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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A NICE SOFT PLACE



I don't know why I do such things...just like I don't completely understand why music has such incredibly deep meaning to me that I would drop everything I am doing to sit virtually comatose for nearly 2 hours absorbing every note like a sponge...but that is exactly what's happened to me tonight. 

It is obvious to me that music is and always has been the life's blood of my very soul and that is in addition to also being the soundtrack of a life...namely: MINE. So that probably explains why I periodically find the need to just completely immerse or encase myself in sound...shutting out all other distractions until I seemingly come back to life with my Soul's Blood thoroughly & completely rejuvenated. 



More often then not, it is solely the music of one particular band that I will listen to and it is typically the band I find myself listening to the most right now anyway. That is just my way...I tend to focus on an artist and pretty much listen to them until I have completely exhausted myself on every aspect of them and their music...at least for the time being. This often can take time as in several months before I tire of a certain band .

Currently that band has been an old favorite: PEARL JAM. I have been basically listening to nothing but PJ for several months now. I have been helped in this endeavor by the fact that Sirius/XM Radio has a PEARL JAM RADIO Channel. They basically feature one live show after another and I am hooked.

I am not sure exactly what prompted this Musical "SOUL SESSION" with Pearl Jam but I have really been feeling lop-sided emotionally...translated I suppose that means I am feeling out of balance or not even f**king close to balanced, he he.

I will break from tradition and NOT post the YouTube Video's here but instead list the songs and if you feel up to it you may track them down yourself...

I think listing the titles says a great deal about "The State Of My (Personal) UNION". So Here they are:

NOTHINGMAN
GARDEN
ANIMAL
LEASH
INDIFFERENCE
IMMORTALITY
PRESENT TENSE
CRAZY MARY (Cover: Victoria Williams)
CROWN OF THORNS (Cover: Mother Love Bone)
BLACK
RELEASE
PORCH
HUNGER STRIKE (Cover: Temple Of The Dog)
BETTER MAN
BROTHER
JEREMY
CORDUROY

Now it's probably time for someone to call the folks with the nice big truck with the wonderful little men in their nice white coats and super big syringes to take me home to a nice soft place....FOREVER.


Boiler Hopeful


I'm not sure I even want to post anything this afternoon because I have not been feeling very positive about much of anything of late. And there really hasn't been any thing too exciting going on in the world around me other then Purdue fired their Head Football Coach and are actively looking to replace him as soon as they can. That move my sports minded friends...has bee way to long in coming,

No word on the hiring front so it is probably going to take a few days. It at least looks like Purdue's Administration is at least willing to shell out a few bucks for a decent compensation package for the Head Coach plus Assistants, so maybe we can actually put together a competent coaching staff to go along with a fairly skilled group of players.

All we can do is wait and see.          

It's The SAME, Yet Different...


One of the most difficult aspects of recovery for me has been accepting my current situation as it REALLY is. I spent so many years in the past telling myself things were OK when they weren't. I never accepted responsibility for what had happened and as a result I could always pretend it wasn't really real and thing's would change. This was an absolutely normal pattern of living for me for decades. It was easy to justify the bad behavior and make excuses for it because I was working, making good money...those facts are easy to manipulate.

I really did live a fantasy world type existence.  I know that it is really hard for a normal (read:sober), hard working member of our society to comprehend. But one must remember that I was rarely if ever in a sober and sane frame of mind. As time wore on it got worse..the line between sane and the insane blurred to such an extent that it was no longer possible to tell the difference.


That is why today I value my sobriety clear mind and faculties as much as I do. It is such a pleasure to be able to think clearly.


The next several posts I am going to explore how difficult it was to not only make the change and get sober but the almost impossible task of staying that way... 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Grey's OK W/Me!


One of the things that I have found about blogging here on Shell Shock Serenade is that the relationships that you forge and build on are just as real and important sometimes as the face to face relationships we make every day.

Yesterday...really the last few days, the subject matter of my posts have been kind of hard and difficult and immediately I have a couple people reaching out to me to make sure that all is well...that I am just writing about this stuff and not actually re-living it. I don't know about you but that is a pretty cool thing as far as I' concerned. I'm not used to it. Typically I always felt that I was on my own and now I just feel more connected...and it is a feeling that I really, really enjoy.

I guess I would have to say that I am still in sort of the same place today as I have been the last couple of days...it's actually "my norm" really. I was never too much of a "rah-rah" kind of person and this is my kind of of day...grey, cool and dark. It doesn't really depress me...no, I actually prefer it to sun. Yea...I'm strange that way!

That is what I have for the moment. I actually managed to lay down for a nap at 3:30p and before I knew it, it was dark and 6p. So I gotta get moving so the day (night) isn't a total LOSS!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

In Hopeful Anticipation...Of FREE FLIGHT


Oh boy....I'm not really sure what it is that brings me around to situations like this but here it is, the Saturday after Thanksgiving and everything is good. The Holiday, traveling and seeing family were all great yet when it comes to posting on the blog, my stream of consciousness writing method pops out Sexual Assault and my weird reaction to it as a subject.

SORRY...it is true that I don't really have that much control when it comes to choosing this stuff, it really just kind of runs out of me on it's own. If I force a subject...well, you the reader would be the first to know because it is obviously so contrite, so manufactured and pushed out for the sake of writing.

I was responding to another post on on a friends blog about modern "performance art" and in the course of commenting on her post made the comment that it had crossed my mind what if one of the 3 men who sexually assaulted me as a kid video taped it.

