This entry was posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2018 at 3:47 pm
I have been battling with discouragement lately. For anyone that knows me, you might know that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become a true passion in my life. For transparency sake, I am a novice by every stretch of the imagination. I am clumsy, awkward, struggle with the guidance and direction given, am in pain, often feel overwhelmed, struggle with the idea that I am the absolute worst one in the class, and on and on and on. I have hit this wall in the last two months where it is work just to go to class. On my drive there I feel that push and pull of an internal struggle where my mind tries to beat me up, my body feels lethargic, and there is a still small voice of hope/encouragement just trying to squeak out to get me to latch onto it. I am not sure exactly when this lethargy happened, because for over a year I was both mentally and physically dedicated to three sessions a week of training. I am in it, the thick of it, although not a life-threatening or debilitating disease, it is my current struggle that is weighing on me because I want so badly to overcome it and beat it. The “it” I mean is the old me, the one that would give up in the face of adversity. The old me that would make excuses when things got tough. The old me that would have a “whoa is me attitude”. The little boy inside that wants to temper tantrum, quit, and then blame it on someone else. Much like life though, this is a microcosm of the daily struggle of quieting the old self, while building and continuing to grow the purposeful resilient self. The key to it for me, just keep going. When you don’t feel like it, go anyway. When your mind is distracted, go anyway. Just keep going. Don’t make excuses, just keep going. If you are afraid, do it afraid.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 at 4:04 pm
Over the last Spring Break my wife had the great idea that we should go see the family in my hometown of New Port Richey, FL. Going home, although rare, is always an interesting occasion. It was the place that I ran from at 27 years old because it was leading me down the darkest of paths. The place in and of itself is not bad, it was just not the best place for me. This time coming home was much different. This time I was introduced to real growth and prosperity. One of my best friends, when faced with a personal turmoil, decided not to wallow in self-pity and anger, but used it to drive towards a dream. He had sent me a random text months ago about his company laying him off, and…well, lets be honest, how do you respond to a text like that. I struggled, I wanted to say just the right thing, to make just the right impact on such a difficult occasion. In the end, I don’t even know what I said, but I know that I tried to make it hopeful. So before this Spring Break, I was made aware that he and his wife had taken the plunge and started their own business. I remember thinking, he did it, he is chasing his dream and passion. As soon as I got to my parent’s house there was a strong desire to see him and his new place. The picture below is the one I took that day.
Too often I am met with people chasing the “just trying to make it without screwing everything up” monotony…. instead of “The American Dream”. When I think of the American Dream, I now think of the tangible picture below that my friend now represents. You see, the American Dream for me is the idea of chasing after your passions, with equal parts nervousness, excitement, and doubt. Those parts of us that question whether we can actually do this. Those parts of us that more than anything doesn’t want to have to sit and wonder in our silent prison, “what if I had just…” I am so happy for my friend, I literally had so much pure joy for him as I sat in his establishment that I could’ve probably shed a tear. I don’t want to have that deep-down ringing in my ear one day of “what if….”, because that what if represents regret, desire never broached, and fear recognized as failure.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 4th, 2018 at 7:55 pm
I had the privilege to listen to a podcast recently in which ex-Navy Seal David Goggins was interviewed. The short version of a very long and difficult story is one of a young man that was abused, saw his mother abused, was seen as stupid, and essentially a nothing in this world with nothing to live or fight for. All David Goggins did was overcome obstacles normal people would quit easily at, to become a true savage and warrior of life. If you don’t know him, please look him up.
I have to say that hearing stories like David’s never gets old. It pumps me up, it lifts my spirits, it makes me want to do another round on the heavy bag instead of sitting on my lazy ass watching television. Shoot, honestly, the reason I became a psychotherapist was to figure out what was wrong with me, and hopefully figure out how to not continue to make the same stupid choices. Yet, that still small evil voice will pop into my head, immediately after listening to people like David and their story, to say, “you can’t do this, you’re nothing, you loser” etc. Or even better yet, excuse, after excuse, after excuse of why I cannot do something.
When I am done with this whole life, one of my biggest fears is the regret I may have that I did not persevere more. I don’t fear like I used too, but I will tell you that the possibility of that regretful thought and feeling is something like a dull ache in my torn rotator cuff. In the most obvious of ways I am uncommon, being a 6’2” redhead will alert you to that easily. I really need to CHOOSE to be uncommon every single day of my life. I have quit more things in my life than anyone will ever know but moving forward I need to choose to do the uncommon thing every single day. You see, to me and my thinking, that “common” thing takes over way too often and leads me to: sit on the couch when I know I should play with my kids; tells me to not talk to my wife when I know I should because it will simply pass and we will be actors for another day; don’t confront that friend, even though we both know they are doing wrong, because he just needs to figure it out for himself……you see where this is going. I don’t know about you, but I sure hope to be “uncommon” because “common” sounds so damn boring and full of regret.
