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kaboom my guts

It’s about a guy trying to hold it together while it all falls apart.

Truer words were never spoken. There is a panic. There is a desperation. Remember the scene in Forest Gump where Bubba is sitting there after being shot and he is trying to put his guts back in? Bubba does this amazing job of portraying the madness. He focuses on picking up his spilt entrails instead of the inevitable fact that he is totally screwed. His life is completely over, a moot subtext, a lost cause and he is trying to do the scoop and run with his alimentary canal.

I have felt that odd necessary sense of denial. IT is like the truth eludes you. It feels like at that very moment you have to believe in a unicorn because the horse is in the desert with no name. There is a scene in my life when I was shot. It was self inflicted, and more emotional then physical. I had a moment in time that I was holding all of my life in my hands. I was holding my career, my business, my wife, my kids, all of it, in my hands. I knew it was no longer part of me, but all I could do was to ask people to help me shove it back in. I knew in an instant that the horse that was wondering the desert was me. I knew I wouldn’t ever find my way back home and I had no idea how to move through the desert.

I asked many people. I begged for solution. I went to church, spiritual retreat, AA, talked to the guru, no one knew. I wondered and tried to bury myself in the sand. I remember the pain of losing my daughters. I can feel it anytime. It is devastating and humiliating. I want to fix it, I want to go back. I have this image of trying to put the pin back in the grenade.

It took my a long time to take any steps at all. I stood and peered into the distance in every direction. All I could see was absence. I couldn’t see anything.  I have friends that talk about the darkness. To me, it was blinding light. The heat was unbearable.

It has been years since that. I took cautious steps. I stumbled, bumbled, ran, walked, tripped, fell and got back up again to do it all over. Every once in awhile I get a reprieve. I get a text from my daughters. It is a moment of bliss as I trudge in the heat. Or I will get a kind response to an email, a friend reaches out. There are moments. Sometimes they are uplifting, sometimes remind me of the pain. However, I wouldn’t  ever not receive them. It is a blessing. Its a glimpse of the unicorn and I believe it.

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Posted by on May 14, 2017 in children, journey

 

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up, up, and away

I was a pissy guy yesterday.  I had no idea why. I tried all kinds of remedies to shake myself loose from the torment to no avail. I treated myself to a dirty chai, I lit the firepit and sat outside, I went to a 12 step meeting. I talked to people, I prayed and meditated. Nothing. I woke up this morning with the answer and a hot air balloon analogy and two applications for it. So, instead of choosing, you have to read both.

It was three years ago yesterday that I committed my mistake. IT lead to the dismantling of everything I knew to be. IT would be today that I would be asked to leave my home and kids. I would live in the basement at my brothers’ house for several months. The job would end, the business fail, the marriage erode, and my kids would turn their backs on me all together. I would lose everything I had know to be true. Well, most things. I would lose my family, but I would grow very close to my Dad and younger brother. I would lose my business and career, but gain humility and the understanding I am more than what I do. I would lose many friends, but discover what true friends are. I would lose my identity, but gain an understanding of my perseverance and character.

The first analogy is thinking of the past as a hot air balloon ride. I have been stuck in the past the last few days and forgetting to admire the beauty of the ride. I started the day of the past very early. I unloaded my gear and began the process of checking out the contents. I opened my hot air balloon and spread it out on the grassy field. I put in air and then added life to it with a firey passion. The sand bags of remorse hung over the side of the gondola as the balloon stood up in the air. I strained against the remorse and used more heat, hoping to overcome it. I had left the ropes attached, fearful of letting go. I wanted to be aloft and I feared it at the same time. I held onto the past, making it fit the present. I strained to reduce the passing of time to make it more 2 dimensional. I was holding on and wanting to let go at same time.  I stopped fighting it. I eased on the heat and addressed the fear. The fear was attached to my insecurity, my poor self esteem, my false pride, my ego. I addressed it and thanked each anchor for having kept me safe at some point in my life. I acknowledged its usefulness at that time, and then unhooked the ropes. I lifted each bag of remorsefulness. I looked for the messages of shame and rejected them. I saw in the bags the growth edges and the bags I had already dealt with. Again, I dropped the bags of shame. I kept the bags of stumblings that I could work on.  The balloon soared into the sky. The bright balloon against the blue sky. The dark cranes flew by. The remnant of the moon sinking in the west. It was beautiful for what it was. I let the past drift away, grateful for all of it.

The second analogy that came to me was the balloon as relationship. I have been trying to heal up from a relationship that I messed up. I was afraid, but deeply in love. Truth be known, I will always love her as a memory and person. The balloon of the past has left and I doubt we will cross paths again. It was beautiful for what it was, and I am grateful.

