Finding Greater Purpose

Last week we discussed losing our purpose and ways we can seek to endure the hard times. This week we explore how I found greater purpose.

Spring 2016. I was months away from retirement and finally getting off the meds and away from my unfortunate circumstances

Early Spring, 2016. Springfield, Illinois is cold like many times in my life I can remember. I roll out of bed feeling angry its already time for me to get up. As my overweight 270 lb body waddles into my uniform I feel the aches of last night’s drinking crack my forehead a little bit as I scarf Excedrine, Mountain Dew and cold leftover McDonalds. I meekly look over at the clock and try to do a calculation to tell myself how much time I have to get to work but the math doesn’t work like usual so I shrug and drag myself to my squadron while dry-shaving on the way. I wonder what I’ll do wrong today.

I park my little red car and walk into my building just as I pass my daily report time. Whew, dodged another bullet. Hopefully there won’t be a lecture today about me being worthless as an NCO. I got a lot of those from my senior leadership to “encourage me.” I log into my computer and exchanged hellos with a few other NCOs who are filing paperwork. Those days I rarely said much more than hello to others because my behaviors had made me a very unlikable person. Those days I didn’t realize it was my behavior while on heavy medication to “help with my PTSD” and drinking entirely too much alcohol that people didn’t like me. I didn’t realize I was doing things, very strange things that were not normal for most of society. Those days I exhibited behavior that was very normal for someone who was addicted to Opiates. Namely Percocet and Vicodin. I drank excessively and abused sleeping pills. If you have never met someone with an Opiate addiction while dealing with pain, anguish over events and irresponsible drinking, you are blessed. I was a complete fucking wreck.

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I often perused the internet for a while before I bothered with emails and I’m not sure why I was checking my email so early. After shifting my focus to my computer, a series of messages from the Department of the Air Force popped up. My second medical board had taken place and Doctors as well as Commanders were seeking a premature end to what started as an amazing military career that I loved so much and had recently gone completely down the toilet. After clicking around for a few minutes I realized these were digitally signed and encrypted messages from the Department of the Air Force. Attached was my retirement order, final disability rating and final relocation package. The last message I received was the amount of my monthly combat related special compensation (CRSC). I couldn’t believe it; I was being medically retired from the service. This was it. This was the end of what I thought was my only legacy and it was bittersweet. I was going to be a civilian and that was final.

I stared at my retirement package I had been offered and I felt sick. After gazing at the computer screen for long minutes I poked my Marine buddy in the ribs and unable to speak I directed him to read. He couldn’t believe it either. “Dude, you’re finally going home to your family. Congratulations!” I should have been happy. My wife Erin and I had been separated for almost four years and today I was finally going to surprise her with news I would soon be moving back home. I was almost afraid to tell her for fear there was a mistake.

That night I think was one of the first nights I didn’t feel like drinking. A million different things ran through my head. I remember writing about it in my journal. I had stopped by a liquor store called Friar Tuck’s and picked up a delicious boozy Russian Imperial Stout along with a twelve pack of Busch and I was going to celebrate by getting absolutely sloshed. I was weaned halfway off my meds at that point and really didn’t find much reason to take pills that night. I admit I still habitually took them on most days as I was encouraged by medical staff, my leadership and my in-laws but something different began to happen. That night I didn’t realize it but my circumstances changed. I was no longer stuck in a prison with no end in sight and a requirement to take heavy doses of antidepressants. That night my wife and I shared tears of joy over the phone as we talked about my retirement in the next few months. That night I fell asleep with a picture of my wife, son and I in my hands. That night I fell asleep cold sober. Something I probably had not done in years. It was a weird but welcome feeling.

If you feel you are affected by the world in a way you are having a hard time understanding and would like to explore your options with a professional coaching program, contact me for a free consultation. We will not only address what you feel your shortcomings may be, but identify how to overcome those obstacles. Contact me via DJBeautifulTrainwreck@gmail.com for a free consultation and we will explore how we can closer align your lifestyle to your ideal self. Who YOU really are!

