Faith…in the one who casts your shadow.

“Faith”

I think in many ways this is one of the most crucial and underdeveloped beliefs. I believe wholeheartedly that the number one contributor to failure is lack of faith. But what is faith? What does it take to have faith? And why are we so unwilling to place confidence in what faith we have?

I am a “man of faith“, in the sense that I believe in a God that I cannot see, or tangibly prove his existence. Whether you believe in a god or not, this is likely what you associate “faith” with. But that’s not the faith I’m talking about… similar, but entirely different.

Webster gives us these basic definitions of faith.

1. (a) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (b) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.

2. (a) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (b) : complete trust

If you want to succeed, the first one you need to convince casts your shadow.

I have BPD. I suffer depression/anxiety. I self-hate. I self-punish. I have an unhealthy fear of abandonment. Needless to say, “self-faith” is not one of my strong suits. I made up this quote (at least I think I made it up) as a simple reminder of the significance of “me“. There are many things that you can be assisted in doing. People can feed you. Bathe you. Fight your battles. Machines can keep you breathing when even your brain refuses to function. You can get organ transplants. Pace makers. Pretty much anything. But there’s one thing that no one will ever be able to do for you… and that’s cast your shadow. As simple and as nothing of a thing as it is, you and you alone are able to carry it out. And you and you alone are the most important person that needs to believe in you. Support you. Have FAITH in you.

It sounds simple. It seems basic. But believe me, having faith in yourself sometimes feels about as easy as painting a Picasso with a single wax crayon. And a white one to boot. I’ve had many days where the desire to even live is a flame barely flickering. I’ll be honest, I lean heavily on the support of my wife, and the faith SHE has in me. But without faith in myself I will never get anywhere. Counselling and therapy is great, but until you start believing in yourself it can only go so far. This past month or so of sessions has been frustrating for me. I’m going through my DBT, things are making sense, but the faith is missing. Therapy is awesome when you’re seeing progress. But sometimes it feels that progress is completely gone. One step forward, then bowled over backwards.

A child can’t learn to walk without falling.

I cling to the simplicity of those words. They make sense. Being a father, I’ve seen my kids learn to walk. I’ve seen countless falls. My daughter even refused for a while to even pull herself up. But they learned to walk. It took time. It took bumps and bruises. But they did it. I feel like I’m a child learning to walk. If steps are faith, I’ll pull myself up on my feet. I’ll see the outstretched arms across the room. Sometimes I’ll take that first step, but most often I’ll fall on my ass and cry. It’s hard. Having faith in other people can be very difficult, but faith in yourself when you’ve never learned to “walk” seems like an impossible venture. And there’s many, MANY days I, like my daughter, refuse to even pull myself up. Never mind attempt that first step. With no faith, taking that first step can feel like a baby bird being pushed out of the nest… with no wings… and a rocky landing awaiting. So… we turn around.

But how do we get over this “lack of faith“? How do we turn ourselves into not just walkers, but runners? What is the key to confidently walking out every morning to take on the world and cast that first shadow? Honestly… I don’t know. If I did I would have a lot more followers and a nicer office than the mattress of my bed. But just like spiritually I believe that faith in God is in the heart, I believe faith too in yourself is in the heart. Wisdom, knowledge, doubt, and worry are things of the mind. Faith, Hope, and Love come from the heart. It’s one thing to have knowledge. It’s another to have the wisdom to use that knowledge. But to have the faith to not succumb to the worry and doubt in your mind… to have the belief and confidence to tell your mind “yes I can” when it’s telling you “You Suck!! Turn around“. That’s what it’s going to take to walk. That belief, as little as that flame may be, has the power to light a room. But it has to start somewhere. Laying down will never work. Falling will happen, but so must getting back up. Stumbles aren’t failure. Crawling back isn’t failure. There are going to be setbacks. Many, many setbacks. But as sure as you can cast a shadow, you also have the ability to walk. But it all starts with Faith.

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. You have no idea how much it means to me to have the opportunity to be able to share my journey and my story. Please pass on and share my blogs. I also share regularly on Twitter (https://twitter.com/InkedDadBPD), Instagram (https://instagram.com/dave__stone/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/hadtoomuchtodreamlastnight), and Tumblr (https://www.tumblr.com/blog/-hadtoomuchtodreamlastnight)

Thanks again for reading.

Dave

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**Vent Alert** Just something that’s been eating at me lately.

