Archive for the ‘Self-Help’ Category

As promised in yesterdays post; I am going to include a love poem describing the final lesson we can learn from a failed relationship. For all my long time readers you may find yourselves shocked, because this is one of the only non-dark love poems I have written. I am a bit out of my element here, I hope it translates well, and that it will paint the perfect picture from yesterdays post. 

I held a light

For the very first time in my life

Illuminating a world of heavenly sights

Sights never seen in a life of perpetuated night

 

When I held this light

I noticed a twinkle in my eye

I felt butterflies give life to a beating heart

A first in my life

 

You gave me this breathtaking gift

I experienced how it felt to be loved

Through your eyes, I met the man I could never become

Blossoming feelings of blissful self-worth

Powerful enough to wash away the stains, of a life of pain

A first in my life

 

Your light opened many gifts

A lifetime worth of Christmas lists

Showing me I am more than just a broken doll

Your essence, was proof that angels exist

The first time I felt your angelic lips

I wished for time to stop instead of end

A first in my life

The happiest of my life

 

Twenty six years of living in the dark

Made me naïve of your light

The void of night, resents receding to the light

Machiavellian strategy in hand

That void of night patiently waits

For me to lose your gift of light

An unavoidable first in my life

 

To this day I still don’t know how or why I let you go

Extinguishing the light

Did complacency, give way to delusions

If I was worthy to feel an angels embrace

Why was I swallowed up by the familiar night?

Forever gifted with shadows regret

 

There are times I remember how things looked in the light

All those heavenly sights

The flutter of butterfly wings, and a beating heart

My reflection in your eyes, seeing the good inside

To know exceptionally beautiful angels exist

To give goodnight kisses with their heavenly lips

This is when my smile can be seen in the night

 

Memories and dreams are all that remain

During my brief stay in the light of day

Remembering your light

All the firsts in my life

Forever grateful

To experience what life can be like

When you add something so simple

As genuine light

By: Tim Lundmark

 

Thank you for reading a poem which is out of my comfort zone. I hope everyone out there has either found or one day will find their genuine light.

 

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What We Learn From Failed Relationships

Posted: May 27, 2014 in Absolute Truth, Abuse, Anxiety, Arguments, Blog, Blogging, Change, Childhood, Children, Coping, Crisis, Culture, Dating, Debates, Depression, Diary, Dilemma, Divorce, Dreams, Emotional Abuse, Ethics, Evil, Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Fear, Forgiveness, Freedom, Fun, Greed, Grief, Growing up in abusive homes, Health, Humor, Inside My Mind, Journal, Kids, Learning, Lies and broken promises, Life, Lists, Living Your Dream, Logic, Love, Lust, Marriage, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Misc, miscellaneous, Moral Theories, Morals, Motivation, Mourning, NA, Opinion, Pain, Parent, Parenting, Personal, Philosophy, Poems, Poetry, Published Author, Quotes, Random, Random Thoughts, Rants, Rejection, Relationship Issues, Relationships, Sadness, Self-esteem, Self-Help, Self-image, Social Anxiety, Social Debates, Society, Sorrow, Spirituality, Stress, Suffering, The Invention of Lying, The Philosophy of Lyrics, The Philosophy of Quotes, Things That Give Me Anxiety, Thoughts, Top Ten Lists, Uncategorized, Unity, Verbal Abuse, Writing
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I would first like to start off by thanking all of my readers and subscribers. I learned today; I have readers from 61 different countries. I think that’s pretty bad ass. I am aware that my readership grew from the topics of philosophy, theology, and madness. So bear with me as I stray a bit from those topics. Today I would like to release that which has been permeating in my mind. I would like ponder for a moment the importance of learning from our mistakes in a failed relationship. Through all of this I am trying to maintain a positive attitude and outlook. So here we go.

The one thing I can say with out a doubt is I am far from sainthood. I have made my more than my fair share of mistakes, and bad decisions which played a role in the overall destruction of my marriage. I am ashamed and consumed with intense guilt because of this. This combined with my wife’s lies, and infidelity has allowed me to see the light. I am sure I could write a 200 page paper on this topic, but I will try to keep this short and sweet.

