Suicide

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
How I Remain Fluid in Times of Change

How I Remain Fluid in Times of Change

Change, without sounding too cliché-ish, is inevitable.

I know you know that. But do we really consider what that means on a daily approach to living in a world where there are unknown variables that pop up and come as a total surprise?

Summer waxes old in the northern hemisphere and Fall is waiting patiently to step through the door of seasons.

Even the seasons tell us that change is all around us.

I’ve even seen a little yellow in the leaves starting lately around where I live.

It doesn’t matter if you have come to a place in life and said, “Enough! I’m going to finally do something about this (whatever this is) and I’m going to do X, Y, & Z now.”

Or, life throws you a curve ball and you find yourself in a place of change.

Some changes are planned, intentional, and purposely acted upon.

Some changes are completely out of our control, forced upon us by external circumstances that we didn’t know existed, or didn’t factor into our plans of living life.

Or, as a mentor of mine told me long ago—“Christian, it’s never just one thing”—more than likely it’s a combination of those factors above.

***

I have set out to make changes, to improve myself, my quality of life; to set myself in a place to thrive and flourish, to excel and become more productive; to live free of bone-crushing debt, to live in peace; only find that the changes I set out to make have been met with unexpected and unforeseen circumstances that have caused me to veer off the course that I originally planned to take.

Welcome to the real world.

It can be bewildering at times!

Bewildering and confusing and anxiety-producing when real life clashes into my world of expectations based on…I don’t know what.

I tend to think in linear and logical terms. I have a plan. And that plan means that X + Y better equal Z. But…it rarely does.

And when it doesn’t, I tend to shrink into my shell, hide from others, hide from life, slink to the darkest areas of any cave that I can find that’s deep, cold, and dark.

Which means that I begin to question whether I made a huge mistake in making certain decisions, then try to hang onto past titles and glories and exploits that put me on top of the game in certain fields and careers.

But that just grinds regret into my soul which feels like broken glass tumbling around in my veins with every heartbeat and then I forget to practice gratefulness.

***

Fluid means this as an adjective — able to flow easily; smoothly elegant or graceful.

Funny how that we desire change, or when the unexpected happens and change is forced upon us and we must change (or a life situation changes), that we can be so darn rigid in our approach to life.

I find that in dealing with change, being Fluid — to flow smoothly, elegantly (of course if you’re like me, smooth is a term associated with tripping on a crack in the sidewalk)—in life, relieves the tension and anxiety within the change.

How do I do that?

  • – I reflect. I flesh out what is and has happened through journaling. This item helps me to put into perspective life and my feelings and how I’m thinking about said changes. And gaining perspective on the happenings of life and those changes in front of me is half the battle.
  • – I practice gratefulness. This one thing is almost like magic. I believe in magic. Every day, I think of 10 things I am grateful for. If I’m sitting in mind-boggling traffic, I think how grateful I am that I’m forced to slow down and see the shapes in the clouds above or the graceful flight of birds or the shapes and colors around me that I take for granted because I’m too hurried. Gratefulness has a way of changing my perspective on life. Again, our perspective determines much of how we live our reality.
  • – Stay connected. This one is extremely tough for me. I’m an introvert. Extroverts don’t understand this about introverts…we need alone time to recharge. But that alone time can be a form of escape to the point introverts don’t want to come up for air and peek outside at life around. If I can connect with at least one person, then I usually can keep from sinking into despair. That’s critical when things just don’t go how I planned.

For now, I’ll count this article as a journal entry. The next item to practice is gratefulness. Then, I’ll make it a point to make a connection today.

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