143 days to happiness – 11 Nov 2012 to 2 Apr 2013
A test of what I have learned in life about being happy, getting happy and letting go of pain
NOTE: Some names have been changed. The manuscript does not reflect well on them, so their name is changed to protect their privacy as much as possible.
8 – 10 Nov 2012 – GKIC Info Summit in Nashville, TN
Day 1 – Sunday, 11 Nov 2012 – Happy and Confident changes to Fear
Came home one day early to share my success with Yvette. I landed six new clients at Info Summit. This means over $250,000 in income for 2013. Unfortunately, I arrive home to find Yvette is out.
The fear is back – is she cheating? So often she says “I’m going out.” When I ask what she’s doing, she says she’s just running errands or going to the grocery store. But she’s gone for hours and comes back with only a bag or two of stuff.
This is the break we’ve been waiting for – that I finally put it all together and landed clients. But before I go to bed, my confidence has changed to wondering if it’s too late.
Day 2 – Monday 12 Nov 2012 – Disappointed
Told Yvette about the new clients today. I expected her to be happy with my success, but she didn’t seem to be.
She said congratulations, and that she’s happy for me, but she didn’t want to talk about who the clients are or what I’m doing for them. At first I thought it was because we were talking in the morning before she went to work. But she wasn’t any more interested in the evening.
Day 3 – Tuesday, 13 Nov 2012 – Hopeful but Cautious
Today is our third wedding anniversary. Yvette gives me a card saying “As the journey continues I’m there with you.”
She leaves it on the bedside table. No hug, no kiss, no conversation. The card gives me a warm feeling, but I wonder if it’s true. I can’t escape my fear that Yvette is cheating, and this is just an effort to cover her guilt. I love her so much. Why do I do such a poor job of showing her my love?
Day 4-7 – Wednesday, 14 Nov to Saturday, 17 Nov
Day 8 – Sunday, 18 Nov 2012 – Depressed and Lonely
We haven’t talked all week. I give Yvette her card back. I tell her what I’m feeling and she doesn’t want to talk about it. That night, she picks a fight in front of the kids over the dog being hers and she can do as she pleases. I feel powerless, humiliated and betrayed.
For three years it has been a seesaw of Yvette asking for my help and urging the kids to follow my example – then sabotaging the progress we make to keep the kids close and me on the outside. I feel like a failure.
Day 9 – Monday, 19 Nov 2012
Day 10 – Tuesday, 20 Nov 2012 – Surprised, Angry and Betrayed
Deputy Anthony Celise shows up at the house to tell me I have to leave. Yvette has filed for divorce and obtained an Order of Protection because I verbally harassed her. Because I raise my voice when I’m upset, she’s entitled to this order and has me kicked out of the house with whatever I can carry on my back.
Yvette has always said she “just wants to be a little Indian, do her work, and collect her check.” I never thought she would go this far to keep me from succeeding. I leave the house wanting to just quit. I wish I could lay down and die.
Day 11 – Wednesday, 21 Nov 2012 – Panic and Despair
I rent a car from Enterprise, then go to see Friend Mary. She encourages me to head south away from the winter cold of Illinois. I ask her for her advice, but she says it’s a good idea to leave. There’s nothing for me here anymore.
I know I’m going to die. I have to. I’ll drive this car into a bridge, or off one, and the pain will stop.
Day 12 – Thursday, 22 Nov
Day 13 – Friday, 23 Nov 2012 – Hopeful but Frustrated
I’m lost in Loredo, TX, and in a rough part of town. A patrolling border guard offers to help. He gives me directions to a post office that turns out to be several miles away because it’s in a better section of town. It also means passing several other post offices on the way there. I want the post office so I can mail my wallet, cell phone and a letter to Yvette. Since Yvette has taken everything else, I think she should have these things, too. I’ve figured out how to die.
When I turn the corner to the post office, I see a church right behind it. I’m so surprised I stop the car in the middle of the street. I’ll grasp at any straw to live. Any hope that there’s a way to stop the pain without my having to give up and die. But I’m frustrated, too. The hope means I have to keep trying, keep living, keep not knowing what tomorrow will bring.
Day 14 – Saturday, 24 Nov
Day 15 – Sunday, 25 Nov 2012 – Timid, Embarrassed and Resigned
I’ve hung around waiting to meet the pastor of this church. I choose to believe God put a church right behind this post office because He has something to say. Maybe I don’t want to know what it is.
It turns out the church has no pastor. Instead, I meet the treasurer of the First Baptist Church of Laredo, TX. He tells me to go home and work it out. I’m on the road at 1pm, and arrive in Morris the next day at 5:12 pm
I waited three days to hear the message, so I’m going to take action on it. I don’t like it, and spend the first few hours on the road letting myself be angry at Yvette for hurting me, telling myself how bad an idea this is, swearing at myself for being so stupid, and quietly hoping God is giving me my wife and family back.
Day 16-17 – Monday, 26 Nov and Tue, 27 Nov
Day 18 – Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012 – Shocked, Disappointed and Outraged
Yvette has me arrested for apologising and asking to work out our differences. She lies to the police in filing her report – claiming I went past the house when we actually met outside her place of work. She later admits in court that she lied to police but calls it a mistake.
First Period in Jail
Day 18-30 – Wednesday, 28 Nov 2012 to Monday, 10 Dec 2012 – Introspective, Angry and even Peaceful
I spend my time in jail fasting and praying. Reading scripture and taking a long hard look at myself, and what I have been doing for the last three years. I begin looking at what I am responsible for and can do something about versus things out of my control that I’d like to change. My emotions swing from injustice and anger to loving Yvette and asking God for guidance.
Day 30 – Monday, 10 Dec 2012 – Worried and Happy
I’m released from jail on my own recognisance. I’m happy to be free, and worried about what comes next. This is my first night in PADS – the shelter program for homeless people in Grundy County. It’s at Peace Lutheran Church. They take my picture and I feel like a convict. How long would it take to freeze if I just went for a walk without my jacket?
Day 31-32 – Tuesday, 11 Dec and Wednesday, 12 Dec
Day 33 – Thursday, 13 Dec 2012 – Sad
I get approved to file a reply to the Divorce Petition as a Poor Person. It’s official – I’m indigent. No longer a person, and just some poor guy.
