Cool Stuff

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cheerful And Chippy

Whoa...I think this just might be a post I need to be careful about because I'm tired and I've been prone to some feelings of frustration as of late. I don't want that frustration to dominate what really has been a good experience overall with my surgery being taken care of. I feel good, considering all that has happened and I'm healing, ever so slowly. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good.

I can now look forward a bit, past the immediate medical concerns to a bit brighter future. Yes, there still are some medical issues I have to be concerned about but this was a major step in the process and a great relief. I can already feel the difference with the Acid Reflux (GERD), it basically is gone, poof..does not exist. That's nice....

SO I'll leave it at that for now, just trying to get back on my feet, keeping it all rather simple if I can. I have a ride to and from church in the morning if I want to go which is nice. So I'm turning in for the evening. I'm pretty darn sore but feel mostly cheerful yet still a bit chippy as well..I would say that's probably right where I'm expected to be just 3 short days after this surgery.

It's Wide Open...

I enjoyed watching the sun peep up over the horizon this morning. I never get tired of seeing the very first light of day followed by the's inspiring.

I too feel somewhat inspired, I'm quite happy with how I feel this morning, just two days after surgery. It is too early in the process to start thinking it's all over because I still feel hurt and I have to take this recovery thing slowly but the progress is encouraging, none the less.

I like to take advantage of life experiences like this one to go back and review what I truly have to be grateful for...and the list is a LONG one! How cool is that...just a few short years ago I felt to the very core of my being that I had absolutely NOTHING to live for and now I see all of these amazing things going is truly incredible.

So sticking to my commitment to try and take things easy, I'm going to keep my posts (and time in front of the computer) shorter, to the best of my ability.

I hope the prospects for having a wonderful Saturday day, my dear readers are as wide open and hopeful mine appear to be here...

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's Getting Better...

Well, well..this is what the "other side" (of surgery) looks like, far out! I survived the procedure with flying colors, it was successful and though I feel like I've been run over by a bus, I feel remarkably well. I'm on the mend. I got a lot on messages/emails from readers and I thank you very much. Perhaps I'll be a better writer now, hmmm....

I had a rather rough night last night and this morning wasn't any better. A lot of pain, I just couldn't relax or sleep. The one benefit of that was (and I'm not kidding)was I got to watch the Royal wedding. And I enjoyed it...that doesn't surprise me because I appreciate history and that was an historic event in British Royal History.

I believe William and Katheryn will be the best thing that happened to the monarchy, bringing more around toward the people a bit more. They achieved some of that goodwill today.

But other then watching the wedding for 3 hrs, I didn't feel good at all. Then I get home...and really nothing is different but the change in how I feel is remarkable. I feel much, much better then I did. More energy, I actually slept for awhile and just feel more serene.

Healing at home is much better. I know they try hard at the hospital but my stay there was much more of a nightmare then it needed to be...I'm just glad I only had to stay one night.

Thanks again for all the positive thoughts and wishes, they mean a lot. And I should continue to get better each and every day...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

See You On The Other Side...

Last night as I was writing a post for this blog I was feeling calm and relaxed, serene...I had a good night for me, I got a bit of sleep and overall the night went well. I do detect that I am a bit tense this morning.

As I fed Zoe (The Cat pictured above)I found myself thinking hard about the surgery, not being able to eat...and what happens if things don't go well, if you know what I mean. I walked outside to get the morning paper (oddly it wasn't there yet which is really unusual at 6a)and stopped in the driveway for a few minutes.

It rained hard last night, there were puddles in the yard. It is rather windy and a tad on the cool side but it felt good to let the breeze blow over me. I just stood there in silence, listening to the wind. I stayed there for a while and I felt the wind just blow the tension right out of me...Thanks God.

I don't know what today will bring, I have a really good surgeon, he know's what he's looking for, I have a lot of people who love me thinking about and praying for me. I just know that it's going to be all right.

Once again, it was fortuitous that they moved the time of the surgery up 4 hours. Otherwise I'd be awake right now with 7.5 hrs to go until surgery time instead of 3.5, that really makes a difference.

Well the next time I post I'll have a re-configured stomach, I hope that makes me a better, funnier more clever writer, hehe! So I'll see you all on the other side of surgery...

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Well things seem to be going my way with this whole surgery thing. I had been prepared for the 2p surgery though waiting until then with out water and food was going to really suck.

But the hospital called me while I was out to dinner (My parents called it my Last Supper!)and said they wanted to move it up 4 hours to 10a. "Thats Cool", I answered! So I don't have to suffer nearly as long now before getting the knife...r, Scope, I mean.

I figure this is a darn good sign, that things are starting to align and so I feel very peaceful and serene. I'm really in a good place with this whole situation. I will be just peachy and in the case somethings goes wrong, I'm OK with that too...I'm totally ready for that as well.

I'm really still feeling the positive energy and love that comes from having such good friends who are standing with me during this tough time of illness. They are always there for me and I love them for being who they are.I don't deserve such wonderful friends but there they are, right by my side.

I also know My Creator, God is with me always and I feel an incredible strength & power in the knowledge of his presence. So I'm ready for battle...

I don't feel anxious, I'm the type of person who has looked up all the info on the procedure the Doc will do, pictures in all. I really feel better knowing how it will be done. My questions are all answered, everything at home is squared away so now I just have a few more hours to wait.

I suppose I'll probably post something in the morning if I'm up early. I liked to wake up, shower and leave for the hospital but it rarely works that way for me. I probably will use my mobile App to post that all is well for my friends that read this blog and who don't use FaceBook. So, next stop...TOMORROW!

It's Surgery Folk's...Not a Burial!

At least twice today (so far) I have had people refer to me either in past tense (Thom, you always WERE a great friend...)or talk about me like I'm just about GONE (We've really appreciated your help, we're gonna miss you).

Hey folks, this may be a revelation to some: I'm not dead yet nor do I plan o being dead any time in the near future.OK, I'm glad we cleared that up!Someone could get the wrong idea!

Seriously, it's been a day of serious goodbyes... every time I see a friend or neighbor I won't see until after the surgery tomorrow there is kind of this heaviness to saying "see ya later". The guy that runs the golf course gave me a serious "Hang in there Brother, see 'ya on the other side" yesterday when I saw him last.

I have to chuckle but at the same time I gotta say "Can we please lighten this whole thing up a bit, huh?!". I know it's a serious surgery, any time they work on one of those important organs or another critical part of your body (like you STOMACH, for instance)it is a big deal. i get that but once the show starts it's all out of my hands anyway. I just think it's important to stay focused and positive about the whole thing.

And for the most part, I am. And I love these folks, my friends in a big way. I think that may be another thing that is unusual...I never really had a lot of friends, today that is totally different. It's funny how people react to you when you pay attention and listen to them instead of arrogantly blow them off. They WANT to be your friend.

So today I have many more friends that care about me, it almost overwhelms me. I've talked on this blog about prayer and meditation and the comfort plus serenity that brings me...and it's really a powerful thing. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, I really don't. But whatever does happen, well I know I'm OK with it. I'll deal with it and I feel good about my life. Thats a big deal to me...

So hey, please don't bury me yet, like I said I don't know what will happen but I have a sneaking suspicion it isn't my time to "Push Daisies" just yet.

Keeping The Vultures Away...

Another day has dawned...sort of. It is another day though there hardly seems to be any "dawn", it's rather grey, wet and gloomy outside. I don't feel that way myself though, I wouldn't go so far as to say I feel all sunny, warm and fuzzy inside (that is a very RARE occasion for ME, indeed!) but simply cheerful, fairly positive would be an accurate description.

