A Ronin’s Journey: Chapter 6

I came off a night of fitful sleep filled with odd dreams that were occasionally broken up by tending to my sick wife. She was feeling better by the time I left for my therapist appointment. While there, my therapist had me go over how I was processing everything, then listened as I bounced ideas off her, and then listened to her as she focused on the fact that I don’t express much emotion. She hypothesized that my base personality had been buried by my hiding behind my tendency to emulate superheroes since I was a kid. Which was the real me?

A few months before the accident, I had done some introspection in a series of blog posts entitled “Forging Ronin.” I stripped everything down in my mind to the best of my ability so I could find what drives me personally, and what drives my soul and personality type. It’s a process I occasionally revisit to see what has changed. Nevertheless, she wanted me to write about my emotions, to think of them as a switch on a dial.

The thing about my emotions is I keep them mostly under control. They’re swirling in my head, but I try not to show it. I’ve been attempting to drown them out or to experience and then purge them. Unless it’s anger or happiness, it doesn’t last long. I’m still not sure why it was that way.

Something bad happens, how do you feel about it? I have a hard time finding a purpose for the bad emotions, yet the happy ones are fine. They make good situations better experiences. You just press forward through the bad ones, which is easy to say now. Immediately after it happened, I was not in control; they just came out. That is not a bad thing. I wasn’t on the same emotional scale as everyone else either, which gave me the appearance of being an emotionless automaton. Which is far from the truth. I just wasn’t trying to dwell on them at that point. Turns out it’s a Freudian defense mechanism called Intellectualization.

It’s described as when a person avoids uncomfortable emotions by focusing on facts and logic, situations are treated as interesting problems and feelings are ignored. After writing about emotions in an essay titled Emotional Dial, then reflecting on how this book’s content has come about, I have to admit that explains a lot. I’m a little surprised my picture isn’t by the definition. 

Is this a bad thing? 

Not to me at least. It has proven very useful, though limited. Using it, I have researched, found, and may have even created tools for coping at the very least on an intellectual level. When I posted excerpts from this book’s first draft, I got feedback on how it made people think. In the times I see someone freaking out, I can teach them a tool to calm down. Surprisingly, my therapist said she wished I could show her other clients, though I’m not sure if she was being kind or serious. I’m finding that helping people by taking lessons learned from the darkest times, in turn, helps me, and it makes me happy when it works for others.

The downside is that the emotions are still not being addressed or allowed an outlet in one form or another. Preferably in ways that do not hurt you or others. For all my introspection and perceived progress, it still only takes a picture or sound to trigger a flashback. Less so now but always painfully present. Occasionally, the foreboding feeling of unease and anxiety creeps up, thankfully not to the level of a panic attack or paranoia. Then there are the mood swings that take me from fine to I hate everyone, or looking around and feeling out of place like a puzzle piece that doesn’t quite fit right. It’s still a mess up there, and I wasn’t sure how to clean it up. 

Even my dreams changed, waking me in the middle of the night. The first one was when I dreamed about a famous TV vigilante serial killer. I sat up in a cold sweat, waiting on a serial killer to enter. I even checked the house and eventually fell asleep on the couch.

In another dream, I was helping my favorite comic book character. At one point, I disarmed a bad guy, taking his pistol and covering the other bad guys with it. One of them pulled his gun on me, and I commanded him to drop it while I fumbled with the safety on the slide. He smiled, aimed at me, and I shot him. The shots jerked me awake, and I got up and went into the living room, thinking sleep hadn’t been a friend.

Then a call came in about my wife’s MRI, the doctor wanting to do another test called a contrast MRI to look at the white matter in Casey’s brain. I had no idea what that was and what could go wrong with it. Fear set in, and I wondered if she was going to die next, my anxiety turning a double-check into filling out her death certificate in my head. I looked into the white matter, which I learned is the brain’s network system, and the diseases that affect it. 

She, on the other hand, worked to stay positive while my depressive spell spun into other areas. Was I holding back the company despite my best efforts? Should I quit? What if this medical issue racked up bills? Then the extra money would help. Honestly, it was Luke and Jeremy doing the lion’s share of the work with Wicked Jester. I couldn’t take credit for anything other than a few decisions. My brain bounced around so much. Frames of reference, personal levels of Hell, the effectiveness of the Biu Da technique, getting shirt quotes from the Art of War and the Book of Five Rings, find fonts to use, etc. Confused? So was I.

