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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Not Even CLOSE To Good Enough!

I suppose today would have to go into the victory side of the equation....IF we were to keep score of how each and every day of our life turned out. Life almost seems like a life and death game of survival and that everyday we are playing for why not tally up the score, eh. Everything else in the world is competitive why not simply living!?

So today I would call a technical victory because first and foremost we survived to live another another day is obviously necessary to continue playing this "GAME" called LIFE, right?! In my "old life" that used to be enough...just surviving. But honestly today it is not enough...I expect much more from myself. Hence the "technical" victory...a true or "FULL" victory requires much more then survival.

And that is why I have been feeling down, somewhat discouraged and disappointed...because I have slipped enough that I was starting to accept mediocrity again as being good enough...just getting through the day used to be a goal, a win....Well it is NOT good enough anymore, not even close.

Today I demand more of myself then just getting by. Why? For life depends on my willingness and ability to help others. To go the extra 10 miles to make it right, to sacrifice comfort and privilege, for pain and suffering so that others can be from their addictions as I have been released from the prison of my addiction and the impossibly, chaotic life of self-will run-riot.

I have detoured lately because times have gotten rougher then I thought they should so I started to feel sorry for myself...instead of having Faith, trusting God and moving forward as I have been doing the last 6 years.  I was forgetting what saved me initially and what has kept me here...clean, sober and living a spiritually based life focused on helping others.

As the ship that is my life is getting turned back around in the right direction, I can already say that I feel more at ease. I just need to keep my eyes focused on God and take each day one at a time...things seem to come out ....WAY MORE then OK...when I do!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Beacon Of HOPE!

I can't go into a great deal of detail but it is quite possible that Kim's living situation may be resolved by the end of November if not a wee, bit sooner. I am going to leave it at that for now but things appear to be coming around...we will see in the next couple of days.

We have already been reassured that her boss is going to hire her into the company permanently next week or the following week. I don't want to get my hopes up yet it is what it is....POSITIVE reinforcement. And we shall take all of THAT we can get, HA HA!!

So there is a beacon of hope on the horizon tonight and we shall continue to FOLLOW and BELIEVE... 

PHOTO: Kathy Tomson  

Monday, October 29, 2012


Ach...there is so much that I need to say and say right now, only the words I need to express those feelings and ideas (that are wearing a hole in my SOUL at the moment) have NOT been invented least in any language that I happen to know!

I have often felt as if all the familiar links that I previously have had to my sanity were being challenged and stretched to the very limit....Yet today, well this is different. The links themselves have actually snapped, Pop, Pop, after another and my mind is left abandoned to it's own devices.

I think I'm in some trouble here and have not really dealt with such intensity so focused in my mind. 

Some years ago..even before I was raped at age 12, I started to have nightmares (both at night and during the day while I was by all purposes asleep) of violent death, enduring endless shellfire and combat in Great War Trenches. I could not shut them off and I feared for my sanity. My parents took me to see a shrink to get some answers about these awful dreams but nothing was ever diagnosed...except a vivid sub-conscious imagination, I guess.

I seem to be reliving that experience all over again and in ALL it's intensity because as I speak, I cannot get any sleep, any rest or any peace. What sanity I appeared to retain is now completely gone and I feel as if I am slipping away....I'm so lost, adrift once again on an Ocean of SORROWS.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Simple Cliche...Keeping FAITH

I confess to feeling somewhat confused by the things happening in my life at the moment. There has been far more adversity then I have come to expect at this stage in my recovery. Yes stuff happens every day, that's just life but the so called little "day to day" stuff has really been kicking my behind....ferociously.

The simple fact of the matter is I suspect that I am undergoing a crisis...and like most situations of trouble or adversity, I always am aware of the potential pitfalls and risks...but also of the opportunity to grow from struggle. Sounds like a bunch of HOOEY, I know but I've experienced it time and time again.

Right now the job on my part is simple and yea, it's a cliche but it is quite important that I follow through: I need to KEEP THE FAITH and stay positive. Most of thew actual physical hardship is being unleashed on Kim....that makes it hard too because I have to stand by helpless as she often gets tested to the limit of her endurance. I want to take the burden from her but I cannot...and that is a terribly powerless feeling on my part and hard to except.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Close Door/Open Door = FREEDOM from Fear

Share my thoughts or feelings to others in some constructive manner, on a regular, everyday basis or continue down a path of self-destruction that I cannot stop. That was my dilemma 6 years ago that ultimately lead to the formation of this blog. It did not happen right in fact I first started to share my intimate thoughts and feelings with one person who I trusted and over time it developed into a way of life.

I made doubt. There were times I went too FAR and said way TOO MUCH and other times when I was still holding back and playing safe.

Chris....a blog buddy of mine wrote a piece today on her blog Ms Faustus about her thoughts on this subject and many is well worth the read.