Well that horrifying thought and possibility was something I never had spoken about to anyone...EVER. And my mentioning it now I have upset the delicate spiritual, emotional and psychological balance inside of me. I feel like a spacecraft spinning helplessly out of control...only waiting for the inevitable CRASH into the SUN.

It takes so very little in the way of a sudden, painful memory or flashback to throw this Train that I call me off the tracks, over the trestle and into the raging white-water below. I can clearly anticipate it coming yet at the very same moment it still always comes as a rather SHOCKING Surprise!

I really have held onto the hope that I was entering a period in recovery where it was no longer a daily fight for sanity yet it seems quite often that it it still very much is. I don't think it is unrealistic to desire some continual, achievable peace now and again.

I do not expect a miracle or a fairy tail existence but the sudden daily SHOCK seems more then unfair after so much growth...progress and nurturing care/concern by a significant other.

At the very least I would think that it is fair to hope for the daily POSSIBILITY or expectation of peace. Today that is not the reality that I operate under and I see no immediate change on the horizon....it is discouraging even for the hopeful, optimistic ME that I have become. So I continue to wait.....in hopeful anticipation, that I will one day fly FREE.

PHOTO: Kathy Tomson

Friday, November 23, 2012

Back In OHIO


Well it is the infamous (and ridiculously named ) "BLACK FRIDAY" today. Ridiculous because it sounds like an out break of the PLAGUE and not some silly commercial name for a shopping day for Christmas.

I am sitting at my computer in the basement of my sister's home in Centerville, Ohio...a suburb of Dayton. K and I are trying to figure out if we need to head beck north this morning. There is a possibility K could have to work early tomorrow so the decision I think has made itself...we gotta get going today.


Which is kind of a bummer because I had been thinking about visiting the US Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base here in Dayton. I think that visit is going to have to wait but I highly recommend it to anyone interested in flight, the military or history. And it's free which makes it a wonderful family outing.


When I was a kid growing up in suburban ColumbusOhio we frequently went to the USAFM for school field trips, with the Indian Guides & Boy Scouts, Youth Group and just on our own. I've been there at least a dozen times but I hadn't been there since the late 1970's when I visited several years ago on a whim with my niece Angela. I was stunned...what had been one hanger full of old planes was now 4 huge huge super-hangers and they contained the most incredible display of military aircraft ever. And they don't charge a cent to see it.


They now have a collection of retire Air Force One's...the Presidential Plane and they have now almost completed the total rehabilitation of the original B-17: Memphis Bell...the first 8th Air Force Bomber to take it's crew on 25 completed missions over occupied Europe and return them home. The Crew got to fly the old bird home and went one one long US War Bond Tour. They made several movies and documentaries about the "Belle'. Any way...I need to go next time I visit and again, I recommend it. It's onlt a 3 hour drive from the Coldwater Michigan area where I live so locals here could visit easily in a day.


All righty then...since it looks like we are traveling today I have to get going...we'll stop back later and fill in the details.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holding On In The HOLIDAYS





For many people recovering from Alcoholism/Drug Addiction, the Holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving, can set off an annual period of Depression, negative thoughts and increased temptation to return to our old patterns of drinking, etc. Translation: A lot of recovering Alkies & Junkies want to get hammered during the Holidays...we can spend a lot of time feeling sorry for ourselves which is an extremely precarious place to be for someone in recovery. Not all of us are depressed but most of us would rather drink like we used to...

Oddly, I was not a big "holiday guy", therefore I never really thought about it much in festive terms...like celebrating or going to parties...I was an everyday drinker, I drank like it was a holiday every single day of the year...seriously. So it has not really been a more difficult time for me in recovery but I tend to be the exception to the rule in this case, I'd say...certainly among recovering folks that I know personally.

I was never "anti-Holiday" in the fashion of Scrooge...I just never thought it was that big of a deal. As I child I certainly did, believing in Santa Claus for quite awhile though I cannot recall how old I was when I stopped believing. I do remember pretending to believe for several years after I stopped because A) I had a sister 4 years younger then I and I didn't want to spoil it for her. Plus I enjoyed getting a slew of additional gifts from "Santa"....Sheesh, I wasn't STUPID!


As a child I was enthralled by the whole ideal of Christmas...the biblical aspect of it as well as the Santa Claus myth. It held a magical sense of what was possible if only one BELIEVED and that was a very hopeful feeling. One I still get today but now that I actually am a believer it takes on an even more special meaning spiritually.

I know though that this is rough time of year for some of my com-padre's in recovery so I am always aware that some of them, even those with many years of sobriety might be struggling.

My biggest challenge concerning Holidays and Birthdays is that I struggle or want to drink...no it's that I can be a real cynical and critical pain in the butt about it and ruin those occasions for others...that has happened quite often in the past. I didn't get why they were such a big deal so I intentionally ruined it for everyone else! But recently I have actually started to look at it all from a less selfish perspective and I truly enjoy these special days now. I think having two grandsons helped me a bit along the way but i work daily at being a less selfish person in my everyday life...I think it might be working.

So K and I are headed to my sister's place just south of Dayton, Ohio very early tomorrow morning (K works until late tonight)...I'm really looking forward to it. So I imagine the next few posts will probably be originating from there if I can still function well enough to write after I gorge myself.

Until then, SAFE TRAVELS Everyone!

Monday, November 19, 2012

We Rot Away From The Inside

Lincoln Poster
Those of you out there who read Shell Shock fairly regularly are probably wondering why there has been less "day in the life of a recovering addict" grist and more blatant whining and base observation on my part. It's probably because (and I am just speculating now) it's my freaking blog, I am said DICTATOR of said blog and I write what I darn well please but as I said, I'm really just guessing here....