Then the outside world broke through again. Another life was lost, and we had an upcoming wedding on New Year’s. We got a text that a friend from church’s husband had died in a motorcycle accident. We prepared food for the family, and my more socially adept wife got a card to go with it. It led to a long talk about what would happen if one of us died. The unpredictable suddenness made it apparent again that death comes at any age or time. The realization that the little things that anger us aren’t so important when considered in light of the other person’s mortality. When they’re dead, you would gladly take the bad just to have the good again. 

In the meantime, the impatient wait for the prosecutor brought my shakes back. With anxiety bubbling under the surface, I resisted entertaining “what-if” scenarios. I was bouncing between the peaks of anger and sadness, sometimes sliding into depression, so I sought out those who knew me best. The “Carnival” started playing again in the background of my thoughts, and attempting to head it off with the Centering Drill quieted it a little, though it continued on at a lower volume. The “Don’t Talk to Me” vibe was particularly strong again. I looked around at others and didn’t see them as people—they were just meat sacks. 

Feeling confined and caged, I wanted to get away, my mind searching desperately for answers. 

Would a new start help? 

In a new home?  

We were back in our house, but it didn’t fit anymore. It wasn’t home, just four walls and a roof. I was getting stir crazy as I thought if I’d followed my urge to walk, I wouldn’t stop until I was miles away. I was at work, so that release wasn’t an option. My head was a mess. Not all the thoughts swirling were taking shape so they could be grasped. Life was wearing and draining on us. Casey was sacrificing for others, I was sacrificing for her, and at the time, I felt alone and unsupported. The appreciation was there, but no support for me to draw on, I was reaching the limits of my strength. I brought my concerns to her, and we hashed out a plan, making sure it was only temporary. Casey got to rest, I didn’t isolate myself, we got our time together, and the two families worked as a unit with wins all around. 

With an earthquake rattling everything in my head apart, I was looking for more ways to calm it. Surprisingly, I found it on Facebook in one of my favorite author’s, Marc MacYoung’s, page in a note about what he did. It’s a concept to call a meeting with the different aspects of your personality. The way I understand what a personality aspect is as a voice or feeling in your head. I think most of us have an inner-monologue along with some weird stuff going through it. To get the chatter to calm a little is to ease your mind. I used meditation for that. 

It was a basic meditation with some soothing music mixed and binaural beats woven through it to relax. When I arrived at the point where I was aware of everything but not distracted, I visualized a meeting place. For me, it was a table in the center of a black void with a door behind me. I would call out to the aspects and wait. I even tried to force one into existence so I could tell the difference between the conscious and the unconscious. It would have a different feel if it were me putting words in their mouth or “them” speaking. With the aspects, what I heard was a surprise, along with the forms they took. When I forced my idea of it, it wouldn’t stick but push me out of the meditative state. 

It did accomplish what I wanted, to learn the difference between the two. We all have different sides of our personalities, and this is a way to get a grip on them. I use it to put faces to all the chatter inside the bony enclosure of my skull. It helps immensely to be able to look fear of my inner demons in the eye.

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Over the week, I meditated several times, slowly drawing out the thoughts and feelings. The parts of me like the self-critical, self-esteem, and the strategic are useful when they stay in their areas. For example, the critical part pressure tests the strategy, though the danger is pessimism. That ties into how you feel about yourself, primarily if it’s built on something tangible to counteract it. When the little voice cuts in, you can offer proof otherwise to shut it up. 

That was from the first time I meditated. The second time brought four more aspects: repressed anger/insecurity, hatred/darkness, protectiveness, and wild sides. The insecure, angry side is the voice that snaps at others in my head. To get an idea of it, I offer a question for you. Have you ever had someone make you mad, yet while you may or may not have said anything, you have entire scenarios playing out in your mind about what you would like to do? I think that’s where this part is from—bottled up emotions that release under pressure. Knowing this, it can be dealt with by not repressing and coping with maturely.

I’ve mentioned the carnival in my head. Its roots are where the darkness and hatred dwells. It isn’t a place I enjoy going to in my head. Identifying it was a big plus in doing the meditation since it loosened some of the carnival’s grip on me. It’s new, along with some other aspects, only a few months old, I believe, though I could be wrong.

Like the confident, wise guardian aspect that I tend to hide behind. It may be new, or was always there and I didn’t know. The comfort of it is the boundary it sets of mutual respect, you leave me alone, and I’ll leave you alone because trouble will not be allowed to happen. Since it’s just part of a whole, I shouldn’t be relying on it entirely for strength. There is a different part for that.

