Life after Loss: A future, your future

We all have baggage we need to carry.  The question is, will someone special come along who's selflessly willing to help you carry and unpack it one day?

We all have baggage we need to carry. The question is, will someone special come along who’s selflessly willing to help you carry and unpack it one day?

The end of the “Life after Loss” winter session was concluded with a study aptly named “Now That We Know“. It was fairly profound, especially eclipsing the holiday season where many people, who have sustained loss, were left reeling in the wake of their grief. The death of a loved one, a broken relationship, wounds that are still tender; the suffering I could see with my own eyes would bring a tear to anyone’s eyes.

How has this process looked through the lens of someone who went through a physically and psychologically abusive relationship (<- Click to follow. Originally published: 2014/11/05)? It's hard to put into words; what my future would look like, or where I'd end up. But here's a glimpse, wondering if I can make it (<- Click to follow. Originally published: 2014/10/23), knowing I will make it, and looking for opportunities despite the loss.Now that I know..“But, what do we know?”

18 months ago my world started to change. I knew it was what needed to happen. I knew (as un-natural as it is for me) that I needed to care for myself because the person who I prayed for 4 years would, simply wouldn’t; and at the end blatantly made it worse in her own sickness.

“What did I know?”

I knew my decisions would cause immeasurable pain to my heart, but in time it would lead to healing. But it was a short lived resolve when I gave into trying again. Making it worse when I ripped away again almost 12 months ago. Then doing it again, and finally tearing away for the last time 9 months ago.

I went from my world changing, to myself being changed. Our personalities are defined by late adolescence. But, in the wake of a traumatic event, our psyche can re-arrange. The filter with which we live life is forever damaged, leaving our view of the world colored forever. I know that happened to me.

“How did I know?”

Simply? Because I realized that I was far less trusting, far more bitter, and far more closed off. Not wanting to let anyone in. Fearing that the only thing I’d find for my effort was more abuse and pain. Yet, as bad and tragic as that mindset is, a tremendous empathy and compassion sprung up from the cracks in my heart that she left riddled in her wake. I’ve never given up in anything in life, so I knew that something good had to come of the gut-wrenching pain she put me through. I believe in my faith that my God needed me to learn from it.

“What was it then?”

I knew that my largest gift, the ability to care for and love others, was also my biggest weakness. I never learned to love myself, to care for myself. This experience has certainly left me in a more emotionally grounded state. One where I’ve learned to trust in my Lord, and to trust my own instincts. Never again rationalizing the hurts someone causes me.

Sadly, that’s also not a good thing for my future. One day, if I choose to let anyone in again, I will need to trust. I will need to drop my guard and close my eyes again. I do believe that there is a good person out there who will understand, or who’s experienced my pain. That empathy binds people together. But if it’s God’s will that someone claim my heart, I know I need to have faith that they won’t be like her..

I’d much rather be single, then suffer one more day of my life with someone incapable of loving someone the way God commands it.

“So that’s it then?”

Well, ironically, the beginning of the year I had made it a point to just let God bring someone to me, to focus on myself in earnest. It was actually a speaker who came into church (Dr. Henry Cloud) who gave a sermon to people in relationships, as well to single people, that convicted me to change my thoughts on it.

Check out this video clip from that day. It’s hilarious!
<-- The full link to the entire recording is here, for those who are interested in seeing what he said. It's truly worth the view.There's a saying I heard. We all have baggage we need to carry. The question is, will someone come along who's willing to help you carry it, and eventually unpack it?I have faith that I will one day allow myself to open my heart and be vulnerable again. If there's one take away over the last 18 months, it's this. I've been exposed, and gotten to know countless examples of women ten times greater then "she" ever could hope to be. It was just me, who was too afraid to open up to them. It wasn't my time yet.But now, I know

Life After Loss: What’s your random act of kindness?

homeless_coupleAs we celebrate Random Acts of Kindness week, here’s a story of my own that touched me.


Brokenness? What is it through the filter of your own life and experiences? Loss of a loved one? Issues at work? Family or relationship issues? Every single person who’s reading this can empathize with what I’m saying. That said, in our lives it’s always the people who’ve experienced the most brokenness who you find are the most caring and selfless.

I know I’ve been through my own journey which has fostered an extreme ability to show grace and love to others. It reminds me of a time not too long ago, while on a business trip to Seattle. I was there with several co-workers of mine, out getting some dinner after a long day at a client.

After dinner, we started walking back towards the cars when I walked past a homeless couple on a bridge. Both sitting Indian style, on a rug they had. A backpack they shared with some extra clothing, a bowl, a bottle of water, and some paintings they had sketched on what looked like an old thrown out sketch pad. The care taken to trim off the frayed edges of the salvaged sheets of paper, making as good a rectangle as they could. The man playing a guitar and singing. Streaks of dirt wiped near the back of their necks and cheeks; obvious they try and keep themselves clean as best they can. Making the most of the life given them with dignity and pride.

I looked at them as we walked by, and nodded. No blatant attempt at soliciting to me. Just an honest smile from her, and a nod from him as he kept playing and singing. But what honestly moved me is how, at the worst point of their lives, she just wrapped her arm around his, smiled, closed her eyes, and rested her head on his shoulder. Just enjoying the melody he was singing. Clearly, both stripped of everything they had, but what mattered was they had each other during this season of their lives.

About 50 yards later, I felt a tapping on my shoulder by the Holy Spirit, and a whisper in my head to go back and help them. I stopped our party, and said to hold on. I walked back, and patiently waited for him to finish his song.

I then said to them both: “You know.. in a world where so much is taken for granted, divorce is at its highest, and we just selfishly destroy everything that’s good in our lives; here you both are. Together, happy, and clearly content to weather whatever challenge God has for you both. Thank you for giving me faith and being an inspiration. God bless you both!”.

With that, I put $100 in that bowl and started to turn and walk away. They both just gasped and started profusely thanking me, asking me if I’d like a painting, or if he can sing a song for me. I just looked at them, smiled, and said “You already gave me a gift that you can’t put a price on. Blessings!”.

What was that gift? To remember and never take for granted the grace a complete stranger showed me when I was broken; never forgetting how something as simple as a smile, at the right moment, can turn someone’s life around forever.



Life After Loss: “Why?” ..or is it “What?”

James, the brother of Christ himself, understood what it was to live in a broken world full of heartache and loss. James 1:2-4 - James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings. 2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James, the brother of Christ himself, understood what it was to live in a broken world full of heartache and loss.
James 1:2-4 – James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

A table leader once told me a proverb that has stuck with me for years.

