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Monday, December 31, 2012

Pushing Through The Insomnia BLOCK

It seems we are now experiencing the "calm" AFTER the it were. The normal pattern around here is the holiday comes  and goes and then my parents start to pack for their journey to Florida,  which takes place the first or second week in Jan. But a close friend in Florida died requiring them to drop everything and leave as soon as possible. 

Then in the next day or so we had another very close family friend from here on the Island pass on and then I found out an  old friend from High School also just collapsed and died yesterday at a daughter's Piano Recital in Westerville, Ohio. As a result...this has turned an otherwise "normal" schedule and routine totally on it's ear so life as of late has been just a tab bit chaotic.

So my mother and father rushed to load up the car and took off  yesterday morning to head south and I am half freaking out because my own world has been turned upside down and inside out. The simple TRUTH at work here is that I do no deal with sudden death very well.  You would think that with all the experience I've have had dealing with death that it would be a piece of cake....unfortunately, it doesn't work that way!

I like to believe that I am a fairly well adjusted person (At Least NOW I am) But this has been a whirlwind and quite a SHOCK and I will admit it has thrown me for a bit of a loop. It has been awhile that I had several people I knew and was close to all die within a matter of hours,  It really reminds me of my Senior year in High School when people all around me seemed to be dropping like flies.

But what can I really do about it except embrace the adversity? Thankfully...Kim has time off for the Holiday and we'll try and see if we can't all re-charge our batteries emotionally and psychologically these next two days. We had a very nice New Year's Eve dinner out and now we are hunkered down in a nice warm house, fire going waiting for the NEW YEAR to arrive.

I am still fighting the insomnia that has been haunting me the last 6 weeks or so and it obviously is affecting my ability to write and post regularly. But I am going to keep trying to push through it. 

Have a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR Everyone!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

It Wasn't Time

Last night I wrote a post here on Shell Shock that with out a doubt had to be the shortest I have ever written here on the blog: 3 sentences. I didn't need a lot of words to say that I am grateful to be alive. I really am...

But in quiet moments, late at night when I struggle to find sleep I realize what a miracle it really is that I am walking this planet, still alive. There is absolutely NO WAY I should have survived: The suicide attempt or just my life-style that last year I drank and drugged...either one of those should have easily killed me yet somehow I was immune to Death, which was all around me.

I still get a shiver when I think about it all...knowing now that there is a greater purpose to this life....THAN JUST SURVIVING.

Friday, December 28, 2012


The picture above was taken on Christmas Eve out in the "Back 40" (Behind the garage across the road) as we burned the huge pile of sticks and leaves left over from Fall.

I cannot begin to find the words to express how grateful I am to be alive today and to have the amazing friends/family that I do. I am one very fortunate and blessed man.

Slipping Away

I've posted about this subject before but it has become such a major difficulty once again that I must say something about it or risk going absolutely BATTY! . I am once more going through a major period of being unable to sleep. I fall asleep very easily....the issue is I only sleep for 15 minutes or so then I can no longer get any sleep.

I am on my 11th straight day without any real sustained sleep to speak of. I will fall asleep at my desk, when I sit down to read the paper, behind the wheel of a car....I will nod off just about anywhere but I cannot sustain any real sleep. 

Most of the treatment recommended by physicians involves medication which I will not take. The spooky part is the two major medications that they recommend were both a big part of the suicide cocktail I created to kill myself along with narcotics and a slew of other sedatives, muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety meds. Needless to say I steer clear of those meds that were part of the COCKTAIL....they really mess with my head.

So I am just plugging along doing the best I can to be productive and not do anything dangerous or stupid. But the lack of sleep...the sheer exhaustion is taking it's toll and I feel as though I am losing grip on my sanity as each passing day....

More Later...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tough Day For JOY

It has been a tough couple of days after Christmas for long time friends of our family. One of them passed away on Christmas Day and the other is expected to pass naturally in the next day or so.

I've always believed that death is just part of life and I accept it as so. But there does seem to be something a bit unfair when a person dies on Christmas. It just seems unfortunate for the family who will always associate the day with the death of their loved one.

It sure puts a damper on the outward expressions of joy but frankly that isn't really my way any how...

I have a tendency to feel things very deeply and it is upsetting to have a close friend die on Christmas Day. it just seems one day each year should be exempt from heartbreak and my choice would be Christmas.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

And Then The Day Turned Typical

It is the day after Christmas....Boxing Day for all my friends in England. I'm in a rather British mindset at the moment because my son Ian just so happens to be in the UK visiting his wife's family for the Holidays.

It was a surprisingly uneventful Christmas if you know what I mean....Translation: NO DRAMA or any other major issues to speak of.

I am glad the holiday went so smoothly but literally as soon as the days festivities were over DRAMA and Tragedy struck. A close family friend in Florida died and we are currently waiting for another long time family friend to pass. He was taken off life support a week ago and still he lingers.

This situation has now taken a turn for the surreal....more later.

Monday, December 24, 2012


I written here on many occasions about my attitude, my outlook and my behavior before the bottom fell out of my previous life-style and I surrendered my way of living for a new spiritual way, based on selflessness and service to others.

None of that was easy nor did it happen over a matter of fact it is a process that continues to this day. I have to work each day to practice the principals that helped get me sober and that have helped to keep me that way for nearly 7 years now.