It was new, incomplete, what I wanted to be but wasn’t there yet. It was the inner strength to become the person with ethical values and principles contained in the armor of my ideal. I took these to be the higher-level aspects, all tied to emotion in a sense. On a deeper, more primal level, I think it’s an aspect we all have. It’s the animal side, and it works with whatever part is dominant, an impartial background participant. In a situation where trouble comes my way, it’s backing up the guardian aspect, the “big stick” in Teddy Roosevelt’s quote. I hate to admit it, but it was the part that was shadowing people during Wolf Fest on my day of hate on Labor Day weekend. 

Over several days of meditation, I uncovered another: a disgusting aspect I never did identify. Either way, the 10-15 minutes every day or so has calmed the mess in my head a bit, and everything is working together better. It had helped me get some of my focus back so I could push through a bit of the depression. Many of the things I used to love to do are pointless, requiring a massive amount of self-discipline to move forward. With the gathering momentum, I needed to keep my head straight to make sure I didn’t stall out. It is progress, the clutter is lessening, and who knows what it will uncover as I go. 

In between the meditations, life continued, with my wife facing the unfortunate reality that not everyone cares about her. She had to stay overnight at work because of the weather, and at one point, her phone was stolen. She couldn’t understand why someone would do it. By the time I arrived, she had filed a report. I wanted to follow up with security, her supervisors, whoever could give me answers. The ladies in the Emergency Room helped me with my probe by pointing me to who to talk to. I filed a police report, and we walked to the car to go home. 

As I put the car in reverse, I saw two very cold ER ladies trying to flag us down to tell us the supervisor wanted us to fill out a report. We walked back in to see the boss and a guard with an attitude problem, like this was an inconvenience. I kept my cool, answered his questions, and we left. After we got home, I trained while hoping whoever powered the phone back on would call since I locked it in Lost mode. Casey really wanted that phone back, as it had over a thousand pictures and a lot of them were of our godson.

She woke from a nap and was in the room of the accident with our godson’s mom, her best friend. I left as it wasn’t helping me. Depression sank in again as I pondered my future. A long talk with Casey afterward revealed that she felt like she had died that day, no longer fitting into her life. Feelings I’m familiar with, so I showed her part of this book’s draft. Knowing she wasn’t alone seemed to help.

In the middle of the month, our attorney called to update me. He had spoken with the prosecutor who wanted to talk to my godson’s family to see what they wanted to do. He had run a background check on me at our lawyer’s request to find that I was clean as a whistle. That gave me some hope, more than Casey’s phone situation did. I couldn’t find it on the Find My iPhone app at all.

Then it came back on, and I tracked it to an apartment complex. Without the exact number, the cops couldn’t do anything, so I reluctantly wiped it. My wife’s mom ordered another for her that was on its way. I still wanted to prosecute whoever stole it. An hour later, I got a call from someone claiming to have bought it for his little girl for $20. He may or may not have been the thief, but the latest smartphone for $20 definitely indicated it was stolen. Either way, she’ll got it back.

I started crafting a plan, even consulting the “aspects” during meditation. If it didn’t feel right at a gut level, I was going to pull the pin and scrub the mission. Sometimes it’s not justice, it’s just us. The first meeting fell through because I wouldn’t meet him at his house after 11:00 at night. I wrote the phone off as it was too risky with no witnesses in his territory. That upset my wife, so I worked through my options. I decided on threatening him with the cops and give him an ultimatum. 

It worked. The next day before work, I was at the prearranged gas station, waiting, my adrenaline trickling. When he arrived, he pulled up with his daughter between us, me standing on the passenger side. Using diaphragmatic breathing to control my adrenaline, I was watching their hands while he was very chatty. His nervousness was showing, which was fine because, while he was talking, he wasn’t attacking. It went as well as it could. The phone was returned and lessons were learned about people and myself. Casey was delighted when she got off work to find me in the hospital lobby, using the Wi-Fi to restore her phone. 

Throughout it all, I had been meditating still, meeting a new silent aspect. I spoke with the characters I nicknamed “the Warriors three”: the guardian, the primal, and the strategist. The ideal I had mentioned earlier, ghost ronin, said to wear my values like armor. It also praised my personal goals and the progress on them while reminding me that samurai means “to serve.” 

