Posted by: zephaniah317 | August 14, 2014

45

Today, I am 45 years old. I don’t feel old. My body does sometimes, but I don’t exercise, and eat like crap every day, so I’m sure that’ll catch up to me at some point. But I’m 6’8″, 250 lbs, and generally healthy. I play golf, paintball on occasion, video games a LOT, and I’m a musician both at my church and in a local band. I’ve been through a divorce, three jobs, one layoff, and moved 4 or 5 times from Alabama all the way to upstate NY. Life ain’t all that bad.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been on this earth for 45 years. It doesn’t seem like that long. But here’s how it breaks down, at least how I remember it, and what I know about it now.

1969 – 1980
Raised in a strict Christian home, went to church every Sunday, made good grades at school, started piano lessons when I was 6, had a good group of friends, was a class clown that got into trouble at school occasionally. Was provided for materially.

(raised in a home with no intimacy, a church that taught about rules and regulations instead of relationship and grace and mercy; had a hard time with relationships, even though I had some, because my parents taught me nothing about relationships, because they knew very little; I though all of this was normal; secretly inside, I was nurturing a great disdain and hatred for the way I was being raised and neglected, emotionally, by my parents)

1981-1990
Still made good grades in school (or else); my mother had cancer three times and died in 1988, my freshman year in college; I still haven’t cried for her, not really. My dad, and the little emotions he did show, checked out completely, giving in to his shame and guilt that he carried from WWII and being a recovered alcoholic; he stayed on the wagon, but his shame was evident. I hated HS, really. I had some friends, and I graduated third in my class, but again, my lack of social skills kept me from really making good friends and really fitting in. I started college at a small school near my hometown, then transferred to the University of Alabama in 1990, which was refreshing; no one knew me; I had a chance to start over. My dad retired and started to travel abroad. And though it was probably the roughest period of my life, I thought all of this was normal. With mom and dad “gone”, my mantra became, “I got this”, because no one else was there to help.

When I was 13, I became a Christian, for the first time, in a real sense. But I still had no idea of what a relationship with God looked like. But I know I felt His presence and I gave my life to Him, the best I could. I committed to serving Him and following the rules and regulations, because that’s all I knew to do.

Also, in this time, I became addicted to pornography. I have no one to blame; it was my choice. My need for any kind of attachment and emotional bonding led me down that road. This addiction would last into my 20’s, stop for a while, then resurface with the advent of the internet. No more trying to look inconspicuous in bookstores. It was too easy.

1991-2000
I graduated with a BS in Aerospace Engineering in 1992, with a good GPA. My dad was still checked out and traveling abroad in an RV, and unbeknowst to me, accumulating a large amount of debt. He got married in 1992, shortly after I moved to MD for my first job, and got an annullment 2 weeks later. (??!?!?!!?) While in MD, “I got this” broke down when I got into a serious relationship with a couple of different women. I just didn’t know how to handle real world relationships beyond the physical part of them (with women), and the issues that arise from that. I was a small child in a 30 year old body; by this time, I knew this wasn’t normal.

My dad got married again to a lady in Oregon. In usual Dad fashion, I was informed by him on the phone after the fact. I was glad he was settled down somewhere. As much as I didn’t enjoy hanging around him when he visited, and our conversations on the phone were never much more than about the weather and my job, I worried about him.

I moved to NY in 1997 after getting laid off from my job in MD. God provided for me; I have never felt more close to Him that at that time. When I got laid off, it was Him and me. That was it. Either He provides me a job (I sent out tons of resume’s, I had to do the work), or life is gonna get hard really quick. I knew a pastor in upstate NY, he asked me to come up and drop off some resume’s, and a local company called the next day. God had His hand on me. I had a relationship with Him, as I had all my life, but I didn’t really KNOW Him. I also joined/started a local Christian rock band. We played both locally and abroad in PA and northern NY for 3 years. Some of the best times of my life, with really talented songwriters and musicians. I left the traditional church I was attending and started going to Union Center Christian Church, the church I still attend and am a member of today. This was a turning point.

2001-present
The band dissolved amicably. Everyone got married or moved away (except for me). I became addicted to porn again (as described previously). I went into counseling at my church. It was during this time that I discovered what a relationship with God was. I was not a bass player, or an engineer, or a musician, or a smart person; I was a child of God. Period. The counseling did not help with my addiction. I had a good job, and was still enjoying playing bass and keys and singing at church, but my shame and guilt and generally poor perspective of myself kept me from bonding with others.

I met my wife, Kara, in 2002, at small group. She had come to know God as her saviour after hitting rock bottom in her life. I’ll spare the details, but she had been through a LOT. It left scars that were still there, but her commitment to God was real. We got engaged, disengaged, then engaged again, and married in October of 2004. During this time, God was moving in me. Big time. I learned first, that I didn’t want to look at porn anymore because it was hurting my fiancee’. Then second, because it wasn’t real, and I wanted a real relationship, with her, God, and everyone else. Then third, because it was killing ME on the inside. And I got to a place where I loved myself enough not to do that to myself anymore. (note to readers: If you’re struggling with porn or any addiction really, change will not come until you quit for YOURSELF, not for your wife, kids, or any other reason…this is my humble opinion, but I believe it to be true). I have not gone back to porn since. I have no need to. I love myself enough to keep myself healthy emotionally in that manner.

We got married. It was hard. The months leading up to the wedding revealed a lot of scars, sin, and trouble in each of our lives. I will not say we shouldn’t have gotten married. I WILL say that there was so much confusion, miscommunication, and sin involved that it was destined to fail. I was still coping with growing up “inside”, and she didn’t understand or comprehend what was going on because of everything going on inside of her. Including bulimia, which she went to rehab for shortly after we were married. We separated in 2005, and were divorced in 2007. She got married the month after the papers went final. I haven’t heard from her again.

This was a dark time. But a good time. A time of growth. I no longer had to bear everything myself. Although it’s been hard to accept help, I can actually do it now.

In 2009, after a bout of serious depression, I started counseling again, this time “professionally”, at the behest of a good friend. I was diagnosed within a month with OCD (can’t get thoughts out of my head…they get “stuck”), a form of bipolar disorder (hypomania…a sort of constantly semi-depressed state with periods of elation; not like the roller coaster of emotion that bipolar is normally known to be), and anxiety. A “cocktail” of three medications was prescribed, and it changed my life. God provided this for me. I am still taking them, and am no longer overwhelmed by circumstances as I have been most or all of my life; it explained SO MUCH of my life and my behaviors, it granted me so much peace. I have a long way to go, as we all do, but I’d like to think I’m growing still.

My relationship with God is still on and off, but I have peace that I know Him, and I’m not stressed when I don’t “feel” Him around. My church has been through many transitions, but I’d never leave. They are my family. My father passed away in 2011 (his wife passed away in 2006, and he moved back to TX, where he grew up, in 2007), simply from old age. He was difficult in his last years, very needy, and still living with guilt and shame that only he could give away, but didn’t. I know that now. I didn’t know that for a long time.

I have also gotten to know my half-step siblings in TX, and reunited with my cousins there, as well. I have family. We’re a ways apart, geographically. But it’s a very good thing.

I’m still in counseling, learning the tools of communication, etc. I need to have healthy relationships. I have growing to do. I will not stop. I am thankful for my life and how God has brought me thus far, to 45. I need reminders sometimes of how good I’ve got it, how good my life is, both materially, and with the relationships I have with God and my church family, and others. But I am thankful for it all. As much as my parents tried to shelter me from the world, my mother’s illness, and lots of other things, I have finally experienced “real life”, and I am all the better for it.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: