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Monday, October 31, 2011

The ZOMBIE Writes At Dawn...

I am having a hard time getting any sleep at all during the night. I can usually nap for an hour or so during the day but that's usually it: an hour of sleep each day is about all  I'm getting and even for me, a guy who needs but little sleep, that isn't nearly enough. So I am really beginning to really feel it...I'm getting ragged around the edges, I'm just not sharp, I do not feel good...and I am quite tired all the time. And this is really starting to affect me negatively, especially when I am reading out loud to groups of people at the nursing home or at church for an hour each week. This past Saturday morning I actually lost my place completely as I was reading...I had to stop and ask where I was! There are two woman over 100 yrs old and another at 98, the rest in their mid to late 80's and they knew where we were in the verse! So they graciously reminded me where I was...I'm 50 and already losing my mind!

This makes me particularly nervous because tomorrow we start our new "Bible Listening Ministry" where we (in this case, just me at the moment) read from scripture for an hour out loud and that's it...there is no pressure on folks to read or pray or ask questions though we can certainly do so if the group chooses to...the whole premise of this ministry is to  just present the Word as it, openly with no strings attached. God can most certainly speak for Himself...So naturally I am just a tad uncomfortable with the notion of starting this whole thing only to end up falling asleep mid sentence through the Gospel of Luke!

Actually I think things will work out just the way they are supposed to and I have lived long enough to know that it makes little sense and achieves even less to fret about it...just press forward and do your best. I'm not sure who first gave me that father more then likely but that philosophy has served me well for many, many years.      

So I suppose I should look at this whole troubling lack of sleep thing perhaps in exactly  the same  way. I have done every logical thing I can  do to rectify the situation to no avail so I'll keep pressing forward all the while doing the best I can to live my life. The chips will then freaking fall where they may...

It should be interesting always is when I try to accept things in life the way they are and not try and change or manipulate them to serve my own selfish purposes. Well I should have another post or two later on today as long as I don't slip into an exhausted coma and never snap out of it. Anyway...I already feel like a walking ZOMBIE this morning which does seem  interesting now considering it IS Halloween!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A War Within...The Heart

I have a heart...ach, yea well...doesn't everyone? But I mean a loving, feeling compassionate heart that all really wants to be loved cherished and cared for in return. Another aspect of my growth and re-birth is acclimating myself, even getting to the point of accepting love and affection.

Accepting affection, especially in a public place is weird, awkward and difficult for me to deal with...I'm terribly uncomfortable with receiving affection freely and it is even tougher when other people are around. I have gotten better at just relaxing and appreciating it. That has comforted me and calmed things down so I can just be myself.

I don't know why I agonize of the emotional stuff but I suppose that it too probably goes back trust issues and trusting the other person specifically. I have really had some healthy people around who have guided me and given some helpful suggestions...having a little faith and trusting the Creator being the best advice I have received.

The issues for me today really do break down to how I feel now about sharing myself with another emotionally and physically for I now feel full of desire, passion, love and a driving intensify that gets harder by the day to muzzle. I realize the danger in just letting it all hang out and not trying to hold back. 

And holding back is something I have really had to struggle to do. Not because I can't control myself or anything but I just feel things more deeply, the intensity just keeps building and growing and for once I want to be true to it and just express it the way it is.

No pretending, or hiding or suppressing the feelings and desire but just letting it build
naturally and release it when it happens to be the right time. It never worked out that way...I was always manipulating my own feelings to serve one purpose or the other.

Now I have natural, real feelings and I want to let them go but fear holds me back because I don't completely trust myself or other people. So I wonder if indeed I will ever realize who I really am. Just more fodder for an already troubled nights sleep...

Sweet, Summer Sweat

Once up on a time MDR  (My Dear Reader), I thought I could hold someone so close...that I could pull them deep inside of me...melting as it were, two into one. The fragrance of desire, it 'tis...sun-tanned skin smell plus her own aroma of sweet, summer sweat...the lingering whiff of love and a now mostly forgotten romp in the sacred sand spot just out of view...

I  mostly just feel sad and confused these days when I get to thinking about love 
and romance...and yes, sex. My body tells me I'm capable...willing even but fearful. My heart is what I worry about...I never trusted anyone or, I never did. I wouldn't know how or where to begin that process then my mind just wanders away.

Lack of interest? Ahh, way. Lack of focus? Perhaps, but I don't really see that as an issue. Fear would be my guess...I fear the intimacy and what it may reveal. I have often wondered if I am the living embodiment of "what  could have been" Therefore I never will know the TRUTH of what actually IS.

