Posts Tagged ‘Mourning’

Sitting in my office, jamming to some tunes suddenly from a far I hear feet shuffling on the freshly waxed floor. A smile comes across my face, because I know soon I will see my best friend Dale Brown. 
Through the Taoist point of view Dale had reached the rare state of enlightenment, where he was able to see the world through the eyes of a child. I am aware that this state was partially contributed to his illness, but none of that mattered. The brief moments where we were able to interact was always the highlight of my day. It is amazing how we seem to appreciate things so much more when they are gone.

It was the day before Thanksgiving 2009; I spent most of the day by Dale’s side. His biggest fear was being alone I held his hand, and tried to tell him that he is not alone, and everything is going to be ok. I feared that he was so far in the process that he was not able to hear me.

 Dale had just recently been taken off hospice, so he did not have someone by his side, on this day he seemed more alert then the days before. He had spent most his days just laying in bed, on this day Dale was moved out in the common areas in what I call the “death chair”. I call it this, because the residents who sit in this chair pass soon after.

When the day came to an end, I saw him sitting there, I said my goodbye’s knowing in my head that this would be the last time I would see him. There was so much I wanted to say to him, for some reason it did not come out.

I received the text on Thanksgiving eve that he had passed, looking back there are so many things I wished I would have said. I wish I would have given him a hug, and told him exactly how much he meant to me. I wish I told him he is loved.

I still hear shuffles coming from the hallway; I look up with a smile waiting to see his smiling face. I never see it, it has almost been two months and I still have not talked about it, accepted it, or discussed my feelings.

I did not intend on forming any relationships with the residents I work with.  Dale came into my life at a point where I needed a friend. The conversations we had were delusional, yet very personal. I could be myself, I did not need to hide my disease or who I really was, and neither did he. His smile was infectious and always brightened up my day.

He was here my first day at work, and in my mind I thought he would be here for many years to come. I hate that I never took the time to just sit back, and be mindful of the moment. I am angry and sad that I will never get that chance again. I am regretful I did not let him know the impact he had on my life. I wanted him to know that even in death he will always live on in my heart. Even as I write this my eyes well up in tears, yet I refuse to feel through it. I refuse to accept and let go.

Since his passing my days seem empty, and my heart breaks every time I hear the shuffling, only to look up and see that it isn’t him.

Repost. I still miss Dale, and know he had very few people in his life that cherished and loved him for who he was. I know Dale would pass no judgments on my own mental health. Miss and love you.

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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.

In two weeks it will be the one year anniversary of the passing of my very special friend Dale Brown. Nursing home policy says I can’t use his real name, but I will not cheat him or his memory by covering it up. He should be a man who is celebrated. I haven’t been looking forward to this time of year because I do not do well with sadness. I have written about him a time or two in the past and even then it was hard to fight back the tears. I don’t think I ever really sat there and just cried my hurt away. I instead have chosen to run and hide. I have a very hard time expressing this level of sadness, because I do not know how to process these feelings. I can handle sadness of either this or that, although most of the time anger masks how I am truly feeling inside. I refuse to let the world see me weak and in my fucked up head it is better people see you angry over shedding tears. This pain I feel over losing him is different. I cannot reprocess it and project anger onto the world. In the pit of my soul my psyche weeps, but my deficiencies as a man keeps those tears from reaching my eyes.

I would love nothing more than to just sit here and turn the faucets on, but I cannot bring myself to do it. I think I am still in the denial stage of grieving. I mean seriously is it healthy to hold onto denial this long? I still expect to see him here as if he had just been hiding from me this whole time; but I don’t, and each time that realization hits me it is as if I am reliving his death all over again. Since his passing I have not been able to allow myself to get close to another resident, because I do not want to build a friendship only to have them taken away from me. Just typing this I realize how selfish that is of me. Why should I deny others the special bond Dale and I shared? Why should I deny myself of these special bonds?