“Bitterness; it’s like drinking rat poison, waiting for the other person to die.”

Profound, isn’t it? When you really get out of that “ICU” phase in your grief, where you are constantly being talked off the ledge, or continuously finding yourself needing intervention from others to keep you from withdrawing further and further into your shell, you need to do a health check.

The “Why” factor:

Do you find yourself constantly asking “Why?”? Well, being a student of Psychology and Sociology I’m no longer naive enough to think EVERYONE has that capacity for emotion and empathy. Some are simply so detached and aloof in their own psyche that their superego can command them to move on… because they never held on in the first place. Then you have others, like me, like the person I wrote about in the last entry I posted, who’s basic fear is of not being lovable. Our superegos command us to try and hold onto anyone that brought us that feeling of warmth into our lives, for fear we will never find it again.. But I digress, I can have a whole other conversation about my E(I)SFJ and Enneagram type 2w3 personality. I say E(I) because I’m a 60/40 Extro/Introvert split. So both ESFJ and ISFJ types personify in me. Google em. Pretty cool stuff.

So “Why?”? Know people who have gone through trials and were horribly broken? EVERYONE goes through the “WHY?” phase. But do you know people who’ve gone through some terrible heartache; a loss, divorce, a bad breakup.. and months, years, decades later, they never got past the “WHY?!” phase? So engrossed in their pain; every meeting is like them hitting play on a pre-recorded message of how they suffered.. and no matter how many times you’ve heard it, that’s all you get from them.

I realized I was like that for months. That’s OK though. Everyone is allowed to be the victim. The question is, are you going to remain a victim, or become the conqueror? Notice, I didn’t say survivor. That implies status quo. I intend to transcend that. More on that in a minute.

"Crisis"  In Chinese it's comprised of two characters.  One meaning "Danger" the other "Opportunity".  Fitting, isn't it?

“Crisis” In Chinese it’s comprised of two characters. One meaning “Danger” the other “Opportunity”. Fitting, isn’t it?

Look at the above. It’s not “Danger” and “Survival”, it’s “Danger” and “Opportunity”. To win, to succeed, to overcome and persevere.

Trials are inevitable. They also tend to make us or break us, especially if you remain the victim. Your soul sours so horribly, that it forever changes you.

Going through my own divorce, before the hell that was my last relationship (see… I still do it.. playing the victim), I always found myself struggling with some of the decisions I’d see concerning my children. Just, things you are powerless over controlling. That begs the question, just what CAN you control?

Simply, your attitude.

Reminds me of a night last summer. At our local summer festival. For background, I’m a photographer. Not much I haven’t shot in my life. The camera lives in my hand. So, I was shooting a great local band I love. I remember, walking up to the stage in the table area, focusing and concentrating on how I planned on framing the shot when I just walked right past someone (literally a foot away, on my left), and I froze in place, two steps later.

I had just walked right past my ex and a guy she was dating. This, mind you, is all of 3 months after a very tragic breakup, and literally a week or so after I finally realized I needed to walk away from what she was doing to me ( <-- See Life After Loss: ...depression).The “What” factor:

I stopped… she stopped.. I could just FEEL the gaze piercing my heart. I had a choice. What I WANTED to do was to turn around and say the most unthinkable things to her and him. But nothing could come of it. So I looked forward, literally and figuratively, and started walking towards that stage.

What else can you do to conquer your grief? Well, you need to endure. You need to ask yourself the question “What do I need RIGHT NOW, at this VERY second?”.

Then finally, as opposed to asking the question “Why?”. You should start looking to God and consider the following.

“Lord, you are all knowing, all powerful, and all merciful. I know you didn’t fall asleep in the last season of my life, so I know you enabled or endorsed what just happened to me. So then tell me Lord, what would you have these hands do, and what would you have me gain to help me become a better person though this experience?”

Let’s close, going full circle. We don’t have to go to far in God’s word to understand how to deal with loss and pain and brokenness.

The entire New Testament was written during a political and spiritual powder keg. Just look at the caption on the first image. Then remember, that people like Jesus, Paul, and Peter; who are shining examples of the devout image of our Lord God for us, suffered innumerably in their life times.

Brokenness is inevitable. God does have a plan to redeem this and every difficult experience. He promises whatever painful ordeal you go through, the pain will not be wasted. He will leverage your pain, transforming anger into acceptance, guilt into surrender, and fear into peace.


Life After Loss: The Journey of Grief

Like the Titan Atlas, some try and carry the burden of their grief on their own shoulders.  More often than not, with catastrophic results.

Like the Titan Atlas, some try and carry the burden of their grief on their own shoulders. More often than not, with catastrophic results.

Déjà vu.. Ever have those moments? I’m a firm believer that God brings people into our lives for his purpose with us. Whether for a season, or for your lifetime, the fact remains that we all have lessons to learn or a role to fulfill in each others lives.

Last night was the start of our winter session in Life After Loss. There were some familiar faces who sat at my table, and some new ones. In particular, one person who sat right next to me touched me to the point of my eyes glassing over. My heart absolutely broke for him when he talked about the end of his marriage and described how he’s spent the last 2 years broken, continuously punishing himself. Blaming himself, as if he should have done more to save it.

But why did my heart break? Because I could relate to him. Everything was blamed on him. Even when it was clearly her, she spun it to always make it his fault. Their lives were something to envy in the public eye, but behind closed doors she was anything but. He never knew when to expect her to fly off the handle; and yet, out of no where she could be touching, only to smash him a second later, yet again. He missed her greatly, willing to do anything to see her smile one more time, rationalizing the pain she put him through for over 7 years. He carries the guilt of what the experience is doing to their three children, because he came from a broken family and remembered what it did to him.

A Man who walks with his heart on his sleeve, and only ever wants to see the good in others and be happy. Yet has gone through his life being abused and taken advantage of.

Like Atlas, carrying the weight of the failures in his heart to the point of being lost, lonely, and destroyed. Those who read my blog last season know of my ability to recall, and this was something that just kicked me right back down the rabbit hole of my own depression. Recalling how in the not so distant past, I was that man, telling his own tale of abuse, the same tears, the same silence at the table. Just that this time, I’m armed with the knowledge and the skills to understand how I hurt; using my reflexes to catch myself before I tumble down the rabbit hole. Still staring into it as I listen to him, but still able to pull myself back up after.

Viewed as a journey, your grief can be a vehicle that frees you of the shackles of your burden of loss.

Viewed as a journey, your grief can be a vehicle that frees you of the shackles of your burden of loss.

