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Doing the Best I Can


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“You did the best you could with what you had at the given time.

That’s all any of us can do.”

Queensryche – Best I Can [Lyrics]

Don’t worry, dear he’ll never find the gun

A child alone in daddy’s room
The gun was hidden here
No one home to catch me when I fall

A young man now in a private chair
I’ve seen the world through a bitter stare
But my dream is still alive
I’m going to be the best I can

I want to be a busy man
I want to see a change in the future
I’m gonna make the best of what I have
I want to write for a magazine
I’m gonna be the best they’ve ever seen
I know I’ll win if I give it all I can

I won’t let go
Gotta make the grade, no I won’t let go
To be the best man, the best man that I can

Back street hoop star you’ve got it good
You were the wonder of the crumbling neighborhood
Now taking bids on the next six digit plan
Showed me that my will survived
The tragedy that came into my life
Giving me hope and the new start that I have

And I won’t let go
Gotta make the grae no, I won’t let go
To be the best man, the best man that I can

Step by step I dream the plan
From my chair to walking man
This constant dream is on my mind
Chase the light I see ahead
Luminate the path I tread
I live to be the best I can

Now I’m moving forward and I’m never looking back
Straight ahead, focused on the big attack
On a roll and I’m never slowing down
I won’t be torn between
The man in the chair and the man that’s in my dream
I’m going to melt the two men into one

And I won’t let go
Gotta make the grade I set no, I won’t let it go
To be the best man,
The best man that I can
The best man that I can
The best man that I can

 
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Posted by on 08/21/2016 in relationships

 

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The Hardest Thing…


My girlfriend and I of three years broke up a couple weeks ago. And it’s been the hardest thing to do to remain steadfast. I didn’t want to part ways but I did because I couldn’t endure her anxiety that came at the most unexpected of times – out of the blue; out of left field. Like a brick to the back of my head. It pushed me away. It made me not want to engage. And it made me stonewall.

Maybe it was her anxiety. Maybe they were trust issue outbursts. But they always seemed like personal attacks. I always felt so small and subhuman when she was “done with me”.

I tried and I tried to continue the relationship, but it was harder and harder each time. I didn’t want the relationship to end because somehow, I found what I wanted in a partner…for the most part. Each time the outbursts happened I felt myself pushed farther away, becoming more distant. I always felt insulted and indignant. I felt subhuman, tiny, and shamed.

I know she suffered from multiple forms of abuse in her past relationships and so I always thought it was my fault. My depression. My Specter. I always accounted for her anxiety and PTSD. But looking back, I felt I didn’t do anything wrong. The shituations all felt like I was being personally attacked. I know there are always two sides to any story, but there are some times when reality “is what it is”.

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I remember one time when my university sent me a text alert that school was closed because of inclement weather. Then the standard followup prerecorded phone call came to let me know the same. We were watching a movie and I picked up to listen to the message and look at the text. I remember being accosted because I didn’t show her my phone. I don’t know if that was anxiety but I felt violated and like my trust in her plummeted.

Yes, I am sad. I also feel bad that I wasn’t courageous enough to continue to be strong for her if in fact these outbursts were part of her anxiety. She was a good woman. She was what I wanted in a partner…for the most part. I just couldn’t do it when my own Specter was digging his nails into my back at the same time and with the valley I’ve been in for the past year. I need to work on myself…bad.

I’m lonely even with my family, friends, and my daughter.

What to do.

 

 

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Toxicity | [Poetry]


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Toxicity

My soul has left and with it,

The Albums and the Tags.

The memories put in boxes,

And thrown out in the trash.

Windows boarded,

curtains down,

paint chips fall onto the ground.

A weathered waste, at the end of town.

I pack up and I leave.

 

 

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Today I Created a Fb Page…


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So I took the plunge and published a Facebook page, “Surviving the Specter”. I want to reach more people so they know they are not alone in their struggles…that there are others out there going through the same things.

My WP blogs will be pushed out through this page as well as at my Twitter handle – #sts91414. I figured my handle would be easy to remember since it’s the first letter of each of the words in my blog’s title, as well as the date I attempted suicide.

I plan on publishing the story of the night I took my life next month, September, which is Suicide Awareness Month in the U.S. If you haven’t read it may you could stop by and give it a read and leave some thoughts.

Thank you friends, for your support through words, comments, calls, and email subscriptions, and Follows. I appreciate it more than you know.

Chris

 
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Posted by on 08/14/2016 in Facebook

 

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Someone may need this. Pass this on.


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I love you, my friend.

I wanted to make sure you were safe and doing alright.

 
 

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Ending of a Relationship


For survivors of mental illness, they say journaling is a way to help you heal.

Here’s my effort at catharsis…

My girlfriend of nearly three years, and I, just parted ways. We’ve broken up several times before, and each time have gotten back together. This time is permanent though <<insert audience laughter here>> because of how things have progressed. Here are my thoughts through the process:

Moving On-

  • Remember why the breakup happened in the first place. There was a breaking point for me. A straw. A tipping point that once reached, ensured that things were not going to continue from that point on. It was a recurring theme that (I felt) I didn’t deserve to endure, and I couldn’t endure in the future and for the rest of the relationship. Remembering this tipping point became my first anchor point.

  • Make a list of anchor points. This was the first thing I did. I made a list. I know that there are going to be days when I’m sad and want the relationship back. I also realize that that is not a healthy choice, so to help me remain resolute, I wrote a list of things that would keep me steadfast. Especially on the weekend. Out of respect to her I won’t list them here, but these are largely negative things that have pushed me away over time. When you’re sad your mind wanders back to the good times you both had, or all the things you miss about that person. Keeping a list of anchor points helps me keep things in perspective. Don’t fume over the bad things and don’t forget the good things, just be real with yourself.

  • Disconnect from their social media world. I find that when I have a break with someone, I need to cut ALL ties. Cold turkey. I don’t want them coming up in my news feed. I don’t want to see that they’ve liked my posts. I don’t want to see their Pins or comments come up on my wall. It makes me anxious and makes my adrenaline race. It makes me start to miss those things I mentioned above. My ex blocked my texts and blocked me on Fb so she won’t even come up in searches. There are also apps that block their texts from coming in, and you can delete their numbers from your Contacts list, but I haven’t done. I’m the type of person that can’t “just be friends”. To me, that’s a crock of she-ite. Maybe we can in the future, but not at this time. It’s too painful. It’s too real. And it’s too raw to be your friend. It’s too tempting to want to go back to something that is so raw, familiar, even if it was largely toxic. To resist the temptation, I don’t put myself in the situation in the first place, and have done what I could to avoid it.

  • Get out. I’m an introvert and like my alone time. This can become unhealthy since I also live with major depression. I have to be careful that alone time doesn’t turn into isolation. I know that I need to step out of my comfort zone and start doing things, especially on the weekends when I don’t have my daughter. Those are the worst. Make plans – in fact make a Plan B in case Plan A falls through. All too many times I’ve found myself sitting at home crying with the lights off and the shades dropped because I didn’t have a backup plan. It just turns into a deep dark pit from there. Make sure you weekends are chock full of being around your friends. Tell them what you’re going through if you have to, but make sure there are no cracks in your time or if you’re anything like me, you’ll be sitting around and that’s when the loneliness will hit. We don’t like loneliness. It is the enemy right now. One of the things I am going to try to do is join a gym down the street and get back into shape. Being out of shape has brought me down mentally and exercising again and losing some weight will be good for both my mental and physical health. Another great way to get out is to join a Meetup singles group, though I’m not sure if this applies to readers outside the US.

  • Go on a date when you’re ready. Get to know other people. Spread your wings. You don’t have to jump right into another relationship (in fact you shouldn’t) but there’s nothing wrong with getting back out there and getting to know people, and building relationships. Go on dating sights and meet people. At this point it’s about survival and staying busy, not finding your soul mate.