Yikes...It seems as if I am really getting my head twisted around some complex possibilities and/or unpleasant realities...and at this hour of the day too! It figures that of all the time there is available in a day or week or year....I pick 4:30a on a Sunday morning in October to try and figure out My TRUTH concerning, sex, love and relationships. The notion would be totally hilarious, actually if I wasn't sitting here at this very moment trying to figure this crap out. Why do I do the things I do...I imagine that is an answer I am never going to find out.

So what do I do with all of this stuff...these thoughts, feelings and questions? Well I have no choice but to continue on pursing the TRUTH...inaction is not an option at this point. I cannot hide any longer from myself. So we'll keep moving forward down this shadowy trail through the darkened woods at twilight, hoping for a sign.

So MDR...what that means for you are even more posts about sex, love and relationships...I figure I'll keep throwing  sh*t against the wall and seeing if something will stick. Yea...the pasta checking technique hi-jacked for personal, emotional use...who knew, eh?!                                      

(PHOTO: Kathy Tomson)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beyond The Forbidden Wire...

It's been awhile, a couple weeks anyway since I have re-visited the subject of my last marriage and this notion I have come to believe that I, in fact was never faithful to that marriage or any other romantic relationship I have ever been in. I am wondering now if I am truly capable of loving another person at all now. So I start to really wonder about that and ask myself some hard questions along those very lines: Can I truly love another person? Am I trustworthy and can I trust anyone else? And am I even capable of love at all...honestly, I don't know?

Looking back now I know that every relationship that was ever involved in was horribly flawed..they were always all about me. It turns out that even when I was focusing on "them", it usually was just to make things better for myself or to get something that I wanted...mostly attention, ego stroking and sex.

Then in addition to this notion that I can't truly  love another person...comes the subject of sex and with it many other tough questions follow: Are my beliefs, expectations and feelings about sex and having sex so disturbed, distorted and distressed that I can never have a full and healthy sex life with another person? Good question..and I don't know the answer.

There is so much baggage that I have carried with me ever since I was raped. Because of the circumstances of that situation, I really began to struggle with my own sexual identity...even to the point where I began question whether I might be gay...and all of this at 12, 13...14 years of age. I just knew that I felt different and this shouldn't have happened to me but it did, it was screwed up and therefore I WAS screwed up too! I began really focusing on sex and having sex... with girls. Remember..I was a virgin when I was raped. Long story short I lost my virginity to a high school aged girl from my church youth group that same year and regularly met with her and her friends for periodic "booty calls" at her parents house after school because they worked.

I remember feeling guilty about pursing and especially about enjoying sex yet it was so exciting and made me feel so important, like a big shot...I didn't want to stop! I have no idea what those girls thought about the whole thing but to the best of my recollection the meeting those girls for sex went on for several years until I had grown up a bit and was in high school myself. By that time they had then graduated and gone off to college. But then I was in a pattern of having a steady girlfriend and all my relationships from that time on were sexual in nature.

I was pushing the envelope sexually though I was monogamous and honestly hadn't a lot of different girlfriends. Now, looking back on it
I just think I know that I was having major issues trusting people....which shouldn't come as a surprise knowing what I do now. I was a completely confused wreck when it came to emotion and sex....I tried to detach from the emotion of it and look at it as simply a way to physically satisfy masturbation with a human partner...exactly the opposite of how I really believed deep inside. But the emotion always began to creep in...

It would take decades to work out this confusion and even now I am wondering if I am really capable of healthy sexual relations and a healthy relationship at all. Kim and I have obviously discussed this at length and since we actually were sexually active with each other during our active addiction when we were boyfriend/girlfriend (We abstain now from sex and have for over 4 years) so she has experienced first hand how extremely intense and emotional I had become about having sex. I think the passion, intensity sheer emotion of it, fueled then by my raging addiction really frightened yet excited her at the same time. I feel the same way about it...

So I have no idea how I am going to act and react until I actually begin having having sexual relations again with a partner. So It frightens me some just thinking and wondering about it.

I am going to close for now. I'll pick up this subject either later tonight or tomorrow. It freaks me a bit but if I don't try and get it out in the open and work through it.. well I'll never heal or be able to move on.

(Photo by Kathy Tomson)

A Favorite Poem to Introduce The Day

Today is the last Saturday in October...cold,damp. It has been an uncharacteristic Autumn for us around here...September, typically an extension of summer for the most part was rained out and cool. Earlier this month, we had beautiful Fall foliage and we still have color since half the leaves still remain and seem reluctant to accept their destiny.

Last November 16th, I posted one of my favorite poems by Maya Angelo called Late October. I figured it worthwhile to share it again today:

Late October By Maya Angelo

the leaves of autumn
sprinkle down the tinny
sound of little dyings
and skies sated
of ruddy sunsets
of roseate dawns
roil ceaselessly in
cobweb greys and turn
black for comfort.

