Cool Stuff

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Another Kick In The TEETH, Yet I'll Keep Smiling!

To say when it rains it pours in my life would just repeating another cheesy cliche....or would it? Because it sure does seem like it applies to my life.

I went to see an orthopedic surgeon yesterday to have him check out my left knee which has been bothering me for a really long time, especially since I am unable to use the other leg so all the pressure is on that sore knee. Verdict: I have a torn cartilage that will require surgery to repair...go F-ing FIGURE,eh?!

In my heart I knew I had a torn Meniscus (cartilage)...and I figured I would have to have it repaired. But still, the reality of it began to set  and I started to feel a bit snake-bitten again...It felt once again like a major set-back. Here we go again...if it can go wrong then it WILL go wrong.

Yet somehow, deep inside the negative feelings were not taking charge. I began to think that in the realm of the bigger picture this latest discovery was in fact no big deal. The reality is that arthritis has set in and has really progressed. Truth be told I could need a full left knee replacement right now. It is obvious that I am going to need one some day...more then likely in both knees and both hips. But not needing to face that issue right now is a huge positive.

After letting the Docs words settle in a bit I asked if there would be any benefit from  receiving a cortisone shot. He said typically it might only be a few week benefit but from my point of view that is exactly what I needed so we went ahead and did it.

I am glad we did because even after 36 hours I feel some took the edge off for sure.

So now I have to verify the diagnosis with an MRI (scheduled for 1-6-2014) and then wait. I obviously cannot have this knee fixed until I can walk on my other leg. Obviously with the kind of physical life I have lead, finding out that certain joints and body parts are wearing out should not really be a surprise.

Monday, December 23, 2013

My Dear Friend, EP

As one lives long enough in this life of ours...there are rare times that perhaps we are fortunate enough to meet someone whose mere appearance in our life CHANGES us forever for the better. They are the Shining Stars of Humanity, touching others with their wisdom, kindness grace and blunt, honest nature.

Evelyn Pierce was one of those people in my life. We met rather late in life, she being nearly 90 and I was approaching 50. At first glance we had absolutely NOTHING in common. Yet that couldn't have been further from the truth.

I have written here that I just in recent years became a Christian...Evelyn has been one all of her life. It was her encouragement, grace and good nature that allowed me to organize and run a Bible Reading Group at the Assisted Living Home that she just recently moved into.

Just a few short weeks after becoming a Christian...I got this outrageous idea that I should volunteer to read the Bible to people out loud. It was an impossibly brave if not crazy idea since just a mere month before I was by my own description....a God HATER as well as a Christian Hater. By what right had I to come in to this peaceful place and read the Bible to strangers for an hour each and every Saturday morning after breakfast.

Shortly after I visited the place with my friend and Pastor Shayne to speak with the activities director and got permission to go forward I got major case of COLD FEET. I was convinced I was out of my mind and frankly many friends thought so as well.

This is when Evelyn, who I had never met before asked me to stop by her room the coming Saturday morning a few minutes early...she wanted to pray for me. I was flabbergasted yet I didn't have the heart to tell her I was going to chicken out. So I stopped by that Saturday morning and every Saturday morning after that when I read. 

I really got to know her and she really taught me about living a spiritual life. This woman who had been reading the Bible her entire life and could still read never missed a reading. I know she came solely to support our reading ministry. And it flourished to my amazement.

Early this morning Evelyn went home to meet her God and nobody I know that knows her is sad about that...we are all so very happy for her. She lost her husband decades ago and tonight they are together.

The tears we cry today are for ourselves because we are no longer fortunate enough to be able to spend time with her. But how blessed we are for knowing her. 

So long for now Mrs. P....I'll never forget you.

Photo: Kathy Tomson

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Recovery In the WINTER

Most repeat readers and friends of mine know that I have been through Absolute Medical HELL this year with it all beginning on the night of February 9 with a fall at home and a badly broken Tibia directly above the right ankle. I had surgery the next day then proceeded to have everything & anything that could go wrong....go horribly wrong.

The incision from surgery allowed infection to enter the picture and for the next 7 months I was hospitalized (reluctantly, I might add) 3 times before the "Medical Experts" began to make some progress, still I was very, very ill. I could have died. Eventually, I spent 8 days in hospital receiving a hardcore regimen of IV Anti-Biotic while undergoing every test known to man that checks the bone for infection, the heart and all my other vital organs. In the end, after 8 months after it began...the infection seems to be in check.

Of course my injuries were still not fully taken care seems I had a major issue that was not even accounted for originally. The Fibula on the right leg was literally crumbling where it meets the Ankle bone to form the Ankle joint. It was so sudden and so serious that I was faced with the real possibility of having my right leg removed 6" below the knee. The alternative was a very complex, low percentage, long recovery procedure to fuse the ankle together after taking several bone graphs and cutting the fibula in two. I would be unable to walk on that leg for at least 3 months and only then would we be able to find out whether the procedure was successful or not.

I chose the fusion and currently I just passed the two month mark since the surgery. It is really tough right now because I feel so helpless not being able to help myself or do something as simple as go for a walk. I can honestly say that this is the first surgery/recovery where I have followed the recovery instructions to the absolute LETTER of the law. And yet I still feel very uncertain about it.

I find it funny how one goes through this progression of thought and expectations. I had a very ambitious time-table and just new that I would recover very quickly, just like I always have whether I had just had spinal/back surgery or my tonsils out. I was sure that I would be able to play golf by the time the Island course here opened in April or so.

Today I am not even sure that I will ever be able to walk again based on how I feel. I still have amputation to fall back on and frankly, I was given the choice to go through a preparedness program for amputation, meeting with other amputees, hearing their stories and seeing their quality of life. It is more then likely that if I had gone that route I would be walking right now with a prosthetic leg and probably doing really well. But you never know...a persons body can reject them...then what?!

But for me in my situation, where I am already on disability and have time on my made perfect sense to play it conservatively and give the fusion a try. I have had a ton of support and as I said I can always amputate if necessary.

The real challenge right now is boredom and sense of purpose....I struggle to stay interested and engaged in life all the while staying off my GOOD leg to preserve it as well. It is often a minute by minute process to get through the day when there are no work or play. It is surreal because with most surgeries at this point the Doc is encouraging one to move to exercise to get on with it. That is not at all the case hear, they want all their boys back in on piece and healed up fully.

I have known for some time that I have bad hips...with the left hip requiring replacement surgery sometime in the next year or so. I have a very sore and painful left knee that I am having looked at tomorrow. Since it is the only leg I can put weight on until my ankle fuses together, I am not a candidate for surgery because I wouldn't be able to get around at all.'s always something isn't it!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

DUCKING Brilliant!

A lot has been said and written about the comments made by Phil Robertson, Patriarch to the Duck Dynasty clan who has the most popular Reality TV Show in the history of the genre.

For those of you who don't know the Robertson family are Christians and the show has always been very upfront about that. They pray at the dinner table and talk of God and Jesus is common place.

Phil was quoted in the latest GQ Magazine expressing his Christian views on a wide variety of subjects including Sin and what that means to a Christian. In doing so he made statements that particularly when they are taken out of context can be taken to sound hateful and intolerant. It is critical here my friends to get the article in GQ and READ IT, in it's entirety. Having read the entire interview which comes across as playful and is my opinion (an opinion, BTW that does NOT always agree with what Phil Robertson says and believes)that Robertson was simply stating a traditional, Southern Conservative Christian point of view and certainly was not trying to incite hate or intolerance. The truth is quite the opposite...really, he was expressing a basic, Christian belief about Sin, Eternal life and LOVE. Love being the key element here...

But this is not really my field of expertise but I do see Political Correctness running Amok here with A&E suspending Mr Robertson INDEFINITELY  (permanently?) though their major advertisers such as Under Armor and others such as Walmart have come out in support of Phil's right to express his belief's. 

I believe GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) has used their very powerful and visible lobby to BULLY many individuals, corporations and organizations in the past as if to punish people they simply disagree with using Lies, out of context quotations, scare tactics and disinformation, so far out of proportion with the TRUTH that it often destroys careers, business's and lives. 

This brings me to the point of this piece. There was nothing that Robertson said in the GQ interview that he hadn't stated HUNDREDS of times before in a multitude of speaking engagements and sermons. The difference is that this time he picked an International audience in GC. And yes I  wrote "he picked" because I think it is possible that he intentionally picked this place and GC Magazine to throw himself under the bus and make a stand for what he believes in. He is much too intelligent to not have know the consequences of making such statements in that magazine. He is intelligent enough to know that these actions on his part will create a politically correct firestorm bringing unprecedented attention to the beliefs of Christians...still a majority of people in America today. It will also force A&E, Sponsors, Fans and viewers to make a choice...In his mind it is an Eternal Life-saving Choice. the alternative to him is nothing short of eternal damnation.

And take a quick look at the ruckus he has brought forth by doing so. This has been the lead story in the news for nearly a week now. Millions of people have weighed in with their opinion, including Politicians and the rich & famous.

What an extraordinary act of courage on his part. He has forced the A&E network to make a choice as well as many in the media, big business and around water coolers all over the United States. It will be fascinating to see how this all turns out.


Oddly after a 30 day period or so where I almost felt like I was back in my writing groove, I've begun to feel myself slide away again and rather abruptly I may add. I must slow this down because I think the sensation of sliding away in relation to my writing skills and content is in reality a metaphor that I...(as in me, Myself and I) am feeling alienated and isolated once again from those who are around me but also those very same folks who love and care for me the most. 

I admit I rarely recall in my entire life feeling as tired and fatigued as I do right now. And being totally unable to move around without crutches, knee walker or a wheel chair for these past two months has been a much bigger deal then I ever expected. Just putting in a load of wash or making a freaking sandwich is a major undertaking requiring more physical and mental energy then I have to give right now.