I find it interesting that when I know I am going to be facing some major event in my life whether it was getting Married, a significant job change or having major surgery, I feel almost unnaturally unaffected by the thought of it...almost numb.

Perhaps that is a defense mechanism of mine but I've sensed that feeling before and I'm experiencing it now. I suppose there is nothing wrong with feeling this way, it comes to me quite naturally so why resist it. I'm not in a state of denial, I just find it odd. I've noticed this kind of trend in me at other times of crisis as well. When things have really been bad, everything just slows down. I've always handled the BIG stuff pretty well. It was the little everyday things in life that I handled poorly!

But I feel pretty locked in to what's going on with my health and the surgery tomorrow. Typical of me I have everything ready already: Cat litter changed and food purchased and set up for a couple of weeks. I'm up to date on all my bills because Sheesh, you don't wanna die and have those freaking VULTURES breathing down my loved ones necks for $$. I have done my weekly chores around here and laundry is caught up so I am truly ready.

I just have one more day to wait. I'll check back later. The posts I've written the last couple of days have really provoked some interesting thoughts so I suspect there may be more stuff coming along those lines...

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Wind Will Blow It Higher...

Steven Biko

Well, Well...I'm not as freaking clever as I thought I was, eh!?
In the last post, In Your Eyes I sorta blew it because I used the same words in the title of that post as are in the title of one of my favorite songs of all time: In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel.

I loved that song when it first came out as a single because of the haunting lyrics, the rhythmic melody and the sing at the end by Youssou N'Dour a Sengalese Singer and percussionist. His haunting wailing as the song closes gives me chills to this day.

This song combined with another Gabriel classic BIKO (written about slain S. African Activist Steven Biko whose picture graces the top of this blog post tonight) became constant musical companion songs for me for years. With my interest in History, I really became enthralled with the story of Steve Biko and those who worked and fought Apartheid with him. I recommend to any reader who hasn't heard of Biko to look up his story. It is because of men like Steven Biko and nelson Mandela of course, that South Africa is today FREE.
Nelson Mandela

Peter Gabriel's music of that era, incorporating black S African musicians into his band, helped spread the word to the young, the music lovers and new activists around the world playing at concerts for Amnesty International and the Nelson Mandela Concerts.

So I would have to say that I am thankful a couple of regular readers busted me chops on the "In Your Eyes" post title being the name of a really good song because that lead me back to those days when I listened to that music. It's been a great deal of fun listening to the various versions of those songs.

I must have missed something because I can no longer embed you tube videos on my blog posts so i'm not sure what happened so instead I've included links at the bottom of this post.

This post was written in highest tribute to and with loving memory of Steven Biko 1946-1977

In Your Eyes...

I was thinking about the title of the previous post: Storm Coming and it reminded me of a song lyric in the U2 song Running To Stand Still, a song about Heroin addiction of a couple living in Dublin. There is a line where Bono sings about the "Storm Blowing Up In Her Eyes"...whew, the lyrics get to me even today.

I've tried shooting dope, Cocaine, synthetic Morphine and yea, heroin but other then getting totally strung out on snorting Coke I never became the classic "drug shooting junkie"...but there isn't much of a difference when you are Jonesing for your next QT (Quarter Ounce) of Coke and your shaking so hard you feel like your body is going to come apart. looking in the mirror and your not really shaking at all, it's all inside of you....suffice it to say, death at that point seems preferable.

To the best of my knowledge, none of the members of U2 suffered from Heroin Addiction though the bassist Adam Clayton admittedly had a problem with alcohol and quit drinking. So I find it remarkable that BONO was able to pen such lyrics so accurately. And in my experience they are accurate. The lines:

You got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice

I don't know, I can really relate to how that actually feels because I've been there. An addict going through Withdrawal no longer feels Human. Nothing was real any more except my agony: the pain was real and it was the only thing I could feel at that point. So many junkies punish themselves physically, cutting, etc. for that exact reason: they want to feel something, anything!

Sound crazy?! It is, it's insane and there are a lot of people living the nightmare of addiction today. It breaks my heart, really. Now that I myself, have found a daily reprieve from my addiction I feel so helpless when it comes to practicing addicts because they don't get it (yet).

Anyway, that picture of clouds this afternoon, the post title about a Storm Coming and that song lyric combined to bring thoughts of those still out there using to me. I feel a wave of sadness when I think about those still suffering yet, I know now that anyone can break the cycle, if they choose to do it. It isn't easy but it is POSSIBLE.

Storm Coming

Ominous sky now and a less then rosey weather report to go with it so it looks like trouble on the horizon. Whoa...that's a phrase I'm familiar with: trouble on the horizen. The original story of my life middle name was trouble!

Id like to think we moved on a bit from those days but life can still be rough and tumble at times.  I just try a to roll with it...

Well time to close I have an appt at back later!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another Day Closer

Well, I would have to say that was a fairly good way to pass another day on the planet. It was productive, I achieved what I needed to achieve and didn't get wiped out in any form or fashion in the process. I learned a few things, I really made an effort at listening though I have work to do in that particular area but I'm trying. I listened hard for what God was whispering to me, often times through the voices of others...that was THE profound discovery for me...That HE is talking through others.

And I think I'm starting to get it. Sometimes stuff like that takes me awhile but I'm am really tuned in, all my senses locked in on experiencing HIM. And it's been a cool experience for me so I'll just keep moving towards him in everything that I do.

It has been a productive day...things went well enough physically that I could get the things accomplished that I needed to and still felt OK. Anyway I'm another day closer to Surgery Day and that has been the true goal all along, to get the surgery complete....Thats about all tonight, I'm really tired so I'm calling it a day..


Have I mentioned that I am rather screwed up when it comes to my idiosyncracies. For instance, I rather hate being late, no matter what the activity is. So I always arrive early for whatever I happen to have to do. At the same time I really am impatient...go figure! So I isist on always arriving early for stuff yet I sit an figet insessantly the whole time I'm waiting. That's just NUTS ! I realize that now but I still haven't changed much though I'm trying.

This is just one of several funky contradictions that make up the messed up though lovable entity they call...ME. I think most humans are like that in one way or another, they feel strongly about 2 opposite things at the same time. Its just one of those things that spices things up in life and keeps one on their toes whether we like iit or not!

Well that just killed 10 minutes so I think I can make it now without going crazy now. I am also thankful I'm a reader because I'll sit and kill an hour in the airport without thinking about it.

OK I supposed everyone out in Blogville is just thrilled to discover all this nonsense...well now 'yab know!

The Sarcastic Crank Is Dead

The week begins and it should be an interesting week for sure! We seem to be in a rather odd weather pattern here in southern lower Michigan this Spring. And I use the term "Spring" loosely because we've really had more of a long, late, typical Michigan Winter then a true Spring. Of course every one is rather cranky about that, I suppose I'm getting a tad cranky too.

I am usually pretty good about going with the flow weather wise and I'm getting a bit weary of the cold, windy and wet weather we've had for over a month now. The way I figure it, I'll have surgery Thursday and be laid up for a little while and the weather will be gorgeous! I know, I'm being a bit cynical eh?! Cynical is my nature...

Though I do try to keep that cynical side from taking over my entire personality like it has in the past, eventually turning me into a bitter, sarcastic whiner who is never satisfied with his life or the people in it. It's a thin line to walk for me but if I stay focused on what I need to do, that I am responsible for in my life and NOT try and control what others say/do, things stay pretty reasonable all around.

