I can Pretend
Sticks and stones they say. In this case, it is a note without context coming from a place and person that doesn’t know me. I suppose there is a book to be written for the past few years of my life. It is an unbelievable story of life, death, failure, and success. I’ve been driven throughout my life by the energy I get through giving and service. I realized at a very young age that when I gave something to someone, I felt good. I think over the years it became something very natural to just give. I’ve given time, I have given things, I have given my effort and I have given part of myself. This doesn’t make me any better than anyone else, it is just what I have done and in some cases still do.
Even though I have good intentions, my giving can be overwhelming for some. It’s like if you ask me for a glass of water, I change the direction of a river to point right towards you. Not a great analogy I suppose but probably true. I am definitely a lot to handle. I come by it honestly though as my mother was the master of overwhelming people with her kindness. In fact, I have realized that I am a lot like her. The good and bad alike. In very recent times, I have decided to change my life and shift my focus to make myself better. Better means to follow through on the promise I made to myself a few years ago as I was leaving BMS. I didn’t have the chance to do that because too many other things got in the way.
I had the opportunity to start and grow IonX. I also had a lot of life challenges and devastating loss through this period. I buried myself in work. I forged new relationships and left some behind. I went through massive change. Massive change doesn’t mean good or bad, right or wrong, it is just different. I asked a lot of myself and I asked a lot of friends and family. I asked for patience and understanding. I asked for their time and commitment. Sunday morning reflection says, even though I tried to do the right things, I made some serious mistakes.
In my thoughts and opinions, I always seek to be kind but some things that I talk about are just the facts according to what I know or believe to be true.
The weather person doesn’t always get the weather right but they look for patterns, trends, data to help assess where things will be. Every night they present this information as true and factual. Most of us watch them look at the forecast and plan accordingly. I don’t think we stand at our televisions yelling at them and arguing about how wrong they’ve been. While I am not a good weather person, I am pretty good at seeing the trends in business. I look at various sources of information, seek to understand people, politics, and use some skills I’ve acquired over a lifetime of watching the movie Taken. Anyways, I can see things coming. I don’t have a statistical number to apply to my right vs wrong ratios but I’d say that I am much more often right about business than wrong. Again, when it comes to other things, for sure go to a better source.
When I have advised people, I have provided the best information that I had at the time. If they chose to use it, likely the scenarios which played out were consistent with forecasting. If they chose to ignore the advice, they could have made out alright as well. I am not a psychic and I don’t do predictions.
However, I did pretend for a long time that I personally could handle the adversity and challenges that were before me. I did pretend and ignore information that I knew would put me in a bad position down the road. I did pretend that it would just work itself out. It didn’t. It became much more difficult and I became more entrenched in what I was doing. At the same time, I didn’t stop giving to people. It became very costly to the people closest to me because when you start giving pieces of yourself away, there comes a point where you stop functioning. I have been on a path since mom died of spiraling. People who were used to taking from me, didn’t necessarily understand what they were taking. People who knew what I’ve been going through sought to encourage me to stop what I was doing and work on healing. Until recently, I didn’t listen.
At the start of January, I decided I am taking action to make the changes required. I decided to move from survive to thrive. In order to do this, I needed to plan out what getting from survival mode actually means. My first go at this is health and wellness. For many years, I’ve been managing issues that hung around from my time in the Navy. I realized that I have to start tackling them. I went to the VA and started working with people there on a wellness plan. I pretended that would be enough but it wasn’t. I started working with doctors on a more comprehensive approach. This started to tip the scales on how much time I could invest in other people. Unlike mom, I realized that if I truly want to help others, I require enough to give. She gave literally until the moments she passed away and that is the truth. If I am to learn the lesson from her, I have to realize that I can’t pretend to be ok and I can’t pretend that I can cover all bases. I can’t pretend that I have something of value if it is devalued and corrupted through deficit.
The Note on Saturday
In true form, the people in my close circle know what I am working on. Now you do too. I care about the world, people, life, love, happiness, and the things life can offer. My family has to come first but even before I can do for them, it has to be me. That isn’t selfish, it is necessary. I’d say, the complexity around this is that for most of my life I thought it was about giving and sharing but it isn’t about that at all. It is about growing, building and blooming. If we tend to our own garden, we have much more opportunity to grow things and we can then share the fruits and veggies of this labor. If we give our time to everyone else’s garden, they have all the bounty and you have scraps or if you are lucky, maybe they’ll share with you. It’s ironic that giving is taking and that focusing on ones self can be the most selfless act.
Saturday came and I opened up a package handwritten from GI. Joe from supposedly somewhere in Prescott Arizona with a mailing label from good ole Plunkemin NJ. At first, I thought it was a joke from a friendly interaction with an Air Force vet a few weeks ago. Upon further inspection, I realized this was a message to me that was pretty serious. I realized that this person doesn’t know me personally due to a few clues they left on the package. The writing told me that this was very personal to them because they could have sent this all through Amazon as a gift. The message that I posted along with the handwritten packaging was all l got. At the very least it got me thinking. I realize that my actions today are directionally right for me. I have made mistakes and I have pretended in the past but I am not doing that now. What I can say as an answer to the person(s) who’ve spent a considerable amount of effort, time and, money to send me this message is “While we don’t all make the right decisions the first time around, shame on YOU for making the same dumbass decisions the third time around.” I didn’t have the opportunity to serve in the great Air Force but I did serve in the Navy. My shipmates have a saying called “Semper Fortis” meaning ‘Always Powerful’ and ‘Always Courageous.’ so, I am good with my decision. Are you?
Invest in yourself. Give yourself the love required and tend to your garden without giving the whole thing away, the world will be better for it.