YES I realize how silly that must seem to most people but I exist in a state of complete exhaustion right now and I rarely expend much effort even bothering to care about whatever the hell is supposed to going on in my life at the moment. Mental, physical, psychological and yea....spiritual LETHARGY.  Ans it is squeezing the very spirit of joy and serenity right out of me including the ability to ever even feel those bloody things again in the future.

I would say this damn injury, now sustained over 10 months ago is still making a concerted effort to kill me one way or the other. As much as I would rather not talk about it...I endured a rather lengthy stretch of time this summer where the infection, a result of the original surgery to repair the original broken leg was so serious for such a long period of time that I could literally FEEL it sucking the very life out of me.

I could have easily taken my own life at that time and not only am I not proud of that fact...but I am deeply concerned that I came so close to that edge once again. Honestly, surviving one suicide attempt was more then enough excitement for one me.

But just as I fear the worst...something SNAPS me back to reality and life seems to gather around it self...and us and for one more day...we PERSEVERE.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WINTER: Ironic Atmospheric Contrast

The two photos above...both taken looking out over the lake to the East, portray a fairly common winter scene around these parts. But this series of pictures was taken just hours apart. Again...not an unusual circumstance for Michigan...Trust me.

Monday, December 16, 2013


 Winter has set upon us with quite an intensity of purpose...that's for sure. It isn't unusual for us to get cold and snow, long before Christmas-Time but having solid ice for Ice-Fishing, constant temps in the Teens Fahrenheit and now about 6-8" of nice fluffy powder on the ground is a bit more then is typical for us here in Central, Southern Michigan.

I am one who embraces having Four distinct Seasons...I love them each for their uniqueness and their beauty. I tend to see them as the personification of life's continuous cycle.

I have often posted on Maya Angelo's poem "Late October"  because I think it treats Autumn the way I have always seen it....a time of renewal and rejuvenation. A dying time, necessary of course to make room for the inevitable RE-Birth of Spring..then Summer.

Winter as I see it is the Hibernation Time...the dormant re-charging of life's natural batteries time. I also see Winter as the time for is the "School of Life's" great "Recess Time"...time to play, to frolic and roll in the snow. Mainly because Winter and the snow and the work that accompany's it is definitely not is too much balls out manual labor and even romping around in it like a 6 year old had lost it's luster. 

The video above is pianist George Winston playing the song "JOY" of his album: "December"....the song reminds me every time I hear it of my two children long, long, ago playing with our 3 German Shepard's in a heavy snowfall at the century's old farmhouse we were restoring Called: "The House On The HILL". That memory will always take me back to that much simpler time. thoughts are obviously wandering a bit tonight as I am feeling sentimental about the season's and Winter in particular.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Wee Bit Unsettling But Now WHAT?!!

Ah yes....we went back for another post-op doctors visit this morning. It has been nearly 7 weeks since the surgery and everything has pretty much gone as planned...until today. On the surface, the news that one of the big screws holding my ankle together has moved back an 1/8th of an inch didn't really come as a surprise. Stuff is certainly going to happen when you undertake such serious procedures.Actually the Doc mentioned that this really wasn't really even a set-back...that it is quite common and nothing to be worried about. bet you ass, BOY! But not worried...

At first I didn't let it bother me...we planned on issues coming up & I was prepared for these little "bumps in the road"...this was a very serious, major surgery with many potential complications and this was really the first time we had run into a bit of a snag. But I still was able to switch to the Cam-Walker Boot and take a normal shower now which are huge quality of life break-through's, though it will be at least 5 more weeks before I can start to put weight on it and participate in a more reasonable lifestyle.

I now realize that behind my calm and accepting demeanor before and after Surgery, I had been in reality waiting for the other shoe to drop! I suppose I am not surprised by that considering everything that has happened to me the last 10 months of this year. murphy and his intolerable and STUPID Law have run rampant over my life day after day. If something could go wrong medically, financially and psychologically well you can bet your life it happened.I have never felt so snake-bitten in my entire time here on this planet.

In my heart I know I have wavered and worried about this procedure being a failure and having to have my right leg amputated 6" below the right knee. And frankly I have known from the very start of this round of surgery that it was definitely a possibility.Honestly i really never felt like that was bothering me...yet it obviously was effecting me in a very big way.

I'll admit to being more alarmed then I would expect to be about this little shocker. Now I suppose I need to find the faith and determination to press forward...regardless of any adversity. Not that there really is a choice in the matter...the screw in the ankle has pushed itself back out a bit and there is real concern now about the long term possibilities of a complete and successful Fusion of those bones.

And because of that my old friend FEAR has once again made a dramatic appearance into my life and I am filled with doubt, concern and hesitation about moving forward with faith and determination. 

We'll stop back in a follow-up post later this evening or tomorrow morning and examine if there is any particular reason One should have HOPE about this situation. Until Then...My Friends!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Daily Diet of Dying

On 23 November, 2013 I wrote a post called 
"A Ghostly Liar Lives To Die". It was one of those writings I never intentionally sat down to write. Often I just sit at the computer and start typing whatever is on my mind....this piece was one of those. In hindsight it is way more significant then I ever would have expected it to be because I share my true and updated feelings about my relationship with m and our subsequent divorce.

