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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.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Transparency & TRUTH

One of the greatest assets I have from living a spiritual life in recovery  is the relationships I have been so privileged to be a part of. For the first time in my life I have true....I mean REAL friends...who cut through the BS and deal with any situation that may arise. They'll fight for me, help me, hurt for me and I for them....without a shadow of a doubt.

Most importantly of all...they will with out question ALWAYS tell me the truth.

Today I received a PM on FaceBook from a friend who attends my church and he had some things he wanted to share with me. Some were supportive and complimentary and some were what I would consider....constructive criticism. 

Those of you who know me personally know that I am a temperamental ...even a "touchy" SOUL when it comes to negative feedback. I could and still can be rather quick with  an "F-U" when faced with criticism if I am not in a good balanced spiritual place. And that my friends is the key...Spiritual BALANCE.

In the end I agreed with some of what he said...and some I thought was a bit much but the bottom line truth is this: I really appreciate the fact he took the time to basically "Have my Back" by hitting me with some hard truths and questions. These statements, questions and critiques were offered in the most positive of ways and with LOVE. The man cares about me...he knows my story and doesn't want to see me shoot my "mouth" off on the blog and get hurt in return.

As a result of this exchange of messages today i was able to admit some hard facts about myself. Below is a direct quote as I explain that I know a great deal about what my weak areas are:

"Unfortunately but rather typically I am a "work in progress". Certainly that is NOT God's doing, He saved me and gave me a new life. It is My WILL, My Demons, Suspicions, Prejudices, Fears and an inability to forgive that always holds me back and creates the anger and resentment that at times will continue to drive a wedge between myself and others. Hey...I want to be respected, understood and forgiven but I am often not good at giving others those very same basic, important things".

Needless to say this arrogant old boy NEVER used to admit that I had flaws...of course I always knew what they were...but would never let YOU know that I knew. No that wouldn't do.

It took a while to get used to living life in this transparent and very visible way. But the rewards of doing so were so much greater then the alternative that I now cannot imagine trying to live that old life of secrets, illusions and LIES. The TRUTH my friend...ROCKS!!

Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

I cannot ever read the Gettysburg Address with out being profoundly affected by what Lincoln said there. I cannot imagine a politician today saying something like: "But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate--we can not consecrate--we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated, far above our poor power to add or subtract"

Why? Because politicians today have a terrible tendency to take credit for things they have NO business taking credit for. President Obama repeatedly saying HE killed Osama Bin Laden for example when it is obvious he did NO such thing. Navy Seals Killed that clown. And on the flip side...Politicians today refuse to take credit or responsibility for the stuff they actually DID Do. Reagan and Iran Contra, Obama and Benghazi, Obama-Care Snafu and so on and on.

It just highlights the fact in my opinion that we no longer have True Statesmen who lead this country and frankly we now never will.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Heart-Break & The Inevitable DECLINE

A Few weeks ago, I responded to the post of another blogger who was writing about her experience dealing with her elderly mother in a Nursing/Assisted living Home. I responded with a comment about my own experience of growing old with my aged parents. that comment makes up the basis/foundation of this post...

Several years ago I sold my home in Holland, MI and moved two hours south to Coldwater Lake, MI to live with and care for my 2 "80 something" parents. We are at the very beginning of the process of decline...memory loss, physical limitations really restricting them for the first time, lot's more aches and pains as well as more and more medical issues, etc.

My father is 3 years older then my Mother is in decline overdrive, Mum I would say is in 3rd gear. But in both of their cases I find that I am shocked daily, befuddled & stunned by some new unusual behavior, attitude or reaction of these two people I have known and loved for over 50 years. They are changing so fast now that my ability to accept it is lagging seriously behind. How often I have wondered lately: "Who is this person in my Father's body?!"

But then something occurs and there they are...just like they always were. I know this is normal and it isn't going to stop until the day they or I move on from here. Really, deep down I am OK with that...I understand. Though it doesn't really matter if I do or don't understand and accept it because it is going to happen anyway.