And it certainly provoked thought on my part about how I went from someone who held everything close to the point of lying about it to "protect" myself to the guy who is as wide and open/honest about these things as I AM TODAY.

It has been an interesting journey to say the least....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Silent Sadness & Tear-Filled Waterfalls

I mentioned in the post from earlier today that a close friend was having a Heart Cath. procedure and that did indeed happen this morning with positive results. The issue now is that there is some concern about his Atrial Artery and he needs some tests done tomorrow to clarify exactly what they are dealing with so he still remains hospitalized for the near future and could be looking at additional treatment, which may or may not include surgery.

So we wait for the word to come down about his situation.

I now believe that I am getting a visit from my old pal the BLACK DOG (Depression)...It's funny, I knew I was feeling melancholy and detached but it wasn't until today when I realize I could not shake the overwhelming SADNESS that pervades every nook & cranny of my being. That is how the BD manifests itself with the form of a major sheet of sadness, like a huge blanket smothering everything positive and light...I suffocate in silent sadness and shed a waterfall of invisible tears.

It is like the hurt inside, sat dormant for so long that it built up as if behind a dam and eventually the built-up sad feelings spilled over and I'm drowning in my own mood and experiences....There seems little I can do at this point except hold on for dear life and that's the plan.

Photo:K. Tomson

Blinders Or Beer Goggles

I can't really do or say anything today without mentioning that a very dear friend of mine is going into have a Heart Catheterization Procedure, probably as I write this or soon after. For reason's of privacy, he will remain nameless in this post but I am most certainly thinking about him this morning and my prayers go out to him and his family.

Do I have life issues today? Sure I do...I have worries, problems and obstacles to overcome just like anyone else yet those concerns start to pale in relation to the bigger picture. Neither Kim nor I are having a heart procedure done this morning and we have many positive things happening in our lives. 

I've written lately about feeling down because the weight of adversity feels particularly HEAVY these days and that is no IS heavy. We do have some big issues to deal with and major decisions to make over the next couple of weeks...stuff that will impact us for some time to come and may influence the rest of our lives. 

We are at a critical crossroads in our relationship...we know that and embrace that fact. Many people have commented to me about how much personal information I will often share here on Shell Shock Serenade and it is true....I rarely hold anything back...especially if that information could help someone. 

But I will be honest here...I am holding some info back here because much of this is very personal between Kim and I and often we have not been at our best and yes, it is embarrassing but we continue to learn and to grow.

I used to go through life with blinders (some would say BEER GOGGLES) on and only saw what I CHOSE to see. Today it is much different as I welcome the experiences of others and I pay attention because you will never know when a friend may have a need and let's face facts: helping people is how I learn and grow. It is also what keeps my sober because I believe that we must give it away (help others) to keep it (our sobriety). Time and own and the experiences of thousands of other recovering alcoholic's who have documented their journey from hopelessness to a new what ultimately turns the tide along with Faith..

So I will approach my day today with a confident gratitude and humility for this new life. Each new day in it is truly a gift for me. Is it borrowed time? No...I think not but you can never expect it...just accept it as it happens and that is how it works for me these days.

So I sign off with a silent prayer for my friend...may GOD wrap him in his arms and carry him through this adversity today and watch over his family as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Melancholy, Chocolate Chip.(Today's Special)

Melancholy seems to be my "Mood Flavor" of choice these days. I truly am in a funk at the moment and once I get to "THAT" place it seems that it gets increasingly more difficult to fight my way through it. The feelings and mood have a tendency to linger...

I started to watch the Presidential Debates last evening and as soon as they started the whole charade just turned me off. I simply could not watch it, it really turned my stomach almost from the moment it started. I realize that the person who debates (or bullies or laughs or mock's his opponent or is wittier, etc) is not necessarily the better person to be President nor does a "Victory" in a debate really mean anything at all in the final analysis. I think one possibly two debates is enough for the two men without letting it slip into this mud-slinging, dis-honesty contest it has become...I personally think it is disgraceful.

They even have a massive room adjacent to the debate sight called the "Spin Room" where each party can put the best light on what their candidate said and do their best to discredit what their opponent said. The word "spin" implies manipulating the truth so why should I feel good about any of this....The room should more appropriately be named: "The LIARS LOUNGE".

But the debate is not responsible for my mood...far from it. It has been a difficult two week period personally because of some continuing life issues with Kim and general difficulties that are taking their toll on me from the inside out. My spiritual well being has certainly been turned on it's ear and I no longer am feeling the daily peace that comes from experiencing serenity on a day to day basis. 

The responsibility for that lack of serenity is my own...I am trying to hold on and control situations that quite frankly can't be controlled by any person, regardless who they are. And I have pushed my Creator out of the equation on a daily other words I have no peace because I have upset the spiritual balance in my life by not praying and meditating as I have as a regular part of my daily life.

