Thursday, December 6, 2018 (Late PM & Into the next AM)
Dear Readers, Greetings and Merry Christmas (Happy Holidays) to each of you!
My name is Aaron,
As I mentioned in a earlier post: May I Help Ministries was fortunate to have a seasoned writer with a heart of gold to join our project. Deanna is her name. Deanna is also our Editor. I thank God that she decided to have faith that May I Help Ministries will evolve and grow into a beautiful project that will benefit others, communities around our globe and hopefully life on this planet. I’m thankful that Deanna joined us.
Background to this story: How I reasoned to write this particular entry was because, yesterday: Wednesday December 5th, 2018. Our new Author and Editor Deanna had written an article called: “Message in a Bottle”. If you haven’t already read it, I ask that you do read it. Anyway, on the date of this entry, Thursday December 6, 2018, I asked Deanna: what book she had read for her inspiration to write yesterdays article, “Message in a Bottle”. Also, I asked Deanna for recommendations/ideas of what I may want to try writing about. She gave me one idea which I’ll begin to write about.
Here is the topic suggestion that I received from Deanna earlier today: “The steps that I took to achieve…”
Well, the steps are too many and rocky and difficult to completely give the justice that the steps both deserve and need in such a short article. However, with that said… I’ll share some of my own personal demons and the love of my God that has helped me to live (up to now).
Actually, I will summarize this article to keep it shorter than a book. Note: if you would like to hear more just ask and state what are you interested in?
Here we go… Like many people around the world and throughout history: I have struggled too. I’ve struggled with my mental health and emotional pain, I have been blessed and cursed with many health diagnosis’s, In my youth I struggled with literacy/school work, interpersonal difficulties/bullying, my main-caregiver had their troubles too as well as financial difficulties, It has been difficult for me to know that I am genuinely loved and respected for who I am (who-ever that is), As a youth I moved a lot and changed schools often (I do not know ages, the order and how it all fits together), life was difficult, As a young person I was bounced around a lot, I’ve also lived in Foster Homes, I’ve experienced hunger, As a youth I attended 12 step meetings, I went to detox and treatment. I’ve seen every “counsellor type” under the sun (so to speak). There are many traumatic things and I’m not listing them all now.
However, my focus in this short article is not meant to focus all its attention on my pain. I’d like to eventually explain the idea of May I Help Ministries. Please know that what I’m writing about is just the tip of the iceberg (a taste). True, everyone has their own challenges and war stories. The question is: What will be done with and made of them. I’ve heard it said: “it’s either up from here or down from here”. Lord please help me/us up, Amen.
In my early childhood years, I took on alter egos and identities in order for me to cope and have hope. In elementary school I took on identities of a detective, a millionaire and a super-hero. For many years I did not speak much of this.
My home life was scary, unpleasant and unstable. My mother struggled. She had many Partners and there was a lot of alcohol abuse that haunted these men. Many of us have our demons. Mom got hurt a lot. Again, it was scary. I didn’t feel safe or loved much.
In my teens traumatic things continued to happen. At one point my mother, two of my siblings lived in a small travel trailer. Mom smoked a lot inside it. There wasn’t much money etc. It was at this time that we all began to attend a Baptist Church and were preparing to be baptized. I remember living in fear that we were living in “End Times”. I remember coming in from playing outside. My family was gone. There was a little yellow post-it note stuck on the little camper fridge. It had the following words written on it: “If one of us dies, we mustn’t cry, we must stick together and pray to the Lord”. I was terrified. I thought that the Rapture had taken my Family and left me. I was so scared, alone, time slowed. Obviously, at some point my Family did come back home.
Also, I believed that a Fellow called the Anti-Christ was alive and living in our world. He worked for Satan. They kept in close touch. Up to that point from a younger youth, I believed that birds were watching me, following me and talking about me (particularly Crows). There was something special, yet eerie about this. It’s strange, and sometimes I still experience this.
