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Monday, December 5, 2016

Depression: It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over

Sorry folks, but it is time for a melancholy post.  Don't mean to be a killjoy, but I say what my head and sometimes my heart tell me to write and I feel this one in my bones, needing to get out.  It is my hope that my posts are read and shared.  I hope one day to have a wide distribution that people can either can relate, hear something that 'explains' what they've felt, or just give a different perspective to what they've thought on matters. Anyway, I am working on a more 'positive' one to balance out, but I digress.  Anyway, here I dive in.  

The holidays can be hard to face for those who have lost someone close and/or do not have a close knit family.  When you see the warmth and joy elsewhere around you, it is easy to reflect on what is missing.

I have circled this issue many times and in many forms, but I have never landed on it.  Like releasing an ordinance from a jet and hitting around a target, but never quite hitting the target.  Some of the forms I've touched upon are as follow:
  • Suicide
  • Feeling blue
  • Disconnected
  • Sadness
  • Walking wounded
  • Melancholy
So, here I speak on it finally: Depression.  As a Christian, we are taught not to worry and to have faith in God above.  We are taught to look at the big picture, that is the long view.  Struggle and suffering are a part of this life, but that ultimately in our Savior we will have victory when the struggles of this life have passed.  There are countless scriptures for encouragement and strengthening.  I won't enumerate them, but will point to Encouraging Scriptures.

I believe all these things and more.  However, I know that faith itself will not prevent us from struggles, faith itself will not prevent us from getting down at times.  Faith itself will not keep us from the trials and tribulations that are the byproduct of our fallen nature and an imperfection.   Faith itself will not always keep us from moments of feeling sad and hopeless.  The Bible itself has numerous examples of people feeling hopeless at times: Jonah, King David, Elijah, etc.  While the takeaway from the Bible is there is hope for those who call themselves Children of God, from what I see, the Bible recognizes feelings of discouragement, hopelessness and depression.  So, how can I square my faith with my feelings of discouragement at times?  How can I square my faith with my moments of depression and hopelessness?   How do I tell others to have faith, when I have my moments of hopelessness?  Eternal questions.  The short answer is that in following our faith, we are not promised a life of comfort, a life of ease, a life of carefree.  What we are promised is an absolution of our sin and ultimate victory over death.  I gave this as part of the eulogy for my brother Bill what we are promised...

1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 54-56
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is
perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised
in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural
body, it is raised a spiritual body.
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal
with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has
been swallowed up in victory."
55 "Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.


As I wrote this for my brother Bill who took his life in July 2011.  The backstory I wrote in Don't you forget about me: The blog I needed to write one day about my late brother.   He was a baptized believer, but he struggled mightily with hopelessness.  I hope and pray God understood his pain and took that into account.  Anyway, with him it was like as if you told him the weather was mostly sunny and he'd probably come back and effectively say, "I guess that means it is cloudy outside".  When you are in that place, it is hard to see the glass as half full, but instead it is easier to see the glass as half empty with the risk of the glass just being knocked over and all the hope drain out.  I know this because I have had points like that before.  Not quite to the extent that Bill had, but enough to know the personal hell he must have felt.  Divorce, death of close ones, loss of custody, bankruptcy, losing your house and losing most of your possession, & job loss all can weigh on you.  But, like Job, even when you think God has abandoned you, He is there.  But you have to look past the debris and look at The Promise (see above scripture).


What is depression?  According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of depression is as follow:

"a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies"