Awareness is a huge part of of finding a solution to the issue...because if you don't KNOW there is a problem and what that problem IS, you can'y very well fix can you?! So I am aware...and I understand how I got to this place with all the pressure and stress of the last few weeks. I need to get back to my daily routines and I suspect some balance will start creeping back in.

Today is a busy day so I'm off to see the WIZARD! Catch you later..

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The SMELL Of DEATH...Surrounds You

I wrote a post yesterday titled: "When The Rain Comes". In that post I mention in passing that some of the adversity I faced was losing 6 close friends by the time I was 19 years old. This unfortunately was true and it had an incredibly negative affect on me as one might imagine. Like the Lynyrd Skynyrd song says: "The smell of death surrounds you" covered me like a blanket of DOOM. As a person who had lived through rape to suddenly see his closest friends drop like flies, had me convinced that the fault was my own. I felt like the Price Of Darkness long before they started calling Ozzy Osbourne that.

I can't describe how damaged my self-image became...And honestly it stayed that way until I not only found recovery but started to heal from all the psychological damage from rape. It is still a struggle. I also began to distance myself from people emotionally because I felt that if I got close to them then bad things would happen to them, to myself or both of us. It affected every relationship I have had after that time and as I commented on a friend's blog just the other day I am still holding back when it comes to relationships.

But it has begun to get better and I keep pushing forward and have started to trust people again....and trust myself to feel again. But there has been a fundamental change in heart that I attribute to an incredible desire to be whole again and therefore I have developed a bold FAITH that I will change.

But of course this is never easy and requires and incredible effort to stay the course and believe things will change. It is painful because trusting does not come easily and it dredges up awful memories of those close friends I've lost. And those were not the only friends I lost, just those that died before I was 20 years old.

It has now been a long time since I felt like the Prince Of Darkness but I still struggle with self-esteem and probably always will. But I can honestly say that I like who I am and have started to trust again. I now WANT to get better and see what life may have in store for me in the future. This is a complete reversal from my typical feeling of dread concerning the future. So Each day is a new adventure and now for the most part I'm excited to see what it is.

Friday, October 19, 2012

When The RAIN Comes

"Thy fate is the most common fate of all. Into each life some rain must fall." -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have always really liked the quote above by Longfellow. Now at the age of 50...I not only like it but I KNOW it and have Experienced that it is indeed the truth! Old Henry was a wise old dude.

Funny thing is as I read it the words "some rain" seem to imply: "yea a little rain must and will fall in each life" so I wonder why I've gotten a torrential MONSOON  in my particular life, haha.

All kidding aside, adversity is a normal part of everyone's life...each person will deal with a fair (or what they may feel is an unfair) amount of it in their lifetime. Comes with the territory and frankly, it builds character.

I would have definitely scoffed at that notion a fairly short time ago that dealing with adversity builds character. It just crushed the happiness out of folks is what I believed based on my own experience of rape, addiction and losing a half dozen close friends by the age of 19.

Today I have a much better understanding of life and my expectations are certainly more in-line with reality. I accept difficulty much faster then before and that is the key...Accept it, then work to change it asap. 
That is my working method these days and what is cool is that it does WORK!   

The key for me is not to get discourage when things start to go is easy to hang one's head and start feeling sorry for yourself. I eventually just got angry and that energy motivated me to rise up against the adversity...I would not allow myself to be a victim to anything or anyone.  That changed my whole attitude and when I started to see that life was going to have it's down days and I had the choice to let it pull me down or I could fight....Taking the fight to adversity empowered me and gave me hope...funny what just a wee bit of HOPE can do!

Good night All...Have a happy (STORMY) Friday, see you down the road.

Late Night Double Check

Well the Detroit Tigers come through with flying colors and beat the NY  Yankees for the right to go to the World Series...Way to GO, Boys!

On a more serous note, some of the heavy issues from earlier this week have been resolved. Not always in the manner I would have liked but things are looking up a bit so it is certainly worth mentioning  There will be some major adjusting that needs to happen because Kim will be moving this weekend and will no longer live down the street but it is definitely the best thing that could happen under these circumstances. BATS tonight! That is definitely a BONUS!! And Kim has just stopped by for a visit after work so I will close and sign off for a bit. Good Night All....

PHOTO: Kathy Tomson

Thursday, October 18, 2012

BATS & Heavy Weather

In a recent post "No More Mr Sunshine", I made the comment that unlike some people I know the weather does not seem to influence my mood. But there is something I didn't does seem like there are times where , like yesterday I felt gloomy, stormy inside and just nasty only to discover that the weather the FOLLOWING day is just that.

Well today is cold, gloomy, wet and windy just an awful day...just as I was feeling yesterday and continue to feel today! Coincidence? never knows now do they, tee hee!