I am grateful for the life I have but I am surprised to find that at times I still long for the craziness and chaos of that old lifestyle. And that used to flip me out. After all I had been through and all that I had put the people I loved through the notion that I would find any part of that old way of living still attractive quite frankly frightened me.

That is why Alcoholism/Addiction is listed by the American Medical Association as a is a true killer. Psychologically this diseases tells it's victim that it does not have it, in fact it convinces them to deny any problem at all. Often alcoholics will keep denying their alcoholism right into their grave.

I'm fortunate in that there has not been any doubt, I know I am an addict and I act accordingly each and every day...but still, having the mere thought about drinking , as noted above can really shake me up. The truth is it is as natural for an alcoholic to think about drinking or an addict to think about using dope as it is for the sun to come up in the morning.

Not sure why I am thinking about this the day before Christmas....actually with all the hype and the festive mood of the holiday that can go with it, I guess it is logical that one would think about partying this time of year.

Anyway...with those thoughts, I will close this morning. I imagine you'll hear more from me again later today....OUT!

Photo: Kathy Tomson

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Unexpected LIGHT, On A Dark, Snowy NIGHT.

Bright shining sunlight in the winter-time is usually not my favorite scenario but that is mostly when there is snow on the ground. The bright white light and glare basically begins to burn my retinas out from the inside! No, not really but the bright sunshine is really uncomfortable because my eyes are quite sensitive to really bright light after getting Lasiks Surgery a decade ago.

I am one of those (apparently few) people who prefer overcast skies and some cloud cover...big, billowy clouds are my best friend. Nothing against the sun, it is just my particular preference that my eyesight happens to be more important then sunshine.

It has continued to be a strange time period in my life lately in that I have been feeling perhaps a bit more "BLUE" then is normal for me. And no I do  think the Holidays have anything to do with it.....this is not an unusual way of feeling for me. 

I believe I am suffering a bit of the "Black Dog" (Depression) which is not at all strange and I think deep down I am still struggling to figure out my place in the world. 

The last 7 years have meant nothing but a series of miraculous changes in my life brought on by major doses of serious change and hard work. The entire way I look at life, my whole outlook and philosophy has changed a full 180 degrees from the self-centered dark, lonely, confused, cynical thoughts and opinions of the past to a very spiritually positive..."help others" out look that guides my life for the most part today.

And for the most part that transformation is complete but I think sub-consciously I rebel against it at times. And there are times I still don't understand why there has been so much pain and suffering for what at times seems like useless changes because I am not going anywhere...well it does not feel like it at times.

I honestly think it's normal to have doubts when you change like this and things haven't always turned out the way I would have liked. I think what bothers me most and discourages me the most is that after 7 years I still run into so much adversity. The last couple of years the majority of that has revolved around K-Sue and her attempts at making huge life decisions and changes. 

I feel like I am reliving it all over again. But just when it seems that I will become overwhelmed by all of this...I catch glimpses of the serenity that awaits me. It comes suddenly and unexpectedly and life feels so...RIGHT.  Then I know I am on the right track and I have to just keep plugging away.

The beacon of light shines out ahead and I know now that even when I don't feel up to it I must hunker down and follow. So I follow the Light...On this dark and snowy light.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

One Man's Western Front - Christmas 1916

Cold and wet, wet and cold....that is all one thinks about out here on the firing line. No real dug-outs, no real cover...a fire would bring instant death from the German front line, which sits a mere 60 yards away. We are on a 100% alert up here during the night and a 50% alert during the day. But no one can really sleep...between the cold, the snow, the shelling, constant Wiz-Bangs (Trench Mortars) is enough to wake the dead. On the other hand the trenches are so poor and un-improved that one cannot really move much during snipers are very active on this sector of Front for each side.

Christmas at home is but a faint memory...more like a dream, really. Blighty itself seems to exist only in fairy tales. If it weren't for fresh replacements fresh from England we wouldn't believe it even existed anymore.

The only good thing about the cold and the snow is the smell of death seems less pervasive...corpses tend to not rot when they are frozen. But the other side of that story is that we cannot bury or remove the dead from this portion of trench. It is too exposed and the ground frozen to dig even shallow graves. So the dead become part of the trench. Over in 3rd Battalion's Sector at the Junction of Ale Alley and The Strand are a set  of frozen arms and hands that stick out of the trench. It is the men's custom to give them a good shake as they pass with a greeting: "Cheers...wars over for you, matey!"

The men will find humor in just about everything. Everything that is...but the RATS. They seem to be even more aggressive now that their constant food supply of corpses are frozen and they become bolder. In the Reserve Line killing them is great sport....funny thing though, even rats are too smart to linger up here in the firing is short up here for friend or foe...animal or man.

Though it is cold and one never thaws or gets warm...there is something peaceful about a heavy fall of fresh is the only thing that can hide this obscenity, this inhumanity of men living like rats...surviving cold and wet, the rain of steel the hunger and madness just for the chance to kill one another. God seems so far away from us now. Even though tis Christmas Time...Insanity is King and it RULES with a ruthless, uncaring hand.

The Lads no longer waste time thinking of home. Because for them this is Frozen Madness, though it is Home.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


I just noticed that there is a potential for some Heavy Weather around here in the next couple of days...possibly some significant snowfall too which would be fantastic. But after looking at the radar tracking I suspect we are going to miss most of the snow and just get the wind and cold temps.