Only lovers
see the fall
a signal end to endings
a gruffish gesture alerting
those who will not be alarmed
that we begin to stop
in order simply
to begin

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Mother, my Father and Me

Like a lot of grown children, I have had an up and down ongoing relationship with my Mother and Father. This is a blog topic I have avoided for a couple different reasons...the main one being that it is a complex relationship as parent/children relationships can be. It is also a matter of privacy...their privacy that I am concerned about. My parents have made a conscious choice NOT to read this blog. It would just be too painful for them to relive some of this stuff all over again. There are things that I discuss in this blog that they are unaware my being raped as a boy. I never told them then and just never did plus they never asked. They do know something happened to me but don't know what it is...

Obviously...both of my parents are still living. As a matter of fact I have an incredible relationship with both of them...which is truly amazing considering all the stuff I put them through over the years. What's even more incredible is that I rent rooms from them at the house here on the island so the part of the year that they are here I actually live with them. Funny because I left home at a fairly young age because my father and I couldn't stand each other and there was always the threat of trouble when we were together.

A year after I sobered up my father became critically ill, he was hospitalized with  very serious infection from a burst appendix. He stayed there for 40 days then spent another 6 weeks in a nursing home. It was during this time I re-build my relationship with my folks. We found that we got along really well and the decision was made at that time to have me sell my place in Holland and move here to the Lake.

I never would have guessed that this situation would work with the 3 of us living here together but it works really well. It allows them to stay here in their home even though they are getting too old to take care of it by themselves. I really think God had this in mind all along....

The picture above of my mother and I was taken four years ago when the three of us took a long weekends vacation from Englewood, Florida where they live in the Winter to Key West. Here I am about 18 months sober, spending 4 days in KEY WEST of all places with my mum and dad! What a freakin' trip that was...and it was a wonderful, amazing adventure and we have had quite a few of those since then. My presence gives them piece of mind and frankly my being here for them makes me feel better as well. i know whats going on and how they are doing. 

I was always pretty close to my this is a great set up for us and I imagine that I'll stick around the Coldwater area though I won't be able to live here forever...

In closing I have to laugh at the fact that at 49 years of age, the supeindependant person that I am is here living by his parents. Who woulda thunk it eh? Certainly not me...

Back Pocket Post Subjects

I have two post subjects that I have been carrying around with me in my back to speak, for some time. Both are somewhat unsettling and provocative so I've debated on the necessity of ever posting either one of them...but honestly I think I have to. They are relevant to my life and the choices I've made..especially stuff that I have recently been dealing with.

I usually do not do this kind of thing...share info about future post topics or ask rhetorical questions about stuff I might write but I just thought it seemed like the right thing to do...the funny thing is that I think everyone that knows me and reads this blog regularly realizes that I am going to write those two posts...

Perhaps I won't do it today...but then again, maybe I will, I know that I'm gonna write them suppose so I probably should get!

It Begins & Ends w/TRUST

I see the world, just like every other person living on the planet sees the world...through the lens of my very own camera's eye. And what I, understand and then interpreted through the filter of my very own life's experience. That is why 20 people can witness the same scene and each will have their very own "unique" take on it. That is also why in my opinion there are very few absolutes in this life, very few things come across as solidly black and white, accepted by all people as TRUTH.

I see no issue with that I suppose as long as everybody understands that is the way it IS but few people , I believe truly understand and accept that. So it creates much a world where we already have more confusion then we can possible sort out. Hence the need to communicate becomes more necessary then ever before but even with all the communication tools we have available to us these days: phones, text, IM, e-mail ans social networking sires....we typically communicate on a personal, one to one level more poorly today then ever before. 

We assume stating information is communicating when in fact that often is not 'tis but a beginning, not an end. So much of our problems as a society concerning relationships can be traced back to the fact that people don'y actually communicate with each other. They assume passing information back and forth, without providing background details or answering any potential questions is enough, when often times it leaves too many "loose ends' up in the air...and that only promotes multiple interpretations...leading guessed it, more confusion.

Relationships can be maddening enough when they are reasonably healthy with a natural openness, trust and understanding all nurtured by clear, honest and loving communication...but when there is poor or no communication...leading to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and mistrust...well that can prove truly disastrous for all.

I am not an expert on any of this...believe me...I was not a good communicator back in the day because I often hurried through life and just assumed people "knew" what I meant therefore I never paused to clarify my meaning. This lead to much confusion, misunderstanding and ultimately to mistrust...the death-nell of a personal  relationship. So I have just tried to put the lessons learned over a lifetime of communication so perhaps I'll continue to improve in this area in the future.

And again...everyone and every relationship is different so that is why I believe a general understanding of what promotes TRUST in relationships is the obvious place to start...     