Day 34 – Friday, 14 Dec 2012 – Depressed and Pessimistic
I lose the first of my clients today. It was hard to write them about this, but I have to be honest about my ability to perform. I’m depressed all the time and it’s hard to keep my thoughts straight. I’m afraid they’re all going to be lost – existing and the new clients I just signed up at Info Summit. The project we launched July 1st – Generation E – is certainly dead in the water.
Yvette agrees to bring some of my things to the Sheriff’s office this afternoon. Unfortunately, she claims she can’t find my razor, and she brought the wrong hard drive. Getting the wrong hard drive took a lot of effort.
Day 35 – Saturday, 15 Dec
Day 36 – Sunday, 16 Dec 2012 – Numb
My 46th birthday. I’m alone. No one knows it’s my birthday, and I miss Yvette. I still wonder why she chose to do this now. Did my success trigger something in her that doesn’t want to prosper? Is she cheating, and this is a convenient out? Is there something wrong with me that makes it impossible for me to love someone, or be loved?
I feel like a failure. The one thing I want to achieve in life is to love a woman well, and I have failed. I try to be balanced – that relationships take two people and all that – but all I see is my own failure. I want to love and be loved.
Day 37 – Monday, 17 Dec 2012 – Excited, Hopeful and Disappointed
My first counselling appointment in Channahon. Preacher Coltrane Lanterman at Alliance Counselling. I’m excited because this is the first thing I’m doing that’s really constructive. Yvette and I talked about my difficulty with anger before we ever got married, but we never found any help.
I’m disappointed because Pastor Cook seems utterly unwilling to make any accommodation with me. It’s Pastor Cook’s company – Alliance Counselling. When I arrive, I sell him my Jewel Food Card that’s worth $46. He takes $20 to cover the co-pay for the visit. I’m left with $26 to my name. He knows I have no way to keep getting to Channahon, and no way to keep paying the $20 co-pay, but when I ask him what we’re going to do after this first visit he says it’s up to me to figure these things out. It’s hard for me to believe I’m talking to a pastor.
Day 38 – Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012 – Hopeful turns to Astonished then to Despondent and Suicidal
In the morning I am hopeful. I want to be reunited with Yvette and the kids. I want us to be a family.
Yvette is granted a Plenary Order of Protection. She admits under oath to having abused me during our marriage, deprived me of medical assistant for coping with a disability, and lying to me repeatedly during our marriage, but the judge says I’m just blaming the victim.
That’s a common refrain – Yvette is right and I’m wrong. Why is no one listening to how much it hurt to have my wife exclude me from everything? To have her tell me weeks or months after that one of the kids said something good about me to her? What point is there if no one is willing to hear the truth?
I went to the Christian Youth Center and dropped off all my stuff to George. I told him it’s a delivery for Pastor Cook.
I make what I expected to be a successful suicide. My military and martial arts training served me better than I ever expected them to, and I must accept that God intervened. I came away unhurt after falling a great distance.
I think I was in shock. I went back to the Youth Center and asked George to speak with me outside. I tell him I tried to kill myself, and leave out the details. Most importantly, I tell him I realise I just don’t have it in me to quit this way.
That evening at PADS, I’m arrested for acting weird and confined for psychiatric observation for 72 hours. I’m sent to Silver Cross Hospital. While there, I continue to read scripture and reflect on just what it is I’ve been doing with my life.
Day 39 – Wednesday, 19 Dec 2012 – Angry and Combative
I meet Dr. Cosmé Lozano for the first time. I’m furious at being confined and end up making him just about equally angry. His mood changes when I make him admit that he really isn’t there to help – not yet anyway – he’s there simply because the i’s have to be dotted and the t’s crossed. Surprisingly, we have a long conversation and decide to accommodate each other.
Day 40 – Thursday, 20 Dec 2012 – Confused, Disorganised and Frustrated
I call Preacher Coltrane from the hospital. I agree counseling is needed, and recognise that I cannot produce the $20 co-pay for each visit. I’m not even sure I’m still covered under Yvette’s insurance. I leave a voicemail asking if he’d be willing to help me out. He never replies to the voicemail.
When Dr. Lozano comes through on rounds we talk about my having been diagnosed with ADD after getting out of the military. I suggest to him that while I won’t use the brain drugs he has suggested, I’d be willing to take Ritalin again. I wanted to go back to the 5mg, twice daily, that I used to take and he asks me to start with 10mg, twice daily.
ADD is poorly named. There is no “deficit” or inability to concentrate. The truth is that sometimes I concentrate so thoroughly I block out other sights and sounds, forget to eat, and go for long periods without sleep. The trouble is that I have very little control over when that happens, and sometimes I can’t even focus enough to begin paying attention. Ritalin helps me to have more control, and I like that I’m able to use very small doses.
I’m frustrated that I have to use it again. Ritalin is, after all, synthetic cocaine, and I’m worried about long term effects. My hope is to use it while I’m struggling and eventually get off it again. For now, it’s a tool to help me cope, get organised, and be productive.
Day 41 – Friday, 21 Dec 2012 – Resigned yet Positive and Constructive
The social worker – Lynette – talks me into staying at Silver Cross until after Christmas. She doesn’t want me to be alone. It’s better than being dead.
I’m resigned to being at Silver Cross, but I want to stop sulking and feeling sorry for myself. So I propose a deal to Lynette that gives each of us what we want. I tell her I’ll stay until 26 Dec. if she gets me:
- My journal
- The notes for this book
- Use of a pen
The compromise is that I have to sit in front of the nurse’s station while using these things, and Lynette comes through in getting them for me. I’m happier than I’ve been in weeks. Now I have something to focus on – a goal to pursue – and a reason to get happy.
Yvette and the kids may be lost to me, but I can still use my experience to make a difference in people’s lives. I still pray for Yvette and I to be reconciled. I love her and want to be with her, yet it’s also time to start moving on.
Day 42-43 – Saturday, 22 Dec and Sunday, 23 Dec
Day 44 – Monday, 24 Dec 2012 – Depressed but Determined and Hopeful
Christmas Eve. I’m in a psychiatric facility, but at least I’m now there willingly. My attitude toward Yvette is shifting. She is determined to be divorced, so that is going to happen. My focus is moving toward taking responsibility for what I did, looking at what I could have done differently, and preparing to move forward with my life.