The next few months leading up to my retirement were stressful but exciting! My wife and I had purchased a Victorian style home years ago and over the years I lived there I put work into it as I could. My wife and I sold that home for a decent profit and I moved back home so we could be a family again. Little did I know the situation with my “Monsters in Law” would soon become even more volatile as they expressed their dissatisfaction with me moving back into my own home. When I moved back home my in-laws went from being uneducated politically-obsessed know-it-alls, to HATEFUL uneducated politically-obsessed know-it-alls to both myself and my son.

After I moved home from Springfield, Illinois my wife and I tried for months to re-connect and come back together as a couple. Jonathon had wedged himself between my wife and I since the day he and his haggard wife, Denise moved to Illinois and he proclaimed himself the unqualified and unwanted “patriarch” of our family (what a JOKE) over ten years ago. Now I was faced with the impossible task of trying to rid myself and my marriage of these parasitic narcissists so my wife, son and I could finally be a family again.

We just wanted to be left alone. No more “Medford Madness” from those control freaks trying desperately to manipulate the life of someone else.

In Spring of 2017, several months after I retired my wife and I were at each other’s throats more than we had been in years. We no longer had the Victorian home in Springfield, so I was home for good. Erin and I were reaching critical mass with the rudeness and disgusting behavior displayed by my in-laws. They pretended I didn’t exist now that I was home worse than they did while I lived in Springfield. When they didn’t, it was only to lash out at me in anger they were feeling in their own lives. Any encounter I had with Denise resulted in her shrieking voice insulting everything about me, my recently ended career and how she felt about what I was doing in life. Every time I was exposed to Jonathan and (in his words) “that.” I always found it quite odd a man would refer to his wife and his daughter in that manner. Worse than that, an election had recently taken place and my wife and I apparently committed the ultimate mortal sin toward the Medfords, we “voted differently” than them…

In 2017 the United States saw a new president elected and from coast to coast the biggest onslaught of crybaby syndrome swept across the nation I have EVER seen in my life. Men crying real tears over an election, a political process that has taken place for hundreds of years. I’ll say that again, men crying real fucking tears over an election…

I’d never seen anything like it. That is, until I began to notice Jonathan’s boiling-point behavior and spontaneous outbursts when he would get himself upset and worked up over HIS political beliefs to the point he would “tell us exactly what’s on his Liberal mind” (again, his words not mine). Are you all beginning to understand why I absolutely hate politics?

It was shortly after the 2016 elections my wife and I decided it was time we would finally be moving away from the Medfords.

In the early summer of 2017 my wife came home from work early super-excited and full of energy like I hadn’t seen in a while. I was miserable. Due to the Federal hiring freeze in 2017 I lost my federal position I spent a year interviewing for and coordinating. Denise, my Monster in Law was constantly insulting me in front of my wife and Jonathan simply pretended I was invisible and unimportant in my own home. He would often stick his enormous nose in the air like he had just accomplished something and walk right past me upon entry into my home. Not a week would go by without a visit consisting of Medord Madness and Denise’s high-pitched voice shrieking and cackling as they both verbally trashed me for not finding a job “they” found suitable yet. Never mind my retirement check every month.

When Erin announced she was taking me somewhere that night I was pissed. I honestly thought it was a trick and I was going to be paraded in front of her hateful parents again for another verbal thrashing. I know, I was an alcoholic and l wanted to drink my “Medford misery” away. ALL of the other reasons I was unhappy in my life were quickly melting away yet these two Assholes persisted and it seemed like there was nothing I could do about it.

After a 45 minute ride, we traveled through a couple small towns I sometimes rode my motorcycle through and pulled up to one of the most beautiful homes I have ever seen. An incredible white home with 10 acres. It was everything Erin and I talked about finding after I retired. It was everything we dreamed about throughout the years and she showed me the math on paper how affordable it was for us and that night I felt this incredible connection to her that had been missing for years. She seemed so alive when she talked about “our next step” together and the life we were going to create now that we were finally finished with the military and we were together again. She was so incredibly enthusiastic and optimistic all I could do was stare at this amazing woman. She was continuing to do what she had always done, she was helping me move forward.

