Out of the Closet

By Christopher Scott

I’ve kept this secret for a long time. I remember feeling it for the first time as a child, but kept it to myself well into adulthood until I could no longer hide from it any longer. Finally, it became too difficult to keep inside, and in the last several years, I began some experimentation. I finally learned to express my feelings and emotions, and it was truly liberating.

I haven’t even shared the secret with my family, not even my mother and father. Not with my closest friends, even though I’ve wanted to so many times. What would happen if these people so close to me realized what’d become of the strong, masculine man they thought they knew?

It was just too hard and too embarrassing. I felt like I’d be judged, ostracized, and laughed at. I just wasn’t ready. Until now.

It’s time for me to come out of the closet. Mom, Dad, brothers, sister, friends, I’m sorry you had to hear it like this, but it’s true.

I am a Romance Novelist. Wow, that feels pretty good.

Seriously though, I have no idea how my transformation came about. Nothing in my past indicated I’d become a romance writer. Granted, I was always a voracious reader and fancied writing a book some day, but figured it would be more in the tradition of my literary heroes, an important work of fiction following in the ink stains of Hemingway, Steinbeck, Rand, or even John Grisham for God’s sake.

Unfortunately, all I could do was write romance. And, while at first it was frustrating, eventually, I was able to reconcile this romantic obsession with my literary snobbery. One day it hit me that many of my favorite novels, even the classics, were at their heart romances. Think of Atlas Shrugged, Gone with the Wind, or A Farewell to Arms. All great novels by famous authors, all essentially love stories.

So I continued to write. Finding my mid-life crisis at 40, I couldn’t buy a sports car or sleep with an undergrad, although lord knows I tried. No, the only thing I could do was churn out romance novels like it was my job.

Now, before you picture the heaving bosoms, cruel alpha males, and ridiculous cover art of the traditional romance novel, I’ve got to tell you, my stories are nothing like that. I tell stories of believable people engaged in daily life struggles, people like you and me. The characters are real, they’re flawed, and eventually, their struggle to find love is either punished or rewarded just as it is in real life.

The end result is the Broken Man series, now available for purchase on this site. I guess if I had to label it, I’d call the series a Reality Romance, exploring a man’s journey to find love and the women who guide him along the path. Regardless of labels, it truly is a gratifying experience to start with a blank page on my iPad and eventually turn that nothingness into an intricate story people around the world can enjoy.

More importantly, writing these stories has also helped to heal the wounds of my past. Some people visit psychologists, many embrace religion, others find their fix through exercise, sports, friendships, work, or any number of ways. I find my fix by writing, and while it might be cliche, it truly is a cathartic experience.

That doesn’t mean I’m always happy with my work. My first novel was so bad I later had it unpublished. I’m also frustrated by my inability to progress beyond the twenty chapter, fifty thousand word, dual point of view format followed in my first three novels.

So, I’m determined that my next novel will not only bring closure to the story, but will also broaden my scope as a writer. I plan on a full length novel of approximately eighty thousand words complete with a multi-person point of view and a more thorough development of characters. Look for it when the inspiration eventually strikes, probably sometime in late 2014.

I guess that’s about it. I hope you enjoy my works and be sure to know, they’re intended for women and men, young, old, or in between. I also encourage you to continue your own search for happiness, whether it comes through writing romance novels, painting, singing opera, or any other activity, even seemingly embarrassing pursuits. You never know where you might find the fix for your brokenness, but when you do, I hope you’ll do as I did.

I hope you will come out of the closet too.

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Are You Broken?

By Christopher Scott

Are you broken?

A broken man, a shattered woman, possibly the possessor of a damaged soul.

That’s a good question, and not a simple one to answer.

Do you physically or mentally abuse your spouse and children?
Have you ever physically hurt another human being intentionally?
Have you ever been inappropriate with a child?
Do you not feel remorse or regret for your actions?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not broken. You are a
sick, sadistic excuse for a human being in desperate need of counseling and likely
incarceration. This site is not for you.

Have you abused drugs or alcohol?
Do you eat too much or not nearly enough?
Are you a Workaholic?
Do you exercise obsessively or not at all?
Do you experience difficulty with interpersonal relationships and have trouble expressing your feelings and emotions?
Have you remained involved in a physically or mentally abusive relationship?
Have you been prescribed medication for anxiety or depression?
Do you consider yourself unhappy?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or embrace other self-destructive
behaviors, consider yourself broken, and welcome to the site. These and other behaviors are indicative of an underlying problem, and congratulations on having taken the first step towards a fix by identifying your brokenness.

And that’s really what we’re all about at Broken Man. Sure, the past is important and sometimes we need to remember our history in order to move towards a better future. But, we aren’t going to dwell too much on past events or behaviors, regardless of how damaging they may’ve been. That would simply be counterproductive to our goal of finding a fix to our brokenness and possibly living happily in the future.

We hope you enjoy Broken Man, and promise not to take ourselves too seriously while making the greatest effort to keep the site fresh, updated, and thought provoking. We also hope you’ll become a valued member of the Broken Man family and expand our support system by inviting your broken friends and damaged loved ones to share in our community.

Thanks for joining us, and welcome to you, my fellow broken man.

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Grace

By Christopher Scott

I have a friend I see occasionally, let’s call her Grace, who’s actually quite amazing. Employed by the same company for the last sixteen years, a friend and mentor to many, a fabulous mother of two young boys. Warm, kind, and enthusiastic, you’d never know she’s broken.

sad-girlBut she is. Grace grew up in a truly damaging setting, an environment that makes my supposedly “difficult” childhood look like a picnic. We’ve only really talked about it in passing, but what she’s shared makes the person she’s become all the more remarkable.

