Tag Archives: understanding

Maybe It’s Not Them

What is it that makes people think that if you don’t talk about something, it (or they) will go away?

Present company included. For the longest time, if something came up or someone close to me acted a certain way, then I would do everything in my power to look the other way and hope that it will sort itself out. And the funny part is that it did, or at least I thought it did.

If there was some situation that I needed to address at work or at home, just look the other way and act like I know what I am doing. For God’s sake don’t ask what is going on or try to get to the root of the problem. That would be too much like work. (Gasp!) Eventually something else will come along and that first situation will not be so important, or even better, the situation takes care of itself and then I can stand back, throw my hands in the air and act like I knew nothing about it and none of the ramifications would be my fault. That was my MO, my modus operandi, my method of operation.

Didn’t talk about family issues outside of the house, for fear that “someone find out.” Find out that we weren’t perfect? That we have issues just like every family in the world?

And now Facebook comes along and I am sure that a lot of people that grew up before the internet age (yes, there was life before the internet) are just rolling in their graves because everyone’s dirty laundry is being aired for the world to know about. I was recently warned to be careful about what I put on Facebook, because people might find out stuff about me that could be embarrassing.

eccentricEvery family has someone that is not “normal”. Maybe I am that person in my family. I have done some things in my life that I am not proud of, things that hurt my family and probably embarrassed them. It has gotten easier over the years to talk about some of them, but there are some that are just too taboo to even bring up. In fact there is a good chance that I am the only one that still thinks about them.

But one thing that I have learned very recently is that these things do not go away. They get buried inside and fester and wait, they are very patient. They build up resentments, either against another person or more often than not against myself. I had to do some very serious soul searching and get all of these issues written down on paper, and then talk to someone about them. There was no other way I was told, that if I wanted to start healing, then they had to come out.

Now I didn’t go off half-cocked and start telling everyone that would listen all of the sordid stories of my past, but I did find someone that I knew that I could trust and I told him everything. I talked about things that I had honestly planned on taking to the grave with me. It was a cleansing of sorts. It was amazing the amount of (self-inflicted) pressure that it took off of my shoulders, just being able to get it out, after almost 30 years of just trying to bury it.

What is my point? Just that we often condemn people for being different, for not being like us. That too often that person is just looking, crying out for someone to listen to them and to try to understand why they act like they do. We were just talking last night about a famous comedian who admitted that he often locks himself in his bedroom for days at a time when he is not performing. Robin Williams, one of the funniest men I have ever heard, committed suicide. They try to make us laugh, to feel good about ourselves, but who does that for them? I guess we figure that if we see someone acting a fool and cracking jokes, that he is happy. That might not be the case, at least it wasn’t in my situation. I always tried to put on a happy outer appearance so that people would not try to get inside, it just seemed easier that way.

empathy-quoteI am as guilty as anyone for shunning people for being outrageous or eccentric or just plain different. And I need to stop judging them and maybe, just maybe get to know them a little better, to understand why they are like they are. I know how it feels to think that you are being shunned, so you try to be something that you are not just to get acceptance, just to fit in. And for anyone that I ever did that to in the past, I apologize.

So for all the eccentric aunts and uncles, for all the “Cousin Its” out there that are shunned or cast aside because you are not like everyone else, keep being yourself. You might not be the one that needs to change!

Mark



My Best Comeback Ever!

You know those conversations that come to an end, sometimes due to an awkward silence or from someone saying something that you do not agree with, or don’t have a good answer so you just stand there gazing at them, mouth open in defiance but nothing coming out, but then some time later the perfect response hits you…..but it is too late because the conversation has ended?

Happens to me too often to count, but usually I let it go after a little while of stewing while the other person has completely forgot about the conversation and has moved on with their life. But there is one conversation, OK, one set of conversations that happened in my lifetime that I never ever gave the right comeback, until now.

When I was growing up, I was the only son of four kids, worse yet I was in the middle so I wasn’t the oldest and wasn’t the baby. Today that doesn’t really matter, but it does when you are growing up, but that is not what this is about.

This is about being my Father’s only son. The one that he expected the most out of and pushed because he believed that I could achieve greatness if I “just applied myself”. That no matter how good I did at something, he never wanted me to rest on my laurels and accept that it was the best I could do. That there was always something better out there if I wanted it.

“You’re smart enough to do anything you want, if you just get off your ass and do it. Stop making excuses.” he would say, usually after I had just screwed something up. “Your mother and I believe in you, we are your biggest fans. Nobody can ever love you like your parents do, remember that!”

And I would sit there and listen, waiting for it to be over, usually nodding my head when he asked me a question, which usually evoked a “I can’t hear you, talk to us!”

So I would say something stupid like “OK” or “I understand” which was usually followed by a “I promise NEVER to do it again”, which we all knew was a flat out lie. I have heard the term “Foxhole prayers” used when people pray to God that if He just gets them out of this mess, that they would never put themselves in that position again. That is what I basically did with my Dad. He got me out of so many jams throughout my life, way more than I deserved. But I hated going to him to ask for help because of the way I felt after one of his “lectures”. How disappointing I was to him and how he knows I can do better if I wasn’t so lethargic. That if I lost weight I would feel better about myself and would not be so damn lazy, watching TV all day instead of being out playing like normal kids. Or how I didn’t apply myself in college and ended up dropping out because I had no ambition. Or how I had lost every job I ever had because I “took the easy way out” instead of going by the rules.

Well, you know what? It hit me this morning that I had the ability to give that man a comeback that I never thought to use. One that would have probably shut him up and know that I was a good person and that I was going to be OK eventually. Maybe because I never used it, I never got better until recently.

My Dad passed away a couple years ago and I miss him, we all miss him. He was a good man that worked hard to give his family everything they needed and most of what they wanted. He wasn’t perfect, but he did the best with what he knew. I am sad that I did not realize how much I would miss him until he was gone, but I know he is always watching over us and I know that he is still willing to hand out one of those dissertations any time I screw up.

But this time I am going to be ready with the greatest comeback ever. A “zinger” that would stop the world for a moment and that silence would not be an awkward one, it would be a proud one.

After he is done talking, even if it is only in my head, I would stand up, walk right up to him, look him right smack dab in the eyes and say . . . . .

 

 

Thank You Dad!


My Personal Cause

The internet has recently been swept up by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there a cause — social, political, cultural, or other — you passionately believe in? Tell us how you got involved — or why you don’t get involved.

This was the question for the day. For me, there is really only one cause that I am passionate about. . . .Recovery. I am not ashamed that I am in recovery from an addiction. It was bound to happen. Either recover or die is how I look at it. I am not going to go into horror stories of my addiction or preach that there is only one way to recover, all I can really tell you is that I am very passionate about recovery and willing to go to any lengths to recover and to help others to recover.

To me, the only reason that addiction is a touchy subject is that most people do not understand, or even want to understand about it. That used to bother me, but there really is nothing I can do about those people, except pray for them. Pray for them that they get everything out of life that I want out of life. After all, don’t we ALL want the same thing? To find happiness in our lives? To wake up every day knowing that we serve a purpose? Knowing that there are people out there that do understand us and are willing to help us, with the only caveat being that we be willing to help those that come after us. “Passing it on” is what they call it I believe.

As I write, a lot of my thoughts are directed by what I have learned, and what I am learning every day in recovery and hope to learn the rest of my life. I am not any different than you or anyone else, am no longer terminally unique in thinking that no one else understands. Give them a chance to understand, eventually you will find people that do and that will love you with no strings attached. They ARE out there, just have to be willing to let them help. Sounds easy, harder than hell!

That’s all I got today.

See Ya

Mark


The Serenity Tunnel

He was fuming when he got home.

“Don’t talk to me!” he yelled at his wife as he brushed past her in the kitchen.

“Rough day?” she smiled, knowing what was about to happen. “I unlocked the tunnel for you” she said as she turned back to go check on the kids. This was a regular occurrence at night after work, Tom would come home from work and either something happened on the job, or someone in traffic pissed him off, or he was back to being the leader of his self-proclaimed “Itty-Bitty-Shitty Committee” and needed to unload. It had gotten better, at least now he knew that he needed to find his tunnel and go wherever it is that he went. She never went in the tunnel, he had asked her not to and as long as it was working, she respected his wishes.

He would go in the tunnel, mad at the world and would come out relieved and relaxed and ready to be part of the family again, a wonderful part of it. She had asked about where the tunnel had led to several times, but he just told her that it was personal and he wasn’t ready to share it with her, but that some day he would. Maybe today was the day. She would wait for him and ask.

Sure enough, 30 minutes later he came out and was a different man, the one that she fell in love with and loved with all her heart. He came out, apologized to her as usual, hugged and kissed her and asked how her day was. He always wanted to know about her day before he would tell her about his, something he said that he had to do.

“Did you learn that in the tunnel?” she said, somewhat sarcastically.

“Learn what?”

“That you always need to hear about my day before you talk about yours”

“Yup” he said grinning

“Really?”

“Yup. I think it is time.”

“For what?”