It would be nice to have snow on the ground for Christmas...

After feeling melancholy and suffering a bit of the Old Black Dog as of late I am more concerned of the "HEAVY WEATHER" going on inside of me.

I think what has me a bit perplexed and therefore more concerned then I would typically be is the feelings of disorder and great confusion that seem to really be raining on my parade. Experiencing these specific feeling like this and the timing of it (Holidays) are all very atypical and unusual for me. I normally do not struggle around the holidays like some folks do so it bothers me a bit that I am feeling so down but don't know why.

Needless to say I will be re-visiting this subject tomorrow after a wee bit o sleep!

Surprise Discovery

I will be most frank here...I am wavering between writing a complete goof, throw away type post that carries no emotional weight what-so-ever (except I have learned, often the HARD WAY that everything I do, carries that weight and an emotional PRICE as well). I can pretend I'm on a lark, feeling goofy and light-hearted but the searing memories from the past week coupled with the haunting memories they dredge up from my past are never, ever far away.

What I really feel today is confusion...I feel much like a rudder-less sailing vessel. I'm moving...I know that but I am not quite sure where I am going or if I even want to go. Melancholy reigns when I feel such things and I no longer feel comfortable in my own skin.

These are warning signs for this recovering addict...Why? Because I totally understand and accept from previous experience that my recovery today is completely dependent on the quality of my spiritual connection to my creator. All those feelings and the thoughts that accompany them tell me quite clearly that I am not well connected to God. My spiritual condition is chaotic, which is another huge red flag for me...I realize that I am trying to take back control of my life...Well, Dear Reader, trouble looms when that has been the case in the past. When I am in control, quite honestly I could screw up a wet-dream! Seriously...

So I guess ultimately, I realize now that the purpose of this post today was to hi-light for me in no uncertain terms that I have some work to do spiritually. The positive thing about that realizations is that it came naturally to me meaning that my sense of awareness is still there and it is something that is fixable. 

I need to sit down and have a little pow-wow with God...another name for that is Prayer or Meditation.  That nearly always re-establishes a connection and peace, serenity and balance can once again flow into me for Him. I have written here in Shell Shock often is a critically important factor for me.

I make no secret that recovery for me takes a spiritual solution...I cannot stay clean and sober living life by my own rules..I will succeed in killing myself eventually playing by my rules...I need God in my life, I just do. 

That makes a great many people uncomfortable but I cannot and will not try to tell you something that is misleading. My life got a whole lot better when I met my Creator...It just did. I had no real belief in God when I starte

Of course that was only a beginning and it takes a lot of hard work and ruthless honesty to get where I needed to go.

It is funny...I sat down to try and write something half-way interesting and discovered a great deal about myself this morning, basically without trying that hard.

So this is where I will start this day and I imagine there may be a more to write about later...until then, have a great day!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Un-Touchable ONE

A melancholy melody runs in waves through every nook and cranny of my brain, throughout my spirit which encases what remnant that remains of my SOUL. I'm hurting deep inside...."Soul Pain" and it is all a direct result of the shootings in Newtown.       

As I was looking for information of the other shootings like this one, Columbine for example...I came across pictures of that crime scene and actual surveillance video from the attack. This stuff was graphic but I've scene bloody corpses in person so that wasn't what disturbed me. It was just the senselessness of it all...these two idiot kids running around the school lunchroom shooting unarmed people, setting of home-made bombs and acting as if they were celebrating a touchdown each time they killed someone. 

Then fittingly I the end of the footage are a series of still color photographs of the two killers bodies lying blood-soaked and disfigured after they shot themselves in the head in the school library. 

I am just sick of the violence, the senselessness of it all. Of course seeing and being exposed to such graphic horror taps into my own experiences and I am melting, literally in a rage of heartbreak and tears. It makes me want to be a child, wrapped in my mothers arms again just to be held.....I want it all to just go away.

And then I realize that since this has all happened to me I don't really ever let anyone truly "hold me" close anyway. Why is that, you ask? Because I am The Untouchable One...unlovable and unwanted...Hell, even I don't want me. How can it be that years of therapy work can seemingly come unglued in a matter of minutes by a video and a couple of pictures. Or the news that some nut job killed kids in Connecticut for no reason at all.

I think that with human beings we all want there to be a reason why we live...why things happen the way they do...some explanation when stuff happens and things go hay-wire.

But there isn't a reasonable answer to madness and the sheer senselessness of it overwhelms even the emotionally hardened among us who have learned how to shut down their ability to feel to protect themselves from just this kind of shit.    
But as I've healed and changed....I've allowed myself to feel be vulnerable AGAIN and as a result...I am really hurting HARD tonight. 

My mother had this Dr Phil Clown on TV today and he was doing a show related to the school killings (it may have been a re-run after a previous mass shooting, I'm not sure) about boys/young men who suffer from mental illness and how their parents fail them and how they end up doing what they do. It doesn't take long for my Bull-Shit Detector (BSD) to go off and see PHIL for what he really is: at best a phony, a worst, a sick, money grubbing ego-driven phony bastard who feeds people a bunch of crap to build his TV EMPIRE...I don't trust him, I think his advice is dangerous because it is incomplete, "sound bite" advice that sounds good but in reality is worthless. And he is responsible for dispensing such nonsense on so many gullible and unsuspecting innocent people who really need TRUE professional help....not this crap. He Feeds off those innocent people who are really hurting and need true help...he uses them up on his show, usually humiliating the innocent in the process then spits them out after the ratings come in.  

