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Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Jumping Off Point- How I Repaired My Life, Part 3

Today, I thought I'd start with a couple of explanations that I think should be inserted somewhere.

I don't promote this blog. The reason is- is that it is intensely personal. I don't link it anywhere and very rarely do I tell anyone about it.

If you are here, chances are you arrived here in some roundabout way.

Secondly, there is no value in telling half truths. Half truths are half lies. In my examination of my life, I came to believe that every one of us is taught to omit the truth and to resist self disclosure. I observed this behavior in virtually every one that I have ever gotten to know. People simply cannot disclose things that are embarrassing to them, things that may open them to ridicule, or things that might cause others to judge them in a negative light. I understand all of that.

The problem of course- is that nobody learns anything from that. When somebody tells me a half truth, I learn nothing other than the speaker is one of millions of people who are essentially dishonest. That's what we call it- isn't it? When people fail to tell the whole truth- we say that is dishonest. Why then is our entire culture geared to that level of dishonesty? Clearly it is culturally acceptable- in fact it is expected.

I am going to try and be as honest as possible. I cannot possibly cover every detail; however I will talk about things that are relevant or pertinent to this discussion.

People fail. It is a fear of being judged and diminished which keeps people from telling the truth. That fear is so overwhelming and pervasive that it penetrates our culture at every level. You will find many blogs of mine on this very site- that talk about fear. Fear is the single greatest motivator on the planet. Fear moves us. Fear has killed millions upon millions of people in every culture. We abort children because we fear the ramifications of their birth. And we say that is acceptable. Fear is the root of all evil. I am absolutely convinced of it. That is the insanity of the planet. 

So I have to overcome that fear to tell you it's alright to be human. It's ok to fail. It's ok to not feel like you fit in. You don't have to fit in. 

To say anything of value- I must tell the truth. A complete truth. That is as honest as I can be. The only thing I am qualified to tell the truth about is my life and observations. Everything else is simply an opinion and a potential half truth or lie.We have all heard lies- so it is the truth that is becoming rare.

The Growth Years 22-46

I became a full time police officer in in January of 1983. I was a jailer. One of the guys I worked with was a huge drinker and we became good friends. I think in a way, and I am certainly not claiming victim status here, he recruited me. We drank a lot together. He died, smoking and drinking, at the ripe old age of 44 with throat cancer. His life and death- had a dramatic impact on me. I have always thought his life was an undiagnosed case of bipolar disorder which he interrupted with nightly bouts of blackout drinking.

It never dawned on me back then that people drink to change the way they feel. When people don't feel good about themselves, when they are flooded with shame or guilt, when they believe they don't fit in- and can't stop the judging voices in their heads- they alter their conscious state. They pull the plug on their brain. I did that too. At 22- I had a good start on a serious drinking problem. I am not prepared to say that I was a full blown alcoholic at 21 or 22, but I was well on my way.

Law enforcement is a noble profession. I owe a great deal to law enforcement. It forced me to plot a straight and narrow course for my life. I didn't always obey the law- particularly when it came to rural speed limits or a few other traffic related sins- but for the most part I tried to be as honest and law abiding as I could be. A good cop. After a year or so I landed a job in patrol.

In terms of addictive habits- habits which change the way you feel- I had at least three of them. I used tobacco products regularly and heavily,  I drank light to moderately most of the time and generally every day, and I also gambled on the weekends.

I saw absolutely nothing wrong with any of that. I remember thinking, "this is who I am." This is what I do. I never had any kind of intervening force come into my life and say these things are indicators of a larger, underlying issue. 

I want to talk a little bit about self promotion here. I have seen some fantastic self promoters in my lifetime. Some of these are people that would have you believe that they somehow can walk on water. They never miss a chance to overtly or subtly promote themselves. It is part of their life plan to rise to the top and usually, make more money. There are other people who are simply good people. They don't overtly self promote- because they are pretty squared away to begin with. I think that many people fall in between these two types- somewhere. Unfortunately, I tended to be more of a self promoter although I desperately wanted to just be a good person. The truth is and was- I was simply incapable of pulling that off. I didn't know how to be a good person. I simply lacked the spiritual tools.