We had found our place to heal.

We drove by our home on a Wednesday. That Friday we conducted a walk-through with a realtor. The very next day the offer Erin and I gave for our home in Waterloo, Illinois was accepted. We were now residents of Monroe county!

The next week my wife and I met with a realtor to very excitedly show this home “we were looking at” to Erin’s parents, the Medfords. We were afraid to tell them too much because we were already prepared for how negative they would be toward our pursuit for happiness. From the moment they showed up, the Medfords delivered such jealousy that even our realtor made a few comments about their rude behavior. Denise immediately donned her Troll face and delivered her expertise about what she determined to be the proper size of a home my wife and I should be living in. Jonathan remained quiet until he selected 5 different things about the house he knew very little about (which is most things) but convinced himself were reasons why we should NOT buy this home we fell in love with and could easily afford. Halfway through the time my wife and I were allotted to look at a few things in our new house and ask some questions, Denise announced “she was ready to go.” After seeing no one pay attention to her she slunk back to her vehicle and moped until my wife and I emerged from our future home and she greeted us with dirty looks and some well-delivered insults about my employment status.

Over the next year we fully settled into our home in Waterloo. My military status changed from temporary retirement status (TRDL) to permanent retirement status (PRDL). I began receiving care at Jefferson Barracks where I still visit today. When I moved to Waterloo, Illinois another circumstance that affected me was removed from my life. I began seeing a new Psychiatrist who had specific experience with patients who were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but showed symptoms and career history of a possible traumatic brain injury. My Psychiatrist disagreed with the medications I had been prescribed for years and took me serious when I told her I had been weaning myself off the meds for a year now because I was sick of them and needed her help to finally get clean. I still took Opiates sporadically to keep the jitters away but I was ready to stand tall and strong. I refused to visit in-patient rehab. I was ready to be honest with my wife and stop taking pills she didn’t know about. She deserved a husband who would be honest with her.

Over the next year I drank less and less. I found reasons to occupy my time that did not involve alcohol. During the year of 2018 I was down to a six pack a night (still not something to be proud of) and I only allowed myself to drink from 5 PM to 10 PM. I began to volunteer at my son’s elementary school. I became a member of a local beer brewing club and volunteered with the PTO. As the days went by I still had my relapses which almost always revolved around the disgusting behavior of my increasingly disturbing Monsters in Law. Jonathan and Denise would claim to be perpetually “disappointed in us” (sound familiar to you fellow Trainwrecks having problems with YOUR narcissistic parents that have been reaching out to me?)

Now that they could no longer casually drive 15 minutes to our home in Caseyville and pay us a spontaneous visit for us to provide entertainment to them, they developed a new type of neediness. Before the Medfords even left our driveway my wife and I would begin fighting over their disgusting behavior and Jonathan’s increasingly child-predatory behaviors toward our son, which were becoming more apparent every time he decided to give himself a politically inspired Liberal hissy fit and would then target my wife, my son and I as a result of his emotional instability. I was to the point I no longer wanted the Medfords anywhere near my home and especially anywhere near my son. They lack compassion and empathy for other humans and do not belong anywhere near me. Based on their actions and behaviors during that time, I have concluded Jonathan and Denise Medford are UNSAFE to be around children.

In the beginning of 2019 I finally had enough of the Medfords trying to control what goes on in my marriage and in my home over an hour away from them. More importantly Jonathan boldly made it clear to me he expected my wife to provide him access to our son and he let me know he would freely do with him as he wished, regardless of how anyone felt – including my son. Jonathan declared he was our “Patriarch” (his words, not mine) and his desires are to be attended. After a short time in front of a judge (who already read Jonathan’s foolish letter and you will too) the judge made a face of disgust toward Jonathan and legally reinforced what I already told him.

I meant it when I said Jonathan is unwelcome near my home or near my son.