I’m a big car guy.. and as a result can spend hours in a car with no destination in mind. Just “being”.. not “doing”. In those thousands of hours driving around, I’ve had ample opportunity to observe others. You can tell those who are also on a journey of exploration, and then those who have a destination in mind.

The latter are the ones who are just heading to a destination. Those are the ones who get irritated at traffic, and at every yellow light they fail to get through. Those are the ones who’s conversations in the car are always about how irritated they are at everyone else; thinking of themselves.

The former are those who are enjoying the view along the way. They don’t care how long it takes; heck.. they take the scenic route. Conversations are light, and about stimulating topics. When they arrive at their destination, everyone is relaxed, enlightened, and in good spirits.

The grief journey is no different. You can sit there and rush from day to day, ignoring the festering wound that is never getting any better. Or stop, face it, work through the journey of grief with various stops along the way, and get to the end a better person. Though it’s unnatural to consider pain your friend, the pain is simply signalling your soul that something is wrong. “I’m broken, please help me!” When you cut yourself, you don’t just sit there, bleeding. You address it and care for that wound. Your heart and soul need the same care. “Getting it out”, talking about it or writing about it is a great way to start to clean the wound in your heart and soul.

There’s a good verse in scripture very metaphoric to the Atlas reference above.

Isaiah 41:10 - Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not Anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Let the Lord carry the weight of you burden. When you set the world at his feet and give it to him, you’ll find peace with Him at your side.


Life 3.0: Men.. For 30 days, we Mo’d.

December 1st, 2014 - A few flicks of a razor later..  Movember will have to wait till 11/01/2015.

December 1st, 2014 – A few flicks of a razor later.. Movember will have to wait till 11/01/2015.

Pretty clean cut and shaved, don’t you think? Well, that’s this morning. But let’s back up 30 minutes before and I looked completely different.

For the last 30 days Men across the world used November as their month to draw attention and awareness to Men’s health issues. Several organizations honor it in some capacity or another. NBC loves their “No Shave November”. But where I first heard of it, and as far as I know where it started, was in the land down under. “Movember” is a spin on the Australian slang for a mustache, a “Mo“, and the month of November.

December 1st, 2014 - Yes... I feel weird with a 'stache.

December 1st, 2014 – Yes… I feel weird with a ‘stache.

The rules of Movember are simple.

1: On November 1st, each “Mo Bro” must begin with a clean shaven face.

2: For the entire month of November, each Mo Bro must grow and groom a mustache.

3: Don’t fake it.. No beards, goatees, or fake mustaches.

4: Use the power of the mustache to create conversation about Men’s health issues and to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and Men’s health issues.

5: Each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman.


November 22nd, 2014

November 22nd, 2014

LOL… I’ll be honest, after 30 days it was pretty funny how many “Ron Jeremy” jokes I was getting (and if you don’t know who he is, you’re better off I’m sure.. 😉 heh). But, it got the job done. I was having conversations with strangers, family, friends, co-workers. All because it just wasn’t natural for Jorge to have a ‘stache. Mission accomplished.

On Facebook, for example, I would post weekly pictures of my ‘stache’s progress (like a real life Chia-Pet :) !). I also would post facts about men’s health that were pretty humbling.

I personally champion Men’s mental health issues. Having been something very close to me, personally, in the last 13 months of my life, it was natural to jump into advocating and educating on it. Here are just some of the sad facts.

November 8th, 2014

November 8th, 2014

Movember: Day 8

Did you know that 15 million American Adults (6.7% of the populous) are diagnosed with depression each year? Of those, more than four times as many Men die by suicide in the United States!

Case in point: in 2010, a total of 38,364 Americans died by suicide, and over 3/4 (79%) of these suicides were Men.

So be nice to us, girls... We hurt just as bad, if not worse (social pressures to be tough) then you do.

Here’s another one..

Movember - Day 15

A few stats about Men's health:

-1 in 7 Men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

-Nearly half of all testicular cancer cases are among Men between the ages of 20 and 34.

-A Man's risk of dying from testicular cancer is about 1 in 5,000.

-Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million American adults every year.

-About 60 percent of prostate cancer cases are in Men age 65 or older.

-Men are significantly more likely to commit suicide than Women. <-- Still dear to my heart, understanding full well what hitting rock bottom feels like.

The feedback and conversation generated has been priceless. Plus it continues to edify and empower me to see how people talk about sobering facts like the above and how it relates to my own personal story of the last several years.

As always, I'm here to answer any questions anyone may have. I'm getting better at responding to all the emails. Thank you again for all your support.


Life After Loss: The Holidays…

Christmas Day - 2011

Christmas Day – 2011

It’s funny.. I should take it as flattery that I’ve had a few people bug me already on where this week’s article is. Honestly? If you twist my arm right now and make me cry “uncle”, I’ve simply been afraid..

..afraid of the cost of writing it.

Afraid of what you ask? Here’s a word picture for you.

Imagine that blockbuster suspense movie you and your friends couldn’t wait to see. That scene where the survivors have barricaded themselves in the only safe place they can control. But, then they realize that they need to leave the safety of that haven they’ve built for themselves because they can’t stay there forever. In doing so, they will have to squarely face all the things that have haunted them up to that point. The things that have spent the entire movie trying to fight their way in.. Causing casualties here and there when an unsuspecting survivor was being careless and was dragged through a hole in the fence, or some other equally tragic circumstance. Now, they have to find courage they never knew they had… cause if they don’t, they’ll die slowly in the prison they created for themselves.


We can’t barricade ourselves in our mind. But, I’ll come back to that in a bit. Let’s keep going.

Ironically, I knew I was going to write about ways to cope with this time of year, even before it was the topic during our last week of discussion at Church.

Death, divorce, abuse, abandonment.. All of them leave you feeling stripped, violated, empty.

The Apostle Paul understood this. Near the end of his own life, he was all but abandoned and stripped of the things most dear to him. His son in the faith, Timothy, was one of them.

2 Timothy 1:3-4“Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I might be filled with joy”

This below will resonate to those who’ve suffered divorce or abuse.. When even (as wrong as it is) the hand or your abuser or ex spouse still brings you comfort.

2 Timothy 4:16“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me”

Memory is a great blessing—and can be a great curse. The memory of relatives separated from us by death, divorce, or distance is a legitimate source of great pain and a legitimate reason to hurt. As you read about last week, my ability to recall memories make it doubly so.

But, just keep reading one more verse…

2 Timothy 4:17“But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength”

So what does this all mean? It’s OK to grieve. Give yourself permission to. But then you ask how this helps you with the pain. Walk with me, let’s unpack some thoughts and suggestions.

