Some days you wonder…

I.  As in me, myself and… I cannot do this alone.

This journey, this transition, this transformation… it’s something that utterly upsets the habits and balance of my life before and as such is beyond the entirety of my power to affect.  All I can do is be willing.  Willing and open to the opportunities and possibilities that are there for me to take if this is what I really want.  And I suppose at the end of the day that’s the question that matters more than all the rest.  I’ve been involuntarily liberated from my past and all the old ways of seeing and doing in my life.  Do I really want to go back to them?  I can, at least at times, see a partial picture of what might be laying on the horizon and I think it’s worth struggling for.  It’s just so bleedin’ far away…And I’m really tired.

I collapsed on my bedroom floor today for almost 45 minutes and cried…

Days after IVL

Last Saturday was my second IVL day.  According to one of my friends it’s my own national holiday, one I’ve even managed to convince others to celebrate with me.  IVL stands for InVoluntary Liberation Day.  It’s a day to remember what was lost and, more importantly, a day to look forward with hope.  It’s the anniversary of when my ex-wife and I split and the day I began this journey towards liberation.  Last IVL was more about survival than anything else.  I was still dealing every day with the fact that I was now on my own (in a relational sense, I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by friends who love me) for really the first time in my adult life.  I had managed to keep my household together and even flurish as I was in the most secure financial position I’d ever been in…understanding that I was still somewhat precarious, but as least I was no longer being actively dragged under.  I was also several months into this blog, putting up thoughts about myself and my relationships and my son and my faith.

This IVL was different.  Very different.  We still had the obligatory barbeque with friends and loved ones over.  We start with that because one of the things that truly bring me joy is to cook for people.  And I LOVE to grill.  So, IVL is MY holiday, so I can say how we celebrate it, right?   People bring over sides and things and we have a good time telling stories, talking business, politics, movies and all sorts of things.  It’s fellowship at it’s finest.  Then we watched the movie My Super Ex-Girlfriend

Which is all sorts of creepy and hilarious and awesome in a number of ways…  And yes… I’ve had some of those same thoughts/conversations/etc with my ex’s.  But the movie itself helped kick up a number of emotions and stirred the pot so to speak so that when the last event of the evening occurred, I was ready.  Or at least as ready as I was going to be.


There’s something special about fire.  I’m not talking about how much fun fire can be to play with for all you pyros out there (Yeah! BURN Baby BURN), but something else.  Fire is cleansing, sacred, restless, alive… in a way that not a lot of other elements are.  We had one built in the backyard of one of my closest friends and a small group of us gathered for what, for me, would be the hardest part of the evening.

I’d put together a box of things I’d found over the last couple months, letters, journal entries, old pictures, and other odds and ends that together represented a mass of painful memories, embarrassing moments, and guilt filled emotions from throughout my life.  Some dated back over 15 years.  I decided that part of what I wanted this IVL day to be was a chance to let this stuff go.  For you, my loyal readers, you know how difficult it is as I’ve talked about it, for me to forgive myself.  I think there’s something inherant in the human condition that makes it that way for most of us.  That night was my chance to offer up all this stuff to God and to let go of it so that it could flow from my life.

I talked about almost all of the pieces as I tossed them into the fire.  Some represented mistakes I’d made, others people who I had let hurt me and then kept that pain close, some things were easier to get rid of than others.  I’d been reading some in Leviticus in the Old Testament recently and so, partially influenced by that I also offered some things up as a wave offering.  It was a way for me to say goodbye to a lifetime of habits that have kept me from being who I truly want to be.  This doesn’t mean that the whole process is over now and I’m much better and everything’s hunky-dory.

As I’ve said over and over again, this is a process…and it will take time.  We started the process off with a prayer and ended it with one.  Each one of my friends gathered there offered up a hope and blessing for me to replace the badness that I had cerimoniously let go of.  That was when the tears truly started for me.  Then they one by one and in a small group, gathered around me and held me while the dam broke open.

I don’t like to cry.

I really don’t like to cry in public.

But this was sacred space.  With the people with whom I feel the safest and most comfortable.  And in that moment, and that time, it was a place where I could finally, truly begin to see what it looked like to let things go.  Our past affects us.  There’s no way around that.  But we have two responses to it.  We can either let it define us and the path we take in life.  Or we can choose to define IT, and by doing so, limit it’s power and harness the lessons from it to better ourselves.  I used to live the former…now I’m beginning to explore the latter.