After over ten years we are FINALLY free of the Medfords and the other negative circumstances and our experiences since have been absolutely incredible! My wife and I have been attending marriage counseling now for over a year and we have become closer than I ever thought we could be. These days we mostly laugh and hold hands during our counseling sessions. I have learned to love my relationship in a way I didn’t think was possible because I am free to love my wife again and not any “extra baggage” I never wanted or agreed to. We look at each other with love once again. We are honest with each other and more importantly we are comfortable in the fact we are not exposed to narcissistic hatred and jealousy anymore. After the Medfords began to leave my family alone I was finally able to go a week or more without alcohol. Finally, the last motivator I found to drink the pain in my life away was gone. No more Medford Madness.

Shortly after our move to Waterloo, Illinois I tipped the bathroom scale at 285-290 lbs. I wore size 50 jeans and XXL t-shirts. I was on blood pressure medication, my liver was failing due to the excessive alcohol consumption and my knee pain was terrible. I visited a dietician and resumed my physical therapy. As I weaned myself off alcohol and pain killers I also eliminated the garbage food I was shoving into my body. We were now living in God’s country and I truly embraced it.

If you feel you are affected by the world in a way you are having a hard time understanding and would like to explore your options with a professional coaching program, contact me for a free consultation. We will not only address what you feel your shortcomings may be, but identify how to overcome those obstacles. Please contact me via DJBeautifulTrainwreck@gmail.com for a free consultation and we will explore how we can closer align your lifestyle to your ideal self. Who YOU really are!

In the Fall of 2018 my wife and I visited an event on the courthouse lawn in downtown Waterloo, Illinois where I learned about a martial arts Dojo not far from where I lived. Of course they trained us to fight hand to hand in the military. Just… not the way most martial artists would expect someone to be trained. To be fair, most martial artists are not carrying 30 lbs of armor and another 30 lbs of ammunition and equipment. I always wanted to formally train in martial arts. Today my son and I am close to our second full year studying Shorinji Kempo martial arts and I have never loved an activity as much as I love studying martial arts (okay I did like racing bikes) and I have truly found what has driven my greater purpose.

In January of 2019 I weighed 240 lbs and could drink half a beer and decide I didn’t want it and throw it out if I wanted to. I truly no longer feel dependence on alcohol to deal with life. I have not taken Opioids in years and even survived my vasectomy without any prescription pain killers. Over the past couple years since I moved to Waterloo, Illinois I have slowly changed back to the person I was before my train was derailed at Camp Bucca, Iraq during Ramadan of 2007. I have learned to cope with my pain and thanks to both the post traumatic stress disorder clinic and traumatic brain injury clinic at Jefferson Barracks I am now learning how to deal with the world around me with my physical and mental limitations. Before I began treatment at Jefferson Barracks it was like my ability to act normal and do normal things just slowly drifted away more and more as I tried to make sense of and cope with my limitations.

In early 2019 I was putting away my train themed Christmas tree and I noticed the Locomotive had tipped onto it’s side, dragging the cars along behind it haphazardly. After resetting the cars I gave them a little push only to see the train come off it’s tracks yet again despite how carefully I tried to guide the train and it suddenly dawned on me what I was looking at. I have been attached to trains my whole life and here I was looking at an amazing comparison to my own. This train I was looking at was beautiful. Ever since I was a little kid my Grandmother and my mother used to take me to see trains at a museum. At a young age my son began showing interest in trains just like I did. We both like the locomotive and think they’re beautiful. Like so many have said before me, “my son is just like me.”

I thought back to a time in my career I was flying in a helicopter after doing something stupid. Back then as I stared out at the wide empty desert from my seat in the Blackhawk I had a sense of humor about things in life. I heard about a rather destructive incident that had taken place below us. Miscommunication had led to unnecessary bloodshed. Someone said it was a beautiful trainwreck. Good intentions and bad execution. I’m pretty sure that’s what he said, I mean we were shouting at eachother. It was a pretty fucked up analogy but it worked.

Back then I was really someone in this world. I pray to God everyday none of you go looking for trouble like I did because I promise you the excitement of it is worse than hard drugs. You will crave the type of dangerous fun and trouble you can get into as a combatant for the rest of your existence.

Forever.