I had no intention to sugar-coat those feelings or protect her but the reality is my feelings and thoughts on that matter have drastically changed. I still have feelings of betrayal and anger but honestly they are trumped by the truth which led to forgiveness....and the truth is she could not possibly be loyal or stay loyal to marriage vows she made when the man she made them to never really existed. I lived a entire life was a lie. It had nothing to do with her...she waspowerless to modify this actually.

I believe today that once I was sexually assaulted, I was never honest about who or what I was...inside or out. My God...I couldn't tell ANY ONE the truth....from that day forward at the age of 12...I was dying daily to protect that ugly scar, that God awful, dirty secret. No one would want me the way I was...I had to pretend I was something totally different. I don't blame myself for feeling this way, I knew no other way but the fact is it happened.

I have always disliked the word victim but that is actually an extremely accurate way to describe either one of us. I thought I was protecting people I suppose....none of this was intentional on my part...I never realized I was doing it until long after I became sober in recovery and was taking an extremely thorough and honest look at my life with the intention of saving it from myself.

I never honestly dealt with my rape or divorce feelings, emotions and behaviors until this time. Sure I regret that I couldn't have worked this out in time to see if M and I ever really had a chance. I often have assumed that at that time I was completely incapable of loving someone but now I suspect that wasn't entirely true. I do think I loved her...I know I did but I certainly was incapable of actively showing or reciprocating it. I really regret that now. 

It is so strange because today i am fully capable of that emotion....of loving someone with all of me. It is because of that I know now that I was in fact in love with her. And that fact has complicated some of my "final" emotional thoughts on the matter. 

It was so much easier to be angry and feel betrayed then to accept blame for my role in it and acknowledge at the same time I was fact lying to and betraying this person I loved dearly. I drove her away. 

Now the truth in fact may be different but i have to go with that responsibility until  she would tell me differently. So for now, that is how THAT story ENDS...

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Prison...Of My OWN Creation.

I am a PRISONER....It is odd I will admit, to think of one's self that way yet in many a way, that is exactly what I am. My own body has taken me captive at gun-point and there is nothing I can do to free myself from this self-incarceration. I am virtually holding my own self hostage and I am beginning to really get squirrelly and on edge about this whole living and breathing thing we call life.

Of course that describes me half of the time anyway...half cracked and on the freaking edge. Sounds like a new way to cook an egg for breakfast, eh?! "Yea I'll have two eggs, half cracked and on the edge...oh and toast, whole wheat and two shots of grey goose, thanks!" Sorry I reverted to the "old me" there with the vodka shots for breakfast. It was always the easiest way to get going...I know...pretty sick but that's the history. Often the eggs toast etc, would end up sitting there and I'd just keep ordering more booze. 

What that little detour had to do with my injury/surgery/recovery...well I haven't nary a clue but I saw the fork in the road via my minds eye and as is typical...I took it. Fortunately for you got to come along too!

What it is that I am truly rebelling against here...the thing that is creating the mountain of negative energy inside...creating massive FRICTION to how completely helpless I end up feeling. I am always at the mercy of another human being or circumstance and that feeling of dependence and complete powerlessness is one I usually dread. And this scenario was no different...

What changed in the end...was the long-time effect of a lengthy, painful and difficult recovery. Though prospects were and still are favorable...the odds of a successful Fusion which is the TRUE definition of a successful surgery in this specific case are 50/50. So it is never far in the back of my mind that I am fighting my freaking Ass-Off to recover and I only have a 50% chance of true success. That is enough my friends to make even those with the Iciest of Ice cold blood running through their veins a tad edgy and a bit squirrelly wouldn't you say?!

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Pretty Good Day..

This is going to sound odd if not totally ridiculous to most "normal" people but I actually am kind of smiling to myself right now because after months and months of stressful, pain-filled even HELLISH days I have had what I would refer to as a pretty good day. Why do I find that so odd and/of FUNNY? Honestly because I was convinced basically that I would never have another good, fun or positive day again on this freaking planet. I'm not kidding....I really did think it was over as far as good times.

With my serious injuries from mid-winter 2013, the subsequent infection and hospitalizations and multiple surgeries things had started to really take a turn for the worse and I was afraid that I was slipping away. Back into the DARKNESS and place I knew only TOO well.

I had struggled to keep myself wired together mentally...because I know myself very well and ultimately my saving grace is that I was always very open and brutally honest with myself and others when it came to discussing my emotions and how I was really doing inside. I also had a relationship these days with GOD...something I never had back in the DARKNESS. Ultimately that is why I've managed to make it through all these horrific and difficult moments and keep waking up each day returning for more.

I know my job here on the planet is not done. My parents need me...I am now their protector and for me...I can't think anything more worthwhile then to love my family by caring for them with all my heart and soul. It is a privilege...the ultimate labor of LOVE!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Just Pieces Of Me You've Never seen....