Happy IVL Day.

Signals and Context

Have I sent mixed signals?  What’s the context of my life, my relationships?  The whole concept of transition is intragel to this blog, to this journey I’m on.  It’s not a destination but a change.  Even so, these questions have been on my mind some lately.  The first comes from a familiar situation I find myself in.  Drawn to several attractive young ladies I am struggling to find the balance between friend and…something else.  I enjoy flirting with them, hanging out with them, considering them my friend, and yes – were things different I’d be inclined to ask for a date.  But things are what they are and I’m not there yet…but what am I doing in the meantime?  Am I sending a signal that says otherwise?  I’ve tried to be as upfront as possible and honest in my expectations, that I am not looking for nor want a relationship right now, but have discovered from friends at work and at home (since I’m a terrible flirt and flirt often) that women are complex and strange beings and while we use the same words we do not always speak the same language.

Yes, yes, I know it hardly seems possible in the day and age of “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” that I could even think that we’d be able to talk to each other, much less understand things the same way…still…  I don’t want to hurt any of them, I cherish the friendships I have built up with them.  I’m just a little too vulnerable still and probably need to cool my heels…something I HATE doing.  So when I honestly look at the signals I’ve sent, can I say they are 100% friend ones…  that would be a big fat NO.  So where do we go from here?  Friends still I suppose until I’ve made it farther along this path.  Eesheesh… Relationships, good ones anyway, are complicated, tough, take time and nurturing, and challenge us.  My son and I are still figuring out the parameters of ours.

Speaking of, so what is the context of our lives.  For myself it’s partially derived from growing up in a fairly traditional two parent household as an only child, dotted on by parents and grandparents alike.  Growing up in a religious family and one who believed strongly in the importance of education, faith and service.  For my son it’s been partly derived from growing up in broken families, seeing mother and mother figures leave time and again.  Surrounded by people of faith but only feeling that God is angry at him.  We’re an odd pair to say the least.  He and I are both gun shy when it comes to dating, for either one of us.  He doesn’t want to and isn’t really sure he’s ready for me to yet either.  I can so sympathize with him right now.  We were discussing this the other day and decided to try and agree to not either one of us date for a while.  I didn’t make him make the promise I’ve made to myself (one year and a day – January 8th, 2011 till I can date), but it was a father-son sort of thing.

Context can play a very important role in many ways and in many things.  After Bible study on Wednesday I went to the gas station to get gas and saw a blind man walking home.  I offered him a ride home and visited with him some, turns out he took Master’s level course-work on the Apostle Paul’s letters…go figure…Nice guy though, and I have to think it was the context of where I caught him (in the gas station parking lot) and when (late at night, it was cold) that led him to decide to ride with me.  He paused when I asked him if he needed or wanted a lift.  Grading my grammer or tone in my voice perhaps?  I don’t know… But something about the context of our meeting has set the stage for something else, even if not any more interactions with each other.  We live lives that are but pinballs buffeted through this crazy time and moved around by ever shifting contexts.

Sorry, I know I’m rambling.  It’s late and I had this really neat, well thought out and awesome post and instead, by the time I got through the Parent Meeting, working out, helping my father move some antiques, my son with his homework, and cleaning this is all I have left for tonight.  I am so glad tomorrow’s Friday…

Saturday’s my second annual IVL Day.  Be writing more about that later…maybe even get pictures up afterwards…

Snowy Lenten thoughts…

So it’s late and I should totally be getting ready for bed and work tomorrow.  That’s the thing about weekends, you can’t wait for them to come but once here they disappear with a flash.  I’ve often wondered the older I get if that feeling would ever go away, much like children think the days last FOR-EEEEEEEEEEVER while we see the months just flyin’ by.  But I think not.  Weekends are like that I suppose.  Take this one for instance.  Friday night after work I went home, spent some time with my son finishing up our Yu-gi-oh card game we’d started the other night, fixed dinner and then I got together with some friends and role-played till about 1:30 in the morning or so.  Saturday I spent the day cleaning up my house and that evening I had about 12 people over for a game night, full of fun, food and board games which lasted till about 1am again, then a friend and I stayed up till about 3 watching a movie.  Sunday brought church, potluck (love our food!), then home to catch up on laundry and other cleaning up from Saturday, then roller-skating for about 90 minutes then home once more to get the kiddo ready for bed and then I settled in to watch a movie.  (Have I mentioned I really really like watching movies?)  And then this…

Where does my time go?