The one thing I learned from my relationship with Dale is I can be real around these guys, because many of them are beyond judgment. I know Dale showed himself to me without blinders on pretending to be someone he wasn’t, and I did the same with him. The conversations we had were some of the only honest conversations I have had with anyone. There was another man here I started to form a bond with, but he eventually left, not by deaths touch but by a relocation. When I first found this out I was devastated yet again, but at least I knew he was still alive, and had not suffered the same fate as Dale did. Awhile back before Dale passed away I became friends with this man who is so wonderful in his own right. He has trouble speaking so you really need to give him some dedicated time so he can express his feelings. When this is done he lights up knowing somebody took the time to stop what they were doing to pay attention to him and truly hear his feelings.

After Dale passed I sort of pushed him and the other residents away. I chose to stay secluded in my office away from the residents so not to get hurt again. I still have a really hard time opening myself up. I know I made just as much of an impact on Dales life as he did mine. I would here compliments from the staff on our special bond, and how it was benefiting Dale. I don’t think they realized his impact on my life was just as strong. I knew I could tell him anything and he would not think any different of me. I could tell him about my recent diagnosis and he would love me just the same. I don’t even feel comfortable stating my diagnosis on this blog, and everyone should know I don’t hold back on my personal opinions and feelings no matter how out there they are.

I think me starting to work at this nursing home at just the right time to have him enter my life was serendipity. If it were not for him “The Bucket List Foundation” would not have been created. The visions I have of him laying alone while he passed away still haunt my mind. I have many regrets in my life but this one sits a top. I claimed to truly care for him as a friend and as a person yet I was not with him when he died. Saying this now just rips at my insides. Before he lost the ability to speak he expressed his fear of dying alone. He was scared, and I wasn’t there to tell him everything was going to be ok. I was not there to hold his hand so he felt the warmth of a loved ones touch. I failed him.

The Bucket List Foundation will serve many purposes but the most important for me is our pledge that our clients will not die alone. I have said this before but perhaps if I am able to deliver on this promise it will heal my intense guilt over letting him pass alone. I hope this does because I can’t deal with a yearly reminder of one of my greatest failures.

I appreciate the kind words from those of you who commented on my post the other day. I was going to respond to each one individually, but decided to lump them together into a small post. Although I appreciated these words, I must say I am not worthy of such encouragement. My son’s picture still sits on my desk, and I can see him judging me every moment of the day. I see his perfect smile and sense it is somehow fake. The same fake smile I had to put on my face in the name of school pictures. Just to show the world you are happy when in reality you are broken inside. What he is feeling behind that smile is tearing me apart. I am sick to my stomach and want to throw this picture off my desk, and hide behind my wall of lies and justifications. I cannot bring myself to do this. I feel this symbolically degrades him as a human being.

I received some advice from Rambling to sit my kids down and ask them their assessment of me as a father. I am far too much of a coward to ever do this. I am afraid to honestly hear what they think, because the answers I will hear will further cause me to look in the mirror of my true self. The one thing I hate more than anything is my reflection in the mirror. To see who is peering back at me is to much to handle. Everything and everyone I hate is in those eyes.

My kids are the perfect reflection of what I will never become. What kind of person am I who taints that reflection with my imperfections? I wish I could just flip a switch and shed this skin of mine and walk out a new person. What is my purpose in life if all I do is fail those who depend on me the most? I tried speaking to my therapist last night about this haunting picture, and it only made the pain that much more real. I am being tormented by this reality. The one thing I promised to myself was if I ever had children I would not fail them. I vowed to not make the mistakes my father and step-father made. I hated them so very much I could not imagine doing my kids like that. Flash forward to the here and now, and they are my reflection. This reflection I despise so.

My wife always tells me I am a good dad or a good husband when I want to be. If this is true, then why am I not this good father and husband the majority of the time? I would say I am a good father and husband 5% of the time. Does this mean I am willfully choosing to be a fucking prick 95% of the time? If I have this choice then why do I choose to let everyone down? If this was so simple then why am I not what I wish to be? I wrote a poem called “Broken Dolls” in this poem I said “broken dolls from broken homes, build broken homes of their own.” Am I building the very same broken home I hated my parents for creating?

