Lately, I’ve been having moments. An author of a book I’m reading calls these moments ‘sweet spots’, moments where, as he says, ‘God shows up’’ and you are moved by something or someone in that moment.
Before I talk about the ‘moment’ I experienced the other night, I have to describe how I got there. Every cathartic moment starts with a step in the direction of healing and insight. For me, that step began with quieting my mind by silencing as many distractions as possible.
I’ve been on a journey without social media for the Lenten Season (40 days before Easter). I am reminded of how peaceful life can be without the constant barrage of thoughts like ‘Why did she unfriend me?’ or ‘What did he mean by that post?’ or ‘I wonder if this about me?’ Perhaps, you’re less worrisome and borderline paranoid than I am, but I think you all can relate in some way. For many, social media has promised the connection of relationship, but has delivered feelings of loneliness and the internal isolation of solitary confinement. It’s a façade. While it has served a wonderful purpose in helping people maintain long distant friendships and relationships of days, maybe years gone by, it has also taken us to a place where we would rather chat on Facebook Messenger or tweet someone than pick up the phone and call them.
It’s okay, and rather socially acceptable, for someone to ignore a phone call when the phone rings, but you’re almost obligated to return a text message right away. I don’t know about you, but the thought of always being available overwhelms me to the core. Emails, messages, random apps reminding me that I haven’t walked enough, drank enough, read my Bible enough, or talked to my dog enough (okay, I may have made that last one up), simply overwhelm me. But, I think you’re starting to see my point. So to log off, close down, and enjoy the here and now has not only been quite spiritual to me, but actually amazing for my mind.
In the spirit of logging off to cultivate more real connections, authentic conversation, and moments of vulnerability, I texted my dad to ask him to go with me to a basketball game. Now, before you cry ‘hypocrite!’ I must say, my old man likes to text and I hate it so I’m the one who swallowed my pride. We went to a West Virginia University Basketball game. It’s our local university and we both love basketball. The time together was precious and priceless.
My dad and I have never been close. We started to get close when I was incarcerated for 2 DUI’s in 2014. I was serving 3 months in jail and 3 months on home confinement. He was there for me, in person at jail, and by giving me rides to counseling and doctor appointments while on home confinement. Up to that point in my life, to say our relationship was rocky is like saying the Grand Canyon is a big hole in the ground; words do not do it justice.
We had a great night, good food, wonderful conversation, and a Mountaineer win, however, the drive home is what I’ll remember for days, months, possibly years to come.
“Do you ever think you’ll get over being Bipolar?” Dad asked to me with a posture of curiosity instead of judgment.
“Dad, you never ‘get over it’. That’s crazy. It’s like asking someone if they “get over” Rheumatoid Arthritis. You just learn to manage the symptoms and bad days!” I fired back with an almost-defensive like tone.
It got quiet. I apologized for my snapping back. It’s something I’ve always done. My behavior reminds me of the phrase ‘knee-jerk reaction’ only the hammer hits my heart and without thought or consideration of what I’m about to say, I speak (or sometimes yell).
We continued to have more small talk and ask some more questions. He always says to me ‘Do you write?” or “Are you writing?” and I think it’s his way of saying ‘Get it out!” I know he worries and I can always tell by his tone of voice.
“I’m writing to please people. I have so much I want to say, but I’m terrified to fail..” I confessed to him.
“Take a chance Son. Say it. Fail. Get fired. But you have to be honest with yourself. Let it out and don’t let people hold you back. YOU have to live life for YOU.”
I listened intently, knowing he was right, but also knowing I would always fear what he thought of me, truly thought of me. Then it came, almost as if he was reading my mind..
“You don’t have to worry about pleasing me. I’m already pleased with you just because of who you are. You have to do life, take chances, and not live for anyone, but yourself.”
My moment of awakening and healing came at the point. I knew I could go forward and live. The little kid in me smiled, hugged my dad with a bear hug like grip, and the adult in me just said “Thanks Dad.”
The takeaway from all this is not only to share my moment with you, but to challenge you. This could not have happened through a text, an email, even Facetime. This was special. This was the culmination of hours (and years) spent together, being honest, real, and open. This was me learning that to be a man in front of my father, I had to own my manhood and speak freely, honestly, and with conviction. However, the greatest challenge to me in this moment, was to let the man who was responsible for so much of my internal strife and pain also be a catalyst to great growth and healing. I had to drop the victim mentality, the bitter mindset, and be open to receive. Like Berlin in 1989, it was time to bring the wall down.
For years, I’ve chosen to be bitter, resentful, and even fought to change my parents. Now, as a man, in this day, I choose to love them, honor them, and live my life for me knowing that they did the best they knew how.
Who do you need to open your heart today? Who do you need to schedule a sit down with and share some honest and vulnerable moments. You owe it to yourself. Take it from me, I’ve sat behind the desk, and on the couch, and nothing has brought more freedom to me than realizing that I am solely responsible for my journey and its destination.
I can now heal and be healed.
Be well my friends and feel free to share in the comments your moments of catharsis and healing.
I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has sent me their stories. I will be putting together blogs from time to time to share with each of you the story of a person who has struggled, but also has found hope. It’s important for each of us to remember that hope lies within and it is our responsibility to bring it out.
You can connect with me @ email@example.com; Skype: morethananillness