I decide to go ahead with writing Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead. It’s a far larger decision than I realise at the time.
Day 45 – Tuesday, 25 Dec 2012 – Happy and Expectant
This is the first time I write in my journal that I’m prepared to move on without Yvette.
I think I can make something of my life. I haven’t felt like this in more than a year, and certainly not since Yvette filed for divorce. There are things I’m still afraid of – being alone, an uncertain future, the challenge of the book – but I think I can make it. My faith in God is re-growing, and I realise part of my mistake was ignoring the support and comfort faith brings to your life.
It’s surprising to be happy on Christmas. I have some real bad memories of it from childhood, and as an adult I’ve mostly been alone and lonely during the holidays. Today I’m thinking of the real love and compassion I’ve seen in Yvette during the holidays. I remember taking pictures of each of the kids when we wrapped them up in Christmas lights, and how much we enjoyed each other. I wish we could all go back to that happy time and start over from there.
I should have kissed the kids more often and made more effort to hug them. I have an intense fear of rejection and I know it. Yet I allowed it to control me. If I ever get a second chance (hopefully with Yvette and the kids) I’m better prepared to do it differently; to love them better.
Day 46 – Wednesday, 26 Dec 2012 – Relieved, Afraid, Determined
I’m released from Silver Cross Hospital and return to Morris, IL. It’s a relief to have my freedom. As productive as the days at Silver Cross were – and they were – I was still confined. It’s hard to believe that a few weeks ago (before jail and psychiatric confinement) I never really thought to thank God for being free. It’s so true that losing a thing sometimes makes you appreciate it more when you get it back.
Going back into PADS is a little frightening. Having experience the reaction of volunteers and guests after being in jail – it didn’t matter that I was jailed for telling Yvette I love her – I’m afraid for how they’ll react to me now.
Cosmé’s advice is still in my ears: Keep focussed on your own progress and doing what’s necessary to be happy each day. It makes me determined to write Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead. I’m convinced sharing my experience can help other people have an easier time of it.
Still, I wish I could go back to the safety and security of Silver Cross – even though it means having less freedom. I wish I could hold Yvette and share my passion, fears and ambition with her.
Day 47 – Thursday, 27 Dec
Day 48 – Friday, 28 Dec 2012 – Doubtful, Defensive and Sceptical
I discover Grundy County Mental Health Services. Lynette told me about them, and I met Therapist Tom last night at PADS. So today I went to their building to complete a request for services.
I have no great confidence in counsellors or psychiatrists. Cosmé and I were talking once and I told him most advice givers are more screwed up than the people seeking their advice. At least the one looking for advice knows he doesn’t have all the answers. And my recent experience with the mental health system has made me aware that a single ill-timed word can have devastating consequences.
In fact, Cosmé warned me the day I left Silver Cross. He said I’m free to speak my mind with him because we had built some amount of relationship, but that I should be very careful about what I say to others. Even the psychiatrist knew the danger of being honest with a mental health professional.
Day 49 – Saturday, 29 Dec 2012 – A mix of Defeat and Hope
I get my first prescription for Ritalin filled. It cost $4. There’s only a 15 day supply – enough to get me through until I see Cosmé at his office.
I start putting together details for a Kickstarter.com campaign. This is how I’ll get Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead published.
On the one hand, I feel defeated because I’m back on Ritalin. I am fortunate that most of the ADD symptoms can be controlled with a careful combination of diet, exercise and rest. This came apart during our marriage, and I cannot re-establish my routine while in PADS. So the Ritalin is necessary, though unwelcome.
On the other hand, I have a vision and the plan for achieving it. I want to find teenagers who are as I once was, and keep them from travelling the dark paths I have walked. Talking with Cosmé, I’ve realised that Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead can help a lot of people. Perhaps God gave me my history – especially these days of divorce, disgrace, anger and anguish – to make me into someone who can honestly help others.
People have always sort of laughed at my motto of Cranium Ex Rectum. But in a world where no one expects to be held accountable, maybe it’s time for someone to say “Pull your head out of your arse” and take responsibility for yourself. That’s what Getting Happy is all about – shedding the guilt other people want to pile on me while taking full responsibility for what I have done. It’s making me a better, happier man.
I pray that one day I’ll be able to share this with my wife.
Day 50 – Sunday, 30 December 2012 – Lonely, Hurt
I’m very lonely today. The pain of being rejected by Yvette is taking its toll.
Sometimes I wonder if this is all a dream or a self-deception. I know Yvette and I will be divorced. She’s far too determined for it to be avoided. And if I couldn’t love her right, then what advice can I have for anyone else?
I’ve always been confused why Yvette keeps asking for advice and help, then undermines all the progress we make. And now I look for some balance between what I can take responsibility for, and what belongs to her. Part of me wants to blame her, and part of me wants to let go of the anger and just remember the love.
Day 51-52 – Monday, 31 Dec and Tuesday, 1 Jan
Day 53 – Wednesday, 2 Jan 2013 – Depressed, Disappointed and Hopeless
My first appointment with Therapist Tom at Grundy Mental Health. He does the intake paperwork to get me started with counselling.
Today I gave up hope of reconciling with Yvette. It’s what I want, but I’m convinced it won’t happen. I write in my journal “I’ve pretty much given up even thinking of reconciliation with Yvette. She wants help – she has asked so often. But if God hasn’t softened her heart by now, I don’t know that He will. I’ll try talking to Yvette’s lawyer, but I confess to having little hope.”
Day 54 – Thursday 3 Jan 2013 – Angry, Betrayed
Half of my Ritalin prescription went missing today. I have only enough to get me through until I see Dr. Lozano in two days.
The environment at PADS – the Morris homeless shelter program – is admittedly negative. So I’m careful about how much I share with anyone, and only two other guests even knew I was on a prescription. Having that confidence betrayed really hurts, and I’m angry about it.
Day 55 – Friday, 4 Jan 2013 – Confused, Suicidal, Despair
My emotions are out of control. I write in my journal “In my heart and mind, there is still a strong hope that Yvette and I will find a life together.” I’m confused and hurt. I want to let go and move on. At the same time, I feel crushed and weakened from being rejected.