My son wanted to have someone over this week to come visit and as I started looking through my calender of this week it started looking something a bit like this –

Mon – Work, cook/clean, free rest of evening

Tues – Work, cook, roller-skating

Wed – Work, cook, Bible Study

Thurs – Work, cook, help at church with setting up rummage sale for sending our kids to summer church camp

Fri – Work, pick up drive-through, Game night with my friends

Sat – …..getting ready for my second IVLD day, but nothing else yet…

And I thought how amazing it was that I was the one so busy, not him.  Normally it’s the parents shuttling their children around, but this time it’s me.  But during this season of Lent we are supposed to spend the time in prayer and meditation.  Asking for forgiveness of our sins and spending time repenting.  This is a time of preparation, of getting ready to celebrate the miracle that was Easter.  But it has to start in the wilderness…away from all our business and the responsibilities of our lives.  One thing I found out this year as I was looking up some scriptures for church today was that the whole celebration of Lent arose from the scriptures in the Gospels of Jesus’ time in the wilderness before he began his ministry.  It was a time of preparation for him as well.  If Jesus needed such a time before he could go out and minister to the world around him, what does that tell us today about how important taking time away is?

And yet, can we do it voluntarily?  I celebrate my Involuntary Liberation Day the first Saturday of every March.  It’s to commemorate the day my ex-wife left me and I was liberated from the shadows of the man I was.  It’s not a celebration of my marriage ending, nor is it a celebration of the fact that she’s gone.  That’s the involuntary part.  I didn’t want it to end.  But WHEN it (my marriage) ended I was presented with the opportunity to be liberated from the mistakes of my past and the painful habits of a lifetime in a way I never would have dreamed of before.  So I celebrate the vista before me.  I have spent much of the past two years wandering in this wilderness.  Some of it has been my wanderings, other times I have allowed myself to be led.  Sometimes I have even managed to hear the voice prompting me in the direction I should be going.  It’s all been a part of my desert journey.  Moses led the Israelites in the desert for 40 years…not because they didn’t know the way, but because the generation that sinned against God had to pass from the earth before they could enter the promised land.  Those who had never known the spirit-crushing weight of slavery would be able to live and flourish in the new land God promised.  My spirit has been wandering because the parts of my life that have sinned against God must pass away before I can enter into a new covenant with Him.

I wasn’t sure I was gonna share anything about this here because as open as I’ve been on here before there are still some things I don’t like talking about…and I know some of the people who read this…of course part of it’s my own fault, I really don’t have to have this attached to my Facebook page…but this is too a part of who I am, and part of this is a public declaration of my desire to be made new in Christ’s own image and to become a better father for my son.  One of the things I am giving up for Lent is the negative images/thoughts/perceptions I have in my head of my own self-worth and of what women are like.

I struggle liking myself.  I have not had a really strong positive self-image since I was a teenager.  My experience with dating tainted, in many ways, my perception of myself and of relationships with women.  I won’t go into details, but I did not do well in the dating arena and got into situations where the decisions I made had very negative consequences for a number of people.  And for most of the past two decades I have not wanted to forgive myself for those mistakes.  Hindsight is not always 20/20 and the lens through which I viewed those times because the prism that delinieated who I was, what I was allowed to do, to say and to be.  I used the guilt, my guilt, and my shame from that time to build up walls around me and in time they twisted who I wanted to be and I became the kind of person who had to have others around me constantly telling me why I was worthwhile to feel loved.  I was a broken and needy soul who hounded others for approval and acceptance because I would not grant it myself.  I turned from those who could give it to me in healthy ways and instead indulged in a lifestyle of sex and drinking that was inherantly self-destructive, even as I sought out what I thought was love and acceptance.  The arrival of my son saved my life, in so many ways… but it did not uncomplicate it, nor did it suddenly make things all better.  Because of the circumstances of his birth and my relationship with his mother, I still struggle some days with how I view him and what my relationship with him should be/can be/will be.  But these last few years I have had several wonderful, challenging, compassionate people in my life who have challenged my old way of thinking in ways that I don’t always like, or want to talk about, or even think about in my own head.  It has hurt, it has caused me discomfort, examining BOTH the good and the bad actions I’ve done in the past and finding out where the ties are that have bound me down.  I don’t claim to know all of them yet, but I am on a path, and as I’m finding them this Lent season, I am letting go…or at least offering them to God, and trying to get out of the way when God takes them.  That has been my promise to God and my challenge.