Thanksgiving - 2008

Thanksgiving – 2008

Paul wrote once that he “despaired even of life” and “felt the sentence of death” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9). But Paul also knew and believed, “This happened to us that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

Jesus, forsaken by His Father because of our sin, was raised from the dead by His Father.

While certain things have seasons that need to end (like an abusive relationship), hope and redemption aren’t things that should die in your heart. It’s possible to hope because our God is the God who raises the dead.

If you believe that, in faith, you’ll believe that he can resurrect your hope.

Here are 10 wonderful tools, tips, and ideas we unpacked this week:

1: Create a PLAN

Use Thanksgiving as an example. Dinner with a friend, volunteering at your church, dinner with family. Have a destination… start with that, and keep reading.


If you are neck deep in the grief process, don’t be afraid to say no to any sort of obligation someone may try and put on you. Hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas at your house and being asked to make the bird of honor may not be the best idea. Especially if you’re having a hard enough time finding the car keys in the morning. Don’t be afraid to simply say “no”.

3: Develop REALISTIC expectations

In being selfish, you (and you alone) have a choice on whether you want to enable a situation that may bring discomfort (if an Ex was invited over by family, etc). If so, communicate to those that matter where you’re at, what you’re feeling, and develop safe boundaries for yourself.

4: Expect POWERFUL emotions

For me, the next 60 days are plagued with powerful “traditions” that are haunting me even writing this. Birthdays to children I love who I’ll never see laugh or smile again. Friends and family I won’t be laughing with, comparing craft beers with, or watching play poker or darts. Traditions of being up all night putting out gifts for the kids who will wake in a few hours; eager to be called to the tree.

And more…

5: Remember the PAST traditions

It’s in a tremendous moment of God given peace that I was able to type the above. I just spent the last 10 minutes, sitting at this keyboard, just visualizing… Remembering the scent of waffles being made Christmas morning, the sound of Redi-Whip cans emptying out at the breakfast table. The scent of turkey stock simmering for hours from what was left over of the bird on Thanksgiving. The sounds of multiple “Happy Birthday” songs being sung, and the very distinct way those who’d celebrate those birthdays uniquely reacted to getting the “one” gift they really wanted.

…I’m actually sincerely smiling right now. :) It may hurt in 5 minutes. But, for the moment, I’m going to live in the memories of those children. How I love and miss them.

6: Acknowledge your PRESENT situation

But, now it’s time to acknowledge that (for me) the above (as great as it was) has passed. It’s not the life God wanted me to have. But I’ll cherish certain moments forever. Now, I have to acknowledge the very real fact that I am a recovering abuse survivor (physical and psychological).

I’m still broken.

I’m very open with my story, and any one who wants to get close to me reads this very blog and understands that. My present situation is that the holidays are loaded with old memories and traditions. My goal and focus in my present is to create new memories and traditions. That, all leads back to *MY* plan for the holidays. I need to remember certain memories, but I also need to rewrite others in my mind. So that means un-barricading the door, and assaulting these memories with eyes wide open.

7: Create NEW/FUTURE traditions

Christmas Eve - 2004 - A very different me, with my 4 month old little pain in my butt!

Christmas Eve – 2004 – A very different me, with my 4 month old little pain in my butt!

As part of your plan, have new things you want to do this year. Try a variety of things. Expose yourself to new things! You never know, you may find yourself looking forward to reliving it again the following year!

Here’s one example I’m doing this year: My kids and I had discovered this little ceramic shop about 10 minutes away. We enjoyed picking out our pottery one day, spending the afternoon glazing them, and then getting lunch after. I like the idea of going out on Black Friday, doing a new ornament each year, and then having it fired and hung on the tree. Each year, when we put our tree up, we’ll be able to have a story to tell through each ornament.

8: Find safe PEOPLE and safe PLACES

Inevitably, someone’s going to want to talk about “it”. Whatever “it” is for you. Your loss, your pain, etc. Make sure you are surrounded by those who will be kind and compassionate.

I write that, but I want you (as I need to myself) to remember, that it’s not a bad thing to talk about what we’ve lost. If anything, bringing it to light, and the memories behind the individual will help you heal. Remembering what a loved one you lost would have been doing at a funny situation happening in front of you. Or, remembering some little limerick they’d always respond with when “A Christmas Story” was on it’s 16th re-run of the day.

9: Give yourself permission to do HEALTHY HIDING

In short.. Don’t be afraid to cut the night off. I’m an extremely outgoing individual (Extrovert to my core). But, remember that healing through grief consumes tremendous amounts of spiritual and emotional energy. Even I (as is testimony to what I’m doing right now) need a quiet night to myself. Quite a few offers of things I could be doing right now. Instead, what do I do? I’m here pouring my heart and thoughts out for you. :) LOL!

When you’ve felt you need some quiet, “Be Selfish” and take your leave.

10: Be aware of the MEANING of the holidays.

At the end of the day, it’s just that… a day. Don’t let a label placed on a day stall your healing and forward progress, all because you want to live in that moment one more time.

It’s just a day. Treat it like yesterday, and treat it like tomorrow.

As I’ve said before: “This too shall pass..”


In Remembrance: Mike Long

November 10th, 2010 - Mike Long speaking and smoothing the way as we meet the executives of American Express for the first time.

November 10th, 2010 – Mike Long speaking and smoothing the way as we meet the executives of American Express for the first time.

It’s with very sad regret that I woke up this morning receiving the news that Mike Long passed away this weekend.

To some the name may not resonate, but, to those in the Merchant Risk and Financial/Fraud circles, Mike was a pioneer and well known fixture in this industry. He was also someone I had the honor to call friend.

Mike was one of the founders of the company I work for now (Accertify), and he was instrumental in the strategy and development of our fraud fighting platform. Mike was also instrumental in building the relationships that would land our largest clients.

It was with great honor that Mike and the other founders endorsed me to head up the day to day stewardship of our largest client. In that, Mike was a tremendous mentor to me in understanding the nuances of the industry, and we would collaborate and talk often on strategy and fraud trends._31F1498

Mike Long was a very dynamic individual. He was selfless and passionate about what he did. In that regard, when it came time to internationalize Accertify, Mike up-rooted his family and moved to the United Kingdom to open our first office in London.

As General Manager of the EMEA region, Mike continued his legacy as the consummate “cheerleader” for Accertify. Doing what Mike did best, he spent years building networks with a whole new continent of clients, and cementing our place in the EU financial space.