Those are fine words and that is a good clinical description, but let's take it down to the day-to-day level. What does it feel like?
  • It is a dreading of getting out of bed to face the day ahead.  It is a wanting to go to work early, to run errands early, to go to the gym to work out, but instead feeling like it is safest to just stay in bed as long as you can.
  • It is the sense that no matter how much you try things will inevitably not end well.  I sense of what's the point.  In other words, not getting too high when good things happen as it is just a cruel trick before the other shoe drops as it inevitably will.
  • It is a feeling of needing something to numb, block, drown or overcome the pain.  Something such as alcohol, drugs (prescribed or other), gambling, extensive TV watching, drowning in music, a tryst, you name it.  Just anything you can to take away the pain for as long as possible or to extend better feelings for just little longer.
  • It is a vacant or blank affect of, I don't care,  That is what does it matter anyway?
  • It is like the feeling of wanting to walk away and never look back.
  • It is the wondering if anyone would care if you just disappeared.  It is the sense that you don't matter too much if at all.
  • It is the sense of tiredness of fighting it all.  Wishing you could just have the pain taken away.
  • It is the sense of shrinking into yourself and not wanting anyone to notice or say anything.  But, instead to let you lick your wounds.

You get the picture.  Some of this I've felt at times, some of it I've observed in others and some of it is what I perceive that it would be like.   Anyway, if you observe this attitude or behavior in another, it's hard to know what to do.
  • Do you press your loved one for what's wrong and not take 'Nothing' or "I'm okay" for an answer?  Hard to know what to say.  
  • Do you 'stage an intervention' and risk them shutting you out or totally rejecting you, thereby destroying ability to influence them.  
  • Do you just constantly remind them in a friendly but not pushy way that you are there for them, hoping that they reveal enough or let you in enough to know when it is time to step in?  (In other words, come to you before they completely check out).
  • Do you 'ambush' them when they've dropped off the grid?  In other words, checking in on them, but not quite staging an intervention.
Obviously, with my brother, I had some, if not all, of these questions in my mind.  I'm sure for anyone who has dealt with depression or someone who has it, has additional pondering similar to those above.  

I'm not sure exactly what the takeaway from this post is, except for the following:
  1. Regardless of how deeply you choose to intervene, always remind your loved one that you care about them.  Even if you think, well, they won't care or notice my efforts, they will.
  2. Share your concerns with trusted others around you--including possibly a counselor or minister or his/her friends.  Many people have either faced or known someone who has faced similar struggles.  With a little bit of God's grace, you might find someone who can either share your burden or give you pointers on what to do.
  3. Pray.  It doesn't have to be a long prayer.  It doesn't actually have to be speaking aloud to God.  It could a simple thought to Him: "God, I don't know what to do, 'please advise me'." or "God, 'please let my loved one be open to Your help'"
  4. Remember ultimately, there is only so much you can do.  Just like much else in life, you have to do what your gut tells you and leave the results to your Higher Power.

I hope this post will hit a person or two along the way.  Thanks for being my audience.  It sounds funny with such a melancholy blog, but Cheers.  :)


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Walking Wounded: 99 sheep meet the prodigal family

Something I've witnessed has bothered me for a long time and I'm finally putting it in writing what I've seen/felt for a long time.

I've witnessed time and again among family, among friends, among friend's family and within different group a consistent problem or issue.   We see this issue in society at large and often there is only relief from it when a tragedy larger than everyone strikes and sometimes even that isn't enough to prevent this issue from evidencing itself.

So, what is this issue?  People who face and/or are hurt by the same or similar circumstances often turn on each other, rather than uniting and work through the hurt together.  We often are so focused on our own hurt that we fail to see, accept, validate, take seriously or even take into account the hurt of others.  Sometimes it is even worse than that.  Sometimes people actively comparatively negate the hurt or injury of others in an attempt to put their own hurt to the forefront.  Why do people do that?

  • Do they feel that their own pain or hurt is being ignored and they have to 'raise their voice' and say "But mine is worse" or "That's nothing compared to my situation"?  Does that mean:
    • I don't trust others to help me through the pain.
    • I've been let down so often.  
  • Are they so injured that they cannot see the injury in others?
  • Are they just crying out for help?
You tell me.  But those are things that I've seen.  (YMMV) "Your mileage may vary" or put less subtlety not everyone's experiences are the same as to how much and why their family/group turns on each other when facing hurt or crisis.  As I indicated above, some of it is just plain selfish/self-centeredness, but much of it is effectively a trust issue.  Instead of allowing themselves to step back and see the larger picture, there is a tendency to draw each other into a circular firing squad.