I always call this HEAVY WEATHER....which to me applies to anything strong, dark and powerful...the really cool part are the big, towering clouds and a "winter sky". So I am just enjoying a little down time inside this afternoon after being outside all morning.

I started off the morning in a rather strange manner. I was out in the kitchen at midnight closing things down when it seemed like something whizzed by really freaked me out in the near darkness. Long story short it was a bat and I finally knocked it through the kitchen with a broom swung like a baseball bat (irony), stunned it, scooped it up with a dust bin and tossed it outside. Honestly though, the whole time I was expecting it to turn into Count Dracula...Now that would be just my luck, eh?!

So that was the start to my day...Insanity Rules!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Though it is true that over the years I have been able faced with many obstacles, a great deal of those so overwhelming that I never thought I would survive the experience with my life or at least with my sanity intact. I can honestly say the more I have dealt with things the MORE difficult it becomes..not less difficult. Because one never gets used to certain kinds of adversity.

There have been certain moments in my life of recovery when I have been faced with so much stress, so many difficult and near impossible challenges that I thought I was loosing my mind. I felt that way yesterday and it was my birthday. Only I had no idea what was coming. Today I have been hit with news so discouraging and disappointing that I honestly feeling like throwing in the towel. I'm not kidding.

This news concerning someone I care about very much combined with the medical issues I struggle with, particularly my neuropathy and the nerve damage in my back had me wishing once again, for the first time in years that this life of mine would just END. No I am not suicidal and please don't mistake that desire for permanent relief as such but it is a terribly desperate way to feel.

All I can do here is fall back on FAITH...I have no other choice. Perhaps I will feel differently in time but the intensity of the situation combined with the extreme emotion is literally wiping me out..                                                                      


Good morning folks! It looks like all people are talking, Face-Booking and tweeting about the debate last night. I wasn't too's all so forced and so predictable. Obama's got balls now because he showed a little passion...big deal. Let's see the passion in leadership but more importantly let's see some HONESTY, really from both guys. 

The Prez accuses Romney of playing politics with the Libya mess because he spoke up within a day demanding to know why the Prez and his Minions were spinning the "it was a spontaneous reaction because of a video thing". Perhaps he was right but he was playing politics, FROM THE WHITE HOUSE by implying it was a video and not a terror attack. He sent his UN Ambassador out to do 5 or 6 Sunday talks hows spinning that crap and then he himself did it in his own speech at the UN. That's not Fox News Take folks, it's mine, I have a freaking brain and I watched it.

And please don't tell me the President called this a Terror Act the next day in the Rose Garden as he and the freaking MODERATOR insisted last night. Listen to the whole speech objectively...he was using the word terror in general not specifically in reference to Benghazi. The Administration spent the next 2 weeks saying it was the video...that again isn't Fox News's FACT, check the facts by listening yourself not some NETWORK Fact Checker because they too LIE to protect their canidate.

So why would the White House and a President do such a thing? Yea, you got it...politics! He didn't want this BLEMISH on his record. He wants to pretend he rid the world of all terrorism. I love how he says "I got Bin Laden. You did? You did nothing any President wouldn't do then...when the military had a good idea they really had a chance...he made a decision...the right one and good for him for making it.

And hey, Romney in many ways is no better but I have already gone on record here many times...politicians LIE, distort or manipulate the truth and mislead...why? To get elected and get the POWER. That is just the way it is...neither one of these fellows his an evil man I don't believe but neither one is a Saint either. They want POWER that is why they subject themselves to this scrutiny.

This whole debate left me feeling sick mainly because it was not a debate. No both guys played politics and postured all night but hey...that is what they HAD to do. If anything I'd give Romney some credit...the majority of the questions were super soft balls for a Democrat...all woman's issues, immigration tough stuff for a Republican to answer honestly because it would not be popular with illegal immigrants and those minority bases. But Romney to his credit was honest...he said that there would be no amnesty...not a popular answer.

I also thought the moderator clearly favored the president actually stepping in to defend him on the Rose Garden Quote. I love the spin CNN (a news outlet I happen to like and watch among others) put on that quote again taking it out of context to protect their girl Candy Crawley...what a joke. And her behavior was way out of line...if that isn't bias I don'y know what is.

I know people on both sides of the isle won't like this post...FINE but I got a vote and what's left of a brain and some reason...I always decide for myself.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

50 Years Gone by...

It is late evening, October 16, 2012...50 years after the day I was born. Yea...all the old cliches about "time flying" pretty much DO seems like only yesterday that I was but a young Lad, so curious, full of HOPE and big ideas and plans. It seems like life did it's utmost to drag, beat and kick the optimism (if not the actual LIFE or at least will to LIVE)out of me yet I can honestly say that at the age of 50 I am certainly NOT a bitter, old man full of self-pity and blame for others. has been terribly difficult at times...and often that was my own fault but I have to say that if I feel anything at this moment, even considering ALL the tragic, terrible painful experience I've would be a very deep sense of GRATITUDE for the life I''ve had, for the relationships that I have been fortunate to share with some incredible people.