Anyway the true answer is that my life is going pretty well and when that is true there is less angst, chaos and trouble to write about. That is the material that interests readers the most I've found...the OVERCOMING ADVERSITY stuff. It isn't that life is easy...it certainly is not that but it is moving along well at this point so my attention lands elsewhere then exclusively on me and my issues.

For example...today's particular BUG up me BUM is that the PO-DUNK town of Coldwater, Michigan (closest city to where I happen to live) has no movie theater showing the new Steven Spielberg movie LINCOLN within 20 miles of it, at least as far as I know.

I find this absolutely unacceptable as well as totally unbelievable. I probably could fill a book with my displeasure and opinion about how concerned I am that Americans no longer have a freaking clue about History, particularly their own. It isn't that they find it uninteresting...last night PBS TV ran a Ken Burns Documentary on the Dust Bowl and it was hugely popular...a multiple part documentary about DUST & DIRT Storms!

The American people truly love history, it's the establishment...IE: The Government  School Boards, Department of Education, etc that want to put forward a revised version of history to sell their own politically correct VISION Of America, that is mostly a fabrication, in my opinion. So it is counter-productive to have historically correct shows, movies and books out there so people can educate themselves. The last thing they want is an independently thinking, educated population....GEEZ, then folks might actually use their ability to reason, broad & objective sense of history and intelligence to pick the person most qualified to be our President. 

I know...I sound paranoid here like there is a conspiracy against the facts  but there sure seems like there is a war against TRUTH going on in this country today. I railed against the LIE in another recent post yet it seems we can do nothing to stop the powers to be from Re-Writing our County's and the WORLD's History. Don'y believe me?

Two years the Leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  stood addressing the full contingent of the United Nations and claimed as he has many times before that the Holocaust NEVER HAPPENED. The worlds entire population of Muslims basically believe this is the case. So not is ignoring History just plain wrong in my opinion but it's morally corrupt & DANGEROUS as well!

General Eisenhower as the Supreme Commander of the Allies ordered all the troops liberating the German Extermination and Concentration Camps to let the Press in to photograph EVERYTHING without holding back. He said at the time that one day someone would say this never happened and he wanted to make damn sure that never happened. He was a prophet because in less then 80 years the Holocaust has already been denied in the United Nations!

So the people running the movie theaters of Coldwater MI and Angola, IN take HEED, you are helping to destroy, not only the history but our Country itself by your ignorant acts.

By changing our History, promoting false beliefs and understanding among our people we are seeing the foundation of America come apart from the inside - out. And I see it happening now at such an alarming rate because the younger citizens of our County (anyone below they age of 40, I'd say) do not have the basic knowledge and understanding of  even this Country's most recent History...that of the 20th Century...which includes the Great War, The Great Depression, Civil Rights, WWII, NASA'S Apollo Moon Program, The Cold War, Vietnam War, Watergate & the fall of President Nixon and the fall of the Soviet Block in Eastern Europe among other things.

They certainly KNOW little to nothing about the Civil War, the Founding Principles of our Nation's beginning, The Constitution  etc. I find incredibly disturbing and in all honesty I am not sure that this trend, at this point can ever be stopped and turned around in the other direction. That would be a National Catastrophe, plain and simple!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Just Because I liked The Pic


'Ya know...I really didn't have anything to write this evening. I just happened to come across this new photograph taken by my friend and frequent photo contributor Kathy Tomson. 

Kathy has a way of really showing life from a different perspective and those folks who know me realize how much that would appeal to me...it figures, right?! In this photo the sun in the background creates direct contrast (conflict perhaps?!) with the leaves covered in melting ice. I have a weakness for silhouette shots such as these because I often see life from the shadows first and then focus back toward detail. 

Again...I had absolutely nothing really to write about I just wanted an excuse to post this photo so here it is.

Good night kiddies.....

Perhaps...NOT!



One of the basic, fundamental behavioral changes made in my life when I began to seriously embrace recovery in my life was the need for me to be absolutely honest with myself and do what is basically an end of the day behavioral or moral inventory of myself. No I'm not kidding...I really did and still do stop at the end of my day and look back over it to see how I handled myself. It's been interesting to say the least.

To continue in recovery i have always tried to maintain certain spiritual behaviors and principals...for example, if I wrongfully treated someone at work it was important that I went back and apologized. I often paid attention to how I was dealing with anger or resentment toward others. I watch what my expectation were for other people and for myself. 

Keeping in contact...essentially with my inner self on a daily basis... really opened my eyes to how much I could be affected by outside influences. As time went on I found as i got better the issues became smaller and smaller.

But i have noticed the last few days that I just seem to be a bit "emotionally lethargic"...I just don't seem to have the same energy or enthusiasm. There could be several reasons for this...i could just be tired, I'm still not sleeping well. Plus there has been a great many HUGE decisions that K and I have had to make as she finally landed the job and a place to live for the foreseeable future. Of course those events have reduced the considerable stress that has been weighing down on me so that is a bonus.

I believe I am suffering a bit from some mental fatigue...OK,let's hold on to the mental humor, I've heard it (the voices) all before, haha.. There has been a ton of stuff happening the last several weeks. K was finishing up her 90 day work probation so we were waiting for word on her subsequent hiring and acquiring Health Insurance (That happened last week, Thanks God!) and we needed to find her housing (also finalized last week). So there has been a great deal of pressure and I am just feeling run down I believe. 

But I always follow the process of checking each day to see if I'm  in a good place and following the plan for healthy, sober living i've used since i got clean in June 2006. Things can still get squirrelly at times, even after nearly 7 years of sobriety. I am now at risk of getting complacent and letting my guard down. It's easy to do and I've seen it happen to folks who have been sober 25 years!