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Liar Laughs At No One (Except Himself)

I am glad to be around, alive and kicking today...And that truly is a change in the way I typically feel. Even though there are a lot of commitments to keep these days...with the activities that I am involved in growing and developing, not diminishing or fading away...the funny thing is that fact actually energizes an otherwise weary me.

I am fortunate that my life's work today, helping others in a multitude of ways is truly a life's passion. You know...people who have known me a long time or folks who struggle with the notion of GOD will ask...almost demand to know how I am so certain that there is indeed a God. And that is the Million Dollar question but for me the answer came easy: If anyone can remember how I used to be, selfish, ME centered, focused only on my own pleasure & my comfort often at other people's expense and compare that to this person I am today...Only a DIVINE being could turn THAT wretched excuse for a human being that was me into the kind of person I am today.

I take absolutely NO credit, none....for anything that I am or that I do today. How could I, I resisted change to the point that I chose suicide over God, but he wouldn't accept that...And It goes against my very nature to put other people ahead of myself. I can't really explain a lot of the differences...and sometimes when I try, I get ashamed for who I once was. I was not outwardly a "bad" person, even when I drank...people who knew me probably wouldn't say that I was Bad, cruel or selfishly evil...but deep down in my heart, I knew that I was. I know my true nature...I was the master of the lie, at manipulating the truth to my advantage and when I am faced with an example of that previous reality, I feel shameful for who and what I was...which leads me once again to the subject of forgiveness.

I still struggle to forgive myself. I know that when I was trapped deep in the throes of my addiction I wasn't ME...I couldn't be. I was more animal then human because addiction will reduce even the most cheerful, selfless, happy person to their most base level of existence...sheer survival mode. When all one is focused on is surviving well, it's crude and ugly, because their world view narrows, often times blocking out even the SUN. In an addict's mind survival is EVERYTHING...the only thing. And survival = using drugs because not using drugs = excruciating pain, mental anguish and emotional torment. 

It is actually upsetting my emotional balance at this very moment simply writing about THAT way of life and truly is foreign to me today...and I do sincerely hope it will always stay that way from this point forward. I do NOT EVER want to forget the pain, the heartache, the loneliness and fear that accompanied EVERY single moment of my day...especially in the last days of my active addiction. And it was not just reserved to the "waking" moments of my life...No, my nights were chock-full of trouble, tyranny and torment....people long dead came back to mock me, taunt me and to remind me of my failure as a human being. Exposing to my sub-conscious truly, what a POSER and a LIAR that I was. 

I remember thinking that when I was in public, people could take one look at me  and know instantly I was a FAKE...a poser. I just knew they knew the TRUTH about me...that they could sense the "dirty-ness" I mentioned in an earlier post.   They could see straight through the masquerade  and know that I was merely a PRETENDER...the KING of NOTHING, the EARL Of HEARTACHE...The Emperor of LIES...that was me. I had to manufacture elaborate fairy tales to justify my own existence...yet nobody really bothered with me...which shouldn't have been surprising since they couldn't have cared less about me, my stories or my life. I was lost...there was nothing in it for find me. 

So when I gaze at this man I never knew...who now looks back at me from the mirror, I marvel at the majesty of our CREATOR...who could and did save a wretched excuse of a human being like me? BUT why would he want to? I don't have that answer and actually, now that I think about it...I 'm sure that I never will know the answer to that question. The fact is that I am here today and I appreciate that with all of my heart. I really don't know why I survived but what I do know is that I did manage to live and he has a REASON for it, HE wanted me here and that simple fact is more then good enough for me.     

(Painting by Claude Monet)                                                       

Blowing Sunshine Out The Backside...

What a cold, wet and windy mess of a day today. But the sun is shining in my heart. Honestly I'm not making that up and believe me I found strange writing it because that certainly is NOT a typical statement or point of view for me...the cynic, skeptic REALIST. "Ain't no sun shining in this BLACK Heart 'O Mine, Babe....". I would have shivered at the prospect of acting!

I am still processing the whole forgiveness/forgiving thing and I imagine there is another post on the subject waiting to be heard...but that will be later. 

I'm off to town so all the regular readers are getting off easy this morning with a super short post. What can I say...I got busy this morning and honestly there just wasn't a post waiting there today and I won't force it, if I can help it.

OK, here's Blowing Some Sunshine At You Kids....

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Given To The Limit...

I have a hard time believing that I have even thought about this but I wondered now that I have forgiven my rapists the question crossed my mind if I could forgive them to their face. Shockingly the answer that came back to me during some meditation and reflection time was...yea, I can do that now. 

WHAT?!!Seriously, you've got to be kidding me? God I think you might have taken this thing a bit too far...I have already written a post about how I felt some relief and that my heart was in a much better place but I don't suddenly want to get all freaking warm & fuzzy with these clowns...