All i can do is carry them through the present, making sure things are taken care of, that they are safe and the needs of the home are met. These are two of the hardest working people, I have ever met yet they no longer have the stamina or the inclination to keep things up the way they did just a few months (or years) ago!

But this is is reality and it will happen one way or matter if I like or accept it or not. It certainly makes more sense and is easier if I do.

What is weird is dealing with these people who I seemingly don't know anymore. And they are aging at different rates of speed...Father fast out-pacing my Mum. Who knows what that will ultimately mean but it is already a point of contention between the two. My father does not do enough stuff around the house anymore to satisfy my mom and dad feels nagged and picked on when she points this out. that is one of many examples.

So in addition to Son, Caretaker, Gardener, Lawn Maintenance, Driver, Handy man, etc I am also a Referee!>

Anyway...I ended my comment on the other blog by saying honestly and accurately that no matter what happens here...there is NO PLACE would rather Be then here with my beloved Mum & Pawp.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hey SPARKY...I Was A LIAR Too!

Surprise, surprise.....I created a wee-bit 'o controversy with my post last night. Though I wasn't trying to be controversial or provoke anyone I knew that I was throwing Flame-Thrower Darts when challenged some peoples motivation for saying or acting the way they do when it comes to their spiritual beliefs. Bottom line: when you imply that someone is a PHONY you more then likely will piss them off!

I got several anonymous vulgar comments about this and since I won't print anonymous feedback they won't get posted. But it seems they missed the part where I am including myself when I am talking about phonies mainly because in my previous life of active addiction I was one....not to mention a self indulgent, self-centered liar whose main focus in life was getting mine and the hell with everyone else.

I understand that when a person, such as myself makes a major change in their life (like going into a life of recovery from alcoholism/addiction) it takes an all-out effort and a COMPLETE & TOTAL change of how one lives their life. Some would call that behavior drastic and pretty be frank, I do NOT disagree. I was DYING right before everyone's eyes and if I didn't change EVERYTHING about the way I lived and conducted myself...I would have been dead in a very short period of time.

What this means is I have to live my life based on certain principals of giving and selflessness. I have to give of myself by helping others to keep what I have today: namely my sobriety. I don't know if that kind of life works for every recovering person...I do know that it works for me and many others I know personally.

Hence my lack of tolerance for those who pretend to help and then don't do it. I do not understand why anyone would bother to pretend when it's perfectly fine in our society today to be a TAKER. I could care less what you do...just do not lie to me or others who may trust and then God forbid might come to count on you when the chips are down.

That is truly the root of my intolerance problem right there. I have come to know over the past 7-plus years so many incredibly loving, cheerful, giving people who are honest, sincere and would give the shirt off their backs if not their life to help others. So many good folks in fact that it ruins it for the rest of you poser's out there, haha. Seriously...I have simply come to expect people to act that way and for a person to pretend otherwise seems ridiculous at best dangerous and unethical at worst. 

Where I come from...working and living with addict/alcoholics...people DIE every day. For example...if the only way in June of 2006 I could get sober and kick drugs was to go to church and be a Christian...I would have chosen DEATH (and in fact I actually did). I simply could not deal with that because I had no trust for church goers or Christians. The truth here is very simple, i was so biased, angry, mistrustful and sick that I would have chosen to die before I would go to church! Pretty twisted and sick, eh!??

So honesty and integrity matter because addicts trust no you better be who you say you are if you going to talk to them about recovery. middle ground, no place to hide..or someones life could depend on it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Isolation Island in the Mythical Land of MISTRUST

There are certain aspects of my personality that I was born with and then there are other parts that are a result of my living experience. All my life I have been an introvert...preferring to energize or motivate from within. I like people and their company but I am as or more comfortable in my own company. I know people who cannot stand to be by themselves. I was never bothered by that and frankly I preferred it. I love people and really enjoy them but it's just that I would rather meet and socialize with them on my own terms.

As I grew older and my alcoholism/addiction manifested itself more and more, I isolated myself to an extreme and came to really mistrust others...just about everyone. I was particularly alienated from people who tended to hang out or participate in groups like church or other religious and political organizations.