Red Flags-

I’m not going to go into much detail here, again, out of respect.

  1. We both live with mental illness. Maybe a relationship where both partners survive with mental illnesses can work out. On the other hand, maybe it’s not a wise choice in the first place. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that we both have demons we live with. I also know that we both needed LOTS of patience and empathy to date each other – we didn’t necessarily have those two things all the time. WE can’t rely on others to fix quell those demons, we have to do that on our own. The other person isn’t going to fix us. We have to be able to manage who we are within the relationship.

  2. Trust issues.  You shouldn’t have to suffer for someone’s (trust) issues from a prior relationship. If that person feels the need to go through your texts and social media IMs and you haven’t done something deserving of that (let’s be honest here), then there are trust issues that need to be resolved outside of the relationship. If a person sits outside a friend’s house of the opposite sex because they think there is a secret affair going on, then there are trust issues that need to be resolved outside the relationship. If a person calls a neighbor to see whose cars are at their partner’s apartment, then there are trust issues that need to be resolved outside the relationship. To project past trust issues onto your partner is emotional abuse and unfair.

  3. Others. In hind sight, there are many signs that you can probably now see that should have been red flags: multiple marriages, anger issues, physical and emotional and verbal abuse…the list could go on for each of us. It’s important in our closure that we notice these things (and write them down if necessary) and try our best to avoid them in our future.

Do you have any suggestions on how best to move on, or red flags that you’ve experienced in your relationships? Would you be willing to share them with the rest of us?

 

 
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Posted by on 08/12/2016 in relationships

 

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My Depression Controls Me


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Unfortunately, I can empathize with you, my friend.

For my depression controls me, too.

It is not a passing state of mind, nor a feeling.

It is something we survive through every day.

Sometimes, on certain days, it’s not as intense.

But it is always there.

A lot of people may never guess because I try to hide it.

I hide it by staying to myself.

And by pretending like I am concentrating and hard at work.

I am introverted…

…because I don’t want to pull other people down with me.

If my friends didn’t invite me to do things with them…

…I would constantly isolate.

A lot of the times I say “no” anyways because I am “busy”.

I know I am not alone, but a lot of the time it feels that way.

It ruins my intimate relationships.

It makes me run away from those who love me.

This depression sucks the happy out of me.

Even on sunny, beautiful days, all I can see is gray.

I sleep – a lot. Because depression numbs me.

I get frustrated with myself all the time because of how things are.

I don’t want it to be this way, but it just is.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on 08/11/2016 in Depression

 

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Loneliness | [Quote]


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Posted by on 08/10/2016 in Depression, Quotes

 

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The Sickness and the Seal | [Short Story]


Contextual background: A brief history of Ür and its rise to greatness is given along with the story of how affliction came to be.

The walled city of Ür had not always been the great fortress in which Catharsis had dwelled. It was once a lonely oasis in the desert, won by nomadic herdsman who had battled for its possession in order to nourish their herds and provide sustenance for their families. A place of healing in the middle of a harsh, windswept, barren land. The grand-eldest male by the name of Ür, gave the fertile gem its name – earliest in the elder tongue.

Soon after, blood clans made pilgrimage to the lush gardens of the watering hole and joined their families of the original community. They brought with them their customs and beliefs, families, and herds. They added their lands to the original estate and struck its edges to mark their claim with altars to their deities.

Down through the time of unrecorded and recorded history, the oasis community of Ür matured in size and prestige, quickly mounting to power as an unrivaled city-state and controlling the land to its horizons. Through many generations did Ür prosper under a golden age. It basked in its splendor, taking in travelers far and wide. All who knew of Ür knew of its greatness, even far beyond the horizons of its realm. It prospered in its glory and was regarded as a bastion to the weary, lost, disheartened, and broken.

Its strength came in its acceptance of its citizenry’s diversity, welcoming all who wished entrance, save for those whose lives consisted of the worst of mannerisms – greed, pride, lying, thievery, conceit, ill will, bigotry, and murder. Nay, even those lost souls were granted sanctuary if they received the king’s oath of fealty, making their pledge of faithfulness and good will to both their master and fellow man. For only the pure and good willed were permitted stay within the city’s walls.

But it soon came to pass that an unnamable sickness came to the people of Ür.

It was an invisible sickness to most – only visible and comprehendible to those who endured it. It was so believed to steal freely throughout the walled city, creeping like some menacing fog yet without detection. It could not be fought because it could not be seen, and a sense of mistrust and paranoia soon descended on the land. From whence did this pestilence emanate? Why did it torment the people of the glorious citadel? How could it be routed out? What were its ailments? Was it escapable?

Soon whispers in taverns and alleyways gave rise to the belief it was a punishment from the gods of the soil, water, and heavens for man’s abuse of their resources. Man’s lack of respect for what the deities had preciously and graciously imparted unto them.

Whispers soon turned into a dark, unspoken secret realization that it was a torment conjured from the Wahrlog – the evil demon lord that lay beyond the Marshlands of Melancholia and deep in the Quagmire of Hopelessness. Sent to plague humankind. And so this belief held steadfast amongst the citizens within the city’s walls.

The people named it affliction.

Sacrifices were made to appease the demon who created affliction. Fruits, flowers, and grains were laid before the great gates and in the marketplace. The blood of animals was shed and smeared on the doorposts and windows of the earthen hovels of the city. Great warriors were sacrificed.

But to no avail.

Affliction still swept its invisible hand across the land like some gray blanket of hopelessness.

It did not exist completely unseen, however. For those afflicted showed similar signs of the invisible illness. They could identify each other for they were the only ones to see it. It was not invisible to them. They held another certainty in their common – they were all visited by the Wahrlog.

To not be afflicted, one had to know what was to be looked for so that it might be named and identified. “Those who do not see” were blessed amongst the masses, for they would never know the loneliness that gripped its prey. They would never feel the talons of melancholy nor the depths of the deep dark pain it spawned.

Catharsis could see clearly, the others whom had been afflicted with the same torment with which he himself lived. He could sense their numbness, almost smell it as they wallowed through their daily lives cocooned in their catatonic shells. He could see the lethargy and apathy in their eyes as clear as he could see the noonday sun, or the abundance of his crops. He could see that their solitude and isolation were manifestations of the affliction of the darkness – that constrictor which grips its victim and strangles him of life.

Catharsis had lived with these things for the grander part of his life and it greatly added to his confusion about who he was as a man. He oftentimes felt alone in his struggle. Wishing this affliction would leave him. Often times wishing for his own life to end to escape his life of grey.

*          *          *

Affliction soon found its way to the royal family and took the life of the regent’s heir – it had not preference nor prejudice against whom it took. Shock and panic drove through the city’s streets. How could this sickness have impressed royal blood?! How could it taint such pure bloodlines? What mockery was this?

And so, to combat affliction an edict went out from the royal family and the priesthood: those who were tormented with affliction would be scarred by the branding man’s iron for all to see. They would be labeled with the eternal mark upon their forehead to be ostracized, outcast, and stigmatized.

Identified by the seal, shunned, and avoided so their inexplainable poison would be naught able to disease others.

 
 

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This Depression Thing


The whole issue with this depression thing – it has sucked all life out of me like some soul harvester.

This past year has been one of the most relentless struggles I’ve had to endure. It gets worse each day I aimlessly trudge through my daily dosage of hours like a walker. And I don’t see an end in sight.

I feel like I stare at an hourglass in front of me. Glossy-eyed and lost faced, watching each grain of sand tumble through the bottleneck , building up the mountain in the chamber below that represents time passed.

The sand falls in slow motion.

