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sweet chariot

I have started this post several times. I have written it in my head countless times. I hesitate because I don’t think the answer is as clear as the question. I am not sure it measures up to expectations.  However, in the end, its the expectations that hurt me the most. It was trying to live up to my self expectations that I fell short. “Expectations are pre-meditated resentments,” I was told. I held these expectations and resented myself when I couldn’t live up to them.

I was asked how I have changed on my journey. I was asked how I am different and how my outlook has evolved. I spent a long time trying to come up with an answer that makes sense. I tried to list my character defects and how they have been eradicated. I tried to come up with specific examples. In the same moment, I had a bump in the road that made me feel rejected. I don’t even really know the background or outcome, but my reaction was to feel hurt. I could feel all the rejection I have ever felt all over again. I felt teenage loves, jobs, schooling, loves, and losses. I felt friends who turned their backs and hurled insults. I felt the pain. My character defect of low self esteem reared its ugly head once again. How could I speak to how I removed my character defects when here was the largest one laughing at me again?

Do people really change? Can redemption really occur in this life? Is a loving God loving only after we die? IS suffering a choice?

I decided to not write this post. I had nothing to say and couldn’t see myself lying again to make myself look good. I had spent so much time lying to myself about who I was, how I was, that it became routine. I couldn’t even tell that I wasn’t growing or changing. I was lost in looking good and looking together. I just didn’t want to do that again.

I talked to a trusted friend about it. They are a new friend and I had to explain my story all over again. I explained what I did 10 years ago to change a direction. I described how I tried to change but wasn’t able. I explained how I didn’t even see a large hole in my soul. It gathered moss and a fetid smell as it corroded my heart. It culminated in feeling rejected and scrambling to cure my ache. It was the match for the fuse that blew up my life. Nothing would ever be the same. The tower of Babel I had built tumbled. The dust settled slowly. I explained how I had went on a voyage inside first. I dissected my life, my emotions, my reactions, my pain. I did things differently. I asked for help. I admitted weakness. I embraced the pain as a message. I humbled myself and spoke honestly about my mistakes as well as my victories. As a result, I got to be free of the shame. I got to experience a new kind of freedom. A freedom from the bondage of self. I had told my story so many times that it felt like just words. I had finally got to the point that I didn’t need to explain or justify, I just spoke the journey and the hope of tomorrow. Many times, people would tell me how hearing my journey touched them and helped them. They mentioned the truth and honesty in what I spoke. I explained to my trusted friend that I felt afraid and rejected again. He smiled. The arrogant jerk just smiled at me. I stared at him with disbelief. And he started to chuckle. Did I say friend? Maybe I spoke to soon. He spoke through laughing eyes and asked, “Ever been called truthful and honest in your previous life?”

I hadn’t. I think the biggest change for me is being ok with change.  Sometimes, I go through it kicking and screaming. I have gotten to a point that I know that I will be ok in the change. I have been tumbled like tennis shoes in a dryer and come out wrinkled and fluffed to trudge another day. I know that God is in this and has been in this. I know that when I get knocked down, I get back up. I have learned to trust myself. More importantly, I like myself. I genuinely, love myself. When I mumble the words to myself, “I love myself,” I can ask myself if the current actions or thoughts are being loving to me or not.

I don’t know how to answer the question of how I have changed. I have changed a lot in some areas and not so much in others. I can wax philosophic about grandiose words such as trust, love, honesty, and change. I can speak to journey or to God’s Grace. I can share pages and pages of introspection and a pretty impressive healing resume over the last few years. I can talk about my journey or responding rather than reacting .I can speak to time. Time wasted, time appreciated, time spent, and time lived. I could mention that I had to change everything and allow God to rebuild me.

IT is all true, but over-expansive. I have simply learned to pause when agitated or doubtful.

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Posted by on August 14, 2016 in journey

 

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breaking the wind

I am a sucker. I believed the lie. I followed the wind and realized the wind was just blowing, not leading. The wind just makes it easier to get somewhere, it doesnt really lead you on a direction. I was biking the other day and thought I was just on fire. I was setting personal records and riding with tireless legs. It was glorious. I listened to my music and every song seemed to speak to my wounded and empty heart. I had answers to what to bring to a Dead’s Man Party or a theme song for a career as a Psycho killer. Then the dreaded turn. There is a 90 degree left turn that crests a hill on my ride. I rise out of the valley and turn this turn to head back to the trailhead. Well, another answer was there to meet me. The reason I was riding with such ease was the gnarly fall wind. It almost knocked me over. Only the deft skills I possess and David Byrne chanting, “Qest Que se?” Which loosely translated is “What the F$%^?” The wind hadnt changed to obstruct my course or to reward my legs with triumph over adversity. The wind didnt care if I was on the trail, off the trail, walking, riding, or falling. The wind was just blowing.