There’s a word that I hate. I hate the sound of it. I hate the way it gets thrown around. I hate how it gets used as a guilty accusation. But more than anything, over the last few months, I hate how accurate it is. How relevant it is. And how much it hurts. That word… “Stigma”. You’ve likely heard it a million times, especially if you’re at all familiar with mental health. “Stop the Stigma” “Stand up to Stigma” or #stigma #stopthestigma. But now that I’m more involved in mental health, I’m more attentive to the “stigma” that really actually is present. It’s there. In our day to day life, and without us even knowing, in a huge way. And the sad part is, the greatest accusations and opinions so often come from either those that have no idea what they are talking about, those speaking out of fear, or defensiveness. Any which way, the defences are up, and if there’s anyway they can pass blame, ownership, or responsibility on someone else, they will. They love “pawning” off responsibility wherever they can. They watch out for number one without worrying about havoc left in their wake.

There are a couple things that I’m pretty sure we all have. We all have demons, and we all have skeletons. Demons are those things that we are in outright war with. We battle with them every day. They haunt us in our sleep and torment us when we’re awake. We fight tooth and nail to resist them, and we do all we can to not be overcome by them. Those are Demons.

Then there’s skeletons. Those are the things that we keep tucked back in the closet. No one needs to know about them. Out of sight. Out of mind. Sometimes the demons from those skeletons haunt us, but there’s just one rule when it comes to skeletons… They do not, under any circumstance come out of the closet. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

But what happens when skeletons share closets? What is the ‘code of conduct’ when dealing with the “non-exclusive skeleton”… Those skeletons that aren’t just yours? How do we handle the situation… or more specifically, how do we react to mishandling? I mean, don’t we have enough on our plates as it is, but then we have to worry about things out of our control? I’ve got skeletons, and I’ve got more than my share of demons… believe me. They figuratively and emotionally eat me alive. But the one thing that you will never hear me do, and that is use my “illness” as an excuse or justification for anything. And there’s literally nothing that angers me more than others pawning things off on my “illness”. If you are not my doctor, psychiatrist or my counsellor, I don’t want to hear the word “illness” in reference to me come out of your mouth. It’s as easy as that. I’m not going to let myself off easy under the shroud of BPD, and I’m most definitely not going to take responsibility for others actions under the ‘tag’ and stigma of “my illness”.

This past year has been a mess. So much has happened in my world that I wouldn’t even have the slightest clue as to where to start. But through the fall and winter I began hearing that “my illness” was being very easily offered up as the reason and the blame for different things in my life. Am I trying to say that it had nothing to do with it? I have no idea… it very well could have. But I’m 100% positive that me having BPD had nothing to do with many of the choices and events that took place over the past year. It’s easy to point the finger in that direction… you can make sense of it. “It’s the sick guy’s fault. He should know better. This is a pattern of his illness. Me… I don’t know what happened… I just got ‘used’ and ‘manipulated'”

I speak both out of hurt and from experience. I have been blamed for and accused of different things, “because of my illness”. Some things, yeah… I’m sure my BPD may have something to do with. But other peoples actions I have no control over. And I’m not willing to take that blame either. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve made poor decisions. And I’ve felt hurt in ways I never saw coming. But I’m a big boy. I take responsibility for all of my decisions and actions… and  unfortunately, apparently more.

I’m just a Coward with an “illness”

It’s the start of a new week, and the start of a new month…and here’s to hoping for improvements in the world that is me, my thoughts, and my demons. The main reason I haven’t done a “31 Days of BPD” is because of a response to my blog, or more specifically the response to a link that I shared to my blog. It has really hit me like a low blow. It hurt me, it infuriated me, it belittled me, and I feel the need to defend myself publicly the same way I was “called out” publicly. I may not be taking the “high road”, but I honestly feel that taking the high road and not saying something will only result in more ignorant comments In the future. This post will be a little less colourful then the draft I would have posted before calming down… but I really do feel that I need to defend myself. So here goes…