Back then I thought I was tough and although I felt like it, I wasn’t. I wasn’t mentally tough enough to know when to call it quits and let someone know I’ve had enough. And when I did, I didn’t assert myself the proper way I needed in my pursuit for help. I wasn’t mentally tough enough to look past the people-pleasing and the need to be this amazing military person that would at any cost finally be worthy of my parent’s and the rest of my family’s love. ANY FUCKING COST, Trainwrecks. At any cost. In my pursuit of what I thought was my ultimate purpose, I sadly and slowly lost all purpose.

I was a complete Trainwreck who had been knocked off his rails and I was determined to get back on my track once again. Someday.

In the early Spring of 2019 I was struggling with what I thought I was supposed to be doing in life. I know this sounds asinine but up until then, I refused to do anything related to Psychology. I felt disfranchised from my passion. I was more or less who I was before the craziness but I did not yet understand how to give myself permission to go after what truly made me happy and go back to that. I had recently launched a blog and I was slowly learning how to create content. I decided I would write about some of my crazy experiences in the military. Most people around me had no idea what I even did before I came to Waterloo and just knew I kept to my agoraphobic self. I rarely visited town and if I did it was to drink a big delicious mug of beer at Stubborn German, a local pub I frequent.

After visiting with a buddy I served in Iraq with who is now a recruiter, he encouraged me to look into going back to school. We laughed at the comedy of the thought and I told him about how much better I was doing with therapy and the amazing changes in my life that occurred shortly after I got my dog, KIA. He again pressed me about what I was doing and I told him I was done learning 10 years ago after I finished Graduate School. One of my best friends I will ever have in this world took a real deep drag from his cigarette, stared me in the eye and told me “you outta quit being a fucking pussy and just get your PhD.” Damn that man had an amazing way with words. That was why he was a highly recognized military recruiter. I looked back at my friend and told him he was right. Before I left his office he had already given me sources disabled veterans with the highest rating like myself can try to get money from since I used most of my GI bill during graduate school. I drove the hour back to my house engaged in deep thought. Was he really correct? I mean could I really go back to school?

I mean why not? All I had really done lately was smoke a lil pot and play Call of Duty for the past year. At this point I did what my wife made me promise I would do and I stayed retired for a bit before I went looking for new ways to get into trouble. After weeks of phone calls, interviews, applications and being ready at any moment to be told I wasn’t good enough to be doing this I received my welcome letter. I did it. I had somehow some way found the money to go back to school and I was now a PhD student! The problem was, everyone told me I was a doctorate student and believed it. Everyone that is, but me. I was the only one who didn’t and here I was, the one doing the work. How fucked up is that? For the first semester it really didn’t sink in this was possible so every time I turned in an assignment or conducted research I expected to be told that I was a complete moron and that I did not have what it took to even be in the same room as my peers. That was me telling myself that nonsense. No one else.

So, let’s have a discussion! Make sure you smash that LIKE button as you comment below.

  • What are things you are doing in your life in an effort to discover your purpose, who you are?
  • What are ways you have lost your purpose beyond your control and resolved to make adjustments to your plan to rediscover what will make you happy?
  • What are ways you have overcome negative influences in your life to rediscover your purpose and what makes you happy?

Leave your comments below and join in the discussion.

November 2019. I just finished the first semester of my Doctorate in Psychology and my life is incredible!

Understanding our purpose and why it is so important is paramount in feeling happiness! Through a little bit of pain and initial discomfort we can understand our purpose and what we can do in life that will bring us happiness. This week I finish my first semester of my Doctorate. Its very expensive and it’s one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. But I’m doing it. I really am. Its crazy.

You’re Welcome. Internet.

Children who are raped are introduced to a monster within them. That was my experience.

References:

Bryan, C. J., Bryan, A. O., & Kopacz, M. S. (2019). Finding purpose and happiness after recovery from suicide ideation. The Journal of Positive Psychology.

Marques, J. (2017). Oh, what happiness! Finding joy and purpose through work. Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, (3), 1.

Music Credit: https://purple-planet.com

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