I considered them "mindless" people who prefer instead the safety one finds in numbers...just like SHEEP do. I believed in a creator but I thought this daily reliance...even dependence on daily prayer and fellowship a terrible weakness. To me church people basically just stood together in false piety to pass judgement on others and justify their own arrogant idea of life, politics and living.

That is why no one was more stunned and surprised at my acceptance of God and Jesus as my Savior then I was. I began to find that to a certain extent I also enjoyed the company of other Christians & going to church and began to feel remorse & guilt at being so harsh & judgmental of others in the past.

But as of late I have started to feel uncomfortable again in the presence of my fellow Christians...even some of the members of the church I attend. I have always been open minded about the choices other folks make for themselves and really believe that people can and should live their lives the way they choose. But I started to feel the evil eye of judgement again along with noting a great deal of hypocritical behavior and gossip in the ranks of people I thought cared about me and whom I had begun to trust. my natural reaction to this was to feel like an idiot for ever letting my guard down and trusting people again.

I am a very open and honest person when it comes to discussing my personal life , it's challenges and failures. I feel like GOD has really demanded that I share my life's details openly with others in the hope that they might find comfort and solace in knowing someone else has walked in their shoes. So that is what I have tried to do even going as far as creating and writing this very blog to achieve that openness and share myself with holds barred, warts & all. It is not easy to share my failures, weaknesses and shortcomings with the entire world but it is something I truly feel compelled to do.

I also work hard at listening to people and being available to them anytime, not just Physically but Emotionally, Psychologically and Spiritually to help them in any way I possibly can. It has become the most important "work" I have ever been involved in and I relish the challenge. It is truly a holy endeavor for me and one I take really seriously. But I am as far from perfect as a human being can get and I make mistakes. I have feelings that can be hurt and aren't always totally rational...especially when it comes to my relationships with other people.

I do not understand and will admit I am less then tolerant of people who proclaim to live their life according to the principles Jesus taught yet in reality do not....they live indulgent, self-oriented lives. And you know what...I have absolutely no problem if that is the life they choose...they work hard at what they do and are entitled to do what they want with their lives. What troubles me is they say they live differently then they do. They pretend to care, to want to help but it is immediately evident that they are horribly uncomfortable in that role. And that is fine...stop pretending that you are something you're not, simple as that.

In the end...what really matters to me is honesty, integrity and sincerity. What I see lately is typical of many I meet these days. Folks will say one thing about themselves then act in a manner contrary to what they say. I know it is difficult at times being that honest with yourself but the reality of life is we are what we are and unless we take drastic measures to adjust and change that...people already know the true nature of who we are. People can spot a phony a million miles away.

One reason I am so terribly bothered by this scenario isn't because I am perfect and think I am better at this then others....No it certainly is not that!  It's that I have spent years living that VERY SAME LIE! I was a PHONY...always trying to be someone I wasn't. What I have learned after years of living in recovery, becoming a Christian and doing my best to live by spiritual principles is that I need to be authentic, true to who and what I am and stop pretending I am something I am not. Hence my feelings of mistrust when I realized there are people who claim to be a friend yet they actions to not jive with their intentions.

Honestly....I have never felt so alone in all my life as I have when I was hurt this past winter and then became very sick with various infections after suffering series of significant injuries and set-backs. People will ask me how I am doing but it has become obvious that they truly didn't want to know the truth...heaven for bid I ask them for help!

And to a certain extent I understand....I really do, I get that...because I've been there. I made a great living before Addiction/Alcoholism literally brought me to my knees and I lost everything materially, nearly killing myself in the process. And there were people who took advantage of our friendship and demanded material help. Several times I purchased cars for people or co-signed loans for people who were down on their luck. The result in many cases was they only wanted more then more and more. Yet there were a couple cases where that was not the case and I ended up realizing that I had really helped someone who needed my help. I never regretted that. That was LOOOOONG before I became a Christian. I discovered GIVING truly was better then receiving.

Because of that experience I now think differently about how I treat others, God has changed me through hard experience & adversity...I chose to come and live with my parents to take care of them in their old age when the obviously could not take care of is difficult and not my first me. But it is rewarding in ways that I never imagined. Same with the illness and serious injury I have faced this year. This isn't fun....racking up over $120,000 in medical over $13,000 out of pocket is not only not fun but the pressure and demands have contributed to the most painful and chaotic, pressure packed period (financially anyway) of my entire life.

