Suicide

<em>As Long as There is Breath, There is Hope</em>

As Long as There is Breath, There is Hope

Recently, I went through a time of discouragement.

Ever notice that when times of discouragement happen, it’s not just one thing that causes it?

It’s always a combination of things.

Stress on all levels, in every area, and in each compartment of life…all at the same time.

Then, as you get older, you think back on the stupid mistakes, horrible decisions, and the failures in life.

Don’t get me wrong, when you’re young, you can beat yourself up pretty bad too.

But as you get older, there are more miles to look at in the rearview, which in times of discouragement, it seems much easier to point out all the collisions and debris fields in the rearview mirror than it is to point out the smooth roads traveled and great views experienced in life.

Maybe because it’s programmed into us.

You know…to look out for the dangers lurking behind us. The lizard brain telling us to be mindful of the lion sleeking through the grass that’s going to devour the slower ones of our tribe, and what if I’m not fast enough!?

Problem is, we don’t typically get eaten by lions anymore.

And sometimes, it’s damn hard to keep a positive view on things ahead because, well for me, I can get so crushed in the moment by the past.

You know…things I could’ve done, should’ve done, or said. Or, the things I should NOT have done or said.

Ugh. Life can be so freaking complicated at times.

***

I’m glad that at this point in my life, I’ve developed a strategy that helps in times like this.

In 2012, a lot started to change, and I began to answer to those changes instead of sitting back passively while life pulled and pushed me around.

— I began to write in a journal. This helped me sort through the crap in life and see what was important and how I wanted to live versus the way life, and others, were telling me how to live.

 I began to pray and meditate more on a daily basis and sometimes more than once a day. This gave me an ability to take my stress down a couple of notches and helped me get out of the mode of worrying about tomorrow because of my sins of the past and refocus on the present.

 I began to treat myself better. I began to exercise properly and start down the road of learning how to sleep better. The lack of sleep was killing me in every area: emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually.

 I found that practicing being grateful every day—I’m grateful for 10 different things every single day—began to change my thinking from being an Eeyore pessimist to believing that life is worth living.

Yet, even with all that under my belt now, I still feel discouragement at times.

My expectations meet up with reality. It’s like a head-on collision. My thinking of where I should be in the roadmap of life, and the time I should arrive, never seems to match up with real life…UGH!

***

So, there I am, going about feeling sorry for myself one afternoon and it was like I hit a brick wall while walking through the house.

An impression left on my soul and heart at that moment made me stop. I stopped to feel the impression throughout its vibration in my being. Listening for that still small voice.

 

“As long as there is breath, there is hope,” God whispered.

 

A slight grin brushed across my lips, and I slowly nodded my head while I breathed in reply, “Yeah…as long as there is breath, there is hope.”

Hope to change.

Hope that all will be okay.

Hope that difficult, discouraging times will pass and when it does, I’ll be a better person for it and have learned something new along the way.

***

May this little story help. May it inspire. May it give hope.

Thanks for reading.


Photo byjae bano on Unsplash

Posted by Christian Martin Jr. in Life Hack, Living Better, Reinvention, Self-Improvement, Suicide, 2 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.

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