There are 10 main things I have learned in my failed marriage. Now mind you there are far more than 10, but as I said this is not a 200 page dissertation on my failed marriage. I will do my best to not place blame, because it doesn’t do anyone any good. Some things on this list will undoubtedly overlap, even though this is the case I feel each one deserves to be mentioned. Without further ado here is my list of 10 things I learned from my failed marriage.

  1. Never Lie: I did a lot of research after I found out about what my wife did. I learned that in humans our first response when we know we have done something wrong, that will ultimately lead to a negative outcome our immediate response is to lie. We do this for two reasons one we want to avoid conflict, and two we don’t want to get in trouble. Since I am a proponent of the tabula rasa theory (mind being born as a blank slate.) I feel this is a trait we learn as children, which carries over into adulthood. Lying to your partner no matter how small is a terrible idea. We can overcome this childish trait, by knowing our partner as well as ourselves, focus on understanding and know that mistakes are actually learning opportunities.
  2. Never Cheat: I think this one doesn’t need further explanation. It’s a painful and shitty thing to do to those we love. Even if (insert some attractive famous person) wanted to be with you, nothing is worth hurting the one you love.
  3. Trust: it should go without saying that if the two things listed above are followed then trust shouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately we all carry the baggage of past hurt, what we need to realize is who ever we are with now is not the person who caused us hurt in the past. I would imagine it would be a good idea to be open and honest about these past hurts. A relationship that is not built on trust is like trying to build a house of cards on a windy day, neither of these two examples will be successful. The perfect advice one can give in fostering trust in a relationship is this; if you would not say or do something if your partner was there with you, then you definitely shouldn’t do it.
  4. Accept and Love Each Other For All Their Good Qualities, As Well As Their Flaws: let’s admit it people, no one is perfect, and those who claim to be are probably the most screwed up of them all. Initially I am sure that we all fall in love with our mates good qualities. During the “courting” or “honeymoon” phase of a relationship, it is kind of like interviewing for a job, you really are not being completely honest your just trying to get the “job.” As the relationship progresses and begins to become serious is usually when we start to notice each others flaws. The important thing is that we learn to love that person regardless of their flaws. In fact I believe our flaws can become the most exciting part of a relationship. When you love the good qualities along with the flaws you know you have found true love; when everything seems to fit like a glove.
  5. Never Put Your Partner Down and Break Their Will: this topic has a lot to do with item number four. There are just two things I would like to add. The first is from an article by John Gottman, PhD in an article titled “4 Signs of A Troubled Marriage” Here is the link.http://affiliatedpsychologicalservices.com/4-signs-of-a-troubled-marriage/ Gottman talks about “The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse” which are clear signs you are headed for a divorce. The first two he brings up is “Criticism” and “Contempt.” If anyone out there grew up in an abusive home where as a child you were faced with these two horsemen, having to deal with such things in a marriage is a key ingredient in a divorce. If you tell someone something negative about them enough times, with the right amount of nastiness it is only natural the other party will believe what they are being told, and inevitable this is who they will see when they look into the mirror. I don’t think people are aware of how serious the long term damage can be. My second point comes from a line from the song “Weight of The World” by Blue October. “Don’t bother changing things that won’t give into changing.” It is one thing to help your partner grow and become the best person they can be, but in the process don’t try to change who they are inside. If you are hell bent on trying to force someone to change, there is always medication. If this is your goal please take to heart one of my quotes “Medication is to fix the people we don’t like.” If you feel you need to medicate your partner, it’s time to call it quits.
  6. Freedom: As your relationship grows, it is imperative that you do not take away your partners freedom. When I say freedom I am not referring to allowing your partner to go out all the time neglecting the relationship, and engaging in behaviors which fall into the first three categories I listed. When I say freedom, I say that it is clearly healthy to share and be with each other, but it is also healthy to have a respectful life outside of the relationship. I have made this deadly mistake in one of my relationships, and I have now been on the receiving end of how damaging smothering and isolating your partner can be. If your relationship is built on a strong foundation of trust and respect this should be something you encourage each other to do. I have always admired the relationship between my best friend of 26 years and his lovely wife. I will not mention names, but I truly hope one day I can figure out whatever their secret is, and apply it to my future relationships. I am going to encourage them to write a book.
  7. Support Their Dreams: There is nothing more precious and sacred than some ones hopes and dreams. For some our dreams appear to us when we are young, others do not fully realize their dreams until they discover who they are. When I was young I had the normal boyhood dreams to become a professional football or baseball player, unfortunately like normal boys those dreams were not meant to be. Beyond those two options, I really didn’t have anything else that drove or inspired me, until the 5th grade. Long story short I ended up doing many writing assignments and I remember my teacher signing my year book, saying she could one day see something I have written being published. I was not a very well behaved child, so positive reinforcement from the teachers I tormented was rare, but from that moment my dream changed. I wanted to become a professional writer. As I grew older I held onto this dream, and wrote in private. I never thought anything I would write would be read let alone published. Again long story short one of my poetry books was published, I started this blog, wrote two children’s books, and two other poetry books. Needless to say this was the greatest I had ever felt about myself, because I accomplished something I never thought I could… my dream. I did not receive support from my partner, and in fact was highly put down and discouraged from continuing to write, until finally I had no option but to stop writing. The details behind this are not important at this moment.
  8. Open & Honest Communication: You would think this is a no brainier, but for my marriage and I would imagine many others this proved to be too challenging to overcome and sowed the seeds to our divorce. I feel if you have all seven of these things listed above then number eight would be a given, but if you take out one or two of the above it makes communication a challenge. I avoided and ran away from open and honest communication. I could make a laundry list for why, but this is already becoming too long of a post. Mainly I was afraid to honestly look in the mirror, I was scared I was going to receive an unhealthy dose of items four and five. Regardless of those reasons it is on me for failing in this aspect of our marriage. I need to take ownership for this, and like everything listed learn to not make the same mistakes. It is very difficult and challenging for me to be social, and communicate even with those closest to me. I know this is something I need to work on, but what always ends up playing over and over in my mind is the Pink Floyd lyrics from the song “The Final Cut” which I will add at the end.
  9. Be A Selfless Lover: This is actually one area where I have and feel the most accomplished. I felt I needed to add this, because in my experience men in general put their intimacy needs, or the final “outcome” before their partners. I will not go into detail in case my mom is reading this, but as men our primary focus and goal when it comes to being intimate is placing our partners needs before ourselves. Any man can do his business and be on his way, but this is a man who has failed. When it comes to intimacy your only goal and desire should be the feelings and ultimate “outcome” of your partners needs. Everything else should be secondary.
  10. Find Your Genuine Light: Tomorrow I am going to post a quick poem describing the meaning behind this comment. I do not believe in soul mates. I do not believe there is only one true love for everyone. I believe for everyone, there exists many individuals who could be considered your genuine light. I believe they are rare, but they are out there. My advice is if you feel you are holding your genuine light, don’t let them slip away because you cannot be certain another one will come around to light up your life.

