I've been through Hell on Earth and back, and I wouldn't wish that fate on my worst enemy. Preventing others from suffering that long, and preventing their tortured path being too long to get out of, or of that desperate loss that I was so close to experiencing when I attempted suicide several times--to help others avoid going that deep into depression, and instead filling them with hope--that is my purpose in life, and that is my purpose in my passion for writing. That is why I write now. But I had another purpose when I first started to write.
My first love was music. Then came crushes, some of them overwhelming my ability to see straight. The escaping from them took the first hope. The first hope was to create something as important, as emotional, as deep, as intense, as powerfully affecting in making people feel emotions like love, through music.
I had one time in my piano lessons growing up, arranged the most emotional tiny snippets of Scott Joplin music that I could find from his ragtime collection--namely The Easy Winners, Maple Leaf Rag, and some of The Entertainer. The notes poured out all the love that I have in those presses of my fingers on the keys, it was an extension of my soul. I had no where to go with my passion, my life, except to seek a way to express it. It's what moves the artist mind--to have something so important that no normal plain ordinary life could fulfill that hunger.
A few years passed, I dropped high school to get my GED and go to college to get out of the environment where I felt too much longing for unrequited love, and I was diagnosed with some stigmatizing conditions related to my depression, gained weight among the side effects, and felt alienated from everyone, especially my overprotective (I felt, at the time) parents. I hit rock bottom the first time, with an overdose suicide attempt, then admitted what I did to get to the hospital out of fear of what the consequences would be or perhaps just on autopilot, and got some help that I still resisted because of what I defined my existence around. It was because I wasn't in a love of what I thought love "had to be", and that need for my life to have meaning and to not be insignificant in its moral, finite nature, that drove me there.
It took a few years after carrying the torch for someone that I turned to writing--at San Joaquin Delta College, in a rock as a literature class by Anna Villegas, about 1995. She recommended I try poetry, which I had previously dismissed as frivolous and unimportant. I was wrong about that assumption, I realized after giving it a chance in a little leap of faith.
In 1998 or 1999 I gave a leap of faith in abandoning the carrying of the torch, to try a real flesh and blood relationship, in seeing if I could woo a headstrong lady who was in my environment for years. She took to my offer out of the blue for her to wear an engagement ring, when we were just friends. "Just take it," I persisted, and she did, accepting my vulnerable assertive heart. We replaced it with an actual engagement ring each soon after with my savings, and then after six months of engaged living together--my parent's recommendation--we broke it off and I got my heart broke, in the process breaking her heart because of my immature visualization of what love was, still caught up on dreams of the past. That was the time that I was feeling that I was motivated to be more humanly compassionate, changing my previous ambitious, surface-level checklist of perfect love into more of an open heart.
In 2001-2002 I met the love of my life at last--the story of that meeting and leap of faith is in two or more previous blog posts a way back here. I was in a rocky relationship from 2002 to the final realization in 2014 that I couldn't live without her, whereas I married her. I had realized this in moments in that time period, but the timing was off--there was a time after an argument where I had realized I couldn't live without her, but at which point I felt (wrongly so) that I could never be good enough for her, in 2008, at which I again had turned to suicide attempts--overdose again, this time on a large bottle of Aspirin. Before drifting off I had prayed to God to take me and do what He willed with me, I would surrender to whatever He had planned. I had thrown up the pills that night and called for help, and that was the turning point of going back to my faith in God. God called me, He did that, as an answer to the prayers of the one I had given up on, for she had made her Cursillo and was wanting me to turn toward a more Holy lifestyle too. Her transformation is a whole other story of faith and miracles, which is for her alone to tell. On my side of that transformation, after looking for God to show Himself with a contrite open humble heart, I went through therapy that helped me escape from that all-or-nothing fixation. If you look at it simply, I had to admit to myself that even a plain ordinary life had chance to keep living and possibly make something of that life, whereas an end to life would not only be pain but also would be a loss of chances to make something worth happening to happen, whether or not I was at that time ready to admit faith in divine creator and afterlife.