When I first began living a life of recovery I was so unsure about myself that I rarely ever let that guard down. I was really super dedicated because I didn't want to die and I was convinced if I messed around I'd drink again and I knew if i did I would not last long. Today I am still diligent but I understand that it could be easy to mess up and I do not want to go there.

So that's pretty much where I am at today. It is an unusual Sunday in that K and I really have no plans. We are going for a walk in a few and stop in to see a friend and neighbor who has had some health issues the last month or so. Then we'll just hang out together which I am really looking forward to. 

Perhaps I'll check in later...perhaps NOT!  

Photo: K Tomson                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Don't KID Yourselves: Appeasement Causes WAR



Earlier there was a debate about the recent goings on in Israel on a friend of mine's FB Page. Many people commented that we should stay out of it, that it has nothing to do with us. I find this opinion woefully...no, DANGEROUSLY, Pathetically Naive, at BEST and it encourages are enemies to continue to attack and kill Americans and their Friends/Allies whenever and wherever they can....at worst. I love Peace too and wish to God it was possible to co-exist peacefully with Radical Islam, with everyone on the planet...but it takes two to Tango and some people just are not willing to be peaceful. And if that is indeed true, that they are unwilling to be peaceful then as far as I am concerned...we have no choice but to push back, fight and eliminate the ENTIRE threat they pose to world peace, once and for all.

Appeasement does not prevent war, it only delays the inevitable and usually the result is much worse then if we would have confronted the problem at first notice (Hitler in 1936-37 vs waiting for 1939 when the Nazi's Blitzkrieg-ed through Europe). Our indifference and wishful thinking that if we stay out of IT (Israel's current issue) we will have a peaceful world, only emboldens are enemies. They look at any effort to negotiate for peace or settle as the United States and it's Allies being cowardly and week. 


I find it nearly impossible to believe there is anyone left on the planet who believes that radical Islam wants to co-exist peacefully with the West. No Freaking WAY! They want to KILL US, period. They have made that abundantly clear time and time again. They use the time we negotiate to get stronger, bomb more innocent woman and children and sow chaos and confusion, even among their more "moderate people" to create an atmosphere of fear to intimidate the rest of the world. That's right, they use FEAR & VIOLENCE to coerce their very OWN people.

 If we truly want a chance at ever having a peaceful world, then we have no choice but to support Israel and fight them now if it comes to that. This situation going on now is NOTHING like President GW Bush going into Iraq, this situation could easily start a World War if a rogue nation is allowed to acquire or already has any kind of nuclear weapon (say Iran, for example). Sooner or later...they will bring the fight to us, so we may watch blood spilled right here in the streets of mainstream America on LIVE TV. It will happen once again if we choose to` ignore them. It is a harsh reality and I too wish it were not true...but this is the world we live in today.

A Whisper Of Confusion


Opinion...what people think/feel about something or someone and how we think and/feel about ourselves is a tricky and often painful process. Not because someone's poor opinion of you means they are correct but hey, most of us want to be liked and appreciated. I also  think people send messages...some unintentional and some definitely with a purpose....making this whole opinion thing often a real cluster....MESS.

Facebook, twitter, text, email and other social media type outlets/tools... can really complicate matters because people can say things this way without having to face the subject of their comment or any real consequences. It's easier to be rude, cruel, forgetful, manipulative, etc. when you are not communicating face to face with a real live person.


Plus with the written word...it is quite easy to misinterpret a writers true intention/meaning and without the ability to hear someones vocal inflection and look at their facial expressions, it can be nearly impossible to verify the meaning of confusing language and as a result things can really get taken out of context and be misunderstood. Then we start to ASSUME what someone meant and a communication on FaceBook that was meant as a compliment gets taken as an insult and hurts another persons feelings. And the hurt recipient responds negatively and it can all take on a life of it's own.


And as a society we are finding it way too easy to communicate this way and do so even when we could talk to someone in person or at least on the phone. There is less a sense of responsibility and honesty it seems in texting or Face-Booking compared to talking to another person. I think its a total cop out...to communicate important matters in this fashion and I even had a woman I was involved with for a short time after my divorce, break up with me via text...what a joke, it's classless & gutless.


With the almost complete reliance on technology now I think we will eventually be a nation of people who are ill at ease talking to one another in person...and how sad that circumstance will be.       


This post took a little different tack then I expected and I still feel like I have some things left to say about people and their opinions...about themselves in particular. I'm sure all of you out there will be holding your breath waiting for that baby to pop out...                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

She's A Smoothie!


K moved here to this area in late January of this year. She had no job, little $$ and no real functional car. She was leaving a life that had very little promise or hope for a healthy, happy life. It was all manipulation, lies, head-games and criticism. I've never known anyone in my entire life who was told from the day they were born that they were stupid. That is how certain dominant members of her family "nurtured and loved" her. Yet she persevered...

SICK doesn't even come close to describing it. She was taught to lie, to take advantage, to pretend everything was fine. A sense of entitlement was a way off life. taking advantage of others was and is second nature to them...

Unbeknownst to me when I first met Kim, a family member of hers (Uncle, Mom's side) basically de-fraud-ed our (my X and I) home owners Insurance policy when his wife (a college friend of my X) cat-sit for us. He got hammered, let the cat outside by accident then she bit him as he drunkenly frightened the crap out of her trying to grab her. He was basically fine after an anti-biotic but we felt terrible so we offered to file the claim with our home owners insurance who said they would pay the out of pocket medical expense. We gave him the number to our agent, he took over and fraud-ed them out of a considerable sum for questionable medical expenses.  Even our Insurance Agent (I still have her, she is now a close friend) knew he was a scam. This incident destroyed the friendship between my X and her friend from school. No matter to either of them, the $$ was more important then friendship...our ethics...or dignity.