Maybe you can relate?

shades_01I don’t see the sunshine. I’ve had this gray film over my life. It is a sunny, bright, 82º outside my Norfolk, VA apartment. I can’t see it. I don’t feel the warmth in my soul. I keep all the blinds shut. It’s not the kind of depression where you can simply open the blinds and the gray is gone. That doesn’t work. Our friends will suggest it…to open the shades and let the sunshine in. But those who don’t live with it can’t ever understand that just doesn’t work. It’s a fog of war. It stays.It permeates the skin and sinks down to the core. It’s a wave that has to be ridden.

I’ve been riding the crashing part of the barrel for months.

I have no drive. It’s really hard to continue when you feel so hopelessly apathetic. I get so sick of looking at the hourglass and longing for sleep. If I feel inspired to do something I change to something else before I finish what I started. So many things left unfinished. I wander back and forth in my apartment sometimes feeling that I’m going crazy. Most people that don’t live with this affliction would quickly suggest to exercise. All the other articles and advice out there scream that, but how can you bring yourself to that if you can’t even walk across the street to the beach on such an ideal day?

I’m numb and I don’t feel happiness. I don’t feel the happiness that other people feel when it’s sunny out. I should. I want to feel it. I want to feel “normal”. I want the chemicals in my body to react like that. I don’t want to be numb anymore. Catatonic. Zombie-ish. I’m trying to blog it out because journaling is supposed to be the best form of therapy for depression. It hardly is for me. It’s not cathartic. I’ve had an impossible time dragging myself to type this post and hardly feel any form of relief or healing from doing so. Getting a buzz from drinking (exactly the opposite of what I need to be doing, I know) used to give me a tinge of happiness. Now, that doesn’t even work. I’ve lost all interest in all things: writing, drinking, walking on the beach, reading, drawing, sex, photography, being a dad, friendships. I’ve thought a lot about dying. Not being suicidal, but just as a quiet way to end the mind numbing hourglass watching.Quote_gray_001

I fail at relationship. I isolate. I drive people away. I drive myself away from people. I isolate myself from those who love and care about me. It makes me drive those away who love me. 

I’ve lost a foothold in my faith. I used to find peace when I read the Word and prayed early in the morning. That has been sucked away too. I don’t have the same happiness that I see on other believers’ faces, like when I used to go to church. I want that simple happiness of just waking up and being happy. I know they have their own problems, and sometimes that smile is just plastered on, but I just want to feel the Spirit move me to happiness.

*    *     *

How does your depression make you feel?

Maybe all this strikes a cord. If it does, please remember: you certainly are not alone.

 

 

 
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Posted by on 08/04/2016 in Depression

 

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When Do We Decide to Commit Suicide? | [REBLOG]

When Do We Decide to Commit Suicide? | [REBLOG]

I’ve been Tweeting with a friend whose site is based on raising suicide awareness, especially for those who need answers to “why?”. I wrote this some time ago and am hoping it helps a little in the way of explaining my personal experience.

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NOTE: Dear reader, this post talks openly about suicide. If this is a trigger, please do not read it at this time. Thank you. May peace come to you in your valley.

I attempted suicide on 9/14/14.

I had been on the noose for about 45 minutes.

I am fortunate. I had friends that saved me.

I hope that my words may provide some closure for those that may still be seeking answers. A small bit of understanding to answer the question, “Why?” My family and friends are fortunate because I am able to answer those questions for. I am fortunate to be alive and explain it to them.

************************************************************************************

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“It’s the easy way out.”Psh! Friend if you’re that deep, it’s the ONLY way out.

“He just wanted attention.” I wanted peace.

“He was so selfish.” I wasn’t thinking of anybody.

So when does it all become too much to…

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Killing Myself | Part 2

Killing Myself | Part 2

*TW

Hello my little failure, we’ve been waiting for your return

We know our pressure’s way too much, we know for what you yearn

A little song of sweet respite, to whet your pathetic appetite

We promise to close the lid real tight, and flood our darkness in to your light

*     *     *

I made a drink of 100 proof, my razor blade of choice

To drown out demon voices, to cut their endless noise

I mixed it full with anger, and hurt, and hopelessness

I drank it quick, I drank it fast, I drank it with relentlessness

*     *     *

Callous words are spoken, when we all need love the most

I needed grace, I needed kindness, and to vent without recourse

Maybe one day we’ll be able, to cast aside our pride

And give the tenderness we need, and put ourselves aside

 

 
 

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The Wall | [Poetry]


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The Wall

A little brick of hate was laid, down into the dirt.

Along with words of callousness, and spite, and wrath, and hurt.

A wall was built that housed mistrust, by someone I loved dear.

It grew in strength, brick by brick, each year it grew in fear.

 

All I could do was sit and cry, and beg that it’d come down.

But each day mortar, stone, and hate, solidified it with the ground.

I saw the light begin to fade, as it closed against the sky.

I hung my head in deep despair, in hopelessness I cried.

 

Then one day a dove appeared, against the blackened grey.

It chipped the joints, and broke the bricks, and toppled them away.

It pecked, and chipped, and split the wall, stone by simple stone.

For love and peace had reached a soul, that never the soul had known.

 

And now a garden there exists, in place of deep despair.

No brokenness, no sadness, no signs of disrepair.

For what was once a wall they made, was used to shut me out.

Love had now transformed through healing, and brought the rampart down.


Walls are tough, man.

I’ve done my own wall making and wall breaking over the years. Erected them when I’m hurt. Angry. Resentful. Deconstructed them when I’m sorry, regretful, and desperate.

Desperate to rebuild that broken relationship from what seems the long ago burnt out embers that blow away into the breeze like little flakes of confetti.

Hardly celebratory though. No, those were sad stories.

Then there’s those relationships whose embers glow, but may never be meant to be reignited. They’re toxic. Poisonous to our soul. They deteriorate us. They hurt us to our core.

Maybe this poem could be an excuse for us to make amends in a broken relationship?

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on 06/05/2016 in Depression, Poetry

 

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Thought Someone, Right Now, Needed to Hear This


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“To the world you may be one person.

“But to one person you may be the world.”

I remember when I’ve been in the throws of my Specter, and consumed with such hopelessness and misery I believed no one else endured. That depression demon who is currently being held at bay in his cage of Lexapro and Abilify, but can attack at random times with a sucker punch to the kidney, leaving me without the breath for life. It’s at those times that one person can change your life. They are there. You just have to find them, reach out to them, and hold onto them. They will be there. You mean the world to them.

If you’re wearing the other pair of shoes and know of someone who needs to be reached out to. Use this post as an excuse to do so. You may save someone’s life.

 
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Posted by on 06/04/2016 in Depression, Quotes

 

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Living with a Depressed Male | [Chapter Summary]


Depression jacks up my relationships. Intimate or non-intimate.

I’m not pawning my behaviors off on depression.

Just explaining where they come from.

To improve myself, I must understand myself. unmasking male depression_001

And I’ve found a lot of my answers in “Living with a Depressed Male”, Chapter 14
of Unmasking Male Depression, by Dr. Archibald D. Hart.

Having struggled with depression, not knowing this information led me to feel “crazy”, something a lot of us who survive with mental illness feel. Every. Single. Day.

Though chapter 14 is “primarily for wives” (p. 225), it really helped me understand myself a lot more.

I’d like to unpack it for you.

NOTE: Dr. Hart is a man of Faith but you don’t have to believe for the majority of this information to “make sense”.

*    *     *

I like bullets.

So does my A.D.D.erall.

So instead of summarizing his points in paragraph form I’m presenting them as bullets with page references. My hope is for you to take something away from this and relay it to others.

Here are the points that helped me understand how depression impacts me as a male.


