dangerous, but I knew that I was strong enough in my commitment to stay sober that I would be able to walk the line and not cross back into my old ways. So I again created a dual life, each identity totally opposite of the other.
After the band broke up I moved to NJ and continued to live this dual life. I met people in NJ who were sober and nurtured those healthy relationships as best I could for support. But at the same time I was making my money working as a DJ in strip clubs so I couldn't let my new sober friends get too close to me. They would continually warned me how dangerous it was to be in that “environment” and I had no desire to expose my sober friends to people that they were not comfortable with.
Around this same time I started associating with “heavy hitters” in the music industry. Now I was even more hidden in my separation of business and personal life. Who in the “sober” world would understand my working as a go go bar DJ? And who in the clubs would associate with my sober friends? And who in the music industry would take me seriously as a businessperson knowing both the other worlds that I lived in? So again I separated my life into different “identities”. But by this point I was very comfortable with the isolation that comes with livinga dual life.
That separation grew even wider when I started working in the personal development business. It was around this time I realized that because of living a “dual life” that I never truly developed deep and healthy relationships. At least not the kind of relationships that I was seeing so many other people create.
I had done such a great job of isolating myself that I can safely say that up until that point in my life, there had been 2 friends who would invite me to their homes for dinner, and 5 others that I would go out for meals with.
Imagine that. There I was, 35 years old, and in all those years, other than childhood experiences, I had created such a gap between myself and my “friends” that no one would even invite me to their homes. And I also didn’t have people over to my home either. At that point I had been sober for 11 years and other than band mates for rehearsal, girls that I was having sex with or people for business meetings… I can count on one hand the number of people that I had into my home just to “hang out”. I didn’t hang out at other people’s homes either. No Monday night football, no poker nights and no invitations to holiday bar-b-ques. I had, in essence, set my life up to be this way and didn’t even realize that I had done it. I was 35 years old and I was now seeing what the cost of living a dual life was. It was clear to me that I was going to have to go back and learn about how to make friends and have a social life.
What I want to express by sharing this is that it is never too late to learn how to create amazing and healthy relationships. Even if you feel you have been handicapped by a “dysfunctional family” or have lived most of your life as a recluse.
I can say that the relationships I have developed over the past few years are some of the deepest, truest and most honest examples of friendship I have had in my life. AND, I am still learning how to create and nurture them.
Having spent so much time living a dual life, one of the greatest challenges for me has been learning what friendship is truly about. Where are the lines of trust? What do you give and what do you expect in return.
For me I have found that it really is all about opening yourself to new experiences and allowing yourself to be vulnerable along the way. You have to accept that you may get hurt in this process. I know that I have. Sometimes I thought the pain would never go away. But in the end, as the situation unfolded, I was a better person because of the experiences I shared with that other person. I think the key to developing healthy relationships is about coming to peace with the reality that sometimes even the people you love most, will only be in your life for a short time. Embrace that time and treasure the moment.
A dear friend sent me this and I felt it was worth sharing with all of you to consider.
People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON. . . It is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are! They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part, or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered. And now it is time to move on.
When people come into your life for a SEASON. . . It is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.
When people come into your life for a LIFETIME. . . It is usually to teach you lifetime lessons; things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being a part of my life.
What better way to end this chapter, whether we have met or not, I believe that we are on the same path, and for that, I thank YOU for being a part of MY life.
< Chapter 8
The Warrior Sage Part 2: Lessons Learned Chapter/Section
Lessons Learned Through Sacred Scars
Chapter 1: Understanding The Power Of The Sub-Conscious Mind
Chapter 2: Discovering Peace
Chapter 3: Living In The Now
Chapter 4: The Gift Is In The Present Moment
Chapter 5: It's About Choices
Chapter 6: Understanding Change
Chapter 7: The Power Of Modeling
Chapter 8: Being Human - What Does It Mean?
Chapter 9: The Cost Of Living A Dual Life
The Warrior Sage: Sacred Scars Chapter/Section
Who Is Willard Barth?
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober, Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances and Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up
Jump HOME from The Cost Of Living A Dual Life