_31F1228Even as busy as he was, you could always shoot him an email and keep tabs, and he always made time for you.

Mike was that guy who cherished the relationships he had, and he never forgot a single detail about anyone he met.

It always was great to see him when he’d visit the Itasca office, and it always was a great time to have a beer and catch up on his latest stories from abroad.

He truly had a charisma that allowed him to control a room, knowing how to captivate an audience.


I learned a lot from this man.

As one of the cornerstones of this corporation, Mike started as my superior. But, since those first days when I was wet behind the ears (September of 2010), Mike personally became my mentor, my collaborator, and finally someone I would grow to call dear friend.

I will truly miss you, the laughs, “SMH” moments at some of the stories you’d tell, and the awe with which others in this industry were equally enthralled by your presence.

Rest well my friend…


September 27th, 2010 - On a conference call, with a water bottle in one hand, and still one handed catching the ball in the other.  He was just that good.

September 27th, 2010 – On a conference call, with a water bottle in one hand, and still one handed catching the ball in the other. He was just that good.

The exact details will be shared through more formal channels as is appropriate, but to his Wife and family, I am truly sorry for your loss.

God bless you during this time of mourning..

Life After Loss: Joy? The paths are there.

St. Lucia - A place which brought me joy and new memories.

St. Lucia – A place which brought me joy and new memories.

You know, in certain aspects, we all have something, some gift, that God gave us which we identified with early on.

For me, I was cursed (or blessed) with the gift of total recall. Sights, sounds, smells, sensations, pain… and joy. I clearly have memories I can vividly recant as far back as 2 years old. I still blow family and friends away with the exact details of what I was doing, what they were saying, people who were in my life, etc.; small details they have all but forgotten.

Cool, right? To a point..

Anyone who’s ever known me, understands that my love for photography is rooted in this gift. Just like “Bruce Banner” learned what triggers his “gift/curse”, I learned that imagery is the catalyst for taking me down a very lucid journey of recall. Imagine taking a DVD with a photo on the front of meeting the person of your dreams for the first time, or the birth of your child, and putting it in the DVD player; then, sitting back and hitting play. We’ve all had family nights like that. Everyone is laughing and smiling! Everyone talks about the good times they’re seeing on the screen, and yet the whole room falls silent when someone enters the frame who may have recently left them…

Brainstorm (1983) - Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood

Brainstorm (1983) – Christopher Walken and Natalie Wood

What I have reminds me of a very classic movie I loved as a child. “Brainstorm” was about two scientists who found a way of recording the experiences happening to someone, and being able to play them back in every detail. In the end, someone who was dying recorded themselves. This tape, and the desire for others to experience it, was to be a large part of the plot in the last half of the movie. That said, you can imagine that those who had to relive the horrors contained in that tape suffered their own near death.

So imagine, for those close friends and family on Facebook, or on this blog, you’d remember that I had dozens of albums (containing thousands of pictures) of what my life was over the last 5 years. My ex was such a fixture in my life that you couldn’t turn anywhere, expecting to see or hear about me, and not see her or our children. I coped overwhelmingly with the hurt and abuse she would inflict on me (for the longest time mainly consisting of her emotional withholding) by photographing anything that was a good time in our lives.

Truth: I told her all the time that I’d go through some of our pictures at least once a day. I never explained why (what good would come of it?), but it was one way I made the bad times tolerable.. By living in my past memories of good times.

When I finally had my own conversation of closure with her (months after we had broken up), the hardest thing I knew I had to do (because I was still holding onto hope we could reconcile) was destroy and dismantle my life with her.

Any joy I had in my memories were forever tarnished. Even to the end, she used me. As I’d mentioned before, even after breaking up we were still “hooking up” for sex, going on dates, seeing each other, etc (all while she was dating others) But, on our last date she flat out told me she wanted nothing to do with me, there was no hope, and after the date we were on was over, and the last one we had planned later that week was over (Great America), she was done for an extended period of time with no contact. Telling me right then that everyone wanted sex, and she could have called anyone (yet she wanted me to satisfy her?), and not read into that motive as a chance for hope. That she wanted to cancel the date were were on that night, and what she had committed to already, but was a woman of her word and wouldn’t.

How I took that: “I do, and always have loved how you spoiled me, and I’m going to milk these last moments and just give you that last smash between the eyes because I know you want any contact with me and you won’t ruin these last nights with me.”

Well, as you read a few weeks ago. Shortly after was when I prayed for a clear sign of what I needed to do, and I got it.

But like I mentioned a moment ago.. any good that she did for me (even sincerely) is forever tarnished. So I had to burn everything. It was the singularly hardest thing for me (like a crack addict throwing his pipe in the dumpster and watching it be taken away) to throw the stuff in the garbage and watch the garbage truck tip that dumpster over. I honestly was having a panic attack and red out standing on my deck watching this happen.

To this day, if I run across a picture I forgot to delete on a device or on a server, my body is trained to automatically de-focus the image. I know it’s her, but I look at the caption, or the scenery, but I don’t focus her in my mind. I just instinctively click on it, and hit delete, then empty the recycle bin. No good, none, will ever come of this woman ever coming in contact with me, or my family. She doesn’t deserve to be in any of our memories after the selfish hurt she inflicted.

Ironically, weeks after she realized what I did, she asked me between then, and this coming spring, to get her the pics of her kids for her oldest 8th grade graduation. Again, needing something, using me.. I told her flat out, if I went into any archive, and started looking, she’d get them with my epitaph.

I owe her nothing.

According to Webster, “Joy” is defined as follows:

a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires : delight
b : the expression or exhibition of such emotion : gaiety

: a state of happiness or felicity : bliss

: a source or cause of delight

After any major loss the thought of “bliss or delight” being experienced again is a non-starter. It’s hard to even form words like that into a coherent sentence.

In Philippians 4:4-9 I finally started to find a way to find joy again.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Ever hear a believer use a saying like “Put your fears and burdens at the foot of the cross and give it to God”?

This is where that comes from. Rejoice! This is the type of “joy” the Bible is talking about. Not one rooted in our circumstances, but one rooted in our connection with God. When we can give it all to Him, ask him to make sense of it all, and trust He will work it out for us; that is when we will find we can start to focus on the positives.

It’s hard to let go and do that. I understand this. But, when you finally can, there is something tremendously liberating about it. That’s when you finally “hear” Him. He guides and compels you. He gives you the faith to “let go”. You learn to finally take hold of the things you actually can control, and leave it to Him to handle the rest. Death, divorce, grief. Don’t we learn quickly just how powerless we are over so much? Realizing just how little we actually can control. But, one thing we can control is our attitude and our response to our loss.