Anyhow this is the kind of week that I would not have handled very well in the past. First of all, I would be totally stressed out, worrying about the surgery. Well that is something I have absolutely NO control over once I've made the decision to actually have it done! So that would be wasted energy...

Plus I'd get everyone around me all stirred and stressed out as well. Shoot, I probably would have started that nonsense 2 weeks ago, everyone would be in a miserable frenzy of tension, stress and irritability at this point a few days before surgery...being around me then was a real treat, I was such a fun guy to be around, eh?!

Er...NO, no I wasn't. I was a miserable, son of a b**ch is what I was and I made everyone around me miserable as well. And I didn't even realize I was having this effect on people. And these were people I cared about, family, friends...I couldn't understand why they wouldn't do what I wanted them to. I resented THEM for it and it was my behavior that was causing the majority of the issues!

Today life is a bit smoother. I have a few things to take care of before the surgery, not a big deal. I am not worried about the outcome of the surgery because it will work out like it is supposed to. I just know it's all gonna be OK, I suppose that's faith..anyway, it works pretty well for me!

So no Mr Freaking Cranky Pants this morning, I just bad a nausea bag wherever I go and live my live. If I ever write about the last few days in a post or book chapter, "The Nausea Bag Chronicles" would be the perfect title because it has been a constant companion though I wouldn't necessarily call it my friend...

Perhaps I will be able to leave him at home or at least in the car today while I am in town!! So me and the new focus on positive thinking have to get our A**'s in gear because the clocks running. Be back later, my friends...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What's Up, Father Time?

Evening has come and the day is winding down. Today has been one of those kinds of days that leave me feeling less then satisfied. I endured it, I made it through but I let my being sick, my illness call the shots for me today and I then reacted to it. Like leaving church early, spending most of a nice day in bed...those are the kinds of things i'm reffering to.

Honestly I didn't have any real choice. When your sick, you do what you have to do but when you have been ill for awhile you typically try and live trough the inconvenient parts and trudge on. You get used to doing stuff while feeling lousy all the time. But there are days when it's to difficult to do that and today was one of those. I'm not going to go into detail, I have already written enough on the negative side. Let's just say it my day was really unpleasant but I'm happy to be alive...

But my ego doesn't like to give in and let the illness have one of my precious feels like a defeat! I know, thats kind of ridiculous to some people but it is the way I feel sometimes. Because of my past, I have really come to appreciate each and every day on the planet. When the day is gone, you can't ever get it's gone forever! And that bugs me, I don't like wasting 'em, as it were.

I have a few more days until I have surgery but I won't lie, I am really looking forward to getting it done. I'm ready for some relief. I know that no procedure is perfect and also that some don't end up getting the result that you expect but you don't know any of that until you get there.

So Father Time, lets get busy Bro, lets speed things up a bit. Hey I'll make you a deal, lets just skip the nights, huh? Sound good? Because the nights really blow for me so I won't really miss 'em if we skip through them. That will cut down on my waiting time... OK, not realistic is it? Alright it was worth a try...

I Smile!

I am grateful for the life I have today. I probably shouldn't have gotten another opportunity at this life, yet I did and I couldn't be happier. In my quest to tell the story of a life in recovery, a day to day story of my life I can often lean towards stark, descriptive, heavy, no BS statements about what has happened in life and how I feel now. And overall those descriptions are accurate and I believe for this blog to fulfill it's goal, necessary.

Unfortunately another important element of TRUTH gets lost in the translation sometimes when I focus on the difficult, challenging areas of life, past, present and off into the future. That is the JOY and LOVE I experience and feel every day. I know this often doesn't come through but I have a good life, I am happy and content and truly feel the blessings my Creator has bestowed on me.

I am guilty of letting my current illness and state of mind hijack my true day to day reality. My friends here in the area recognize some of what they see in the blog and it's recent posts. Sure, they can see the illness, they know I suffer sometimes. But what is missing from the picture I have painted here on Shell Shock of late is the laughter, the goofy banter & light-hearted exchanges with friends, the smiles and hugs that are a regular part of my life today.

Thats a shame and I need to do a better job of representing the true nature of what I am experiencing without leaning too hard on the negative side. Sure it's my reality too but I live a life that even though I am sick, I hurt, I get discouraged, etc. I also at the same time have a lot of fun. I laugh a lot for I believe that laughter is a critical element in our lives. It has such a powerful, healing impact on people.

It would be sad if a new reader to Shell Shock would walk away with the impression that this is sad, all he does is hurt, feeling poorly and get down...what a miserable life. That would really be unfortunate because it is far from my true reality which is:

Though life can be difficult and challenging at times, you can still have a happy active life as you deal with the problems that arise and stay focused on the things that matter: God, honesty, service to others among other things. Staying sober and the life I have because I've made some difficult changes to how I operate, basically I do my best every day to recognize that I can't do it alone. Which is actually not a problem at all because:

I don't need to today!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Some times the anger really gets a hold of me. I am so frustrated right now, I feel so helpless. But that is just part of being ill and I know that there is a plan for me so I just need to hang in there and stay positive. But KNOWING and DOING are two totally different things!

I wanted to represent how sick and powerless I feel here on SSS. The isolation, the loneliness I can feel, how it really can play tricks with your mind. You start to wonder if there really be something wrong in your head because you feel like it isn't good to feel the way you do. It feels like a failure of sort...

OK feeling sorry for oneself is not a good thing and I have learned that lesson on more then one occasion and each time it was memorable so I shouldn't have found it necessary to repeat the lesson several times yet I did. I sure hope I got it this time...

I may have to consider giving up posting on this blog, this is the second time I have been writing when an attack has come on and I just want to scream! This is getting old...

OK Gotta Go..

The rainy cold and windy weather has toned down a bit, at least for one day. I was able to get out a bit this afternoon and do a few things in the yard. That always feels great. Perhaps I'll be up for a walk later. I'm definitely going to try and golf some after I stretch out. I don't have any plans really, I just have a lot of things on my mind.

Going out on the course maybe just what I need to let things go. I know in life that I will make mistakes. I am not God and I have plenty of faults...intellectually I get that but I have a hard time forgiving myself. I also have a difficult time giving myself a break. I'm not sure where i am going with this but I have to let go.

I have some really good things happening as well so maybe it is a matter of holding on while things settle down, I don't know. Talk about frustrating in two minutes of sitting here I am soaking wet, I feel like it's 115 degrees in here and sweat is just pouring out of me. I just can't take this Shit much longer.!!

So much for all the talk about progress, huh> This is awful, it just sucks. The sweating itself is unpleasant but I feel so weak when it happens. OK gotta go...

OK GOD, I'm Ready

It's really been a rough couple of days (nights are the worst). I don't want to come across as being a big baby about this but I am so ill sometimes that it seems it will never stop. But I know Thursday is coming soon and this surgery will relieve the symptoms that have been bothering me the most.

I used to keep this kind of thing to myself, suffer in silence...I think that is why so many folks were caught off guard by my suicide attempt. They knew things were rough, I'd just gone through a divorce, I was sick then too but nobody had any idea how much I was really hurting inside or how empty and hopeless I felt.

I do NOT feel that way today. I have people who care and I believe that God is looking out for me. I feel confident that this surgery will be helpful and it is all part of the plan.

I know of a fellow who is a friend of a friend. He is really suffering from pain and illness. His doctor recently greed to send him to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MI where I just spent 12 days total between 2 visits. I have contacted he and his wife and let them know about some of my experience with chronic pain and about my time At Mayo. It really puts things in perspective to see someone else going through this same kind of experience.

I feel so much of God's Love and compassion for a guy I have never met face to face. I will do anything I can to help. That is the part of life that means the most to me today. I have been given such a wonderful gift yet it's being able to reach out to another person, who really has a need that makes like meaningful.

So I thought about him last night when I felt so sick and the pain was so severe I couldn't move without want to scream. I just said a prayer for him, that God would watch out for him tonight, I know from emailing with his wife that he is really having a hard, hard time.

And there was something about praying for him that made my situation seem somewhat less significant. I sure hope he feels up to having visitors soon, I'd love to chat him up for awhile...we'll see. If it's supposed to happen, then I know it will.

So I hold my head up and keep my eyes focus on HIM, he has helped me every step of the way. I know when I lay down to try and sleep tonight that I am never alone. I feel afraid to sleep because the pain and nausea has been really bad but I will once again just think about this fellow again and his struggles. I know that this will all work out the way the it's supposed to. I'm ready...

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Long Night Already

All right I'm still up, going on my 3rd hour feeling like I'm going to puke only I can't. Welcome to my NIGHTMARE: The Nausea ZONE! Oh I can't forget the multiple bouts of sweats, how freaking miserable these babies are! I'm on my 3rd shirt of the night here and I haven't even thought about laying down yet. That will be an adventure...trying to sleep, eh? It always is.

Well I had my first real problem with my cell phone and cell phone company: SPRINT. Now I have an EPIC 4G PDA and it has been awesome. It's perfect for me because I have no other phone and I can access all the writing and stuff I do online. I make a ton of calls from my car so the Bluetooth is essential.

So I head out on this critical trip and the Bluetooth is on the fritz. Then for the first time in years of using Sprint Phones in my area, the address book jams up, it starts dropping calls and it generally has become totally undependable overnight.

So I did the usual resetting process where you pop the battery out and let it all sit for awhile put the Bat back in and...NOTHING, no change. So I call a tech, night before last and he does a bunch stuff but there is no real way to tell if my cell is really fixed or not because nothing is totally broken. Bluetooth works part of the time so I say Goodbye and sure enough, the next day I'm having the very same issues, ACH.

Spoke to them/SPRINT today and again I had to go through the Whole automated phone process again, that experience my friends is enough to turn a quaker Homicidal!

Anyhow once I got a hold of a tech from SPRINT again they got the proper info and are sending out a replacement. I'm bummed because I was hoping it was an easy fix but it isn't so they will just replace it, probably with a re-condition din. I haven't a clue how to set up one of these phones so that creates some stress but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

So how exciting is That, eh folks! I'm really struggling at night to get some rest but it feels like a red hot poker is being stuck right in my belly. Well I'm almost there to the surgery date and it really seems like there is a fantastic chance of getting things done and taken care of it.

Man the punchiness is setting in so I'm turning in....



All my life I remember feeling this very certain way. Yet it wasn't until the Metal Group Metallica came out with their Black Album in the late summer of 1991 did they give words to that feeling with their song:The Unforgiven.

That was it, that captured what I had felt inside for so long. I was the Unforgiven. At times I reveled in that outlaw concept, F**K everyone else on the planet, I didn't care. I pretty much did what I wanted. I felt unloved and unwanted though as well.

I was married for a about 12 years but I never recall feeling loved or cared for. It was a relationship based on obligation, not love. I don't think I was actually capable of loving someone, including myself and for whatever ever reason, she seemed to have her own struggles with love and showing emotion. I just assumed at the time and for quite some time afterward that I was the problem, I was the undesirable, the untouchable one...I won't speak for her, it is her story alone to tell. I didn't understand it then nor do I really get it know but interestingly enough, it doesn't seem to matter much any more so I've just let it go.

I was miserable and never felt like I could do the right thing in life even though in some of the many ways that our society measures success: a big house, several cars, wealth, travel, a good job...I was considered well off by those standards yet on the inside, I didn't feel very successful.

I mentioned in my post this morning: The FALLEN that because of the things that I experienced in life, particularly the sexual assault as a pre-teen left me feeling dirty, out-cast, unlovable and ultimately: Unforgivable. Because I felt responsible for those things happening, therefore I shouldn't and couldn't be forgiven. I had HUGE issues with SHAME and GUILT.

Heavy, heavy sh*t for a 12 year old let me tell you. Hey it's heavy sh*t for the 48 year old that I am now! I could not separate the act, what had actually happened to me that day, from who I was inside. I made some horrible choices at the time leading me to be somewhere I had no business being...that is what I wouldn't, couldn't accept.

I struggled with the notion that I must be homosexual because of what had happened to me, though I never felt even slightly curious in that way before. I know today that I am not a homosexual and that of course had nothing to do with rape, it was the way I was born. But a child can't process that stuff, it was typical of boys that age to call each other gay or a fa*got. And here I found myself thinking that I was. I did not know who or what I was. Most 12 year olds probably don't, it is an age of awkwardness, of hormones. Man, you add this kind of inexplicable, horrific, catastrophic event into the chaotic mix of feelings, emotions and thoughts of a 12 yr old boy and it's frightening.

This dirty little secret festered for years, out of sight but I knew it was there. Every day when I looked in the mirror I saw THAT battered face looking back at me, accusingly! Oh God how I wanted to die. I really did want it all to go away...

I was with a group of people discussing recovery today and we were actually talking about spiritual relationships and how to deal with issues from the past. One gentleman was talking about how, once you identify what the problem is, you just turn it over to the Lord and it's not a problem anymore. And you put it behind you for good. He obviously had never been beaten and raped as a child...

I suppose that works sometimes with issues of guilt, feelings of wrong doing and a multitude of other issues. But the violent flash backs, the deep emotional scars that never go away, the memories and visions of that day often just flood back over me and often completely overwhelm my ability to cope. And this is 37 years after the fact! And I end up feeling all BROKEN inside again.

Even though my life is so much better today. It's filled with joy,the love and affection of family and friends. I still do not feel loved, I have never felt cherished by anyone the way I cherished another at one time. So I am still feeling alienated by an event that took place nearly 4 decades ago!

I am going to stop writing here, at least for awhile. The emotions I feel right now are getting to intense for me. With it being Easter weekend and me being a brand new Christian, I started out this morning thinking about the Crucifixion and I took off on all the parallels between that and being raped, how I felt so Fallen, untouchable in my pain and hurt.

Those thoughts, memories and feelings have been lingering, tempting and mocking me all day. I feel strengthened by my faith but this evening I feel weary. I feel beaten down or down trodden and am not sure I have the strength to resist.

So I'll pause and perhaps post later, perhaps not. I speculated in that earlier post that I suspected this weekend was going to be a struggle, a deeply emotional time and I thinks it's important to go ahead experience it with my eyes and heart wide open. I do believe I need to feel this stuff, to experience these emotions and work through all the intensity.

I just have to trust that I am in the right place tonight...


jesus crucify
I was raised in the Episcopal Church, half Catholic and half Protestant, at least as far as symbolism and the rituals seemed to go. That was just my opinion for a long time. My father was Presbyterian, my Mum Catholic and they compromised after they were married by going to the Episcopal Church.