Day 56 – Saturday, 5 Jan
Day 57 – Sunday, 6 Jan 2013 – Peaceful and Relaxed
I fall asleep on Mike’s living room floor for about 4 hours. It almost feels like I have a home. This is a delightful respite from everything that has been happening.
Day 58 – Monday, 7 Jan 2013 – Shy, Hopeful
I start group counselling at the Grundy Mental Health Unit. I’m in several groups and a little concerned about the strain of doing this much personal development at the same time, but I’m confident it’s doable and I can handle it.
Being in the groups is a little tough. Trust comes hard for me, and trusting a roomful of strangers is, I think, hard for anyone. But it gets easier even in the first session as the conversation starts to flow.
Day 59 – Tuesday, 8 Jan 2013 – Stressed, Doubtful, Wanting to Quit
The first hearing for the divorce. It is simply continued to 15 Jan 2013 because I’m having a first meeting with a lawyer Friday.
A hearing on the violation of order of protection. It is continued until February. We’re waiting to see if Karen from the Diversion Program will approve what I’m doing at Grundy Mental Health.
Having both issues in one day is hard. The court process is incredibly intimidating because it’s completely unfamiliar.
Day 60 – Wednesday, 9 Jan 2013 – Betrayed, Angry, Fatalistic
I see Therapist Tom. He tells me I’m “taking on too much” in the group sessions and I need to cut back. When I disagree, he informs me the decision has already been made and I have to drop three of the groups. In fact, they have already decided which groups I must leave – whether I want to or not. Rather than be subjected to such inconsistency, I choose to remove myself from all group therapy. Betrayal in this environment is not easy to accept.
I wonder if there’s ever anybody I can trust. This really motivates me to keep looking at what is truly my responsibility when it comes to Yvette and me. I keep wondering whether I’ll ever get it right.
Day 61 – Thursday, 10 Jan 2013 – Encouraged, Willing to Compromise
I speak with Pastor Wilbur about the book project. He likes the idea and encourages me to continue putting a business plan together. Having that encouragement is incredibly energizing.
I see Therapist Tom at PADS. He comes every Thursday to talk with guests. I don’t want to attend counselling with him, but I do want his help with the book. I need a counsellor and a psychiatrist. While I disagree with Therapist Tom’s attitude, I recognise he has value for the book.
Day 62 – Friday, 11 Jan 2013 – Confused, Disappointed
I met with Garrett Wheeler today. He is a lawyer I was hoping could help me with the divorce, but there’s no hope for it. I’m a Poor Person. There is no way for me to obtain the justice afforded by having a lawyer.
I applied for a forklift operator position today. It’s the start of my hunt for traditional employment. It reminds me that Yvette used to say “I think being self-employed is stupid. I don’t understand why anyone would want to do it.” She often proudly claimed to be “just a little Indian,” and that’s all she ever wanted to be. Why did she have to work so hard at pulling me down, too?
Yvette dropped off work clothes for me at Mike’s today. She told Mike she still cares for me, but she claimed to not be computer savvy as her excuse for not bringing my hard drive with all my work files on it. It makes me wonder how she was able to bring the wrong hard drive before.
Day 63 – Saturday, 12 Jan 2013 – Surprised and Cautious
Mike Johnson announces he is looking at a new apartment. He wants me to be his roommate – even though I have no income. This scares me. I appreciate his help, and I’m grateful for having a break from PADS.
Day 64 – Sunday, 13 Jan 2013 – Grateful and Committed
Yvette dropped off my social security card and the correct hard drive today. I wish I could talk to her, but that just isn’t possible.
Having the hard drive gives me all my writing files and a lot of reference material. This makes it a whole lot easier to work on Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead. Plus I now have the files for setting up radio interviews to promote the book. It’s a happy day.
My emotions are quite under control. Being in a good mood gets me thinking about being reconciled with Yvette again. I wonder how long I’ll go back and forth between wanting to reconcile and accepting that Yvette wants it to be over between us.
Day 65 – Monday, 14 Jan
Day 66 – Tuesday, 15 Jan 2013 – Angry, Frustrated, Impotent
Divorce Hearing. Judge refuses to give me time for finding a lawyer. He recommends I work with Yvette’s lawyer to reach some sort of agreement. The process is adjourned until next week – 22 Jan.
When I spoke with Joan Harrop outside the courtroom, she was confrontational and belligerent. She said she’s all on Yvette’s side and what I want doesn’t matter.
Yvette and I really did have our problems. I’d like to sit down and work them out, but that was one of our problems – we just didn’t communicate very well. It feels like everyone is lined up against me. That’s what gets me feeling angry and frustrated. And my lack of knowledge about how the courts work gets me feeling impotent.
There has to be a better way to get through this. What I feel is my choice, so how do I choose to feel differently? Can I really be happy even when everything feels like it’s going against me?
I also had a meeting with Therapist Tom today. I still won’t be attending group sessions. I’m certain I can get value from them, but I’m equally certain my feelings toward the staff would result in my being adversarial. That isn’t fair to them, me or the other participants.
Therapist Tom was smart enough to ask whether I trust him enough for him to be effective as a therapist. I remembered Cosmé’s advice about being careful with what I say to other mental health professionals. I’m willing to give him a second chance because I need/want his help with the book.
Day 67 – Wednesday, 16 Jan 2013 – Fearful, Grateful and a little Hopeful
I volunteer at We Care for the first time. This is the local food bank in Grundy County. I went because I had forgotten my Ritalin at PADS and knew it would be brought to We Care. It hadn’t arrived by the time I got there, so I volunteered to lend a hand if I could be useful.
That turned into 2 ½ hours of helping. It felt good to be useful.
I attend the Bible Study at Local Church church. Preacher Coltrane is not there, and Ken Medows runs the study. Ken invited me to attend, and I was a little worried because Yvette also attends that study. But Ken said she hadn’t been coming and there should be no conflict.
Applied for a maintenance worker position with Grundy County. Millie Dyer says she’ll put in a good word for me. It would be a good job to have.