In the original text, the word for spirit, is Ruah or wind. The Holy Spirit could be translated to be the set apart wind. It occurs to me that the wind that blows seems to be the wind, the voice, the breath. We breath our wind to each other. Sometimes that wind is sweet and welcomed and sometimes it smells like onion and coffee. When that breath has love behind it, it is made to be received with joy. Even more than that, it is made to be given with grace.

I tried to let that Wind lead me. I wanted so desperately to be doing the right thing and felt like if I did it right, wonderful blessings would be bestowed unto me. The problem is that when you are standing in a wind storm, sometimes you get knocked over. Moreover, it is hard to get back up again. The wind becomes difficult. Even when you are tumbling along like a tumbleweed, it can be brutal. I dont think that is living life abundantly anymore. It is hard to be thankful and grateful for each moment and the day in general when you are tumbling along the dusty highway.

It is also tough to recognize what force is blowing. If you are in a wind storm and someone has a wind machine 30 degrees off the winds course and both are blowing, which is the direction you will go? If my bike ride was any indication, off the worn path and into some prickly bush. When the wind is calm or stale and the heat oppressive, any breeze feels welcome. Isnt that the reason we have so many gods with a little g: Money, Fame, Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll? I have been questioning the little g gods I have been blown by. I chased intimacy and connection and struggled to learn how to do it fast enough. I was directed to career and managed to derail that. I was lead to self actualization and ended up very lonely. I felt the breeze of possessions and ended up suffocated with objects. I even felt the wind heap shame on me, as if I could handle the load. I thought I was doing all of this for other, my family, my kids, my self, my God, etc etc. The truth is that feels like a lie. All of those answers arent true. If the Holy Spirit is the guiding force for our lives and we are made to hear the voice of God through the works of the Spirit, then it would seem that it would be directional. However, I fell for that lie. It isnt. The wind doesn’t really care about the direction, or the individual results, necessarily. God doesn’t say that He wants us to believe and then do whatever he says. What He says is, believe and follow me. He want us to do what we do in a new way. The wind is the breath, the voice to us. The Truth is that the air moves with us regardless of the direction. The Truth is that the why isn’t as important as the how.

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2015 in faith, journey, life

 

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Zelda the psychotherapist

I think I might be Brittny Spears.  Well, at least I am channeling her songs. One in particular, “Oops, I did it again,” rings true. I don’t know if Id go as far as wear the cheerleading outfit she did in the video, but I am certainly humming the verse.

I mentioned that I think my VW bus is magical. I think Zelda is also a psychotherapist. She is more of a sit and listen patiently while you talk yourself into a hole or self revelation.  She seems pleased with either outcome. zelda

I took her on our maiden camping voyage this weekend and felt waves of realization and actualization pound against my brain and heart like a hurricane on a dingy. I discovered and uncovered truth after truth. I was diminished and rebuilt.

I have been reading about how our childhood traumas leave scars on our ability to relate. We never learn or forget how to be flexible with other people and even with ourselves.  I am not laying blame with anyone.  However, at some point in my childhood, I learned to get attention by crying, and to put on a false bravado would protect you from harm.  I carried that on for a long time. The disparity of who I was on outside and who I was on inside was cavernous. I begged to be told I was ok, good, attractive, smart, whatever. I needed it because I had lost my true self.  I had hidden behind my false self.  I think everyone does that to a certain extent. I had just done it completely.  As the cavern grew, so did the pain. I drank it away. I flirted it away. I laughed it away. For awhile.

I thought I had truly met myself and was emerging as my true self over the last 9 years. I reacted differently. I enjoyed life. I tried to be alive. I dug into my heart and soul. I was dumbfounded with my need to escape once again a few years ago. I needed to feel intimacy. The marriage I was in had no real intimacy. We had lost the ability to communicate and also the desire to want to grow together. The need consumed me and my world exploded.

Again, I thought I had worked through that in counseling and self exploration. But, oops, I did it again. I tried to become what I thought someone else wanted me to be. I was afraid of not being good enough. I was afraid of being less than.  Again, I ran and hid. My life changed. I retreated into my soul and mind.

Zelda the Wonderbus allowed me to see that I have been doing it all over again here. I wanted to be respected, but I wasn’t respecting. I wanted to be liked, but I wasn’t liking. I wanted to be accepted, but I wasn’t accepting. I didn’t ing anyone or myself. I was not allowing for Namaste. I wasn’t allowing for the God spark that is in me to shine and frolick with all the other God sparks out there. I didn’t know my spark was just as valuable, just as beautiful, just as worthy as everyone elses. Not knowing kept me in darkness, hidden and afraid.

That Zelda—she is a wonder.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in journey, life

 

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walk about

I have gone walkabout. Yes, I am quoting, “Crocodile Dundy”. I am a product of the 80’s. I ponder the question, “What IS so funny about peace, love, and understanding?” I secretly hope that a mullet will once again be in fashion, and I can break out my white sports jacket and hang out with a guy named, Crockett. I am not embarrassed to say that I have put a message in a bottle. It was only this year that I figured out that Sting might have been a Sage and the message in a bottle is internet dating. Everyone does it, and everyone who still does it is still lonely. I ponder keeping my knit ties, just in case. I think “Every girls crazy about a sharp dressed man,” and wished I wanted to dress nicer.

Back to the topic. I have gone walkabout. I was in a mope. I couldn’t see any of the positive surrounding me. I was melancholy about the past and my obvious failures. I had morphed into becoming the failures rather than having them. It had become apparent to me that I was destined to living life as “The Dude,” and my soul purpose was to have my rug not peed on. Beck sang in my head, “I am a loser, baby, so why don’t you kill me.” I had lost my smile, my joy, my love. I hadn’t lost it, I gave it away.

I had a few experiences, recently, that bitch slapped me awake. I had a patient complaint filed. Sounds odd, but it was sort of a nuisance complaint. Complaining about a doctor giving you medication and when you filled it, took it, and 3 days later had an unrelated side effect, isn’t all that sound. Still it bothered me. I like being a doctor, just not being punished for being a doctor. Our current system punishes medical people for trying to help. Nasty system. Then, I had more than one person tell me to choose my path. I just needed to decide where I wanted to be headed, they proclaimed. Novel concept, choose to be happy or growing. Then finally, my ex girlfriend told me to leave her alone. I miss her and love her, always will. However, her setting a boundary made me aware that I had slipped back into the idea that it is all about me. I could only see my side of things and had gotten so lost in the darkness, I had forgotten to enjoy the light. I had to let it, and her, go.

So I went walkabout. I decided to just disappear for awhile. I got books on tape and got in my little car and headed out. I decided to visit a friend from high school. We were glued to each other for years and years. I drove down from Idaho to California. My overnight stop was going to be Las Vegas. I had visions of the Rat Pack and figured the people would be the same as 25 years ago when I had last been there. They would scream my name, a la Norm from Cheers. I would have some funny quip and then win so big at the 2 dollar black jack table, I would get comped a room. Umm, not so much. I stopped and watched the slobbering drunks try and stay perched on the bar stools, smelt the cigarettes and alcohol, and recoiled. I hopped in the car and head on down the road. I stopped in Baker, California. I was pretty tired and pulled into the first hotel I saw. It seemed safe, and the rooms were cheap. I was handed the key to room #7. Yep, the key. I pulled in and opened the door. I was transported to the Caribbean, and not in a good way. There was a bed, an 80’s TV, with a cable line attached that draped over a bare wall. The tile floor was clean, but dingy. There was a bed and a chair, that in 1983 must have been brand new and very nice. There was that round table that you had in your first apartment next to the bathroom. The bathroom had a bare bulb and pink tile. There was a mirror that I could see my chin in if I stood on tiptoes. It was the lap of luxury. I laid down on the most uncomfortable mattress I have ever been on. I wondered if the bedbugs would carry me off the bed in the night. I giggled for 30 minutes as I fell asleep.

I got up in the morning, luckily unbitten by the bedbugs and rats that haunted my dreams. I headed down the road and stopped at a 50’s diner in the middle of nowhere. It was great. Campy as all get out, but great.

