#BeReal – NED HICKSON

My #BeReal guest today is Ned Hickson.

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As a humor columnist, I get paid to be a truth-stretcher. An embellisher. A chronicler of life blown out of proportion. And I get to do it without living in Washington D.C. It’s a skill my mother will tell you I began honing at a young age — usually as a way of getting out of trouble. Again, it’s a wonder I didn’t go into politics. However, I decided to use my skills for the greater good by becoming a writer instead.

Early in my career, I was in a very unhappy marriage. It lasted 15 years because I got good at not being real. Often, I wrote about my married life in a humorous way by portraying myself as the bungling husband always falling short of his smarter, more capable wife. It kept the peace and also gave me an escape. But while it generated laughter for readers, it also generated an identity that I grew increasingly uncomfortable with. My ex-wife, who was a successful business woman, would introduce me to clients at parties or dinners as the guy they they’ve read in the newspaper.

They expected me to be the same silly guy.

And so did my ex-wife.

I was becoming less of a person and more of a commodity in our relationship (I’d say “trophy husband” but hey, this is about being real.) I was losing my identity and, along the way, a certain level of self-respect that only made what was already an unhappy marriage even more miserable and disconnected. When we eventually parted ways in 2006, I found myself a single father with two young children — and the levity of being real landed hard. I realized I needed to focus everything on my kids and decided to put my column on hiatus for a while. I needed to rethink and reboot myself as a person, father and a writer. The last column I wrote before taking time off proved to be my first step toward being real. I was honest with my readers and myself about what was happening and why I was stepping away for a while.

When I returned to the keyboard a few months later, the first column was written in a voice I hardly recognized. Yet it was more me than anything that had come before it.

And so was I.

It started like this: “There’s nothing funny about divorce. At least, not until you have time to gain some perspective and accept the fact that staying up until 2 a.m. reconfiguring the salt and pepper shakers on your dining room table is just part of the healing process — like vacuuming the kitchen tile and mopping the living room carpet. Or getting excited over having extra closet space while at the same time avoiding that space as much as possible. After a few months, I suddenly realized I had moved forward. As strange as it sounds, I think it started the day I threw away the last of the leftovers from when my ex-wife and I were still together. They symbolized much more than my inability, as a single father, to keep my children safe from a biological attack in their own kitchen. Inside that container was something that had started out with lots of flavor; something good and enjoyable; something we had both contributed to. Yet over time it had gotten lost somewhere behind everything else. Though I’m sure it had been checked for freshness a time or two, I stood there holding it — and knowing it had been going bad for a while…”

Ironically, it was this column that caught the attention of the woman who I have been ridiculously happily married to for eight years now. Anyone who follows me or reads my column knows how I feel about my wife. They also know, though kind of a goofball, I’m being real when I write about it now. Though I’m the first to make fun of myself, it’s something I embrace as part of who I am. Not as a coping mechanism, but because it reflects something real in my life as a person, husband and writer.

As a columnist, I get paid to be a truth-stretcher. An embellisher. A chronicler of life blown out of proportion. What I’ve learned is that the best part of life, as well as writing, comes from the inspiration found in allowing yourself to Be Real.


 

nedNed is an award-winning syndicated humor columnist for Siuslaw News. He has been awarded “Best Local Column” from both the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and his weekly column appears in dozens of newspapers in the U.S. and Canada as a syndicated feature for News Media Corporation.

Ned writes about daily life and important social issues, such as glow-in-the-dark mice and injuries caused by overheated pickles in fast food. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, was published by Port Hole Publishing and is a collection of his most popular columns during his 16 years as a columnist.

He has been a volunteer firefighter since 2011.

He also won a pie eating contest once.

Ned is a firm believer in the value of humor in daily life, and its role keeping perspective in an increasingly fast-paced and stressful world — especially during seasons of “The Bachelor.”

Blog: www.nedhickson.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ned.hickson
Twitter: @nedhickson

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61 thoughts on “#BeReal – NED HICKSON

  1. Divorce is a so many things – tragic, unfortunate, heartbreaking – especially when children are involved. I was divorced from a man who wasn’t so good to me. In truth, I wasn’t good to him either. We were something wonderful in the beginning and it turned toxic but my heart and soul were crushed by our divorce and I went through the whole process of grieving. It hurts, no matter the circumstances and no matter if it happens to be the best possible resolution. Then there is the possibility of something so magnificent that it takes your breath away. I’m glad you found that in your beautiful wife. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you are blessed to have found one another.
    You are a delight to those of us who know you, Ned. I feel comfortable speaking for others, The respect for the real you is evident everywhere. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I appreciate your words so much, Sandy. And everything you say about the process is true, whether it comes at the very end, or as part of a longer process put into motion years in advance. Whichever the case, if we are lucky, we not only adapt but grow. I was much more than lucky when my wife and I found each other. And I’ve been blessed every day since.