I am a shitty person. I am an addict, I am a cheater. I never have, nor will I ever be a good person. Everything I touch, everything I love turns to shit. The last thing I can deal with is knowing I am decaying my children’s innocence with my shit stained hands. I think the thing that is most fucked up is I have the power to change this, yet I choose not to. This I think illustrates who I truly am inside.

Become totally empty.

Let your heart be at peace.

Amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings,

observe how endings become beginnings.

Things flourish, each by each,

only to return to the source…

To what is and what is to be.

To return to the root is to find peace.

To find peace is to fulfill one’s destiny.

To fulfill one’s destiny is to be constant.

To know the constant is called insight.

Not knowing this cycle

leads to eternal disaster.

Knowing the constant gives perspective.

This perspective is impartial.

Impartiality is the highest nobility;

the highest nobility is Divine.

Being Divine, you will be at one with the Tao.

Being at one with the Tao is eternal.

This way is everlasting,

not endangered by physical death.

Lao-tzu

 The sixteenth verse describes the constant of change, while recounting the cycles of life. The one thing we can always count on in life is change. Nothing ever remains the same. The seasons change, relationships begin then end, and all life will someday become death. All things come then they go. The Tao does not play favorites in this process The Tao will bring winter whether we are ready for it or not. The Tao will return all things to the source whether we believe in it or not. The Tao does not answer prayers, but provides you with everything you will ever need. When a door closes the Tao opens a new one. These examples all show change. Observing endings becoming beginnings is a great way to deal with death, the loss of a job, or the ending of a relationship. Understanding when one door closes another one opens is a great coping method and a divine way to live ones life.

Lao-tzu advises us to become empty and allow our hearts to be at peace amidst the rush of worldly comings and goings. I think Lao-tzu is trying to teach us coping methods for how to deal with the numerous changes we encounter in life. His 2,500 year old description of the “rush of worldly comings and goings” fits perfectly well with where we are today. Life is hectic and crazy, and many of us have issues with the consistent changes we encounter.

Many of us are afraid of change. We avoid it as much as we can. I am a creature of habit. When things change around me whether it be changing of routines, or the changing of the seasons I am unable to cope. I become either manic or slip into a depression. I need to learn to embrace this constant and allow myself to be in harmony with the Tao. I need to become an observer of the life around me and appreciate the cyclical nature of all things.

I suffer from a mild case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, because of this I have a harder time with things outside my routines. For example I need to park in the exact same spot when I go to therapy. If I am not able to park in my spot I become agitated and then flip into the mode of needing to control every aspect of my surroundings. I try to recreate how everything looked the last time I was there. I will try and arrange the chairs in the waiting room in perfect order. I begin to have severe anxiety and panic attacks. I tried this lesson on Tuesday when I went to therapy. I grabbed my prayer beads and counted my twenty seven progressions. With each deep breath I imagined myself becoming empty, and my heart being at peace. To my surprise this tactic worked. I still had anxiety, but it was reduced to just a minor bother.

In the sixteenth line of the sixteenth verse it say “impartiality is the highest nobility.” The seventeenth line says the highest nobility is divine. For some reason I am drawn to these two lines. I had an idea, but I was not 100% sure the exact meaning of “impartiality.” The definition I received was the ability to weigh both views and opinions equally. I look into myself, and realized this is a trait I am lacking in. When it comes to things affecting me personally I am unable to see others views and feelings as equally as my own. I am not sure I can even say I am impartial when it comes to looking outside my circle and see issues equally. I will continue to meditate on this to try and find the answer.

Every religion has an explanation for what happens to you when you die; Taoism is no exception. Taoism says everything will return to the source to what is and what is to be. Now whether this is Heaven, Nirvana, or reincarnation no one will know until we pass. I interpret this as reincarnation. My theory is your shen (what is) leaves your body, and returns to the center of everything in the womb of our mother the great Tao. When you leave this womb you return back to any planet and enter into a new life (what is to be.) As a former atheist I know this sounds crazy, but somehow seems right. I have always been afraid of death and the great unknown; but the sixteenth verse brings me peace. I may not know what the outcome is, nor will I attempt to understand it, because the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The constancy between life and death returns us to our root. I find peace in knowing I will return to the source of all things, this nameless placeless site of all of our origination.