For years I believed that it was unsafe to speak of what and how I was experiencing the world around me. I felt that “the birds of the air” would steal my words and tell the Anti-Christ and Satan too. I also didn’t know who was possessed by Demons. I wasn’t sure if teachers, counsellors, police, friends or family members were possessed. I didn’t feel that I could open up with or be totally safe with anyone.
God and my Identities combined with the hope of a new world kept me going. Today, ideas similar to this still helps me with hope and the will to hang on a little longer.
Looking back, I must say that there were people who cared for me. It’s just no one knew what I was experiencing. No one saved me. The years were scary and hard.
It was in the winter of 1996 that I had my first recognized and documented mental breakdown. To keep it short… I had struggled with housing and was briefly looking after someone’s place. As I recall, I was watching a movie called “Network” starring Peter Finch. Peter Finch I believe was standing at something, a stained glass window, he may have been on a T.V .set. He started saying loudly: “now everybody now, go to your windows open them up and scream: I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”. Then there were scenes of thousands and thousands of people sticking their heads out of high-rise apartment windows: screaming, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”. It was very dramatic, moving, and disturbing too! Remember, I was having a breakdown and 1996 was many years ago.
Then something clicked or snapped in my head. The idea came to me… All these years, I’ve had it all wrong… Jesus wasn’t coming to save me, save us all… It was for me to do. There is a lot more to this story…
That day the snow was at least one meter deep. I eventually was picked up at the local ferry terminal, dressed in long-john underwear, a house coat and Doc Martin boots. More to this too…
Note: some further severe (and unresolved trauma) happened to me while under the care of our medical system. Maybe one day I’ll share it with you. As a result, it took many more years to feel safe to let my story out. How does one speak openly with people tied to a system that can cause further abuse, harm and distress to vulnerable people? It took years to share. Hey, I’m actually doing it here now.
I was hospitalized on two more separate occasions in 1998.
Come around 2000/2001 my life improved somewhat. I enrolled in College and then commuted by Ferry to the Lower-Mainland of B.C. I attended two separate College Courses to become a Community Mental Health Worker. The first course was part-time. The second one was full-time. Often, I left for the city on the first Ferry and later returned on the last Ferry.
The Mental Health Center in my Community would not employ me and there were few if not any supports in my Old Community to use my lived-experience and education. I did however volunteer. I was a member of The Mental Health Advisory Committee at the local Hospital, I volunteered in various capacities with the Sunshine Coast Branch of the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society (one year I was Vice-President), I also volunteered at a local Mental Health Clubhouse, I’ve been a public speaker for multiple occasions. Like Capilano College/University, U.B.C. Nursing Students, A Mental Health Clubhouse in Powell River, The Local Coast Cable Eleven T.V. Channel, I’ve spoken many times to youth in Treatment, I’ve done a number of educational Puppet Plays for the B.C.S.S., I’ve spoken to Family to Family Groups, I’ve also spoken in a large auditorium about my mental health journey. One year I was Nominated for The Courage to Come Back Awards. And the next year I was fortunate enough to be a Finalist for The Courage to Come Back Awards.
There were more rough times ahead. And some good times too with Fraternal Brethren.
In late 2012, early 2013 I managed to first become employed in Housing. I often slept in my car in the beginning. It was both uncomfortable and often cold. And at work, I worked with people who struggle with chronic homelessness, mental health histories and often serious addictions. My lived experiences and my open heart helped me to do my job well. I connected well with many people, but not all people. And yes, it was very disturbing and scary for me at times.
It’s also difficult to fully speak of everything for the fear of offending someone. I saw a part of our world on a level that I had no knowledge of. My previous experiences in life and these newer experiences rip my heart to pieces and I feel that I may never heal. It just hurts too much!
In the Summer of 2013 I met my wife to be. We traveled a few months later to visit her family in her Country of Birth. A loving and respectful Family. And a beautiful Country and Culture too.
One year to the minute we were married: Husband and Wife. I love her so much!
The story improves knowing, really knowing that I am genuinely loved. In 2017, it would become clear to me. It is clear to me: I am loved!