What puts this into perspective at this moment in time is hearing the Shallow (A Star is Born) song and feeling the connection of what that movie had going through, that love at which we think it's all or nothing, but at which it's really all or all. It's just a matter of opening the door to life, and seeing the light. I don't want anyone to have to go through the dark longer than they have to, and if it's in God's plan that these words reach someone and they connect without having to experience it first-hand for themselves, then that purpose has been fulfilled.
I had a realization today that I should talk in my book not just about what I have experienced relating to myself, but also to witness to the miracles of those I have been graced to see in their own miracles.
The Cursillo ministry has moved many souls around me to pray, and the results and proof that prayer has changed lives and made miracles happen has happened over the measure of our faith alone.
I want to acknowledge a couple prayers for healing miraculously answered. One is when the doctor had already been certain of a tumor being cancerous and decided on treatment accordingly, for a relative of my wife, and when her family and I prayed over her with complete confident trust in Jesus's power, she was found to be benign. She is currently recovering from the last procedure in getting her back to a healthy digestive system. The other is my wife's grandmother whom we prayed in a group over when she fractured her hip, and after that she was able to walk some again and be with us. There was a decision to be made in that case and we went with the one that trusted that she would be OK and heal, and that gave her a chance to recover instead of the decision that would have left her bed-ridden for the remainder of her years. She has been sharp as a tack since then with her alert mind, a side prayer that I had given for her to be with us in mind.
One of the things we may often have to learn the hard way, is that the hard way is the only way to achieve success.
Palanca, earning our peace, and purgatory are some names it goes by. Sacrifice, perseverance, and patience are virtuous actions we can take in that regard. Basically it all amounts to the "supernatural" trait of accepting suffering, which helps us to transcend worldly circumstances and ways by a leap of faith.
If you don't earn money, you don't value it much. If you don't have to work hard to achieve the greater things, how can one truly appreciate their value, their worth? It comes from seeing the lack of something that one is moved and motivated to do something about it. It is by being exposed to those in need that we take on the role Jesus set an example for us to do: that of serving God through helping our brothers and sisters, all adopted children of God the Father.
There's no way of cleaning up my life except by eliminating any dirt, any distraction, any sin, in order to get to the core purposes and important things underneath.
My first book in the To Dreamers series is a book of traits that are important. This is my list, and may be subjective, and may just be my interpretation of the scriptures, of amateur philosophy, and amateur Apologetics (Apologetics, in Catholic faith, are the Catechist doctrines that explain what the Scriptures mean in clear form, for which I hope to eventually devote more time to in the future as I grow in faith). Take them with a grain of salt in reflection so that you can do deeper independent study of Scripture in learning faith.
Anyway, once you're ascertained for yourself what the most important things in life are, you can eliminate anything not related to them, thereby earning the gifts of the Holy Spirit, especially inner peace. This cleaner lifestyle makes for a much healthier experience of everything. And helps develop the actions, words, and thoughts that determine your destiny, and get your direction on course for your life fitting into The Plan.
The Plan? God's bigger plan is beyond our smaller scale of vision and includes suffering as a means to the appreciation of life. It involves heavenly rewards of eternity being better than worldly temporary pleasures. It involves feeling good about one's self and one's place in the world. It involves a feeling of safety inside that cannot be touched so long as the faith stands firm. It is about miracles happening when one believes in the power of good and of love. It is something of old magic, of God's magic, though He doesn't call it magic, He calls it miracles. It is about God making us feel valued, which is why He sacrificed His most precious gift, His only begotten son, in a total way.
My brother-in-Christ Julian Sepulveda once used a metaphor of the sailboat parts and the wind in how we go through life. God is the wind, but we cannot use God's gifts of the wind to get where we are best to go unless we set forth with a mast of the studied rules God has given us to live with integrity by, and we must have the outreaching sails of faith to catch that wind and hold firm to those rules in order to direct it correctly. I may not remember the exact manner of the metaphor, but I am paraphrasing on memory.
I had been alone for a thousand years or more. (The feeling is more real than the metaphor). The woods echoed, streets quiet, wind rushed without a human sound. Nor were there the electronic noises I had been accustomed to for the time growing up. Actually, it was in a basement apartment, where I had sought solace on purpose to dwell on the lost feeling I had that the so-called perfect match wasn't in love with me. The distance I put between me and my parents and the one that I had tried to love in the first relationship were mere distractions from my all-consuming sadness. But one day, I met the true match.
I had been on a dream quest, and I had prayed about it, and then, one day, out of the blue, with my most passionate love poem ready to go to a deaf and blind audience, suddenly she appeared and there was someone who I really, truly, wanted to hear. She was the One, and I knew it right when I noticed the gentle look in her eyes, the manners, the voice, the way she dressed, the way she stood, the words she said, the fact that she had been drawn to this cultivation of independent arts and written spoken words at the poetry meeting at the perfect place at the perfect time, it all started. I was no longer alone. I never was alone, she was waiting, part of God's unseen plan there all along, an answered prayer, an answered wish, a sign of destiny being an actual reality for the first time confirming that I had a purpose in life.
I was not alone. My wife with me, in this journey through life. My God with me, through all the strife. My loved ones reconnected through giving some faith. A world with a direction, not lost from hope. A dream of a dream, as CS Lewis put it. This was a real dream, a reality that was as high as that floating, glowing lights drifting, perfect focus on the inner feeling, that moment when it all fits into place and has a unified reason to be. It was life with meaning, understood. The miracle of life in its mystery, become one with my thoughts, and become part of me.
Ingratitude is the opposite of faith, but those who put their trust in worldly pleasures and measures of success, are often blind to this.
The thankfulness we show toward God results in spiritual gifts that affect our inner peace, miraculously.
In God we trust.
I once was, twenty years ago, hitting rock bottom with depression. I had no close friends and I had distanced myself from my family. I hadn't connected with anyone relationship-wise, and when I did it ended in tragic all-or-nothing type scenarios. I had lost what I had of faith, and if I had ever found it, it was in the untested sort in which the simple living a normal life was too little for my expectations to be happy with, to cope with, or to be confident around.
All that changed with a couple, actually more than a couple, leaps of faith in my life.
The first of these most notable leaps of faith was to reach out in my first relationship around 1999. I had to make mistakes to learn from them, and I did greatly. I learned the romantic notions I had of a "perfect list" type love was ill-conceived. I learned that one cannot make someone love you, and that one should not try to love without being willing to love back. I learned that the relationship was, after all, not something to control or be a leader of, but to be a partner in. I learned by heartbreak after a six month engagement that I was too immature to handle it at that time.
Three years later I met my future wife, and knew as soon as I saw her that it was meant to be, if I could only make the impression right. The feeling, the KNOWING in the heart more certain that one knows that one is experiencing life, that she was--and is--THE ONE. I had before that made a mold for someone to fit, but this time I had the fit already, and I became the one to mold to fit it. That was in November 2002, at the Caffeine Den, in Stockton, California, at a poetry reading, in which I talked about in a previous blog post here.
In the further journey, I found faith again in the struggles of learning how to love and let myself be loved, and to compromise and still have dreams, when I was in another moment of insecurity. I had not felt I was worthy, had given up on the relationship because I had felt that I couldn't bear to argue over things that one or the other of us wasn't compromising in. The love we had was passionate and intense, but at the same time we were both proud and had our lines drawn in the sand. I had broken up with her and attempted an overdose, but not before praying for a way to resolve it whatever that way was that I could not see but God would know best, over ten years ago that was, and after a few minutes threw it up and called for help.
Since then things grew better and better gradually. I learned how to live and how to love. I learned about faith and worship. I learned about peace inside being the only thing, and the circumstances of worldly things around being seen and changed by how you see them. I became Catholic, married, and involved myself in the Cursillo. There are infinite steps on our ladders, each of us not to be judged by our place along them except by God. The steps, those levels, can be improved and we can help improve each other. It just takes a leap of faith to get past the negative side of things, and to see the light.
Donald R. Anderson. Aspiring writer. Amateur philosopher and amateur writer of Apologetics (i.e., the Catholic reasonings). Faith-driven kindred spirit.