Looking back on it, I asked myself, “Do you want to feel good about yourself?” Pessimism isn’t the way. Instead of focusing on the negatives, guess what? You made it. You may be a little or a lot beat up; however, that’s life tearing away the inessentials with only the hardiest remaining. Strength doesn’t really shine until it’s needed. 

Looking at the setbacks, how can you get your head back into it? Evaluation. What are your strengths, and how can they be applied? What is the problem and how can you address it? Cover all bases, and develop good habits so you don’t tap into your limited willpower and it can be directed to more useful things. I’m learning that grief is taking away all my drive. Physically, I was deteriorating, mostly from bad food choices, with a half-hearted focus on my fitness program. In trying to harness the power of habit, I found a program that can be trained daily and logging my food so I can see the macronutrients. Spare moments at work, I decided to drill a martial arts technique, which didn’t last long. That habit didn’t take.

I was looking for ways to be useful where I could for WJ. Finding quotes for shirts was an easy one. Words are everywhere. I know my strength is in being trained and pointed in a direction where I keep going until something is finished. Only when reading did I sit still. The rest of the time, I was trying to do something. Problem is that my focus is always off during this time, but improving. 

This is happening in tandem with an emotional mix of sadness, embarrassment, feelings of worthlessness, and questioning myself. There was a shakeup in the family that left us scratching our heads. Occasionally, reminders of the accident and flashbacks cross my mind. Like when I was organizing pictures on the laptop, I found a picture of my godson swinging. Instead of seeing his happy face, my mind took me back to July 21. I felt tears trying to escape, but they never did. With Christmas approaching, it was getting harder, the old routines and joys not the same. Looking at old pictures, reminiscing, that may help others, just not me yet. They serve as a constant stabbing reminder that it will never be the same again. All I could think of was trying to fill the gap with something new. 

The news cycle didn’t help either. Ever since July, I hadn’t been watching it, but stories appear on my Facebook feed. Like watching the social network jury string up a guy after reading a single paragraph of words from a news story. Emotions make people dumb without them realizing it. Like when we lose our tempers, it’s harder to reason with us. That’s part of the reason I don’t care for politics anymore. 

The weekend before Christmas, we were with my in-laws on her mom’s side, and I was actually enjoying myself. Lately, I had been feeling ostracized, and it was nice to be in a place where I felt welcomed. I talked about publishing with Casey’s youngest stepsister, showing shirt concepts to my mother-in-law who liked the “morbid art.” While that was nice, it didn’t top seeing our niece and nephew. They really warmed our hearts. The weekend closed with Casey’s mom and stepdad staying at our place before their flight home the next day, spending a quiet night together.

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Then the bottom fell out of our good mood during the next three days. We rode an emotional rollercoaster as a family. People are creatures of habit, and traditions are practically sacrosanct, and when they’re broken, an internal conflict arises in us. This was the first Christmas without my godson, and the gaping maw of the realization brought with it more depression, grief, and apathy.

Why decorate?

Why shop? 

I only really wanted to socialize with the out-of-town family. The rest, not as much, friends and family alike. I just didn’t want to see anyone. My sister invited me to lunch, a friend invited me over. I declined them all. When my dad had his annual Christmas get-together, I stayed home, not wanting to be around anyone, even feeling a bit hostile. 

I fought back against it in various ways, like meditation for one. That didn’t work too well, so I trained, putting a lot into moving the kettlebells, venting anger through exertion. It took a quiet movie with Casey to calm the carnival in my head, and it took one person whipping in front of the car to start it up again. I tried my best to drive my middle finger through the windshield. 

With the carnival rolling again, I tried to burn it out by working on the car, the driveway, and doing some work on the laptop. I couldn’t escape the happy people online, and along with Christmas music playing, I started to smile again. Until Casey sent me a picture of our godson, asking me to pretty it up in Photoshop. I looked at it, thinking the last time I saw him, he was covered in blood. Yeah, what a wonderful Christmas Eve that was. 

The anger carried me to where I kept my 250lb stand-up heavy bag, driving a punch into it that almost toppled it. I walked to the bedroom where the accident happened, looking in. We kept it clean, but it still looked exactly the same, and that was really bothering me. The atmosphere was so oppressive it was almost tangible. I hated it. Something had to be done right then. 

I dismantled the bed, moving it to the empty room on the other end of the trailer. Soon, the nightstand and big dresser followed it. In their place, I moved totes and other assorted junk in there, and it no longer resembled the room I remembered. More importantly, it felt different. Still, I never could stay there for long. I got Casey from work, showing her the work I did when we got back. It had been a hard day for her too. Even being the people person she is, she didn’t want to deal with others any more than I did. 