Day 68 – Thursday, 17 Jan
Day 69 – Friday, 18 Jan 2013 – Vulnerable and Afraid
Mike Johnson started moving to his new apartment today. He’s moving to 1237 Grant Ave on the east side of Morris. This is getting weird, and feels very unsafe. He doesn’t seem to have a plan, and is acting on whims.
It makes me afraid to think anything in my life depends on Mike. Having just come out of the same sort of situation with Yvette – fly by the seat of your pants – I don’t want to be in it again. It’s even worse now because Yvette and I are still going through the divorce process.
Day 70 – Saturday, 19 Jan
Day 71 – Sunday, 20 Jan 2013 – Peaceful, Thoughtful
Attended a memorial for Dan and Karen Peterson’s son – Gary Stump. It feels strange to be in so much pain myself, and still be giving solace to people who are essentially strangers.
I’ve had several conversations with Dan and Karen about suicide. That’s how Gary died, and they’re trying to come to terms with it. Since this is what Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead is all about, it made a lot of sense for us to talk. I think they took a lot of comfort from what I had to say.
Day 72 – Monday, 21 Jan 2013 – Dazed and Confused
Mike has changed his plans again. He has moved out of the place on Carriage Drive without telling the landlord, and leaving Emilio to cover the whole rent. Now he is also asking his ex-girlfriend to move in with him – including her two children.
Day 73 – Tuesday, 22 Jan 2013 – Emotionally Exhausted but Excited
Went through a rough draft for Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead. I wrote it in October 2012 as a starting point as part of a larger project called Generation E.
Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead is, without question, the hardest book I’ll ever write. It’s all about me and what I’ve lived through, so that’s pretty hard to deal with. At the same time, this book is the next step in my own development. It’s helping me deal with loose ends, and – as it turns out – what I’m experiencing right now with Yvette. So I’m excited to do it, but it’s also tiring.
Day 74 – Wednesday, 23 Jan 2013 – Fearful and Thankful
I attend Bible Study at Local Church church again. I’m concerned about how to handle Yvette being there, but she doesn’t come.
Going to the Bible Study is stressful because I don’t know whether Yvette will be there. I’d like to see her, but I don’t want the situation to be stressful. I don’t know if she’d even stay with me there. I’m also thankful because the study is an opportunity to socialise with like-minded people. It feels good to know that Ken likes having me there, and appreciates my participation.
Day 75 – Thursday, 24 Jan 2013 – Shocked and Amused
Therapist Tom is at PADS tonight. Naturally our conversation touches on mental illness and I make the point that I have no organic mental illness. He then informs me that “being in his community” automatically entitles me to a diagnosis of PTSD. An interesting point is that Therapist Tom has done absolutely nothing to evaluate me for signs and symptoms of PTSD. He bases the diagnoses solely on my having had a traumatic childhood and life.
This is surprising, and a little amusing. It fits with what Dr. Lozano has warned me about, and with what I’ve read from Dr. William Glasser and Dr. Terry Lynch. Therapist Tom is going to provide Counsellor Notes for Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead, and Dr. Lozano is providing Doctor’s Notes. They have different viewpoints, so I’m interested to see what each of them contributes to the book.
Day 76 – Friday, 25 Jan 2013 – Stunned, Amazed
Mike is angry and upset today. He claims I’ve been using him and that I’m arrogant. He kicks me out of his house and says I’m not welcome there anymore.
In a way, I’m glad for this development. It’s certainly stunning because it comes from left field. It’s also good because it means there’s one less bad influence in my life. The situation between Yvette and I is much larger so it’s easy to let Mike fade into the background.
Day 77 – Saturday, 26 Jan 2013 – Curious and Hopeful
Dan Peterson tells me there is an opening at ACE hardware. I plan to go over Monday and apply.
I’m well into working on Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead, and I still wonder if this is what God wants me to be working on. Being able to apply for jobs is one way to affirm I’m on the right track. When I apply and get turned down, I see it as an affirmation that God wants me to get Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead written.
My hope is to bring encouragement to a lot of people by helping them get happy and achieve more in their lives. After all I’ve experienced in life, plus what is happening right now, being able to get happy must mean I have something to offer on the subject, right?
Day 78 – Sunday, 27 Jan
Day 79 – Monday, 28 Jan 2013 – Saddened AND Energized
Met with Therapist Tom today. He really seems committed to the idea that I’m mentally ill rather than unhappy and under a lot of stress. I really have to start recording the sessions or making notes. I’m afraid of the power Therapist Tom wields to have someone committed.
It was really sad to feel pushed to be ill, but we did do some good talking today. Therapist Tom likes the idea of me keeping a journal. I’ve done it off and on for years, and right now it’s helping a lot to write things down. I also want to have notes for Getting Happy, so that’s extra motivation.
Naturally we talk a lot about my past. Therapist Tom and I agree that what has passed is precisely that – passed. You can’t do anything about it. Yet he seems to phrase things as though I’m behaving like a victim of my past. That feels odd because I’ve never perceived myself as a victim. Yes, bad things have happened to me. I am the person I am today because of all my experiences, but I don’t think I use that as an excuse or crutch.
It makes me sad to think my therapist sees me in such a bad light, but it also encourages me to look at myself. I want to be sure I’m being honest with myself about who I am, what I’ve done and what I am doing.
Day 80 – Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013 – Exultant and Encouraged
Met with Ken Medows tonight to show him the business plan for Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead. He immediately saw the potential, and praised me for what I put together. As you can imagine, this feels incredibly good.
When I leave the restaurant I’m practically walking on air. Having another successful business owner praise what I’ve done reassures me that I’m on the right track. My self-esteem has taken a heavy beating over the last three years, so it’s good to know I’m not completely nuts or off my rocker.
Day 81 – Wednesday, 30 Jan 2013 – Disappointed, Hurt, Angry, Betrayed
Yvette showed up at the Bible Study, saw me, then turned around and left. Preacher Coltrane came over to me and made it clear that he was very upset and angry about Yvette leaving. He blamed me, and suggested I should reconsider why I was attending the Bible Study.
We had talked about this twice already, and I thought it was settled. I’m attending Preacher Coltrane’s church, and Ken Medows invited me to attend the Bible Study, so I’m surprised Preacher Coltrane has a problem. It’s almost as though Preacher Coltrane has taken sides with Yvette and that hurts a lot.