Early in the morning of the relationship, you begin to unfold all the equipment you both have brought. There is excitement and anticipation and some hidden expectations. The anticipation is palpable and electric. You fill the balloon with hot air. The hot air can be the result of the lies issued from the masks we wear or it can be the heat from the passion of true intimacy. It boils down to communication versus contact. I have had relationships of both kinds. I have faked it more often then communicated. I feel relief to be out of the contact variety, I feel regret from the loss of the communication one. I was afraid and misguided in my fear. Either way, as you board the gondola in the relationship, you can either handle the weighty issues and the self imposed limitation ropes with discretion and discernment, or you can throw them overboard and cut the ties with careless abandon. I have tried to discern and deal with them. I did better than I ever had before with the recent relationship, but still tried to ignore some issues without really dealing with them. It lead to a shortened flight and some resentments. The relationship is aloft and it is thrilling . Being present in the moment is the importance at this point. Enjoy it for what it is. Rejoice. As you land, don’t think of the end of the thrill, remember it for the memory of the adventure, the joy. You are still in the relationship even when the balloon is packed away, you are building on the closeness and thrill everyday, even when you don’t float on the clouds. The relationship is the ups and down, the sand bags and ropes, the packing and unpacking. The storing with care, the attention to the beauty in all of it. I will miss that balloon, it was beautiful , thrilling, scary, sometimes painful. The experience and time together was beautiful for all of it.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2015 in divorce, journey, life

 

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umm, one more thing…

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Someone mentioned that book recently. I really like Shel Silverstein’s books and this was no exception. I felt a little superior to those in the room who hadn’t read it. I am a renaissance man. They unfolded it with several different interpretations: the boy was selfish and a taker, the tree an enabler, the boy was direct and could ask for what he wanted, the tree freely gave in sacrificial love. There were many others, but I was horrified and stopped paying attention. For some reason, my relationship with God kept nagging in my brain. Was I in a relationship or was I simply taking and expecting? Was I allowing God to relate to me in the moment or was I denying Him when things didn’t go my way?

In my journey, I have adopted the strategy of not merely apologizing or asking forgiveness, but making amends. I strive to mend the relationship by asking what it is that I need to do to make it right, or to make the person feel whole or in the direction of whole.

Quick side note: If you decide to do this, you will need to explain what you are doing almost every time you do it. I’ve had people ask me to please just say I am sorry.

I have been selfish with God. After my divorce, I was at a real low spot for some time. Our friends felt a need to choose sides, and I lost most of them. My pastors stopped responding to emails. Many of my patients were told elaborate and, most times, embellished stories about me and turned away in public settings. Her family reprimanded me and then blocked me on phones and email. My kids were told horrible things about me and told to call me by my first name rather than Dad. Not a single person asked me my side of the story. I had lost my career and my practice as well. I would apply for 500+ jobs in the next 2 years. I worked cleaning golf carts and driving the tractor to pick up golf balls. (That was really pretty fun.) I drove a school bus. I got 2 advanced online degrees. I bought a house by cashing in some of my retirement money and crossed my fingers that a job would come along. I begged God to help me find work and moaned about Him not getting me a job. I didn’t recognize the amazing gift I was being given. I was being granted a life vacation while I got my heart and head organized. I didn’t see it or take advantage of it the way some people would. I spent time growing and learning, but never went to the alps, finished my book, or created wonderous works of art.

I made new friends and meet new people. The friends I had stood by me, shoulder to shoulder. I also had the opportunity to see who I was independently. I got an opportunity to meet and greet myself. I grew to like me again. I was given the chance to see what true friendship is and true forgiveness could look like. I was held accountable, and loved. I lamented the loss of people I called friends and family. I felt isolated and alone. I still ache at the separation and alienation from my kids. I forgot the God had made sure I wasn’t alone. I had friends and family that supported me, that held me, that held me up.

I realized the other day, while riding my “temple bike”, that I have been blaming God for His followers. I have been upset that Christians gossiped about me, judged and condemned me, ignored me, would not forgive me, moved to the other side of the road as they passed by me. I could not understand why all this was happening to me. I was hurt, lost, scared, and felt alone. I was angry at God. The Truth is that I made the choices that led to my downfall and isolation. The Truth is that despite my actions, God stood shoulder to shoulder with me. He allowed me to breath and regroup. He allowed me to understand myself and to grow. He allowed me to open my heart and mind to live more fully into who He sees me as. The Truth is that God didn’t gossip, judge, condemn, ignore, or pass me by. God forgave me, even before I did it.

“God, I have been selfish, dishonest, and insincere. How do I make it right?”

“I already did.”