OK, enough...I feel ill. I cannot deal with this any longer tonight. It seems when the world hurts so deeply in their SOUL...people who have suffered their own personal holocaust can tap into it and feel it too. This is not the first time I have felt this way but it frightens quiet moments I hear the echoes of screaming....the echoing gunfire and shouting and in a split second that seems like an eternity I cannot tell if it is really happening again or not.

My heart is SOUL to wounded to move and I wonder if I should even bother sometimes to breathe. But that is the old Black Dog Talking and I won't fall for that crap tonight...

Top Photo Credit: Kevin Lange

Sunday, December 16, 2012


The President spoke tonight from a Healing Inter-Faith service in Newtown CT. He avoided talking politics, specifically Gun Control which I believed he would not do on such an occasion but still I am grateful he didn't go there. This is not the time nor the place. He did say, however that this kind of violence against the innocent is now happening with a regularity this is nothing short of frightening and we are in danger, by standing by and doing nothing to change it, of passively accepting this horror by default. I could not agree with him more...this cannot go on, we must find a way to stop it and at least begin to change a major flaw in our society. 

There is obviously something terribly wrong with a society that individuals are driven to commit such heinous acts to their fellow human beings. We are not taking care of one another.

I believe mental illness has become our Country's and perhaps the worlds "Dirty Little Secret". Here in America we just pretend not to see the mental illness in people and somehow that must mean that it doesn't exist.

Why am I talking about mental illness here instead of stricter gun control laws? Because I believe with my whole heart that the root cause of these acts of madness is Mental Illness. As far as I know, just about every-one involved in one of these Mass Murder Shootings from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Tuscon, AZ to Aurora, CO to New Town, CT had either been treated for or was suspected of Mental Illness. Or they were so bullied, out-cast and alienated by society to be driven to the very brink of it. 

People are not just wired to go and brutally Kill others, for no real reason...just like that. There is a cause for must be found and we must fight it and stop it right now. Perhaps Mental Illness is just one aspect of it and it really is a complex mess that needs to be unwound piece by piece to find a true  "Root Cause". Even if this is so...we must start the process now, to stop it.

I believe we have done nothing of value to put an end to the horrifying regularity in which this has begun to happen. We are shocked, we mourn, there is some gun control talk generated and the NRA gets itself all wound up in knots and everyone talks about their 2nd Amendments Rights...But then...nothing ever happens...except someone eventually will go on another RAMPAGE of Mass MURDER...this time apparently targeting CHILDREN! My GOD why?!

That is what I would like to know...why it is happening...then perhaps we can change it, prevent it, perhaps even STOP IT FOREVER.

As you may gather, I do not believe this is solely a Gun Issue...actually I don't think it really is gun related at all as far as what is the root cause of these mass killings. If you solve the reason why these individuals want to KILL...guns, just like knives or poison or hand grenades or machetes or steak knives are in animate objects that cannot do a thing on there own...they are harmless.

I am not saying that the solution for this problem may not include some further restrictions in gun purchases...particularly by those who are mentally ill. How do we do that and protect citizens 2nd Amendment Rights? I do not know...I have never said that this would be easy. 

All I am saying however is that doing NOTHING to change this sickening trend of accepting mass murder as inevitable is morally WRONG. We must stop  this and my suggestion would be to start looking at how we are treating those in our society struggling with Mental Health Issues. As I have already is a fact that some of these individuals, like the V-Tech Killer Seung-Hui Cho was known to struggle with mental illness yet he slipped through the cracks when he easily could have been locked away for treatment.

I realize that once again, this is complex...I don't see us ever going back to State Run Mental Institutions but the fact is when the last of those units closed down, tens of thousands of mentally ill people were forced into society no matter what their condition. I contend that we are still reaping what we have sown by that decision to eliminate the institutions with-out having ,

I know this is a lot to process and this recent horror it is still a raw, open wound but we must do something, it is NOW or NEVER.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dance...With The DEVIL

The other day I posted about getting into  routine again of posting something early in the morning of each day. I was fired up and determined to get back on track, doing something I enjoyed and felt strongly about it having value not only for myself (ultimately the true reason I write Shell Shock Serenade) but for the reader as well.

Well my good intentions lasted exactly one day.... that one and only...lonely little post. I admit it...I've failed here and frankly I find it more humorous then anything. Who freaking cares how I start the day.

On to something a little more difficult to discuss or really...even think about.

Yesterday in  Newtown, Connecticut a 20 year old gunman walked into an Elementary school an killed 20 6-7 year old children and 6 teachers, staff and the Principal from the school. He shot the victim's so many times that there was only 1 wounded adult Assistant Principle.

Needless to say this is front page, every headline on TV stuff here in the United States. I know there are quite a few International readers here at Shell Shock and I would imagine that the story is getting HUGE coverage all over the world but one never knows with the rest of the world.

Well I am having some issues processing this whole thing and frankly there is part of me that is a little afraid to write what follows.