Day 82 – Thursday, 31 Jan 2013 – Disappointed and Misunderstood
Met with Therapist Tom today. When we first met, I made a joke about knowing I’m the center of the universe because I wrote the memo that says so. He seems to have taken me seriously. As we talked today, it was as though he thinks I don’t take any responsibility for what has happened between Yvette and me. That really hurt.
Day 83 – Friday, 1 Feb
Day 84 – Saturday, 2 Feb 2013 – Satisfied, Slightly Timid, and Sad
First edition of the Kickstarter plan is finished. It’s very satisfying to have this done because it means I’m making real progress toward achieving the goal of publishing Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead. At the same time, I’m a little timid or self-conscious because I’ll be asking people to support a project when I’m really about as low as I’ve ever been.
There are a lot of folks at PADS who are being very supportive. They consistently encourage me to keep working on the project, and I trust God to help me make this a book that touches people’s lives.
I’m also a little sad. This is the kind of thing I really wanted to do with Yvette and the kids. I love them, and they have so much to share because they’ve lost their dad, plus Yvette and I have very similar childhoods. I wish we could be together for this.
Day 85 – Sunday, 3 Feb
Day 86 – Monday, 4 Feb 2013 – Encouraged and Lucky
Appointment with Cosmé Lozano. Incredible good fortune, Cosmé has agreed to continue seeing me without any charge. I have no insurance, and no income, yet I’m making good progress with Cosmé. He says he’s willing to keep seeing me as long as I keep making the effort to work on myself and improve.
We got off to a rocky start, but Cosmé has turned out to be genuinely helpful and concerned. That makes it sound like it’s all on him, but it’s really as much about me being willing to listen and accept what he says as it is about him being genuine and good at what he does.
Day 87 – Tuesday, 5 Feb
Day 88 – Wednesday, 6 Feb 2013 – Hurt, Angry and Depressed
Preacher Coltrane sends me an e-mail asking me to “pray for God’s direction regarding Wednesday night study. As your Pastor, I am blessed when anyone desires to read and study God’s Word so I hope you can appreciate the conflicting position this places me. I have expressed to you the full picture regarding the longevity of attendance and strained relationship between you and Yvette. I understand both positions and each of your actions. Yvette has worked through this from the stand point if you are there, she will leave. What are thoughts?”
I’m shocked at being asked to leave the Bible Study. After discussing this three times with Preacher Coltrane, I thought it was sorted out. Being rejected yet again – especially by someone who claims to be “my pastor” – is devastating.
Bright point – met with Pastor Wilbur. He is going to continue supporting me and help move the book project forward. He’s going to call Friend Mary to see if she supports the book project. I’m looking forward to this because she and I have worked together a fair bit, and she has always been supportive.
Day 89 – Thursday, 7 Feb
Day 90 – Friday, 8 Feb 2013 – Intrigued and Validated
I started reading William Glasser’s Reality Therapy in Action. He’s the father of Choice Therapy. Therapist Tom told me about him, and his approach seems to line up with mine.
I’ve been using the motto “Cranium Ex Rectum” for years and people seem to genuinely like it. Yes, I’m telling people to pull their heads out of their arses, but I also do it with genuine compassion mixed with just enough sternness to get attention. So I very much like Dr. Glasser’s approach of taking responsibility for what I choose to feel. The last thing I want is to ever hate Yvette or even get revenge, but sometimes that’s how I feel. We might never be together again, yet it’s good to know I’m okay for wishing her well and wanting the best for all of us.
Day 91 – Saturday, 9 Feb
Day 92 – Sunday, 10 Feb 2013 – Sad, Wanting to Quit
I cried over Yvette today. I keep praying to have her back, but I’m afraid she is lost to me.
Dr. Glasser makes the point that we often do things we know are wrong for us – even though it seems like the best choice at the time. I’ve certainly done that, and I’m experiencing it with Yvette as we go through this divorce. It really hurts that she had me arrested for telling her I love her and want to work things out, and even more to hear her lying in court. Then add on being in PADS, thinking I’ve lost her for good, and feeling generally bummed, I guess it’s no surprise I’m crying for losing her. Still, it’s significant because the last time I remember crying was a few days after the car accident in 1994.
Day 93 – Monday, 11 Feb 2013 – Devastated, Betrayed, Hateful
Met with Pastor Wilbur today. He pulled all of his support for the book project. It turns out that after encouraging me to leave Morris back in November, Friend Mary is now telling Pastor Wilbur that she’s angry with me for having left. Apparently, she really ran me down and completely discouraged Pastor Wilbur from having anything to do with me.
Pastor Wilbur also claimed to be “very good friends” with Lord James. This is a previous client who still owes me money, and lives in Morris. Pastor Wilbur refused to listen when I offered to show him the contract that proves Lord James still owes me tens of thousands of dollars.
This hurts. I know I’m basically nobody. I’m dependent on the homeless shelter program, the folks at We Care help me out with food, and there’s no guarantee this book will get published or my writing will ever support me. But to be tossed away because someone I thought was a friend trashes me, and someone who welched on a contract badmouths me, really sucks!
Day 94-95 – Tuesday, 12 Feb and Wednesday, 13 Feb
Day 96 – Thursday, 14 Feb 2013 – Depressed, Resigned, and a bit Suicidal
I had an appointment with Therapist Tom today. Maybe it was a good thing.
It’s Valentine’s Day, so of course I’m missing Yvette even more today. I tell Therapist Tom I’m pretty much resigned to giving Yvette the divorce. It’s scheduled for next Tuesday – the 19th – and there’s really not much I can do about it. But inside I’m really just lost. I wish I could just go stick my head in the river and drown (although I don’t tell him that).
I’m so lost in my head that after I leave Therapist Tom’s office, I wander over to where Yvette works. I have a vague idea that maybe I can catch a glimpse of her or even just see her car. It could mean getting arrested again, but I don’t care. I just want my wife back and to be with the kids.
Second Period in Jail
Day 97 – Friday, 15 Feb 2012 – Chagrined and Disappointed
Yvette has me arrested for walking through the parking lot at her work. She even came to the library to point me out for the police. You could say I’m fairly disappointed.
