Post #6 – Living in the Struggle

Kevin St Onge(Kevin)

Hello friends, hello Jen. It is my turn to initiate our writing and I am struggling. It is not the infamous “writer’s block.” No, I have plenty to say, too much actually. You see, I have had a bumpy week emotionally. I feel like whatever is going to come out in this latest blog entry is going to meander a bit, but, hopefully, eventually arrive somewhere of substance. Here it goes…

Ever have a crisis of faith? Whatever your particular faith is. Whatever truths you hold close in your heart. Whatever it is that gives your life purpose and meaning. Ever lose faith in that?

I think that I had one this week. In order to protect those in my life that I love and care about, I am not going to share the particulars of my life’s events right now. Suffice to say that in the last week or so, I have seen a meaningful friendship end, had a close family member drift away and disappoint me, experienced setbacks in business that have caused me once again to question what am I really supposed to be doing with my life, and someone very dear to me faces uncertainty in a potentially very serious health matter.

I am just in one of those places where it feels like everything is going to shit. Where it feels like I just can’t catch a break and get on a roll. When I get feeling like this, I ask out loud to any god, or higher power, or whomever will listen: “What the fuck”!!!??? I truly want to give up or, at least stay safely tucked in bed with the blankets pulled tightly down over my head.

Over the last year and more, since Kristin died, I have been engaged in an epic battle to get up off my knees and embrace this odyssey of self-discovery and growth; trying to figure out who I am without her and what I am meant to be doing with the rest of my life. I have tried to not feel the victim, as I have written about before. I have tried hard to expect that love and happiness are meant for me and are on their way. When they start to arrive, I have try even harder to accept that I am worthy to have them in my life.

faithI have placed my faith in my power as a spiritual being who, as we all are, is connected to all of the universe’s infinite energy. I truly believe that not only are we solely responsible for the joy, or lack thereof, that we have in our lives, but we possess the power to create it. Our ultimate happiness is not out there somewhere, it resides within each of us. I have come to really believe that all I need to do is to live my life with integrity, pure intentions, in alignment with my higher-self, and trusting that my life’s journey will lead me to the best possible places and outcomes. But, when your life’s experiences do not seem to be reflecting that ideal, it gets awful hard to maintain such a rosey spiritual perspective.

I can recall with crisp precision the crisis of faith moment I had when Kristin was sick. I was talking, more like yelling, to whomever, or whatever, it is we talk to in those moments. I said, “If you want me to believe in you then heal her”! That, of course, did not happen and yet somehow I didn’t lose my faith, but rather, I have been transformed into a more spiritual, faith based person. It is as if my pain has been the fire in the forge, and I the stubborn, unbending, obstinate chunk of steel that has been smithed into a far more useful tool. (Yes, I just called myself a tool.)

So, where does all this spiritual growth leave me when when life gets hard and I’m doubting the very foundation upon which I am trying to rebuild my life? Well, I freak out! I mean really lose my shit for a minute, or longer, and I write something like this in my journal to Kristin:

You know what? You were right! This IS it! You live and die, and that’s it! There isn’t more! You’re fucking dead! You’re gone! Your spirit didn’t live on, there is no point to any of this!

We just make all this shit up in our heads because for most of us, life sucks so bad that we need to believe that enduring the suck will get us somewhere. For others, we just can’t fucking comprehend how insignificant our lives actually are and we need to believe that there is more. We need to believe that “love conquers all.” When? Show me! Show me when love has ever conquered. It doesn’t. Greed, self-centeredness, anger, and hate, that’s what conquers all.

You’re fucking dead! You aren’t with me, you don’t “watch over me” you’re fucking gone! Someday, I will be too. People might shed a tear, but then they have to move on, they can’t linger too long or else they will come face to face with their own mortality and that scares the ever loving shit out of them.

So, we cling to our Neighborhood of Make-Believe. An elaborate fantasy world where no one really dies, our energy lives on, we are in another dimension. Fuck that!

We develop further fantasies about how we can be in charge of our own happiness through the power of intention. Well, my intention was for you to not die; how did that work out?

All of this New Age Bullshit is just that, bullshit! It makes you weak so that life’s inevitable hurts just sting all the more. Fuck that!

We demonize the “I got mine” attitude in our society, but that’s because most of us aren’t strong enough to go make it happen; it’s like spiritual Darwinism.

I have swallowed people hurting me and letting me down for long enough! Fuck them, and fuck this shit! They are weak mother fuckers! Not me, I am going to embrace my anger and use it’s strength to go get mine!

I love you Baby, but you’re dead. Just like you believed. I tried to convince you otherwise, but you were always smarter than me. This is it, this is all we get. So fuck it! Fuck everybody! Life wants me to be angry and be an asshole, you got it!

Well! That was something, wasn’t it? I really hesitated to share it but my goal for myself, and this blog, is to be real and authentic. That journal entry is as real as it gets. My pain, and crisis of faith, put into words.

I have friends whom have many different talents and creative outlets, I wish I could play an instrument and write a song, or maybe paint or draw a picture, but those aren’t where my talents are, and they don’t serve me well as an outlet. Writing does. I seem to be able to tap into the rawness and complexity of my emotions and through sharing my words, I’m told that people are touched and find value in reading them. And so, I offer you this blog.

