The day I found out my wife was pregnant was the day I decided to change my life - for my daughter-to-be, for my wife, and for me.
When my #professional #baseball career came to a crashing halt in 2003, I lost my identity and turned to #alcohol and other substances to cope. For years I battled #depression, self-hatred, and regret. I was going down a path of self-destruction. Luckily, I met an angel in 2009, my wife, who gave me a revived sense of #hope and #purpose. When we found out she was pregnant, I knew that I had to take my recovery to the next level. I wanted to be the best #father for my child to be, and the best #husband to my wife.
I started writing in a #journal everyday on the train ride from Maine to #Boston (where I worked) - a two hour commute. This simple #habit became the spark that I needed to adopt additional, positive #lifestyle changes - like working out, eating smart, #meditating, drinking less, etc. This habit of writing in a journal to my daughter-to-be became therapeutic for me - a chance to slow down and #reflect.
I recently shared my story of battling depression and #substanceabuse after my baseball career ended on #youtube and the feedback and response was incredible. The outpouring of #love and #support compelled me to start #blogging - to continue to share who I truly am - with the hope that I can provide a sense of comfort and hope to those that are struggling - battling something within themselves.
I figured for my first blog, I would share one of the first entries that I wrote to my daughter. I encourage you to start writing freely if you aren't already. It changed my #life...
You may never read this, but if you do, the most important thing that I want you to know - to absorb, to believe - is that we always have and always will love you. We will protect and honor you all the days of our lives.
On December 23rd, 2016, our lives changed. That’s the day we found out that YOU would be joining our family. I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I thought (and secretly hoped) that you were going to be a boy. We were going to name you Luke, Owen, or Logan. I liked Luke. It was easy to choose your name. Mom and I each wrote down our top five girl’s names. Mom read her list first.
“I like that,” I said. “I don’t have that on my list, but I like it. Let’s name her Aria.”
“Yes, I love it.”
People asked me if I was disappointed when I found out we were having a girl. Now that I know that you, Aria, will be joining us, there is nothing else that I want in this world.
I look forward to the days that I can make you laugh, to our days walking on the beach, to the days we surf the same wave. And believe it or not, I look forward to waking up in the middle of the night with you – holding you, reading to you, consoling you. I look forward to the days of making blueberry pancakes, the days of searching for stray golf balls in our backyard, the days of sledding down the snowy slopes of the golf course. When I close my eyes, I can hear your laugh and see your smile already.
When those moments arrive, I will undoubtedly be flooded with a sort of nostalgic deja-vu. You’re due August 29th. In a blink of an eye, we’ll be taking you home. In a blink of an eye, we’ll be taking you to school. In a blink of an eye, I’ll be walking you down the aisle.
I want to teach you everything. I want to give you advice. But I also know that you need to experience life and make your own choices. I hope that I can find a good balance. I hope that Mom and I can provide the right blend of ingredients for you to evolve and grow into the person that you were born to become, that with our love and guidance (not coercion) you will be able realize your full potential, that you will live a full, warm, and joyful life.
I will tell you this. Have fun. Laugh. Be goofy. Slow down. Appreciate time. Love the natural world. Try not to take yourself too seriously. I did for too long. Life is short.
I want nothing more than to be the best father for you. I hope that I raise you to be kind, compassionate, spontaneous, authentic, and tough. I want to make sure that you can take care of yourself – that you can believe and trust in yourself, in good times and in bad…especially the bad. I don’t want to wander into the world of negativity while you’re still in the womb, but you need to know that life can be tough. Life can beat you up, knock you down, and try to hold you down.
I want you to know that no matter what, I will always be watching over you. In your darkest moments, when you feel hopeless, when you feel sad, when you feel like you can’t go on, I will be there. Make me a promise. If you ever feel this way, remember my words to you now. Wake up early, before the sun rises. Go to the beach. Find a secluded area in the sand and sit down. Close your eyes. Listen to the waves. Breathe in and hold it for a moment. Let it out. Focus on your breathing. Step outside of yourself and watch your breath. Listen to the sea gulls. Smell the salty air. Pick up a handful of sand and let it slowly slip through your fingers. Feel the warmth of the sunrise as it awakens from its slumber above the horizon.
I will be there with you. Whenever you need me, I will always be with you.
Mom and I will love you unconditionally. It doesn’t matter what you say or do, we will always love you. We will never, ever, stop loving you.
I hope that you love yourself unconditionally too.
You will make mistakes and poor decisions. You will fail. You will have regrets. Remember that we are all human. We all make mistakes. We all make bad choices. We all have regrets. I will be upset if you don’t make mistakes, if you don’t fail. The important thing is to try to learn from those mistakes and failures, and that they don’t prevent you from taking risks going forward or ruin the love that you have for yourself. Whatever path you choose, less traveled or not, try not to take yourself too seriously. Listen to your inner voice. Let your compass within guide you.
You will inevitably experience loss. I can’t prepare you for this. When it happens, come talk to me. We will get through it together.
Loss is hard.
I’ve lost pets, I’ve lost friends, I’ve lost family, I’ve lost dreams, I’ve lost hope, I’ve lost games, I’ve lost love, I’ve lost confidence, I’ve lost myself. If you ever lose yourself, or if you ever lose hope, remember that I am here for you.
Don’t give up.
Keep moving, keep waking up, keep fighting. Things will get better.
It might not feel like it now. You might feel like you would rather never wake up again, that that would be better or easier or more peaceful than living. I promise you that if you take some deep breaths and look around at the ordinarily beautiful things in this world – a bird singing at the top of a tree, the dew shimmering in the morning grass, the leaves rustling in the air, the waves crashing on the shore, the sun rising above the horizon – you will be ok.
I am here for you.
You can talk to me.
I’m always listening.
I love you, Aria.