I’ve also been struggling with reshaping my views on women.  They aren’t all crazy…well, not mean spirited crazy anyway.  😉

I have been hurt many times by women who saw me as a knight out to save them and then discard when no longer needed.  I have held my partners to unrealistic standards of what one person should be responsible for, it was not their place to heal all the hurts in my soul, nor make me into a whole person.  I need to do that myself with God’s help, and then if desired I can move slowly into a healthy relationship with someone.  But I have lots of trigger points, things that make me nervous, make me mad for no appreciable reason, that all arise from old arguements…  I have used and been used by past partners and desire a new way of thinking, living, loving.  All this is part of my penitential prayer –


You who are our parent, lover, friend, and companion.  You whose love and joy know no bounds.  You who run to us with open arms.

I stand before you… broken…torn…ashamed.

I have turned from you, run from you, hide from you.  I have screamed at you, thrown myself away.  Still you chose to stay close.

I fought you until my strength gave out before the patience of your peace.

Holding me, you took me into the desert.

You walk with me, change me, mold me.  Even as the clay of my life screams out in pain and agony at the process I can feel something wonderful happening inside.

I know it’s not me that’s doing it.  But you require that we agree… that we invite you in.

I don’t remember everything that came before, weariness sometimes overtakes my mind.  But I remember the day I asked you.

I asked you to break me and make me new….and so we have gone to the desert together.

But now Lord, I stand halfway.  My scouring is completed for now… the temptations facing me are almost done.  Once again, my strength falters, once again weariness and shame press close in.

I beseech thee God, wrap me up in the joy of the life you offer.  Flood the wrinkles of my soul with your love.  May the peace of You bring balance to the stormy scene inside me.

My journey is not yet done.

I begin this Lent season with me.  With my sin.  With my repentance.  With my desire to turn closer to You.  Oh Lord, let us begin, and let it begin with me, that I may find new life in You.


Heartache at home…

It’s never easy when someone you love tells you “I hate you!”  Even if it’s from the mouth of your child.

The anger was real.

So was the pain.

The fear, the hurt, the desire to strike out…

They were real too.

But the words?

Not so much really.  After he’d spent what felt like forever curled up in my parents bed hurling verbal assults while I sat on the floor at the door to their bedroom he asked me if I’d go away once he told me what was wrong.  I told him I wouldn’t go away but I’d let him have some privacy.  Before all this however let me set the tone.  This whole week has been crazy.  In fact, it started off with my sister in the hospital for a possible heart attack.  The doctor’s still aren’t sure what’s wrong.  Tuesday I hurt myself somehow and the pinched nerve that’s been bugging me for several months finally came to fruition (cue my mother making some remark about being an igit and needing to take care of myself).  Wednesday and Thursday were spent trying madly to catch up on projects for work while things were going crazy.  And then tonight I get to my parents house and my son is sitting in one of the recliners with a pillow over his head muttering angrily.

Did I mention it’s the one year anniversary of the day my wife said she was leaving?

I finally remembered to make it to the court house today to pick up some documents we need to get rolling on the divorce…only to be handed a checklist and told that most of them were online now and I could print them off myself.  *sigh*  If only I had a printer…

Work had a potluck today, that with everything else going on I completely forgot about.  My vegetarian friend said I could claim to have helped with the mashed potatos if it would make me feel better.

I had some difficult calls today but nothing too out of the ordinary, I spent some time up by my quiet rock centering myself during my lunch break.  And still ended up being almost twenty minutes late at work helping a co-worker out with a couple of issues.  Not a big deal but man…on a Friday?  Seriously?

And then home to this.