The pain causes us to grieve deeply.. that’s ok.

The pain causes us to be extremely sad… that’s ok too.

So how do we get there?

First: You need to honor grief. Understand that many well-meaning expectations that you or others may have are simply unrealistic.

Did you know, that at the turn of the 20th century, people were given 12 months to wear black during a period of grief? That was to signify to others that you were at some point of suffering, and to give you latitude and compassion. The reality is, after 12 months, you were expected to “get over it” and move on. Anyone who’s struggled with grief and loss for years or decades will profess that you don’t ever truly “get over it”. But, it’s shown that 99% of people can at least “move on”. I’ll take that percentage to heart.

Second: Give yourself (as a sufferer) or others (as a good friend) who you are supporting room for wide variations in mood. I know this all too well. The proverbial slinky I talked about in the past. A journey through grief isn’t a ruler you travel down with clearly defined milestones. It’s more like a slinky.. you always work your way up, but sometimes you can find yourself at the bottom of a coil, or at the top. We expend a tremendous amount of emotional and spiritual energy through the process of healing. I can find myself in the middle of the day just hitting a funk where I just want to curl up into a ball and just cry myself to sleep, then wake up an hour later and go out with friends.

Third: You want to find safe people who will let you talk about your loss. In my case, my ministry, as well as this blog has helped me tremendously.

Fourth: Learn from the grief process you’ve seen others go through.

Fifth: Don’t panic.. It’s very normal and good to question values and beliefs. Think back to my article on where is God in our hope?

Sixth: Remember that grief is a catalyst for life change. I have changed tremendously. I’m much more thoughtful, accepting, and aware then I ever was.

Finally, let me put this into perspective. Here’s a story I’m going to publish verbatim, because it was just that good..


In 1871, Horatio Spafford, a prosperous lawyer and devout Christian, and his wife, Anna, were living comfortably with their four young daughters in Lake View, Chicago.
In that year the great fire broke out which devastated the entire city. For the next two years Horatio and Anna devoted their time to welfare work amongst the refugees of the fire.

By November 1873 the Spaffords needed some respite and decided to join friends in Europe but just before their departure Horatio was detained on business. Anna and their four daughters were persuaded to set off without him but en route tragedy struck. The steamship they were travelling on, the Ville du Havre, sank after colliding with another ship in mid-ocean.

Of the hundreds on board, Anna was one of only 27 who were rescued having been kept afloat by a piece of debris. Her daughters did not survive. Overcome with despair at the loss of her childern, Anna felt strongly that she had been saved for a purpose.

In Chicago, Horatio received a tragic telegram from his wife: ‘Saved alone.’

Setting off to bring Anna home, he crossed the Atlantic and the watery grave of his four daughters. Moved by the experience he wrote a hymn, ‘IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL’, which expressed his faith. The hymn remains one of the most popular Christian hymns in the USA.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way

When sorrows like sea billows roll,

Whatever my lot,

thou hast taught me to say:

It is well, it is well, with my soul”

Having returned to Chicago, the Spaffords were blessed with further children, a son Horatio, and a daughter, Bertha. However, another crushing blow was dealt when little Horatio died of scarlet fever at the age of three.


Clearly, Spafford had discovered that in God alone, can be found peace and joy in ANY circumstance. May we all strive for that wisdom and clarity as we grapple with the impact of LOSS in our own lives.


Life After Loss: The Mind of the Abused

The scene on the evening of 11/05/2013

The scene on the evening of 11/05/2013

One year ago today I was sitting in this exact same chair, in this exact same room, with a bag of ice on my neck and shoulder. I was staring down at the darkening bruises while looking at my “prize” for the night. Still sitting in my lap was one of the instruments used on me that night; the laptop she used to do this to me.

The subject matter expert for this week’s article is… me.

I had spent four years getting used to the guilt manipulation, the emotional withholding every month; the psychological abuse in general. But then on November 5th, 2013 a line was crossed that would just open the flood gates for the next 6 months.

Normally I write for the benefit of others, some way to connect with someone who reached out. Today, I’m writing about my own struggle that broke something deep inside me. So here’s a glimpse into my mind, several layers deep.

For what it’s worth, because I know there will be some who think I may be exposing too much, hit “back” now.

I’ve prayed quite hard about this, and this is the toned down version. One thing I’ve learned lately is that I need to advocate for and nurture myself. It’s been very therapeutic unpacking the wrongs done to me. So hopefully this helps seal this wound, finally.

Luke 9:62 - Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."   I live in a region with lot of farms.  Every season I see the farmers on their tractors plowing the beautiful, rich soil into unbelievable straight rows. I'm told that their method is to focus straight ahead as they plow, looking neither to the right, nor to the left and certainly never behind. Jesus wants us to put our past behind us; we can't change that. Yes, we have learned from our past, but we must focus straight ahead on our future with Him. Then we can be fit for His service!

Luke 9:62 – Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
I live in a region with a lot of farms. Every season I see the farmers on their tractors plowing the beautiful, rich soil into unbelievable straight rows. I’m told that their method is to focus straight ahead as they plow, looking neither to the right, nor to the left and certainly never behind. Jesus wants us to put our past behind us; we can’t change that. Yes, we have learned from our past, but we must focus straight ahead on our future with Him. Then we can be fit for His service!

One day before that evening (November 4th) I was celebrating my birthday with my Ex. Frankly, in the years prior to this, we struggled. Just a month before this incident, we were “done”. But, she reached out several weeks later wanting to reconcile. So, two weeks later we are celebrating that Monday night and it was just incredible!

For those who’ve been following along at home, here’s just one example of the peaks and valleys which were the hallmark of our lives. Beautiful day the night before, and…

So what can possibly derail this? Well, for right or wrong (I’ll lean on the side of wrong and own this), she had left herself logged into one of my computers at home, and I wasn’t forthright and open about it. So, for that month before, she had started talking again with an ex boyfriend who was her first choice on wanting to be married to. Someone she stressed to me our entire relationship was her high water mark.

There was a tremendous amount of jealousy there. But also hurt because, while she started those conversations when we were “done”, this was someone who had propositioned her when we were dating. He clearly still had an interest in her at that time, and while I’m not judging or making a statement one way or another of where he was fall of 2013, it was the principal of the matter that was upsetting me. Just the dishonesty about the contact.