“The Best Things You Can Say to the Depressed Man in Your Life” (p. 231)

  • “I love you and always will because you are important to me.”
  • “I can’t really feel what you are feeling, but I want to understand.”
  • “The best I can offer you right now is to be your friend.”
  • “You don’t have to apologize for the way you feel, because I know you can’t really control it.”
  • “You are not alone in this; I will stay by you until it’s over.”
  • “This won’t last forever, and when it’s over we’ll sing God’s praises together.”
  • “God isn’t causing this. He wants to help you bear it.”
  • “Some of God’s greatest servants have also suffered from depression – and God helped them through it.”

“The Worst Things You Can Say to the Depressed Main in Your Life” (p. 235)

  • “Get your life together; you are a man and can control yourself if you try.”
  • “God isn’t pleased with your life at the moment. Maybe you have unforgiven sin.”
  • “Stop feeling so sorry for yourself and just try a little harder.”
  • “I don’t know how much more of this I can take. You are driving my crazy.”
  • “Remember that there are many people in this world who are worse off than you.”
  • “I’m beginning to think that it was a mistake for me to marry [be in a relationship with] you.”
  • “You should stop seeing those quacks and taking those pills because they’re changing your brain.”
  • “Believe me, I know how you feel because I was depressed once and I didn’t make a meal of it.”

Men are a problem to women but rarely is this intentional. They are to an even greater degree a problem to themselves.

-Steve Biddulph

(p. 225)

How Depression Effects Men & Makes Them Act

  • Depressed men frustrate and alienate those they love the most. (p. 226)
  • Depressed men become monosyllabic, self-absorbed, disinterested in almost everything, and very irritable. (p. 226)
  • Your loved one has not chosen to be depressed. If he could, he would gladly give it up. (p. 227)
  • …depression saps energy and diminishes self-esteem, and it will make your loved one feel worthless and unwanted. Guilt hangs … over every depressed man’s life, and thoughts of dying are very common. (p. 227)
  • …you can …count on there being a major communication problem. Depression shuts down our need to connect and incapacitates our socializing skills. (p. 227)
  • Depressed people become very sensitive to even the slightest rejection and jump to all sorts of negative conclusions and self-blame. (p. 228)
  • Don’t give advice…Men want reassurance that all will be right again. They also want reassurance that you love them and won’t abandon them at this dark moment in their lives. (p. 229)
  • Men express their depressions differently, and this difference revolves around irritability and aggression… (p. 230)
  • Let’s make no mistake about it: men don’t become “nicer” when they are depressed; they often become nastier. If they were mildly irritable before the depression, they become grossly irritable after. They can’t necessarily help it, as it is a by-product of the depression. Depression robs you of all control and turns you into a prickly time bomb. (p. 230)

Caves (e.g., retreating)

  • Caves are bad for depressed men. The problem is the cave’s effect on rumination. The so-called cave experience is deadly to depression because it offers a lot of time for rumination, and rumination feeds the depression just like logs feed the fire. (p. 233)
  • The cave has a soothing effect on men who are depressed, which is why they seek it. But here the soothing feeds feelings of dejection rather than providing a time for escape. Distractions are good. Retreating to solitary confinement isn’t. Depressed men need to be taken out of themselves, not allowed to retreat into themselves where they shut the cave entrance with a big boulder… (p. 234)

So…do you have a depressed male in your life? What has made sense to you here? What do you not agree with? What are your experiences? Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

SOURCE: The words contained in this post are largely the intellectual property of Archibald D. Hart from Chapter 14 of his book, Unmasking Male Depression.

 

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Writing a Wrong


A couple months ago I published a blog post called “Brok3n & Betray3d”. It was about how my girlfriend told me she cheated on me and how that affected my emotional state over the next few days.

It is not there anymore because I took it down.

I believe it was published “wrongly”. Or at least before I knew the whole story.

I am here today to ask for a chance to rectify that event.

*    *     *

After the situation had passed and things were cleared up, we got back together for a short while only to fall apart again. Not because she told me she cheated on me. Just because that is how life goes.

After we talked about the situation, she informed me of the details that I wish I had known prior to my posting what I did, and reacting the way I did. I wish I had handled things more calmly. More maturely.

We were apart for the day. I had my daughter for the weekend and she had gone to our local St. Patrick’s Day parade. During that time, she had gone to the bar where the parade ended. Her ex-boyfriend was there and he kissed her. She didn’t return the advance and ended up pushing him away and told him to stop. Another girl who was there kissed her and she did the same thing.

I believe her.

She said she felt like she cheated on me because she was out without me.

I believe her.

As a result of my actions, she was shunned by those closest to us, both offline and in real life. For this I am dreadfully sorry. I cannot imagine being in her place.

Though we are not together today, I would appreciate it you would remember what she was to me by reading the series of poems I wrote about her PTSD and anxiety, as well as the short story I wrote in her honor, Love and the Maiden.

Thank you friends.

X

 
 

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Love and the Maiden


Before Catharsis passed through his Breaking Point against the Wahrlog of Darkness, there were many days his mind would wander.

One thing he thought about was love.

He wondered…wondered if he was ever capable of it.

He thought he was. Or rather, many paths in his life supported that he was capable of what he thought was an elusive emotion:

Ages ago he had been married. Wasn’t this love?

He had helped bare a daughter into the world. Surely this was an act of love.

He often stopped along the rocky roadside to help strangers whose carts had succumbed to wear. Or those who had been bogged down in the tumultuous weather and storms. This had to be love.

Or when he could, he offered what he had to his neighbors or friends in need. Without doubt, this was love.

Wasn’t it?

It seemed he could go on and on with these proofs and until the settling sun descended over the city wall, and the moon ascended with its blanket of darkness, enshrouding Ǚr and the surrounding countryside. Tucking it in.

He could summon endless proof of love.

But he could find no proof in feeling it. The Darkness muted it.

Often times those three words felt empty. He wanted to feel them. But for some reason he couldn’t feel them.

He could only act them out.

Perhaps that was enough in itself.

Perhaps love was not a feeling.

Perhaps it was a choice.

*          *          *

Many years after the loss of his marriage to the Darkness, he had experienced intimate Relationship with a woman who suffered with Affliction as he did. It was the first time in a long time he held this communal bond with another.

Someone who understood his life with clarity.

It was upon this last thought on which his mind wandered…

Her struggle was not with the same beast as his – this Wahrlog of Darkness.

No, hers was with other beasts; these Wahrlogs of Affliction who exacted their punishments as Rage and Fear.

Yet she, she seemed so oddly capable of love and tenderness. Regardless of the terrors and harpies she battled every night. So inclined to it with all her humanness and personal torments. Greater than Catharsis himself had ever dealt with. So much greater than he was capable of.

It came so naturally to her.

She tended to him and more importantly, understood him. She validated his misgivings and second thoughts.

When they both were strong, they were both strong. But when they were weak, they were oh so weak. So weak that no force could bring them back after they had been ripped asunder. She always seemed to bring them back though.

It seemed over the years that he had lost love. Lost it to the damned Darkness.

Lost it to apathy.

Lost it to lethargy.

Lost it to reclusiveness.

Lost it to the punishment of the relentless Specter – that Wahrlog of Darkness that scratched the walls of his soul with its sinister talons. Torturing him from the dark recesses of his mind.

Relentlessly.

When he pushed back to fight for what he wanted, It dug its claws deeper through the flesh of his back. Injecting the venom of lethargy and apathy until it dripped into his soul. Sedating him from the surrounding world. Wrapping its free arm around his neck in a stranglehold. Choking off his breath. Choking off his will to pursue what he had wanted.

And then Catharsis would succumb to the Darkness yet again.

Until he made himself alone.

It made Catharsis do things he didn’t want to do. It made him hurt those that were closest to him. It made him callous. It incited him with irate intolerance. Sometimes causing him to lash out in a sleep-deprived state. Venomous forked tongue. That’s what the Darkness did to his soul.

And so it was that at just the time he believed he was beginning to live a normal life. A life consistent with his fellow citizens in the village. It was about that time that it all fell apart.