Christmas Day, we tried to fill the hole with a new tradition that was just ours. We settled on a movie, hot cocoa, and something baked and sweet. So far, it holds to this day. However, it wasn’t long, and depression set back in, then anger, then sadness. I just wanted to be alone, sitting in the dark, watching movies to keep my mind occupied. 

The next day, I was back at the therapist. When I checked in, her daughter was working behind the desk, and she asked how I was. We were both happy that Christmas was over. In the session, my therapist gave me something to think about. What is my base personality? She also called me on making statements with nothing attached to them. I quipped, “Bad acting.” She disagreed, saying it was terrific acting. When I got home, I reached out to the family to figure out what was going on in my head. 

The therapist’s observation was that I was acting out a part. The character was a mix of the different roles I had played growing up, usually superheroes and western characters, as I’d previously written about. The theory was that I had buried my real personality when I was growing up. So I asked my mom and uncle about what I was like as a small child. They told me that Dad was my hero, that I was quiet, read, and drew with a love for superheroes and a particular fat orange cat in the newspaper. I never was particularly cuddly, unless I was hurt, then I wanted my mom. The steak of stubbornness was there at the start, and I rarely cried since “only sissies did that.” 

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In retrospect, I had not changed much at all, leaving me to direct my attention elsewhere. Looking deeper into the Freudian Defense Mechanisms, I learned quite a bit, like how many neuroses I probably have. I learned more about my primary defense mechanism: Intellectualization. It’s where you distance yourself from those sucky feelings by focusing on the intellectual parts: isolation, rationalization, ritual, undoing, compensation, and magical thinking. The book you’re reading is a product of me operating within that mechanism. Intellectualization is listed as a neurotic defense, along with the isolation and withdrawal. It’s like throwing gasoline on my already-introspective fire. However, other unconscious defense mechanisms were coming into play.

These were listed as healthier, mature defense mechanisms. I found humility, mindfulness, humor, and identification on the lower end. In higher doses were altruism, introjection, and emotional self-regulation. Looking deeper at the minor ones, I will start with humility, and after a wake-up call of that magnitude, I couldn’t help but get a more honest look at myself, and it was humbling. Quite honestly, I was a self-important ass. My friends must not have realized it, or they agreed with it, or they had the patience of saints. Mindfulness, being aware of the moment, in my case was studying myself in action with my surroundings. 

Curiously, humor was the most interesting one, and I wonder if it pertains mostly to so-called “dark humor.” I bought a book on a baby’s body language by Desmond Morris so I could understand my infant goddaughter better. In it was a theory on how laughter develops. Morris wrote that when you do something that startles the child, they start to scream until something in their head realizes it’s okay. This is processed fast enough that the scream’s exhalation is cut short into choppy laughter. It’s a joyous relief that what scared them isn’t happening anymore. It leads me to wonder if nervous laughter and dark humor is the pressure relief valve in the same vein. Have you ever been in a wreck, laughed nervously, and joked afterward? I have. I was thrilled I was safe. 

It explained dark humor for me. For example, a cop or paramedic making a joke about a wreck on the highway or an aspect of it. It is okay. I think it’s how the brain unconsciously processes instead of snapping or burying it where it builds pressure and explodes later. It’s desensitizing you so you can cope, and it can be both a blessing and a curse. That brand of humor shows up in my grief journal often, like an entry on New Year’s Eve. Everyone was hoping for a good 2014. I thought to myself, if no one died or ended up in jail, I would consider it a great year. Except I was more descriptive in the entry.

Then there is Identification, modeling yourself after another’s character or behavior, what I did growing up, as well as now, to a point. After the accident, I started taking on the traits and behavior of a couple of the authors I read, Rory and Marc. I believe these may channel into the three mechanisms I use. 

Altruism isn’t a personal strength in most areas, except one. I was told that I was a mentor to someone, and it surprised and humbled me, I admit. I have my mentors, have taken the parts that fit my personal matrix to make me a better…well…me. That’s my advice to others on that.

This flows into Introjection, where you integrate an idea or object into yourself. One is “no one gets left behind,” and considering the thirty-plus books on personal protection/martial arts I have collected over the years, I’d have to say that is probably it. The former is new, the latter isn’t.