Let's get concrete.  
  • Say a close family member dies--sibling, in-law, parent, child, etc.  All tied to him or her suffer pain and loss.  But we suffer it in different ways and to different extents. 
    • If it is an in-law, perhaps I don't suffer the loss to the extent that my spouse does, but that doesn't mean that it didn't significantly impact me.  It is wrong to act if I don't have the right to hurt significantly in that situation.
    • A kid may experience the loss of a parent, but remaining spouse experiences the loss too.
      • In many/most cases, a kid hasn't had the chance to develop the tools and gain the maturity to grieve as an adult would or see beyond their own hurt.
      • The remaining spouse is hurt too and due to the different nature of the relationship his or her grief/loss might not be viewed as quite severe.  You can replace a friend/spouse, but a mom or dad is THE mom or dad or so the thinking might be.  While it usually true the kid will hurt worse and longer, it doesn't mean the spouse's loss is nothing or they've gotten over it.  It's important that all parties reflect on their loss rather than 'competing'.
  • Say multiple kids of a family suffered abuse at the hands of a 'family friend'.  One kid may get the 'brunt' of the abuse. 
    • The person(s) who as a kid got lesser abuse aren't 'lucky'.  Lucky would have mean that they wouldn't have been abused.  What they are is just not victimized as much. But they are still victims of abuse and as such need to have their trauma recognized and taken seriously.
    • The person who as a kid got the brunt of the abuse isn't the 'winner' at the who was hurt worse 'contest'.  While he/she may need more attention/counseling to deal with their abuse than the other that doesn't give him or her the right to dismiss the trauma of the others.
    • I believe a goal in this situation is for each victim to step outside of their hurt for a moment and realize others were hurt also.  If each victim can show empathy for each other rather than 'compete' for who got the most abuse, then I think their own healing would benefit as well as healing of the family at large. 
  • In our country, many have suffered in many different ways.  Some have suffered the indignities of blatant discrimination based on race.  Some have suffered extreme poverty.  Some have suffered loses in war.  Some have suffered in other ways and some have suffered in more than one way.
    • Instead of having a little empathy for others who've suffered, sometimes we get caught up in our own brand of suffering and dismiss that of others.
    • Once again this minimizes the chance we to relate to and help each other.  In fact, doing so can cause a cycle of resentment where nobody heals effectively, nobody wins and in some ways everyone--except those who exploit the suffering--loses.
In each of these cases with the right spiritual focus we can get past ourselves and see the pain in others and reach out.  This doesn't mean ignoring our own hurt, but offering to help others who are hurting.


Why I titled this The Walking Wounded: 99 sheep meet the prodigal family was the shepherd just like the prodigal dad was mourning the loss of one of his flock--albeit in each case it turned out to be temporary loss.  When we lose someone close to us, we can seemingly abandon those closest to us while dealing with the loss (or in the case of the prodigal family, the return).  Others in the picture are affected by the dynamic of the loss.  The 99 sheep temporarily were without their shepherd and were less protected therefore.  In the case of the prodigal family, the dad was likely mourning the loss of the prodigal son that turned his back on him.  When the prodigal son returned he threw all his attention on him.  The son who was loyal and stayed behind was hurt.  In each case, someone or something was affected by a loss (sheep vs. dad & other son).   Each experienced a loss differently and reacted very differently.   The other son instead of looking at the big picture looked strictly at how it affected him.  He probably felt abandoned as his dad mourned the 'loss' of the prodigal son and then felt abandoned again as his dad gave all his warmth to the returned prodigal son.  I can imagine if the 99 sheep could talk they'd tell the other son that your dad has loved you all along and he knows that you are hurting too.  They would say, "When our shepherd left us to find the one missing sheep, he wasn't abandoning us, he was always aware of us and thinking about us, but he was doing what was necessary to make our herd (or family) whole again.  He was always going to be there for us and meet our needs, he had a job and a role to play and we had to be supportive in that role for the better of our herd."   The father represented the Holy Father, the prodigal son represented the lost child of God and the other son represented the one who is at peace with God.  The father in the "Prodigal Son" explained to the other son approximately what I imagined the 99 sheep that weren't missing would have explained from a different perspective.