It was an unfortunate fact of his life.

But.

Sometimes love does not win.

 

 
 

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The Ivory Tower | [Short Story]


Author’s Note: By its origin, this blog was started as a way for me to grow and survive through my depression, not as a vehicle for me to post short stories. Recently however, I’ve become interested in delving into some ideas I’ve had. This has largely been the inspiration of my good blogging friend Matthew Malin at “Confessions“. One story of his started it all – “A Sheep Named Wolf” and I encourage you to read it before reading any further. Matthew, thank you my friend for your support, encouragement, and for starting me on this journey. I’m interested in seeing where it leads…

Across the plain of Ǚr, far away from the citadel itself, there stood a shining tower of polished limestone. It was a colossal structure. Towering over the fields below. Dominating the landscape to the horizon, over which the plain’s namesake kingdom lay.

It mirrored the sun’s reflection as a fine gem in the crown of the king. Or a polished plate of glass in the courtyard at midday. It pulsed radiance and even from afar off, emitted a brilliance that was known across the plain.

Its alabaster skin was a testament to its beauty. Each stone finely blended and buffed with the other so that all chinked together like a single dragon’s scale.

It was embedded with many different shades of blue polished gems and minerals that blinked at every angle. Not so much as to overtake the gleaming snowy surface. But merely to accent.

Channels of soft, dark azurite ran starkly down its vertical edges, bordered by thin lines of fixed sapphire.

Thick lazulite crystals adorned its horizontal precipices, giving off a faintly cloudy deep green aura, comparable to the ocean’s depths as seen from the gull’s eye overhead. A halo atop the chalk white faces of the tower.

Many knew of its exquisiteness through story or song only, for none in numbers were allowed too close, nevertheless entrance. Only able to cast eyes on it from afar.

Despite all its beauty and grandeur, it became more intimidating in its features, as any outsider drew closer. One would rather call it a citadel than a tower, for it was well fortified and garrisoned many citizens. The same citizens who had built it over the years, enduring the cold winds, stiletto rains, and molten sun.

Though still opulent to the eyes, one could observe battlements and parapets atop the four megalithic walls. Flanking the spire that shot into the sky like a spike into the heavens. Or a compass point by which the rest of the land would calibrate its remaining three directional points.

A selfish, self-centeredness.

An arrogant and haughty feat of engineering designed to show all who gazed upon it the bigotry and seclusion of its citizenry.

A pinnacle of privilege.

The meters-thick walls of the gatehouse itself menaced any who approached its entrance. Appearing as a harbinger and to vex outsiders, warding them away from the inhabitants. Visitors were not taken kindly to.

Several less imposing, yet formidable keeps, buttressed the corners of the tower’s walls. Upon closer observation, the finer subtleties of the tower came into view – murder holes, curtain walls, and arrowslits. Accoutrements of defense and to prevent impregnation.

Encircling the citadel like some leviathan was a moat. Many spoke how when the trench was dug, the moat was filled with blood. Perhaps the result of the dripping sweat and toil from the backs and brows of the builders. Perhaps the result of each family’s dedication and loyalty in assisting their loved ones in the task.

As the population of the garrison grew over the years, and more and more citizens left their families behind, the consistency of the lifeblood seemed to break down. Thin itself out. Devolve and dilute into something thinner and less consistent. A primordial liquid. That of water.

*     *     *

Of the songs sung and tales told of the tower’s beginnings, many knew. They had been passed down through the ages by bards, minstrels, and poets. Alongside firey pits and dusty roads.

Long after the world had been destroyed by Deluge.

And Fire had scorched the forests into plains.

Ages after Wormwood sheared the mountains to the earth.

And Plague had destroyed the animals and Famine had decimated humanity.

Many eons after the earth had been purified and reborn.

Just after man had begun to repopulate the earth.

[Collection of history as transcribed from ruins of the old language]

 The tower’s beginnings coincided with The Great Departing. A time of schism marked by a splitting of the earliest members of the new humanity.

Though not a splitting in the true sense.

Rather a leaving.

A departure of those from their young familial units.

A shunning compounded by rejection and neglect.

Those who had a misplaced reality, replaced with a self-righteous bigotry. A skewed, inarguable view of observable facts. A non-acceptance of the world around them. Complete with all its imperfections.

They were the tower’s builders.

They built its four walls. Those gleaming, soaring partitions that separated them from the rest of humanity.

Self-righteousness facing the north.

Ignorance facing the south.

Bigotry facing the east.

And intolerance facing the west.

They insulated and protected themselves against their loved ones. Their soul mates. Their compatriots. Their mentors. Their childhood friends. And their confidants.

They betrayed them out of their haughty arrogance. Leaving those whom were closest to them out in the cold to be ravaged down to the bones and sinews by the wolves. At times when relationship was needed the most.

And they established their new life secluded from any pollution from the outside world.

A holier-than-thou cocoon life of conceit.

In their ivory tower.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on 05/16/2016 in Short stories

 

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So What? [POETRY]


I would like to thank Natalie and Alexandra over at Joy with a Side of Sarcasm for their humbling rendition of “So whAt.”! What an awesome tribute using Vimeo. Thank you ladies. Please check out and follow their blog and leave a comment!

XXXXX Chris

Here is the link to the original post – So whAt. [Poetry]


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/161704664″>stravens_Salfi_MP2_Sound</a&gt; from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user47865027″>Alexandra</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 
 

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Sometimes | [POETRY]


Just a quick poem that came to mind tonight.

To my friends who will call because they’re worried, I am fine. I promise. Mom, Chelise, Mistaken…I really am.

…Just a little bout with Specter.

But he ain’t gonna win. 

I know other people needed to hear this so they know they are not alone.

Thank you for sharing.

poetry_sometimes_001

Sometimes I miss my daughter

Sometimes I miss her bad

Sometimes I hate the loneliness

I wish I never had

Sometimes I like to be alone

Sometimes I wish I weren’t

Sometimes I wish someone would hold me

And take away the hurt

Sometimes I’m fine and focused

Sometimes I rarely am

Sometimes I shut the windows

And cry as loud I can

Sometimes I’m grey, the Specter

Sometimes I can’t bear the ill

Sometimes I think I’ll make it

Sometimes I doubt I will

 

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Today, Let Us Spread Compassion. | [IMAGE]


Let us remember to spread compassion this month for Suicide Prevention/Awareness. Thank you for sharing this with someone you know needs to feel important, heard, or acknowledged.

Image with the word Compassion in the middle and surrounded with post it notes with messages of compassion on them.

suicide awareness_001suicide_prevention_002

 

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Real. Talk. – Supporting Each Other.


encourage each other daily, Hebrews 3: 13

 

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The Horseman Named Stonewall | [SHORT STORY]


walls_001

On the hinterlands of the dismal grey wasteland of Relationship, at the base of Cold Mountain, loomed a dark grey fortress known as Desolation.

Its colossal walls were miles high and meters thick.

The top of the wall was a foreboding omen to those who dared approach from across the tundra. Craggy stalagmites protruded at odd angles like dragons teeth and witches claws. Bones littered the parapet where vultures had dropped the leftover carcasses of their prey.

Vigilant gargoyles with ripped wings gazed out onto the horizon. They perched themselves every 100 yards, digging their talons into the chipped rock of the facade. The commander of the citadel called on their allegiance by name – Defensiveness, Frustration, Exasperation, and Malice. With glowing white eyes, they penetrated the darkness, letting out shrieks of alarm should life approach out of the black.

The commander himself was the sole inhabitant of the fortress. A horseman who sat deep within the cold, grey rock of Cold Mountain.

His name was Stonewall.