My son didn’t want to talk to me at first, then grumbled at me, then when I came over to sit on him he stormed off upstairs to my parents bedroom where we pick things up.  He hated everybody…”EVERYBODY!”  Except the dog.  He didn’t want to go to church anymore because God was helping him so why bother.  After ranting in this vein for a while he told me he was tired of seeing me, wanted me to go away and felt like I didn’t want to be around him.  I acknowledged that sometimes I didn’t and that it was hard being a parent, especially a single one.  Of course, I didn’t know anything about him as well.

When he finally told me what was really bothering him he told me that he was tired of seeing me.  He wanted to see his bio mom and his ex-stepmother.  He didn’t want to live like this (separate households) anymore.

There was so much pain in that little body.

So as promised I went from the room, but not before I asked him to look at me and told him that I was his father.  I would always love him.  I’m sorry I’m not enough, I wish I could be, I know it’s hard for him.  But I’m not the one stopping either him or his mothers from speaking to each other.  When his bio mom does remember to call him (she called him for the first time in almost 3 months earlier this week) I have no problem letting them talk for as long as they want and in private.  His step mother hasn’t called wanting to talk to him.  And I haven’t heard from her since before Christmas.  I told him again I loved him, would always love him and would be here when he wanted me.

Then I went and sank onto the landing halfway between the up and down stairs.

And prayed…lots…

I’m not a particularlly patient man although I’m sure there are lots of my friends and family who would disagree.  I know better.  I may hide it, but I’m terribly impatient and dealing with my own pain is tough enough…I really don’t always feel like I have anything left to give.  And I don’t want to feel like a caseworker 24/7, been there, done that, it ain’t pretty.

But sitting there, I was reminded of how important it is to be patient, especially when I need to ask it of others.

For, about five minutes later came the patter of not-so-tiny feet and a smallish form was snuggling up next to me, asking without words to be held and reassured and loved.  We made a night out of the rest of it.  We still went to pick up new story CD’s because I had said we would earlier in the week.  He chose Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”  Ah well, at least one is good.

I can’t fix it all.  All I can do is hold it together while it fixes itself.  And tomorrow is I.L.D.

The week before…

So it’s the week before my I.L.D. (see earlier post for explanation) and it’s been going pretty much how I expected it to.  Not as I wanted it to mind, but as one of my friends would say “the universe is listening, even to the things you aren’t saying.”  So I can’t really complain, and honestly?  I don’t really want to.

I’ve been blessed.  And I try to have the first thing I say every morning be thanks for being alive.  Usually because by around noon I’m ready for the end of my day!

But back to this week.  Monday my sister goes to the hospital with a possible heart attack.  They still don’t know what may have happened there.  Tuesday work goes nuts, I’m a day behind and buried under new projects.  That evening I find myself in an uncomfortable position of knowing something I don’t really want to about several of my friends.  Wednesday, I manage to finally fully pinch the nerve in my neck that’s been bugging me the last few months…and still help my father move antique pump organs…and that’s a whole ‘nuther blog all on its own.  And my son gets into a fight with a friend and comes home crying and upset (forgot to do his homework, had a bad day at school), tries to start a fight with me about my (ex) wife leaving, then curls up in my lap for about an hour crying and punching the fish pillow to get out his anger so he “doesn’t destroy anything or take it out on somebody else.”  Oh and did I mention that at work the Platte Co Fire Dept is training so there are fire trucks, sirens and alarms going off at random times during the day…we were told to ignore them though so unless something blows up when the fire comes we’ll all still be at station waiting for the other person to leave.

Like lemmings at Pompeii.

So tomorrow’s Thursday.  I never really got the hang of Thursdays…

I sooooooooooooooo can’t wait for the weekend.

Hospitals and Anniversaries

I spent most of the day at the hospital with my family, waiting to hear if my sister really had suffered from a heart-attack.  When I got the message from my mother I sat stunned, for several minutes.  It’s a bit unreal really when members of your own generation face life-threatening situations.  For me at least, it’s somewhat expected if it had been one of my parents, aunts, uncles, grandmother.  Although it would not have been any easier, there’s a comfort to the fact that they’re the older generation, they’re supposed to go before us.  There’s no such false comfort when it’s a sibling…or child.