      Having the chance to share that with others is it’s own kind of blessing; thanks for sharing it with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is an immense dislocation in divorce, even one long foreseen (with a stubborn dose of denial/avoidance). Even without the formality of marriage, the ending of a long-term relationship calls out for a reassessment. At the very least, we ask how not to do that again. Thanks, Ned and Hasty for a great story of real. re-blogging

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Today’s my day to #BeReal | Ned's Blog

  4. I became a different person within my marriage too–someone I didn’t recognize, or like. Even though I can’t say I’m perfectly satisfied with who I am today, I can say I’m very glad I “cleaned out my fridge” almost 15 years ago. Thanks for another great read Ned!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. There is that part of divorce where one might be kicking themselves, wishing they’d never been married, feeling hurt and anger toward their former spouse… but the hardest part is, I think, is remembering that there was a time that it was “good” – the time that brought them together in the first place. I especially like your metaphor. Well done. And very REAL.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You’re very right, Tara. One thing I realized early on was that I needed to let the anger and regret go if I wanted to move forward and find positivity — for myself and my children. I’ve seen so many people carry that hurt with them and, in their attempt to protect themselves from being hurt again, build walls around their honest feelings. In the end, they end up blocking out the kind of people they really need. I don’t regret my marriage; it produced two incredible kids and led me to this point in my life. The road may have been rough getting here, but finding this destination was worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am currently going through a slurry of feelings I am trying to categorize. There is a point where you know things aren’t working but then there is another point where you know it can’t be fixed. You have to decide to move on.

    After being with someone for 26 years (since 18) I can’t even visualize being without him. The hardest part is knowing I loved someone for so long that never truly loved me back. He loves me don’t get me wrong. He cares. But he has discovered what love feels like and how could I be angry with that.

    I firmly believe that if you love someone unconditionally you want their happiness. I am joyful he has found it as I mourn the loss of mine. If there is anything I have learned it is that I am flexible and that life is full of the unexpected. I look forward to finding the hidden treasures waiting for me.

    I don’t know what the next phase of my life holds. I know I want to love someone and have them love me back. I want to know what that feels like. Thank you for this piece Ned. Thank you to your wife as well. Thank you for the inspiration you both are providing in this piece in such a time as I needed it most.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. As much as I love to laugh and to read your funny pieces, I very much appreciate it when you (or anyone) get real. I think I value that so much because often people use humor as a way to cope with or hide from pain in their lives; which isn’t a bad thing, as long as they at some point sit down and face the music. I hold a great deal of respect for people who so consistently find the funny in everyday life. Thank you for helping my face remember to smile when it doesn’t want to at times.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much, Susan. Humor can be a help or a hindrance. It’s important to recognize the difference. And I have to say nothing gives me greater pleasure than bringing a smile to a deserving face. Although bacon is a close second…

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Life is definitely full of the unexpected. Your belief in wishing happiness for someone else despite your own loss is the only way to find your own happiness. I’ve seen how resentment and anger weighs a person down — in their heart and spirit. To find the people who will bring us happiness means allowing ourselves to rise above. Whatever the next phase of your life holds, your belief and honesty will undoubtedly lead to the kind of unexpected that will help you soar.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I too cast myself as a punch line. Can’t drive, can’t cook. can’t ride a bike…don’t hug, don’t listen to voice mail, don’t run errands…etc. I contrast this with my capable patient husband. Both of these are hyperbole. The good news is we seem to be a hybrid of your two relationships…comic foil AND much in love. Glad you got real and I will keep your story in mind as I stretch the truth about my ineptitude.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There’s nothing wrong with casting yourself as the punchline aaas long as there’s no emotional blackeye. It sounds like, in your case, the things that qualify as a “punchline” in your personality are the same things your husband appreciates about you — and together, it adds richness and fun. It doesn’t get any better than that, Anna😉

      Thank you for reading,,, and writing!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I have been reading and commenting on your blog for a few years now, get to see a little of your life through Facebook too. Heck, there was even that night when you called me to order a pizza. I really enjoy the genuine side that comes through. You provide a bit of inspiration to me. The topic of this specific blog is part of that inspiration, simply because I admire where you are at and where you have come from.

    Heck, Alicia is a total babe. And she loves you in such an obvious way. I remember the blog she wrote about you recently. .. I am freaking jealous.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad I can be some kind of inspiration, Steve, and even more glad we have the opportunity to trade quips and thoughtful observations. You’re a good man, my friend, and your own kind of inspiration. Especially in those bicycle shorts.

