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2010 - The Year Of The Villian

Sometimes I wish this blog was simply a notepad so I could really speak on it. For the sake of others I hold back and sometimes diminish the full therapeutic possibilities that I'm sure this experience has the potential to bring...

But then I might not be so motivated to write if I knew I was the only one reading...

Coming into 2010, I wasn't prepared for what was in store for me. It was by far the worst year of my life and it is one that I hope to never cross paths with again. But if I do, hopefully I will know how to deal.

In 2010 I became the villain.

I was ridiculed on Facebook.
I was insulted via text messaging.
I was on the lips and tongues of people who don't know me, nor do I know them.
I was mocked and vilified for my beliefs.
I was castigated for being me.
I was cursed and hated and blamed for everything. Then branded a helpless and less than respectable fool who's only talent is to play the role of the dramatic martyr.
Nearly every word I spoke was twisted into something I didn't actually say.
I spent many days stating, "That's not true."
I spent many more looking in the mirror and asking, "Well, is that true?"
I put one cheek forth only for it to get slapped. Turned the other one forward and it got slapped too.
I begged God for help and got deafening silence for a very long time.
I stopped speaking to nearly everyone I know.
I needlessly shuttered the doors on friendships because I had no idea who my friends actually were.
I became paranoid, not knowing who to trust and not wanting to trust anyone.
Finally I got strong in Him and thankfully let go of it all as best I could.

This isn't to say that I didn't play a role in any of the above. There are always three sides to every story.

While all of this was going on, I learned how to box --- a little. Besides losing a little weight, boxing enhanced my reflexes, taught me to understand my opponents movements, to anticipate where the next blow might be coming from and how to strike with pinpoint accuracy. The boxer's goal is to not get hit, wear out his (or her) opponent, expose their weaknesses and ultimately win, preferably by knocking them out.

The teachings in the ring began to spill out into my life. I began to prance and dance, jab, weave and slip. I studied and began to recognize my opponents movements. They were brazen and sloppy, uncoordinated, filled with boasting and pride, vicious but most importantly, telegraphed.

And after being made to feel as if I was the villain for a better part of the year, I finally decided to become that which I had been called and found myself savoring it. I used my pain over the mess that my life had become as fuel. Maybe it was like the Art of War, though I've never read that book. Maybe I simply began to grow strong by using my opponents weaknesses to my advantage. My opponent quickly became my prey and I began to circle, like the wolf or the serpent, all the while allowing myself to remain being perceived as the less than respectable fool.

I began to see red...blood was in the water. I was ready to strike and make sure my opponent didn't get back up.

But then during a particular thorny session I decided to share all this with my marriage counselor...

"But Eric," he said to me. "There's no turning back from what you're talking about. This isn't some enemy you're talking about. This is your wife. No one will win. Regardless of what is happening right now and I know it hurts...with love you can turn this around. I promise you."

And just like that he cast out the villain (another name may come to mind for some of you reading this). The villain retreated and left me, the broken Man, the proud but doubting Dad and the unsure and quite possibly unloved Husband, behind to put the broken pieces back together. But unlike the movies where the enemy has been routed and the sun shines on all, to this very day challenges continue to erupt around me. I have no closure on this year, no epitaph for the insanity so the pain revisits often. Temptation frequents in its attempts to make me a real villain. I'm in an unfamiliar land and self-doubt comes to me every morning at 3 am, snatching me from sleep and keeping me up sometimes until dawn. This is when I am most prayerful, most humble and most beseeching the presence of the Lord.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, Thou art with me..."

It would be too easy to become that which I was accused of being. I respect myself too much for that. I value life too much to join the ranks of society and assert the grand ME over everything and everyone else. If God gives me the breath to reach 40 I intend to celebrate mid-life, not have a crisis. Besides, my crisis is now. But I'd be remiss to say that I didn't experience several joys along the way.

2010 left my life scattered in pieces, but in seeing the pieces of me I now know how to get them all back to re-purpose myself and re-emerge victorious. Slowly I've been picking them up, piece by piece. When the victory does come it will be over negative thinking, self-doubt, destructive habits, wasted opportunities, nonsensical talk, joy-stealing, hopelessness, hatred and maybe most importantly, fear. Easier said than done. By far I am not a perfect man and I'm often not right at all. But I do know life is meant to be lived to the fullest. I definitely believe in Heaven, but I don't know what waits for me in the hereafter. All I have is right now. Yesterday is too late. It is a foregone conclusion. There is no promise of tomorrow. But beauty and joy abound right now. This can take any and all forms. Seeing a little girl's smile. Watching a boy you call "son" rapidly approach manhood and relate to you as a man. Giving a well deserved hug to a spouse during a moment when they need it much more than you do. Waking up and breathing fresh air into your lungs. Witnessing a pot of dirt grow into a little garden of cherry tomatoes. Whatever your reality may be appreciate all of it, from the little to the majestic. As bad as things may appear to be as long as you have breath in your lungs, you have the ability to find joy in this life. Grab it, hold fast to it, don't let go of it and don't let anyone take it from you.

If there is any gift that I can give to all of you, my loyal, loyal readers, that I am so thankful for, this is it. My words. In black and white. Please live. Please laugh. Please love.

I can't think of a better song that embodies capturing and holding onto the joy of life than this one below. Enjoy!

Lyrics | Robin Thicke - My Life lyrics

Whether your plans leave you alone, with family, with the one you love, at church or curled up in front of the TV. Get it started tonight. Live the dream tonight.

Happy New Year!

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