So sorry kiddies....yea, yea...thormoo is on a Tori Amos kick again! Actually, as some of you know the post here yesterday revolved around a song of hers called CRUCIFY. I simply cannot listen to her music with out it provoking a massive emotional, spiritual, physical and psychological response. It rips my heart out at the same time it is giving me intense pleasure. There are very few things in life that evoke that intense of a response. I would say next to having sex on cocaine until your heart feels like it will explode, the rest of the examples all pretty much have to do with music.

I pretty much only listen to music I can wear and live in...that becomes a part of me. If I don't obsess over it....well it isn't working then. It has always astounded and baffled me how varied and different the genres of music I embrace really are. From Chopin to RUSH to Led Zeppelin to Vivaldi to Pearl Jam to Elton John to Neil Young to Frank Sinatra to Glenn Miller to TOOL....and the list goes on and on and on.

Why are these musicians and their music so important to me that they literally have become the soundtrack to a LIFE...MY LIFE? I am not really sure what the exact connection is but I would start with Honesty, Purity and Emotion. Those things are always important to me in life as well as in ART. 

When I post music here on Shell Shock Serenade what I am really doing is letting that particular piece speak for me. And I would NEVER let someone or something speak for me that I do not have total trust and confidence in. It certainly is NOT something I take lightly or do sir!

So once again I apologize to all of those newer readers...WAIT A MINUTE...Hmm, I GUESS I sort of...well, actually not, NO! No I freaking DO NOT Apologize for this post. This is part of me....and so I post this with no hesitation what so ever and certainly have nothing to apologize for.

So Once again: Tori Amos

"I don't believe you're leaving because me and Charles Manson like the same ice cream....No...I think it's that GIRL. I think she's just pieces of me you've never seen...just pieces of me you've never seen...ah-ah"


Periodically I will post about music that has been influential or significant to me at one point or another in time. I'm sure this is not the first time Tori Amos has been the subject here on Shell Shock Serenade but it doesn't surprise me because I could and in many ways still do strongly relate to her music. 

She is a classically trained pianist and ultimately that has always fueled my passion for her music...I adore the sound of a Grand Piano in the hands of a Genius...and I certainly consider her that.

This particular song will turn off pretty much all of my church going friends because the subject matter and language is pretty hard-core. But if you truly felt that way at one time in your life as I did for was such a relief to discover that there was at least one other person on this freaking planet who felt as I did.

I won't explain her intentions behind writing this piece because I honestly do not know what they were. I also won make excuses or try and down play how difficult my life was at the time i could so readily relate. And I'll be honest here...there were several periods over the last 2 decades where I really, truly felt this way so it was not a passing fad or was my reality for many years.

Crucify - Tori Amos

Every finger in the room was pointing at me, I wanna spit
In their faces then I get afraid of what that could bring
I got a bowling ball in my stomach, I got a desert in my mouth
Figures that my courage would choose to sell out now

I've been looking for a savior in these dirty streets
Looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
I've been raising up my hands drive another nail in
Just what God needs one more victim
Why do we crucify ourselves?
Everyday I crucify myself
And nothing I do is good enough for you
I crucify myself
Everyday I crucify myself
And my heart is sick of being
I said, "My heart is sick of being in
Chains, chains"

Got a kick for a dog begging for love
I gotta I have my suffering so that I can have my cross
I know a cat named Easter, he says, "Will you ever learn
You're just an empty cage girl if you kill the bird"
I've been looking for a savior in these dirty streets
Looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
I've been raising up my hands, drive another nail in
Got enough guilt to start my own religion

Why do we crucify ourselves?
Every day I crucify myself
And nothing I do is good enough for you
Crucify myself
Every day I crucify myself
And my heart is sick of being
I said, "My heart is sick of being in
Chains, chains"
Please save me, I cry

Looking for a savior in these dirty streets
Looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
I've been raising up my hands, drive another nail in
Where're those Angels when you need them?

Why do we crucify ourselves?
Every day I crucify myself
And nothing I do is good enough for you
Crucify myself
Every day I crucify myself
And my heart is sick of being
I said, "My heart is sick of being in
Chains, chains"
Why do we crucify ourselves?
Why do we crucify ourselves?
Why do we crucify ourselves?
Why do we crucify ourselves?
Why do we crucify ourselves?
Why do we crucify ourselves?

Every day

Monday, December 2, 2013

When Hope Disappears (Rewrite)

Ever gotten to a point in your life where things conspired against you to the point where you couldn't even conjure up the basic notion of hope? Which ever way you turned you were met with a bricked in doorway and no obvious way out? I certainly have.

Those days in reality were not that long ago yet they almost seem to never have existed at all. I never lack for hope even though the recent past has been fairly grim around here with a very serious fluke injury, a terrible case of infection and several months of playing the "In or Out Of The Hospital Game" followed up by "The Doctors Don't Have a F**king Clue Game"  and topped off with the "Let's Do Surgery For The Hell Of It Game!"

