Getting Happy... when you wish you were dead

Day 127 – Sunday, 17 Mar

Part of making a different choice, of being sure I'm not kidding myself, is staying committed to getting work done for the book and Kickstarter campaign. I realised today that I've been thinking about the work, but really doing anything. This has been a stumbling block for most of my life.

I equate thinking about a project, or talking about it, with getting things done. It's a brutal form of self-sabotage. This time, I'm making it different.

Everybody says knowing a problem exists is half the battle. I'm not quite sure that's accurate, but it's dead certain you can't do anything about a problem until you admit it exists. So today I talked to myself about what the problem is, what I want to do differently, and how to go about it.

I re-committed to doing the work, and started getting it done today. I put action with my thoughts and words. I sat down and went through all the notes I have for the book and the Kickstarter campaign to get my mind back into completing both. Part of sorting through everything is trying to form some sort of schedule for myself.

I'm still in PADS, so there is a basic structure of having to be at each church by six pm, and being out the door each morning by seven am. I spoke with the folks at We Care last week, and decided to volunteer there each Monday, Wednesday and Thursday morning. It feels very good to be doing something constructive with my time, and there's the bonus of being able to have extra food. And I'm seeing Matthew Parks every Tuesday and Friday in the morning.

That gives me every afternoon to be at the library working on the book and Kickstarter project.

Since disagreeing with Pastor Cook, and leaving the congregation, the support from Ben Fields has evaporated. That's disappointing, but it mostly makes sense. Making this work means having to make new relationships and new connections.

I have a blogsite up for the book. I've posted a couple of times, and am working at finding things to write about. It's a little scary to be taking a Cranium Ex Rectum attitude in the posts. It's definitely good to make people sit up and take notice, but risking the negative reactions is a little scary when you don't have any sort of home base.

The post I wrote today was about being happy even though I don't have all the stuff of a normal, stable life. I got thinking yesterday about what it was like after a car accident I had eighteen and half years ago. It was a bad accident.

I was in the army at the time, and on my way to see my parents for the first time in years. My unit was headed overseas, and I had no intention of coming back. The easiest way to commit suicide is picking a fight in a war zone.

Anyway, I was driving along Snake Road. That isn't its real name; just a nickname because the road twists back and forth, and goes up and down an escarpment. It's a road I used to drive all the time when going to high school.

The last time I looked at the speedometer, I was doing eighty-four kilometers an hour (about fifty-two miles per hour). That was just after seeing a yellow warning sign showing a hairpin turn ahead. The sign recommended doing twenty kilometers (fifteen miles) per hour through the turn. It had just started to rain, and the road was slick. I never made it through the turn.

It took ten and a half hours of surgery to put me back together.

I remember getting back to the barracks after leaving the hospital. Everyone was packing because they were leaving the next day. Have you ever seen one of those movies where someone is walking down a hallway and everybody comes out of the rooms to stare at the person? That's what happened to me.

You see, everyone in my unit had been told I was killed in the crash. They didn't know I was alive. When I showed up in the barracks twelve days later, I looked a lot like a ghost. My clothes hung loosely because I had lost so much weight. I was exhausted from the trip and was dragging my feet, and everyone said I was white as a sheet. Probably not the most encouraging thing to see the night before leaving for overseas duty.

Even though I was tired, weak and in pain, I remember being thankful to be alive. Strange, isn't it? Before the car accident, I had attempted suicide thirty-two times. Some of them came very close to being successful. Then, the one time I succeed in getting myself killed, it's in a car accident when I had absolutely no intention or desire to hurt myself.

Ever since that accident, the colours have been a little more intense, and I've listened better. It wasn't any kind of magic cure, of course. It didn't suddenly turn my life around, or turn me into John Maxwell or Seth Godin. But the experience has certainly stayed with me.

That's what I was thinking about yesterday, and what I wrote about today. My life is far from ideal right now, and I'm still grateful to be alive. Alive, I can make things happen, work toward success, and keep making choices.

In a way, it's the same decision or realization I made on the bridge a couple months ago. Then it was anger that encouraged me to think "No way am I letting all the bastards I've met in my life win." I'd be lying if I said the anger was all gone, but there's something else with it now. In addition to wanting to prove people wrong, there's a desire to build a happy, healthy, productive life.

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