“For you to know about my tunnel.”

“You don’t have to do that, I know it is a personal thing that, for whatever reason, helps you.”

“Come on” he said, taking her hand in his and leading her to the door

For some reason she felt nervous, apprehensive, wondering what she was going to see in this tunnel of his. He led her into the door, into complete and total darkness. It was the kind of darkness that one does not know whether their eyes are open or closed. She walked along, holding on tightly to his arm.

“When am I going to be able to see. . .umm. . . .it?”

“You won’t”

“Won’t what?”

“See it”

“What?”

“You’ll feel it. Come on, hold on to my arm, just a little bit further. Don’t be so nervous, you will love it”

“But Tom, how can I love it if I can’t see. . . . “

At that moment, a feeling came over her like none she had ever felt. A warmth growing from her belly, spreading throughout her entire body, arms and feet tingling, mind no longer worrying or caring about. . . .well, anything. She closed her eyes purposefully and a bright light filled her mind, as if no other thoughts could exist inside her. She realized that she had let go of Tom’s hand and now felt like she was floating in liquid, warm and inviting. She could stay here forever she thought.

What seemed like hours passed, suddenly she realized that she was standing in a dark room

“Tom!!” she yelled

“I’m right here. You OK? Ready to go back?”

“What just happened? That was. . . unreal!” she exclaimed.

“I know, it is what I need to get through most days.” he responded.

“Well, why didn’t you tell me about this before?” she said, feeling a bit of anger and resentment building up against her husband for keeping this to himself.

“He told me that it was not time.” Tom replied.

“He? Who the hell is he?” She demanded.

Suddenly the feeling came back over her, putting her mind at ease and allowing her to float again, or so it seemed. She smiled as she came back to Tom, “I’m sorry, I just don’t understand.”

“I know you don’t, neither did I. I needed to come here every day for a long time to understand that I will never fully understand how this room works. All I know is that it works, and now I can share it with you.”

“Thank you” was all that she could think to say.

As they walked back the way that they came, she put her head on his shoulder and felt more loved than she had ever felt. Felt like no matter what happened the rest of the day, everything would be OK.

“Tom?”

“Yes”

“How did you find that place?”

“I don’t know to be honest, something just told me to go through the door and I did. Guess I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired, all the anger in the world, the rat race, not feeling like I was being a good husband to you or a good father to the kids, and something told me to go there and that it would be OK.”

“Who is he?”

“What?”

“You said that he told you that I wasn’t ready.”

“I never said that you weren’t ready, just that it wasn’t time. Wasn’t time for me to be able to share this with someone else, no matter who they were. That I had been so self-centered and ego driven for so long, that I had to work on me before I could even contemplate helping someone else.”

“Oh. I don’t know what to say. Thank you I guess for picking me” she said.

“There is no one else that I would want to share it with first.” he said and kissed her on the cheek.

“Aww” she started to tear up. “So, are you going to tell me who he is?”

Tom smiled and opened the door so that they could exit the tunnel.

“Sure. . . .He is God.”


Terminally Unique

Too many times in my life I have been in a group of people saying to myself “I don’t belong here”.

Too many times I have wanted to be part of the conversation, just not sure how to “fit in”

Too many times I have missed out, because I “wasn’t like these other people.”

Too many times I kept quiet because “they wouldn’t understand me anyway.”

I call this being terminally unique.

What I have found out, after years of trying to live life on MY terms, not on life’s terms, is that I am NOT terminally unique. That there are people in the world that know and understand how I feel, that there are people in this world that have gone through what I have gone through and are willing to share their experiences with me, good and bad.

Life is such a precious commodity, and we only have one shot at it. Sounds corny? Don’t care. Being terminally unique leads me to a bad place in my life, it is a lonely, dark place and I know that I am not the only one that is there. I hear the stories, I read the stories, I see the stories. We are all unique, yet none of us really is.

Share something with someone, or even better, be willing to listen to someone that needs to share. Look for the similarities, not the differences. Give someone a chance to spend a little time in your heart, even if it is just for a moment. Gotta start somewhere.

All of this advice is directed at me, but if anyone reading can use any of it, then I have proven my point. I just spent the weekend with a large group of people that I did not think I would have anything in common with, and as I listened and even shared a little, I was wrong. We might have taken different roads to get there, but we were there for the same reason. We want something better for ourselves, we want to be loved and to be able to love. We want to be accepted and to be able to accept others.

I know that at least one person that I was with this weekend is going to read this, so thank you for allowing me to spend time with you. To allow me to grow just a little bit more as we trudge along this road of happy destiny.

With much respect

Mark