At the age of 12, I was an Alter Boy, I was confirmed, I left the church and I was raped, though the sexual assault had NOTHING to do with ministers or any church. That needs to be made clear there was NO connection there except I was 12 years old at the time. But all those things happened to me at age 12. I was fascinated by what Jesus did and experienced in his days before the Cross. The Crucifixion mesmerized me, I simply couldn't comprehend what men, human beings did to the Son Of Man.

From: "The Passion Of The Christ"

My mother told me that whenever the movie Jesus Of Nazareth was on I had to watch it. I've stated here on Shell Shock that once, as a boy I made a crown of thorns and put it on my head to feel what that was like. I had taken my full sized GI Joe, built a rough Cross and crucified Joe making a small diorama depicting that scene on Golgotha that day. And this was long before my sexual assault. Strange, mysterious stuff, indeed...Did I sense what was coming? I guess I'll never really know...

But it was at the age of 12 and after being raped that I turned away from the Church, all of it: the physical Episcopal Church I had attended, my belief in Jesus as my personal Savior...the whole thing. I believe now that I was reacting out of anger and shame. I did not feel CLEAN. I felt dirty because of what happened to me and I felt responsible. I felt like an outcast, abandoned for ever by God and society because of what I let happen to me.

I was 12 YEARS OLD and in my shattered, confused mind my life was over. The Poet/Writer/Musician Patti Smith wrote in one of her most famous works: "Jesus died for someones sins but not mine". That is exactly the way I felt at that time. The entire line from her song Gloria is this:

Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine
meltin' in a pot of thieves
wild card up my sleeve
slick heart of stone
my sins my own
they belong to me, me

I really identified with those lyrics when I heard them long after the event. I felt responsible, those sins were Mine, Mine, Mine, they belonged to Me, Me, Me. That was a sub-conscious chant going on in my head that eventually turned to: You are Bad, Bad, Bad as in a bad person. Then ultimately in my mid-forties that lament, that had turned to I HATE me, HATE Me, HATE Me and what I'd become.

By the time I tried to commit suicide in 2006 I simply hated Thom. I hated everything about me. Lost?! That hardly seems adequate to describe what I really felt like then. It makes me physically sweat just sitting here thinking about that time. I have never before drawn the parallels of my interest in the Crucifixion and my experienced being raped. Never matched the timeline and have just recently realized that I left the church after that had happened.

As I think back on the days when I was so lost, so the best of my recollection I still believed there was a God. I think I felt that he didn't believe in me and I figured: "Why would he?!". I was a horrible person, a failure as a human being. the depth of my self-loathing ran SO deep, that web was so complex that it is shocking to me today that I came out of that situation somewhat intact or survived at all.

Today is Good Friday, my first experience going through the Easter weekend as a Christian. I think it is safe to assume that I will probably continue this story. From being Fallen to Saved. My spiritual life is and has been an important element in my day to day recovery from alcoholism/addiction.

I am fascinated by the visions I had as a young boy. I really had a deep passion to try and understand what happened to Jesus during the days leading up to and including his death on the Cross.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pizza Obsession:The Skiles Tavern Lament

Skiles Tavern
I admit it, I'm totally obsessing over food right now. If you were in my, had my stomach situation right now, wouldn't you!? I can't freaking eat a slice of bread right now without suffering pain. Drinking too much water expands my gut and I suffer...get the picture? So Brother, I'm ready to eat! And I'd probably eat just about anything but what I really want is SKILES Pizza, from Holland MI. Even though they don't actually have this crave an "Endless Pizza PIE" where they keep bringing them until you explode in a shower of cheese, sauce and other delectable ingredients!. It could be a "Skillies" Special (Pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, green olives, onions) or better yet, my favorite of late: a Sausage with double cheese served with a bottomless Root beer...Oh my, I'm going to obsess on that thought for a long while!

thormoo at Skiles Tavern
So I'll take the Skiles pizza or I suppose I'd "settle" for some Chinese grub over at China Inn on Holland's north side...Pork Egg Fu Young, Won Ton Soup and an Egg Roll and a Vanilla Shake from Culvers. All those places are in my old home town of Holland. I've always been rather surprised at the wide variety of killer places to eat that Holland has. I think a lot of it has to do with it's cultural makes: large populations of Mexican and Vietnamese/Laotian immigrants along with it's original Dutch heritage makes for a dynamic mix of ethnic eateries.

Holland is also a large tourist destination with the Tulip Time Festival in May and then it's proximity to Lake Michigan brings in huge crowds in the Summer. I really miss living there some times but I also like my current locale in the Coldwater area as well...

Those two joints (Skiles and China Inn) are my current "food obsession" at least for the day. That just happens to be what I'm Jonesing for at the moment but honestly, my mood changes all the time. This is what happens when you are denied the things you want (like FOOD!), it makes you crazy and that is exactly what has happened to me.

There is one major bummer about all this, though.It is true that the surgery will take care of the Acid Reflux and I will be able to eat anything I like. I don't have Ulcers so my stomach is fine, so I'll be good to go, to eat anything and everything...WHEN I am healed up. Thats the RUB, WHEN I'm healed!

So I will be able to eat Skiles Pizza or China Inn in a freaking MONTH! Oh get it, life is a cruel joke....and whats even more ironic is that I will be on the dreaded LIQUID DIET for up to 4 weeks. Jeez, I'll be dead first! But there is a silver lining there. Remember that Beach ball Belly I have been whining about?! It should reduce in size a bit after 4 weeks of water and gruel. So to get to the promised land AKA know as eating Skiles Pizza and awesome China Inn Chinese Cuisine I have to go on the 4 week Alcatraz Prison Diet of Water and Gruel before I'm allowed to have the good stuff.

Alright, my food fantasy post is coming to a close but for a moment I'll share with you how much having these medical

Square ONE

Whoa, things are getting a bit freaky around here and it's not even Halloween! My last post was titled Nudges and little did I know this morning when I wrote it that I would have that kind of thing going on today. Honestly though I believe we get these little bumps of encouragement or enlightenment, they still are rare enough in my life that I'm taken by surprise still when it obviously happens.

I will admit that I still have things to learn if I'm going to live the kind I life I believe I should: a life based on giving, forgiveness, HONESTY. I still do things that I'm not happy about. I still try to control things. I get embarrassed about something and don't want to discuss it even though I know better. I still make poor decisions some times and I have to live with the consequences. I'm OK with that but I really need to stop the bad decision making stuff.

Some life lessons I've learned in recovery are really just common sense things used day to day. And some of it is new behavior to me. I struggle to ask for help, it is a major problem for me though I have made some progress in that area.

I really do try to live a honest life, giving myself to others and working on those old behaviors that have held me back in the past. It's hard to change, to be more open and ask others for guidance or to help me do something I'm struggling to do on my own.

I've really learned some important lessons about people since I've been sick. It has really impressed me how willing people are to try and help. It has really improved my opinion of human beings immensely!

The funny thing is that even though I have learned these lessons I still have these weird things happen to me that I can't explain and it confuses me...

Last night I was really feeling troubled and a close friend has been encouraging me to ask for help, share my issues with others. That is one of the most difficult things for me to do. I really didn't want to do this but I thought I really needed to,listen to what I've been told so that is what I did.

So I put together an email that laid out my fears and concerns plus some questions I had but when I got finished I was really reluctant to send it along. Eventually I did and I worried about that darn email all night long and into the morning today. I never heard anything back about it which was rather odd considering the subject matter and who I sent the email to.

