At A Crossroads

March 22, 2021

There are many times in our lives where we have a paradigm shift in our perspective. Whether it’s a career you’re not passionate about anymore, a lover you have drifted away from, or friendships that don’t support or serve you anymore.

I have come to one of those crossroads recently, and it is an eight lane super-highway of a crossroads. The biggest and most profound crossroads in my life because many things happened at once.

For starters, I hate my career. I have been working as a Software Engineer for close to thirteen years. The typical person I work with is what you would expect as a stereotypical Code Bro. Younger than me by 20 years usually, more concerned with video games and the latest gadgets and judge you by how well your movie trivia is. They rarely take care of their bodies and pride themselves on never leaving their computers and not caring about playing or following sports. Most guys I have worked with bragged about their weekends spent cooped up playing online video games.

I chose working as an IT Engineer out of fear of not being able to make a living as I got older being a trainer and a teacher. Computer programmers were and are in high demand. I jumped at the chance to attend Bentley University when a client of mine said she would write a letter to the dean of the college to get me in. For a kid from a blue collar family who’s entire family tree have never graduated with anything more than an associates degree, the idea of going to graduate school at a prestigious university was a chance you didn’t pass up. It didn’t matter if it didn’t suit your purpose or even your curiosity. It had nothing at all to do with my passion. As a result I have spent almost 20 years doing something I have grown to hate. Whether it was fear and greed, making my parents proud or some other necessity, I chose a career that I loathed for the almighty dollar.


Once I started paying attention I have also noticed that there are people in my life that I choose to keep around because I feel like I owe them something, or this sense of loyalty to them that was embedded in me from my Massachusetts roots. These are people I have been friends with for a very long time. We share similar interests like skiing or mountain biking, but other than these activities we don’t share much else.

My friends are all good guys. Honest, loyal, good guys. They drink beer, joke around and rarely show any sort of emotion other than while watching sports, quoting movies or describing a pretty woman. Fashion and artistic expression are not on their radar. They must look at me as their sensitive artist musician friend who cares too much about spirituality and connections. What we would call “a pussy” in Boston. Men don’t do that in this country. We push it down. We hide behind jokes and talk about superficial shit like sports and argue about politics.

Some would say, “Where is the Old Corey? The guy who was the life of the party? ready to start a fight with a guy staring at your wrong, being brash and cocky and hitting on anything in a skirt?” In so many words I have gotten this more than once.

To quote Joe Peschi in GoodFellas, “what am I? a clown? Here for your amusement?”

Up until recently my view was : All men were rivals and threats. All women were objects.

When I wrote that last sentence I had to stop writing for the day. I had to take a break from it because the truth of it really didn’t hit me until I actually wrote it. Then I took a few days and it kept coming back at me.

I didn’t want to admit it. I had a very large flaw. I had a Blindside.

The Blindside: That glaring, annoying thing you have that you are not aware of. The thing that everyone sees about you, that gets spoken about you by others behind your back. The thing people hate about you. The Blindside is usually discovered as a result of brutal honesty or self reflection. In our society it’s considered rude to point it out and most people do not come right out and tell you about it.

Was I really like that ? It’s a bitter pill. No, I couldn’t have been that selfish, right?

Women As Objects

To clarify, I don’t think I “objectified” women in such a stereotypical, cliche, physical way. I partly chose a partner based on how it would look for me.

We all do that to a lesser or greater extent tho, right? Man or Woman.

How will she make me look? Will my mom like her? Will my friends like her? How impressive will she be at parties with her knowledge of whatever? How does she make me look to everyone else?

This was all subconscious by the way, and has hit me like a ton of bricks. I chose some for their minds, their athleticism, their kindness, their spirituality and yes their beauty. I fed off of it and fell in love with that persona.