No, I am NOT kidding here at all...I am truly happy to be alive and have the opportunity to experience each new day as the gift that it truly was meant too be...if I let it be one.

Mind Games....

I typically don't sleep very well at night and last night was no exception. I did get about an hour right around 4a though and I am having a terrible time trying to wake up and clear my head. 

Here is the part that baffles me because I usually don't have any problems waking up. Is it just a coincidence that I feel this way this morning or is my body trying to remind me the "hard way" that I turn 50 today? I think my mind and my body are playing a joke on me!

More on turning into an Old Phart, Later!

Monday, October 15, 2012


I've gotten into this weird habit over the last 5 years or so where I start to compare the local weather outside with my "Internal Weather", in other words my emotional state of mind. I have always used that analogy of one's emotional state as weather. 'Tis strange,  I know...but I realize it works for me.

I think what I found most interesting and quite surprising is that in MY case, there was not much of a connection between the weather outside and how I was feeling...inside. I really thought the weather affected me more then that. I know some people are sent into a funk for days in the  the winter time because of lack of Sun. Kim is really impacted by cloudy weather and she has always been that way and I know others who are that way too.

I just never have been affected by it that much and actually if I have a preference weather would be for overcast days over bright sunshine.

A Purpose, A Purity & Honest Clarity...

It is a cold, windy and wet blustering morning here in southern Michigan...It has a strange look and feel about it as these large wet leaves of red, yellow and brown/gold are blowing to and fro in the strong beam of the floodlight at the corner of the garage. It creates surreal mood and in a weird way feels like an early Halloween (at 4am)...of course that just makes it a rather typical beginning to another Autumn day in my beloved Michigan.

Of course I've been awake most of the night, suffering from terrible knife-like, stabbing and slashing pain in my toes and feet thanks to my neuropathy. Of course this provides the perfect backdrop for me to start thinking and pondering about all of life's latest setbacks. It "tis interesting that I never am up in the middle of the night thinking about all the WONDERFUL stuff going on....of course there hasn't been a whole lot of it lately but there is always something to be grateful for and I say that honestly. Life is good...

As challenging as my health, Kim's job/health insurance search, the financial struggles, turning 50 and living with constant, debilitating pain is...this  sober, spirituality focused life I try to lead today is still SO MUCH BETTER then the alternative. And I'm not just blowing smoke's absolutely true. 

Today there is a purpose, a purity, and honest clarity to life that I have never known before. What that means in reality is that no matter what kind of Sh*t is going down in life, no matter how much adversity there is, I know in my heart that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing...Sure I'll question it but I no longer have that paralyzing FEAR & DOUBT that used to terrorize me in the past. 

Now...It is as simple as listening to the silence in the wind and hear GOD literally speak directly to me. Though HE rarely ever tells me WHY this CRAP happens but he will always remind me to hang in there and that it will be OK. And that my friends is good enough for me today!

PHOTO: Kathy Tomson    

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Coconut "No Cream For You!!" Pie Incident

This afternoon my parents took Kim and I out for my 50th Birthday Dinner at my favorite restaurant in the area, Caruso's. My actual birthday is Tuesday October 16th but they knew Kim worked evenings and wouldn't be able to go so we went tonight. It was great food (Italian/American, Steaks/Chops...good stuff). I always bring Kim here for her B-Day in the Spring. 

Normally I never complain about the place but their was some pretty freaky, weirdness going on. First it was busy and our server was basically overwhelmed.  You could tell so we were cool and gave her the benefit of the doubt, we weren't in any hurry. 

The first issue was Dad ordered Veal Parm and Kim ordered Chicken Parm...Like many people,Kim would prefer to not eat veal. The server switched them but Kim was not at the table when her food arrived so my dad dug in and never really thought about whether it was veal or chicken he was was good, he is nearly 83 yrs of age and he was hungry so he scarfed it down! 

Well Kim took a bite of her entree and knew right away it wasn't chicken under all the sauce, pasta and melted        cheese...we called the server over and oddly seemed to act like it was  "our problem" but clearly it was their fault so she had it re-made.

After we ate I was given a choice of free pie for my Birthday and Kim and Dad were too because of the order mix-up. So we all ordered the Coconut Cream Pie to take home. I went to the rest room and when I came back I was told that the waitress wouldn't put cream on the coconut CREAM pie because it would be too messy in the take home box.

Are you serious? Coconut NO CREAM PIE!!!? What kind of mucked up rationalization is that. We took it and ran because she had already taken forever to get this stuff straight so we made our own cream at home. What kind of server has the gall to call that shot in the first place. The cream is too MESSY...WHAAAA-The-Faaa? Your kidding because whipped cream is Messy!