We all have faced hurt in our lives, some of it directly shared hurt and some of it hurt that we can relate to.  What I've come to understand is that we would all do best to find a way to see beyond ourselves and into the bigger picture.  I may have gotten a smaller helping of hurt than you, but that doesn't mean my hurt is nothing.  Likewise, I know I'm hurting, but there is someone probably close who is hurting too and hurting more.  Therefore, I need to find a way to step away from my hurt to recognize and try to comfort them.  When we compete in this arena, nobody wins.  The original hurt is still there for everyone and on top of it, we have pushed each other apart by trying to "win".  We may not see it as 'trying to win', but instead may see it as making sure to get what we need.  However, like in a food riot, we are so busy competing for what we need rather than trying to find a way to best meet the needs of everyone that we likely will end up destroying some of the life-giving food in the process.

I wrote most of this on Thursday, November 24th, 2016 that is Thanksgiving day.  So, I guess a takeaway could be that we need to be find a way to look beyond ourselves.  Be thankful for the things we have and while recognizing concerns/issues in our own lives, not to focus on them, but instead to give some focus on those less fortunate--spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Parable of the Prodigal Son

Parable of the Lost Sheep


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Failing doesn't make you a failure

I am glad that this election cycle is winding down.  In my 47 years, this election was probably the most hostile/tense election season we as a nation have even witnessed.  As with any elections there were winners and losers.  I think it's pretty clear the 'winners' and the 'losers' in this election cycle and analysis thereof is being repeated ad infinitum.  So, I won't focus on that, but it does lend itself to the following concept:

Failing doesn't make you a failure.  

For anyone who has ever had a significant failure in their life such as:
  • Falling short of being elected.
  • Failure in marriage.
  • Falling of short of winning the big game.
  • Not getting the promotion/losing your job.
  • Failing in school.
  • Broken friendships.
it is hard to separate a particular failure or failing from the overall sense of being a failure.  It is akin to shame vs. guilt.  Shame focuses on self (and has a sense of at least semi-permanence), guilt focus on poor choices (and can be more passing).  Similarly, labeling oneself as a failure, implies feeling broken in a permanent way, whereas noting a failure implies limited--in scope and permanence--damage.

If one is labeled a failure, he or she has effectively had their successes negated or overwhelmed by the label.  If one is said to have failed, it is feasible that their successes before are still respected and that their chance of success after is recognized.


It is easy to say tell someone who is in the midst of a particular failure that they aren't a failure, but it can harder for them to accept it.  What they've got to realize is that 
  • Everyone has failings in their life.  After all, if that weren't the case, why would we have the need for a Higher Power (God)?
  • Some of the people we consider 'successful' failed time and again before they hit on their life's success. Successful people who have failed:
    • Henry Ford went broke 5 times before succeeding at Ford Motor Company
    • Bill Gates dropped out of college and failed in his first business (Traf-O-Data) before starting arguably the most successful software company (Microsoft).
    • Oprah Winfrey was born poor to a single teenage mom, was abused as kid and became a teen mom--child died in infancy--before she landed a radio job which ultimately led to her billion dollar production company.
  • Not everyone wins 'the big game/election/promotion', but that doesn't nullify their accomplishments.
    • Ernie Banks never made it to the World Series, but his Hall of Fame induction gives lie to the concept that this made him a failure.
    • Tim Tebow had limited success in the NFL, but no one can take away his Heisman Trophy and National Championship at Florida.  Additionally, he has carved out success in broadcasting.
    • Adlai Stevenson is remembered by many as losing the Presidency to Eisenhower twice, but no one can take away his time as Governor of Illinois, Ambassador to the U.N. and his efforts in making a JFK presidency possible. 
  • That it is okay to visit (mourn) a particular failure/failing, but it is not okay to live there.  Visiting or mourning failure appropriately and moving forward can strengthen us.  Living in failure can be very disabling or debilitating. 
  • Our faith can be a strong guide, however, we are not born with an individual instruction manual.  Our Higher Power and true friend and family in our lives understand that we will at times not make the best choices of ignorance or maybe even hubris.  That doesn't mean that we are stupid or a bad person, it just means we don't always have all the answers.  See my post on the Fog of War and Decisions/Choices.  