A mad-man going on a shooting spree, killing 26 people in cold blood in an elementary school is horrifying to me.  But I have to admit that as I have friends who are driven to tears of outrage by this and the media is going on about how Evil this is and the Devil himself must be involved I find myself....for lack of a better word: NUMB. It bothers me...Yes. It is frightening and awful but it is almost as if I have lost my ability to feel. People will say how can I feel this way, they were CHILDREN.    

Well, the answer I have for them, they cannot HANDLE nor even begin to comprehend. I don't blink an eye when they talk about shooting some of these kids 11 times right in the face or shooting their teacher down because I KNOW there is evil in this comes as no surprise to me.

 Tonight on National Cable Network News TV Geraldo Rivera said the Devil Himself came to Newtown. The Evil one was here, he said multiple times...and he called it a Mini-Holocaust...which is an incredible statement to make, because those are very significant words from someone with a Jewish mother who was raised "mostly Jewish". 

The reason that I feel numb to this is it is how I protect myself from true, un-controlled horror and EVIL.  You see, I've met the Devil face to face in the guise of three grown men who picked me, an innocent 12 year old boy to corner, isolate, beat the sh*t out of and then rape at will. That was IS my was MY TURN to  Dance With The DEVIL that day...and dance I surely did...for my LIFE.

I have incredibly deep, tender feelings for those children and for other victims of violence...but I simply cannot let them go any old time I feel like it because if those feelings are let loose on the world, without care, without love and hope...they can and they most certainly will destroy me...if not managed properly with therapy and the Grace of a Loving GOD. TRUST ME...the best way to manage a personal Holocaust? Initially, NUMBNESS...   

CAN you F**cking here me now, huh!!? Is that clear enough for you? Those Bastards robbed me of my ability to feel nurture and support people who are hurting. Why? Because the mere shadow of horror or intense emotional pain sends me into an sub-conscience Def-Con FIVE type Alert to shut down my entire ability to relate, to feel, to care...Emotionally...that's why  That's what I learned to do to protect myself.     

This is a tragedy ...It breaks my heart.                                                                                                                                                     Of course I want to rage on about what happened, I want to just break down and cry for those kids and the 6 woman who tried to protect them. But my selfish desire to not want to  KILL MYSELF in the process prevents me for doing so.

There isn't an easy way to deal with something so incomprehensible, so WRONG. But we must continue on and not let evil dictate how we live our live. 

For me this will always be a difficult dance trying to reconcile the past with the events of today. I don't want to run from the pain of the past but certain reactions are just that: I'm reacting...not thinking and making a choice what to think and feel.

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Friends...The Dead.

Why do I often seem to relate more to the dead, at times....then the living? What is it about War and Battle, the hand to hand fight, the rats, the horror of rotting corpses and living among the dead that draw me in like a old, familiar friend. 

I've searched for those answers all my life and never have come up with an adequate answer. I just know that there is something inside of me that really has empathy with the combat and dead...and I have felt that connection in a very powerful way since I was but a wee lad. 

"They must go forward, they HAD to charge that wall" as they said in the 69th NY Regiment of the Irish Brigade who were honored at Fredricksburgs VA yesterday on the 150th Anniversary of their charge up the bloody and impregnable Stone Wall (pictured above today...below in 1863 after another the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863) at the foot of Marye's Height's.

In December of 1862 nearly 3,ooo men died trying to reach that stone wall pictured above. They were led by the famous Irish Brigade made up of Regiments from New England and New York. None of those men could get within 50 yards of the wall because the Confederate Infantry men packed behind it cut them down like blades of grass before a mower. 150 years later they are remembered by young children placing flowers in their memory on that very same stone wall now know to history simply as: The STONE Fredricksburg,

I believe at times that I relate more to the dead out of envy...their war, as it over. The rest of us must carry on. And I fought the good fight for many years but there was a event perhaps or just a moment of SATURATION when enough was enough...I could not comprehend any more HORROR and I stopped relating to the living and sought the ranks of the dead.

I am talking about the moment of my suicide attempt...I think it was nothing more complex then I was over-filled with grief, sorrow, pain, suffering and guilt among other things and ALL I could think of to do was DIE.

A cop-out? Sure that is easy to say now but doesn't help clear up for me what was happening between me ears at THAT TIME.

Today much healing has taken place and I see things and feel things much differently. But I believe there will always be a transformation toward healing taking place. My conclusion is that I am a human being who has an understanding of something NO ONE can understand and that will always create an imbalance somewhere, some how in my life today. It is living with that imbalance that becomes my daily challenge....                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I am trying to get back to a place where I start the day off with a post. I really enjoyed beginning my day that way and the feedback from readers suggested that they did as well. The problem became one of adequate sleep or lack there-of. I became too tired to really put any effort into writing something worthwhile and I started to "force it" for the sake of posting something.

Nothing drags a blog down faster then contrived, un-interesting posts about nothing. And that is what I was dishing out. I also think I tried to hard when it can to ambition...I felt i had to post these large essays instead of just shooting a few relevant or observant sentences out for a  quick "jump-Start" to the day.

That will be the focus of these morning posts from here on out...

Today for example I continue to work toward developing a better, more comprehensive exercise program to lead off my morning. I have always just done whatever came to mind and there was no consistency or repetition. That changes starting this morning...