He had built the fortress himself after subduing and slaying his enemies – both innocent and those wretches accused of treason against the crown. He displayed their crucified and impaled bodies outside the wall as a warning to his enemies. They flooded the plain as far as the eye could see until the tundra faded into the fog of war. He hung their decapitated heads and tortured bodies from the walls. Signs of failed attempts to gain entrance into his realm.

Sitting in his murky throne room, Isolation – a place of slate and rock, he slumped on his throne of dark cracked granite and twisted oak. The cold iron crown of Pride, atop his swarthy, creased brow.

Over the course of the hundreds of relationships throughout his time as a foot soldier and knight, he strategically and tactically built this place stone upon stone.

An impregnable keep from his witching enemy, Hurt.

He built it to protect him from Hurt and the outside world. A sanctuary where he would be safe and not have to fear about facing his nemesis, along with his chieftains, Regret and Resentment.

It was his last bastion of safety.

His refuge.

He never left. And he never had visitors…the last visitor he had was years ago. It was easier this way.

Less chaos.

Less struggle.

He remained in isolation without friends. Yet unimpeded by with burden of the outside wasteland of Relationship. Unprovoked by Hurt, the horseman maintained a rigid perimeter to be traversed in order to gain access to the outside world.

It both prevented entry and exit.

One moonless night, the harpies atop the walls wailed and shrieked. 

The horseman rose to his feet and stepped to the parapet of his throne room. Gripping his lance and torch, he glanced out into the wasteland.

Hurt was approaching on his steed and along with his chieftains.

Stonewall made his way to the rampart and silenced the guardians atop the wall.

“What is it you want my nemesis?” he shouted.

“I only wish to have a moment of your time my brother,” Hurt volleyed back.

“You have no business here, fool! Turn back and come this way no more! Before I command my beasts to lurch down from these walls and tear your skin off and feast on your bones and entrails.”

“YOU FOOL!” Hurt roared. “Do you think you can withstand my forces? I shall return with legions of my hordes and we shall gain entrance, tear down your walls, and feast at your table as you die.”

“These walls are impregnable and you would be fool to think you can circumvent them and cause harm. If you advance you shall receive no quarter.”

Suddenly, Defensiveness spread its torn wings and dove towards the invaders. Hurt raised his lance and caught the harpy in the throat, instantly dropping it to the ground as it choked on its own blood.

Upon seeing his guardian die, the horseman raised his fist and plunged it towards the ground, signalling Frustration to awaken from its stone shell and harass the invaders. With lances pointed at it, Frustration circled and when spotting his victim, he swooped down and ensnared Regret in his dagger-like claws. Sweeping back to the top of the wall, the harpy dropped his victim, impaling him along the rows of fierce spikes.

Frustration dove again.

Hurt threw out the net and caught the gargoyle in mid-flight, dragging it to the ground. And in one slash, decapitated the beast with his war cleaver.

The horseman summoned Exasperation and the beast dove to the ground below. In one movement, the seasoned guardian grabbed Resentment by his throat and soared back to his nest. By the time he had reached his perch, his victim’s life had been drained. Dropping the carcass, it lunged again towards its victims.

Hurt pulled his bow and an arrow from his quiver and drew on the advancing harpy. And at the precise moment, let his arrow fly, embedding it straight between the beast’s eyes.

No sooner had the guardian’s lifeless body crashed to the ground, then Malice gained flight and pursued Hurt.

As Hurt turned to reach for his sword, the harpy sank its claws into the enemy’s back and tore out his vertebrae, leaving his body collapsed on the ground.

As the raptor rose into the air Stonewall followed it with his eyes. He watched it until it landed on its pedestal and took its original stone form.

The war hardened horseman shifted his gaze to the plain below, pike still clutched in his fist. He had fought off Hurt and his commanders another day.

But at what expense he wondered.

 

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Food for Thought


Act relationaly, instead of religiously.

 

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Relationship Problems | [QUOTE]


Yup. I’m guilty.

image showing a wooden footbridge in the woods

Many relationship problems

come from one of these two errors:

being loving without truth and limits,

or being truthful without being loving.

– Dr. Henry Cloud

 

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What is Stonewalling?


image showing a sign that says

Danger! Obstruction!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a length of time, you’ve certainly read the posts dedicated to my girlfriend and her PTSD.

I have a problem in our relationship which I haven’t talked about.

It’s a problem with me.

It’s not a mental illness, though it can be much more toxic.

It’s not cheating.

It’s not drugs.

And she’s taken care of the alcohol part when she dumped a newly bought fifth of 80 proof vodka into my kitchen sink.

My issue is stonewalling. And it’s a dangerous obstruction to a healthy relationship.

If you’re familiar with the writing of John Gottman, you know that this is one of the Four Horsemen that destroys relationships.

The Four Horsemen being the riders named Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling.

image showing Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The Four Horsemen – Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling

I actually have another that I struggle with, and that is defensiveness. But for now I’ll just focus on the Fourth Horseman.

What is Stonewalling? 

Gottman explains stonewalling as

disengaging…not just refusing to give forms of acknowledgement, but flat out looking away or down without uttering a sound. The stonewaller acts as though he couldn’t care less about what you’re saying, if he even hears it.

Thought it has a place in politics, the definition of stonewalling is a verb that means to “delay or block (a request, process, or person) by refusing to answer questions or by giving evasive replies”.

Gottman’s definition is a little more extreme because he insinuates that the stonewaller doesn’t even give verbal or visual cues that they are paying attention.

When Do I Stonewall?

I am usually a good listener until I feel that I am being attacked or unjustly accused. This is one of the hardest things for my Type 1 personality to hear because my own inner critic (the superego) berates me incessantly all day.

It is then that I switch to a self-righteous mode of defensiveness, choosing not to listen to the other person’s words, but defending my innocence while shooting down the other person’s misconstrued version of a laughable reality.

What that means is that if I feel I am being attacked unjustly, or I feel my girlfriend’s voice is a couple clicks harsher, I get defensive.

Because I don’t feel like I deserve it.

Harsh tone = accusations. That’s the way my brain thinks-

“I can control my tone of voice and maintain my composure when I talk to her, she should be able to do the same with me. It’s common sense.Why don’t people understand that my way is the right way?!?!?!?!”

This is not good.

It is not healthy.

It is bigotry.

It is detrimental because it is a step short of shutting down and stonewalling.

Once I am exasperated with hearing the repeated “accusations” like I’m a little child I reach a point where I just shut down.

If I were to make a breadcrumb of this cycle it might look like this-

My girlfriend and I are talking about a problem > I feel her tone of voice change > A panic alarm is triggered in my brain > I get defensive and start to become aggravated > I hear repeated “attacks” and become more defensive > I reach a point where I feel I can no longer keep my composure and talk calmly > I disengage > I stonewall

If this were an actual computer breadcrumb, I would be able to go back to any of the previous “links” easy peasy. No problemo.

Not so in reality.

Not happenin’.

In fact I find that once I go to the next “crumb” in the trail, the door to the previous one closes.

And the handle is on the other side of the door.

Why Do I Stonewall?

I stonewall because it’s safe, I guess.

If I’m really being honest, I do it out of lack of emotional control. Or rather, not being able to command my emotions and put them in their place.

I know that once I reach the point of defensiveness, that’s my Rubicon – my point of no return, and at that point I realize stonewalling is next.

It’s the hardest thing in the world for me to pull back and gain control of my emotions and feelings, and I know I need to master this in my growth as a man.

It only happens with the Spirit’s help.

I need to call on Him more to get me through these times.

Do you have a particular “horseman” in YOUR relationship? Would you care to share in the Comments section? Thank you for taking your time to read this post.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on 08/03/2015 in relationships

 

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I Don’t Love You | [POETRY]


poetry_I_dont_love_you_001

I Don’t Love You

Of all the cruelest, hurtful things,

that cut me to the bone.

The harshest are these, “I don’t love you.”

Those are the worst I’ve ever known.