I absolutely expected to feel hopeless after all that Mickey Mousing around I did but somehow I just didn't fully feel that way. I was frustrated for sure and I'll admit that I questioned God's motives for letting me go from finally doing well in life physically and financially after getting sober to having my whole physical and financial world collapse down on me. Why was HE hurting me? Had HE abandoned me? Was I one of those Moron's who let themselves be duped into believing that God would take care of me. 

That was the most frightening time of this whole ordeal...when I began to revert back to my old, mistrustful  way of thinking and instead of pushing forward with Faith, instead I started to look for someone to blame for MY problems, difficulty and indiscretions!  Ultimately faith prevailed and I held on to the One thing that could save me...a belief that no matter what God wouldn't abandon me, NO MATTER WHAT!

There was no one to just is HARD sometimes and that is that.  I know it is somewhat easier to say when the scratching and clawing one's way out of the deep, dark & hellish hole you were in has passed and things have stabilized a bit. But trust me...I haven't and will never forget how troubling and difficult that was.     

At times I wish life was one cool activity after another with no heartache and pain involved at all but it is NOT ever going to be that way. One must learn how to cope and persevere. I often wonder if future generations of Americans are truly prepared for life and it's hard ways. We seem to have spurned a generation....perhaps two generations of WHINERS.

Yep, I called it first: the WHINER Generation where one hits a bit of adversity and their only plan of action seems to be to sit around a lament how unfair life is ...until Mummy/Daddy bail them out again with the checkbook, the doctor loads em up with Anti-Depressants & Xanax or they just spend the rest of their days in and out of therapy blaming others for their problems.      

Ach...I dread the whole idea of that but unfortunately I have witnessed enough of it to know it's not a bad dream...that the, culture really , already exists in our society. I don't know how but I still hold on to the notion of toughing it out when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan!  

Perhaps I am being too harsh on our society today but it is difficult not to witness that behavior each and every NAW, I'm not being harsh, just realistic.

Look at the TV commercials we are bombarded with each day for an example: Do you have a headache (perhaps it's just because you skipped lunch), quick, take a pill. Are you having trouble making love to your wife, is it hurting your marriage? Quick, take a pill, then go buy his and her bath tubs and you'll have the best freaking sex of your life...Marriage saved, thanks to a wee, little pill (that costs a fortune). Can't get a job in a tough economy? Go hire an attorney who almost guarantees he will get you on the Social Security Disability. You'll never have to work again and live happily ever after...unless you actually have a conscience!     

This is how we live today in America...our expectations are all messed up. So it makes sense that when life get's ugly and hard....people panic, get depressed...turn to booze and drugs for succor. 

It's tragic really because the answer.....GOD has been here all along. No one promised that life would be why should it be? can rely on science and TV for the cures to all that ails you...and see if that brings you happiness...I'll stay the course and trust HIM!                  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks...and THEN Some!

November 28, 2013....
Today my friends, is Thanksgiving Day 2013. As I sit here at this moment, I am having a wee bit of internal conflict. Why? Well when I sat down to begin this post I guess I figured I would kick out the typical "What I am Thankful For" kind of thing. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that kind of post. I think it is important to express our gratitude for the gifts we have in this life, And I am no different then any one else...I have a ton of reasons to be thankful.

But there is part of me that feels strange just writing about that because there is no doubt in my mind that this has been one of the most difficult, uncertain and painful years of my life. It is definitely the worst year I have experienced since I got sober in June of 2006.

Not only I have suffered through some of the most severe and sustained physical pain for over 9 months now but the psychological, emotional and spiritual price that I have paid has been very, very high. Part of me will never completely recover from this nightmare...and realistically it is still going on and will continue for another 6 months or so. No matter how hard I life will never ever be the same.

Every aspect has been affected from financial, to my health, to the very way I now look at people. I no longer trust like I used to....when the proverbial Sh*t hit the fan, I was totally unprepared for what happened to me. People I thought I should trust, particularly my Doctors, really dropped the ball and I paid nearly paid the price with my life when I came back from surgery/hospitalization with an infection that took over 5 months of HELLISH pain and suspicion, 3 hospital stays and a truck-load of IV Anti-Biotic to eventually knock it back....only to discover the infection combined with my Nueropathy to destroy the Tibia Bone at the ankle joint in my right leg, requiring a major fusion surgery and possible amputation.

I am certainly thankful to be alive these days though I will admit there were days when the alternative looked pretty tasty comparatively. It's true...for the first time since my active addiction I woke up on certain days wishing to GOD that I had Not! It was terrible...

 A great many people literally prayed and pulled me through this ordeal but I have to admit there were some folks I thought I knew and trusted that jettisoned our friendship and I still wonder why...That hurt and really affected my trusting people in general. I've already posted about this so I won't go into detail again.

Ultimately though...this post is coming back full circle to the fact that I am incredibly grateful to be alive, reasonably healthy and surrounded by family ( but I miss daughter Chelsea and the boys though!) on this cold Thanksgiving evening here on Iyopawa Island. here is wishing you and yours and fantastic Holiday!