I was never really convinced that K-Sue would ever be able to completely turn her life around because of the incredible adversity she faced...but she really has mad the change. It wasn't because she isn't a good person or not worth it...it's just that she had so much baggage, it looked to me (and to her) to be an insurmountable mountain to climb. But it wasn't and she has turned things all the way around...It hasn't been easy...mainly because she didn't believe that God would help her and she didn't believe she was worthy of such help. She thought she was trash, with such an upbringing, how could she not...and that part, so obvious to me...always broke my heart.

Because beneath the negative learned behavior is a real GEM of a human being   ...yea, it's cliche but it fits like a glove: She truly was a diamond in the rough. When she came here, with no support at all from her family. They still don't speak to her 11 months later except through hateful, embarrassing public FaceBook Comments...yep, they are a real class act.

She has done this basically by good old fashioned hard work....working for a temp agency, taking any job they would give her. Traveling 50 minutes each way to work, working off shifts, doing menial, dirty scut work that most employees won't do. She never missed a day at work on any of those jobs. It was that dedication that that showed me and everyone else she had the right stuff do do whatever she had to do to succeed.

In my past I never would have stuck by her side....I was too selfish. I wanted the easy way out, working through this kind of frustration and heart-ache wasn't part of my plan. Even today my selfishness can and will occasionally override my compassionate side but it is much better. But not this time...NO, I just sensed that there was something special here and there is. I very grateful for K-Sue and having her in my life.

There is not nearly enough space here tonight for me to list all the obstacles that K has over-come to get to to this place. Most people wouldn't have believed me anyway...they would have assumed I was bias and exasperating the adversity she faced and her effort in overcoming it. 

It doesn't matter now because the most important thing is that today, SHE believes in herself and trusts that God has a plan and it really shows.

This originally ROUGH Diamond has become a Smoothie!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Delicate Dance; Emotion And Control



It is not unusual for a victim of sexual assault to feel some degree of anger, to feel rage...even hatred toward their attacker. I have often posted on this very blog about having those kind of feelings for the 3 men who perpetuated their rapist urges on an innocent 12 year old boy...that just happened to be ME.

It took took many years, much fear and many tears...but I eventually got to a place where I finally forgave them for what they did to me. It was a huge moment of growth for me and a turning point in my journey  of recovery and life time Spiritual Quest.


But all that being said...there are still moments where I suddenly feel a great deal of anger...even rage and hatred for those bastards. And unlike like most of my moods...I NEVER feel or sense these coming on...I first notice them as they overwhelm me...catching me completely by surprise.



Now that really bothers me of course...that I can still revert to the "old way" of feeling but especially in such a sudden, unexpected manner. But it is involuntary, as far as I can tell and I often am able to resist the urge toward anger...but I often find that fighting the emotion will only make it worse. I am better off just letting myself feel what I feel and accept it for what it is. The fact is that I was permanently injured emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually by what those men did to me....So it is only logical that I have angry feelings toward them and what they did to me. And yes....even after nearly 40 years.

The trick, I know now...is not letting the anger, rage or feelings of hatred OWN me and direct how I live my life. My spiritual life today...my very belief in GOD has turned out to be my best defense against those feelings ever being able to OWN me and control my life again.



It can be a delicate dance between just feeling what you feel and allowing those emotions to completely take over and dictate my behavior...often for a prolonged period of time. Learning appropriate ways to deal with my emotions was most certainly a priority for me. I have far less emotional issues today then I have had in the PAST and I attribute that to a healthy understanding of my feelings and how to manage them in a positive manner.      

In closing, it must be understood that one never graduates from the school of life...until they die, we assume. The key to having a healthy emotional life is understanding that it is about continually improving...you never will do it perfectly...just give it your honest, best effort.


Paintings: Edgar Degas

Giving Meaning To The CHAOS....



Not only do I write a blog and post on it daily but I am a loyal follower of a several really good blogs, covering things from sports to cooking to life experience/memoir...the genre that Shell Shock also falls into.

 Honestly the "Real Life" blogs are my favorite because they are just that: REAL. I will also read non-fiction over fiction every time! I lived life in a fantasy land for 30 odd years, I want REALITY even with the hard details...it's healthier and helpful, I get to find out how others do this "living life" thing.


Christine Macdonald writes one of my favorite blogs and it was her POST today that inspired this one of mine tonight. The essence of it for me was about why people who have lived difficult lives (Christine lived a rock star type fantasy life as a former Stripper and Drug Addict in Hawaii beginning at age 19) can write about it. I can totally relate. As a recovering addict and rape survivor, I am frequently asked how I can even talk about such horror as being sexually assaulted. Or share the intimate details of my addiction and subsequent suicide attempt, that all led eventually to my recovery and ultimately HERE, to writing about it.


The direct quote that inspired me tonight  was:"I am giving purpose to my past, through the words I long to say, about a time I can't forget." I simply had never been able to articulate my rational for writing about myself quite that accurately. My natural response to the question was always that I was "saving my own ass" by writing about it.


And that too is an honest to goodness reason why I do write about it. If I didn't get those poisonous, horrific memories out of my head & into the light, they would certainly eat me up inside...as a matter of fact it had already started to happen and as a result I'd tried to take my own life just before I finally sobered up for good. 