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in journey, life

 

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riding roller coasters with God

“Let go, let God.”

“God will provide.”

“God will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.”

“God will not give you more (temptation) than you can handle.”

“It’s a dog eat dog world.”

“Try, try again.”

“Take care of number one.”

I have the strongest grip strength in the world. I have spent 4 decades holding on to whatever my dream was at the moment with the tenacity of a pitbull or Gila monster. I thought that was the measure of a man. Did he persevere? Did he succeed? Did he get what he wanted? In my magnificent magnifying mind, I deserved the best. I had a champagne appetite and a beer budget. When I felt like I had failed, and when I felt I had succeeded, I celebrated. I was fighting my way to the top of the ladder. Isnt that what a man was supposed to do?

Its a long fall when you stand on the shoulders of giants. The ladder was tenuous. It wasn’t made of real material. It was a figment. It demanded energy to keep the illusion alive. It demanded to be believed. I came to question the ladder. I was undergoing a complete psychic change, and looked at my feet on the semi transparent ladder rung. I stared at my hands grabbing on to an American dream that I didn’t believe in. I searched for meaning in my existence. I wanted to share the journey with my loved one, but I couldn’t explain it and she couldn’t understand it. The ladder vanished. I fell. Like the giant in Jack in the Beanstalk, I fell. Like the imagination of the guy in Vertigo, I fell. Like Lucifer from Grace, I fell. Unlike Silly Putty, I didn’t bounce.

In some of the movies, the hero grabs a branch as they fall through trees. In the Simpson movie, Bart hooks a branch with a slingshot. James Bond had “Q” to provide a gadget for just such an occasion. I just fell. I tried to grab branches, but ricocheted off of them like a pinball. I tried the slingshot, hoping to regain my former false glory, it was a cartoon and not real. My “Q” had left the job after 20 years of mediocre effort.

When I hit, and didn’t bounce, I had a some time to consider myself and my affairs. I had nothing left and nothing to do, so it seemed like a good time to take an inventory. A friend of mine has said, “I wish you pain and desperation and no better plan.” Well, his wish came true. I would like to pretend that I decided right there and then to let go of my death grip. I would like to tell you that I now wear a robe and sandles and speak the truth on street corners. I cant tell you that. I decided that I would need to rebuild. I put on a happy face and got to work. I tried everything. I applied for a multitude of jobs. I spent money I didn’t have. I clawed my way into any situation that furthered my cause. I tried and tried again. It is what a man does, right?

In truth, things got a little better. I was more accepting of where I was and when things didn’t go in my favor. I let go of some control because I saw that I didn’t have any. I got better at the serenity prayer and the acceptance of things as they were. I hit a crossroads. I had a choice. Accept a surrender and let God rebuild my house, or try and win and do it myself. I surrendered. I cried and cried again. I spoke to God and said that He could have me. I relinquished my illusion of control. Within 2 weeks, I had a new potential career, a new job, and was getting ready to move to a new state. A few weeks later, I had an opportunity to get my medical license in Idaho and the job I had applied for 18 months prior was still available. It has been like riding a roller coaster without a track. I am terrified and try to grab hold on the safety straps over and over again. I close my eyes, I grit my teeth. I forget to laugh and to enjoy the ride. I forget to look around at the top of the hills and take in the view. I forget to look around at the bottom of the bumps and marvel at where I have been and where I am going.

“God, grant me the eyes to see.”

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in divorce, faith, journey

 

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chance and step

Its my last chance. I knew it going in today. I understood the ramifications. Almost two years ago, I imploded. There isn’t any other way to describe what happened. I made a mistake that spread to a wildfire and burned up everything I knew. The Hayman fire in Arizona was caused by a jilted woman burning a love letter. It was the biggest and costliest fire in Arizona to date. My fire burned one life, and injured those around me. Small in comparison, but I don’t like to compare. Since that ignition, I have applied for 500 jobs, seven state licenses, got two advanced degrees online, tried to change my career path 4 times, and told my story countless times. I have cleaned golf carts and driven a school bus. I have clamored. I have struggled. I have embraced being me in all times, good or bad. I have succeeded in living rather than just existing.