Photos by Kathy Tomson

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

You Ain't HEAVY...Brother.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Mathew 11:28

Have you ever heard someone who is talking about their life come to a point where they felt the lowest of all lows and say that it was then that they had hit "Rock Bottom"? If you have, have you ever given any thought to what rock bottom or "hitting bottom" really means or really is?

After nearly 8 years in recovery and many years before that spent in the company of practicing addict/alcoholics...I have learned that "Hitting Bottom" is different for every two individual's "bottom" is exactly the same. Some hit it rather quickly, in a short period of time...maybe they do something very embarrassing, go to jail after being arrested for Drunk Driving or they cuss out their boss in a drunken haze at the company Christmas Party and generally make an ass out of themselves. Anyway they learn one way or another that drink/drugs isn't working for them and make a change.

Other people continue on and on until they die never ever recovering.....those people are the stark statistics....they died of alcoholism/addiction. Hey...maybe they hit a tree with their car and massive trauma is listed on the DC (Death Certificate) but in reality their disease of Alcoholism/Addiction is the true cause of death...they DIED of ADDICTION.

Then you have the toxic idiots like myself who should have died many times over because we drank & drugged so much, for so long yet it became very obvious that I was never going to die without killing someone else first...I was just going to linger on forever and ever, suffering while making everyone around me suffer too!

When I first read that scripture from the Gospel of Mathew at the top of the page...I truly didn't need confirmation about what "Heavy Laden" meant....I knew only too f**king well what it was. I knew Jesus was talking about ME...he wanted me to give up my surrender and finally, for the first time EVER...I would have REST in HIM. 

Picture: Tracy Padmos

I had carried the weight of the earthly world hard upon my shoulders most of my entire, miserable life...the Guilt, the Fear, The Resentment, the Anger, the Suspicion...I could NOT forgive those who had hurt me along the way...the 3 men who raped me as a young boy. That Rage toward those 3 individuals burned like a molten mountain of HATE that rested squarely on my back. I would have NO PEACE until I had buried those 3 bastards...literally or figuratively by forgiving them. I was a haunted, hunted man and I was sorely in the need of saving...and REST in HIM.

No man....that I am aware of was ever more ready to surrender when that moment finally came then I was. I remember thinking to myself...."what took me so long".

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have often written about my feelings of alienation. I have felt this way my entire life...though as I boy I didn't understand why I felt differently then others seemed to feel. Yet it was obvious to me, even at a very young age that I did feel differently and I was in fact different. 

More sensitive, fairly artistic yet still quite athletic, a wild individualistic side with a heavy pull toward music...I had some natural leadership tendencies often led as much by example as I did vocally. I was the strange mix of obsessive book-reader and totally absorbed outdoors-man/athlete. With people I was familiar...I was extremely comfortable, talkative and social but among strangers I was withdrawn and observant.

Of course at the age of 12 my life simultaneously crashed then burned and hit the accelerator at the very same moment!! It is now a well known fact here on THE SHOCK that I was sexually assaulted at the age of 12 years of age and badly beaten. My whole world imploded and crashed in around me yet at the same time it did not stop. No...things started moving really quite fast and I didn't have a clue who I was or what I was supposed to do.

I had not told anyone about the rape so I was carrying this horrific secret that was burning a hole through my SOUL. I tried to blend in to keep going but every time I was in public or the company of other people I felt like I had a scarlet R seared into my forehead and that everyone knew what had happened to me. I felt dirty, used and unworthy. I had already felt like I was different somehow, like an outsider to begin I was feeling outcast by society...I was a sexual outcast and a social LEPER, condemned to a life time of guilt, fear and self-loathing.

It is not unusual for me to look back in time from my perch in today and wonder how in the world I managed to survive ALL of THAT self hatred, self-abuse and the suicidal way in which I conducted my life and day to day living. The twist in this lifestyle was though I hated IT and myself...I somehow still clung to the notion that I knew what was best for me. I hated anyone whose life looked good compared to mine...which was pretty much everyone. 

But most people could not see what I felt inside so they had no idea. I think my X, M just knew this life we were living was insane and eventually she convinced herself she had to get out. I'm not entirely sure I have ever forgiven her for that. I understood why she did what she did but there was part of me that still feels with her help and support I could have found recovery. I faulted her with not living up to her vows..."for richer, for poorer, for sickness (I definitely qualified for the sickness part) and in health, etc".

And looking back at it in that light, I definitely felt abandoned...and I was...sort-of. YET the realistic part of me knows that I was living a lie...I was not being honest to her, to myself or to anyone. The man she married...was in reality, a GHOST...he never really existed. I was a faker, a poser and I pretended to be something I was not. So now I believe the reality of this was if the man she made her marriage vows to was a faker & and a liar...then the vows aren't valid either. The monster she found herself with 11 years down the road was not the man she thought she knew. She had to save herself.