This entry was posted on Monday, March 26th, 2018 at 2:25 pm
One of my most favorite movies of all time is Boyz n The Hood. Let’s be honest, I cannot relate to the movie at all, I don’t know what it is like to go through that kind of struggle. For some reason, I have simply always loved it. There is one scene in particular that I have always liked (the link is below, check out the first 40 seconds). In this scene, Furious (father), is cutting his son Tre’s hair. As is their relationship, Tre takes a swipe at Furious by calling him old. Furious immediately cracks back, “I’m not getting old, I’m getting better.” This is the running joke within my home. Whenever my kids or my wife make the joke that Daddy is getting old, I immediately hit back with, “I’m not getting older, I’m getting better.” It’s the truth, I am getting better and I have no desire to go back. I struggle when around people talking about the good old days, probably more because I think, why in the world would anyone ever want to go back? I am more learned now than I have ever been at any other point in my life. Today, on my birthday, I can say with the utmost confidence that I have fallen many times, and somehow, someway I am here at 43 still getting up. I am a work in progress and I want to see how this whole thing gets even better. I don’t have it all together, I still make some bad choices, I still look like a fool regularly, I still have so many areas that I need to grow……. but, I am getting better. I will stumble today, I will screw up probably within the next hour, stress and anxiety will try to take over, and no doubt a depressive thought or two will try and manipulate my day……. but, I am getting better. So, if anyone tries to make the crack to you about getting old, remind them, “I’m not getting older, I’m getting better!”
This entry was posted on Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 at 3:54 pm
I can remember the situation like it was yesterday. Going about my daily routine like any other day, a young lady whom I did not know came up to me inquisitively. She looked at me and asked, “is everything ok?” Looking at her puzzled, I replied, “yeah, why?!” “Because you always look angry.”
I wish I could tell you that I handled this situation well, but that would be a lie. Sure, I was fine in front of her, at least I acted unscathed in that moment. I mean, I did not yell or curse at her, no I saved that for the car. “Who the hell is she!!!” “Who the f____ is she to ask me that!!!” “Screw her, and everyone else at that stupid school!!!” You can see where this is going.
I had been found out, the façade had been cracked by this unsuspecting girl. I couldn’t sleep that night, I was so angry and embarrassed by this one singular moment……never knowing that this would propel me in what I now believe I am truly meant to do. See, what she did not know was that I was not angry……I was insecure. It took me a long time and a lot of fuming to finally figure that out.
I struggled mightily as a young person. I was stupid, I was an idiot, I was a loser (I could go on and on with the terms that engulfed my mind). Everyone else I looked at was significantly better than me and I could prove it. When this unsuspecting girl enlightened the world to my truth in a moment, she not only exposed my weak insignificance, she solidified the truth to all those deep / dark beliefs that I had harbored for so long.
Here’s the weird part. I don’t regret it. I don’t regret that moment. I wouldn’t change all those times I thought about seriously hurting myself. I would not change the deep-seated anxiety and depression I felt on a daily basis. I would not even change the impact those deeply held beliefs had on my poor school performance, my struggles in sports, my difficulties with peers, and my inability to connect with girls. I wouldn’t change any of them, because my hope now is that it helps me to connect with others in an empathetically impactful way.
I don’t know much, I am an expert at only one thing…….me. I know me better than anyone else ever will. I know my struggle, and thankfully I have been blessed to know a few others.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 at 2:46 pm
For my very first entry, I had to share something that is deeply personal to me. This writing below speaks directly at who I see when I see you. The reality is only a very select few know my true mask, not because I am someone special, but instead because not everyone is safe. I hope that this resonates with you.
I WEAR A THOUSAND MASKS
(Charles C. Finn)
I am every man and every woman you meet.
I hope you won’t be fooled by me for I wear a mask. I wear a thousand masks, masks that I’m afraid to take off, and one of them is me.
I am likely to give you the impression that I’m secure, that confidence is my name and coolness my game, that the water’s calm and I’m in command and that I need no one. But I hope you won’t believe me.
My surface may be smooth…beneath I dwell in confusion, in fear, in aloneness. But I hide this. I panic at the thought of my weakness and fear of being exposed. That’s why I frantically create a mood to hide behind, a nonchalant, sophisticated façade to shield me from your understanding. But such understanding is my salvation. My only salvation. And I know it.
If I don’t keep the mask in front of myself I’m afraid you’ll think less of me, that you’ll laugh, and your laugh would kill me.
So I play that game, my desperate pretending game, with a façade of assurance without, and a trembling feeling within. And so my life becomes a front. I idly chatter to you in the suave surface tones…I tell you everything that’s nothing, and nothing of what’s everything, of what’s crying within me. So when I go into my routine, I hope you won’t be fooled by what I’m saying. I hope you listen carefully to hear what I’m not saying.
I dislike the superficial, phony game I am playing. I’d really like to be open, genuine and spontaneous. I want your help in doing this. I want you to risk approaching me even when that’s the last thing I seem to want, or need. I want this from you so I can be alive. Each time you’re kind, and gentle and encouraging, each time you try to understand because you really care, my courage to risk sharing myself with you increases.
I want you to know how important you are to me, how you can be a creator of the person that is me if you choose. But it will not be easy for you. A long conviction of worthlessness leads me to maintain distance.
The nearer you approach me, the blinder I may strike back. It is self-defeating but at the time it seems the safest thing to do. I fight against the very things that I cry out for. But I am told that empathy is stronger than walls and therein lies my hope. I desperately want you to understand me in spite of my distancing tactics.
Who am I, you may wonder? I am someone you know very well.