They say before something great happens to you, everything falls apart.~ Depression Quotes ~
I saw this quote on a page from Facebook called Depression quotes. It hit home, not only from my own life experiences but also from conversations I had with a Lutheran Pastor over a decade ago.
My own life hasn’t been a bed of roses. From early childhood, I experienced pain – physically, emotionally, and sexually. I was taught at a young age that it was OK for a man to beat a woman. That if dinner wasn’t made on time, a punch to the face was the price. I learned as a child that when a man wanted to “make love” to his woman no wasn’t an option. If she didn’t want to have sex then she was beaten until she agreed. I didn’t do these things to those extremes but I did believe that a woman was inferior and their sole purpose was to be a servant to their man.
Children were treated the same way. As useless possessions that would get me a beer or do the housework, while I “made love” to their mom. Growing up, like most kids, I was scared of the dark. I slept with the bedroom door open. Next to my room, at the end of the hall was the bathroom, where the door was partially open and the light left on. That was my night-light. And directly across from my room was my parents bedroom. They also slept with their door open. With me being scared of the dark, I heard every little noise, and the noises that came from my parents room were anything but little.
Like I mentioned, no was not an option. If dad wanted to do something that was uncomfortable or painful for mom and she resisted, I was guaranteed to hear her scream after being punched in the face or the stomach. The beating would continue until her resistance was gone and dad received the yes he was hoping for. I never used these extremes to get what I wanted. I used manipulation and other head games to get what I wanted and the messages our kids heard and learned would be carried on for another generation.
As my own life spun out of control and I hit rock bottom with the admittance and acceptance that I am an alcoholic, I began the shameful process of looking at my life. It would become the first time in my life that I didn’t run from the pain and the suffering. Instead, I embraced it. Though I didn’t like the feeling, I also was relieved that I could feel. That even though I blocked out my childhood and a good part of my adulthood by staying numb, I could still feel and for the first time I could cry.
It was during my first five years of sobriety, that I became good friends with a Lutheran Pastor. We had a lot in common and we both enjoyed our talks on the spiritual side of things. Naturally, he would share his thoughts through the Bible, while I shared mine with thoughts from AA, John Bradshaw, Deepak Chopra, and many others.
The one thing he said that stuck with me for what now is over 20 years is that we can not grow until we suffer. He said that the whole idea of the Christian faith was built on the idea of suffering. Its main symbol, the cross, was the main symbol of suffering. While it represented suffering, it also represented victory and a new life.
I tried to avoid suffering through drinking. It worked for a long time, yet it took more and more alcohol to keep the pain away. It got to the point that alcohol began to fail, so drugs came onto the scene. First, it was pot. The feeling of relaxation, while still believing I was a part of the world, made it the perfect drug. While it might have helped with me being able to unwind, it did little to help with the pain. So the next step was harder drugs. Coke, Mescaline, LSD, and back in the 80’s there was a drug that is now gone – Quaaludes.
All this experimenting took place while I was in college, which somehow I was able to maintain good grades. The trick was in speed – crystal meth. I could have a test at 8 AM and party till 2 AM the night before. Then set my alarm for 5 AM and next to the clock would be a couple of lines of meth ready for me to toot.
The alarm would go off, I do my lines and instantly I was awake. I’d study for the next two hours, then head off to class for my test. With the speed in my system I was razor sharp and everything just flowed through me. I would get an A, believing ti was the easiest test I ever took, yet as soon as the test was over I had no idea what I wrote or what I learned. It was gone.
The fact is that there is many ways for a human being to avoid pain. From alcohol and drugs, to sex, work, schooling, anything that we can focus on which hides the pain. I do believe that the longer the pain is avoided, the greater the fall will be.
When I finally surrendered not only to alcoholism but also to pain, my life took a major turn. For the first time in my life I not only saw reality but also dealt with it. With this new reality it was natural for shame to follow. Here I was approaching 40 years of age, with nothing to my name. I couldn’t rub two pennies together. Not only was my financial situation horrible but also my relationships with family.
Through my actions, I destroyed the mental well-being of my step children. An action which 25 years later has still not been repaired. Brothers who I haven’t seen in over 40 years. I used to try and rebuild these bridges, yet by doing so, I was keeping myself in shame and depression. I finally came to an understanding that someday we will be reunited. It may not be in this lifetime but someday it will happen.
This September, God Willing, I will celebrate 26 years sobriety. I was homeless when this journey started. Today I live in another country, located in another continent. Not a penny to name, to now living comfortably, without a debt to my name.
I have had open heart surgery, two feet of my colon removed, and throat cancer… yet here I am, grateful for another day of adventure and peace. There are plans for a comfortable retirement, yet they won’t steal the happiness of today.
The fall was hard and very painful. Good things didn’t happen over night. An American college football coach at Iowa State University named Matt Campbell often talks about the process. The idea is that we must embrace the process before the process can love you.
The process happens a day at a time. There will be disappointments and failures, yet that’s OK. It’s part of the process. No matter how many setbacks or failures you have, you’ve got to keep moving forward. The process will take care of you and eventually the process will love you. If you don’t believe that, than please look at me. I am part of the process and am now enjoying the rewards of embracing the process and having the process love me.