FirstLast

I have a saying I use when it comes to my daughter.  Everything is the “first” and the “last”.

We only had one child, and we cherish her deeply.  Her first experiences and milestones are also the last ones we will experience with a child that is our own.

I write about this today because it was her first day of high school – another first and last for her that we get the privilege of enjoying.

When I look at things that I am proud of in my life, for reflections of my goodness – I see them in my daughter.

But I will tell you that I also worry.  I am hopeful that I have protected my daughter – kept her from harm and treated her kindly.  If you asked my parents, they would say they feel they did the same by me – but they would be wrong.  I have never confronted them on this topic.  I didn’t really know until recently that something was terribly amiss.

So, if they didn’t know they were screwed up – felt like they were doing a good job – how can I be sure?

I look for patterns.   I know I had all of the signs – disinterest in school, bad grades, anti-social, ran away from home, lied and tried to keep my parents from sending me over to my perpetrator’s house.  My parents were too self-absorbed or thick to notice.

I admit openly to seeing my daughter as my redemption.  If I can just get her through to the other side in one piece – whole, knowing she is loved and protected then I have succeeded.  I know that this is a dangerous thing – but I am ok with it.  I don’t see how I would change my stance.  It’s what I do.

Drowning

Please forgive me for not writing in a long time.  A very long time.  But I haven’t been able to come over to this side of my life and spend time because I am dealing with more than I can handle in the other aspects of my life.

Since the time of my last post, much of the rest of my life has been spiraling down.  The company that I so painstakingly put together appears to be sputtering to a slow death.

In my typical role as savior of the world, I have foregone everything in pursuit of keeping the doors open.  Risked too much money, given up too much of my time, put too much into it.

And just like every one of my attempts at redemption of my past it looks like this one may not work out either.

The difference is that instead of being suddenly abandoned or left, this time it’s a slow and painful process being played out over months and months of numbing despair. I feel like the family that is waiting by the bedside of a beloved one discussing when/how to shutdown the machines.  Put the patient out of its misery.

I am curious because it would be easy to blame my approach and suffering for the potential failure on my upbringing and my CSA – but isn’t it what we all do?  Don’t we all give everything of ourselves to see something through? Don’t we all ultimately want confirmation?  Isn’t that what we all long for: acceptance, confirmation, reassurance we are worthy, important, necessary, needed, purposeful?

While I would like to believe that is true, I am inclined to believe, yes, my past does have something to do with my current situation.  You see, as I have looked at the business partnership I have put in place and the role I have accepted in the creation and running of the company. It’s very much like all of my previous off-balance relationships.  That of the relationship with my mother, my abusers and my potential redeemers.   I take more than my share of the work and burden, I feel personally responsible for the failure, I believe I must fix it, that it’s all up to me.

What’s funny is that until my eyes were opened to my past, until I really understood myself, my business partner used to threaten to leave me.  After my revelation, I have turned the tables and realized how much more power I have than I thought I did.  I probably made this realization too late to save what I am doing now – but I will be much smarter moving forward.

So, what to do? what to do? what to do?  That is still the question.

 

Speechless

Wow, just wow, the number of stories that are coming out in the news today about cases of childhood sexual abuse.

We hear today that the Citadel is now on the list.

And the story at Penn State just gets worse and worse.

And of course, the missing voice in all of these stories are the victims.  We hear and see the perpetrator – in fact they get interviews with mass media.

But the victims remain “speechless” and “faceless”.

Don’t know how to fix that – afterall, I still blog under with the anonymity of my alter-ego.  I am insecure in stepping out to tell others my story.

The shame, my past, how I have dealt with it, the fact I still can’t completely reconcile my achievements and life in light of the revelation…  the fact that if I told someone, would they believe me?  I think that’s the biggest thing holding me back.

Pray for the victims of these crimes- it’s hard to focus on that part of the story when you are faced with the morbid curiosity of the perpetrator.

Pray that those of us that have survived continue to find our voice and that it’s stronger than the perpetrator.

OneYear

It’s been almost exactly a year since the “revelation”. Really, the “understanding” didn’t happen until sometime in November, but the year of hell began about a year ago.

I (we) have made it through. I don’t know if I can say we are “better” for the wear and tear. Just more aware and more present.

I feel like this awareness and presence has come at the cost of others and I still honestly can’t tell you if I am ok with that.

I have always understood my role as that of accepting the burden, running the course and assuring that others are better for it at the end. I have seen that as my purpose – and without purpose what is life?

This process in which I am supposed to be better, potentially at the cost and unsettling of others, is foreign and uncomfortable to me. Trying to understand what makes me feel “happy” or “content” is a challenge – an algebra problem that my brain doesn’t know how to work.

But I am practicing patience.

Because as I look back on the year, I can see how many of the steps I have taken – books, articles, blog posts, conversations, breakthroughs at therapy sessions, conferences – have moved me down the path of (awareness, healing, acceptance).

I do have a strong understanding of why I do certain things, why I react certain ways, what I expect of others based on my past. This doesn’t mean that I have changed all of these things, but at least I can understand the context for what it really is.