Needless to say, we go from a perfectly normal, and surreal day on Monday the 4th, to talking on her way home on the 5th; and then.. all of the sudden, she needed to go. Reason being she was at a car dealership and needed to talk to someone who was installing something on her new car (mind you, this is a guy who also wanted to date her, and she did end up eventually going out with him on a “date” weeks later).

What you need to understand is she was someone I spent HOURS on a phone talking to. Truly, we both spent years keeping each other company all the time (Heavily enmeshed relationship). So when all of the sudden she had to go, it honestly didn’t sit well. A week before, she was in the same situation and just kept me on the phone (Bluetooth earpieces were our friend), so needless to say, this wasn’t typical behavior to the prior 4 years.

So, I checked that logged in computer…

Sure enough, even talking to me, she was in the middle of a conversation with him (the ex BF) on Facebook at the same time. Arranging a time to talk right then. Thus, her rapid departure.

At best (and that’s being very kind…), I can say she wasn’t actively doing anything “wrong” with him. They weren’t sexting or anything like that. Well, in hindsight, that I’m aware of. But anyone who has heard this always asks the same questions.

“Why hide it then if you weren’t doing anything wrong in your heart? Also, if he was her high water mark, why is she seeking him out for companionship and conversation when she has you? Especially if she’s so conscious of image and reputation.”

Very good questions. But, regardless, I KNEW what I had to do. So I printed it out and went right over to her house. Her mom and kids were there, and I walked up to her phone, pulled up the conversation, looked at her, and just showed her privately.

“I know…” is what my face said to her as I then looked back and smiled at everyone. I started to then talk to her mom and the kids about their day. Can you imagine the tension at that moment as no one in that room was any the wiser to what was going on between us?

Well, that escalated fast. To her flat out denying wrong doing, justifying to her mom what happened, to telling her mom to not listen to me (My Ex, sadly, lives and breaths for her reputation and the court of public opinion. Which was more important to her then me, or my feelings, through countless examples throughout our relationship..), to finally me pulling out the print out when I was done with the lies and cover-up.

That’s when things went from bad, to worse. As you’re about to see, this was NOT her finest moment.

Her mother and children then witnessed all of this, and to them, I am truly sorry they had to experience just what she was capable of. I apologized directly to her children weeks later and they accepted that apology, but I’m getting out of order.

..a punch thrown at my face, stopped just a second short, a vase of flowers I had given her, thanking her for the night before was being smashed into my chest, and a laptop I had purchased and given her (when her own computer had broken) was being smashed into me.

Children crying, her mom crying; I’m just standing there. She wants to call the police, but her mom stopping her (obvious who would have gone to jail that night…). Finally, me leaving with the laptop in my hands, half destroyed.

Right or wrong, I was tired of being used, lied to, hurt, and abused. Loved when she wanted to love, hurt when she wanted to hurt, a door mat when she needed to wipe her feet.. Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde.

Fast forward… later that night, I KNEW I did the right thing because it was something I had caught her doing very early on in our relationship (with another lover). But, I chose to forgive her. Who knows what else, or what other situations I don’t know about. Clearly doesn’t matter anymore, but it’s something that makes you go “hmmmm..”.

Yet, as is typical in abusive relationships.. Two weeks later, we are back together, trying again. Just that this time, the aggression from her ended up being much higher when things would go south. I remember her freaking out and getting in my face, and I actually pulled out my phone when she wasn’t listening to reason, to calm down, and started videoing it telling her she needs to see herself. Well, at that point, I could see her veins pumping in her neck as all 5’2″ of her (I’m 6’1″) was in my face trying to rip the phone out of my hands. For what it’s worth, she took my phone after that, found that video, and deleted it without telling me what she was doing. It just kept getting worse until the end.

Hell, even after the end, in the few dealings I had to have with her, she was still that old her. Blunt, aggressive, demeaning, just tearing me down if something wasn’t to her liking. Ripped apart an online profile I had on a dating site we both were on; mocking me and laughing at it. Ripped me down for having a conversation with my son after I was baptized, and not liking the explanation I was giving him about something even as I’m proud of the moment with my children. Just a selfish cruelty overall. Not realizing (or not caring) how much her words hurt the people who love her.

Her mom (bless her heart) really tried to help us reconcile after that incident and ministered to both of us, telling her she was honestly afraid I was going to kill her for attacking me. I’ll say this, I loved that girl so much I could never harm a hair on her head. Even though I could (and did) pick her up with one hand without any effort, I just let her attack. I did nothing to defend myself.

A birthday wish from Stefano, one of my best friends since we were 3.

A birthday wish from Stefano, one of my best friends since we were 3.

But the damage inside was done. I just celebrated my birthday, and honestly it was a meloncholy event. One of my best friends posted this picture on my Facebook page and he was right. The entire day was an outpouring of love and support from hundreds of people who know my story, know what happened a year before, and did everything they could to make me feel loved. To them, thank you. I have an incredible support network. But there are some wounds that won’t heal soon. Like my birthday.. It will be scarred for a long time.

Someone who grew up with her was talking to me about this the other day and she asked me:

“Is she really worth anymore of your heartache or tears?”

The simple answer is… “No”. Of course not.

I have every reason to HATE her. EVERY reason to want to see the relationship she’s now in suffer, for no other reason than to vindicate me (it’s truly his problem now..). But, despite having every reason, I can’t, and don’t want to be that person. I guess it’s because before we were lovers, we were friends, and that’s what I miss.

That friend I talked to daily. The friend who’d send me that random selfie and text through the day. The friend who’d call me, or I them, meet up for lunches, look forward to dinner, or catching up on a show… My Dr. Jekyll. Until Mr. Hyde reared his head days 10-12, and 23-28.


Cycle Calculator by SoundTells

Cycle Calculator by SoundTells

Come on girls... you know what I'm talking about. 😉 How many guys do you know have the rhythm cycle mastered? I kept a calendar for the prior year and a half and just quietly kept a log (Red dot, yellow dot, green dot) and subjectively kept track. I knew when she was going to wake up as a different person. I really tried to do my part to back off, walking on egg shells to not set her off. Figuring.. that's love. You accept someone for right or wrong. I was all strapped in for this ride with her until she crossed these new lines. Then I was honestly lost again... torn.

I knew, for my own health, I did the right thing.

Or is it the psychological tracks of abuse still tattooed in my head?

She had me really thinking for years that I could never do better than her. That no one would understand me like she could, and that she was my best friend who’d always care for me. She promised me she wouldn’t treat me the way other women had, that she’d never take advantage of me… She knew my wounds, and knew exactly how to rub those hurts and make them feel better… or be the one to punch them when I’d least expect.

