Archive for July, 2015

A Long Time Ago

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

215024105_d754cdae26_oLast Friday just before twilight, we were driving through a beautiful hollow near my home. On both sides of the road were fields of freshly cut hay. Someone made the comment, “That (the cut hay) smells like a long time ago.” The truth of the observation immediately resonated with me. The smell of the cut hay brought me back to my early childhood years spent in carefree summers of being spoiled by Aunt Ruby and following after my Uncle Bill on their  farm in the bottoms of the Buffalo River near Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

My mom who passed away at 92 could remember the most mundane things from her long time ago childhood.  Things like what the little girl from down the street was wearing when she came to mom’s tenth birthday party eighty years earlier, or what Uncle Joe said to her when he was home on leave during World War II.  She has every word and memory filed away for easy retrieval. Like so many of the elderly, it was her short term memory that gave her trouble. The long time ago stuff was still vividly available in high definition and minute detail.  For mom a long time ago was a safe, comfortable and hopeful place for her to make a quick visit whenever she was lonely or in a reminiscent mood.

I was on a business website recently and very prominently displayed was a link to another website featuring the businessman’s former athletic career of 40 some years ago.  Even though the man was a backup player and was mediocre at best, his past seems to be his lifeline today. Apparently he has spent quite a bit of time and expense perpetuating his long time ago.  It is obvious that a long time ago is still important to his self-image and his sense of worth and importance. Sadly a long time ago is apparently what still defines him today.

The unchanging truth about the past is that it is over and gone.  Recalling the past can be a fun thing, but clinging to it is a bad thing. Some people choose to live in the past.  A man in his mid- forties is still lamenting the fact that his dad was never pleased with the way he cut the grass as a teen.  He is still trying to please dad through his obsession with looking good, perfection, control, and doing his own thing.  He is blind to the fact that his dad loves him and is proud of him even with his flaws and warts. His flawed perception of a long time ago controls his present. Sometimes it is best to let a long time ago go.   For years I let a bad thing that happened to me as a kid define who I am today. That turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life. I recommend living in the present no matter how good or bad a long time ago was. We have no control over a long time ago but we can control today. Smelling the hay is one thing; bailing it and storing it up to live off of today is something else.

Something to think about

The online version of my book for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

SCOOTING ALONG

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

men-putting-shingles-on-houseI’m typing this from my home office as I look out the window at the guys putting a new roof on the two story house across the street. Those fearless fellows showed up this morning and hit that roof like a swarm of ants. In no time they had stripped the old shingles off and are now well on their way to having the new roof installed.  It is quite a sight to see! What is amazing is the way they confidently walk around upright on that roof. Right now one is standing on a 30 foot peak holding one of those orange Igloo coolers up over his head as he squirts water into his mouth. I don’t think I could do that if I were standing on the ground. I do my best to stay away from roofs. Whenever I have to go up on one, instead of walking like those guys, I kind of scoot around on my butt.  None of those guys are scooters. That is why they are making such progress.

Sadly, many people settle for kind of scooting along through life never enjoying the freedom of standing tall or achieving their potential.  We scoot because of fear.  We fear that if folks really knew us then they would not like us. We fear if we ever admitted that we are not perfect or didn’t have it all together then people might think less of us.  We fear sharing our feelings out of a fear of rejection. We fear going for our dreams because of the chance that we might fail. We have many reasons for scooting along.  None of them are very good.

Something to think about

The online version of my book for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

 

On Being Stupid

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

the_most_brainless_640_17I overheard a kid call another boy, “stupid”. The target of the name calling, calmly replied that the other one was a “s#*t”.  As I thought about that exchange, I realized that I am at least one of those. According to my dictionary, “stupid” means being regarded as showing a lack of intelligence, perception, or common sense…as in “a stupid mistake”. I have made many, many stupid mistakes. To those who know me this is not breaking news. Where shall I begin? I recall telling my mom when she found a cigarette butt in my jeans that I merely picked it up off the sidewalk. Problem with that one was, it was way before we started being concerned with our environment! I had a flat tire once in front of a Ford dealership and drove out an hour later in a brand new car —Pinto, lemon yellow.  I don’t make this stuff up! Not sure what part of that one was the most stupid. I was really stupid to keep a horrible secret for 45 years and I was dumb as a box of rocks to try to medicate my pain, instead of facing the problem.