-Surviving the Specter

 
 

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My Angel, Oh My Angel | [POETRY]


Image of an angel weeping on a gravestone.

My Angel, oh my Angel.

My Angel, Oh My Angel

I spoke with my angel as she cried today.

Her heart was ripped in half.

Her relationship with her mom had tumbled.

And hope was at best a laugh.

“My mom made me, feel like a fool.”

I can’t take this anymore.

It hurts too much, it pains my soul.

It breaks me to the floor.

“And when hope comes back to fill my mind,

I want to run away.

She’s broke my trust, that’s it, I’m done.

I quit, that’s what I say.”

And to my friend I listened, her heart was ripped in half.

Her gentle, fragile soul was spent, hope was but a laugh.

I hugged her through the mobile line, as kindly as I could.

And loved her, held her, heard her,

standing by her through bad and good.

If you could reach out to this angel, what words of comfort and insight would you be able to share?

 

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I Tried To Do What Was Right


Image showing child and two parents arguing.

The fracture of visitation

Visitation.

That word says it all for me.

It’s usually a battle. And I never look forward to it.

I’m ashamed that I feel myself withdraw from my daughter because the torture I go through with her mother over the issue.

It’s NOT right.

I know this.

I am a poor dad for doing so.

“I’m human”, I plead to the masses ready to lead me to the desert of retribution outside the city gates for crucifixion.

“It hurts too much.”

“It’s too much to take.”

And my resolve collapses.

Shame on me.


This week I made a small stride…

“D”(aughter) went to Florida with her mom for 10 days.

She was to return today to spend 10 days with me.

She called last night to ask if she could stay in Florida for another four days.

I told her “yes” and to enjoy herself.

Some Lessons I Learned-

1.   Humility. In the grand scheme of things, “D” is the Lord’s child, not mine. I am merely His earthly representative to guide His child on her earthly journey. This has helped make these valleys of mine, “easier” to traverse. It helps me put things in perspective.

I had to let go of my pride and focus not on what would hurt me, but what would glorify Him. 

This. Can. Be. A. Tough. Lesson.

2.   Selflessness. I had to put someone else’s desires above my own egocentric wants. Was it the right decision? Did it answer the question “What Would Jesus Do”? I have faith that it did.

3.   Anger.  I was able to harness my anger and resentment towards “D’s” mother. This is a struggle I have, thanks to my anger-based personality. Last night, I won in the gladiatorial arena.

4.   Spirit Strength. It was not my inner strength and resolve that enabled me to take the high road. I don’t have that strength.

I am a person of retribution and vengeance.

I have cruel intentions.

I am a person that crumbles to getting even rather than understanding.

Totally opposite of what Christianity teaches, right? Yes, you are correct.

That’s why this situation wasn’t resolved because of my intestinal fortitude. The only reason I was able to traverse this river of Styx was through the Holy Spirit’s power.

Thank you for reading this post, my friend. What are your thoughts and suggestions in this situation? Maybe we could be support buddies 🙂

 

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Where In The World Are You, Readers? [INTERACTIVE PROJECT]


4SQ8bKq

Hello. I’m Chris.

I live with severe depression and in September of 2014 I unsuccessfully hanged myself – my friends saved me. 

I’m also a history/geography nut.Picture of Chris, the blogger of surviving the specter.

I’ve seen some pretty interesting locations showing up in the stats portion of surviving the specter, and am interested to know where visitors are viewing from. If you would kindly let me know where you are from and what drew you to the site, I would appreciate your thoughts.

Please feel free to include any other comments or even ideas for future posts.

If you’re interested in being a guest blogger, check out the guest blogging tab and email me your work – I’d love to read what you have.

As always, thank you for taking your time to help with this project and may you find peace through your valley, my friend.

Whether you’re a follower or you just stopped in to see this cool image, would you go ahead and let us know where you live in the Comments section?

Inquiring minds want to know!

 

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“The Power of Vulnerability”, Brene Brown [TED Talk]



I watched this 20″ video in my singles group at church. In it, Brene Brown talks about what it takes to live wholeheartedly.

What do we need to experience joy and the other positive aspects of life?

How do we lose ourselves to shame?

And why is vulnerability significant?

This is one of my favorite talks on relationships and the ideas I’ve listed below are the words of Brene Brown, which are taken from the video.

Connection 

Why are we here? We are wired to be connected.

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Shame (and Fear)

man with hands over face

What is the source of our shame?

“Shame unravels connection.”

“I’m not good enough.”

Shame is the fear of disconnection. “If someone knows this about me I won’t be worthy of connection.”

It’s universal. Everyone has shame.

People who don’t have shame are incapable of human empathy and connection.

No one wants to talk about it. The more you have it the less you want to talk about it.

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Excruciating Vulnerability (“Lean into the pain and discomfort”)

Vulnerability underpins shame.

In order for ourselves to be really seen, we have to be vulnerable.

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Worthiness

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Am I worthy enough?

Those who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging. The inverse is also true.

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Courage, Compassion, Connection, Vulnerability (or “the way the wholehearted live”)

♦  Courage – telling the story of who you are with your whole heart. Courageous people have the courage to be imperfect. Courage is different from bravery.

♦  Compassion – They have the compassion to be kind to themselves first and others second – we can’t be compassionate and kind to others if we can’t be the same way with ourselves first.

♦  Connection – the result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be, in order to be who they are. The fear that we’re not worthy of connection prevents us from being connected.

♦  Vulnerability – they believe that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. Vulnerability is not comfortable but it is necessary. e.g., the willingness to say “I love you” first. “The willingness to do something when there are no guarantees.” “The willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out.”

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On Vulnerability-

We struggle with vulnerability.

♦  Numb – We numb vulnerability because being vulnerable is hard. e.g., initiating sex, admitting you’re wrong, saying I’m sorry… We can’t selectively numb emotions. When we numb vulnerability (or one of many emotions) we numb joy, gratitude, and happiness, etc.

♦  Why and how we numb – not just through addiction.

– “We make everything that is uncertain, certain.”

– “We perfect”.

– “We pretend”

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Closing

To be kinder and gentler to others, we must be kinder and gentler to ourselves. We can do this by…

“Let ourselves be deeply and vulnerably seen.”

“To love with our whole hearts…even though there is no guarantee.”

“Practice gratitude and joy.”

“Believe that we are enough.”


 

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Come Git You Some Guest Blogging! Wathcu Waitin’ For?


Computer_keyboard

I just created a new tab, “Guest Blogging” on my menu bar. I am super excited to start doing this as a regular part of my blog. Surprisingly, a lot of readers are confused with the idea so let me try to explain it as best I can 🙂

What Is A Guest Blog?

A guest blog is when you write a post for someone else to put on their site, or vice versa. You can be the host or you can be the blogger.

“Why the heck would I want to write a post for someone else’s blog? DUH!”

I’m glad you asked…

What Are 5 Reasons To Guest Blog?

1.   First of all, it’s really fun. If you need proof, reach out to the bloggers who have been kind and giving enough to write a post on this blog. They’d be happy to share. Check out Sass’ and morgueticiaatoms guest posts. They were WON.DER.FUL. (Thank you again, ladies X) Also check out the guest post I did for the Mental Health Writer’s Guild.

2.  It can also help you attract followers (since you’re basically “advertising” to someone else’s followers). This is more of a selfish reason, but it’s a fact that if you want more followers, guest blogging on someone else’s blog is a way to do that.

3.   It’s a way of sharing.  We have a big niche and a lot of fabulous bloggers in our mental health community. Though I have met some wonderful people, I will NEVER be able to read every single blog post written by every single mental health writer. Guest bloggers help us introduce each other to, weeeellllll, each other. It’s a beautiful thing!