Day 98-100 – Saturday, 16 Feb to Monday, 18 Feb
Day 101 – Tuesday, 19 Feb 2013 – Belittled, Angry and Hateful
Today is the day for Yvette and I to be divorced. I’m still in jail, so I am paraded before a court full of people in chains (literally bound with ankle and wrist shackles).
Yvette commits perjury when I ask her whether she has a philosophy of “I’ll always tell you the truth, just not always the whole truth.” She answer no, that she does not have such a philosophy. Today I hate Yvette for lying, and for deceiving me into giving up my home and country to be with her.
Day 102-109 – Wednesday, 20 Feb to Wed, 27 Feb
Day 110 – Thursday, 28 Feb 2013 – Anxious
Still in jail, I call Pastor Cook and ask him to contact Dr. Lozano for me. I won’t be able to make Monday’s appointment, and want him to know in advance. Dr. Lozano is doing me an incredible favour by seeing me without charge and I want to be respectful of that. I explain this to Pastor Cook and he agrees to contact Dr. Lozano.
Day 111-114 – Friday, 1 Mar to Monday, 4 Mar
Day 115 – Tuesday, 5 Mar 2013 – Free, Happy and a little Concerned
I’m released from jail today. The state’s attorney dropped the first charge of violating the order of protection. Since I hadn’t violated the order, it only made sense to drop the charge. Because the second charge was for walking through the parking lot where Yvette works, my punishment is twelve months of non-reporting conditional discharge. That’s a fancy way of saying I promise to behave for twelve months and keep seeing Therapist Tom at Grundy Health (which I’d do anyway).
I’m definitely happy to be free after 19 days in jail. It may seem a short time for a vacation, or a holiday, but jail is a slow place. Every day feels like two. And I’ve been away from the book project all that time. Do I still want to work on it? Every day has been focussed on God and praying, with everything else pushed to the side.
Day 116 – Wednesday, 6 Mar 2013 – Panic, Betrayal and Hatred
Pastor Cook sent me an e-mail that he did not get hold of Dr. Lozano because he couldn’t find the phone number. Since Pastor Cook spoke with Dr. Lozano several times while I was in Silver Cross Hospital, I see this as the last straw. I can’t take any more betrayal from this pastor and decide to have no further contact with him.
I’m panicked that Dr. Lozano doesn’t know why I missed the appointment. He’s doing me such a big favour, and just missing the appointment is disrespectful. I pray he understands and lets me reschedule.
Day 117 – Thursday, 7 Mar 2013 – Defeated but Resolute
I set up my mail to be forwarded from the house to General Delivery today. It was pretty embarrassing at the post office, but Linda (the lady most often at the counter) was very nice and helped me get it done right. It’s sort of the end of my last hope that Yvette and I might be reconciled, but it also means I’m definitely moving forward. I want people – and my mail – to find me.
On the bright side, a friend invited me to his house this morning. He knows I’m alone and missing Yvette, so he invited me over for tea and conversation. It’s good to have someone to talk with.
Day 118-121 – Friday, 8 Mar to Monday, 11 Mar
Day 122 – Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013 – Defeated and Alone
I’m feeling defeated. So much time seems to have passed while I was in jail. I can’t seem to get my legs back under me, or my mind back onto the book. It’s as if the forced idleness in jail has settled into my bones.
Even worse is that I’m alone. My wife and family are gone.
I met with Therapist Tom today, and I was all over the map. Sometimes talking to him is such an exercise in being sure he cannot misinterpret what I’m saying that it’s hard to get any value from talking to him. Plus I’m split over how to feel toward Yvette.
So much of what happened during our marriage is a result of both of making mistakes. We both needed help and acknowledged that, but we didn’t get the help. So we’re both wrong, and I don’t think we were trying to be mean to each other. But now Yvette is telling lies to get what she wants, and that makes me angry. I want us to be together again, but I’m not willing to let what has happened since November just slide.
Day 123 – Wednesday, 13 Mar
Day 124 – Thursday, 14 Mar 2013 – Disappointed but Determined
We had a Motion Hearing on the property settlement today. Yvette committed perjury again, only this time it was over several questions I put to her. I feel disappointment, and choose to not feel angry. I wish it were different between Yvette and I, but I also accept that she’s on a course not easily changed now.
The judge wants to see proofs of our claims regarding property, so the case is continued until Thursday, 2 May 2013 at 9:30 am. He also orders Yvette to surrender files from my office at the house. Those files contain receipts that prove my claims.
I had an appointment with Therapist Tom this afternoon and told him what happened. I also told him about telling the judge I think he is biased, and has judged this case unfairly. The judge’s reply was that it’s a bad idea to say something like that to him if I expect a favourable verdict. I guess he can’t see that this is the very attitude I’m complaining about. What justice is there if it requires kissing up to the judge?
We talked about me wanting to get back together with Yvette, and that I don’t want to let things slide. I don’t think he understands – or doesn’t want to understand – that I expect Yvette to own up to the lies she has told precisely because I do love her. How could we ever have a healthy, loving marriage if we’re not honest with each other? The thing that really chafes is that I think the only way Yvette will admit to having lied is if she’s made to do it in court. Could any value ever come from forcing her to admit she lied?
I told Therapist Tom about my biggest dreams for the book project today. That was a mistake. I could see it in his face. He thinks I’m delusional. Maybe I am. I want to believe my story can help people find their way to getting happy. But maybe I’m just kidding myself.
Day 125-126 – Friday, 15 Mar and Saturday, 16 Mar
Day 127 – Sunday, 17 Mar 2013 – Distracted, Re-Committed
Realised I’m getting behind in my work today. I’m thinking about the book and the Kickstarter project, but not really doing anything about it. All my life this has been a problem – 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. I re-committed to doing the work, and started getting it done today. 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.
Day 128 – Monday, 18 Mar
Day 129 – Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013 – Frustrated
Met with Therapist Tom today. He clearly does not believe I’m even capable of succeeding with the book.
