I think I will end this here yet I am not ending anything. At least, not really. I’m not ending anything except for another journal. I am certainly not ending my dreams or my hopes or my plans to reach the next level of my journey. Not at all.
If anything, I am ending another chapter or phase so that I can prepare for my next project.
My idea to imagine the action was part of a stage or as it states in the stages of change, this marks the end of my contemplation and preparation. Next comes action. Then comes maintenance.
For the record, I have a plan. I have a goal. I have methods and tactics and the ability to achieve. I also have the hunger and the desire to see my hopes come to life. However, it is clear that nothing worthwhile will simply appear. Our dreams take work to build them and effort to keep them going.
For example, our physical movements are actions that require several muscles. Thus, our plans require our emotional fitness to move accordingly and in unison.
Unison . . . I like that word.
I have this vision. Or, should I say that I have this dream. I have something that I want to hang my hat on. When my days are finished, I hope to see the completion of this project.
My goal is to find myself on a farm, which has been built by a series of imaginations and actions. I want to build a place where people can live and find hope to achieve their own dreams. This is a place that we have talked about several times before and I’ve mentioned this in several of my journals.
There was a time when it was me, a young boy, skinny and scared. Hopeless as ever and pale, sick and scrambled, lost and unsure what I was doing or even thinking. I was a small boy with a painfully young babyface. I was short and little or puny as I was told. My depression was more than I could describe. Plus, I lacked the ability to express myself or define my challenges. I lacked the vocabulary and the skills to communicate my thoughts.
There was so much that went through my head at the time and I would not dare to allow myself to be disarmed or vulnerable. I was bullied as a boy. I was picked on and beat up a few times. However, I did my share to pass the torch. Admittedly, I took advantage of those who were weaker or humbled. Yet, truthfully, as hateful as I was at the time, I was truly a loving person.
I needed help but lacked the courage and the ability to ask for it. As fate would have it, I found myself on a farm as a means of rehabilitation. This is where I said goodbye to some of the secrets that weighed me down. I was able to find help here. There were people to speak with and skills which I had learned in order to save me from myself.
Had it not been for this place, my times of need would have been wasted on substance or alcohol abuse. But more, the farm was a place where I survived the loss of my Father; furthermore, this was a place where I learned to cope with the remnants of abuse. I was able to learn and understand more about my behavioral disorders and depression. In fairness, the farm was a dream that became a dream of my own.
Although there are changes that I would make, even back then, I knew I wanted to build a farm.
I want to build a place for people who are lost and looking for an answer. I want to create an atmosphere which is more than a treatment facility. Instead, I want to create a place where people who struggle or hurt can find peace, recovery and healing. I want a child who is too afraid to find comfort. I want to see parents reunite with their children. Should there be no family for someone, then the farm I build will be a family for them.
This is all part of my plan . . .
Years back, I went to a weekend retreat. This was an invite from a person who was somewhat of a friend yet, not really. I went to a spiritual retreat out east on Long Island. The grounds were beautiful and the beds were in a big Victorian home where a Franciscan Priest led us in meetings, which to me was unexpected.
It turned out that this man was more than a priest. He was a person in recovery. He was a person who struggled with substance abuse and I could not imagine someone like him at one of the spots looking to make a purchase.
But either way, this man was true to his word. I admit that although I was guarded at the time, there was something about this man that was disarming. There was something calming about him. It wasn’t that he was holy or Godly but. instead, he was humble and loving. He was human. Not only that, this man allowed for unthinkable ideas to be humanized, rather than villainized.
After declaring the truth about my past and without saying anything too revealing, this man looked at me with the most sincere expression. He addressed me as if he could see through my pain. He could hear it. He could see it and I suppose he could feel my tension and replied, “I don’t know what you did when you were doing it, but whatever it is you were doing, you’re not doing it anymore.”
This was said to me when I was a young man and filled with hate. I was filled with shame and anger. I was filled with regret, blame and shame; therefore, as the sum of my thoughts, I was caught in the idea that this was me; that as the product, I would only be me for the rest of my life. I believed that I was unforgivable and irredeemable. If this is true, why would I bother to seek help or change?
I thought about this man throughout the years. I thought about what he said.
“I don’t know what you did when you were doing it, but whatever it is you were doing, you’re not doing it anymore.”
