<em>Frustrated, Bitter with the Past? Time to Pull Off to a Rest Area</em>

Frustrated, Bitter with the Past? Time to Pull Off to a Rest Area

It’s been said that life is best understood by looking in the rearview mirror.

We travel upon life’s highways and byways, not knowing what’s ahead, but we can sure see where we’ve been.

The clearest picture of who we are is by reflecting back upon our past: viewing the decisions we’ve made, where we’ve been, and who we’ve been with.

But who knew how this thing in life would turn out? Who would have been able to predict where we are today?

And the older we get, the more miles we can see behind us.

Given our naturally pessimistic nature, we tend to see the dark spots in the mirror, the collisions in our roads traveled, and those individuals who are responsible for wrecking our car.

We all have regrets: those missed opportunities, bad choices, horrible relationships, and the things we should or shouldn’t have done (or said) can come glaring in through the mirror and blind us to our future course.

Forgiving and being kind with ourselves in times when we consider the past is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

Our minds can whip up the past with, or without triggers. It’s frustrating at times when our brains work that way.

Yet, instead of slamming our foot on the accelerator because looking in the rearview mirror is so upsetting, perhaps we could slow up a bit, or even better, just stop.

Stop everything—think of pulling off the highway and parking in the rest area.

Then let the bitterness, regret, remorse, anger, frustration over our past—like dirty old laundry in the backseat—air out.

This means, embrace it as you pull it out of the backseat; walk it over to the trash can nearby; open the lid and drop it in.

Sounds easy? It was even easier to write it just now. But it does take effort.

Many times we’d like to forget it’s back there and just open the windows and pretend the stench doesn’t bother us…but it does and it will until we either finish our travels at the end or throw it out.

And that’s what forgiveness is.

Us deciding that we will let go of the hurt. Letting go is tough, and it does require us to spend time with ourselves, alone at the rest stop.

BTW…before heading back out on the highway, make sure you kick out any passengers that have been allowed to ride with you who create drama in your travels.

These are people who complain the whole way about our choices; filling our vehicle with drama, judgment, and condemnation.

They always seem to sit satisfied with themselves, thinking to be the moral police officer on scene, fixing the world’s problems by telling us what we did wrong, how terrible a person we are, and what we should do next.

Their advice is usually bestowed in a demeaning way and only heightens the fear of moving forward. They hardly lend a supportive hand unless they can appear to be the savior in such situations AFTER gossiping to others (usually to other family members and neighbors) about how we screwed up badly.

As hard as it is, you must kick them out of the car.

Then…only allow passengers in that are genuinely supportive and caring, not just kiss-asses, but folks that care that you travel forward, not letting your past bog down your travels, and keep you accountable for the choices now that you’ll be able to navigate a better future.

Be kind to yourself. Learn to love yourself. Take care who makes the journey with you.

May you be blessed in all your travels.

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Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Burnout, Change, Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement, 0 comments
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.


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