The bottom line is today I do not blame her, I no longer think I was abandoned because now I realize it was I who was dishonest right from the very beginning...I was living the LIE. She had no choice but to run or I would have devoured her. And frankly....that is
is what makes me now feel sad because she was a very special woman, one of a kind and I drove her away. Could she have handled the whole separation better? I'm believe so but living isn't easy and no one is perfect.

So the marriage imploded and I kept on with my daily diet of dying...I was going to get there one way or another....To be continued.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Catching A Light Breeze (Looking For Clarity Among the Confusion)

I have been writing Shell Shock Serenade for about 4 years now. During that time many changes have taken place in my life. I managed to stay clean and sober through the entire 4 or so years by the Grace of God and One day at a Time. I became a Christian a couple years ago, I openly acknowledged that I had been raped and actually forgave my rapists. I have been brutally honest about my suicide attempt and have written a very frank and graphic account of that horrific day. My relationships with Kim and my family have grown and blossomed, I have endured and am still enduring major medical challenges but it finally looks like I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And I continue to use this blog to grow Physically, Psychologically, Emotionally and Spiritually by sharing my experience strength and HOPE itty bitty day at a time.

There have been many more changes as well, far too many to list here but one I would like to add is that in that time the readership of Shell Shock has grown quite a bit and the people reading it now have expanded from people mainly with addiction issues, survivors of suicide, rape, Depression, etc to a wider more mainstream variety of reader. Many people from my church, for example now read this blog and I would guess that many of the mainstream, newer readers here don't really know why I started Shell Shock Serenade, what it's really about and why it is as important as ever that I write openly and honestly about all aspects of my life.

The original premise for the blog was to realistically write on a day to day basis what it was like for this one recovering addict/alcoholic...warts and all. First and foremost this blog is a recovery blog that then became a suicide survivor blog, a rape survivor blog and now also focuses on spirituality as well as any other subject that pops up from moment to moment.

As I just mentioned above...The original readership were primarily people who were hurting...struggling with addiction or loneliness, rape victims or suicide survivors. People from all over the world read Shell Shock Serenade and I get a ton of feedback from people who were hurting in one way or another telling me how surprised they were to find they were NOT alone. It is very humbling, my fine reader friends...when you are told that what you have done, by baring your wounded and tortured SOUL for all to see has brought someone some solace, some HOPE and encouraged them to keep on plugging through their pain. I'm still blown away when I get those messages. 

But I don't get them if those people cannot trust me. if i do not have credibility. I cannot modify, bend or change in anyway my feelings...I have always written what I felt...if I started to sanitize it people would know right away. For one I would start looking like I have LESS flaws...that would be a dead ringer right there. I have to be free enough to make a fool out of myself if that's what it takes. But I won't call people out by name, humiliate or hurt anyone. Often if I say a person's behavior was hurtful to me what am I really saying? The fault could be entirely my own. I could be prejudiced against churches (which is in fact true...or it was. I was terribly biased and resentful of church and church-going Christians. I have been very open about that. As a matter of latest posts are tame compared to some of my early writings about organized religion and especially my feelings during my childhood.

What this blog is NOT meant to be is a casual memoir or a public commentary in which I criticize or get back at things or people that I do not like or disagree with. It never has been used for such a purpose....and it never will.  I often am writing with people in mind who are thinking of taking their own life....folks who hurt so bad that they cannot contemplate living another day. 

Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that some felt I have unfairly criticized people and used this blog to do the communication dirty work for me. Honestly never happened nor was it ever my intention for it to happen. In that individuals defense he has never really read the blog (only individual posts that I and others had sent him), has no context nor any idea of what I write about here and who it is geared towards. Once that was explained...he backed off the accusation, somewhat amazed about what it is I actually write about...most are shocked when they read the level of openness and honesty in these posts.

And honestly that's OK and understandable....he was forwarded my post without context by someone who was concerned about what they were reading and that it may reflect poorly on myself and the church. I tend to look at this kind of thing as a positive opportunity instead of a reason to get angry because it has given me this opportunity to write this post which I am afraid is long over-due. And that one is definitely on ME!

The fact is that I still have that same hard-core readership today who finds their way here looking for the harsh, uncensored TRUTH about addiction and healing from Rape and Suicide. In addition now we have added whole lot of newer readers who come in with a more casual day to day interest concerning, perhaps a different kind of subject matter, probably more spiritual in nature. What they must do is try putting one's self in the place of the hurting and the LOST to try and understand what it must be like to think & feel that kind of fear, hurt, doubt and pain. Then perhaps they'll understand that I cannot change the way I present certain aspects of this has to be a true feeling or thought. That doesn't make it right...God certainly knows I have been wrong before. But in this particular case...that doesn't make it wrong just IS what it IS: one fallible human beings feeling at one point in time. No malice, no vengeance...NO ANGER.

I sincerely hope this post this afternoon has spread some much needed light on the subject and I hope any misunderstanding has been cleared up about first & foremost, who I am writing for and why. In the future friends....please know I am always open to questions and criticism if you feel I have crossed a line somewhere along the line.