I watched my friend with his new wife and their baby. We hung out and did nothing. We talked. We just were. Today we will go to a beach, strolling around A town in California. I will go and meditate on a beach North of here for a few days tomorrow. I am not bad, or lost, or “less than.” I just am. I am the guy who giggles at cheesy hotels. I am the guy who rejoices in the campy. I am peaceful and loving. I am the guy who grows and learns. I am the guy who can weather the storms. I am me.newport

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2015 in journey, Uncategorized

 

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change, change, change…change of fools

” I AM OK.” I scream at no one in particular. I don’t feel ok, and all I am doing is trying to convince myself. Somedays,  it works for awhile.

I don’t like being this way. I read an article recently that was talking how some people just don’t let themselves be happy. It suggested that they feel unworthy of good things happening and so they sabotage them. Or they dread being happy or content because it means something bad is going to happen. It has been a long time since I felt truly happy for any duration of time. Decades. Am I want of those people? Am I incapable of living in the world letting water flow off my duck like back?3523448240_77823295a9_b I have enjoyed many moments in my life. I have laughed. I have triumphed. I have loved and lost. I have failed and persevered. But, I cant seem to be content.

“I DONT WANT TO BE THIS WAY.” I screamed at no one in particular.

“change,” he whispered back.

“how?” I blubbered.

“Be and Do differently.”

There was a time that I just felt at ease. I drove a school bus for 18 months or so. One morning, the Sun was rising as I checked over the bus. The air was nippy, but not cold. I took a picture and sent it to my girlfriend at the time. It was only a fraction as beautiful as I think she is. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of contentment. I had no money, no real prospects at the time. The love of my life lived 500 miles away. But I was safe, I was warm, I was loved. It lasted all day. I relished the feeling and didn’t want it to ever go away. I held on too tight. It slithered through my fingers like squeezing play doh.squeezing-playdough I didn’t see that I was sabotaging myself and my happiness by being desperate. I lost it.

“It hurts.” I whispered.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2015 in journey, life

 

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wear the mask or forgive

The boy was dirty. He smelled bad. He had rolled around in the gutter of life and ate from the trough of despair. He cowered and was skittish. If you could bare to watch him for any length of time, you could see intelligence in his eyes. You could feel the desire to be loved and to love completely. Inside, he knew this wasn’t how he wanted to be but had no idea how to change it. He had grown to believe the taunts and hurtful rantings of others as they walked by, giving a wide birth. He was not worthy. He was a waste. He was slime.

“Oh, you will be a wonderful Christian soldier.” “You are a boy who is a leader.” “Come, and be with me and we will have a picture perfect life.” “If only you could see you as I see you.” Oh, the words she said. They felt good. They rang so different. They felt like someone was actually speaking his language for the first time. It almost didn’t matter what it was she said, he was ready to absorb it all. He felt as the lepers must have felt when Jesus touched them. Finally, someone told him he could be redeemed. All he had to do was become what this girl told him he already was. He wanted to be the person she saw. He wanted to be loved for filling that role. He wanted to see himself through her eyes. He wanted to not have to eat from the trough. He tried to fill the role. He wore a mask of beautiful white because he thought that spoke of the innocence he would need to be a Christian leader in a perfect life. mask3 He tried. He knew he would be unable to fully live up to expectations. He understood that the mask had to be protected and secured into place. Without it, he was not that person and surely would be unlovable. The mask was stifling. The mask burned his face. The mask began to crumble and the boy wanted to let it go. He was resentful at having to wear it. He was afraid of not wearing it. He cried behind it. The mask fell. The woman rejected what she saw and he walked away.

“You are so strong.” “You are so kind, so good.” “I love you so much for who I see.” “If only you could see yourself as I see you.” Oh the words she spoke. Certainly, she must be right. He was strong. It took strength to keep living. He was kind. He wanted desperately to see himself as she saw him. He started out just being himself. She seemed to respond and he was gloriously happy. “I don’t think you need to remember your days of filth.” “I wonder if the language you speak is true.” “I wonder if I see you.” He panicked. He worked harder at being the man she saw. He climbed, he searched, he held secret the pain. He hid behind a new mask. mask2IT was bright colors and fun. He tried to smile to match it. The pain he felt overwhelmed him and he had to drop the mask. He didn’t want to and it took a long time to fully let go. He loved the fun. He loved the woman. He wanted to be the person she saw. He just wasn’t. The mask fell.

