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
The Best Way to Compound Your Stress

The Best Way to Compound Your Stress

It took me years to figure out this simple thing.

We have lot of stress in our lives. My stress isn’t more or less than anyone else…the fact we are human, and we work our butts off to pay bills so we can live, and we have relationships to juggle around our work life, and kids to raise in the middle of all that…


We need to find the car keys, right now, because we’re late for work, and since we forgot lunch, we grab a candy bar or nothing at all, then deal with stupid on the highways and byways to get to work—mention nothing about traveling around accidents and road construction, and still…we might be on time to work.


We deal with the gossip at work, the insincere co-workers, the work we wish we didn’t have to do, and the idiotic boss who doesn’t know their own job no-less try to tell us how to do ours.

Ugh! I get stressed just writing this.


I’ve noticed through the years that if I don’t take care of myself then the stress that just seems to be as natural and normal to our lives like breathing and farting, seems to compound to levels that are nearly off the charts.

For example…

When I stop doing idea lists and let my mind stagnate, then I’m not able to come up with quick solutions to problems and I contribute less to those around me. My brain seems to become sluggish.

When I allow negative people into my life and engage in gossiping and say Yes to everything and don’t pay attention to taking care of my emotions, then I tank and become negative myself and all the energy seems to drain out.

When I quit praying, meditating, and taking care of my spiritual side, then I find myself getting hard, irritable, easily frustrated, and less focused on what’s important in my life. Apathy creeps in and begins to choke love, faith, and hope off and I stop being grateful for life and those precious people around me.

When I go days without a physical workout, I feel dull, everything seems like an effort, and stress gets lodged under my skin and tumbles around in my guts like broken glass.

All those things mentioned above, combined, will compound your stress.

But the best way to activate a hideous feedback loop whereby the stressors in life seemingly grow out of the silliest situations, get entrenched, and you sink daily until you break the cycle of this one thing.


Rather, the lack thereof.

Every time in my life that I’ve allow myself to think that the key to success, excellence, and the pursuit of whatever is somehow tied to pushing myself to the point of exhaustion where I get 3 to 5 hours of sleep, every night, I end up dealing with emotions, thoughts, and physiological responses of my body that sabotages anything resembling success.

I did it for years in my last career thinking that the more sleep I sacrificed, the more I would get ahead and would be a better leader. It was just the opposite.

The less sleep I got, the more depressed I became.

I even knew the studies that came out at that time that screamed to us that an individual who stays awake for 24 hours has the cognitive process and reaction time of someone who is inebriated with a blood alcohol content of .100—you are considered legally too drunk to get behind the wheel of a vehicle of most states at .080.

After a period of time of operating on 3 to 5 hours of sleep, I would get muscle tremors and cramps. My guts felt like they were always quivering. My head had constant pressure. My vision was blurred. There were times when I could feel my heart race, then slow, then it was like my heart muscles would vibrate.

I would hallucinate while on duty at night and during the day. I’d enter into these micro-sleeps where the brain shuts off for microseconds at a time and when it’d fire back up, it’d fill in the gaps with some crazy shit.

I really thought I was going crazy at the time. I operated like this for years too. Even on days off, it got to the point where I couldn’t sleep at all.

Lack of sleep was a badge of honor after a while. I would brag to other supervisors and colleagues about how I never slept and just worked all the time, like some weird game of “Mine is bigger than yours”.

Emotionally I was a wreck.

Life is hard enough when everything is working good, but not to get proper sleep, it’s like a death sentence to the emotions.

Depression is practically guaranteed when sleep is disregarded.

Sleep deprivation has its own strange cycle where it locks a person into its stranglehold. I got to a point where my circadian rhythm expected to be awake after just a few hours of sleep. So, even if I wanted to, I just couldn’t sleep right.


Yes, stress and sleep deprivation walk hand in hand and love each other’s company. It’s the most surefire way to stay stressed out.

It’s crazy, isn’t it? We get stressed over things we can’t change and will stay awake thinking about those things, or issues in life, or money problems, or whatever it is that stresses us out…losing precious sleep.

And yet, sleep is the very thing we need to reset our brains, heal our bodies, and comfort our hearts.

And…those who don’t get enough sleep, 7 to 8 hours a night, live shorter lives than those who do get proper sleep. Some studies state that we shave off at least 10 years of our lives by not sleeping properly.


Sleep, self-improvement

I’ve even take a nap once in a while

One of the things I set out to change in my life a few years back when making some radical decisions about the direction of my life was that I needed to figure out a way to get some sleep, any sleep, and more the merrier.

And, one of the best things I ever did was to ban my cell phone from my bedroom.

I know, when you’re on call in the middle of the night like I was, that’s not always an option, BUT, it sure is on your weekends and days off.

Getting rid of electronics—TV, laptops, iPhones, iPads—out of the bedroom, or anywhere near I sleep has been a game changer.

I normally get to bed earlier too these days. But not today because I worked, took care of life events, and now it’s well into the night, but trust me, once I hit the publish button here, I’m going to shut this laptop down and go shut my eyelids.

I’m going to tell myself that everything is going to be okay and the money issues, relationships, life events, and everything else that vies for my attention will be there in the morning so might as well think about something I’m grateful for and get a good night sleep.


Photo by Alexas_Fotos

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