Anyway that was my bizarre birthday Dinner dinner Happy "No Whipped Cream Allowed" Birthday to me...WAHOO!! 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Funny Farm

I posted yesterday about how turning fifty (becoming an Old Phart is how I think I actually phrased it!) now gives me carte blanche to act the fool here on Shell Shock because people expect nothing less from a doddering old man. Now that I have spent a whole day pondering that thought i realize that the possibilities are ENDLESS for having some real fun with this. 

But then of course reality sets in and the fact of the matter is that for the most part, I am a pretty serious guy by nature. Of course my life experience at times is pretty heavy and painful so that may have something to do with that! I really do have a (rather bizarre) sense of humor but considering the subject matter of some of the posts here on THE SHOCK...well I don't think there is any danger of this turning into a comedy page any time soon..Ha Ha.

But I must admit that I am surprised that I am enjoying the idea of turning fifty as much as I am. Perhaps I've finally grown up or have at least started the process...I know, it's hard to imagine but stranger things have happened.

So I imagine you will see more blog posts related to aging. This house-hold I live in is like a living experiment with two "80-somethings" and myself who will turn 50 on Tuesday. It is incredibly interesting to say the least and has all the juicy ingredients of a private little Funny Farm!

So stay tuned never know what your going to get from this crazy place called Shell Shock Serenade.

PHOTO: Kathy Tomson

Friday, October 12, 2012

Running Amok

Last night I wrote a post about turning 50 in four days on October 16th. In response to a comment from one of my dear blog buds...Chris, I mentioned that instead of just accepting the fact that I'm 50 and being pleasantly surprised that I am enjoying this experience, I will typically tear apart the experience to examine every aspect of what it means. That is what I do, I implied in my response to her comment...I "evaluate, speculate and reiterate"...EVERYTHING. I just can't leave well enough alone. But then it occurred to me that now that I am a dottering old PHART of 50, I no longer need to explain myself nor make excuses for my eccentricities. I'm 50...most young folks write me off as being dead already or at the very least: out of touch and irrelevant. So I figure I now have carte blanche to run amok....

How cool is that? This growing old thing is a lot cooler then I thought it was going to be when I was 18 years old and thought everyone over 40 pretty much had one foot in the grave and nothing of value left to contribute to life. Yea, yea...I was that young and that DUMB! One of the pitfalls of youth and intelligence is we think we know everything when in fact we know next to NOTHING because we have no real life experience to flesh out and enhance the straight, intelligent facts and figures we are throwing around...experience provides context for that least in my opinion it does. Instead we throw out the quick, arrogant assumptions in our head and expect everyone else to honor them as fact and celebrate our "brilliance".

I see it everyday on FaceBook...I have some young friends/family, some who are brilliant, bright & funny young people but it's almost laughable how arrogant they are in their assumptions ..they think they know everything. Yes, I can say that...I was the very same way until LIFE kicked my ass enough times to re-educate me about a few essential facts: Things aren't always the way we perceive them to be. My reality may be ONLY that: Mine...I may indeed be the only one who thinks that way. It may not apply to one other person on the planet so how can my opinion be right if I am the only one who  believes it?

In all fairness to youth, exuberance and intelligence...I think it's natural to be extremely passionate about things and defend our thoughts and opinions as if it is a life or death debate....but it's NOT that important in the bigger picture of life and living.  If there a few critical things I've learned in this half century of of them is that life moves at the speed of light and that it is always in flux...things never stay the same for long....Life is about CONSTANT change and the key is to be open minded and flexible enough to stay with it...sometimes that means that we are wrong and the sooner we admit that..the better. Most folks don't get this and remain inflexible and therefore...out of touch. 

What may be the right thing to do today may not be the right thing to do tomorrow or or even two hour later....Life changes that FAST. The young tend to think in absolutes...things tend to be more black and white for them, right vs wrong...well my life experience has shown me that if anything life is lived almost entirely in the "GREY". Nothing is absolute or black and's all variations of grey. Finding whats truly right and wrong in this world may be the most difficult challenge a person will ever face...

Most people grow out of that "my way or the highway" mindset when they have lived in the real world for awhile. And again, I am not trying to be judgmental or overly critical here...I did and said these very same things myself. And what I learned was that I was wrong...I don't know everything and I NEVER DID!

And that my friends was the key that opened a whole new door on life for me...admitting I DIDN'T know everything...that I did NOT have all the answers and that there are times when I am wrong. That seemingly innocent admission has changed the whole way i approach life and changed the way I look at it and other people. Because of it, I am more compassionate, understanding, I'm a better listener and just a better person overall. It literally was that simple for me....Plus I've now learned that late in life I don't have to carry around the entire weight of the world anymore...and what a relief that is!

Painting: Vincent Van Gogh

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Measuring Life By The (1/2) Century: Turning 50!