To all of you that will listen,

The main platform I’m using to share my blog is through Facebook and Instagram. There are many people on my wife’s Facebook that are not on mine, so she usually ‘shares’ links to my blog entries. She’s been getting some replies from people from our old church that we used to attend in our small town. We attended this church for 8 years… my wife was involved in music there, and I actually ran their youth program for a few years. As a result of some events that unfolded in our lives this spring, our family took the initiative to respectfully and willingly leave our church. We have since been attending a church in Saskatoon that we really enjoy. It’s young, vibrant, and growing. (side note… if you’re looking for a church in Saskatoon, I highly recommend C3Saskatoon. 10:00am Sundays in the Broadway Theater. If you read this Brock…there’s your plug!) We’ve kept our reasons for leaving quiet and private… but as things with me and my personal struggles have been more difficult to hide and control, we’ve had people from our old church asking how we’re doing when they see us around town. My thought was “why not share a link to my blog on the church Facebook page… then everyone who wants to can follow my blog, or add me on Facebook.” So, I shared my link with a post that went something like this… “I’m not really sure if I’m allowed to post on here anymore, but there’s been a few people asking how I’m doing, so here’s a link to a blog I’ve started. Feel free to follow, and share which anyone you think might benefit from it.” Simple… Innocent… Harmless… right? Well, here’s the response that I got from “the Church”.

This post will be deleted in onehour. Dave Stone, you have hidden for months. Once you meet with me(page administrator and elder), (the pastor), (another board member), and a few select others of my choosing – then, and only then, will you be allowed to post here. Your “illness” causes you to crave and demand attention and control people. We will not allow that.

Not really the response that I was expecting from “church leadership“on a public wall. I would have thought if there was issues, they would have been addressed privately, but I guess this isn’t how this board member handles things when people with “my illness” are involved. I’ll admit that I reacted out of emotion. I private messaged this response… “Is that seriously how you handle things? You can’t just private message me? I don’t really know what makes you an expert on my sickness, but thanks for putting me in my place. Being an elder of the church with a well thought out response, I’m sure you won’t mind me sharing the (church) response to me posting my blog link on their page. I can at least share it with some people of “my choosing”.” I know, not exactly taking the high road myself either… but extremely pissed off at the time. That same board member was kind enough to respond with a private message this time.

Sorry Dave, not giving you the attention you want. Meet with (pastor) and us in person. Quit being a coward.

I was fuming… I wanted, and still want nothing more than to knock this “elder’s” teeth out. My wife, being more level-headed than myself, messaged both this elder and his wife to reply to her with some sort of explanation. She called… She texted… She emailed. Well, it’s been two days and shockingly, I know, no response. So, here I am on this Sunday night “blogging away”.

There’s some things you need to know. Like I said, we attended this church for eight years. We have a larger circle of “non-church” friends than “church friends”, but we were still fairly involved in the church. We knew this church had a reputation. While attending, we defended “our church“. And since leaving the church, we’ve simply been impartial to comments and opinions people have towards the church. But it wasn’t until now that I felt the sting of that reputation. I’ve never before felt actual “hate” towards a church. I would never have seen myself “calling a church out“. But I am.

Now in all fairness, an argument could be made that this wasn’t a “church” response, but rather one arrogant and ignorant elder’s comment. And that might be true. But this elder is very comfortable being a spokesperson for the church through his activity on their page, so I think it’s fair to say this is a “church issue“. First of all, the comment that I’ve “hidden for months“. I could give him the benefit of the doubt that he is unaware of the reasons for us leaving the church… but considering his position in the church, and his circle of peers, I’m 99% confident that is not the case. It was simply a jab, from a church elder. The fact that he is so knowledgable about “my illness” is also quite impressive. I’ve been in counselling for six plus months, and seeing my psychiatrist for four months. They haven’t yet come to conclusions on the effects and implications my “illness” has. But, luckily this “elder” has the knowledge and expertise to not just diagnose, but publicly on social media, announce his diagnoses. My thought is that this elder is pretty good at his “google” and “wikipedia” searches. But the kicker for me, was calling me out as a “coward“. I don’t care who you are, calling someone a coward is an invitation for a well deserved punch in the teeth. I have honestly never been called that by anyone, but then again, it’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to knock someones teeth in, so I guess it makes sense.

Christians are known as self-righteous hypocrites. It’s fair to say that a large number of “non-church” people hate the church, and think “church people” are arrogant. I am now seeing through the glasses of truth as to why this is so widely believed. The fact that this elder had the balls to sit behind his laptop and call me out as a coward, and to call out my “illness“. Thank you, mr elder, for showing me first hand why people hate the church, why people hate christians, and why they want nothing to do with church whatsoever. I know this is not an “across the board” statement, but in this case, it could not be more accurate.

That’s my rant… thats my rambling.

Sincerely,

“A coward with an illness”