I don’t know.

All I do know is a very important lesson my mom taught me after 40+ years of marriage. Advice she gave us both after my birthday last year, and the honest concern she had knowing we were going to try again..

Very wise words (translated from Spanish)”:
“After all this time, I know EXACTLY what can hurt your father. But I also know what helps him grow and lifts him up. What I don’t understand is, when you say you love someone so much, why you would not protect them and be that shield for them, especially when you KNOW how to be that protector for them?!”

She’s right. In hindsight, I realize now that for years, the things that she KNEW would hurt me were brought to bare against me out of anger, spite, or need for control.

Was I perfect? No. None of us are. But I was NOT the one to draw first blood (literally or figuratively). I remember very vividly the first red flags late summer of ’09 and the first real smash between the eyes winter of ’09. I remember being at work and having a conversation and seeing the first of that side of her… honestly scratching my head after, hurt, confused, wondering where the beautiful girl I was falling deeply in love with, and had now become part of my kids lives, disappeared to. I knew then that something wasn’t right. But my ego and pride kept me there. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever dated (ego), and I was already harboring guilt for having ripped one woman out of my kids lives (their mom) to be with this woman. I wasn’t about to do it again (pride), and I started immediately rationalizing what happened.. “If this is the worse she does…”. I endured and withstood this abuse far longer than anyone had in her past, and I really tried to live the below.

Ephesians 4:29-32: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

God have mercy on her soul. Though I want to say I can feel the same, I’m not there yet. I pray daily for the will of God to be able to forgive her, for the health of my own soul.. but I’m not there yet.

Thanks for listening. Perhaps in writing this all out, I can finally take a large step towards healing one more wound left in her wake, and 2015 will be a much more memorable birthday.

Keep your emails and comments coming. Just as much as I am finding out my tale helps you, it equally helps me.


Life After Loss: “Hope?” ..or is it “Hope!”?

fallen-angelI had mentioned a few weeks back how a friend of mine had lost their Mother abruptly. I reached out to them after class last night to check in and they had slammed home, finally feeling their loss, where they had been in denial the weeks before.

One of the things my friend kept asking me about was hope and hopelessness. Ironically, or as a twist of Grace, it was the topic we had unpacked last night in class.

So, to my friend, I dedicate this article to you. I promise. “Hope?” will turn to “Hope!”. Yes, we will always carry our losses and scars in our hearts, but life moves on, and you will find your light again.

This song was played in my church around the time I really started falling apart, and it broke me; and continues to break me. But today, it’s good tears. A reminder that, from the ashes, I’m making something beautiful from all the broken pieces.

“You can rise up from the ashes
Make something beautiful of all the broken pieces
And I’m believing you’ll come running
Into the arms of Jesus”

I really had to go back and unpack where I was when this all went down for me. Like my friend, I had a relative peace early on. My own best friend even commented to me about 2 weeks later that I seemed “at peace” with everything that happened. Sadly, that’s short lived for those of us who suffer through grief.

But I digress.. I do that sometimes.

Last night I went and did an inventory of the things that are motivating me currently. Broken into three general categories (Routines, People, Responsibilities), I realized it was a woefully small list. But, today it is a list of things that bring me joy, pride, and a will to see them through to their next level.

People: My children
Responsibilities: My job, Fatherhood, Survival, Ministry
Routines: Fitness

Just as the sun and the moon wax and wane across the sky, there will always be a new sunrise after the sun has set in a season of your life.

Just as the sun and the moon wax and wane across the sky, there will always be a new sunrise after the sun has set in a season of your life.

If I back up to a point relatively recent in my life, that list had nothing in it. Even “Survival” was subject to debate. I remembered driving in my car, eyes just glazed over, instinctively turning the wheel, and simply not caring at all about self preservation. A car could be bearing down on me and a very real part of me simply didn’t care. A dark part of me wished something would take me right then, and end the tears (which would typically be flowing anytime people were away from eye shot).

In those days, I was that person who lived on pure instinct, truly wearing a mask of happiness that fooled 95% of the people in my life. But there were some who saw right through the mask and understood the very real trauma and pain I was enduring. Some people texting or calling me dozens of times a day because they knew I was at a very dangerous point in my feelings of self preservation. As I’ve mentioned in the past.. those people who became my rock had suffered in kind themselves. Or, were still in the process of suffering, but were only a little bit further ahead themselves.

Time off, work from home schedules, weekends; any time in my life I couldn’t will my mind to focus on something else, I was focusing on her.. I would honestly pray to God to see me through hours at a time. Any attempt to think or plan beyond that was a lost cause of frustration, anxiety, fear, and despair.

There were many a week where I’d average 2-3 hours of sleep a night. I’d just lay in bed, and stare up at my ceiling fan, and didn’t know how to will my body to go back to sleep, much less “GET UP!”. I’d just sit there in an endless cycle of masochistic thought, reminding myself of everything I had, what I lost, and just torture myself, putting all the blame on myself, and punishing myself for all I’d done. In hindsight, now realizing how distorted and brainwashed she had left my psyche. But, I was not to be the first (and I will not be the last) lover in her life who’d tell her she was manipulative and controlling.

That’s when I solidified my dependency and relationship with God. He is what pulled me out of it, and to this day I still rely heavily on his whispering and touch in my life for guidance on what to do next.

You know… One teacher last night said it best.

“I wish others in my life could build this relationship with the God I know without having to suffer as I have!”

It’s true though. It’s in these moments of intense pain that most people “Get it.”.

I had attended a class for people who had hard questions about God and faith (Alpha) several months ago. I was asked by one person who was on the fence how I knew God talked to me. I remember telling him point blank that I wish he could understand the God I knew.

I can freely talk to him, and he compels me and answers my prayers. I truly am able to run everything by him and I get very clear answers back on how I should be reacting to an opportunity or scenario in my life. Including this blog and this ministry.

11k+ views for this Ministry category in the last 4 weeks!  - Keep your stories and topic requests coming (

11k+ views for this Ministry category in the last 4 weeks! – Keep your stories and topic requests coming (

The sheer number of people (childhood friends, childhood acquaintances and new friends I met and reconnected with through my Ex, family, strangers, etc) who’ve reached out to me has been inspiring. Thank you! I was touched by God to tell my story; that it would help others. I never imagined the response I’ve gotten from it.

It’s one reason to wake up and live my life.

I’m now at a point where God has provided blessings and opportunities in several aspects of my life. These are part of the reasons I can even begin to build the list of things I actively work towards every day.


It’s not a question anymore, but a cry of victory.