The fault of this is of course, I fell in love with the idea of this person. Because of this I painted the relationship into a corner. How can I still love them when they grow into something else? For example, how could I still love them if they gave up skiing and took up knitting when that is what I associate my Self with? My Self didn’t align with their Self anymore. The Ego drives the car. My Ego associates my sense of Self with whatever it was I was reflecting off of her. I AM a mountain person because I do things in the mountains. I AM an entertainer because I entertain. None if this is who I really am but the Ego is in charge.

There is no depth or deeper connection. It’s sharing a mutual love for something, which is all well and good, but maybe should not be the foundation of a long lasting relationship. I have seen many relationships fall apart because one member drifts off into a different passion, leaving the other in limbo.

We are all growing, changing, evolving. Do you appreciate your partner for changing or resent them because you associate your Ego part of the relationship with that thing and view that change as some sort of betrayal?


For me this paradigm was the result of programming from years of observing my father and other men around me. He subscribes to the hard partying, Harley riding, blue collar bikey attitude of what a woman should be. The guys he rode with has a word for it: A Seat Ornament. As in, you are supposed to sit on the back of the bike and look good and preferably slutty and not say much. You watch movies, you know what I am talking about.

I watched and learned from this man. He would say anything to get with women. He was slick and charming, crass and one dimensional.

Another major influencer on my view of women, my oldest brother, was and is the same way, albeit with a lot more intellect and wit and a lot less boundaries. I knew nothing else. It was admirable to me. It is how a Real Man is supposed to act and I thought a Real Woman appreciated it.


When i was 11 my mother was briefly married to a second man who tried to hit me in private and talked down to and bullied me. We had to move away from my childhood home to an apartment when they married as part of the divorce agreement with my father.

He has no relevance to this story other than he fed into my distrust of my mother’s suitors, and reinforced the “All men are threats” mentality and showed me close up what a racist, bullying, asshole looked like. During this time my bio dad was pretty much “Movie And Flea Market Trip On A Sunday” Dad.

No words of wisdom from him as he sat hung over, checking his watch and possibly still on cocaine while I ate the free hot dogs we got from my uncle at the restaurant he managed and where my older brother worked. This was our weekly routine.

My current stepfather came into my life when I was at my most rebellious. I was 15 years old and already sexually active. I knew it all. I was angry. I didn’t trust him at all. He was just another asshole to me.

The first time I ever really drank I got so drunk that I puked everywhere at a party. I blacked out and made out with a friends girlfriend. My father picked me up the next day for our weekly ritual and he didn’t even notice his teenage son turning into him. I was hungover and proud that I was becoming him. I bragged about how I drank so much that I threw up all night. He didn’t say a word.

I was screaming for attention. Begging my father for approval, daring my step dad to challenge me. Daring anyone to tell me how to live my life. My grades tumbled, I started hanging out with the burnouts and learned how to smoke cigarettes in the school bathroom. I discovered drugs and stopped caring about playing sports or doing well at school.

This toxic masculinity was deeply ingrained in my subconscious since a very young age.

I had no shot at a real connection and healthy relationship. I chose the vapid, narcissistic, vicious blonde two years younger than me. She was skinny and pretty and one of the meanest people I ever met. She talked down to me whenever she could. She would call me a ‘loser’ and a ‘fucking goof’ and belittle me in front of our friends, chewing her gum in her thick Boston accent. I stayed with her because she was the idea of what I thought i wanted and deserved. I was lucky to be with her. I wasn’t going to get any better than this. She was my Seat Ornament.

She eventually cheated on me with a guy I knew, and then another guy who got her pregnant and that was that. Later I heard she got caught stealing money from the hair salon she worked at in the town we grew up in so, ya know, little victories, big bullets dodged.

Throughout my 20’s, up until I met Brenda and then later when my second engagement failed and I sort of lost my mind for a while, I went back to my old ways. Discarding any lessons I learned. Giving up. It has taken a divorce, more bad decisions and more hard introspection to see this.

And that is what our society values. That is part of the toxic masculinity cycle most men in this culture has to deal with.

To be continued …

Written by Corey Smaller Follow me on Instagram