“I wish you would see yourself like I do.” “You should be doing your life in this way.” “When you finally figure out the right way to do things, I will love you like you should be loved.” IT had been a long time since he had felt anyone really wanted to be with him. She wanted to make him a better man. She wanted a companion that could live up to the ideals she had created. He had struggled and fought to find out who he was without a mask. He thought he was equipped to be that perfect match. She echoed the sentiment. The mask was utilitarian.mask1 It was slate gray. It had little life, but followed all the rules. It wasn’t comfortable or fun, but it was exactly what he expected. He wore the mask, but his feet kept dancing and he shuffled right out the door.

He moaned that he couldn’t seem to become what anyone wanted. He was just himself. He was hurt and bruised. He ached to love and be loved. He knew the past would haunt him forever. He had made such monumental mistakes that no one would ever see past them. He felt lower than when he wallowed amongst the pigs. He looked to God and yelled, “I wish you could see me as you see me.” He cried.

God whispered back, “No, you don’t and you can’t.”

“Oh great, even God can’t get over my past.”

“No, to see you like I see you is both glorious and heart wrenching. I see your good and your bad. I see your heart and your fear. You don’t want to see the disparity. You don’t want to see the whole. You focus on either the good or the bad, never both. You can’t see you for who you are until you forgive yourself like I do. You won’t ever stop hiding and running behind the next mask until you are able to embrace ALL of you. My wish for you is that I wish you could forgive yourself as I forgive you.”forgiveyourself1

“I can try.”

“Let it happen, it is already there.”

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2015 in faith, journey, life

 

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live, life, and love

At first, I was afraid. I was petrified.

I am not sure why this song keeps ringing in my head as of late. I have been on both sides of that song, I have been the survivor and the one who hurt with goodbye. I have even been both at the same time. I don’t like either role, however.  don’t get me wrong, I admire my perseverance and ability to survive for some nasty life circumstances. However, that isn’t really the crux of that song.

I have some odd intimacy issues that I am working through. I would even say that I was dangerously close to a relationship addict. I was certainly in a 20 year marriage that had a multitude of addictive characteristics.  After I got out of the marriage and started dating a wonderful woman, I slid right back into some of those destructive habits. It is all I knew and a coping mechanism for some very hurtful internal struggles. I am so thankful the experience revealed some pretty core issues I needed to work on. I am also pretty remorseful that it cost me a love relationship and my best friend in the process. My fear was of being alone. I “kept thinking I could never live life without (you) by my side.” I was petrified that I needed someone by my side to tell me I was ok or I wouldn’t be ok. I feared being alone and clung to people.  However, I also was smart enough to know that would eventually be annoying and smothering. I was afraid of attaching and I was always on alert for who I would date next if the person walked out the door. My fear and internal chains led me to feel sorry for myself and state false bravado. Id push women away, desperately wanting them to stay.

When they got sick of it and left, Id go the other way. Id be in a panic that I was alone. Id start to fear loneliness. What if I never loved again? What if I was never loved again? I’d see myself as unworthy, unlovable, undesirable. My chains would get tighter. Id choke.  If someone did come back, Id fear the hurt more than desire the connection. Id send them away, proving to myself that I wasn’t worthy. Laying down and dying would have been less painful. I had crumbled, and pieces have much more surface area to accumulate pain.

I used to think that survival was the goal. It sounds so strong in the song. Follow that up with I will stay alive and I heard power and hope. The truth for me is that neither one is all that worthy of a goal. Both imply existence, which is a good start for sure. However, they are not dynamic. Survive and live are akin to existing. You can exist and sit on the couch. You can exist and not grow. You can exist in a shame marriage. You can exist and wear a mask, cowering from interaction and your true self. You can exist in darkness, blotting out existence. You can exist and be afraid. You can exist and be petrified, solid and frozen forever.

The goal is living. Living into each moment. Embracing growth and change. The goal is living who you are and who you are becoming. The goal is perpetual journey into a better and better version of yourself. The goal is to know that when we are alone, we are the same person as when we are not. The goal is to not be afraid of true intimacy with ourselves. I needed to embrace me. I needed to know that when I sent me out the door, I had lost my best friend, my true companion. I needed to know that I could exist without my true self, but I could never live. If I was willing to be accepted or rejected by someone else and maintain my journey, I would grow. I would be able and available for a dynamic, truly intimate relationship.

I do have all my life to LIVE and all my love to give. It has to start inside.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in journey, life

 

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