One final note: We've all heard the term 'narcissist', but I'm convinced of a concept that I call 'negative narcissism'.  The idea being that a negative narcissist finds it easier to live in the concept of being a failure than having a more balanced view of their lives.  If you label yourself as a failure, it makes it easier not to accept responsibility for individual failings.  It also, makes it easier to justify not taking steps to try to succeed.   After all, if you are a failure (or destined to it), then well, you couldn't help it anyway and why bother trying?

Anyway, whether our candidate or team wins or loses, they don't have to be considered a failure.  If a particular endeavour in our life ends in success or failure, we can own a failing, but we don't have to own being a failure.  Just some post election musings.

-- Rich

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Poem 2: The Basis of a Butterfly

The Basis of a Butterfly

I once was a caterpillar.
I was a self-conscience, scared caterpillar.

The world around me was unsafe and insecure.
My movements were slow, unsteady and unsure.

My path was not always clear
But I had to keep moving forward despite the fear

Over time I developed a cocoon, an outer shell.
It was necessary and it served me well.

It kept me safe, it kept protected
But sometimes it felt like a barrier that I'd erected.

But over time, my cocoon felt like it bound me
No matter how much I wanted to flee.

Over time, I struggled to find my way
I pressed forward though at times I wanted to stay.

I gradually formed a hole
Out of which one day I would roll

Some thought I was broke
But they really hadn't taken a look

Inside the busted shell was a precious soul
Who had over time become whole

Who was finally ready to fly
This my friends is the basis of butterfly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Denial, part 2: How we view and face problems

With a contentious election fast approaching, there is no denying that we are a country with problems.  Either way we vote, that is/will be true.  Anyway, I was talking with a friend today about how we deal with problems as a society.

It occurred to me as a society we have a number of different ways we deal with major issues.  There are:

  • Those who want to be part of the solution
    • Those who see the problem and feel compelled to face it head on. 
      •  For example, as a resident of the region around Ferguson, for me, this could be someone who sees the distrust between law enforcement and the minority community and instead of dismissing one side, listen to concerns of all sides.  That doesn't mean necessarily seeing equal culpability, but means respectfully treating the concerns of those who legitimately want peace.
  • Those who are fine with the problem.
    • Those who know they are part of problem and don't care as it benefits them.
      • In the Jim Crow era, many people benefited from keeping keeping discriminatory laws in place for various reasons such as keeping political power or of fear of competition (such as in sports).
    • Those who don't don't see themselves as being part of the problem, but are.
      • They often justify their own behavior as legitimate even , therefore not problematic.  For example, self-promoters who justify jumping into a conflict/controversy claiming to want to help this person or this group when their hidden motive is profit/power--with an end result of inflaming the situation.
  • Those who see the problem, but want to push them aside.
    • Those who see the cost of dealing with the problem as "too expensive".
      • Either the problem seems too intractable and therefore too stressful, so just like a car with curious annoying noise, it is easier to turn up the music and pretend the problem doesn't exist.
      • Personally or as a society dealing with certain issues, means giving up something such as time, money or comfort.
  • Those who see the problem, but convince themselves the problem is minimal or has an easy solution.
    • For them, it is easier to live with not concerning themselves with the size or complexity of problem than it is to actually face a problem.
      • For example, our national budget.  Some people believe if we just raise taxes on the 'rich' enough that we will be able to pay for programs.  
      • Also, racial issues.  We know that there are underlying problems, but is we don't have to live the issues daily, it is easier to convince ourselves that the problem is limited to 'this' or 'that' area.