Growing up in the northeast the only child of a drug addict, Grace spent her childhood moving from home to home as her mother found her fix. At times sleeping in a tent or a car, fully aware of her mother’s drug use, Grace used her mind and made up games to pass the time and escape her reality. As is usually the case, her mother’s problem only accelerated in severity, eventually culminating in her premature death.

To make matters worse, she never knew her father. Just another man willing to abandon his children without so much as a second thought, leaving his daughter curious as to what he even looked like. Adding to her feelings of abandonment, Grace later found out he’d taken a mulligan, remarrying and starting a second family as if the first one never happened.

Fortunately for Grace, as she headed into adolescence, her grandmother stepped in to stop the insanity. Gram, as she so affectionately calls her, finally had enough, somehow gaining custody and moving Grace to Florida. Or, as she was so fond of saying as she battled old age and dementia, “I stole you.”

Thank God for all the grandparents out there willing to steal their grandchildren from neglectful parents, on some level acknowledging their own failures as a parent and unwittingly finding redemption. Where would we be without them. In Grace’s case, Gram took on the role of her mother, really her only connection, her only sense of love and security as she made her way into adulthood.

Not always smoothly though. Grace has struggled to overcome her past, most of the horrid details she’s yet to share with me, the majority of which she probably never will. Fortunately, she sees a Psychologist and seems to have overcome many of the lingering after-effects of her broken childhood including depression, eating disorders, and who knows what else.

She’s battled through her problems with purpose and a great attitude, and now tries to help others who struggle with similar issues. She never really asks why or feels sorry for herself, but uses her childhood as a kind of strength to know she can get through anything. How she became this incredible person I can only imagine, but surely Gram had a lot to do with it.

A couple weeks ago, Gram passed away. Upon hearing the sad news, I froze, knowing how important Gram was in her life, frankly worried as to how Grace might respond. So this week, I went to see her.

She’s returned to work, but it’s easy to tell her heart and mind aren’t there, even as she tries to smile and hide her feelings. She’s shockingly thin, but promises to start eating again now that the nausea has faded. I can tell Grace is battling the best she can even as her world has fallen apart.

It’s always hard to know what to say in this situation. You don’t want to say too much and keep opening up the wound, but at the same time, you want to let her know you’re there for her, that she has your support. For once, I was brief, saying only the words I hope she needed to hear.

I simply told Grace that I love her.

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Father’s Day

Marty WilsonFather’s Day.

A day to read plenty of stories about fulfilling family relationships, memories of a time when as a little boy or girl, Dad was their hero. These are wonderful stories about the way things should be, sometimes made more poignant by the birth of the next generation or the inevitable passing of the patriarch. And while I would love to be able to write one of these feel good stories, unfortunately I can’t.

My story is a little different and certainly, I’m not alone in that experience. The way men have ignored, neglected, and abandoned their children in this country leaves many feeling empty today. Frankly, I imagine my story is probably somewhere in the middle of the road, not great but far from the worst.

No need to know my entire family history, but suffice it to say my father wasn’t around much for my childhood. The truth is, I don’t really know him, never have, viewing him more as a friend to visit once in a while rather than as my father. The details don’t really matter, but my guess is I’ve seen him an average of once a year since I was a teenager.

So I was surprised when he decided to travel to Florida last weekend, his second visit in eight months. I reluctantly agreed to this change in routine, both of us equally culpable in keeping this relationship at an arm’s length over the years. But even as we slogged through our usual schedule of playing golf, eating dinner, and talking about nothing for the first two days of his visit, I knew something was up.

On the third and final day of his trip, he said there was something he wanted to discuss over dinner. I agreed, and we sat down in a quiet Thai restaurant last Sunday night, alone in our corner of the restaurant. Through the dumpling and soup courses, over the panang curry and chicken and broccoli for dinner, nothing was said.

No real surprise there. I excused myself and headed to the men’s room, figuring nothing was to come of this conversation. This awkward dinner was over, time to get the check, put him on a plane, and move on with my life.

So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived back at the table and my father wasn’t ready to go. I’m not sure if it was something he’d previously written or he had just scribbled it while I was gone, but, when I sat back down, he handed me a note, a yellow lined piece of paper inscribed with his inimitable handwriting in blue ink.

What would a good relationship with my children look like?

An interesting question, even if it took him nearly fifty years to ask. Turns out my father has been seeing a psychologist in his quest for answers as he faces mortality at 71. Or seeing a psychologist because his wife made him go.

Either way, the question spurred a discussion, perhaps our first meaningful discourse since his mother died three years ago. Actually, I did most of the talking, letting him know a good relationship would require more openness, less pretension, and little to no judgment. It even became heated at times, our private corner of the restaurant a blessing as I basically let him have it.

We finally ended the discussion as the restaurant readied to close and I had nothing left to say. The conversation was limited as we made the short drive back to his hotel, both of us alone in our thoughts. Then, I exited quickly after arriving at the hotel, sharing a quick hug and surprising him with a copy of my first book as I left the car running.

Where it goes from here, who’s to say. It was a good first step, but we were back to semi-awkwardness during the drive to the airport the next morning. However, we did exchange positive emails in the week since and I’ll give him a call to wish him a Happy Father’s Day, curious to how he’ll respond.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even have one of those heartwarming stories to write next year.

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