 

“And if I show you my dark side
Will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you
And show you my weak side
What would you do?
Would you sell your story to Rolling Stone?
Would you take the children away
And leave me alone?
And smile in reassurance
As you whisper down the phone?
Would you send me packing?
Or would you take me home?”

Pink Floyd

These lyrics describe perfectly why it is so difficult for me to open up to people, which hinders my ability to effectively communicate.

I am currently burdened with this increasingly ticking clock looming over my head. I hear it every second of every day; sometimes it’s as soft as a pin drop, other times it’s so deafening it impedes on my ability to function. Loud or soft there is no escape it’s always there tick, tock, tick, tock. This metaphorical clock terrorizing my mind is the count down leading to the single most important decision I have had to make thus far in my life. Do I stay or do I go?

Regardless of how hard I try not to have this internal battle; I would question my humanity if I didn’t. I have spent 15 years of my life with this person, and raised three children with her. I would delusional to think, after 15 years there would be only happy times; that our relationship would be void of heartaches. I figure the best way to analyze this problem is through a Utilitarian view point. Which decisions creates the most happiness while simultaneously creating the least amount of sorrow. I have quickly learned that making a decision as a utilitarian when there are so many people involved is damn near impossible. What I have been doing is treating each situation as a single event. I observe how I feel inside; I try to imagine how those involved feel inside. I then proceed to estimate how many times such an event has happened in the past, and then apply the probability of this event happening in the future. This is the method I have been using to try and silence the ticking clock by making my final decision. Will this methodology sentence me to a life filled with tormenting regret, or will it be the key to unlock these shackles of hopelessness I have been chained to most of my life.