Today was the board interview in Idaho. It is my last chance, it seems. I’ve tried everything else to try and continue my career utilizing my fancy abbreviations after my name. There were four of us there. Dr. Green was from a small town. He laughed nervously and chattered incessantly. He looked like the kid that is in line to go on his first roller coaster. I kept expecting him to run away. He was first to be called and walk down the long hallway. We were all sitting around the lobby of the Holiday Inn Express, staring at each other and trying not to judge, yet failing at both. I personally was like a jack in the box. Every time someone else got called down the hall, I would stroll around and look out the windows. The second sucker was from Oregon. He was a tad bit pompous and knew everything. He was cynical and seemed angry at, well I don’t know what. I had an instant dislike and distrust of him. If you are sitting in a group of reprobates waiting to be interviewed, it seems wise to me not to be pompous, He went second. He strutted down the hall. He was in the room for about 6 minutes. He shrugged off my question about how it went an sauntered out. I don’t think I knew what sauntering was until this moment. He did do it very well. The third was a portly fellow from Texas. He was a pleasant sort, but I had the feeling there was a lot of hurt behind his eyes. I liked him almost as fast as I disliked the other guy. He was in the room 20 minutes or so. He didn’t stop by before rushing out. I hope it works out for him.

She strolled in the room and called my name. I needed to pee, despite having gone three times in the last hour. I couldn’t be that hydrated, my mouth was chalk. I walked down the long hall and into the room. I was introduced to one person who would conduct the interview. He waved at a room of 20 people explaining they would ask me questions afterward. I answered the questions honestly, despite the pain. I got choked up and admitted my weaknesses. I explained what I did and what I have done since then. I was thanked 4 times for being so honest and straight-forward. I was excused after about 10-15 minutes with a handshake and a “don’t call us, we will call you”.

It was my last chance. I almost didn’t do it. I almost ran away like a scared rabbit. I sat there and was honest, brutally honest. I was not full of myself nor scraping and servile. I didn’t hide behind my well known defenses. I lived into my new life path for the first time. (well, not the first time, but the first trial of severe stress, like this) It was my last chance and my first brave step.

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2014 in journey

 

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Trust ME

Ever seen the Jungle Book movie? Remember the snake? I just love the song he sings about trusting him. And he hypnotizes you by staring in your eyes and making little pinwheels out of your pupils.

Is that what you feel like whenever someone says, “Trust me”? Me too. I have heard the words so many times that I have a visceral reaction to them. When I hear them, I actually trust far less than I did moments before, sometimes. I want so desperately to believe that the person is trustworthy. I have applied for some 500 jobs in the last 18 months. I get calls from recruiters, job opportunities, salesman, whatever. Invariably I get the reassurance that this person will figure out how to get me a job. The conversations end the same. I ask when I should get back in touch with them. They say, “I will get back in touch with you, trust me.” I am thinking on saying, “If you are going to say that I should “Trust you”, then we should not continue this conversation.”

I realized this morning, with the help of someone dear to my heart, that I have been hearing that as “Trust that is will happen.” I have been setting up expectations to the trust declaration. Perhaps what I should be hearing is “Trust that it might happen” ie that there is hope. Trust that the journey will continue, not the destination. Perhaps I should also focus on the trust what is happening. Taking the opportunity to enjoy the flowers, the birds, the world (I mean, heck, how cool is it that God designed colors that when mixed make other colors?) and trust in its reality.

This morning, I am having a great day. It is what it is. I am trusting into the moment. I am present and alive and loved and warm. I am trusting that possibilities still exist. I am trusting that each moment will be that moment. I am trusting that God mixes blue and yellow to make green to delight me.

Maybe I am hypnotized.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in journey, life

 

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soar or sore

“I feel like a bandaid.” a friend of mine said.

“I don’t know who I am.”

“I don’t remember the last time I laughed like that.”

“I am afraid of the future, remorseful of the past.”

“I am not…”

“What makes your heart soar?” “I don’t remember.”

It is the oddest thing to have such a strong desire to soar and feel stuck like a bandaid. A bandaid on a mortal wound. Trying desperately to hold the bleeding back as it seeps around you and through you. Trying with all your might to heal the wound underneath. Knowing that if you stay, the bleeding will continue, but afraid to let go and soar.

I know, logically, that we are not meant to be stuck to the wound. I know we are to live into life abundantly. I know that God wants us to soar despite the wound. But I hold onto the past, thinking if I just cling longer or better it will be healed.

I made a list of all the things I was sore about. I dug deep into my pain and the pain I passed to others. I made amends wherever possible. I thought I had held together the wound. The wound festered. As it oozed blood and pus, I deluded myself into thinking I had done a good job. The tidal wave of infection and debris pushed against my resolve to cling on. The pressure was tremendous as I imagined that I couldn’t let go, that I was doing a good job. I tore loose with a loud pop. I fell to the ground and was covered with the filth I was holding back. It showered me. It covered me. It drowned me.

God reached down. He sat next to me and held my hand as the filth ran off me. He sat with me as the ooze slid away. As the wetness dried away, and the ooze left, he whispered. He leaned over, kissed my forehead, said He loved me, and he whispered. He whispered, “Soar.”

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in faith, journey, life

 

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