The one action I failed to imagine was the action it takes to forgive myself. The one thing that failed me both consecutively and consistently was my inability to forgive myself or let go of the distractions from my past. I didn’t know how. Instead, I held the weight of my faults and my regrets. I held the anger, which burned in me like a fire of hate.
This became so heavy that I sought through any means necessary to relieve myself of this weight. It wasn’t without help that I found different ways to alleviate the pain. It was not without help that I was able to pick myself up from the ground and, humbly, it was not without help that I was able to face my most desperate actions. Because of the help I received, I was able to handle challenges such as the time when the noose slipped from my neck and by the chance of a fortunate accident, I am alive because my suicide attempt failed.
I want to build a farm. I want to build a refuge or a safe haven.
I say this often and more often, I say this to a response of smiles. First, I suppose the smiles come when I tell people this is because my accent is more of a city type than it is a country type.
I suppose there is a stigma that goes with a tattooed culture and perhaps there are people who assume I would think or act a certain way.
In fact, I have given presentations and there have been people who told me, “This is not what I expected.”
I was told, “You are not what I expected.”
I’m not sure what they expected. I’m not sure if I care either. But somehow, I have been able to be helpful and repay the kindness that was lent to me when I needed it most. I was able to repay the feelings I had from a man who I never met before at a retreat who said something so obvious and simple. As simple as this was, his words were eye-opening for me.
I want to help people forgive themselves. But to be clear, I am not looking to recreate the wheel. I’m not looking to do exorcisms or anything like that. I only want to create a place where people can go to find themselves. They can stay as long as they want. And so can you . . .
I want to build a place where people can come to their own realizations, to form their own conclusions, and imagine their own actions.
My aim is to build a place of personal redemption and forgiveness. This will be so people can imagine the action and see their dreams come to fruition.
I am humbled and moved by the voice of a young woman who endured a life that is beyond imagination. She approached me after my lecture in her class. She had one of my books in her hand and as she asked me to sign it, she told me what happened to her. She told me what “He” did to her and how she’s held this for so long.
And she didn’t want this anymore.
I was humbled.
But more, I see this as an honor between two people. I see this as a mutual promise (and she knows why too). I see this as more of a reason to build my farm because this young woman with tears in her eyes asked, “When you build the farm, could I work there?”
Of course she could.
As I see it, I’ll need all the help I can find.
My idea to build The Second Family is to build a safe place where unnecessary judgment is not allowed or welcome. There’s no bullying. There’s no one-size-fits-all classes or ceremonies. Everyone here is a teacher and everyone here is a student as well. Including me.
I have been imagining this place for years!
I have this vision of me, sitting in a gazebo or structure with an open view of a large plot of farmland. I want to see the sunset in the summertime, just as the fireflies come around. I want to sip from a glass with some cold lemonade or maybe some iced tea. I want to see this place filled with people who were once in the pit of despair and now, miraculously, they have found a place where they can be themselves without judgment or abuse. No one’s allowed to hurt anyone here. We learn to share and hold hands and be nice and play together. Everyone learns here and unlearns as well. Before I pass or hang my hat for the last time, I want to be able to see this. I want to give back the gift that I was given and help the hopeless find hope.
This is what I imagine, a farm where people can live. They can leave at will and come back to visit.
We’re always open and always welcoming. There are no free rides though. Everyone has to pitch in.
And you? As an administrator, you would be my most valuable partner.
I have this imagination that pictures you driving up a long dirt road and coming in from the north side during the sunset. The sun is sinking into the palm of the horizon, which is just above a mountain’s view. There’d be a room waiting for you and people to greet you. You can stay as long as you like.
Don’t worry about your bags. Someone will bring them to your room because after all, you’re family . . .
I could say, “Here, come see what the kids made for you . . .
Sit down and let us feed you.”
What a day this would be . . .
In any case, this is my trick and if I manage to pull it off – then I could literally say, “mission accomplished.”
I could look at the sky to say, “I did it, Pop.”
“I did just what you said.”
I got in the game and showed the world who I am and why!
As far as the farm goes, I’m open to ideas by the way. As a matter of fact, I want someone to create a sign because the way I see it, once we create a sign then we have to find a place to hang it.
The Second Family
That’s what the sign would say.
Any ideas on how it should look?