This week I plan on taking some of these single events; breaking them down as I have described above with the hope of discovering the answer to my question. Do I stay or do I go?

It has been over two years since my last post; in fact during this time I haven’t written anything. The reasons for this abrupt end are inconsequential at the moment, but will most definitely need to be examined in an attempt to uncover how and why my life has completely unraveled. The life I have known for the last fifteen years is about to come to an end; like all endings there is the inevitable re-birth. This is the saddest ending I have had to endure in my life, and the most terrifying beginning I have ever had to face. I am trying my best to understand and process all these intense emotions, but I find myself drowning unable to find the surface for a much needed breath of hope and understanding. For the last year or so I have been trapped in this painfully unsolvable riddle, and it has been eating me alive. I have experienced undeniable betrayal, but I have chosen to wrap myself in the comfort of lies. I want to believe the lies, so I don’t have to experience this gut wrenching sadness. In the end I was willing to suffer an eternity of sorrow just to hear the whole truth. I could at least begin to forgive and trust, unfortunately this was not the outcome. Ever the fool I would have stayed, but it was the unrelenting daily reminders of these lies and betrayal as if I was the guilty party that ultimately destroyed everything. I can’t sleep or eat, and I have been rotting away with each passing day. The only viable solution I can find to help me through the coming storm is to attempt to write again. I can say that a piece of me died when I stopped writing, yet ironically my writing also played a major role in some of the other pieces of my life to die. I need to return to this medium, because if I don’t I will never find the surface. Each day will continue to be more painful than the last; I need hope that tomorrow will one day hurt less than today. I believe this is my only chance of surviving this re-birth. My fear is discovering I have lost the ability to express myself.

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I am a Staffing Coordinator at a nursing home in Minnesota. My main job function is to ensure we are fully staffed twenty-four hours a day. One of my many other responsibilities is managing our lodge employee program. Lodge employees are people who work at the nursing home and live in one of the lodges on our campus. This lodge is a housing unit for people in recovery, many of which are homeless. These individuals, after their first thirty days of sobriety, are then allowed to come up and work at the nursing home as monitors. I can name about a dozen people who are here for a few months, try to go out on their own, then relapse and come right back. Then there are the guys who I see once and never see them again. I feel for these people, and the lives they have chosen. I grow fond of some of them, and try to be there for support, and tell them about my own personal recovery. I root for them hoping they can beat their addictions and enter back into society with a place to live. I look at their lives and it makes me grateful for who I am and what I have accomplished in my life thus far.

I had one of my lodge employees come talk to me over the winter. This guy has been one of the best employees I have had in over three years. He came to me one day to ask me for advice. His dilemma was whether he should leave the lodge and grab his fiancé from another sobriety/homeless shelter in Minneapolis, take the money he has made working here, and go back to St. Cloud to live in a motel. Being that it was winter, he was concerned about what he would do when he ran out of money. He told me it would be almost impossible to find a homeless shelter to live in up there. He said he felt content and safe at the lodge and is going on two years of sobriety. His fiancé, on the other hand, was staying somewhere in Minneapolis where they will hold a bed for her as long as she volenteers as a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. She does not like where she is and is trying to pressure this guy to leave. He wants to stay here until springtime because he says it’s a lot easier to be homeless when the weather is nice. I offered some programs he could check into but I really wanted to shake this guy and tell him there are so many options out there for him, he doesn’t need to be homeless. I advised him to stay where he was at and encourage his fiancé to do the same.  