I also find it interesting that one of the outlets for my morning energy is to clean so i started my day mopping the wood floors in the house with Murphy's Oil Soap. Yea...I get excited about stuff being clean....go figure.

So we are going to try and lead each day with something on Shell Shock but I promise...only if there is something actually really there to write forcing stuff out just to "get it 

Off we go....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

City of Love & Hate

Holland, Michigan....This is a mid-sized city, founded by Dutch immigrants in the late 1840's built around Lake Macatawa  on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It's a nice place, known mostly for it's annual May Tulip Time Festival that brings nearly half a million tourists into the area in a 2 week period.

Most people who visit really like the place and I agree, it is a great place to visit...

But that isn't why I am writing about Holland tonight. Though I was born 20 miles from Holland in Grand Rapids MI, I grew up in the northern suburbs of Columbus, Ohio and lived there until I was 22 years old. It was at that time, in 1984 that I moved to Holland for work in one of the areas 3 major Office Furniture Manufacturers: Herman Miller, Inc. I worked for them for nearly 25 years in the factory...starting as an Assembler and then moving into Production Management. I made a very good living working for HMI and have no complaints...they are an excellent company to work for.

This morning I left the Island at 6am and drove to my doctor's office in Holland, 2.5 hours away for an appointment. It was going back there this morning that has the old wheels of memory turning in me head tonight. Sometimes that is a really good thing...other times...well, you isn't.

I was thinking how much I really love the place....yet it also occurred to me that I really hated the place at times too. Hence that was one of my motivations for finally cutting the cord, selling my house in Holland and moving here to Coldwater Lake, Michigan full time.
Needless to say I have mixed feelings about the little gem of this City called Holland. But the trouble starts when I realize that the last couple of years that I lived there were without a doubt the worst, most horrific 2 years of my life.  For the longest time visiting Holland for me was akin to returning to a scene of a crime: The Murder Of My Soul.

Though I feel like a great deal of healing has taken place in the 5 years since I moved away from there full time, I still feel as if part of me died there that I will never be able to retrieve...It is like he is gone forever.

For several years I would just become overwhelmed by sadness whenever I visited...I still obviously loved the place yet it hurt me so much to be there. But today...I actually spoke to K about the notion of living there again. She would definitely rather live there too but I am here...Plus she needed to cut her own emotional cord to find her own way so she is here too...for NOW.

My situation is further complicated because I have made a commitment to take care of my parents and I am quite serious about that. But none of that is really all that relevant at this moment in time...

What is, however very relevant is that I actually came out of my Psychological Cave and discussed living there again w/K-Sue and it felt so damn good just to consider it. It felt REALLY GOOD as a matter of fact and I am happy that occurred because for some time I did not envision EVER being able to live again. Now...for whatever really does seem possible again.

I don't know what else to say except:


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Bone, Chilling Cold...

A cold, wet, blustery early evening here in the "Great Lakes North Country" of the United States. Fireplace going, candles is a night even the Restless ME doesn't mind hunkering down and burrowing in for the night.
It's nights like these that I think of the 101st Airborne and others in the Ardennes Forest in 1944 (Battle Of The Bulge) during World War II or the fellows of the First Marine Division and others at the Chosin Reservoir in 1950 during the Korean War.

Those guys spent weeks on end outside in frigid, snowy conditions, foxholes that had to be blasted out of the frozen ground. Most of their time was spent in the very front lines, constantly being shelled or under small arms fire. In both cases at Bastogne in the Bulge and at the Chosin, the men were surrounded. Both situations looked hopeless from the very start...

I think most of us who grew up in the north, have spent too long outside sledding or playing football in the snow and felt so cold/wet that we would never thaw. That doesn't come close to the bone numbing cold experienced by these guys....outside, exposed to wet, frigid wintry conditions for weeks at a time. The men's feet literally froze and turned black from Trench Foot...most of the time when that happened, men lost those feet, there was nothing else to do but amputate them.

I cannot even begin to imagine how they must have felt. Some were but teenagers...and were very far from home, scared to death with little hope for relief or survival. They were fighting an enemy that was well trained and determined to kill them. It was the ultimate test of endurance and character. Somehow they persevered.

I don't know why I tend to let my mind wander and end up thinking about them at times like these but I always have. At some point a man's will to live is put to the ultimate test....and certainly for these men this was it.

So I close with thoughts of all the American Soldiers who have spent nights like this out on Patrol in No Man's Land, Perimeter Watch in some frozen water filled fox-hole or hunkered down in a fire-fight on some ridge line in the mountains of Afghanistan. I'm thinking of all of you tonight....Thank You....God Speed and God Bless!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


A big sports day for....The annual Army vs Navy football is on and I still think it is one of the great spectacles in College Sports.

There is so much History between the Naval Academy and West Point.  

Most if not all of these guys will NEVER play in the NFL...for the Seniors it is the last Football Game they will play, unless they are going to a Bowl. Then they will be deployed in Active Duty to fulfill their commitment. These guys truly are Student Athletes ...probably the only TRUE student Athletes left nowadays. 

So check it out on CBS, the game just started at 2pm Eastern Time.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Today being December 7, I have to say something about it being Pearl Harbor Day....