Now I find that it never arrived! So what happened? Did God intervene...perhaps, I don't know but I agonized over this crap for over half a day for no freaking reason. This kind of stuff really messes me up because I am already confused and now I thought I was doing what I should and it turns into a mystery so I'm back to square one!

My gut really hurts tonight and if I could I would have the surgery right now, lol! I know this post turned into a load of hooey but VENTING is an allowable post option here on Shell Shock Serenade (because I get to make the rules of engagement!). So I am going to close this mess and maybe try some to eat some ice cream and figure out if I have to humiliate my self all over again, ACH I hate this sh*t!


Sunset at Gettysburg

There have been times in my life when I have gotten a little nudge, a cosmic "bump in the night" as it were and anticipated something that ended up happening in my life. I am not really talking about ESP or predicting the future. No, just those little things that happen to all of us at one time or another. I think some of this is just a result of my being sober and more in tune with myself an the world around me. But it's something I'm starting to notice more and more....

When I was 14 or 15 years old we took a trip to the battlefield at Gettysburg, it would be the first of many trips that I have made to that historic and awe-inspiring place. During that trip I walked a large portion of the 2nd and 3rd days field (it was a 3 day battle). In an area called Devil's Den I walked off the trail a bit and sat down on a rather large boulder (seen below in the original picture)to eat the lunch I packed in my knapsack.

As I sat there eating I had the strangest sensation that I had been there before. I jumped off the boulder I was sitting on and realized I was in the exact same spot, well off the beaten path where a famous photograph from the war was taken of a body of a young Confederate Soldier, most likely from a Georgia regiment. He was killed moving up a hill during Hood's attack late on the second day. At that time it looked quite likely that the Battle Of Gettysburg could be the final victory the South needed to secure their Independence. They were driving the Yankees back in a massive and bloody attack...

The young man in this photograph appeared in several more photographs taken the same day (aprox. July 6 or 7, 1863 by photographers Alexander Gardner and Timothy 'o Sullivan, that was 2 to 3 days after the battle ended and 5 days or so after this fellow was killed) His body was picked up and carried 60 yards to a rock breastwork where Gardner took probably the most famous pic of the Civil War "Confederate Sharpshooter at Devil's Den".

Photos: National Park Service

It was the first time in my life that I had felt such a strong and specific connection to a place. I have that happen a couple times since then. What does it mean? I really don't know except that it was an incredibly powerful experience at the time and it never really left me.

Today, I spend a portion of my day (usually in the morning) meditating. Mostly sitting quietly, first in prayer and then just listening. I have to say that doing those simple things each day has revealed to me the significant power of developing a conscious contact with God or the Creator or whatever you wish to call a higher power you may believe in.

I used to believe, that if I couldn't see it, touch it explain it then it couldn't really exist. All I'm saying today is that my mind and heart have been thrown wide open as far as the possibilities of a spiritual life and contact with God go.

I have made no secret of the fact that one of the things that has helped my recovery from alcoholism is the understanding that I am powerless on my own, over my addiction. I tried for years to change, to slow down, to quit...I could not do it. In almost every other aspect of my life, I am a strong willed person and can do pretty much whatever I set my mind to. Except when it came to my addiction and alcoholism. I simply have NO control over my addiction and behavior once I take the first drink or drug.

A belief in a power greater then myself, for me that is God. My Creator has given me strength that I scarcely would have imagined in my old life. I realize in writing a post like this perhaps raise more questions then have answers. That used to drive me crazy, today I understand that is life.

There simply are things that I don't and will never understand. Today I can live with that but this notion of prayer and meditation as a 2-way street has profoundly affected me lately. I used to think prayer was a one way connection: You pray, God listens. Er, that's not really how it works I've found.

As I mentioned earlier there are some amazing discoveries to be made by just being STILL for awhile. Ive never really done that before...I never just listened to whats inside of me. Well I was definately missing an important part of that prayer/meditation thing by not doing so.

I suppose it would be easier on my brain if I didn't ponder such things and I just lived my life but I can't. I'm not built that way...I don't think any human being is that one dimensional....

As i sit here I have to smile a bit because this is such a departure from my old, closed minded approach to everything. I suppose old dogs can learn a few new tricks!

I have some other thoughts on those nudges we get sometimes so I imagine there will be some follow up posts to this one in the near future...

Edgy, Obsessive..and Craving Toast!

It's late and I feel kind of edgy, perhaps unsettled is a more accurate way to describe it. I have nights, like tonight where I almost would rather not risk sleep. Thats right...risk sleep. Sleep isn't my friend had he/she has not been kind, thats for sure.

On the other hand maybe I should stop obsessing and just shut it down and try to sleep. Ultimately that will be the choice I end up making. Stay tuned, later we will discover if I had success.

I just had a really strange experience. I'm sitting at my desk, it's late and nobody is here but me. And I smell toast in the toaster! Honestly the aroma of toast being toasted then the combined smell of melted butter and peanut butter....mmm.

Well I just scouted out the kitchen and there wasn't anyone there and no toast being made..the toaster was cool to the touch. It's a huge No No for me and my stomach but I'm really craving peanut butter toast . What makes it even harder to resist this amazing urge is I'm starving!

Now the question is whether I can actually resist the temptation for P-Toast. Tune in next time to check on the great late night toast caper...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


OK, I can't figure this out. I am basically retired as far as a career goes because of my disability. And I always have been a guy that was reasonably organized from a time stand-point, always showed up for work and to to every appointment (I'm typically early). I am basically pretty together when it came to doing stuff and getting it done when it should be. So why don't I ever have enough time to do the stuff I want to do? Technically all I have is free time?!

I want to post regularly here on Shell shock but lately it seems that often I have to squeeze a post in between obligations (just like I'm doing now!). And even though I like to post "on the fly" as it were, this rushing to get it done has negatively impacted the content in my opinion.

Plus I get frustrated because it isn't working out the way I'd like it to. I know, I is truly a good problem to have. It means that I am involved in things, i have stuff I want to do and I happen to have a social life. A reader may chuckle at that and thing "well of course you do, doesn't everyone?!" Uh, they don't and neither did I before I got sober. I never left the house unless I really had too in that last 6 months of my active alcoholism/addiction. Usually to load up on booze, score coke...that kind of stuff but typically I preferred to be alone or with K-Sue and occasionally my friends Jim/Rhonda who lived just across the river from me, a 5 minute (very drunken) drive. But that was the extent of my social life...

So I marvel at the life I have today. Last night i attended the Branch County Stewardship Dinner for the Forgotten Man Ministries. A worthy group who ministers to those people who are incarcerated in our local jail. It's a good program with really good folks who have done some awesome work. It's something I support and it was nice to attend the dinner and listen to the updates and the testimony of a young woman who has got her life together with the help of Forgotten Man.

I was sitting at a table right up from in a hall with 450 other attendees. I was with a buddy, his friend and his wife. The head of Public Safety (essentially the Chief of Police) and his wife were at the table. We were surrounded by all the local judges, Law Enforcement Leaders, the Prosecutor for Branch County, etc. I had to laugh about being there. Funny I felt totally comfortable!

So here I am the recovering drug addict sitting and having a nice conversation with the head of the Cop Shop, it turns out he and his wife attend my church!

So Now I've run out of time so I will pick up this train of thought later....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

THORMOO Sings The Blues

I have a rather interesting experience to share tonight. Periodically I have mentioned some of the other blogs I read, there being several that I regularly check out and look forward to.