I do truly feel forgiveness way down deep. I no longer want to shoot each one of those men personally. No...I pray everyday that those men find the Lord...and forgiveness...the real kind of forgiveness that quiets a man's soul, that stops the screaming voices of guilt and shame in his HEAD....the eternal, life giving kind of forgiveness.

Even though I have found forgiveness in my heart for these guys, I still wonder why they did it. Was it personal somehow or did I draw the proverbial "short straw" and become an opportune target at that moment...I also have wondered if I really was the only one attacked   there that day...there definately could have been others. Something in my mind tells me that I wasn't the only one that day, that there was a series of assaults on unsuspecting victims.

If that is indeed the case...and there are others out there I wonder...could I know you? Are you OK tonight? Have you found peace? What did you do all this you still remember?

I still wonder how much I have really healed. I have found over the years that certain situations would bring a sudden wave of great sorrow or unexpected shaking followed by tears. The nightmares as of last night are still there though I will admit something about them was different, though I can't quite put my finger on it.

Some times I am afraid that the "dirty-ness" I have always felt on the inside after the incident will become visible to everyone and I will be shunned or avoided for being a soiled person. That fear goes way back to the beginning. I wonder if people will no longer want to talk to me and I won't be able to go out anymore in public without being recognized there is always that feeling of alienation...

I know in my head...that it isn't going to happen but my irrational fears based on the shame and the guilt (yea I feel guilty that I "ALLOWED" myself to be raped and beaten up) have won't let me believe that it's all over now and everything is going to be OK. 

So clearly all is not well but it is getting better by the....well let's just agree it is getting better!

(PHOTO By Kathy Tomson)

Expectations, Judgment and Change...

Forgiveness....The word means a little something more to me today then it did say...last Saturday night....It certainly carries with it the notion now of freedom or release.

 For those who know me outside of the context of this blog...the current rap on me among some friends and family members is that I can't or won't separate myself from the "heaviness" of the experiences I have had in my life. It is a fair criticism but one that I am not sure that I can or really even want to change. Think about it a bit...if you have been reading along here at Shell Shock Serenade for any length of time then you certainly realize how something like rape, even one that occurred some 36 years ago totally affects and consumes a person in every single aspect of their life. How does one turn it on and off at will? 

Can a person really be expected to go from being completely absorbed in dealing with such a situation as healing from rape or recovering from addiction which requires a total and complete commitment to making the change to flipping a switch and then start talking about sports, the weather or an historical event? It just doesn't work that way for me. I can't do it. I'm either in or out...and I am definately in, all in with this new life...I won't pretend that I am capable of something that I'm not. 

Now things are even more delicate because I have become a Christian...and true to form I threw myself into my faith with the zeal of a drowning man clutching at a life ring thrown my way just as I'm going under for the very last time. Why THAT analogy? Because that IS how desperate we are to HEAL from the experiences that have imprisoned us for so many years...isolating us from loved ones and friends, experiences and society as a whole.

I think what causes the disconnect here is this...most people hear the stories about addiction and even rape or sexual assault and think "how awful" and they just really cannot comprehend what it takes for a person to just survive such a thing. Well surviving isn't even CLOSE to actually healing! As a matter of fact it's barely the begining....It really takes a whole life commitment to actually do it. 

If that makes me less pleasant or too intense to be around...well I am not sure what I can do about me, I'm not trying to be overly serious all the time but it may just work out that way. But inside I don't FEEL serious all the I really get a kick out of the life I live today. There is a great deal of joy that comes with living the life I live today. And my sense of humor is still just as vibrant (and twisted!) as it ever was...

This has been a rather troubling question because I don't want to feel alienated from people I care about but at the same time I cannot be something that I am not. I do not pretend very well any more nor do I want to even try. At the same time I think I am a little more understanding about people who take offense or can't deal with difficult subjects or experiences...even my own. I used to look at them as shallow and weak, living their lives in a bubble with their head buried in the sand and it made me angry that they want to impose THEIR reality on me...well I don't get their reality any more then they get come I am the one who has to change how I act for everything to be more comfortable?

Then I realized I was being as judgmental about them as I thought they were about me. It isn't their fault they cannot relate to my experiences and you know what...they and I should be thankful they can't relate because there is only one true way to relate...and that's by experience. Yes...perhaps they need some work at accepting others the way they are instead of judging them because they see them as different from themselves and they set themselves up as the way things should be. Well we all do that in a way...but they can change just like I was able to change.

Again...acceptance is the key I suppose...My wish would be that they give us a chance...they might find things are much different then they assume. Reconciling things we don't understand as people is never easy and it doesn't matter who they are or what was done. Perhaps time will erode the fear and misunderstanding away and things will begin to change...Until them, all I can do is be myself and hope that the reality of what IS will continue to promote a willingness in them.

