How I Lost Myself And Gained A Family


“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.”
– John Donne

My father was an angry man. I never understood what made him angry, but I did manage to pick up on it. As a result, I entered adulthood with my own anger issues and ill-equipped to know how to deal with them. For a long time, I didn’t.

For years, I avoided the “L” word, the “M” word, and the “C” word – Love, Marriage, and Children. They may have been okay for others, but not for me. I had other things to do.

I’m not sure what motivated me, except fear. I rationalized my bitterness, putting up a front that I was perfectly content living alone, being alone, staying alone. Truth is, I was lonely, bitter, and destined to stay that way. Then one day, I decided to make a change. I began to look for a wife.

It wasn’t easy. I had no clue about dating – what to wear, what to say, how to say it. I was a social dunce. But I made the best effort I could.

I once took an interest in a young lady who was a property agent for an apartment complex. I asked her a couple of questions about herself and flirted a little, but I thought I was being a bit reserved. I later found out she told a mutual friend that I was “obnoxious.” Such incidences were common in my world. It perplexed me to know the harder I tried the less adept I became at getting people to notice me in a meaningful way. I didn’t even know what I was doing wrong.

After a failed engagement with another woman, I turned to online dating. At least I was doing something other than wallow in self-pity.

Theresa and I met at Bennigan’s. Our few text sessions and phone conversations led me to the comfortable realization that I could make social connections work. She hadn’t run screaming yet, so I was making progress. When I entered the restaurant, she jumped up with a big smile on her face and gave me a hug. I wasn’t sure what I did right, but I liked it.

She was a divorcée with three children – all girls. The oldest, 16, had a 3-month-old baby boy.

That was 11 years ago. Elizabeth, my oldest step-daughter, now has three children. She is a single mother doing the best she can to keep her world in order and her children on the straight and narrow. Leah, her younger sister of three years, is almost Elizabeth’s opposite in every imaginable way. She is currently planning a wedding for June and has asked me to walk her down the aisle, an honor I will share with her natural father. We are not your typical family, but we are happy.

An old Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” This nugget of wisdom has been attributed to the ancient philosopher Lao-tzu. It’s much more profound in its origin than its translation gives evidence for. It may be more correct to say “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath your feet.” In other words, destiny begins with action.

No one gets anywhere being still. Sitting or standing where you are and hoping for change is the surest way to be disappointed. I have learned that if I want to go somewhere, then I must cast aside fear and take the journey. No one else is going to move my feet for me.

Are you uncomfortable enough with where you’re standing to make a move? If not, what will happen if you take a step?

Photo by Jim Pennucci

18 thoughts on “How I Lost Myself And Gained A Family”

  1. Thank you for sharing, Allen. I am always impressed when a writer shares, with their whole heart, their failures and fears with the world. Please stay encouraged to continue to do so for we are not alone in our failures and fears. I grew up as you did.

    Much success!


  2. Allen, I loved how you accepted that you may have come off as obnoxious when you didn’t think you were. Most of us automatically get defensive and think there must be something wrong with the other person…but you took that and worked on yourself. I’m very happy for you.

  3. Great post! There are many of us who post pone our marriage for many reason. But, one day when we start thinking about it, we may fall back because of not knowing how to new world. I think your post will encourage many people not to get discouraged even if the 1st or the 2nd flirting with our dream soul may not success.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. What a great read; I must share this with someone very close to me. Congratulations on your happiness/success thus far. Too bad there are some people who are too stubborn to take that first step as you did. :(

    1. Thanks, Julie. We as a species are a stubborn lot. My hope is that people will see that taking that first step is a necessary act of faith. No journey ends well that doesn’t begin.

  5. Hello Allen
    Very inspiring story. Your honesty is your strength
    It touched my heart . Thank you.
    I like to share Nichiren Daishonin Budhism wisdom with you.

    We must put down firm roots; we must be strong. Inner strength is a prerequisite for happiness, a prerequisite for upholding justice and one’s beliefs. One of the Buddha’s titles is “He Who Can Forbear.” To courageously endure, persevere and overcome all difficulties–the Buddha is the ultimate embodiment of the virtue of forbearance. The power of faith gives us the strength to weather and survive any storm. Perseverance is the essence of a Buddha.

  6. A great post Allen, thanks for sharing. Taking that first step can be the hardest thing to do, but so worthwhile. I like to use this quote from Any Rand to bust out of my stalling tactics: “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me?”

  7. Thank you for your honesty Allen. Truly inspiring. We do have to take a leap of faith sometimes. How wonderful you are sharing that honour with your step-daughter’s natural father. We are all part of a bigger worldwide family. Thank you

  8. Hello Allen,
    This is a really inspiring story. Thanks for sharing this great post. I am sure it will make a lot of difference in the lives of a lot of people. It sure has inspired me.

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