Christian Martin Jr.

Here’s One Reason Why Hope Dribbles Out

Here’s One Reason Why Hope Dribbles Out

Sometimes it’s a slew of things that hit us; you know, like someone took our water pail and flung it around.

Now, empty.

Other times, it’s as if our water bottle sprung a slow leak somewhere, and now the water is all over the counter. No real reason as to how it got the leak, all we know, the darn thing is empty, and water is everywhere!

2006 was a tough year.

I lost hope. It just vanished. I have no idea where it went.

Toward the beginning of that year, I decided to go to church for the first time in about 5 or 6 years.

Standing in a pew, I lifted my hands to heaven at the conclusion of the service and thought, “I am a man without hope.” I stood there frustrated and dumbfounded; completely drained of hope and faith and love.

Miserable.

Some of you know me, some of you just met me here.

For those of who don’t know, I spent a great deal of my adult life in government service; a stint with the IRS, full tour in the U.S. Marines, and my last career as a cop.

It was my last career that managed to chisel a hole in my soul.

Prior to standing in that church pew—at the end of a service where others around me were moved to tears by the message and the worship—I had worked a record number of suicides that previous summer.

Everything from people shooting themselves, drug overdoses, gassings, to hanging themselves. Some of those scenes have been permanently burned into memory, and there is nothing I can do to rid them—trust me, I’ve tried.

That was just the suicides. There were a plethora of other soul-sucking calls I attended to. And, as most law enforcement agencies, our staff was so short at the time that I worked 12 to 18-hour shifts with a handful of days off that entire summer.

I felt the burnout then, as much as I did right before I retired.

It wasn’t just work; my personal life was fraught with confusion and frustration as well: a marriage that long ago had broken down.

Dysfunction in communication with my ex led to stonewalling which led to a slew of other things that ended in divorce.

I do not cast blame on anyone but upon myself…I didn’t take care of myself then, which meant that I didn’t have it in me to take care of anything else that mattered.

***

Hope is a strange word in a way.

By definition, it means a feeling of expectation or a desire for a certain thing to happen.

It’s a reference to the effort we put forth in life that some good will come out of it.

We wake up with a view that this will be a new day, but what if it’s the same old thing and we wind up slogging around inside someone else’s pen, corralled by someone else’s dreams?

Then pile on trauma and drama that life can bring, and it will suck the last bit of energy right out of us.

It’s been said that you can shit in one hand and hope in the other, and see which one gets filled first.

Yet, without hope, our lives are an empty shell.

Don’t believe me?

  • Take away hope from an injured person, no matter how minor the wound, and they will die.
  • Take away hope from a POW, or a victim of war, and they will waste away quickly, and die.
  • Take away hope from a healthy individual and their life will deteriorate until there is no longer passion and no strength to get out of bed.

So what gives?

We grow up with our parent’s values, expectations, and formulations of what they want for our lives.

Then, we’re bombarded with the All-Omnipotent messages of the media—pick your flavor: Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, T.V., Movies, Advertisements (in all of its insidious forms)—programming our young, tender, impressionable minds with what happiness looks like.

We go to school, whether it’s grade school or grad school, go to work, go here and go there—a plethora of mini-cultures—all telling us what we should believe, what to think, what to have, what to desire, and how to act.

Don’t forget that one friend who thinks he or she is right about everything telling us in their many forms of persuasion of how to “Life”.

It’s damn hard to figure out what to think, no less what to believe.

One of the hardest things I did, AND still do today, is to reprogram my life.

I don’t know if it’s reinvention, change, or what it is, but it’s the nitty-gritty work of reprogramming how I think AND act based upon my own internal values.

And how we interact with the world around us is so crucial when it comes to our values and our belief systems.

Let me emphasize: OUR internal values, OUR internal beliefs!

That’s why it’s so hard to say No at times to things we don’t want to do, be involved in, or be around certain folks. We don’t want to stand out. We don’t want to disappoint.

We want to look good, we want to be accepted, and we certainly don’t want to be the object of someone else’s gossip.

We feel guilty if we don’t go along with the flow of the culture around us. So, we make decisions that violate our internal values.

This is where the real struggle occurs. We flow with others’ expectations—which is another way of saying, hopes.

