Today I am going to do something I never do.

I am going post a blog written by someone else.

Who is our guest blogger?

He is one of my best friends and also one of my best coaches.

His story is so raw so real that I wanted to share Greg’s path with you so you can learn from his life. It’s a great read, so enjoy.

— David

“Please, Please don’t cancel the trip!!! I really need this!” This was the plea from my ex-wife before our first of many trips to Cabo San Lucas. Her grandmother, to whom she was extremely close, had just passed away and she wanted to get out of town to ease her pain. She wanted to run away from her pain, which later on I would realize was a life long struggle.

We were engaged to be married and I had just spent most of my savings on her engagement ring and we were planning our wedding that we would be paying half of. I watched the tears streaming down her face after I had just told her that I had canceled the trip because I felt it was a prudent financial decision to go with the upcoming wedding and the recent opening of my car dealership. She was relentless and bordering on hysterical so like most men in this situation I felt sympathy for her and put her needs before mine and the obvious bad timing and called the travel agent to rebook the trip.

While this brought her temporary joy it was the beginning of a pattern that would last for years and years and eventually lead me to a lot more poor decisions always leaving me behind financially rather than ahead. I was putting her needs before my own. I was not paying attention to how it would affect me and a lot of other people. She promised “just this one time” but it never changed. She would plead and manipulate the situation until eventually I would give in. On this first trip she was out of control drinking, dancing and having a great time and my mind was heavy in thought about how I was going to make up the money I had lost spending on the trip along with all of the money that I lost because I was not working. I was trying to get strong and follow my instincts but I was struggling. Struggling with pleasing someone and being true to myself.

Finally after a long day at the beach, going out to dinner then out drinking at the Giggling Marlin, I had enough. “Get in the cab we, are going home,” I commanded. She laughed and ignored me, then exploded back at me, screaming for me to lighten up and have a good time. I turned around and she was gone. The streets were jammed with people and I could not find her. I panicked for a moment then I looked and realized she had gone back into the bar and was dancing on the tables with one of the waiters.

That was it. I was done. I went back to the hotel and began to try and figure out how we were going to get home the next day. When she rolled into the hotel at 3 a.m. we had an epic argument screaming and yelling at each other. She said she was calling her father and I ripped the phone cord out of the wall. Then security arrived and asked us to quiet down. It seemed that everyone on the floor could her us by now and people were getting worried. I had never been in this type of relationship where arguments got this heated. I was forced to squash my true feelings of anger and conform to settle the situation. After speaking to security and calming her down we finally talked it out and went to sleep. It turned out I was stuck and we could not leave until our scheduled day which was three days away. I had to accept the “good time” and deal with it, which meant drinking to ignore the worry in my mind.

This one decision would change my life for over twenty years. This one opportunity to make a stand for myself would knock the first domino over in the events of my life.

When you put the desires of other before yourself — such as taking them on vacation when you can’t afford it or coming home early when you know you should stay and work to make more money — you compromise yourself. I was constantly put in this position by my ex-wife, and the penalties of not letting her get her way were severe.

Mostly it was in the form of making sure that everyone else was miserable in the house until she got her way. She played on my sympathies for working long hard hours and not seeing my kids. She also would put them in the middle of the conversation to strengthen her position as to why we should go away. I was constantly placed in an awkward position and it eventually took its toll on me mentally. I could not think clearly. I was struggling at my business and then I came home to another kind of constant struggle. Trying to keep someone happy that would never be satisfied.

Later in my marriage I got a gift from one of my employees named Tom. I was one of those motivational inexpensive posters that had on it the 10 things you needed to have in order to live a fulfilling and happy life. It was a little corny but I appreciated the thought. The number one thing on the top of the list was this.

“The person that you marry will determine your happiness or unhappiness for the rest of your life.”

These words are the truth, along with having the power to be your own person and use the word NO.

When you are young like I was when I got married, you don’t always necessarily look for the right qualities in your future wife. I looked more at the physical aspects and some of what appeared to be solid qualities in that person but I did not look hard enough to see the poor behavior that is now obvious to me. I am certain that if I did, I would have said NO to a lot of things, including my marriage in the first place.

This was the beginning of many poor decisions based on others needs and wants. Going on this trip would change the rest of my life and begin a pattern that would only be broken by my eventual prison term. You always must be looking at the consequences of going along with someone else’s wishes. If you are going to go along for the ride, then do not expect to have the outcome that you desire.

On this trip, we got pregnant with my first child Hailey, before we were even married. Too much tequila had led to careless causal sex. Yes, it happens, but when you get careless and don’t stand up for yourself, things go wrong. I had tied myself to this person for the rest of my life with a child. And while I love my three beautiful daughters and have no regrets at all about having them in my life, I now see that this event changed me. I began a life of helping and supporting others and not placing my morals and thoughts first.

I thought I was being a noble, upstanding person when I helped others, but at times I was not paying attention to who I was supporting. I thought I was shielding my children from a hostile household by keeping the peace at home when in fact I was encouraging bad behavior. I would have been a stronger man if I took a stand and blew the whole situation up and got a divorce or maybe she would have changed her behavior if I called her bluff. Maybe I would have left my business or files bankruptcy and ended the cycle. I will never know and I think everyone reading these pages needs to think about the people they let into their lives. How will it affect their future and what consequences will be decided by the actions of others.

I feel that I compromised my own character and it took me years to get it back and that was only after some hard work on myself and reflection on my past mistakes. It has been extremely hard facing my past actions and how I let others shape my life. It is still hard as I write these words. I know we all have our path but lately I have found a strong group of people that I am associating with that will not bend to the will of others. They may compromise a little but in the end they make their own decisions. I want to be that person for the rest of my life and I encourage everyone to do the same.

I used other people for my personal gains of helping my family and brought them into my world. I had not held my ground and said no the first time for what I knew to be the right and responsible decision and it would be that much harder to begin even later in life because of the pattern I had created. I had become conforming man with no spine.

There were many, many more vacations that I could not afford. Big expensive houses that were built and a lifestyle that while I enjoyed at times I knew I never wanted to support nor could I afford. It was a runaway train of a lifestyle that had no way to stop unless I pulled the emergency brake which I never had the balls to do. Two more daughters came. Now there was three. I needed to care and support them and was pretty much solely financially responsible for generating the income needed to keep everything moving. I had to shield them at times from their mother who was deeply sad from events in her life that happened well before we met. I was stuck in a tornado of bad decisions.

Adding to the problem was a booming economy. This was at a time when no one questioned whether or not I could afford to borrow the money they lent me, they just said sign here, no problem. No need to verify income or ask questions. We are happy to lend you the money. No one helped slow the train by checking my choices and my friends and business associates said the same thing.. “Just make more money, everything will be fine.” To feed the train I worked harder and harder. Making money was an easy thing for me to do but keeping it was not my strong suit. Pumping income into a slowly sinking ship would never solve the problem. Eventually it had to end up at the bottom of the ocean…

That was part 1 of Greg’s story, the second of which I will post tomorrow. I hope you all find it as powerful and informative as I did – and if so, stay tuned for more!