Knowing God is with me is a great comfort but I am still responsible and liable for those medical expenses....hence the pressure, the worry and the feelings of helplessness...and it changes a person. Hence I no longer am a new naive Christian. I realize there really are folks who really do not care about me or what happens to me. Initially that realization really hurt but I can live with it. This also makes me realize and appreciate those who truly do care even more.

I have to live my life the way I have to live it. God speaks to me in a language I understand and I know now that he will NOT accept half measures from me. That includes the writing of this post. I realize I have friends who I really care about who may think I am writing about them. But I feel compelled to document my experience, my feelings and how this has affected me...I am not responsible for the feelings of others just as they cannot make me do or feel anything I do not want to feel or do. 

It is not easy nor enjoyable. There are always some who will judge my actions harshly and turn away from be it, in reality they were never really there for me so nothing has been lost except the illusion of trust and friendship.

I am hoping that this will prove to be the catalyst for change and growth...first and foremost within me. I know that I cannot truly effect change in others...only they...and GOD can do that.

Picture by Kathy Tomson

Monday, November 11, 2013


I post this poem every year during Remembrance (Veterans) Day. Why should this year be any different....

Spring Offensive by Wilfred Owen

Halted against the shade of a last hill,
They fed, and, lying easy, were at ease
And, finding comfortable chests and knees
Carelessly slept. But many there stood still
To face the stark, blank sky beyond the ridge,
Knowing their feet had come to the end of the world.
Marvelling they stood, and watched the long grass swirled
By the May breeze, murmurous with wasp and midge,
For though the summer oozed into their veins
Like the injected drug for their bones' pains,
Sharp on their souls hung the imminent line of grass,
Fearfully flashed the sky's mysterious glass.
Hour after hour they ponder the warm field --
And the far valley behind, where the buttercups
Had blessed with gold their slow boots coming up,
Where even the little brambles would not yield,
But clutched and clung to them like sorrowing hands;
They breathe like trees unstirred.
Till like a cold gust thrilled the little word
At which each body and its soul begird
And tighten them for battle. No alarms
Of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste --
Only a lift and flare of eyes that faced
The sun, like a friend with whom their love is done.
O larger shone that smile against the sun, --
Mightier than his whose bounty these have spurned.
So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
Over an open stretch of herb and heather
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; and soft sudden cups
Opened in thousands for their blood; and the green slopes
Chasmed and steepened sheer to infinite space.
Of them who running on that last high place
Leapt to swift unseen bullets, or went up
On the hot blast and fury of hell's upsurge,
Or plunged and fell away past this world's verge,
Some say God caught them even before they fell.
But what say such as from existence' brink
Ventured but drave too swift to sink.
The few who rushed in the body to enter hell,
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames
With superhuman inhumanities,
Long-famous glories, immemorial shames --
And crawling slowly back, have by degrees
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder --
Why speak they not of comrades that went under?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

NEVER Forget!

No folks, I am not a WAR Monger...just because there is a constant theme in my writing relating to History, War, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, etc., etc.I will not go into the personal details and psychological reasons why I respect & value our military personnel,the incredible job they perform and support all Veterans...I just do. 
I support them for patriotic reasons...for reasons of humanity, ethics, pride, love, respect, honor and the list continues. By supporting Vets I am NOT glorifying war. I know many Veterans of several different wars and all branches of the service. I am a Member of the 100th Infantry Division Reunion Group and have spent countless hours with these ordinary citizens who fought in the Second World War...many seeing horrific combat. I have yet to meet a single, solitary ONE who glorified War.

In reality it was physically and mentally...even spiritually TRAUMATIC for these guys to even discuss what they experienced 60 freaking years AFTER it happened! They still mourn the brothers they left buried in Europe, North Africa and Islands all over the central and south Pacific.