I moved up in my vocational world through a number of positions and locations. I started as a Resident Building Attendant/Front Desk. There are more responsibilities than sitting by a front door. Note: most of my work was in the DTES of Vancouver. I had several positions, Housing First Support Worker, Community Worker, I worked in Extreme Cold Weather Shelters, I’ve worked in many sites, I’ve been a Peer Support Worker and my last position was as Supervisor of Education and Employment Supports on an ACT Team (I did a lot of Outreach in the Community). Very difficult work. It hurts to see so much daily trauma and pain and very often poor housing options (sometimes if any). I care about people and took my job seriously.
I’ve also taken The Health Care Assistant course at a local College and passed with straight A’s.
I became a Shop-Steward with the Union, then I took the Advanced Steward Training, I was on the Occupational Health and Safety Committee as well as The Joint Union Labour-Management Committee.
In early 2017 I further realized that our system is very broken, I was unable to actually help my Clients recover/heal. Also, I lacked freedom to speak openly (for instance Office Management had pulled me into their office alone and asked me not to refer to a white car (& model) as the white car. The manager told me that there had been complaints and my description was offensive. When using the work vehicles, I would email the team to let them know which car I was using… I was asked to stop referring to the car as the colour (and model). Please know that I had no ill intent in calling the white car by its colour or the grey car (and its model) either for that matter. There were other things too… I felt that my hands were tied, I genuinely had the best intent, but again our system is broken. It’s difficult.
Also, I feel that we can build as many social housing units as we want. Homelessness will not end. I admit it helps some people… but there is more to it than giving someone a house. There are several layers.
In early 2017 decided to end my life, I was in bed and got up, walked into the kitchen and I’ll leave most of the rest out… My wife woke up and she somehow she stopped me, I saw her obvious love for me: She saved my life that night. Her love actually helps me a lot (daily).
It was after this that my mental health by medical standards, radically declined. I got ill. For me it can be very difficult to ultimately say ill or sick, because I was filled with intense grief and love for Others, for Humanity and All Life on our Planet.
The medication is no cure and there is no pill for love and compassion. Pills only do so much. I still feel intense love, pain and sadness.
2017 was almost a repeat of 1996. I was motivated for our world to heal. Everywhere I looked, everything was painful. Except the love of God and all of our hidden potential. I rededicated myself to Gods service. That may sound crazy… But, today I need my life to be of service. When our world begins to heal, it will help me so much! I hope to heal through Others healing.
Again, I’ve come to a place where I no longer can work in “The System” I need to create my own system. So, I’m hoping that my project: May I Help Ministries will actually be a tool to help begin to heal our world. We can Individually (yes, me too) and Collectively (you too) unite, despite some differences in religious belief (if One holds/follows any) in order to build a healthier and more loving world. After all, we are all in this together.
Know this, we would like May I Help Ministries to be a platform that people like you can use to become encouraged, inspired, motivated and free to share your own personal ministry.
We would like to build you up. We want to hear your voice, your personal ministry.
Remember, sometimes a disability can be an ability, a gift. I’d like to believe that. Alchemy is more than lead and gold: It’s Powerful!
Let’s work together. Consider becoming a “Contributor” today. Please Contact Us if you would like to be of greater service.
Now you know some very personal things about me.
Thank you for taking the time to read my article.
I recently bought a book that consists of 500 writing prompts while visiting a friend in Powell River. The first writing prompt was this: While at the beach you decide to write a message in a bottle. What would it say? Who would you like to find it? This is what my letter would say…
To whomever finds this message,
I don’t know where you are in your life’s journey; whether you’re happily married or still single, whether you run a thriving business or are struggling to make ends meet. The list can go on I know, but regardless of who you are, where you come from and what age you are, do know this: You are amazing! And you are fully capable of achieving great things in this life. No one has the power to belittle you or tell you what you aught to be doing because God has a purpose for you. His purpose for you in this life is important, so stop letting in the negative and turn those nos into yeses. Step out of your comfort zone and embrace new adventures. Reach for your dream and don’t look back. And most importantly, be yourself.
You are talented. You are worthy of love, respect and success.
Pay it forward by passing on this message.