When I was a wee lad (or little boy if you prefer) it was common for people to commonly refer to this day frequently as Pearl Harbor Day. Every December 7th it would be the front page headline or printed at the very top of every newspaper, reported extensively about on television and just common knowledge. Sadly, today most people aren't really that aware of it or know nothing about Pearl Harbor and it's significance at all. 

There would have been a time that the thought that most Americans don't anything about World War Two would have been ludicrous...laughable. But today seems only a matter of time and people won't even know about the existence of the War. Not only do I find that fact totally unbelievable but I find it even more FRIGHTENING to say the least.

I believe what they say about forgetting our past...If we do then we are destined to repeat it. If we push what has happened in the world out of our collective memories, no only does it become possible that we could relive some of the horror of that War and Genocide against the Jews/Eastern Europeans and others but it becomes probable even likely.

I know, I know...I am just being another pro-war, scare-monger. Why don't you ask the survivors of the War and genocide in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990's if Concentration Camps, Mass Murder/Rape and Ethnic Cleansing seems so far fetched to them. People...the roots of this hatred run deep (it usually does), in the case of Yugoslav Conflicts over 500 years DEEP! They sure as heck had not forgotten their hatred for each other. Hate is something people seem to  remember...

Let us not forget what has happened in our past...I do not believe it is too late for us to re-emphasize the importance of studying history and gleaning whatever important lessons we can learn from our past so God forbid, we do not have to repeat any part of it.

When I mentioned above, that time...not so long ago when I was but a boy, it was common for all my friends to know about WWII or The Civil War and at least be able to recall what happened and why. Today...the majority adults on the street, if asked would struggle to recall basic facts about World War Two...perhaps they have no clue who was even fighting each other in the War and WHY?

That really scares me....Ignorance is almost ALWAYS responsible for Hate Crimes and going to War. And collectively as a Country of people we are becoming increasingly ignorant of our past by the SECOND. Let's do our part today and Remember Pearl Harbor and what that event 71 years ago today meant not only for the United states...but the entire WORLD!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Feeling LOST & The Bumpy Little RIDE!

It has been a rather odd and difficult time in my life lately, that I will certainly have to admit. I've worked hard to hide it but i really cannot and it isn't my style anyway. This has been mainly as a result of some rather big and imposing changes that have happened to K in her life and in turn have impacted me and my own life as well. The last 11 months have felt a bit "lost" almost to me because I have wrapped all of my life's energy so much around working Kim's situation that as a result, my own life has felt unsatisfying...almost like it has been on hold.

I'm not saying that I am upset or against that has gone down this way, it may have been exactly what I needed to do to support her in this major life endeavor of hers. But even if that is the case...I still feel as if I have lost something this last year that I cannot ever get back and may indeed have difficulty recovering from. That truly is my fear...can I get my MOJO back? Only time will tell...

That is my concern...I have focused so much of my life solely for the benefit of "US" that I have lost some of myself along the way. I know, folks will say "Thom, that's what happens in relationships,two people combine to become one....but I beg to differ that losing an important piece of one's self along the way is a necessary part of the process of 2 becoming 1.

When I speak of losing myself, it is not the same thing as compromising a point in a discussion. No this is part of who I am somehow not being there anymore and as a result I feel incomplete...LOST.

I have been super reluctant to write this post because it will be easy for people to misinterpret what I mean. Because I myself am having a really hard time understanding exactly what is happening to me as well. I don't want to over-react or jump to any un-necessary conclusions here...there are peoples emotions and feelings involved and since it is unclear what this means I want to tread carefully.

But I have been so incredibly LETHARGIC lately...not just physically in my life but even what I write here has been impacted and the subject matter has reflected the confusion and instability I am feeling.

So I am not entirely sure as of yet but something isn't balanced and is beginning to rub...the ride of life is getting rough and I must get to the bottom of it.

Stay tuned for more...

Photo: Kathy Tomson    

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It Takes A Lifetime...One Minute At A Time!

Oddly, I feel wide awake and alert for a guy who has not had any real sleep since early Saturday morning. I had to drive up to Marshall Michigan late this morning and I was quite reluctant to undertake that drive but it ended up going well...meaning I didn't come close to falling asleep at the wheel! K's phone was at the Sprint Store (Yea, I live so far out in  Po-Dunk Stick Country that I have to drive 40 minutes to the nearest full service Sprint Store!) so I had a fairly long ride up there to go and pick it up for her while she tried to get a little sleep of her own.     

[Interestingly, I just now spent the last 20 minutes asleep on my keyboard so I guess I spoke to soon....]

The real reason that I have taken the time to mention this sleep issue in such detail is that often people think that when an addict/alcoholic gets sober, they go through a tough period of withdraw and re-adjustment but if they survive that...then everything is pretty cool. Most people do not realize that sobriety/recovery is a daily, life-long commitment. There is NO CURE for addiction. Just TREATMENT and the only known treatment that works that I know is total abstinence from booze & drugs combined with some serious spiritual, behavioral and life-style changes.

Some will disagree with this assessment but this is the only thing that has worked for me and countless other millions of recovering alcoholic/addicts. I have been clean and sober, enjoying a brand new lease on life for over 6 years now...that's pretty much all the convincing I need that this works.  