Today, Health is The ISSUE!

This, I fear is not going to be a very dynamic, interesting or exciting post. Nope...just a nuts and bolts explanation of how I feel this morning and why...I really only mention it because my health is becoming more of an issue again then I want it to be. Yes, I accept that my health is always going to be a challenge. My back, feet, shoulder and knees are so permanently damaged broken/cracked bone, ruptured disks and severe nerve damage that ongoing treatment, medication and surgery will be a factor for me for the rest of my life and I just have to live with that. And I have accepted it..I really have.

But it's this everyday flu/cold stuff that is what gets really frustrating because I seem more susceptible to it then I used to but there could be many reasons for that...I'm not exactly sure but I think this must be the 4th day in a row that I have been sick, really sick and the prospects for recovery do not seem any better this morning then they did yesterday. I keep thinking it is going to run it's course and for a while it seems like that is happening yet one day stretches into two, two stretches into three and so on. I may have to face the prospect today of going in to see my doctor yet I really would like to avoid that if possible. Usually when i do go they just tell me it will run it's course and don't even prescribe anything so it's a wasted trip. 

Because of this illness...I have to miss going into to the nursing home today for one of my regular activities because they really can't have anyone bringing any kind of it the flu or even a cold into that place. A couple of the ladies I regularly see are 100 and 101 years old and a third is 98 so they are really vulnerable at that age to illness. 

Oh well...I just have to accept that this is the way it is right now. I need to try and rest...I haven't really slept more then 30 minutes at a stretch, perhaps 2 hours a day total for almost a week now and I'm exhausted. I really am not sure what's happening with is not a typical pattern for me, healthy or ill.     

So rest is the order of the day...that and posting articles   here, haha. So stay tuned and hey...thanks for  bearing with me!   

(Painting by Edouard Manet)                                 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Battered & Bloody

Patti Smith is a poet, singer and song writer..who is probably most noted for her solo work during the Punk Era of the mid to late 1970's. She got her big break playing CGBG's and Max's Kansas City Clubs in NYC. She was notorious for saying "Jesus died for somebody's sins but he didn't die for mine" during a cover version of the band Them's song GLORIA  . I absolutely adored her back in those days for that kind of brave, rebellious giving of the FINGER to established organised religion...and because that is exactly how I felt about it as well. As a matter of fact I felt that way right up until I became a Christian in January of this year (2011). I guess I believed in Jesus...I just figured he didn't want anything to do with me..
Edgar Allen Poe

Smith has been one of my favorite performers and writers dating back to before I was in high school. She was the kind of person I looked up to in the years I spent in the so-called wilderness, after being beaten & raped in the mid 1970's. I was always interested in poets, artists, writers and those who were fiercely independant and original. I was usually drawn to tragic characters such as: Wilfred Owen,Jim Morrison of the Doors, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, Edgar Allen PoeVincent Van Gogh and the like.
File:SelbstPortrait VG2.jpg
Vincent Van Gogh
Basically from the age of 12, these were the kind of folks I looked up to, idolized... I worshiped them really. Their lives, philosophies and work were the greatest influences on me at that time. I followed a pattern of admiring artists and famous people who had lead "tragic' lives right up until the time I became a Christian, just 10 months ago. At that young age, I started to formulate that philosophy of Self-Reliance that eventually morphed into my own religion of "SELF-WORSHIP" which I believed in faithfully right up until the time I tried to kill myself...I suppose my SELF-WORSHIP strategy/Philosophy had a few flaws, eh?!

When I think about all this today, I am a little bit surprised and embarressed really, that that I went so far in my hero-worshipof these other human beings...I had always prided myself on never NEEDING anyone other then myself yet I was idolizing these very flawed, tragic human beings...I had really felt strongly that I had made better choices then that during this time but obviously I believed more strongly in the abilities of MAN then I would let myself admit at the time.
If anyone is familiar with all of the people listed above then they can pretty easily make the connection between them: They are all artists of some sort...all but one died BEFORE their time...some very tragically like Hemingway shooting himself. Most were famous in their own time except Vincent Van Gogh, who did not achieve fame or fortune DURING his lifetime. Patti Smith is the only one still living, and she has had a fair amount of tragedy in her life but appears now to be healed, happy and thriving....and she is performing again after a 2 decade long hiatus raising a family in Detroit, MI.

I'm not exactly sure what I thought I could get or learn but no doubt there was something very powerful for me in my connection with this group of people. Perhaps it was their rebellion as manifest in their ART and in the way they lived their lives...they like myself all lived HARD, drank, did drugs and pushed themselves beyond the limits of human endurance...testing themselves in multitude of unusual situations. The bottom line here is in many ways I could relate to their alienation from the NORM.