I know in some relationships this makes me a great person to know, in others, I am impossible to understand and live with.

I am trying to use the upcoming year as a time to figure out how to use my past for the greater good. I think if I can turn that corner successfully that I will be more at peace with some of areas that still feel unresolved.

Villain

As you may know from reading my blog, I participate in Toastmasters.  I gave a speech earlier this year about Bill Zeller – the first time I have spoken publicly (though indirectly) about my past.

I attend Toastmasters because it is something different/new to do and I hear speeches that motivate me, inspire me, make me laugh and often move me to tears.  It’s amazing what you can learn from another human being standing starkly in front of a crowd talking about life and life experience.

This past week, one of my favorite people in our Toastmasters club gave the invocation. She spoke of a man who had been seen by many as a “villain”.  When asked by a newsreporter what he thought of this designation, he replied, “I may be a villain to some, but I am the hero of another story”.

This is another reminder to look at life from a different perspective.  No matter how bad it is, no matter how low or sad you feel, no matter how much you may see yourself as a villain (or a victim), remember you are a survivor and a hero to so many.

TheExtraMile

I will be honest – didn’t get as much out of my reading today.  Maybe it’s because I am in this weird state of unrest today.  Maybe it’s because I am not sure how the chapter related to “extra mile”.

I think I will write about my state of unrest.

I know that I immediately assume the worst of other people.  I believe, strongly, that most people are “dishonest” – for lack of a better word.  They act in a way or ask questions that are not really direct.  They are fishing for something else – some other angle. And I believe this to be true of the people closest to us – not as much from a perfect stranger or a mild acquaintance.

We really can’t help it because we are taught to play games as we grow up – don’t hurt another’s feelings, keep the peace, don’t be confrontational.

On top of this facade, I was taught that honesty was often not the best policy.  And “I don’t know” was not an acceptable answer – it meant something more than I actually, really, truly didn’t know.

So I impose these beliefs on my interactions with others.

As I reached adulthood, I have often been a rebel in this area. Saying exactly what I thought or how I felt with little to no regard for the recipient.  While this has not always served me well, it makes me feel better – like I can live with the fallout as long as I haven’t been artificial.  And I do believe it makes me a good leader – I cut through the bullshit and get to the heart of the matter – no politics, no games – just shoot it to me straight.

The closer I get to someone, the less I trust that they are telling me the “truth” – that there is no deeper meaning to a question or a comment than what is actually said.  I overanalyze interactions looking for the angle, trying to understand my weaknesses or vulnerabilities.

I know that this is my problem – and it causes strife in some of my better relationships.  I am not even sure how to have the conversation with the other person about how I feel when they ask questions or act in a way that is counter to my belief of the relationship.

Such a mess.

It is said that the 1st step is confession – this is confession.  Maybe the chapter today was just reinforcing the need for me to continue to go that “extra mile” in better communicating with and understanding those around us.

Discipleship

Today’s reading is about happiness and our “discipleship” to expectations, people and places around us.

Interestingly the focus is on how we can’t find happiness outside of ourselves – and that happiness isn’t a destination, somewhere we will find ourselves one day.  That we have everything we need to be happy today.

As I mentioned in my last post, even when we make it to a destination we still will not ultimately be “happy” – excited for a few minutes, glad for an accomplishment – but it will ultimately be a hollow victory.

The chapter talks specifically about Luke 14:26 – relating Jesus’ message to His disciples about what it will take to follow Him.  Forsaking others’ opinion of you, of the constraints they assign to you, to find happiness.

I have started down this path – any of us with an abusive past has to.  We were told what it took and meant to gain happiness.   We believed the lies, internalized them.  Then we learned that the goal of happiness was unattainable as a destination, the carrot moved or the rules changed.

Now we have to work to unravel that deep seeded programming.

ProfitandLoss

Do I gain more from the praise of others or the journey through life?  Is the destination more important or getting there?

I can honestly say I am all about the journey.  I love to travel, but am often disappointed when I arrive at my destination.  I learned over and over again that gaining something is never as satisfying as the thrill of the pursuit.

And my upbringing prevents me from reveling in the praise of others – I don’t believe them or trust them.  I can always discount in my mind why the praise isn’t real, the reward is meaningless.

So, why do it?

Maybe the point is that as long as I enjoy the journey, then the destination isn’t important.

The aim is to have the journey, not make it to the destination – how fun is that?  A trip without an end.  And if I gain some “things” along the way – praise, notoriety, money – it’s just a bonus.

Like finding a nice little restaurant in a quaint little town that is off the tourist path.  A place that you can sit outside, drink a nice glass of wine and watch the world go by…

And if you aren’t headed somewhere, then life really is a waste and we have let others profit from our loss.

 

Update

It’s been a while since I have done that – update.  Not because things have been bad or good – just haven’t had as much to say.  I hope you are all well and you forgive my absence.  I plan to be better steward of my thoughts and my journey.

On the family front I think I am making progress – I feel destined to try to please my wife, make sure she is happy.  This is something that is hard to do when you are convinced you have broken something beyond repair.  I have recently realized that I don’t know if I will ever feel like I have accomplished the goal of her happiness or our repairedness.