This got me thinking of my own life and how truly lucky I am. I have a beautiful, healthy, and wonderful family. I have a stable job, although not what I dreamed I would become; it pays the bills. I live in a beautiful home, there are times I just stop and take a step back in awe seeing all that I have. There is always food on the table and we feel blessed knowing our kids will never starve. Although I do not place a high value on possessions, we have many things people only dream of. We are able to spoil our kids for Christmas and even though we live check to check, we manage to survive month in and month out. These are all blessings I have been given, which I am sure any of the guy at the lodge would give anything to have. The problem is, I don’t always realize how truly blessed I am, it is as if, I almost forget how great I have it (this is usually when ego takes over.) I will at times take for granted the life I have and the people within it. I just grow comfortable with my situation, I do not take the time or energy to realize and reflect on what I am thankful for. In this situation I  take for granted the things and people I have in my life. I do not express enough how grateful I am to have everything that I do.

Considering my severe mental illness, and my personal battles with addiction, I could realistically be any of these guys over at the lodge, or perhaps even much worse. I wish I could take all the credit for this, but my beautiful wife has been my guiding light. Even in my darkest hours her love, compassion, and just plain giving a shit, has always lead my way home. She has always seen me for the man I can become, even though I have shown her the opposite. My children give me the motivation to become a better father than I have ever had. I have wonderful mother, supportive siblings, regular readers, a killer children’s book series, a great home,  cool shit I never thought I would have. I have kids who love and think the world of me, a great dog (not my first choice but I have grown to love him) and I am one of the few people out there who can say they found and married their soul mate. I may not always see it, but I love my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  

As for the gentleman I mentioned earlier; sadly he did not take my advice. He left two days after we had our conversation, and I haven’t seen or heard from him since. Wherever he is, I hope he can find the same happiness I know today.

“Hi my name is Tim and I am an addict.”

I am happy to say it has been around ten years since I have uttered those words in an NA meeting. This does not mean I have been totally sober the entire ten years, it just means I haven’t been co-dependent on meetings to stay sober. I have discovered a much more successful approach at staying sober, and that is controlling the addiction instead of the addiction controlling me. Learning this key lesson is in my opinion the most efficient way to maintain sobriety. As addicts if we are talked into, forced or just decide enough is enough our options to beat this thing is through treatment and NA/AA. Unfortunately this system does not work for everyone and those who it does not work for are in danger of allowing the drugs to continue to control them. I am sure there are programs out there that do not follow the traditional NA/AA model; I have just never heard of any before. I have often times thought about sharing my experiences to others in hopes my approach and philosophy may help them beat their addictions.

In my life I have had my fair share of issues with addiction. I started using at the age of thirteen and from that very moment I was in love with getting high. I would spend the next ten plus years getting high everyday all day. I have almost thrown my life away several times in the name of getting my next high, and in the midst of it all I really didn’t care. My life had zero value to me, and I felt it had zero value to anyone close to me. Since my life had zero value and nothing really mattered I might as well enjoy life and party. Because of my chronic using I have been through treatment several times. Except for the last time I was in treatment I always used while I was going through treatment. For some reason I was never able to buy into the NA/AA model, and because of this I took very little lessons away from my time in the program. The last time I was in treatment I was there for a week and I had to go AMA (against medical advice.) I didn’t want to leave to get high, I just hated being locked up. There was no way I would survive getting clean in this place, so I checked out and went to wage battle against my addiction.

I am not saying the NA/AA model is completely useless because it does help many people get clean, it just didn’t do it for me. The sad part is I do not believe I am alone in this thinking, and to my knowledge there are not many treatment centers out there that take a different approach on getting people clean. I think NA/AA takes vulnerable individuals and creates co-dependency upon the meeting and the collective in order to stay sober.  I was never able to get past the concept of handing my life over to a higher power. For those of you who read this blog a lot you know I am stubborn and have strong feelings and opinions on religion. It was this step that almost always caused me to shun this organization. The only higher power I recognized was myself, and I was broken so this is scenario simply wouldn’t work. Little did I know at the time that this concept would become a huge component of my personal plan to beat addiction.