But by sharing that experience with others, I was also taking all those incredibly painful & negative memories and using them to accomplish something positive by helping someone....and that gives the horror some purpose. Ultimately, it meant that this stuff must have happened for a reason...a "Higher Purpose".

So that comment and really the whole post hit me like a lightening bolt between the eyes...it gave some sense to the senseless and added a dash of purpose where I had never known it existed before. It certainly didn't make the experiences "worth it" but knowing there was a higher purpose beyond those difficult life experiences certainly gave me hope that the future could indeed be better...Because I could help someone by sharing the knowledge and wisdom gained by surviving the whole ordeal. My survival also provides real live hope that people can and do live through such things and it can get better.

The true reality of writing Shell Shock Serenade for me is I can't "NOT WRITE about it"...Because something deep inside myself compels me to do it...it's almost an obsession...a daily obsession to LIVE! I really believe that if I didn't write about my addiction and surviving sexual assault, that my recovery would be impeded if not prevented by the overwhelming Emotional, Psychological and Spiritual damage done by living through those experiences.


And for me that is an accepted fact of my life today and yes, a major motivation for my continuing to write. I now believe it is a critically essential part of my recovery program just like complete abstinence form booze/drugs and helping others.  So far time has proven the theory out...over and over again!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Exhaustion Isn't Slacking OFF (Not 'Round These Parts Anyhow!)




I typically post more often then I have lately and I wasn't quite sure why that was. Not that the answer would be particularly earth shattering or anything but it seemed strange to me since I have been alive and living during this period of SILENCE. So what gives?!

So typical of me this won't be a simple easy answer...it never is, since I always seem to be the exception to to the rules or react differently to things then the majority.

Fatigue plays a role...sure it does and although I am often sleep deprived it will definitely still dull the edge and the desire to write away from me.

I currently am totally bogged-down with the issues that are affecting K-Sue these days. And though it is understandable to want to try and help...to be compassionate and understanding about her difficulties, it's becomes self-defeating when it begins to over-take your own sense of responsibility, then begins to erode the quality of one's own life away. And that has certainly happened. 

I cannot recall a single day of my life since last FEBRUARY (that's right 10 freaking MONTHS ago!) where I haven't been worn down and pre-occupied with the issues and obstacles affecting her ability to make the transition to living here. 

Some times that is what it takes when you care about somebody and they are making huge changes in their life. I was not naive about the multitude of challenges facing her when this all started and I fully supported then and still do now her decision to turn her entire world around. 

She had no real choice if she wanted a crack at living a REAL life, full of love, respect and following her beliefs by abiding by them instead of a life of daily living in violation of them. And I couldn't think of anywhere else I wanted to be then right there helping her find freedom and self respect for the first time in her entire life. 

And though things can get a little hairy now and again...she is making it work.

Today she was hired in with full benefits at the company where she has worked as a temp for the last 3 months...Way to GO, Babe!!   

So to get back to the original point of this post, I suppose it is understandable that I am not posting as often as I have...it isn't from lack of experiences...NOPE! It's from the fact that when it comes right down to it, I's rather take a crack at getting  a little sleep then spending that time posting on the blog.

For you long time readers as well as any new folks to THE SHOCK...hang in there with me...this too shall pass and I'll be blathering about just like I always do in no time flat!

PHOTO: Kathy Tomson

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ya-FREAKING-Hooo!!!


Some interesting stuff going down in the old life these days...some good things are happening to some good people....

A very close friend of mine (and Ks) got to go home today after being in the hospital for a few days and that is really great news. I don't care for it when one of my friends is hurting and I cannot do anything to help them.

I really don't want to jinx this situation....especially after all that we have been through but what I will dare to say at this point is: Someone that I care deeply about is starting their new, full time permanent job on Monday afternoon...no more working for the Temp Service....Ya-FREAKING-Hooo!!!!

Pardon the reaction there, haha...regular readers will recall that there hasn't been a whole heck of a lot to get excited about in life lately so I will take advantage of this TREMENDOUS news.

Things slowly but surely are beginning to make some sense though a lot is still out there that needs to be revealed. I'll see all of you on the morrow.

Friday, November 9, 2012

One (Brush) Stroke At A Time


Life....as ART. Life Imitates art...an old (and accurate in my opinion) cliche.

Me...I have actually never really pondered the thought before now, whether it...this LIFE of mine imitates art. I suppose it really matter's not in the realm of everyday reality. Life will go on...until it ends of course...no matter how I define it.

But I like to turn things over in my brain...just because I can. John Lennon jotted a note to his oldest son Julian on a whim that: "Your Mind is a Muscle...it needs exercise to strengthen it".

A man in his late twenties wearing a grey suit holds an electric guitar and stands in front of a microphone.

Hmm...corny, something a Dad would say to an uninterested son but I'll own it. I think about weird, seemingly meaningless stuff just because I can...and my brain, the far too few cells that remain unscathed...needs exercise it can get.

I do look at the entire span of my lifetime...now in it's 51st year...as a gigantic oil painting...an Oil SCROLL if you were. The genre...well it changes depending on the age and mood and circumstance but typically it's Impressionistic. Since I was a wee lad I've always found solace  fascination & TRUTH in Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir and Cezanne. But that is neither here nor there. What I find interesting is that each moment, activity, experience, even thought or idea is a brush stroke on the gigantic, timeless canvas scroll called THOM's LIFE.

And any interesting observation I've made about that particular painting that is ME involves those very brush strokes. The era of ME as a young man, full of life was represented as MASSIVE, VIGOROUS, even TORMENTED brush-strokes...they are vividly colorful...they're huge...quite wide, long and appear to have been done without much thought, just vast, fast strokes of color representing one who very much LIVES for the MOMENT. And they cover vast areas of the canvas and there is definitely a certain "RUSH" when I think of the time so many years after the fact. 