One of those blogs I really like is called: Sunny Sings the Blues. Sunny (not her real name) writes about her grief from losing her young husband from sudden heart failure while he was out for a jog. Oh and this occurred very shortly after she had discovered that he was having an affair with another woman. She was preparing to divorce him when he died. So in addition to losing a husband she thought she loved, his untimely death prevented her from getting any honest answers as to why he was unfaithful and has kept her from getting any real closure to this terrible tragedy in her life.

It is an incredibly poignant, heart wrenching and refreshingly honest take on what that experience has been like and how she has coped with her grief and life as a brand new widow. I highly recommend this blog.

Sunny has also been a great supporter of Shell Shock Serenade and has been a regular reader and commentator for quite some time. She has often offered encouragement and I have been quite flattered by her generosity and kind words. Tonight she has done something a little different on Sunny Sings The Blues: She had a guest write a post for tonight's entry. And that guest would just happen to be me.

So tonight on Sunny Sings The Blues you can read this post from yours truly. It is a rather long and somewhat scattered post generally giving the background to how Shell Shock Serenade and my writing it came to be. Unfortunately I've noticed a few typos but other then that it is pretty typical post me.

I really appreciate Sunny's willingness to allow a fellow Blogger to post on her site. Sunny Sings is one of the best blogs out there in this genre of Coping Memoir/Auto-Biography, in my humble opinion it IS the best. It is extremely well written in addition to covering a subject that is quite frankly incredibly difficult to fathom and terribly traumatic as well. Sunny Sings has a large and loyal following as a result and I am incredibly flattered and humbled that she would ask me to guest on her site this evening....THANK YOU Sunny!

Jonesing For An Egg Roll!

I'm somewhat grumpy right real reason I suppose unless you consider Chinese Food a reason to get grumpy! basically my issue right now is I'm going to a fund raiser dinner tonight. And they are going to serve dinner. Whats the problem you ask? That sounds kind of nice what am I bitching about?

I want Chinese food for dinner and I can assure you that the Forgotten Man Ministries Banquet isn't serving Kung Pao Chicken, Egg Drop Soup, Fried Rice, Egg Roll and Hot Tea. I'm craving Chinese food so badly right now I could probably communicate in the Hunan Dialect CORRECTLY for an hour just to get some chow...shoot, I'll eat it with my fingers!

I know this is Nuts but it's what happens when an addict is in recovery and he starts craving other things...Man, I'm jonesing for a Fried Wonton in the worst possible way. Oh Brother it's strange being me, gotta go....


I am typically a fellow who will admit when I'm wrong and if I have made a mistake or upset someone needlessly, I am pretty good about coming back and apologizing. I have no problem saying I'm sorry...I'm guess I'm fortunate in that regard because I've known people who really had difficulty saying they were sorry and in turn taking responsibility for their actions. It can be de-humanizing when it is someone you love and thought that they in turn loved you.

Well today I have a situation where I take FULL responsibility for what happened yet I am NOT sorry. And please don't wait for me to change because I'll never modify my position on that particular subject....I made the statement I wanted to make and said what I wanted to say.

I'm reffering to my decision earlier today to use a historic picture of a seriously wounded First SGT Brad Kasal (Now Sgt Major Kasal) being helped by two fellow Marines out of a house during the Battle of Fallujah in November of 2004. It is one of the more iconic photographs taken of the War in Irag and shows the very essence and ferocity of Men at War. These men were photographed just moments after fighting for their lives. The house contained the bodies of some of their buddies and all of the men that had been trying to kill them....

Sgt Kasal had been in heavy, hand to hand combat in the close quarters of what became known to those Marines as "The House of Hell". Kasal won the Navy Cross for his actions that day while leading his men in that fight and while being severely wounded in the process. Wounds including those he received while shielding his fellow Marines from the blast of an Insurgent Grenade thrown at him while the fighting raged in the house.

I do not in any way try to compare what Sgt Kasal or his fellow Marines did with people have hard times in their life. My rational for using that picture is it very clearly shows what a human being looks like after he has literally been "fighting for his life".

People dying as a result of addiction or suicide or such things pisses me off. It is such a waste. Though I am not comparing life's day to day struggles here in the States with the lives of soldiers in combat, Life's realities can be an unforgiving, Life hurts sometimes and can be terribly difficult to deal with. I don't want people who are hurting, lonely and feeling alienated to give up. I want them to fight for themselves, like Sgt Kasal fought for himself that day when he had no other choice.

I know that as a society we have become somewhat calloused and de-sensitized to some things. It's easy to think that a person who is that troubled is weak and making a bigger deal out of stuff than they should. People can assume that they are just being dramatic and over-reacting to their situation. Perhaps those things are true in some cases but the frightening fact is that people are giving up and killing themselves today at an alarming rate and it is my strong belief that we need to reach out to them if at all possible to try and stop it.

Once again I honor those men like Sgt Kasal for doing their duty, not for trying to be heroes but for taking care of their buddies and themselves: for Surviving!

And I want anybody out there today reading this to know that they are WORTH fighting for. Don't EVER give up on yourselves....EVER!

Fighting Your Ass Off to Stay Alive

AP PHOTO (Lucian Reed)

Yesterday I posted about forgiveness and how the pent-up feelings from my past will sometimes seep out into the light of day and remind me that they are still very much alive and well, deep inside of me.

I started riffing on forgiveness and pretty much left the line of thinking I was originally on and I think there is some really value in picking back up on that.

As any regular reader of SSS will recognize, I had some awful experiences occur in my life before I found recovery and started trying to live a life based more on giving then taking as well as sobriety/abstinence from booze/drugs. Rape, a suicide attempt, extreme guilt for not being there for my friends when they were killed in a car accident in 1981...those memories carried and carry with them some really heavy emotions and feelings, that are still very much alive and well inside of me to this very day.

What do I do about them? I really wish they would go away, the memories in particular but the feelings and emotions's so hard to still have to deal with them today and they still make me feel hurt, lost and inadequate. I wish I could purge the whole bunch of them right out of me and never have to remember again what happened to me back then and how I I didn't handle very well.

Then it occurs to me that so much of what is good in my life today has to do with how I have lived and responded to that stuff. This sounds totally CRAZY but I started to look at those memories and their accompanying feelings as a GIFT. Yep, you read that correctly, a GIFT.

Because of that gift I have a rare (GOD given) ability to relate to people that are really hurting inside. When I was hurting and feeling lost, hopeless and wanted to die...I could think of NO ONE I could turn to who would not freak out when I told them what I felt. That doesn't mean that person didn't exist, I just had no idea who they were or where to find them...So I was on my own. It is my deepest, most humble wish that NO ONE has to go through that experience ALONE ever again, if I can do anything about it!

So not only is it important for me to never forget where I came from and how desperate and alone I felt but it's critical that I am open and honest about those experiences and yes, feelings I had during those terrible times of trouble. That way, if someone...anyone is hurting inside perhaps they just might think of that "Crazy F**king Shell Shock" guy and email or call me.

I can't make problems go away, believe me I would if I could but it just doesn't work that way. But I can listen, I do understand and I really care about folks who are hurting inside. And I'm not the only one, nope..not even close.

In closing that is a point I want to make. There is a lot of stuff in this life that I DO NOT UNDERSTAND but I do know this: No problem, feeling, experience is so BAD that you or anyone should consider themselves worthless and try to end their life. NOTHING is that bad, trust me...I know. Fight your ASS off for yourself one more time. You can do this...Deep down our greatest human instinct is SURVIVAL, use it! You really don't want to give up, don't let the BASTARD convince you otherwise! Don't be embarrassed or afraid to ask someone for help. A friend, family member, clergy...ANYONE, it doesn't matter just ask and start the ball rolling back into your court. Life is worth it, I really believe that.