In my journey from being a drug addict to a non-addict was a long and hard road. I had many relapses some worse than the others. I do not look at a relapse of using just once. I look at a relapse as thrusting yourself back into the using and abusing routine. My last relapse was probably my worst ever. I am not going to get into great depth of what I was using or how it was systematically destroying my life. I will just tell you that by the time I hit the absolute bottom I spent two weeks curled up in my bed detoxing, insanely sick from withdrawals. My doctor recommended I go to a detox center to be monitored because the drugs I was using were dangerous to come off of. I being the stubborn man I am wanted to do this without the aide of professional assistance. I wanted to prove to myself that I had the strength to beat this thing. It was an extremely rough road, and I can tell you with certainty this last binge/detox episode changed my life. I have not nor do I ever plan to relapse again. I can say this with complete certainty because of the personal program I built myself.

Among many other things I realized this lifestyle I had been living my entire life has been nothing but destructive, and has hurt those I loved. There is no high worth fucking up the lives of those who care about you. There is no high worth my kids seeing me as a junkie. This last situation will be my last. Since this last episode I have had many chances to take my drugs of choice and every time I have turned it down. I realized that if I put myself in safe situations then I am limiting the possibility of being confronted with the option to use. The times where the drugs were still able to find me I said no every time. I may have wanted to say yes so I could experience the sweet embrace of my drug of choice, but I realize that these particular narcotics had a profound control over me, and if I gave in even one time it could be my last. Unlike the AA/NA model I do not believe that once an addict always an addict, and to stay sober you can never touch another chemical of any kind. I think this concept is the downfall of many people who follow this model. It is possible to enjoy chemicals without completely throwing your life away. Personally I just needed to know which chemicals I had control over like drinking for example and which ones had control over me. With these things along with the other lessons and practices I put together I went from my addiction controlling me to me controlling my addiction. This my friends is part of the magic key to finally beating addiction.

I do not recognize addiction as an illness. I view it as a self-induced affliction. We all had the choice to say no at one point in our lives, and many more after we said yes for the first time. We all had the choice to make better decisions but we did not. These choices in the beginning were not made because we had an illness it happened because we made poor choices, because of this we were lead down the path of addiction. I believe the withdrawals and suffering which comes from getting clean is tough, but far from an illness. We did this to ourselves and taking ownership is a huge step in looking at your life of using, and as a result beating it. I believe many people use the cop out of addiction as an illness to justify their behaviors while they were using. I know when it came down to making amends I whole heartily blamed my horrendous actions on my using, as if I had no control over my decisions. These types of justifications keep us from seeing who we really are, and what we are capable of becoming because of our using. Saying “the illness made me do it” almost makes you blind to the person you have become.

I recognize when the drugs control you the addiction seems like an illness. But more so I consider addiction as a choice. I understand this to be true because in looking back at my using days my drug binges always started with a choice to relapse and use again. Even in the beginning I made the initial choice to use drugs I knew were highly addictive and destructive. I knew this yet I still made the choice to try them, even after trying them the first time I had to make the choice to try them again and again. At any point I had the choice to make a better decision. Relapsing was my choice which threw me back into a self-induced affliction. We addicts are very much in control of this decision; we just need to possess the strength and common sense to make good choices. We may sit back and blame it on our “illness,” but in reality it is our choice to use once again which is the issue. Finding the “why” in this scenario and facing it will assist in solving the problem. This along with learning to control the addiction instead of the addiction controlling you is a good start in getting sober.

“Forget the past- the future will give you plenty to worry about.”
George Allen

Forget the past; wouldn’t that just be so wonderful? Imagine if we could all go to sleep tonight and wake up with our past pain and worries wiped from our memories. I wonder how much differently we would look at life if we were not shackled to our painful past. I imagine we would live life to the fullest not being afraid to try new things, and experience once missed joys. I think our past define who we are and as a result defines our future.

I understand the future will dump on us just as our past has, but this future will soon become the past and before you know it that ball and chain we carry around just seems to get heavier and heavier. The only way to cure the past is through the power of forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Mark Twain

I don’t think we can ever forget our past, but we can forgive. By practicing forgiveness we can eventually move beyond our past pains. I wake up every morning and say “today I choose to forgive.” I do not direct this towards any direct individual or situation I just say it. In saying this I am not only forgiving those who have harmed me, I am also forgiving myself. This little daily exercises has really helped me chip some weight off the ball and chain of a painful past. Try it sometime.