My Scarlet Letter (Part 1)

Times of trial could also times of great discovery.

That lone sentence might be the best description of the last couple years of my life. Dragged through hell and yet emerging (I hope) as a better man.

When everything falls apart, it is easy to direct the blame outward. However, such strategy repeats the cycle and I don't want to redo the past. Rather than deflect, deny, or obfuscate any responsibility, I have looked inward to take brutal and honest assessments of my errors.

I have done, and am still doing that deep soul dredging work. It has been uncomfortable and trying at times. On the other end of falling apart, I find myself physically healthier, happier, more emotionally grounded, and connected to a better support network than I have ever had before.

As I pillaged the remnants of who I was, I have had to rebuild who I am. Not an easy task when you're a thirty something single dad.

Embracing my identity. Redefining what I want out of life. And rediscovering where my heart lies and the passions that drive me.

Here is what I have found: I have a heart for the freaks and geeks. For the outcasts, the left out, and the last ones picked. For the walking wounded. For those who feel like they don't belong.

Why? Because that was me.

If it is not all ready abundantly clear, if you can't tell by the title of this blog, if I haven't told you in conversation: I am a nerd.

Want to geek out over music, movies, or comic books? Come find me, I will gleefully join you. Want to challenge me in Mario Kart? I will throw down. Have questions about symbolic imagery in fantasy and science fiction? Let's go out for some coffee. Up for a game of Cards Against Humanity? Invite me over (really - please invite me).

I am a nerd. These days, I wear that label like a merit badge. But it wasn't always like that.

My childhood existed before the age of geek-chic. Back then, nothing was more degrading than the geek label. Nothing more ostracizing. Nothing more stigmatizing. We were the last ones picked for games in PE. We were the freaks sitting at the lunch table in the corner with other outcasts who were not welcomed at the popular tables. We were teased and bullied and found our tribe at the fringes of what the cool kids rejected.

That's why we had our noses buried in comic books. That's why we hung out in our parent's basements, strumming distorted power chords on cheap guitars. That's why we wrote crappy poetry, spent hours exploring dungeons in role-playing games, and obsessed over the newest technologies.

Then I became an adult. Instead of being liberated, I found more of the same. The people who I thought loved me expressed disgust at my taste in music and said I was weird for watching TV shows like Lost.

What is now a badge of honor was for many years my scarlet letter. It was a label bestowed upon me as a demeaning brand. It was used to disparage. If it had not have been for the introspection of the past couple years, I might have been stuck there, humiliated by the scarlet nerd letter.

So it makes sense that I would have a heart for those who feel left out or overlooked. They are my people.

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