When you start to reprogram your life to reflect your internal value system…

    • you begin to feel like you are finally living an intentional life.
    • you will have those around you condemn you and heap mounds of guilt upon your for NOT conforming to their filter set which is almost always a form of selfish control or reflection of their own insecurities.
    • you will deal with self-guilt because now you’ve decided to break free from someone else’s expectations.

***

I would spend another six years in that state of despair and no hope. I turned on apathy like a light switch, and it got stuck. It became my de facto operating system.

I felt like a machine. I no longer felt passion, excitement, or peace.

It were as if my bucket got flung all over the place. Some areas, it was a continual drip by drip action. In the end, I was empty.

As a matter of fact, several times I went to the very edge of suicide but for some reason didn’t pull the trigger.

In 2012, I decided I had enough and started on a journey that involved doing the hard work of loving myself and digging deep through all the crust of other people’s hopes and dreams, to find out what my own values, dreams, and hopes are.

Today, I’m grateful for taking the time to reflect and finally get to a place of courage to act upon my own value system.

It might be considered a selfish way of being, but I have far more peace than I’ve ever had in my life.


Photo by Lubomirkin on Unsplash

 

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Burnout, Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement, Suicide
<em>Permission to be Quiet</em>

Permission to be Quiet

Recently, a friend emailed and asked why I didn’t post last week as I usually do.

I haven’t missed a post in over two years! Every Friday, before midnight, I hit the publish button; whether I’m scared to death or not of putting my life out there. I’ve hit the publish button.

Last week?

Nothing. Nada. Crickets at best.

I did something that is extremely hard for this rigid, to be early is to be on time; to be on time is to be late, kind of guy.

I gave myself permission…

To deviate from the normal routine that I have established.

I gave myself permission not to be inundated with guilt because I dare to even think of doing something different.

So, I gave myself a break free from a routine that I developed which I found myself becoming a slave to.

Hence why I decided not to publish last week.

Sounds silly, actually…to feel guilty about doing something like that.

But, my creative time had become stale and during a time when I’m experiencing a season of changes. A few are intentional; a few are not–where the circumstances of life popped out of nowhere and are out of my control.

There once was a time where I would’ve freaked out and would’ve overanalyzed every possible outcome and fretted over every possible solution.

Knotted, anxious, and fearful, I would have run myself into the ground until there was nothing left to give of myself except for an angry and agitated shell of a man to whoever would be at the receiving end.

This time, I decided to be…quiet.

Instead of forcing life and kicking down doors with certain situations—like I was trained to do in the Marines and as a SWAT officer—I’m applying a different approach.

I’ve decided to quiet myself and allow life to come at me; sort of like letting go a bit and not trying to have a stranglehold on everything in my life.

 

During this time, I’m focusing on a few things without turning these things into a form of rigid control…

— I focus on my spiritual health. I take longer walks to pray and meditate a bit more. It’s helped me to remain level-headed while circumstances out of my control have changed the trajectory that I have planned out for life (think reality vs my expectations).

— I focus on my physical health, without pounding my body into the ground till I’m sick, exhausted, and injured.

— I focus on mental health. A deliberate act of not letting my mind turn into a soft gooey thing—it’s a muscle, and it’ll easily go soft if not exercised properly. I don’t spend much time on facebook anyways, and I limit that even more in times like this. I read more, which means I give myself permission to read and not write as much—let the well recharge, so-to-speak. Just the other day, instead of doing my idealist, I studied some new vocabulary words.

— I focus on emotional health and make intentional decisions as to who I let in close. I don’t have time for drama, nor am I interested in being sucked down that rabbit hole ever again. There is no sacred ground here for me; drama, dismissiveness, gossip, negativity…no matter who…it gets cut out of my life. Sounds harsh, but life is short. Too short to live under the cloud of someone else’s drama that they try to impose upon others. Too short to live being condemned by and shoved into a dismissive category because my box doesn’t fit into their box.

So, I gave myself permission to be quiet.

I gave myself permission to process the big and small changes that are occurring.

I gave myself permission to take the time to reflect on the unexpected circumstances which have arisen that have changed the trajectory of life.

I gave myself permission to change, adapt, and be more flexible, without the guilt, anxiety, and fear.

Permission to ease up on myself…

I think it’s something we all could benefit from, and give to ourselves from time to time.


Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement