an ode to violence? (yes, really)

courtesy: healthyplace.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

violence begets violence

i am haunted…by violence

i see it everywhere, i mean everywhere

in movies, news, the papers…obviously

in language, in mentalk, in football…possibly

violence is so so normal

it is so so masculine

its synonyms are with us

every effing, no, every violent day

 

intensity, severity, strength, force,

great force, vehemence, powerfulness,

power, potency, ferocity, forcefulness,

wildness, frenziedness, fury, storminess,

tempestuousness, turbulence; lack of control,

lack of restraint, passionateness; fervency, ardency

 

honestly, sadly, and unfortunately

violence sounds so so sexy

makes me just want to…

have mad mad passionate, ferocious  sex in the rain

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pain is an act of love 

pinching, pushing, punching, slapping

threatened with beatings for bad behavior

threatened with further beatings for not answering questions

threatened with more beating for talking back

for keeping quiet, for speaking up

 

beaten for causing embarrassment to the family

beaten to get rid of the resulting shame

beaten for disrespecting the elders

beaten for fighting, failing, foiling,

beaten because it hurts them, too

 

beaten for not doing the right thing,

beaten for delay in doing the right thing the first time

beaten because you must have done the wrong thing

beaten because you are a man

beaten because boys don’t beat girls

 

beaten because sparing the rod

is disobeying the good lord

growing up and straying

a sinful parent it’s portraying

beating, you learn, is the ultimate act of love

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the language of initiation

it will hurt some

the pain is necessary

a man must learn to withstand pain

and then spend the rest of his life running away from it

 

it will hurt some

the pain is necessary

the plan is to go through it now

and learn why later

 

it will hurt some

the pain is necessary

to understand that nothing in life

comes easy

 

they brought presents

money and food

and i learned that pain is a party

for them, not you

 

it will hurt some

the pain is necessary

the point got lost

when i tried to inflict it

rather than endure it

 

it hurt a whole lot

and to this day

three decades on

it is still baffling

why the dance with pain

leaves more marks beyond the question marks

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adolescence – romancing  with pain

adolescence is god’s act of violence on man

suddenly, what was normal is not any more

not my mother, not my sisters, not girls, not boys

 

not my body

oh no, certainly not my body

and then… they call it growing up

the acne, the crazy dreams at night and the messy sheets in the morning

that i was told was a sin

the weird emotions when with others and when i was alone

 

and i was told that this was all normal

that this was ok and that i was becoming a man

i dreaded the thought and more so the alternatives

castration, suicide, or going far far away

 

then booze showed up

a welcoming froth

warmed my gut, my heart, my soul

and most of all my mind

 

if ever there was the ultimate experience of

peace, love, unity,

bliss, freedom, happiness,

release, rest, love

where violence was absent…

…it was when i got high

 

and…

if only i could stay high forever

would there be peace on earth

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dancing with the punches

his fists taught me to dance

to skip the parts that were out of tune

to tread carefully as on a fragile ego

so that the jig would be just right

 

he painted the house red

when his fiery insecurities waltzed

with my innocent sensibilities

and did we create hit music

 

he played my heart

with his fists

and i learned, too

to do cover songs

on others hearts,

minds and bodies

 

once i used words of a hit song

and she said

she preferred drum music to rap

waxing lyrical moved to fisting to the beat

 

with his fists and my rhyme

the rhythm created a disordered

orchestra of pain, of agony,

of fear, of the unspoken

a complex dance with the fists

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once and for all

my sister says once you hit once

you will again and again

do you promise to never hit me

no matter what?

 

your sister is right

your sister is wrong

 

i will not promise to never hit you

simply because

i cannot promise to never hit you

 

so what do i do when

i feel unsafe

threatened

afraid?

 

run

to your sister

to your god

just run

 

what does that say about us?

i need guarantees

i need to trust

that i can feel safe with you

that you won’t hurt me

 

i need that if i am to be with you

otherwise we have a problem

a huge problem

 

baby, the way i see it

the one with the problem

is the one with unmeetable needs

not the one with ungiveable promises

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son, i’m sorry i hit you…again

he came to me as a refuge

in me he found confusion

and a slap and a punch

for never doing the right thing

 

all because

 

he wouldn’t do his homework,

or the dishes

i told him this was about life

as his face met my open palm

 

i lied

 

it was about me

and my pain

and my fear

and my anger

 

i am sorry

i hurt you

i hurt us

 

and now

 

i don’t know what’s worse

being an absent indifferent father

or a present violent one

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what i am really really afraid of 

if you love, trust and respect me

before i have earned it

i will think you are mad

or drunk on something cheap

 

if you demand that i earn it first

i will insist your standards are too high

then i’ll go hate on myself

poor me, poor me

 

they say be yourself

we’ll love you as you are

and i chuckle

and whisper to myself

 

because i know very well

that i belong in the sewer

because that’s where shit belongs

and i can’t stand the smell

 

but more than that i can’t stand

the unspoken, the silence

that the smell brings

especially that loving you

is more painful

than remaining lonely

 

if love is pain

is that love really?