      By the way, I’m still waiting for that pizza. I’m holding you to your promise: “30 days or it’s free.”

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Ah, Ned, this is a fabulous piece and I’m so glad you learned the value of being real, and that it took you so far and made you into the person you are today. Everything I see about you and your wife, I just LOVE, because the love you have for each other is SO obvious – it oozes out and spreads joyful happiness (or happy joyfulness (or both)) and I’m so thankful that you both share it and relish it and glory in it, because you both know how precious and wonderful it is.

    Divorce is awful, and I’ve seen it bad, and I’ve seen it far, far worse than I’ve had it. I just think for SO many reasons, Husby and I were desperately barking up entirely the wrong tree by hitching ourselves together, and though we made a bloody good go of it, when it gets to the point where one or the other of you is so miserable it might well be game-over stuff, it’s worth accepting the Real, that it’s just really NOT working, and that all your hopes and dreams didn’t stand a chance, for all the reasons, and quit while only slightly behind. So we did, and we were both instantly happier, and have continued to get happier ever since.

    So…hooray for divorce and second chances at life. I hope to follow in your footsteps and get a second chance at love one day, too🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • With all of that oozing and spreading, I’ll be expecting a call from the CDC pretty soon. But who CARES?!? It’s love, Baby!😉 In some ways, I was preparing for the love I now have all during those 15 years — it prepared me to seek it, recognize it and treasure it, so that I could be the person I needed to be, for myself and my lovely wife. I have no regret about my previous marriage because it brought me here.

      Second chances are the best because, more oftne than not, we better for having them. No doubt my footsteps will be easy for you to follow, Lizzi. You have the preparation, the spirit and — most importantly — the hopeful heart😉

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I separated from my former husband in 2006, as well. It was a very difficult time, in spite of the fact that it had been coming for a long while and needed to happen. Then I married a complete narcissist who made my first husband look like a prince. I went through an even worse period of worrying about my judgment, my sense, my intelligence and a lot of other things, too. In the end, I met a man – and am married to him now – who is completely wonderful for me and me for him. Good things happen.

    Thanks for sharing, Ned.🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I always said humour writers deserve a lot of credit. I don’t write humour well. It is a skill, but you are right that it is possible to cover up other things with that humour, but sounds like you’ve gone through a lot and come out stronger on the other side.
    Congrats on all you’ve achieved with your column in the US and here in Canada too.🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • On behalf of all humor writers, thank you😉 Just like riding a skateboard, writing humor takes a lot of practice. And even then, you still land on your butt sometimes.

      I appreciate you taking the time to read, and for the kind words😉

      Liked by 1 person

  15. While I love how you make me laugh (think red thong and elephants giving birth) I love your serious posts as well. The bungling husband is laughed about on tv and is nowhere near funny. It angers me.

    The last 10 years of my relationshop were yick. I remember people saying how I was changing to form who he wanted me to be. In truth, I wasn’t and he knew it. That drove him mad. I finally broke free but will likely never trust again. It is nice to read that people do. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I’m sorry you had to endure that unhappiness, I’m very glad you came out of it still holding on to You. I hope you’ll find someone who will win your trust some day — because yes, those people are out there, too😉

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Reblogged this on Kate McClelland and commented:
    ‘Being real’ makes us feel vulnerable, so well done Ned. I’ve always found that people who use humour in difficult or serious circumstances tend to be people who have suffered or struggled in some way.
    They have to see the ‘funny side’ or it’s too painful.
    Glad you have got to the point where you can be ‘serious’ about it.
    Mixing in some ‘serious’ in makes the funny more funny I think. (sorry, sounded like a cockney gangster there – in a cockney accent – ‘Are you throwing a bit o’ ‘serious’ in sunshine?)
    We still like the ‘hot link’ sausage jokes as well though hahaha :0) Kate

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thanks so much, Kate. I feel very blessed to be able to be real in my life now — real in love, real happy and real appreciative.

    By the way, I can’t stop reading everything without a cockney accent, now😉

    Like

  18. So, I read the post and it said that Ned could be found at http://www.nedhickson.com I followed the link and read the post which said to come to hastywords.worpress.com So,I came to this address and read the post and at the bottom it said to go to http://www.nedhickson.com So I went there and read the post and it said to come to hastywords.worpress.com I’ve been doing this for 2 hours now and can’t find a way out. Could someone please come and help me?

    Bwahaha! great post Ned – beautiful wife. Carry on being you – we’re enjoying it immensely.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “No corn syrup or articifial sweeteners, although heavy in sodium due to high bacon content. Ask your doctor if Ned Hickson is right for you. Should not be taken with alcohol or while breastfeeding…”

      And thanks, my friend😉

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Pingback: After a Divorce This Dad and Writer Learned to #BeReal -

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