Jeez...I am approaching half a century in age...I'm not saying that it crept up on me or anything but my experience proves that time flies even when you are NOT having fun, haha!

People who know me know I typically don't get excited or really even celebrate my birthdays...I just never really have. But I will admit that this time I feel differently. Perhaps I am lightening up about it or just recognizing the achievement of living for half a century. Anyway it does seem weird to to be pushing 50 but the fact is I rather like it!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


One of the major challenges I've had and continue to have in recovery....besides getting and staying sober, getting and staying healthy and rebuilding destroyed or strained relationships was how to deal with the major financial disaster I had created. I had made a total mess out of my finances and had developed a terribly destructive pattern of spending money I didn't have and really could not repay.

I lived in a fantasy land and in the last desperate months of my active addiction I literally dug myself in a financial hole that even 7 years later, after a  bankruptcy, getting a decent, steady income, drastically modifying my living/spending habits and I still haven't even begun to see the light of day financially. It is discouraging to say the least....

Even after I sobered up I made some horrible, financial decisions out of guilt to try and rectify my poor behavior of the last few years of my active addiction and I've never financially recovered from it. I tried to use large gifts of money in hopes that someone close to me would forgive me for the trouble I caused...the problem was I really didn't have the luxury of giving it away. The saddest part of that is that in one particular case not only didn't it improve my relationship with someone I cared about, they essentially took advantage of it and we have a worse relationship now then ever before. I was a fool...and I feel stupid and humiliated for even going there.

It is humiliating going from the lifestyle I use to have where I could at least go away for a weekend or out to eat. Now...I can't even drive my car into town most of the time because the funds for gas aren't there. Now in all fairness, with Kim now in the picture, there are 2 of us re-building our financial lives and we have absolutely NOTHING left over after bills and her child support and arrears. No $$ for food or clothes or fun or's hard...but those are the consequences I earned by my I have to pay up.

We aren't complaining...we know this is part of the deal and an important part of changing our old ways and beginning a new way of life  . But 've been reluctant to write about it because it is #1... EMBARRASSING. #2...I didn't want to come across as being a person who seems like they are entitled to stuff...that couldn't be farther from the truth.

The TRUTH is this is an important and common aspect of recovery and the story needs to be told even if it embarrasses the heck out of me. The truth is that even over 6 years after getting sober, I am still trying to dig my way out financially and I also continue to make mistakes and poor decisions that continue the vicious circle. But we are trying and this hard line of no spending on anything but bills and absolute necessities is starting to show progress. 

It has been a HARD, HARD lesson TO LEARN I'll attest to that!


By Leonid Afremov
I, like all human beings am an individual...there is likely no other person on the planet exactly like me. Most of the time I think that is probably a really good thing then something will pop up and I'll think: "Maybe if more people thought and acted this way the world just might be a little better place". That is the difference between my self-opinion today and that of several years ago: Today I recognize that there is some good in me where before I was convinced I was just a vile, mean-spirited son of a bitch.

That may not sound at first read like that big of a deal or a change but trust me, for someone who HATED themselves the way I did...and blamed themselves for every bad or negative thing that happened to me or those around was a HUGE paradigm shift. It completely changed how I viewed myself and my place in this world.

Before...I honestly pictured myself as sort of a human "undesirable" as far as a person.  I could literally see NO redeeming characteristics in myself...I believed this so strongly that I actually tried to exterminate myself...first slowly through drug and alcohol addiction and later through suicide. Both attempts failed of course, thanks to a loving CREATOR...but all that was left in the aftermath of that tragic chaos was that I was but a mere shell of what I once was....a vibrant, loving and caring human being.

I write about this subject this morning because lately  I have been thinking about what makes each of us human beings the kind of people, we are. I am now convinced it is a combination of heredity...what we are at birth: our physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual DNA as it were. Add to that all of our life experience...beginning with day #1 and continuing to this very day. It is the combination of those two entities that makes up what we ARE at any given moment. 

If this theory is indeed true and I believe it is...that means are lives are constantly in flux, that we are constantly changing who we are just by living our lives...and there really is no way to stop it until we die. We have what we are born with, on one hand...then we have our life experience (if we choose to use it that is)...on the other.

I use to just accept my fate, believing I was trapped in a world that was NOT of my choosing and I rebelled by simply drowning myself in booze/drugs and hoping it would all go away...that I would go away. Now I see how simply tragic and sad that was....I have the gift of this life, whether I like it or not and I can change what I am about if I choose to do so....Human life, even with all it's heart-ache and SORROW is still a gift from GOD. 

I now realize that I no longer have to wallow in guilt and self-pity because I am this person who tries hard but always ends up hurting people (especially those who love him) in the end. I don't have to live that way anymore....I now have a choice.

And it is by working and growing in those four areas that make a human being what they are: the Physical, Psychological, Emotional and Spiritual aspects of life, that can completely change who we are. I sounds like a MAJOR stretch...I more then likely wouldn't have believed it either if I hadn't EXPERIENCED it for myself.   

But trust me my friends...I believe it now and can't stress enough how critical I feel it is for us to SHOW UP for life each day, with an open mind and HEART and LIVE life passionately to the very best of our ability.

 Each person may have there very own way of doing this....I have learned through harsh, hard experience that it begins and ends..ALWAYS for ME, with a strong, personal relationship with GOD, My Creator and my spiritual life. And everything else seems to fall in line for me after that. Really...after all that thrashing about intellectually trying to find life's answer through Drugs or booze or sex or philosophy or money or success, etc....ultimately the answer for this tortured SOUL...laid within.  

That is what works for me, that IS what LIFE IS for me today, my relationship with my may be something entirely different for someone else. But I think it is critical to remain open and willing to change...I think many troubled lives have been transformed by starting at just that place by being open-minded and willing to try something we may initially don't like.  

All I know is that a few short years ago I was all but DEAD in every aspect of my life...I was but a mere shell of a human being Spiritually, Emotionally, Psychologically and even Physically. Today that couldn't be further from the truth...                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Monday, October 8, 2012


Sorry Kids, unfortunately it is just more of the same sickness mumbo-jumbo from the old, worn out author here at Shell Shock Serenade. Unfortunately one of the aspects of my disability is this ongoing illness related to my digestive and respiratory system's that are in fact unrelated to each other but both were caused by the many years of drug and alcohol abuse. And they both are a huge problem for me now.

I am always more reluctant to talk about being sick because it sounds to me like I'm whining and making excuses. But it is a legitimate aspect of my illness and one I think I need to expand on perhaps a bit more to accurately portray the reality of my day to day life. I don't think people realize how ill I really am and what that means for me on a day by day basis....honestly, at times it's HELLISH.

Part of that Hellish reality is that I get Pneumonia a couple times a year and it eats up about 6-8 to 10 weeks of my life. They are calling this Bronchitis at the moment but give it time, I lived through too many of these will be diagnosed as Pneumonia before Thanksgiving. I've been through it all before. 

I run fevers all the time, have various rashes, can't urinate unless I basically stand on my head (kidding of course but not by much!) and my dietary tract (Esophagus, Stomach) along with my bladder, intestines and bowel are all a complete and total mess. And this is the best I've felt in years!! I went to the MAYO Clinic in Rochester, MN for over a week and they were able to identify all these issues but couldn't find cures, just various ways to treat the day to day symptoms. It looks more and more likely that this is my reality for the rest of my days...some times when I am alone and thinking about this it does NOT seem worth the trouble fighting so damn hard to stay alive...but then the mood shifts and hey...I give it another day. 

So I am feeling not only physically lousy tonight due to illness but my psychological state is in the dumper as well. Yea, will will, I know that and like always I'll grow from the experience in some way but I sure get tired of it!

Good Night All, see you tomorrow....

Photo: K. Tomson                  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fighting The Good Fight,,,

Talk about getting knocked completely out of my routine this weekend but my bronchitis and it's aftermath really did a number on me. I still don't know whether I am coming or going. It's strange but I actually am struggling to concentrate and have difficulty organizing or remembering even the simplest things. 

The fever is still with me and the cough and over all weariness has held onto it's death-grip as well. All I can do is keep taking my meds and trying to rest. I hope the end is coming...Anyway, I should be back in the the saddle here son...until then FRIENDS, Peace!                                         

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

He's A sick Little Bugger, He Is....

Yea, Yea, is another medical information related post so I am not out of the woods yet health-wise but I did go to the Doc today and she diagnosed Bronchitis and it was an easy call. So I have 10 days of big-time anti-biotic and some rest and I should be on the mend.

Then back to real posts but right now I am just too tired, have a fever and feel much too sick so we'll catch up with everyone later!

Monday, October 1, 2012


My lungs are just really punishing me right now. Whatever respiratory issue I currently have (Though, I suspect from experience that it is pneumonia again) is really laying into me with all it's might...I am just plain miserable. I am so thankful that I quite smoking years ago when I did because I cannot even fathom doing that to my poor body at this point.

Each breath I take feels as if I am inhaling fire literally into my lungs...Not quite sure if I really believe this is Divine Retribution but it does make me wonder what I possibly could have done now!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

I basically am too ill to really write so that will have to suffice for tonight...Good Night


Hello World...and all those living in it. This is my  basically my view in the morning  looking out the sliding door in my bedroom toward the east. Even when the old cottage was here I slept on the screened in porch. I love listening to the water lap against the shore.

I thinks it is fascinating how a certain circumstance, like waking up to an incredible view can make even having an awful cold (or perhaps my pneumonia is back, we'll find out soon enough).

So here is the start of the day greeting from Thormoo to you....