I didn't want any part of a society that allowed 12 years old boys to get brutalized in a public place. I wanted the whole freaking world to go to Hell and I imagined that they (those artists listed above) did too. Their work, their art gave me the courage, the inspiration and motivation as it were to FLIP-OFF our society as whole: Religion, the Establishment, Government, name it. It was taking the "let's love everyone" attitude of the  1960's and replacing it with my own F**K-OFF attitude of the 1970-1980's. That whole "screw you" philosophy and attitude matched up very nicely with this life based completely on my own self-satisfaction that I was already working on and perfecting in my day to day life. I was going to make EVERYONE pay for what happened to me...for ignoring me and MY PAIN.

I'll be honest...tonight...just NOW really, is the very first time that I have EVER been able to articulate these thoughts and feelings with any semblance of order. They have obviously been there for a long, long time...raging just below the surface but until now I couldn't possibly know what it was all supposed to mean. Now I'm starting to understand: to SEE...

Understand...that is how vast the chasm between the isolation, alienation, hate, resentment and fear that drove me for so many years like a HELL-HOUND on my trail and my recent surrender and redemption at the foot of the CROSS. Battered, bloody and hurting, I finally recognized that the real battle of life had already been fought...and WON for me and for all people willing to believe... right there on that very CROSS. And that my friends...for ME anyway, has made ALL the difference!

The Early Morning Pancake Obsession

I think most reader's here at the SHOCK, with the exception of brand new visitors know that i am a recovering addict/alcoholic who has been in recovery since June of 2006. And without going into a whole bunch of detail, which will take for can just assume for the sake of this post that I am very experienced with going through withdraw from alcohol and drugs. Trust me...I'm WAY more experienced at it then I would like to me! SO it goes without saying that I don't throw terms like withdraw and recovery and other related terms around loosely.

So it was all the more disturbing this morning when I woke up and realized that I was indeed in total withdraw and related shock for a steaming hot stack of good old buttermilk pancakes...yea, you heard that right, pancakes! I am craving those cakes right now just like I used to crave a drink! Well...not quite because I'm not physically addicted to buttermilk pancakes but man I sure could use a stack of 'em right now.

And the funny thing is...even though i am obviously kidding about this right is not FAR from the truth. It is truly part of my personality to CRAVE stuff like that...and the physical intensity of that desire is WAY out out of proportion with how I should actually feel about eating a certain kind of food. 

And that my folks truly is a example of my addictive personality/nature/disease and how it manifests itself into my life around something completely normal and ordinary. I want those pancakes and I want the NOW...and then I proceed to obsess about them: how they would taste, what kind of maple syrup I'd put on them, whether i want bacon or not and on and on.

And truly my point this morning in writing about this (besides the fact that I wanted to lighten things up a bit from the hard core reality of rape) is to demonstrate or at least represent to people that even though I've stopped the drinking and drug taking...I am still aware of the addictive nature of this disease of addiction.

I am not in anyway comparing pancakes to booze or drugs...I was going for humor there but the cravings and obsessing are indeed similar. And the point truly was to illustrate how the addicts mind plays a huge role in all of this.

Typically...and this is usually no different then with drugs either...when I get to the point where i can actually go and get a stack of pancakes...more often then not...they are a disappointment. Yep...a big letdown and it almost never fails!

Season In HELL

I would say that I can accept the notion that there is a time and a season in this life to suffer...or where suffering at one moment creates growth for another time and place...I would also say that more often then not and for surely in my own experiences these "seasons of trouble" as it were are the direct result of total selfishness run riot. In other words they are caused by our own selfish ambitions or greed. But played honestly and with effort they can work themselves out in a very positive way in the end...especially if everyone involved is pulling in the same direction, what a concept, eh?!

I never had expectations that life would be easy or anyone would somehow owe me anything. This attitude of entitlement that seems so prevalent today is not only foreign to me but frankly I find it repulsive. Yes I know...I was this totally self absorbed, self-centered guy that always put himself first but I never expected to just be given stuff. From my cars, to the houses, to vacations to even my excessive purchases of Cocaine...I earned it through traditional methods of work, savings, inheritance, marriage...I never thought the government or society owed me anything...ever. It's a difficult concept for me to grasp and accept.

I just sensed from an early age that there would be good times and there would be bad...perhaps I sensed this from being adopted. I mean I never actually felt abandoned...definately not consciously but perhaps in my sub-conscious mind I realized that I was being given up and that hurt. I's a stretch but I was never surprised by hardship even though my upbringing was very solidly upper middle class in social standing, schools, behavior, education...the whole thing.

Now I realize that at age life view was completely transformed by tragedy. That tragedy of course was my being sexually assaulted and raped. Things were never ever the same again. I began living a complete lie and would continue to do so for nearly the next 40 years. My attitude, outlook, self-esteem...everything was affected by what had happened and I could never change that. So I did my best to roll with it and that was that...