When it comes to relating to my extended family – especially my parents – I am fairing much better.  I understand them for who they are (and are not) and I have been able to establish an alliance with my sister that is comforting.  She still doesn’t know about my past, but interestingly enough in their selfish and self-consumed ways my parents have made her an ally without requiring disclosure from me.  Maybe one day.

On the job front – the company has continued to do well and actually has kept me very busy.  An interesting revelation has been how easy it is to do my job now.  I have always been good at my job, but distracted by the muddle in my brain, which made the job “challenging”.

Now that I don’t have the muddle, the job is easy, almost too easy.  I have this terrible need for some type of performance, some amazing applause or accolade at the end of a meeting or presentation.  Not sure where that is coming from.  The problem – even if I get those things, after the performance I feel hollow, empty, incomplete, sad.  Drives me a little crazy.

On the friend front – – – – -

This is an interesting topic.  I think I have made some friends, established some relationships that are healthy, clean and beneficial.  But who am I to judge that?  I am a terrible judge of these types of situations.  I expect that most people have the worst of intentions.  If they are my friend, it’s because they want something from me.  If they seem to like me, it’s because I am useful to them at the time or they are just being nice.  And this has been true in some situations, but not all – so I go from one extreme to the other – walling people off or letting them too far in.

One of these friendships brings me back to my blog.  A friend in my life – someone I have known for many years, but never have viewed as a friend and still maybe do not – has given me a book to read.  We have always been work friends – so I view him in the category of “looking for something from me”.

The book he gave me is called The Way of Love.

The reason he gave me this book is because we played golf last week.  And after that game of golf, where we talked mostly business – he brought it by my office today.  He was so desperate to get this book in my hand, he went out of his way to drop it by.  I was unable to talk with him when he came by but gave him a call later.

On the call he said, “After we played golf the other day, I knew I needed to share this book with you.  I started reading it about 12 years ago. It has a daily devotional in it, which I read and then meditate on and journal about everyday.  I re-read this book over and over again and I think you need to read it to. The book is about love – it’s about loving yourself – and I could tell from things you said and the way you acted the other day that you needed to read this book.  That until you love yourself you will never really accomplish those things you want to do”.

I have never disclosed my past to this person, and after this call I went to the bathroom and cried.

If you have read/read my blog, you will know that people and books have been very important to my recovery.  I see this as more than a providential sign and plan to do exactly as he has done.  I will read a devotion a day and then put my thoughts here until I get through the book the 1st time.  Maybe it will be as enlightening as my first 30 days of creating this place of expression.

Goals

Having always been a goal driven person, I notice that I am having a problem with setting any move forward goals or for being passionate about anything.

In fact, I am not in the mood to make any type of decision, even about small things like where I want to eat, what I want to watch or what I want to do.  I am frustrated by the idea of making even the smallest decision or addressing a question about “what I want”.

I am not sure if this is a good thing or not.  Maybe I have just learned to “be” – no expectation of my life moving forward, no need to prove anything, no desire to justify or counterbalance my past.

This may just be “normal” behavior, no biggie – or it may be a sign of something else – lack of motivation, numbness – not sure.

I know that part of the problem is that the goals I have set in the past, most of which I have accomplished, haven’t ended up the way that I expected. Now that I understand myself better, those goals were probably established for reasons other than just accomplishing the goal.

Take for example my goal of “I will start my own company”

Done.  But not for the reasons that you might think. I care very little that I have employed others, that we have made lists of fastest growing company or have been seen as a success, or that we are still surviving one of the most uncertain economies since the depression.  These accomplishments are not what I really cared for or wanted.

What I should have set as a goal is I want to be in charge – I want autonomy, control, to be in charge of my own environment and space – not confined by the rules or whims of others.  But now that I am in charge, it means I am responsible, and I take responsibility very seriously.  Every decision is important, every call potentially leaves another in peril.  And few appreciate the suffering for this responsibility.  A repeated pattern of my childhood, that my happiness should be forsaken for the whims and desires of others – that their needs are more important than mine.

I also “want to be affirmed”, especially seeking the affirmation of my parents, not because I was successful – they certainly have no problem with showing that – but with the attempt. My parents didn’t tell anyone that I had started a company until they could point to the fact that it was successful – in fact they ridiculed me through the company beginnings – the time when support and encouragement are most needed, appreciated.

So why would I set a new goal?  Can I trust myself to create a goal that is truly for me? One that if I accomplished I would be satisfied – know that it was something that I did for myself, not for someone else or to prove something.

I have many goals that now that I look back on them with my new knowledge about myself I understand the underlying reason for the goal was something more than just what it appeared on the surface.

But that begs the question – are anyone’s goals truly pure?

And do you need to have a burning fire to push you towards accomplishing a new goal?  Is that what my past has been?  And now that it’s understood, is that fire gone?  Or just in remission?

I could be in a state of establishing a new equilibrium, where the pendulum has swung too far in one direction and will eventually bring itself back into balance.

I have learned to be patient, so I am awaiting the event, the word, the book, the revelation that moves me to a state of want and action.