My friend mentioned another way or category of people and how they deal with problems, which I though was insightful.
  • Those who blame the messenger, ignoring the message.
    • Politicians are famous for this.  They are confronted with a message that is not necessarily favorable to them and they turn around and attack the messenger's credibility.  Their hope is to distract from having to answer the message.  
      • For example, a whistle-blower who publicizes a secret program of questionable constitutionality is often attacked by those are tied to the program.


I'm not sure what my takeaway from this blog is except this.  
  1. It is best to face problems completely head-on if at all possible.  
  2. When you can't face it completely, face it in steps and where necessary let it be known that's what you are doing.
  3. Sometimes it is necessary to push aside facing problems to deal with larger problems that arise.  But, that doesn't mean permanently facing dealing with the original problem.

Just my musings for the day.

-- Rich

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Thought Solitude: Isolation or a "Safe Space"

I've noticed in my life that some people are so outgoing that they describe their life verbatim on Facebook or to anyone they run into.  Others, it is like pulling teeth to draw them out of their cocoon. I think most people fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum: Out times outgoing, at other times reserved and at other downright introverted.  This leads me the saying above.

No one can live in the spotlight 24/7/365.  We all need downtime.  We all need time outside the public sphere where we can let our guard down and be ourselves.  Typically, we find some of this time around our family and friends.  They are familiar with us as we are familiar with them.  If they are good for us, we can be our goofy selves around them and reveal private thoughts we wouldn't share with the public at large.  In a way, they can be a testing ground for our idea.  If we throw something by them and they give it a thumbs down, it often means that what is on our mind isn't ready for public consumption.  If they give us roaring approval of our thoughts, well, that can give us confidence to take our thoughts public.  In any case, even among our family and friends we don't always want to immediately if ever want to share certain thoughts as they could be a bit disturbing, a bit too "ate up" or just not fully formed.  In this way, our secret life aka secret thoughts have a 'safe space' to reside in while we contemplate whether to reveal them.   The $64,000 question is this: when we are keeping thoughts to ourselves is it healthy?  In short, are we isolating or retreating into an internal 'safe space'?

I guess it really depends in some ways on the content of the (secret) thoughts in question and/or the volume of thoughts.  For example:

  • If we keep most every thought to ourselves, especially if we never reveal them, that would seem to indicate that we are isolating.
  • If our (secret) thoughts are dark (too blue or too disturbing), then we are probably isolating.
  • If we are hiding most of our thoughts, worried about how we are going to come across, we are likely isolating.
  • If we don't feel like we have anyone we feel that we can talk to and therefore keep our thoughts to ourselves, that may be isolating.  
On the other hand:
  • If we had the loss of someone close in our circle (family/friends/coworkers), it may take some time to process our thoughts and therefore, we need a 'safe space' in our mind to process them before we know how to express them.
  • If we have a random devious or rude thought from time to time, having a space where we can internally process it is helpful as it can be harmful/hurtful  to stream of conscience speak, at least until we can determine whether it is just a little off or very inappropriate.
  • We are busy and haven't had time to unpack our thoughts, keeping our thoughts to ourselves--a thought safe space--can be useful until we have time to process them.
Ultimately, I believe if we take time to get to know someone or ourselves, we typically know whether we are isolating or whether we are just using the 'safe space' of our mind to process our thoughts.  Ironically when we isolate from others, it makes it harder to tell if their quietness is due to safely processing there own thoughts or if they are isolating themselves as well.

I guess the takeaway is this.  If you love and care about someone, take time to know them, but just as importantly makes sure you provide the best ear you can for them.  This is even more true when the someone you are talking about is yourself.

Just my thoughts for the day.  Cheerio 

-- Rich 

One final thought, if we have been shut down, ridiculed or abused by a significant person in our life--spouse, older sibling, parent--- especially early in our life, it can cause us to isolate.  That is to say, the important things in our life we won't discuss as we have been taught it is not safe to.  In this situation, our trust of that person and possibly others will likely have been shaken.  In a sense, by keeping our thoughts to ourselves, we are retreating to a 'safe space' to protect ourselves, but in another sense, we are isolating--with cause.