I just really appreciate what our Vets have done for all of us and I really just want to say THANK YOU and I Will NEVER...EVER Forget!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Shards Of A Shattered TRUTH

For many reasons, most of them lame bordering on ridiculous...because they relate to some out-dated sense of chivalry, privacy and personal integrity that is in reality all just an illusion at best and a blatant, out-right LIE at worst, I cannot write about what I just witnessed here in my own home. But it would involve writing openly and honestly about family dysfunction , madness and plain old insanity on a public blog so more then likely I would NEVER be forgiven so I must restrain myself as much as possible from writing the TRUTH.

But I will say that in the 30 years I have lived with this, I have never witnessed the full & unrestrained fury of mental illness (Paranoid Personality Disorder to be exact) unleashed like I just experienced 90 or so minutes ago. Unspeakable hateful name calling, crazy, ridiculous...yes INSANE accusations and some unreal jumping to mad conclusions. 

I am heart-sick right now...I am at this very moment living through the very real and excruciatingly slow breaking of my own HEART into a million shards of shattered glass. TRUTH is the true victim here because we have...I HAVE chosen to live this lie. Dying never looked so good in comparison.

All because I fear the consequences of communicating to one completely imprisoned in the throes of Frothing...Raging...Unquenchable...MADNESS. The very nature of this illness, what makes the recovery or treatable rate so unbelievably small is that the patient's own illness convinces them that all people are out to "get them" hurt and humiliate them. So many go to their graves hopelessly entwined in this pathetic paranoid state believing the sole purpose of all other human beings on this planet is to belittle and hurt them.

Heart-breaking actually comes no where close to describing how tragic this god-forsaken illness really is and how much pain and suffering it has caused to the very people I care about the most. Including the one who just the other day called me a lying worthless piece of shit and an asshole 22 times before they left the room only to come back an hour later and act like it never happened.

I fear the Sun has forever set and The King of the DARK NIGHT as settled in for the long HAUL.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Playing Your Lie...

Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots- But you have to play the ball where it lies. - Bobby Jones
Bobby Jones 1930 winnaar US Amateur.jpg

I find it fascinating that a Lawyer and an amateur golfer born in 1902 had such a simple yet profound and astute view of life. When I first found recovery, the notion of "Acceptance" was drilled into my head. Basically acceptance was realizing that one MUST "play the ball where it lies". I had to accept I was an alcoholic/addict before I could ever take any realistic steps toward recovery. I had to "OWN" my disease...take responsibility for it.

This philosophic notion of playing the ball where it is...not where you WISH it was, is a powerful attitude and most useful when working through life's most difficult and unexpected times. It amazes me how unprepared for life's ups/downs many people are. They live life in a warm & fuzzy cocoon...until trouble visits then they feel sorry for themselves and end up virtually helpless.

To me this notion of "acceptance" not only saved my life but is a positive and helpful daily point of view. No sense trying to kid ourselves...Life IS what it IS, no matter how much we wish it was something different.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Kaleidoscope of DEATH

Where does the time go when the heart stops beating? The same place as one's breath? Good question and another of a long list of life questions I simply have no answer for.

The Christian Belief (and my own, by the way) says we shall have eternal life. If true, it seems the logical thing to do would be to stop fighting and let the "eternal" part begin....But of course 
that would be killings one's self and some say that is an unpardonable sin, therefore one would forfeit the eternal life promise. 

I am confused. I do not personally know where it says in scripture that suicide is an unforgivable sin....believers who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior are forgiven their Sin...Period. Such is my belief...

Anyhow none of that is really relevant to me because I continue to fight and survive...often against great odds. Why? Truly I know not why....Because I can, I suppose.

I have stated periodically in various posts here on Shell Shock Serenade that I have lived a life internally at WAR. As far back as I can recall I have fought as the same soldier in war dreams...long before I was old enough to even know what it was I was dreaming about. 

I believed I had lived before. Why? Honestly it was the only logical explanation for what was happening to me. I knew things about battle sites I had no business knowing. Where long removed mass graves were on the Somme Battlefield in Northern France. Where long filled in trench systems were and where they went. I sensed that I had been to places I'd never seen before (in this life, anyway) and needed no directions to get the pitch dark of night. A local French farmer from Albert thought I was a ghost...