Lastly, we have Emotional Self-Regulation, the response to experiences with a range of emotions from experiences, or I am rationalizing the suppression of emotions. With my quiet nature, I have my doubts, feelings are addictive, so losing it in a group can get them worked up. An angry mob comes to mind, for example. It’s better to find healthier ways to get it out, such as writing or talking to a close friend so you won’t be afraid of opening up. 

These unconscious defense mechanisms were the ones that fit me out of forty-five different ones ranging from pathological to mature. The psychological coping mechanisms are conscious and have three types: appraisal, problem, and emotional. As they are driven by will, they can be combined and are adaptable to the individual. I decided to harness the unconscious mechanisms since they were in effect anyway and combine them with these coping strategies. First, though, I’ll define them individually.  

The Appraisal-Focused Strategies are used to change the way people think. Flip the Perspective, as I detailed earlier, is an example of that. Another option is just getting away from the issue so we can look at it from a distance. We’ve gone as far as leaving the state on several occasions to do this, and it feels good to get away. You see that there is more to it out there other than what is happening in your corner of the world.

Problem-Focused Strategies tackle the cause of the problem to change or eliminate the source of stress. Generally, by researching it and learning the skill set needed to manage it. A bit like what you’re doing now by reading this book and learning what I’m doing to deal with these issues. 

Finally, there are the Emotional-Focused Strategies that deal with your feelings in a variety of ways. Thorin’s 17:06 exercise from Unchained works really well here, or using routine and research to distract yourself. The hostile or overwhelming feelings are dealt with by the Centering Drill or the diaphragmatic breathing methods. How to do that is breathe deep into your stomach for a count of four, hold it for a count of four, naturally exhale without forcing it for a count of four, and pause for a count of four. Repeat as many times as needed. The standard ten-count works pretty well for your temper as well. They work for managing emotions at the moment, for calming the reactions. Or you can use meditation as a proactive tool. Using these in tandem with the 17:06 exercises dug up a lot of repressed feelings so they could be dealt with and let go. 

How can I use this to my advantage?

First, by focusing less on the neurotic defense, I don’t have to understand everything, so I can focus my energy towards humor, embracing my protective side, helping others and seizing my independence overall. Second, use meditation for the pent-up emotions brought on by anxiety and stress, focusing on one thing while whatever comes up is acknowledged and let go. I don’t have to call a meeting of the mind every time. 

The tools I listed throughout the book focus on the other two areas, with an emphasis on the problem-focused strategies. The Transformational Statements from Unchained will handle the appraisal/life-changes part of it all. After the hell from the week of Christmas, I plan to use these to climb out of that particular pit. Like most wounds, it will hurt as it heals, and on a cold day, I’ll feel the scars ache. The pain will always be there, I think, just much more manageable. 

We ended the year with our traditional trip out of state to visit Casey’s dad’s side of the family. Along the way, she was looking through my phone for pictures of our godson that she didn’t have. I glanced over, saw his picture staring at me, and had a flashback. Then, driving through a nearby town, I was reminded of the guy who sold me the stolen gun. It would be good to get away from that baggage, though I did manage to talk about our godson without messing with my head or getting clinically sterile with my words. 

After we arrived, I just read my books, talked to her dad, and went with the flow for a couple of days. We went into Tulsa to see a big light display, and since I was riding, I took the chance to read Antifragile after reading a blog post on ArtOfManliness.com. I wanted a way to take all this pain and become stronger, instead of returning to the status quo, but being better. 

The trip became more eventful from there. I had an opportunity to put a Wicked Jester ad in a magazine at the last minute, coordinating with Jeremy and Ashley late that night. The trip and massive amount of people just drained me, and I had to fight to keep the worst parts of me quiet. 

After a night’s rest, we left to see her cousins from her mom’s side of the family and learned that another of her cousins was living next door. Then we thought we’d get to meet a new baby; however, it was a false alarm. Which is a good thing since his mom was the maid of honor at Casey’s cousin’s wedding. 

The time spent New Year’s Eve trumped even my desire to read. I didn’t want to miss anything. It was peaceful. I was at peace, feeling accepted with the usual heavy load hanging overhead. Spoke of wedding planning with Krystalynn and Casey. Closed 2013 out with a game of Battle of the Sexes. Left the first day of 2014 after the wedding, starting the year on a good note.

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Are you tired of the constant barrage of biased news coverage? It can be difficult to know who to trust, with every major network or paper having political ties and editorial agendas. The truth is often obscured, with facts omitted or slanted to fit a particular narrative. But how can we guard against this bias…

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