 

your love cleanses the stench

your trust provides the confidence

your respect, oh, your respect

births a desire to glow and grow up

 

and suddenly, i am no longer afraid

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grace is real 

therapy

or prison and therapy

are the only options available

for violent perps

she told me

 

i had done the work

of therapy, of cleansing

of healing, of forgiveness

of letting go

i told her

 

i was a pre-convict

and because of grace

and loads of self-work

i avoided the story

of an ex-convict

 

and yet i stand here

and sit among you

a free man

living a day at a time

without having to look over my shoulders

or you having to watch your back

 

yet

though i make a vow i cannot keep

i still do not give promises with guarantees

 

grace is real

it keeps the past in the past

and the present presents as a gift

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violence is…

 

violence is borne of a lack of self-acceptance

violence is a lack of acceptance of another, of me

violence is lying in a ditch and feeling sorry  for the world

and then dragging them to your level

and beating them with experience

 

violence is low self-esteem in need of company

violence is causing pain because you are in pain

violence tells you the world is messed

and it’s your job to beat it into shape

 

violence keeps the cops busy

and the priests, and the counselors

and the chemists and the doctors

because peace on earth may just wipe out

a whole load of jobs

 

violence can be physical, emotional, verbal, psychological

or spiritual

sometimes it is abnormal in a normal world

but often it is normal in an abnormal world

 

violence strips you off layers of self-respect

self-love and self-worth

in your quest to restore, to replace

then you only strip others of their humanity

when a simple look in the mirror would’ve sufficed

 

violence breeds violence

people resort to solving issues through violence

as victims and perpetrators

why can’t she leave? how does she put up with it?

i am sorry, please forgive me. i know i said the same thing last time

 

violence is addictive, it’s contagious, it’s progressive

yet, yet, yet, violence is avoidable, needless and treatable.

                                                                                                                                   

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I, the Interventionist

Intervention Aspects

Recently, I got a phone call from yet another distraught mother whose sixteen year old son is being discharged from his second stint in rehab this coming weekend. She was referred by a mutual acquaintance.

She wanted me to meet with him upon discharge to guide him along the path of recovery. Fair enough.

However, I suggested that I meet with her and her husband, before the said discharge, to set a foundation of family support and chart a recovery plan for all concerned. Again fair enough. In fact, she acknowledged that it sounded like a really novel idea. She would call me to set the appointment after consulting her husband.

She called back a couple of days later to set the appointment and I then informed her that I charge for the service. Her reaction to the fact that I charge for consultation and how much I would charge them was familiar. She was shocked that I even charge for the service

My reaction was different.

This time.

I kept quiet. I listened to her rant about my charging to help people. I was silently fighting an inner urge to tear down the picture she was painting of how bad I looked with every word she spoke. I was so tempted to offer a free service, let alone a discounted one.

Like I have done several times before.

I was tempted to feel guilty about charging a fee for the message of hope, possibility and freedom around addictions that I do that I spread through my work.

As I have done several times before.

She later communicated via a text message that upon consultation with her husband they would not be able to continue working with me.  I sent a polite acknowledgement thanking her for considering working with me and wished them all the best with their son. I really meant it.

She neither asked for a discount or a free service. I chose not to offer these of my own volition. Not this time anyway. I have done that several times as I set up my referral and interventions business. Mainly out of the distorted belief that what I offer is not a professional service. Yet from the number of enquiries and referrals I receive I am convinced it is a much needed service.

I have now come to believe that her reaction and indeed similar initial reactions from several family members that I have met in the past year of setting up the interventions agency,  is really an indictment of addiction rather than what I have to offer.

What I offer is borne primarily, and perhaps unsurprisingly so, of personal experience. When I commenced my recovery journey over 16 years ago, my family was not involved mainly due to the particular path I took and the lack of information at the time. It was a path mainly focused on the problem person (me) and the rapid results it brought about bred more of suspicion from my family members, both immediate and extended, rather than relief or even a sense of approval which I so desired at the time. I really couldn’t understand why this reaction was emanating from people who were often embittered, resentful and wary of my frequent drunken behaviour.

I often regretted my family’s reaction to my sobriety and the loneliness it generated. I couldn’t reconcile the fact that a band of strangers were to become closer to me than my relatives who had borne the brunt of my alcoholism. And those same relatives, I felt, should have been the first to celebrate my recovery, now that I was not stealing from them, insulting them or being a downright nuisance whether drunk, craving a drink or hung over from a drunken binge.

I believed that it was in fact good for them now that I wasn’t drinking. By taking responsibility for my recovery, wasn’t I also doing them a favour?

Reality hit me, I think, when I was in my tenth year of sobriety. I started being invited to family gatherings. Family would now want me to talk to a friend or wonder if they could give my number to so-and-so whose sibling had a drinking problem.

It then dawned on me.

My sense of regret was a trap. It was a racket I could hold on to that would keep me feeling sorry for myself for the minimal family support I received earlier in my recovery journey.