Past those, and much more significant, the fact of the matter is, every single sin I’ve ever committed was because I was stupid or acting stupid. What could be more stupid than thinking I’m smarter than God? But if you think it through, that is what sin always is. I can’t think of anything dumber than thinking it is OK to do my deal when I know it is against God’s will. Actually, that is probably acting stupid, because I do know better. But either way, the bottom line is I’m not so stupid that I don’t know I’m stupid. I can’t tell you how freeing a thought it is to make that admission!   In any event, it puts me in some tall company, because David of the Bible admitted that he was stupid too.

Psalm 69:5 (LB) O God, you know so well how stupid I am, and you know all my sins.

Possibly the only thing worse than admitting you are stupid, is not knowing that you are. I’ve come to believe that it takes someone comfortable in their own skin to make that admission. Just saying.

The online version of my book for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

Five Little Words

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

brian_williams_pinocchio_by_es_by_bl8antband-d8gs9gaAfter all the hype, big bucks, ratings victories and endless self-promotion, NBC has announced that their rating champion and chief liar is out of the anchor chair of the NBC Evening News. Even worse Brian Williams is permanently banished to the bowels of 30 Rockerfeller  Center as breaking news anchor at MSNBC and most likely will do lead ins for Rachel Maddow.  That is quite a tumble!

So far it seems that the network has let this story unfold as is without attempting to spin it in a more favorable light.  In an era when the media, both liberal and conservative with regularity and without conscience, spin the news to suit their agenda I find this refreshing.

There is a lesson here for the rest of us. Most likely Brian could have saved himself by looking into the red light atop the camera and sincerely saying five little words.  How many of our lives would be enhanced for the good by uttering the same single five word sentence: I made a bad decision.

Think about the pain you have carried because your pride would not let you admit you had screwed up. Suppose you had acknowledged your mistake, taken your lumps and moved on? Would the world have ended — nope! Would you be better off – no doubt!  I expect that is one of the reason why the Bible says (Proverbs 28:13 NLT) “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”

Something to Think About  The online version of my book for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877

Independence Day

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

2015-American-font-b-Independence-b-font-font-b-Day-b-font-font-b-celebrations-bHappy birthday America! For those of us in the USA, today is our country’s 239st birthday. Hopefully it will be a great day for you too. I expect there will be a record number of hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream and watermelon going down the hatch, being chased by all manner of liquid refreshments.  Tonight our celebration of freedom will be capped off with multitudes of bangs and booms from border to border and sea to shining sea by millions of exploding Chinese fireworks. In the spirit of freedom please indulge me as I climb up on my soapbox one more time.

The Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. This week as I thought about those incredible 239 years of freedom for our nation, it dawned on me that for most of my years living in the land of free and the home of the brave, I was neither free nor brave. Sadly, I know from personal experience that I’m not alone. For me a secret shame hijacked my personal freedom at age fourteen, the day I was sexually abused by someone I trusted. That day I made two decisions. I would never let it happen again and I would never tell anybody – ever!  The first decision was a very good one; the second very bad.

Here’s something I learned over those forty-five years of carrying that top secret pain. Shame kills.  For me it killed my insides, my confidence, my self image and my “me”.  At the same time on the outside, most everything I touched turned to gold.  I lived in a world of praise and respect, but I could never accept my accomplishments. What I’m trying to say is that in spite of doing well and looking good I was never able to feel good about me.  The shame of the abuse was more powerful than the accolades of the success. It wasn’t even a close race. As I played my part of poster boy of success on the outside, on the inside the shame was choking the life out of my soul.

In the fall of 2005 I had enough. I decided not to live that way any longer. In short I craved my independence so desperately that I swallowed my pride-based fear of rejection, came clean, sought help and I found it.  It was not a complicated process — painful yes, but not complicated.  I unloaded my four decades long shame shackle with its accompanying chain of self-defeating behaviors and became the man I always wanted to be.  For the first time my inside matched my outside! Contrary to my life long fear, I discovered that none of the folks who love me shunned me; instead they loved me more and taught me to accept their love. They walked beside me through my fears and my pain. So the shackle of shame has finally been broken and at last I have my “me” back. I’ve discovered that Humpty Dumpty can indeed be put back together again.

I go public again today because I’ve learned that there are many others on this day of freedom who are not free for the same reasons or different reasons.  If you are one I urge you to make this your personal Independence Day.  Facing my fear was not nearly as bad as was the fear of the facing.

Something to Think About.    The online version of my book for free Unscrewed: Becoming Whole Again. My personal story of abuse, shame, guilt, addiction, failure,rehab and victory. http://johngouldener.com/?page_id=3877