Unfortunately, I've seen this in my own life before and that of others.  When a loved one doesn't allow you to be yourself and say the things that are on your mind free of consequence, they are setting the relationship up to fail.  Your thoughts won't disappear, they will just be driven underground and resentment can build up. Anyway, this lead can lead a person to search for others to themselves around--sometimes in a healthy way--friend/minister/counselor--and sometimes not so healthy way--partner outside the marriage, someone who doesn't have the family's interest in mind.

The long and short of it is this: the best way to keep a relationship open is to allow the other to be themselves as much as possible even when you don't agree with them.  The best way to destroy a relationship is to shut the other down is to tend to come down on the other when they are being themselves.

Just more thoughts.

-- Rich 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Anything But Ordinary: The need for faith, hope and healing.

Have you ever noticed that some people seemingly take great risks, step out on the edge, tend to gravitate towards the unhealthy or bounce around from controlling relationship to controlling relationship OR dramatic relationship to dramatic relationship.

Why do we do it?
  • Are we trying to outrun or 'escape' our problems?   
    • If I keep busy or seek the latest thrill or high, we won't have to face our issues.
  • Are we trying to medicate away our problems?
    • If I gamble, drink, sleep around and so on, perhaps I won't have whatever pain I have will be masked over.
  • Are we so used to drama that the mundane feels out of place?  The word familiar has the same root as family.  If we were raised and/or have always lived in a dysfunctional environment, we will not know how to react to 'normal' or  'healthy' relationships.  'Normal', healthy or 'wholesome' relationships could seem boring or stale.
  • Are we seeking approval?  Sometimes the attention we get from 'acting out' or 'being the life of the party' is better than a lack of attention.  That is if we are 'interesting enough' or 'fun enough' then people won't help but to be drawn to 'the party'.
  • Are we feeling hopeless or too damaged? 
    • If we feel like we have nothing left to lose, then it can free us up to engage in risky or dangerous behavior.  That is, if there doesn't feel like there will be much of--if any--of a tomorrow, what do we have to lose by living on the edge?
    • The problem lies when we wake up from the 'binge' or edgy behavior and realize in many cases that it has made things worse for us.

What forms does it take?
  • I've kind of touched up on it already but here are just a few.
    • Excessive drinking
    • Illegal or illicit drugs
    • Out-of-control gambling.
    • Acting out, sleeping around or porn addiction
    • Unsafe activities such as reckless stunts, reckless riding/driving, going to reckless places, reckless behavior with fireworks, etc.
    • Excessive thrill-seeking.  Sometimes, it isn't so much that a certain activity is bad per se, but if we do it excessively it can indicate a bigger problem.  Say sky-diving every weekened for example, could be considered excessive for an average person. 

  • It is okay to step out a little, go outside your comfort zone, take a chance from time to time.  The whole point of this blog is not to suggest otherwise.  Were it not for people taking chances or risks, life would be dull and we'd have likely not accomplished some of the great feats/advances that we have.
  • It isn't so much how much we live on the edge, but more so the motivation behind it.
    • Is it for a healthy reason such as helping others?  If so, we are less likely to flame out.
    • Is it for an unhealthy reason such as avoiding dealing with abuse, hurt, grief, pain, trauma, etc.   If so, we might find we need a higher and higher dose of living on the edge just to keep the avoidance up and we will be more likely to flame out or spiral out of control.
    • Living on the edge in a way 
  • Whatever your faith--for example, Christianity--it is in many ways necessary to be willing to not be 'ordinary'.  Mother Theresa was not Ordinary, she could have lived an easy life, but instead she sacrificed to help the poorest of the poor.  Sometimes our faith requires us to go against popular opinion or worldly views or behavior   In other words, going against the grain and not being 'ordinary'.