Or it could be an opportunity for others to avoid the same route. An opportunity to earn a living as a professional in an area that was strictly borne of experience, pain and loneliness. An opportunity that could pay the rent, mitigate my teenage son’s insatiable need to be relevant or buy flowers for the woman in my life.

I also saw that with time, it gave me great joy to witness real results of families walking in freedom and relief with the addict or alcoholic in their life. Relief because of information provided that the addict was not bewitched, belligerent or plain stupid. Relief from new understanding that addiction was a disease like any other. Freedom to create new possibilities of responsibility, harmony and wellbeing.

That is why as a professional interventionist, I have chosen to hone my skills for this specific group of people as my primary clients: the families and significant others of alcoholics and addicts.

Families and significant others are often not aware of the impact they have on the addict’s life and are often dismissed as being enablers. What they hear when, for instance, the addict is being admitted into a treatment centre is that they are to ‘blame’ for the addict’s circumstance. The fact is they are not to blame just as much as the addict himself is NOT to blame for his addiction. The family and significant others of the addict are, however, affected just as much as the addict because they are all in one system in which the addiction thrives.

So, yes, to some extent I was disappointed when the distraught parent halted our engagement.  More than that, however, I understand the action where they perhaps wondered why they have to pay for me to see them when clearly they weren’t problem person.

I really do wish them and their son well. The age of miracles is still with us.

 

For life to begin at 40, what needs to end at 39?

I turn 40 in a couple of weeks on Sunday 1st of May, 2011.

I concede I am struggling within myself at accepting it as real.

Hear me out first before you dismiss me as not being in touch with reality.

The main aspect of the intra-personality conflict is that I have ‘nothing’ to show for it on the material front. I am guilty of violating the 12345 by 40 rule: 1 wife, 2 children, 3 bedroom house, a 4 wheel drive and a 5 acre plot.

Now, popular talk that age is nothing but a number or that there will hardly be any difference on my birthday than on the day before is still not helping matters.

On the spiritual front, however, I am a content man. I do, if I may say so, have a gratifying sense of accomplishment.  I am grateful for the process and investment it has taken to be where I am in my journey. I can safely acknowledge that I have no one in my book to whom I have any claims of any sort. I hold no grudge and it is indeed a freeing place to be in.

Nonetheless, I have not arrived. Spiritual growth is an ongoing work in process.

So, that leaves me with me to contend with…a long standing struggle to forgive myself of a past riddled with alcoholism, incomplete projects, aborted start-ups, economic stagnation, deep loneliness and unhealthy relationships.

The conflict is that forgiving myself means I am letting myself off the hook. I am intellectually aware that nothing less than letting go of the past in its entirety is what I am being called to do. But in my heart, the sense of self-condemnation runs deep and the conversation is that I need to pay in full for my past sins and, that, preferably before I turn 40.

Now, how do I do that in only a couple of weeks and live?

Stoning myself has never been worse.

Wounds of a Dad: Still Got Work to Do

First posted on 21st October,2010 after a lecture titled Wounds of a Dad at Mavuno Church, Nairobi.

Hi Pastor S

That lecture was quite something. I thought I had dealt with my father wound issues during the Man Enough Series in 2009. He wouldn’t meet me last year and I chose to let him go. But I guess this was at another level. A deeper one.

I met my father for the first time when I was 17, for all of ten minutes. I coerced my mother through violence to arrange the meeting. I have since met him 4 or 5 times over the last 22 years. The acknowledgment I sought was lacking in all of those meetings. Even naming my first son after him did not make a difference.

On Sunday I wept. I wept because, I was angry, I was sad, I was bitter.

I now have a ten and a half year old son whom I don’t live with. I made a decision about 6 years ago to be part of his life and him in mine. Little did I realise how ill-equipped and inadequate I was for the task of raising a man. I guess this is where my sadness, anger and bitterness arose on Sunday.

I am also taking the Parenting Class(LEA) that I almost quit a few weeks ago until I got it that I don’t want my son, at 40, sitting in a similar class dealing with the same issues I am dealing with. It is hard. Yet, I honestly do not want my son to go through what I have gone through; a life dogged by alcoholism, relationships with unavailable women and mistrust of men leading to a life of zero accountability. And this has also greatly impacted my faith and trust in God.

I was angry at the immense responsibility and work that I have got cut out for me. I was bitter at this legacy he has bequeathed me and sad at the experience I am going through of feeling neutered after yet another failed relationship. It was hard letting go. It is hard forgiving my father.

Then on Tuesday evening, I got a call from my mother that my dad had died that morning. Honestly, my first feeling was that he had won again. This time for ever.

It has been suggested that I should be the bigger man and do what a son does; that I honour my father. I have shared that I have no clue how to do this. And I still don’t. I don’t even know whether to let my son know. I am however, considering attending the funeral.

Right now, I am wavering between numbness and the now familiar feelings and thoughts of anger, confusion, sadness and bitterness.