Sunday, April 11, 2010

#136 Hitting rock bottom (retro)

Hitting the bottom

What does it feel like to hit rock bottom?

How many of you feel that way with a loved one in prison, or in a relationship with a loved one in prison? Lots of you I bet.

I had not really planned to write tonight, but with the upset of Michigan State over #2 Wisconsin, I figured there are likely a lot of people up there in the big cheese that are feeling down.

But this week, actually the last 3 or 4 days, I have either read some posts or got emails from people who have hit the bottom of their faith barrel. I get lots of emails and replies and such each week, because people either read the posts I have on some prison support sites or follow my blog.

And when I read a post or email or pm or comment, I take it seriously, because for some insane reason, I think that there are solutions to all problems, and in this case we are talking about prison issues.

I am stupid enough to be the eternal optimist…

“Wait, weren’t YOU the guy talking about suicide in prison and in jail”

“Weren’t YOU the guy talking about hating God”?

“Weren’t YOU the guy talking about how all the prison support sites and how they aren’t doing what you believe they should be doing”?

Yeah, that was me. But let’s make something VERY clear, and I say this sternly at anyone reading this. Optimism is not a short-term constant. It is a LONG-TERM CONSTANT.

What that means folks, is as a human being, I have just as much a right to be disappointed as you. Whether it’s against myself, a prison support site or against God Himself, as a human being I have the same right…and weakness, to be pessimistic.

But the optimist gets up. Something some of you really need to do right now. Some of you are talking about how your son doesn’t want to talk to you anymore, or how your husband thinks you are cheating, and how you are having all these problems. A couple of you have reached the end of your rope and just feel like giving up.

If you don’t mind, let me give you a swift kick in the ASS!

I don’t give a damn whether you are a church-going Christian, or a devoted wife of 20 years or a mom who has been supporting her son in prison for the last 10 years, don’t you DARE tell me that your problems are insurmountable. A lot of you really need a very cold splash of faith, because if you don’t get it, you are going to fail not only yourself, but the person you loved the most.

If you wanna give up, then go the hell on, but IF YOU DO, don’t go crying to people to join you damn pity party so you can share your disease of doubt to someone else. I said before and I say again, lots of people in prison issue problems are in a state where it CAN be solved or where that person can get hope, but most times people opt to just feeling bad. Do you really, really like feeling awful? Some of you really do, I am sure of it.


If that’s what it’s going to take to wake your ass up and BELIEVE in something other than the worst case scenario, then maybe that’s what I need to be doing…or someone else. And I am not saying this because the answer is so simple, I know it isn’t easy.

Many mornings when I wake up, the FIRST thing that enters my head and heart is stress, despair, fear and regret. It is a HORRIBLE feeling that I get that turns my heart when it happens. Do any of you understand what I am talking about?

Physically, think of it as if you are sleeping and are really comfortable, then suddenly someone rips your warm covers from you and throws a bucket full of ICE COLD water on you.

Think about that folks, what would you do if someone did that to you?

Now think how that feels spiritually. Because if someone did that to me, I could direct my anger at that person. But when it attacks your heart and mind, you can’t do anything. You just have to take it.

It is a very, very bitter feeling to get first thing in the morning.

When I first got out in 2001, I had many mornings like that, and it made my life pure hell. How can you start the day like that? It was like being tied by strong bands of rope and not able to move (mentally and spiritually). It was like a bombardment of negative feelings, and I could not fight them off. It was miserable.

But after awhile, something happens. After hitting rock bottom of feeling bad, I find something to believe in. I find a reason to get up. Of all the bad things that can happen today, there is just as much a chance that something good, or INCREDIBLY good, that can happen too.

This isn’t an easy trick to do, because you have to first drown out the negatives. This is were lots of people lose it, because they start swimming in that negative stream… instead of just GETTING OUT.

That is kinda for a few people…..

Nowadays I still get some of those very hard mornings, but when they come, I try to train myself to say, “weather it out buddy, this is temporary”. I lie in bed struggling in my head and heart, knowing that there has to be something positive that can give me hope. Sometimes it means trying to just get back to sleep, and the next time I get up I will be fine.

It’s…almost like I am being tested…or tortured.

Folks, it’s hard, damn hard, to fight off negative feelings of failure or stress. I know that. You don’t know how much it takes to write positive posts for people when I have to wrestle negative thoughts many times a day.

I know rock bottom…just like you.

But let me tell you this, and LISTEN TO ME CAREFULLY….

There is hope.

Let me say that again, because lots of you won’t listen the first time…


If you have a loved one in jail or prison, are you going to fight for your loved one or run like a scalded dog when the heat gets close? There is a saying that goes, “faith isn’t faith until it’s all you have to hold on to”.

Let me put it this way: how many of you really believe in God?

Yeah, struck some nerves there, didn’t I?

So many people like to talk about how you can “put it in God’s hands” and all those clich├ęs, but when it comes to demonstrating some faith, those same people are at the back of the room, headed out the door.

To me, faith is saying to God, “alright Lord, You said You can answer prayers and right now I am in a jam and need Your help. Don’t lie to me”.

“That’s blasphemy!”

No it isn’t. Some of you get cowardly when it comes to asking the Creator of this world for something, as if He is going to hit you with a lightning bolt for bothering Him. Heck, HE SAID IT.

