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Why are you so happy?

June 27, 2005

About this time a year ago, it seems a lifetime, my life seemed to be falling apart. My wife was in the deep darkness of depression. Possibly something different. We had sought out help from Psychiatrists to Joe Beam. Was it a satanic attack? Was is type 2 Bi-polar? What is a guy to do?

I wanted to hide. I wanted to feel sorry for me. It eventually all crumbled down and a dear friend ministered and counseled us. He quickly realized that although we had been close, close friends for over 15 years, that I had some issues. Issues that he didn’t know about. I had learned to hide them well. I was the best actor in the family. My siblings all thought that somehow I had come out better than any of them. It wasn’t true.

Antwone Fisher brought this back to my mind. In case your wondering. I still struggle with fear of rejection. But I am much more open and transparent than I was. I am able to be intimate with my wife and friends, but it still is hard at times. Some how me and my sisters feel that no matter how “successful” we are that when in a room full of people, nobody really wants us to be there.

I will share a poem my sister shared with me

mother lore

once in
a serpentine tangle of rain
my dad made
this photo:
my mama’s face, buried kiss-deep
in flowers and
laughter, sweet and
brunette in her hair.
i remember
just where her lips parted
(tender, tender)
powdered with pollen:
the muddy narcissus
a treasure,
the first yellow show
of the year.

for me: when I shivered my
way through
piano recitals and too
many nights’ of their wars
and always turned
up anemic,
she learned from old
wives about tonics
and stirred
spoonfuls of fierce French’s
mustard in fast golden
in water–spring purgings,
I drank through a straw:
emetic afternoons she now says
never happened.

remember: how she wouldn’t leave him,
though many a daffodil-evening
we crossed the state line
her foot on the gas pedal, me
pushed down in the
then chaining the door
against the father, alcohol-
of the cinder-block vacant motel
where we wiped our tears into pillows,
sipping our freedom
faint as the memory of
and the magic
of seventeen miles’ distance:
asylum lasting only
one night.

some of the ice-blocks this winter
held me down like
the last maple leaf smeared in thick mud,
or more like
one of those nights
(later, later)
when, tiptoeing to his locked
bedroom door,
she wrapped a 38-pistol
up in a hand-towel
of saffron,
a terrycloth-thin
try at silencing.
winter, by then,
stirred strong
in her eyes
the night-shaded bloom in her hand,
and she smiled.

That poem confirmed for me what I was not even sure was real. So much was blocked from my memory.

I share this because all around you are children caught is horrible situations. My heart leaps out to them. But will my hands leap to them more? Will yours? How many ways can we find to be more like Jesus in welcoming the children

By the way, life is SO much better now, in the past year I have commented that I finally really felt joy. I always wondered what those silly people were so happy about.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2005 12:57 pm

    Wow, Tommy –

    Powerful post today. It’s a strong reminder to all of us to be more aware of children around us who may need help, such as you and your sister did.

    In a lot of ways, although your stories are different in some major, some minor, details your story reminds me very much of the stories David Barnett has been developing and telling since June 5 in his blog A CORE Life: Journey to Authenticity about his young father’s (possible suicidal) death in an auto accident and his mother’s overwhelming mental illness, which led to the kids being shifted from foster home to foster home in their young lives until they finally were adopted by a(n) (apparently rather stern and strict) Christian family.

    I told David and I want to tell you that I have much admiration and respect for you in sharing your life and your story as you have. I found a long time ago that it is in our willingness and openness to share with those around us who care that we find true joy and peace in our lives, at last.

    It is in the overcoming of those horrors of the past and of some of our childhoods and early years, with God’s help, that freedom comes.

    I think one of the reasons I’ve always loved being a journalist so was because I found out early on that each and every person I ever interviewed had a “story” to tell. Each and every one of us has a story.

    One of my favorite things to do while I was Community Editor for the Picayune Item was to go out to the nursing home every couple of weeks or so to talk with three or four residents at a time who the administrater thought would be interesting for me to talk with (and coherent). Most of them had never been interviewed or been in the newspaper at all about anything.

    But, I quickly learned that most, if not all of them, had lived through some really horrendous things, challenging times, difficult days and had not only survived and endured, but prevailed, going on to live good, rich productive lives. Most were lively and intelligent, although many not well schooled, and most engaging to talk with.

    You have come to find many of those good things in your life, already, and will continue to experience more, believe me. Nothing the world can throw you is stronger than God’s love for you and His presence with you and in you to help you along the way.

    I’m SO glad you’ve found true happiness and joy. This may surprise you, but I was just about exactly your age when my life began to get much better and hopeful and it was not until I was in my 40s that I came to find true happiness. I haven’t written much, if any at all, about the “bad” things in my life up until then because of my children and some of the people who read my blog, but there were many things there, believe me.

    How is your wife? You didn’t say how she is doing with (or after, I hope) the “deep darkness of depression.” I hope she is well. I suffered from deep dark depression off and on for many years, so understand completely how awful it is.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. Oh, and thanks a lot for the great comment this morning. I emailed it to Tom to read at work as he’s very interested in all everyone is having to say.

  2. June 27, 2005 2:08 pm

    thanks for the comment. Kim is much much better, Well I would say. It’s like a monster locked up, or dead, you know its gone, you just hope it doesn’t come back. Child birth may have helped trigger this, but I think I alluded to me being the key to helping her. After realizing and confronting some things I had not dealt with I was finally able to be what she needed. Thanks for asking.

  3. June 27, 2005 2:27 pm

    I appreciate you sharing this Tommy, I know that you must really understand what it means to remove your “mask”.

    I am so glad that you have found joy!

  4. June 27, 2005 11:26 pm

    Yes! I saw the movie Antwone Fisher (still reading the book). I had the opportunity to spend some time with Antwone at an event he spoke to a little of a year ago.

    He is definitely a resilient soul.

    I heard a great sermon yesterday about fear by Rick Atchley at the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. He was the visiting speaker for Mike (we were visiting). He did not an extensive study of fear. Of course the only thing we should fear is God. The greater our fear (awesome respect) of God, the less we fear man.

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. Dee is a blog community builder!


  5. June 28, 2005 1:40 pm


    I continued the mask converstaion
    on Weekenders if you want to check it out.

  6. June 29, 2005 11:04 am

    Thanks for sharing your struggles. It shows great growth when you can post this stuff to complete strangers…stuff that you used to hide from your close friends.
    Just want to encourage you to USE this difficulty for God’s glory!
    A few months ago I taught a lesson on “Being a REAL Christian.” The focus was on honesty and openness.
    Afterwards, a lady told me I shouldn’t talk about sexual abuse in the church (and tried to use Philip. 4:8 to back it up.)
    Here’s my two cents…how can we know who to approach with our struggles if we don’t share this stuff? In other words, do people at your church know what you went through so they can send people with similar problems to you?
    I wanted to share with our congregation that I had been abused as a boy. My wife wanted me to keep my job, so I used other stories. How sad!
    God wants us to USE our weakness to help others (2 Cor. 1:4)
    Anyways, thanks again for sharing!

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  8. April 5, 2006 12:48 pm

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