As life moved on....periods of crisis are marked with dark, short, tedious nearly violent strokes...stabs, jabs and slashes across the once wide open space...they appear labored...perhaps tortured is a more accurate description.

Life today however...is a constantly changing combination of the two techniques, still there is no pattern...no rhyme nor reason to it...just thick or thin, bright or dark cut into the Soul....but they have certainly real story to tell...yet they are not talking, at least in a language that's understood. It is a rich, cultural document on  thark, thick, heavy paint laden highways of hope or despair written in blood...er, oil. Then thin almost transparent little lines of light in flight, wisps of oil as wind representing change or success maybe. 

I don't really know and I am not sure if it would be worthwhile to explore this in more detail...but of course I will!  I can't approach it any other way.                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dancing Along The RAZOR'S EDGE


No throwing verbal or written fire-bombs today...I really don't want to start any fights. I have not slept so I can't distinguish if this is Yesterday, Today or Tomorrow. Yet I sense whatever day or time it is that I have involuntarily gone into Information Over-load Prevention Lock-Down to keep the Sanity Train safely upright and on the tracks.

Translation: After all of the election week Information and Image overload, combined with the very real pressure of the issues confronting K-Sue and myself, the sudden illness of a dear friend and some real concern about a family members well being....


Add to that the darn difficulty of just being ME and living with this messed up-mucked up BRAIN and my multitude of health Issues and PAIN...I can end up dancing on the RAZOR'S EDGE between the real and the imagined. Particularly when one adds in the fact that I CANNOT FREAKING SLEEP these days and I end up feeling much like a ticking human time-bomb.

The saving grace in all of this and this is the TRUE difference maker: In spite of experiencing all that I just described...I have not once, for even a Nano-Second thought, considered or felt like taking a drink or using drugs. Honestly not one single time. That my friends is a real, honest to goodness MIRACLE and those who knew the "OLD ME" will attest to that.

When people question my turning toward Faith and a belief in Following God this is all the answer that I need to provide. I tried for more then 30 years to quell or quiet those addiction Demon's and it was not until I sought DIVINE help did I begin to have a hair of a hope for recovery. And that recovery is an occasionally precarious thing sometimes though more often then not I am certain of success IF I keep my eye focused constantly on the Lord. 

I was a major skeptic folks...I mocked the idea of Jesus or a reliance on spiritual MUMBO-JUMBO. But the facts are facts...the only reason that I didn not die at my own hand, a hopeless  pathetic drunken, addict was the direct intervention of God. There simply isn't any other explanation. And honestly...i used to feel that had to defend my belief or God himself somehow when people ridiculed that notion but today I could care less what people say...because I have a life that is so much fuller and brighter then I ever could have imagined.

And that is ultimately what matters and what carries me through when I am dancing delicately along the Razor's Edge, when LIFE gets a wee bit HAIRY....during times like these.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The BIGGEST LIAR Wins



Well another Presidential Election has come and gone....Though I am not able to look into the future (at least not most of the time) I pretty much predicted how this election ended up. The fact of the matter is that it is just plain hard to unseat the incumbent in a Presidential Election. Even so....It was pretty close as far as these things go.

I have mentioned before that I live in a household that holds more then one generation of my family and this includes my Mother/Father. Dad religiously watches Fox News from 7-11p every week day and most other days as well. Needless to say he is a staunch Republican and my Mum is too though I often think it is somewhat by default. My folks are in their late 70's and mid 80's and they are set in their ways which is understandable.


Well they were completely shocked by the outcome of the election and my father had gotten frustrated with me earlier in the week when I cautioned him against too much optimism, IE: Trusting the information he was hearing on Fox News. He told me angrily that I was just being negative and critical because I was a born cynic and naturally disagreeable. Nope...I just choose to gather my facts using more then one information or news source and I don't take someone else's word for it...I try and use the brain God gave me and verify things for myself. 

And that is a problem I see more of in our Cable News Television dominated world. Since all the information they received about the Election came from FN...well it was tainted and obviously slanted toward the right and in my opinion it was also overly optimistic about the outcome and sensationalistic about how the world would end if Obama was re-elected. Both of my parents are college grads and Pawps also has a Graduate Degree from Purdue, they are not ignorant people...just a little too trusting of the media they choose to get their news from. And this is a common problem I see today...



I still think ultimately that the individual has to be responsible for gathering the facts for themselves...sure, watch the news but watch or read from a variety of sources. Internet blogs (even this one) are NOT News sources folks! Funny how so many folks take Internet Info or stuff from an email as fact.


I think many people were mislead by the press on both sides of the political fence...again there is no better reason to check out the facts for yourselves. I found it rather easy to wade through the BS and find the truth...it is not that difficult. But I must say I do feel a twinge of sadness that millions of senior Citizens thought the world had turned upside down because they really expected a change in the White house based on all the Malarkey being spread on F NEWS.

Frankly I am glad it's over...I found the whole election process tiresome, undignified and frankly ridiculous...it was a gigantic LYING CONTEST....The Best and BIGGEST freaking LIAR Wins. And that is the way we elect Presidents in America these days and that is what happened. I think both candidates lied, I have no doubt that they did but something I find particularly disturbing is the Benghazi Lies and cover-up.


I think it is pretty clear that the Government knew the 

Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens was in serious, mortal danger in our Embassy which is American Territory by International Law. It is now known that there were drones flying over the scene the entire time, providing real time video, the President knew exactly what was happening right away and watched it. We easily could have had troops there in a few hours yet after 9 hours of continuous attack by terrosits, help has still not even been summoned and as a result...4 Americans died. 

Now that the Election is over, I think it will become clear that the US Government,  through our Libyan Ambassador Stevens were selling weapons to Libyan "Freedom Fighters" to over-throw Muammar Qaddafi. The only problem was that they were al-Qaeda Operatives...and there is evidence that these are the very same group of men who planned and carried out this attack on our Embassy.


What am I suggesting here? That the reason President Obama and our Government did not help those men in Libya is they wanted the Ambassador to DIE to silence him....and they got their wish. See the President has set himself up as the man who single handedly crippled al-Qaeda by killing Osama bin Laden. It would have looked simply ridiculous if it turned out that his government was selling arms to that very same al_Qaeda organisation. 


They didn't want the Government Officials in Libya to talk...so they let them die. Far fetched you say  Nobody would do such a thing...really? You're woefully NAIVE then...this kind of stuff happens all the time we just never hear of it...that is our reality today in this Big Bad WORLD we live in. Our County's Leaders LIE to us every day...I'm nearly numb to it at this point because it happens so frequently.


Now let us see if the country can truly begin to heal from the anger and mistrust created by this bitter election...I think it isn't likely to happen any time soon. The whole thing makes me sick...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Who & What We ARE




It is Election Day, late afternoon and though I have been voting in Presidential Elections since the 1980 Reagan/Carter Election I would say without a doubt, that I find this one most exciting by far though my first vote in the Reagan/Carter Election was very exciting as well....And frankly, my dear blog reading friends...it's the most important election I've ever seen in my opinion as well.

It's not like Presidential Elections aren't ALWAYS important...of course they are but this one seems even more so. I feel like the country's SOUL is at play and at STAKE here. The Obama's...Michelle and the President are both fond of using the phrase or some variation of it: "This is Not who we are" Or "this I what we are all about" Or It's NOT the way we are", etc.

I very much believe this election is about defining just exactly WHO we ARE & what we are all ABOUT." I'll admit that there is part of me that is truly fearful to know the answer...because we might not like what we discover.

I have my Tuesday Bible reading at 6 which I am getting ready for then like millions of people I will come home, eat dinner, make a huge batch of popcorn (My Dad and I are both popcorn addicts) and proceed to stay tied to the TV until some outcome is reach.

I truly LOVE being an American!                        

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Autumn Dawn: Coldwater Lake, Michigan

Periodically throughout the year I like to capture photos from 
our front yard showing the change of seasons, always with the backdrop of the lake (and often times the Flag as well).



This has been a rather cold and wet Fall for these parts and the time frame of the years peak fall color has been very short as well. The long, dry summer with near drought conditions probably had something to do with that but basically the leaves fell in about a 30 day time period.

Still there are some stragglers and there is something intense about an the Autumn (and Winter) sky.

The last few weeks have been incredibly difficult ones for myself as well as K-Sue on several different levels...This includes the physical aspect of moving K around as she is homeless and in search of a place, to the emotional,  psychological and finally spiritual impact of stress, uncertainty and for me personally: the incredibly UNWELCOME return of the rape influenced nightmares, flash-backs and combat style dreams I have experienced so often in the past. Laying down at any time is like going to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               into battle...seriously I scared to death to fall asleep!

I'm concerned that I seem to be sub-consciously relieving that experience over and over once again...WHY?! I'm like why in the world is this happening now...I have not gone through this intensely compressed period of nightmares/flashbacks in quite some time. My experience tells me something is askew in my life for this to be happening but honestly other then stress, sleep deprivation...all typical everyday things for me I have no idea what's going on. The only major difference is that I am going through a prolonged period of intense pain in my back, knees, hips and feet. Perhaps the pain is setting off the nightmare reaction...perhaps PAIN has been a TRIGGER all along and I never made the connection. Hmmm...that is not only very possible but PROBABLE the more I think about it.

So I may have made a discovery this morning...how cool! Anyway all I can really do is just be aware and tuned into my moods and see what lies behind these reactions and that may explain why I am reliving these experiences all over again.

So today I'll take things a day at a time and do my best to rest...and enjoy another Fall Football Saturday.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Not Déjà vu


I am up this Friday morning and trying to get back into my "pre-Summer routine" of meeting with a Men's book study group at a local restaurant in town. It is these types of activities that really enhanced my life and for various reasons, I got out of the practice of attending. And once I get used to doing something it becomes difficult to go back to what once was....

So now I'm starting to feel some of the old feelings of alienation that I am going to have to face and overcome all over again. It doesn't take much for me to withdraw from people and get into the habit of being a loner. I missed the entire summer of study, interaction & fellowship. It seems like an eternity.


Am I making a mountain out of a mole-hill? I'm sure it sounds like it to most people who read this but that doesn't take into account where I came from in the area of human interaction. It is a bigger deal for me then it might seem...fraught with fear and inadequacies, alienation and just my natural tendency to feel like an outsider...It is much more comfortable for me to isolate and withdraw then to interact.       


It is frustrating because I had this accomplished already and withdrew back into my cocoon so now it indeed feels as if I am "starting over"....which in reality, I am. This isn't a dream I really am doing it all over again and that is frustrating. And yes...it is my own fault and I only have myself to blame. These have been difficult times but I could have handled it more appropriately but I took the easy way out. That behavior got my attention because it is definitely something the "old me" would have done...It is critical that I always be aware of behavioral backsliding!


So it starts now with this 6:30a breakfast fellowship and book study. I need to get dressed and get a move on it....

Photo: Kathy Tomson