Day 130 – Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 – Satisfied, Happy, Ambitious
The book gelled in my mind today. I finally understand how I’ll put it together so it makes sense and people will – I hope – enjoy reading it. I also finally let Yvette go. Thinking about her and what she has done to me only gives away control of my life. It’s time to set that memory aside and focus on my forward progress. It’s time to write the book.
Today I am happy. There are sure to be up days and down days, achievements and disappointments, but I’ve learned how to start the day with gratitude and choose how I respond. I’m looking forward to sharing Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead.
Day 131 – Thursday, 21 Mar 2013 – Relaxed and Happy
We played euchre tonight at PADS. We’ve been playing on some of the nights for a while. Millie comes Thursday evenings, and it’s a lot of fun. She likes to laugh a lot, and she has been a tremendous support to me. Playing cards gives me a chance to feel normal.
Day 132 – Friday, 22 Mar 2013 – Productive and Challenged
I started laying out this outline today. I got a lot of the pieces in place, and need to read through my journal to fill in gaps. I’ll also ask people like Therapist Tom and Millie to help me fill things in.
I’ve always known this would be the most difficult manuscript for me to write. This is, I guess, the real start of it. It’s one thing to put down the dates and what happened, but making this outline means attaching emotions to each day and event. That’s a hard thing to do.
Especially after meeting with Therapist Tom today. He brought up my biggest dream for Getting Happy and asked whether I’m being at all realistic. That really pissed me off. It doesn’t seem to matter that I have a Have To Hit goal, a This Is Great goal, and a Dance On The Ceiling goal. He only cares that the Dance On The Ceiling goal doesn’t seem realistic. Well, duh, but it isn’t supposed to seem realistic – neither is dancing on the ceiling!
Day 133 – Saturday, 23 Mar 2013 – Excited and Fearful
All the events are listed in this timeline. It’s going to be the foundation structure for Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead. So I’m very happy about having this done. Now I have to go back through it and start attaching emotions to the events.
I wrote in my journal today: “It has always been amazing to me that people like Therapist Tom ask me to do incredibly difficult things – such as distance myself from an experience as I’m doing with the 143 Days timeline. Then they get angry when I achieve what they thought I could not do.”
People telling me I can’t do a thing has always motivated me to do that thing. Sometimes I’ve met people see that as a positive way to get results. It isn’t. I despise people who tell me I can’t do something. The whole thing is based on negative emotions, so it’s hard to get good out of it.
Day 134 – Sunday, 24 Mar 2013 – Peaceful, Relaxed, Refreshed
I deliberately avoided doing work today, and it felt good. I’ve earned the rest, and enjoyed it. This feels different from the day when I just did nothing. It wasn’t a rest because I didn’t earn a rest.
Day 135 – Monday, 25 Mar 2013 – Angry, Belittled and Rewarded
The day started with a bang. One of my fellow volunteers at We Care stepped way over the line today. The details don’t matter so much. It would only embarrass everyone involved to share them.
The result is what matters. I won’t volunteer Monday’s at We Care anymore because this person was entirely disrespectful. I’ll keep doing Thursday’s though.
The rewarded part comes from meeting with Therapist Tom today. Last week, we agreed that if I got the 143 Days timeline done by today, he would treat me to lunch at Dave’s Dawgs. Well, I got it done, and he bought lunch. It was my first time having “Chicago Hot Dogs.” They were especially good because I earned the reward.
Day 136 – Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 – Amazed, Grateful and Happy
I made lots of progress on putting a Facebook Page together for the book, and for putting the website together.
Then I went to talk to a friend about being able to use their telephone to do radio interviews. It would mean giving me a key to their office, which they were willing to do. But then she had a different idea. Rather than just letting me use the phone, she asked if a stable place to work would be better. Obviously it would, so I said yes.
Well, the next thing she said was “What if we help you get an apartment?” I was so shocked I sat down. Fortunately, there was a chair behind me!
The next step is showing the business plan. I already have it done from showing it to Ken, so that’s cool. It feels so good to have someone putting their confidence in me like this.
Day 137 – Wednesday, 27 Mar 2013 – Tired
I skipped my walk this morning, and went straight to Mike’s. I laid down on the floor when I got there and slept for nearly three hours. The last few days have been more exciting than I realised.
Day 138 –Thursday, 28 Mar 2013 – Calm
Volunteered at We Care as usual. Maybe not much happened today because I feel so calm and relived. It’s like coming out of a bad storm when you’re sailing. There’s such a change that even choppy water feels smooth.
Day 139 – Friday, 29 Mar 2013 – Excited, Satisfied, Drained
The 143 Days timeline is done to the end of January. That feels very good, but it’s also emotionally draining.
It’s a lot like doing hard work. What I do each day makes me stronger for the next days’ work.
I’ve been looking at apartments. My friend came by the library today to tell me about a one bedroom place above a restaurant. It feels so good to have somebody lending a hand and caring.
Day 140 – Saturday, 30 Mar 2013 – Happy, Challenged
Looking at more apartments. Well, not really looking, but calling about them. It’s hard to believe this is really happening.
And the 143 Days timeline is done. I’ve connected emotions with each event. It feels good to have that done, and now I can look at doing other work for the book. It’s a good feeling to be challenged like this. I’m daring to hope people will see the value in this project and support the Kickstarter campaign.
Day 141 – Sunday, 31 Mar 2013 – Content
A day of rest. It feels good to be earning them again.
Day 142 – Monday, 1 Apr 2013 – Vindicated, Productive and Happy
After what happened last Monday at We Care, Lori made some changes to the volunteer schedule. She asked me to replace the person who had been cruel and rude to me. With everything that has happened over the last few months, it feels very good to have someone believe in me like this.
Working with the other volunteers felt good, and it made the rest of the day more productive.
Day 143 – Tuesday, 2 Apr 2013 – Getting Very Happy
I got an apartment today!
It’s down the hall from my friend, Mike. So I’ll have somebody to talk to. That’s cool. And it’s a one bedroom apartment with a living room, dining room and kitchen. I don’t have anything to put in it, but it’s my apartment. That feels very good.
It has been quite a ride. My clients are gone. My marriage is over. But I have friends; people who care about me. Getting Happy…when you wish you were dead is getting written, and I hope it becomes a light for people. I feel like I’ve walked through hell and come out the other side. I’m getting happy and want to help other people do the same thing.