I guess one of the ironies of my inability to find forgiveness for those 3 men is that I was the one who suffered, seemingly unnecessarily for all these years. I had the nightmares, the difficulty breathing and feeling generally out of sorts. I could have just forgiven them and moved on but there was a "life-lesson" that ultimately I needed to learn and to this day i don't know what it was or why I needed to learn it...

Oh well...I need to close this post....i start the day with a 8am Theology Lesson in town. Peace!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Redemption: My Very Own Half Mile Sewer Pipe of Sh*t

It's been half a day or so since I publicly forgave the trio of men that perpetuated a terrible, violent crime against me when I was a kid. They violently attacked and sexually assaulted me, beating me up pretty badly and leaving me literally scarred for life with many hidden wounds and a raging case of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). It is only in recent years that I have begun to heal at all from this monstrous crime and it's hideous memories.... 

I was totally prepared to write the usual post about how I don't really feel any different but I'm thankful I went through with it, etc. etc. The only problem with doing that though is I wouldn't be telling you the truth. I really do FEEL different as I sit here this afternoon. My whole world changed this morning and I'll never be the same...

I no longer carry the minute to minute torment of what happened that day around with me like a weighted chain around my neck. Those 3 guys no longer live rent-free in my head, constantly reminding me by their presence there how horrible that whole thing was and that I would never be able to live life without thinking about it constantly...and without thinking, dreaming and feeling things about THEM.

But now...I have been's simple really, I was released from the hell I've carried around with me for 36 years. still happened and yes I remember it...all of it. But I no longer entertain those three men daily in the private confines of my inner brain...I have been carrying THEM around with me for years too, in the form of HATE, Anger, Resentment and RAGE. And that combined emotional stress & strain has been eating away at my peace and serenity...and yes my sanity ever since...

The act of forgiving them and in turn letting go of the anger, the rage, resentment, fear...etc. is the real act of healing here. Letting it go is what made the true, tangible difference for me...and frankly, I had no idea how obsessed I was with those people and what happened to me then. 

Holding on to that memory and what they did that day was with me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week was SICK and that very same memory controlled most everything I thought and felt. I had no conception how sick I really was until today when I shoveled that sh*t out of my life once and for all. Now I'm simply stunned at the possibilities that await, much like Andy Dufresne,the lead character from the movie Shawshank Redemption ,I emerged from my own half mile sewer pipe of emotional and psychological shit: a totally FREE man.

That whole situation had changed in one shining instant of redemption, through forgiveness  and all in one morning's time...and now I have my own memories back, really I have my own life back again. And truly in it's own way, I am starting certain aspects of my life over again. What a wonderful opportunity after so many years of hiding in the darkness of the evil that had been laid on me at such a young age. I still tremble when I think of that innocent boy who left home that day and the fearfully damaged individual that returned in his place...

36 years later that lost little boy finally has found his way home. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm crying as I type, my hands shaking so badly that there is no way I could write this with a pen or pencil. Honestly readers...I never expected this to happen...I never thought I would EVER be free from that torment...even for a few moments.

I didn't Forget...But I forgave!

I guess you could call Monday October 24th a true day of FORGIVENESS. Early this morning while writing the post that precedes this one on the subject of forgiveness I just started to break down, my hands started to shake and it literally felt like inside my chest my heart was breaking in two. I was PHYSICALLY experiencing the power of forgiving. So I preceded to lay it out and forgave the 3 men who raped me some time around the end of 1974 and beginning of 1975 right there in the blog post.

It was the hardest most complex post I've ever been with associated with here on Shell Shock Serenade.  I don't really know how it happens other then I think it was time. I had been working at being open minded but every time I thought of those men I felt physically sick. It was just a case where I had been praying and meditating for some answer and eventually I think that finally my inside eventually became fertile ground for it and it happened.

Don'r get me wrong...I do feel relief and I feel quite different inside but I got a sneaking suspicion that this forgiveness deal is an ongoing and daily practice and will need to be re-visited once in awhile. But it was a major move and a, LEAP toward the LIGHT and in a big way. I had no plans to do this today or in the near future but the timing was just right...and BLAM, there it was. 

For anyone reading the post before this one I warn you that it contains a rather graphic account of rape. I would not recommend it for children or anyone who is unable to cope with some of life's darker realities...frankly, you folks who shy away from this stuff unless you HAVE to are probably better off for it!

It is my sincere hope that by sharing my story about this that perhaps others might find some help in my having done so. At the very least it lets other people know that they are not alone...that somebody else has felt the same fear, loneliness and rage at others who did this to them. And you can recover and heal from it...    

(PHOTO By Ansel Adams)