As I’ve stated earlier, this week marks my I.L.D. – Involuntary Liberation Day.  The week has not gotten off to the best of starts and it got me to thinking.  How much of my life, for example, for one reason or another has been spent in medical institutions of one sort or another.  Too many it seems like.  When other people take vacations or sick days or whathaveyou it’s generally been my experience that they don’t do it to go spend time being present for others.  There have been a lot of loss in our family’s life these last few years and losing my sister would be like a long hard blow to the groin.

They still don’t know what’s wrong with her…


So next Saturday marks the one year anniversary of my Involuntary Liberation Day.

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been that long already.  Sorry kids, but it’s true what the old folks say, time just keeps speeding up the older you get.  Honestly I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.  On the one hand it’s great that my friends are planning a get together – I get to grill food for them all (which I’m actually excited about!  I love to cook) – and then we’ll share in eating, visiting and playing games…or whatever…it’s my day.  On the other, it’s also a day to take stock, remember what has been lost/given up/left behind, and that’s never particularly easy.

This day will be a day to celebrate.  Not because she left a year ago, there won’t be a person there who would have wished that upon me if it was in their power to change, but because this past year HAS been a liberation, albeit not a voluntary one.

I have learned and grown so much over the last year.  I have finally faced many of the fears that have plagued me most of my life – including my fear of being alone.  I’m discovering who I AM, what I want, where I want my life to go and you know all that other stuff you’re supposed to learn at some point in your life!  I can admit some (let’s face it I’m human, even I can’t admit to ALL of them!) or dare I say even most of my mistakes?  Or at least the ones I remember.  I have apologized where possible and have begun trying to take responsibility for my life and the consequences my actions have had on the people around me.

For too long I was locked into the idea that I would die at 30.

I can even remember where I was when the certainty came over me – Mrs. Mothersbaugh 7th period English, 8th grade – I was sitting in the back of the room, leaning half out of my chair against the brick wall.  I was wearing one of my favorite yellow tees and torn up jeans.  And during one of my fellow student’s readings, I knew…I mean I just knew…that in 16 years I would die.  Simple as that, no way out.

I have dealt with that belief ever since.  Most of my late teens and early 20’s were spent trying to cram in as many experiences as possible, many of them self-destructive, because if I could kill myself…without seeming to…then I could have control over my destiny again.  Maybe I’d die at 25 or 22 or 28.  The carelessness with which I attacked my life reflected an unhealthy belief in what it meant to be in control.

There were long periods of guilt as I got involved in activities that I knew would shame and embarrass my parents, much less me.  I hated God, my family, my friends.  I would spend hours yelling and arguing with God, before spending more hours apologizing and begging to God.

Fear dominated my life and my decisions.  I was afraid of being a father.  I was afraid of being along.  I was afraid I didn’t matter or was unlovable.  I was afraid of being unforgivable.  I was afraid to face my own self-destructive tendencies.

Again, this led to such unhealthy relationships and habits that fed one into the other, burying me…smothering me…in many real ways, killing me.

The events of this last year, no matter how painful, have allowed me to break free and find a liberation from my past in a way that would have been unimaginable a year and one month ago.  It hasn’t been easy.  Many times I could have continued down the same path…and don’t think I”m still not tempted to.  But I have friends and family who help support me.  A faith that is stronger than it has ever been.  And a willingness to listen, and to share, as my pastor said after a breakfast meeting not too long ago:  “We’ve have several serious discussions before this one.  But I think this was the first honest one we’ve ever had.”

And you know what?  He was right.

I had hidden behind lies, half-truths, denials and the like for so long, I hadn’t realized how desperately I wanted to get out from beneath it all.

So next Saturday I celebrate my first annual Involuntary Liberation Day.  My life is and has been a journey.  For the first time I feel like I’m on it willingly.  I don’t know where it will lead or what strange events may occur.  There will still be pain, frustration and the like.  They are a part of life too.  But I am free to feel them.  It’s okay to be human…to have bad days…to cry…to scream and rant…to laugh…to smile quietly to myself.  I can give myself permission to forgive me, even after all I have done.  I am still loved – and to me that’s the real miracle.

This liberation is not one I could have initiated on my own I don’t think.  I wanted it but had no idea how to find it, take it, make it my own…but now that I have it, it’s up to me to do something spectacular with it!  Even if what that means is living my life the best I know how.

Happy early ILD to you too.

Happy ILD!
Happy ILD!