God made tons of promises in the Bible that if you ask, you will receive; that all the promises of God are “yes” and “amen”, and that if a person have faith the size of a grain of a mustard seed, they can move mountains.

Either that is true, or God is a fake!

Decide now!

Why is all this important? Because your faith is probably the ONLY thing that is going to get you through all this hell. But when you give up on your loved one in prison, you lose faith. Some of you act like your loved one is supposed to “get it” just because you joined a prayer circle and signed your name to it. Well, did you sign in faith, or just sign out of desperation.

There is a difference.

I am upset at this because I know what it is like. I KNOW what it is like to give up on life. I told you guys I attempted suicide…more than once! I hated my life, I hated God and felt that I not only hit rock bottom, I shattered into a million worthless pieces.

But throughout all that, somehow God worked with…or through me to do what I have done throughout my incarceration and to now. I don’t really think you guys understand what I am saying. I can think of a lot of things better than writing these prison issues…many times I don’t know why I write them. But there is a…compulsion that has me writing. Don’t get all corny on me now, I mean that although I have always loved to write, I have felt the strong need to write about prison issues.

But I would, or could have never done this without going through the prison system, no matter how much I loved writing. Regardless of what you think I think about God (and you would be mistaken) there is to me a clear reason that my writing is helping a few people. It won’t change the world, but then, it wasn’t supposed to. I am also not trying to put a halo around my head, so don’t EVEN go there.

But things happen for a reason, and sometimes people have to go through a hell to help others in it. So maybe God is using me to write…I don’t know, and I may never know. But to be sure, I have seen miracles before. So if so for me, why can’t it be for you?

But some of you will never see a solution because you are actually comfortable in pity. That is a great irony, but a great truth. Gosh, it really gets to me when I see good people give up, and I try to help, and they keep looking in the negative direction. I know I can’t save everyone, heck, I need to worry about myself.

“So what am I supposed to do”?

If you have hit rock bottom, grab a Bible. But before you do, think about this…

Do you really WANT a solution or help? Sometimes the answer is no.

When you decide that you are ready to fight for your loved one or for some faith, then find someone who can believe with you. If might be a prayer circle, I don’t know. Like I said before some churches are bogus, and the congregation is blind. But that is not all of them. If you can, find support groups that really believe that things can get better. I am not talking about sites that just run their yaps. I mean REAL PEOPLE WHO ARE READY TO HELP YOU.

Think about it this way. If I walked up to you in the middle of a shopping mall, with people all around, and dashed a soda in your face on purpose, what would you do? Sit down on the floor and cry, or SLAP THE HELL OUT OF ME!

Replace me with your problem, and see what you will do about it. It might take a fool to believe things can get better or at least you can cope with the situation, but it takes a much bigger fool to just accept the problem and do nothing, while at the same time KNOWING that something can be done.

If you got a problem, find someone to talk to. If that means calling a minister, fine. If that means talking to your parents, fine. If that means talking to a close friend, fine. If that means going online to a prison support site and making a post, fine. If that means pming someone who might understand, fine. If that means reading my blogs, fine. If that means emailing me, fine. If that means talking to yourself at home, fine. If that means turning off the lights and talking to God, fine.

But DO SOMETHING other than give up.

Damn, I got all worked up over this, but I needed to say that. Look guys, I care about people who are looking for help in prison issues. There is no way I would have written a few thousand pages on prison issues if I didn’t care somewhere in my heart. It hurts me to see parents and wives and girlfriends and others in pain because of a loved one in prison. I can try to help as best I can, but I am just a person. If there are 5 billion people on this planet, I will probably be near the bottom of the list as far as those being worthy…I know I’m just a guy that likes to write.

But if there is any love in your heart for someone, don’t douse it because you can’t see tomorrow. It reminds me of something Linus said on a Charlie Brown cartoon that kinda makes sense.

Charlie Brown (one of my favorite cartoon or comic characters, God rest Charles Schultz in peace) was in a spelling bee. He had won in his class, and went on to the city finals. No one thought that Charlie Brown could win…he was a loser in everything he ever did. But there he was, in the finals.

He had survived to the final word. If he got it right, he and his school would win. The final word was ironically the ONE word he should have known…that of his dog, Snoopy…


Charlie Brown misspelled it, and lost.

He hit rock bottom, and felt he let everyone down, and felt horrible.

Days had passed, and Linus went to see his friend, and found him in his room, under the covers, with the windows closed and shaded. Linus came in and tried to cheer Charlie Brown up, but “Chuck” wasn’t accepting any words of encouragement. He refused to come back outside because he failed everyone.

Linus said some wise things to Charlie Brown (as usually Linus does) and ended it with something rather profound. Perhaps saying it in a way to counter Charlie Brown’s idea that his world ended, Linus said, (paraphrasing)…

“You know Charlie Brown, the sun STILL came out today”

Charlie Brown thought about that, and after feeling miserable for days, he realized that even at rock bottom, there is still the hope for another day. As bad as things had been for him, he realized that sooner or later, he had to get up.

The sun came up without Charlie Brown wanting or needing it to. It was NOT the end of the world, as he thought.

So he put on his clothes and faced the world. He wasn’t afraid of failure anymore, he had learned to face it, and maybe find hope.

Whether you do something about your loved one in prison or not, here is a fact, at least until God decides otherwise…

The sun IS coming out tomorrow…even if it rains, it will still be there. Will your faith be there tomorrow?

Think about that.

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