I can always be reached here if anyone ever has a question about addiction/alcoholism or suicide or loneliness or being afraid.....get the picture?! I think you do... (Plus all comments on Shell Shock Serenade are monitored by me before being released to the site. I will keep any/all personal inquiries confidential-T)

Unwelcome Awakening

I found out this afternoon that my stomach surgery is scheduled for next Thursday April 28 at Noon. After whats been happening to me that last 90 minutes I'm not sure if I'm going to make it 9 more days!

I feel like I have some sort of itchy, toxic fire residing in my Esophagus and mouth and it will not go away. Earlier I was bent over in agony as my abdomen was hurting so much I couldn't think straight. I kept trying to cough the itch up and out but to no avail...burning toxic lava just kept flowing up and up.

Obviously the surgery being scheduled for next week is a very good thing. The Doc did remind me today that the Barrett's Disease will NOT be affected by the surgery...the Barrett's will NOT just go away...But because the flow of acid from the stomach will be stopped, it shouldn't get any worse and I will feel much better. Well I figure I can live with that...

Having this procedure: Laproscopic Nissen Fundoplication is obviously a very good thing as well, it will stop the acid Reflux and most importantly for me and whats been going on with my Lung is it will prevent acid from leaking into the Lung and causing all the problems I've been experiencing the last 18-24 months. Well A-freaking-MEN to that!

But here I sit, once again in the middle of the night as I ride out another freaking Acid Storm...being vertical for an hour or so is the only treatment I have found that works once I have it going on full bore inside of me like I do tonight. It really BLOWS because I'm really tired and frankly just want to close my eyes and sleep.

So I am going to try to re-discover my lost sleep and forget, as much of this awakening as possible. Alas, this post shall be my only WITNESS.....

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Eye Of Sorrow

Once in a while it just occurs to me that I still have all the emotions: Rage, Hate, Anger, Resentment and more that I had kept locked up deep inside me for many, many years. And since I don't run around like a ticking time-bomb as I once did: sullen, lost, introverted, SEETHING...ready to explode, I have to wonder whether those feeling truly exist as they once did. But one thing I'm sure of is that the memories and emotions ARE still there somewhere, deep inside. I know because they can and do seep out sometimes, often when I least expect it. Like Sunday sitting in church, for example...

Yep, there I am sitting in the back row, inside aisle seat where I always do. I'm feeling fine, which I always find really strange at church because my skin used to crawl when I went inside a church building. Now I enjoy it!

Anyway I'm sitting there, several people come up and say hello, they wish me well and ask how I'm doing health wise. They are so genuine too, another thing that has really surprised me since I started attending. I figured all Christians though there sh*t didn't stink, only that YOURS did and it was their religious duty to shove that fact into my face over and over again. Again I was wrong about that perception as well.

So I'm sitting there after the service starts feeling pretty good, I'm comfortable, my skin is NOT crawling and everyone has been genuinely very friendly and caring. So everything is cool right? Yea, it's all good.

Shayne the Pastor starts to speak and I think he is talking about people who are broken and how God's Grace takes them up when they are hurting and I have a freaking river of tears flowing down my face. And I don't want anyone to see, so I have my head turned away and I think it's all under control and it starts again. this time I don't even know if he said anything at all but I just feel so...FORGIVEN.

This has happened on at least 3 different occasions at church alone and I have no idea why. It is definitely not a typical reaction of mine. The only thing I can think of is for so long, as long as I can remember...I have felt like an out-cast, scorned, less-than, hated, feared, made-fun of...all of those terribly negative things.

I really think the reality of what being SAVED means ins setting in and I'm starting to believe it for the first time in my life. I know, deep down that I can't possibly deserve this gift yet there it is...right in front of my eyes.

Grace...God's Grace and honestly I don't even know how to define it but I can feel it. I have NEVER known forgiveness before...only FEAR and GUILT with large doses of Anger, Hate and good old human Cruelity thrown in for good measure.

I don't really know why the tears have come...and it doesn't just happen at when I'm at church but that is the only public place where it comes without my controlling it. I think that for the very first time in my life, at the age of 48 years I am experiencing what it is to BE FREE. So why wouldn't I cry, huh?!

Picture by Vincent Van Gogh

What I ME.

I just read a post on another blog where the author was ripping on folks who give out too much personal information during casual conversations, such as at a store or when you are meeting someone for the first time at in a social setting...And I totally get their point.

They won't want to read this blog though, hehe! It's all about information that most folks probably would rather not hear about. Of course, that IS what Shell Shock is really about: the behind the scenes stuff going on in the everyday life of a recovering Drunk and Drug Addict.

There are definitely still days where I really wonder why the hell I'm doing this. Whats the point, EGO? Right?! I spill all the details about what a selfish, self-oriented, lying bastard I was and how hard it has been to change that...that's something to really be PROUD of eh?!

I'm not entirely discounting ego though because it is a blog that has as it's main topic of discussion:ME. Me and whatever else I want to riff on a daily basis..."It's my freaking party and I'll bitch, er cry if I want to..."

As any regular reader (Hey! I think there are one, perhaps two of you out there!) will recognize, it is typical for me to write a post basically checking or re-checking as it were my motives for doing this. Ultimately they haven't changed: I lived this sh*t for a long freaking time, in the end I felt so alone and hopeless that I legitimately tried to kill myself...and failed.

From that day forward I have lived a life focused on recovery and re-building my own life from the ashes and wreckage of my past. One of the most important aspects of recovery I was told early on (and have since discovered for myself)is working with and helping other addicts (or anyone else really) who is in need. The "To keep what I have (sobriety) I must give it away (help others)" philosophy stressed so much in support groups and 12 step programs.

Shell Shock Serenade has become a huge part of my "giving it away". I have had these experiences, they were horrible but they happened. As humiliating and embarrassing as some of this is, I figure if there is ANY slight chance that by sharing this stuff somebody may find some helpful to them, then it's worth it to do it. Not only that I feel a moral obligation to share it, to throw it out there if it may help somebody, anybody.

So that's the deal...that is why I do it and honestly, my motives haven't changed. As far as EGO, well frankly I'm humbled by the incredibly nice things folks have said about this blog. Recent readers know that I have recently really had some really intense spiritual experiences lately. I'll call them a spiritual awakening and I feel much closer to my CREATOR now and I strongly feel that whatever I print here is influenced by HIM.

OK, now you can all go: See, he's a religious NUT, I knew it! You may want to think about that some more after reading...I have very little use for what human beings may think or believe or tell me to do. I believe we all have an inner voice and if you listen very closely you may be surprised by who is talking to you...

So I've just finished another "Are my motives still good" post here on SSS..and I think and feel that yea, I am as dedicated to this blog as I have ever been. Though it isn't a super popular blog that gets hundreds of followers each week, that isn't what matters here. What is important is TRUTH and telling the truth. Two very different things yet very much inter- related.

I work really, really hard each time I post something here on Shell Shock to tell it like it is. Tell the TRUTH and be as honest as I possibly can be. This story or message...whatever you want to call it is what I have to give back to the world for this amazing gift I have been given. There really is no other way to pay it back. All I can do is share what I have. And what I have is....ME.