Had I discovered them earlier- I would have moved mountains.

After 7 or 8 years, I was promoted by our new Chief to Sergeant. My ego, my false sense of self, began to blossom. My ego didn't primarily manifest itself into some superior sense of self but that was certainly part of my ego development. I became very critical and judgmental of other people. I began to resent people, many of them people who worked in other areas of the criminal justice system. I particularly disliked lawyers and the county sheriff. The circumstances for why I resented these folks are not particularly important- what is important is that I had no method of removing those resentments. Instead of diminishing in scope- my resentments grew larger. I began to accumulate several resentments. I was frustrated and angry at other people because I believed they were dishonest and that somehow I was morally superior.

Of course, that was not true. I practiced my own brand of dishonesty and I was not morally superior. However, my false sense of self or ego, adamantly believed that I was.

I did do a lot of good things. But I think emotionally, my problems just swamped and overwhelmed the good things in my life.

I was promoted to Captain a few years later. My resentments grew. I tried to bottle them up but they spilled out in casual conversation. My marriage suffered, my drinking got worse, and so did my depression. I had no spiritual solution for any of that. I was completely self absorbed but I bottled up most of it. In 2000, they promoted me to Chief.

The first couple of years were tolerable. A couple of years in- the city got a new Mayor. I saw her as one of the most nasty, critical, self absorbed people I had ever met. Of course my feelings for her found their way back to her and she in turn retaliated which kicked off a 5 year war. She tried everything she could do to get rid of me.

It's not important who was right or wrong. I figured that out years later. That Mayor was like an ignition switch. I am actually grateful for her now. My issue, once again, was that I had the same problem with the Mayor that I had had with all of the other resentments I had accumulated over the years. I simply did not know how I kept getting them or how to emotionally dispose of them. I simply lacked the skills. In fact, I did not know that such skills were available.

So those five years were terrible. I was a spiritual wreck. I was depressed constantly, I could not sleep, I drank heavily, and my health deteriorated. My marriage was on the rocks with several separations and an affair. I was racked with guilt and despair. I was hyper vigilant, extremely critical, combative, angry, and distrusting. By the time 2007 rolled around, I was in the midst of a complete physical and mental meltdown. I weighed 300 pounds. My doctor lectured me on my drinking. When my divorce was made final in May that year- I had had enough. I quit.

In July, I hopped on my motorcycle and toured the entire U.S. It was the trip of a lifetime. When I got home two months later, my last remaining friend and I had a falling out and my girlfriend had left for parts unknown and was with someone else. I think if I had owned a dog, he would have left me for the dog catcher.

That level of depression and spiritual sickness is what some of us refer to as the jumping off point. For two weeks I didn't eat, I didn't shower, I didn't go outside. All I did was drink and wallow in self pity, anger, and blame everyone but me. One beautiful fall evening, I sat in a park like setting and for the first and only time in my life- I contemplated killing myself. I also contemplated killing a few of my "perceived enemies." That night, I eventually drank myself to sleep. It was Oct 8. Oddly enough, I had no idea that Oct 8, 2007, would be the last day that I ever drank. I still don't know that it will be.

The next morning I hopped in my convertible, head throbbing, and headed for Las Vegas. At the last second, I changed my mind and headed for my girlfriend's place in Santa Barbara where I confronted her. I decided that evening, after speaking with her, that my drinking days were over.

I had no idea what was about to happen to me. Let's just say, I believe in miracles. I've got two more parts to write. I should have the next one up by Apr. 6.   


1 comment:

  1. Glory be! I'm so glad I seem to still have your blog bookmarked, and that I somehow just checked back at it.
    How wonderful. Thank you.