Writing helps me to purge myself of the flood of negative, angry, hopeless, despairing feelings that build up when life starts to turn to shit. Writing helps me return to my center, regain my balance, and embrace my faith in the power of love and all that is good.

Despite my earlier outburst, I don’t believe that it is fake and I don’t think that I blindly believe. I feel the truth of it, that a divine white light burns in each of us. We are all connected if only we would allow ourselves to be.

I called this a crisis of faith, but what is faith if we only believe it and trust it when life is great? There is a tremendously motivating video by Inky Johnson making its rounds on social media. Inky was a star college football player who suffered a career ending injury just 8 games before he would have been drafted into the NFL. In the video talks about commitment, I believe that one could easily substitute the word “faith” and his message would still ring loud and true: “Commitment is staying true to what you said you were gonna do long after the mood that you have set it in has left. You see, people think commitment is saying yes, I’ll do it on days when it feels good.” If faith is to be the bedrock of our lives, if I am going to build a new and improved version of Kevin on set of beliefs, then I have to trust them in my darkest hours.

So, why must we struggle? Why is there so much hurt? Why is life just so hard sometimes? I know for me, it’s because I’m learning, healing, and growing. The intensity of the pain, the degree of difficulty, the level of challenge, is always in direct proportion to the lesson, the wound, or the skill I am acquiring.

How do I know all this is real and true? Because my love for a woman endures. I am as in love with her, if not more, as the day we said our last goodbyes. So you see, love does indeed conquer all because it endures.

Crisis over. What’s next life? I’m ready!

Author Jen Parker(Jen)

I found a small little book years ago when I was in the midst of one of many personal crisis. I was in a chaotic downward spiral, wearing an anchor of uncertainty, shame, and guilt. The book was so small that it could rest on my hand with its edges barely moving past the outline of my palm and fingers. Its vibrant colored hard cover and simple title made me pause. The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz presented itself to me in a time I needed it most. I picked it up and made my way to the cashier. I hadn’t even looked inside to see what it was about.

I’ve lived my life in a sea of apologies. With a strong sense of self buried under years of people pleasing, and unwillingly starting off life in the role as a child victim. I’ve spent most of my time walking a tightrope of activism for change and smoothing of feathers. There were years that would go by when I would fall silent, finding it much easier and calmer to sail through if I didn’t stir up the waters around me when something just didn’t feel right or add up. Inevitably against my own better judgement, my gut would win out and I would act impulsively. I would find myself speaking out against something that wasn’t recognizing all the participants, or worse keeping some out of the game. These moments found me bringing my hands up to cover my mouth, wide eyed and frustrated that I couldn’t keep my own voice down, I felt vulnerable and sympathetic to those I may have opposed or worse offended. This is my achilles heel, the incessant need to apologize and smooth over words or actions taken in favor of ideologies I very much believe in as my own truth.

It was one of those times that I found it most difficult to just simply float along that I turned the key in my new front door, carried the small book up the stairs to our living room and collapsed on our couch. It had only been a month or so since I had left my home, having made a major declaration that I was no longer going to take part in a loveless marriage and was ending what most likely should have never been started. I pulled the small book from the bag and sunk into the corner of the sectional. The book was divided into four easy to read chapters. There was a brief bio about the book and author, explaining his journey and how he came to write The Four Agreements. I felt my body relax, my wrinkled brow ease as I allowed myself to breathe and somewhere deep inside know that everything was okay.

Here is the magical little book in a nutshell:
1. Be Impeccable With Your Words.

Speak with integrity.
Say only what you mean.
Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.
Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Too Personally.

Nothing others do is because of you.
What others say and do is a projection of their own dream.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions.

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.
Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.
With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best.

Your best changes from moment to moment.
Your best is different when you are healthy as opposed to when you are sick.
Simply do your best in any moment to avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.

The book offers a logical explanation of why each of these agreements will exert a positive force unto your life and help get you to a place of balance and ease. Having returned to it many times over the past ten years, I realize that one of the most important attributes each of us may possess is compassion for ourselves and others. Compassion brings patience, kindness, and understanding. It gives us space to make mistakes and allow others to do the same. Compassion knows that we are human and will make mistakes, it holds our hands when we are loneliest, it lifts our spirits when we feel downtrodden, and it melts our hearts when we see adversaries suffering and allows us to be multidimensional.

I am human. I make mistakes, some days a lot. Just like you, I feel. I feel joy, sadness, love, and fear. I am trying to do my best in each and every moment but some days I come off as a hot mess and I feel as though I’ve washed ashore without hopes of being rescued. When Kevin so eloquently shared his moment of feeling as though he had lost faith, I could only nod my head and agree with every emotion he allowed to pour out onto his keyboard. We all live in the struggle of life but without the struggle we wouldn’t know happiness. Compassion for ourselves and others is what allows us to wake up each new day and start over, hit the reset button and be on our way to self discovery of what truly makes us happy and allows us to be fully present in the moment.

There are days that my faith is stronger than myself and then there are days that I question if all of this love, compassion, and kindness is just another line that we feed ourselves to feel better. I choose to have faith in love not fear, but if I can’t and fall into fear, I allow myself a second, third, and fourth do-over.

Do I lose faith like Kevin? Yes. I would add to his incredibly authentic voice that for me, it’s never really that far from where I am, I just need to reposition myself back in the sunlight sailing on waters I choose, and headed for places I want to be.



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