Unfortunately some folks will always want to find a their own, "better" way...I have just seen so many of them crash and burn (and often die) in the process that I just don't recommend going that route. But hey, like most things in is a choice! 

That's Life, eh?!

It is no secret around here that I often struggle to sleep. It's just always been an issue and something I accept for the most part. But there are times when It can start to feel overwhelming and the frustration builds to a point where I don't feel comfortable with how I begin to feel.

And I'm not just referring to physically feeling lousy, being so tired during the day that I nod off at the table during lunch or every time I sit down to read something or have a chat. But then I'll try and go lay down, hoping to parlay that exhaustion into an hour or two of sleep and it doesn't happen.

The physical lack of sleep starts to play tricks with your mind and I get forgetful about what I've done or was going to do. As I mentioned, I have dealt with not sleeping in one form or another all throughout my time in recovery. Some of it is related to my addiction...certainly after 30 years of taking Narcotic pain Meds/sedatives, drinking heavily and then adding large quantities of Cocaine near the end of my active addiction, it isn't surprising that I have totally screwed up my body physiologically. Even after 7 years sober it often doesn't know when I am coming or going.

So I am no stranger to not sleeping but this latest series of episodes are  really beginning to bother me. I'd go so far as to admit being a bit frightened by my thoughts, feelings and is really starting to wea on me physically, Psychologically, Emotionally and Spiritually....when that happens I (anyone actually  is in deep trouble! 

I have never had a period like this where I am totally clean and sober and will go 2-3 days without sleeping at all...not a wink. It's getting downright dangerous...there are times that I have had to literally stop myself from driving because I can't stay on the road...I keep nodding off. It happened to me today already.

Unfortunately I have been to see my doctors and their solution is sleeping pills like Ambien or Lunesta  which i've tried in the past with no success and various anti-anxiety Meds like Xanax, etc which are a HUGE NO NO for me. All of those and more were part of the gigantic "Suicide Cocktail" I used to try and kill myself with. I've gotten to the point where the more exhausted I get the less likely I am to even fall asleep.

So as I write this tonight, I'm more then a little surprised by the fact that I actually have not fallen asleep at the keyboard....and I am really concerned that something "else" may be at play here health wise. All I can do is pray and remain diligent & observant for any unusual signs or symptoms.

It isn't something that I was really prepared to be dealing with at this stage in my life. Some of the greater pressures of K's situation have chilled out and I thought I would be able to enjoy life a little more with less stress....Didn't happen that way.

Oh well, that's life, eh?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

So What IS Love, eh?!

One of the areas of my life where I was affected the most emotionally by my addiction, sexual assault and divorce was in the area of trust. I had trust issues before any of that stuff happened but incurring all that additional heartbreak and resentment coupled with the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)...well it embittered me almost to the point of no return. 
I initially handled that by figuring F**k-IT, everyone else can go to HELL, I don't need anyone else, I can take care of myself...I actually reveled in the notion of being ALONE in this world. Well most people realized that sounds real tough and dramatic but in practical terms it doesn't really work...I was defiant but lonely as hell. I just did not know how I could ever trust any one again...I didn't even trust myself.
Needless to say this has affected any relationship that I happen to have from the very casual, to business/professional to the romantic. It has made it very hard for Kim and has most definitely been the biggest most difficult issue we have had to overcome in our 6-7 years together.

 Here she has done nothing but help me, love me, try to listen to me, take care of me and I seem incapable of letting her in close. It has been a hard road but I will say one thing...I've been really honest about my fears and insecurities and that has helped allot.

We have been making progress all along. But that isn't really what this post tonight is all about. 

I got an email this evening that told an incredible story of love and dedication in pictures of a young couple, probably in their mid-twenties just starting their life together. He is in the military and though it does not say, my guess from the pics is he is a Navy Seal. There is no story accompanying this pictorial...the pictures tell the story.
Basically their's is a fairy-tale Love Story...Then he gets his arms and legs blown off in action...and miraculously that is when the REAL LOVE STORY BEGINS! 

These pictures tell a story of how he fought to get his life back and how his girlfriend and later wife fought right there with him...inch by painful, heartbreaking INCH. I cried, bawled really when I first saw this...I am not ashamed to admit it but I did. 

I think in my jaded, heartbroken mind and heart, this is how LOVE should manifest itself in our is truly how it is supposed to BE, right? They say for BETTER or for WORSE don't they?!. Well this is for the better and definitely the doubt about it.

It was no secret that although I knew I created most of the chaos that destroyed my marriage and nearly my life, it ultimately was a 2-way street. So I felt totally abandoned when I needed my partner the most...I felt much like I was just a piece of trash to be discarded.  []

In reality that was NOT the case but it felt that way at the time. She had already started looking for a home, possibly even had one picked out BEFORE she told me about wanting a divorce...that kind of thing not only hurts but de-values a person in their own mind and honestly, I felt so shitty about myself that I did not need any help!
But then I see a couple like this, where times are as tough as they can possibly be and they just stick matter what. 

There are several pictures where this beautiful young woman is literally carrying this bearded, muscular and still heavy (albeit he has no arms or legs) man up stairs or on the's incredible....but that is LOVE.






There isn't much more I can possibly say after seeing this. If you would like to see even more pictures check the link above. God bless these two...they give hope to many of us working our way back to love and trust...they show us through there relationship that Love really does still exist...