4.   It builds others up. Imagine being an introvert like me and someone asking me to be a guest blogger?!?! It would give me an ego boost or certainly make me want to step my blogging up to the next level. If you notice that you’re having regular dialogue with those on your blog, ask them if they’d guest blog for you.

Go to their About page and find their email address, or just ask them for it. Send them a quick line asking them if you could write a post for them. It’ll probably be the start to a beautiful friendship. That’s good stuff!

5.   It increases fraternal bonds. We deal with stigma in the mental health community. This strengthens our bonds with each other and gives us a support system. increasing the bonds of our niche, and just a nice way to get to know other bloggers and broaden each other’s horizons.

Who Can Guest Blog?

Uh, anyone.

Some people may advertise it openly on their site. Others may not. Point is if you want to post on someone’s blog because you respect the information they put out, or whatever, you should ask them. The worst they can say is “no”. That’s a keeper rot thare!

“But I don’t have enough followers. Only 50 people are following me.” Uh, SO? It’s fun. Do it.

You Didn’t Make Any Sense. Where Else Can I Read About Guest Blogging?

http://coschedule.com/blog/content-marketing-guest-blogging/

http://www.dailyblogtips.com/?s=guest+blogging

http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/?s=guest+blogging

So go check out the “Guest Blogging” tab and take a chance. This could be the start to a wonderful friendship.

Have you guest blogged for someone, or had someone guest blog for you? Share your thoughts in the Comments section. I’d love to hear them!

 
 

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How Do I Tell If I Need To Make A Necessary Ending? [BOOK REVIEW]


Necessary-Endings
In a previous post, I mentioned chapter 5 of Dr. Henry Cloud’s, Necessary Endings. This post discusses chapter 6 of his book.

Where chapter 5 introduced me to the concept of hopelessness, chapter 6 forced me to answer some poignant questions that crystallized my decision to move forward with ending my marriage. By answering these questions I was able to determine if I should have hope that the situation would get better, or if I was just wishing it would.

Ready? Let’s go!

Based On The Past, How Much Hope Do You Have In Your Current Situation?

So should you have hope that things will improve? How do you know if you should make a necessary ending and if a relationship needs to be pruned? How do you know if you should continue with the current relationship and have hope that it will work out?

If we’ve been in a similar situation before, we can relate. But what about if we’ve never been there before? How do we know whether we should have hope or hopelessness?

ASK YOURSELF: What has it been like so far? What is my current reality? How long am I willing to continue living my current reality?

You have to ask yourself if you are really happy with your current reality, or would something make it better? We must ask ourselves how long we’re willing to continue to live with things considering the way they have been going. Do you want your current reality, frustration, or problem six months from now? Are you willing to continue living the way things have been for another year? Another two years? Do you want to continue having the same conversations in the future? The same feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, rejection, and more?

If you are in an abusive relationship are you willing to continue living with that abuse in the hopes that things will improve? Are you willing to be beaten for another two months in the hopes that things will get better? Are you willing to live with being talked down to for two more weeks?

I asked myself if I could take my current reality a month and even two weeks from now and the answer was always, no.

“When you ask yourself if you should have hope for this person or business to get better, the first diagnostic is to see what has been happening up to this point. Unless something changes, that is exactly what you can expect to happen in the future. The best predictor of the future…is the past.” (94)

So What Is Worth Fighting For? Other Factors That Determine When You Should Salvage The Relationship.

The previous section really spoke to me because I had reached a point of hopelessness but couldn’t put it into words. Dr. Cloud’s words really made sense to me and validated everything that I felt.

I WASN’T CRAYYYYYYYZEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE AFTER ALLLL!

But what if you and I were not in the same situations and you want to keep going? What if you don’t want things to end but you’re at an impasse and not sure what to think? From the main points he makes in this chapter, the following ideas may help you define the answer to those questions as to when the relationship is worth keeping-

♦   Admission of a need to change (105). If there is to be hope, there needs to be a sincere acknowledgment that change is needed. A repentance of the harm and hurt that actions (or inaction) have caused. A heart-driven cry for help. A statement that change is needed immediately. The first step for an abuser or addict to move forward is the admission that there is a problem. An abuser or alcoholic will probably never make strides towards improvement if they don’t see that a problem exists. If they don’t see that a problem exists, there probably is little hope for the relationship to continue.

♦   Investment in a change process (102). In addition to admitting the need for change there should be active participation in a change process. If your marriage is suffering and you are going to counseling but your spouse is not, there is probably little reason for hope. However if you are both attending counseling together or on your own, there is more hope for the future of the marriage.

On the other hand, if your abusive, alcoholic boyfriend has started going to AA meetings there may be hope for the future of the relationship. When there is investment in a change process over time, hopelessness can be suspended. Do you want the rest of your relationship to be about making the change happen? How long are you willing to let the change process last before hopelessness takes over?

♦   You’re not driving the change…entirely. When my marriage was suffering, it seemed like I was driving the change for positive improvement. Did I have my share in causing the hurt? Absolutely. Was I perfect? No way. But I felt I was the one driving the wagon for forward movement. I didn’t feel it was mutual. It made me feel alone and I realized that we were not on the same page with where we wanted to be. Not only should there be movement, but there should be some signs of success early on.

“If you are having to nag them into doing the work , chances are that if you quit nagging, then the work is going to stop as well. And if the work is not sustained, the the change is less likely to occur.” (104, 105)

 These are not the only points made in the chapter, just the ones that impacted my life the most.

Conclusion

Whether or not we have hope, there are some things we can look at to help us decide that for ourselves. Do you have a relationship where this fits the bill? Are you confused whether you should have hope or hopelessness?

Thank you for taking your time to read, comment, and share this post with others. I’m looking forward to having a dialogue and reading your comments!

What are your thoughts?

  1. Are you experiencing hope or hopelessness in a current relationship?

  2. If you are unsure whether to have hope, what things are holding you back?

  3. Have you read this chapter? What are your thoughts if you have?

NOTE: The ideas contained in this post are either directly or indirectly the intellectual property of Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings. Quotations and page citations were used when the material was quoted directly.

 

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What Is The Most Important Thing You Need To Make A Necessary Ending? [BOOK REVIEW]



Necessary-Endings

I recently wrote a post about a concept Dr. Henry Cloud discusses – necessary endings. His book Necessary Endings, was SO influential that I decided to make one of THE MOST pivotal decisions of my life. Two chapters in particular (5 and 6) clinched things for me and when I read them, the film came off my eyes and the answers became crystal clear.

I want to share these two chapters with you over the next few days.

For the rest of this post I’d like to take you through chapter 5, and reveal THE MOST important thing you need to have in order to make a necessary ending. I plan on doing the same for chapter 6 in a few more days.

I am really looking forward to having a dialogue in the Comments section of each post so if you’re game and want to join along, GO GET THE BOOK ALREADY! http://www.amazon.com/Necessary-Endings-Employees-Businesses-Relationships/dp/0061777129. I hope you enjoy hearing about his book as much as I enjoyed reading it. This is going to be a lengthier post so grab some coffee, or tea (with milk or lemon if you’re across the pond), find a comfy spot to read, and enjoy!

What Brought Me To My Necessary Ending?

The pivotal decision I made was to end my marriage. A little history (and herstory) is needed for background, and to put things in perspective… Read the rest of this entry »

 

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He’s Not Perfect [Bob Marley Quote]


he's_not_perfect_001a

 
2 Comments

Posted by on 03/04/2015 in Quotes

 

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Rules for Life – Friendship

Rules for Life – Friendship

be_a_friend_to_get_a_friend

 

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Men, you need to take TWO minutes and watch this NOW!


 
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Posted by on 02/19/2015 in Videos

 

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Image

Thoughts on important relationships.

Thoughts on important relationships.

I do honestly believe…

Befi_time

SOURCE: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABefi_time.jpg

Read the rest of this entry »

 

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