Standing on what had been a front line trench near Polygon Wood near Ypres, Belgium...I could smell death so strongly that I vomited. Call me crazy....I could care less. I didn't ask for such things to happen to me...they just did. And they always have for as long as I can remember.

In the two posts previous to this one I write of shadow-men...just out of sight. I cannot honestly say whether I am seeing the personification of Evil Himself...stalking me, hunting me, WANTING me...or a vision of a past self who has followed me into a new realm...searching for himself.

I supposed when pressed I'd say that I feel pain, danger and hate. No matter how hard I try I cannot flee far enough away fast enough to dodge his Horrific Majesty...he has me locked into his sites and there is no where to run.

So why do I continue to fight?

(Keep reading future posts my friends, if you dare)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

When The Sun Set...In My Blue EYES.

Who is this Dark Shadow-Man that I have been running from all of my life? Who is the ghostly figure lingering just beyond my sight, barely out of reach, tantalizingly just a sliver of finger-tip away? A black heart beats my burial tome...minute after minute...bloody day after day.

Is it real? Or but a figment of an imagination run rampant or the mindless wonderings of a mind gone completely MAD, MAD, MAD!

My first memories were of being chased by darkness, always fighting the setting sun. One day, I knew that very Sun would set in my eyes....and then what?

Where do we go from here and is the dark, shadow man chasing me there...or trying to prevent me from going?

A life lived in constant fear represents a life not truly's survived. In my opinion, time on this planet MUST have some purpose other then simply to just survive it. I get the fact that some people suspect that life here is but a test....a survival examination perhaps. I actually believed that myself for a very long time. And why wouldn't I? Look at my life: 

Unwanted at birth (I was adopted), Beaten and raped at 12 years of age, A full blown addict/alcoholic by age 17. But then I fought back, started a family, then I got married, had a very lucrative career, full of travel, put kids into college, etc...but the moment I grew to trust that life and the people in it, IT devoured me. The addiction reared it's fearsome self again, followed by divorce, abandonment, hopelessness, despair and a suicide attempt that led to a coma I barely survived.

Then a rare ray of sunshine pierced the billowing black smoke & fire...all that remained of a once vibrant man and his life. Sobriety followed, then HOPE brought with it a life as I never would have imagined. Yet this time around I certainly do not TRUST LIFE, human beings, money/possessions...or really anything else for that matter.

And I am hauntingly aware of that shadowy presence...NEVER far away who I sense wants me...ALL of me. That is the question.....will he get what he desires?!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ocean Side Rendezvous: The Baptism of EVIL (Prelude)

I cannot help but to feel that something or someone very "BAD" is out there....somewhere and they have me right smack in the middle of their cross-hairs. An itchy trigger finger pawing nervously around the firing mechanism of their evil intention.

One bit of CHAOS after another has followed me throughout this year of missteps and misery. How can I NOT feel Hunted...Snake-bitten....Pounded to death by the very HOUNDS of HELL that have vowed from the moment of my birth to torment me to the very end. To bury my wretched excuse for living under a writhing mass of hatred, fear and anger. 

I punch, I claw, I kick and move...fighting to the very end with every stinging ounce of sweat & blood, to hold off the mounting pressure pounding away behind these blood-shot blue eyes. But Wait...who is the enemy here? 

(To Be Continued...)  


I won't apologize at all for posting pictures of my Grandchild. I am a Grand father...and a PROUD Grand Pappy at that so I cannot be responsible for spontaneous outbursts of picture producing PRIDE...whether it's on the Internet, on the street or hanging out on the golf course.

The pic above shows my oldest grandson, Mason checking out his new little Bro Miles. I adore this picture....actually, I adore 'em all, hahahaha. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Miles James

This is my third grandchild, all of which are boys. his name is Miles James Slusser and he was born to my beautiful daughter Chelsea and her husband Joel at 8:46 this morning, November 1st, 2013. They live outside of Greenville, SC and I am sure hoping to find a way to visit and very soon!

Below is a picture of Mile's older brothers Maddox on the left and Mason on the right...