By Eric Beach
I held my child this morning. The embrace was life giving. But, the time came to put her down and she wept. It hurt my soul so I picked her up and embraced her tighter than before. She did the same. In that moment I didn't want to ever let her go... Then I realized something.
Many men, and women grew up with their childhood robbed from them. It was smashed by an abusive father, hidden by and absent father, or distorted and wrapped in bubble wrap by an overindulgent father.
We were prevented from growing into a maturity or even understanding what maturity was! Instead we grew up still clutching our inner child. The lost and hurting one. The exiled one. The child that if we set down, will cry until we pick it back up.
Security and comfort are found only if we embrace that wounded child. Maybe that doesn't sound bad, but how much can we accomplish when holding that inner child. We have no free hand and in an effort to find one we have two choices...
1. We can set the child down and complete the task half present and half focused and pulled down by the squalling child. We become short tempered and frustrated when the task doesn't go as planned. We want it done fast so we can silence the screaming child.
2. We can adjust, put the child on our hip, or some other odd mechanical arrangement and fumble through whatever it is we wish to do. Things get dropped, we appear incompetent and weak. We feel shamed, so this option makes us want to stop trying anything that doesn't nourish that inner child. We form our life around our inner "high chair tyrant" and his/her demands.
So how do we overcome this? That's part of the journey we are all on. For me, I'm taking moments to let the baby cry. I'm not allowing the inner child to to win. I'm letting him see I'm no longer at his beck and call. I'm also putting myself in relationships with men better than myself who can help me mature that child.
We should never get rid of the child inside us. If we do, we also get rid of creativity, spontaneity, and exuberant joy. We become callous, cruel, cold, and driven only by results and completion of task.
What we need to do, is learn how to set boundaries for that inner child. We need to help him grow and acknowledge he/she is part of us. We need to acknowledge and seek to understand what's going on when rage/tantrums surge. We need to see that our inner child is on the ground throwing a fit in the middle of the grocery store and transcend above and ask ourselves, why.
Then, we need to take a breathe, tell the child we'll be done in a minute, and only after we hold the space and finish the task will we return to the grab the child. It's not easy to do, but I'm trying.
By Eric Beach
So this morning and the past couple of days, I’ve been having a hard time with my PTS (Post Traumatic Stress). This morning was very dark for me. When It gets dark and I remember to, I write. This is what I wrote this morning. I don’t know if its a poem, a short story, or something else! All I know is its an expression of my heart. Read this through your own lens. The best part about art is you get to take what you need to take out of it! Also, don't be afraid to explore outlets like creative writing when you face your own darkness. Paint a picture with no clue what your trying to paint. Just connect to your emotion and paint. Write. Don't worry about fitting into a genre or classification. Just connect with your emotion, and write. For me, creative writing in these low moments has helped navigate me and awaken me to truths on this journey of healing that I would have never found otherwise.
I’m in the woods, bleak December.
Life forces slowed leaving shells of past remembered.
Remnants reminding me of this reality,
Fossils of hope.
Take a step.
New ice cracks, not strong enough yet.
But strong enough to make me slip.
To much pressure and I fall through.
No signs of life here, but if I close me eyes,
I see it.
Moments of darkness bring a strange peace.
Can I stay asleep?
Wind swept trees, the rustle of fallen leaves,
Twigs fight branches on neighboring limbs.
Its all for me to see.
Maybe theres a sunrise.
Sleepy eyes show me ugliness
Is all there is to see, obscuring reality.
Pin point experiences deny greater awareness.
Whats above the trees?
Looking up, searching, I stumble.
Thats what you get for looking up it seems.
Since I’m here again, Better I go to sleep,
Chasing peace in false reverie.
Awake, in pain, again.
Staring at the sky that put me here.
Curse you hope, sower of regret! It’s your fault!
This wasteland, desolate and cold! Alone!
I want to leave, But I live here not by choice.
Who would choose this?
I fought the hardest I’ve fought for anything to get here.
A bird chirps. I wish it would shut up.
Silence strangles me yet noise enrages me.
I walk the line between life and death
With a broken compass.
I weave in and out, side to side.
Emotions my guide
The sky brightens, and the pain lessens.
I miss the green leaves.
I understood purpose then.
Now purpose seems dead.
Come back to life I scream
Hoping the trees hear me.
I know these things can’t be forced, but I try.
Desperate for change.
Sun leaks through the branches and blinds me.
Eyes blurred, the once twisted branches blend together.
One branch ends, another begins.
Once gnarled now straight, once broken now graceful.
The darkness flooded with light.
I close my eyes and fight it and hide.
Once opened, the ugliness returns.
I am justified.
I am right.
This land is barren.
This is Hell.
Better to sleep.
I lay under a tree. I see it.
Ugly, alone. Trunk twisted from years of struggle.
Branches scattered around on the ground,
Winds of trial knocking them down.
They weren’t strong.
The top of the tree a thicket of confusion.
A maze of desperation.
Each limb fighting against itself searching for survival.
Independently reaching for the sky.
Climb the tree a small voice says to me.
Lower branches make sturdy steps.
My feet giving them purpose long since dead.
The bark on my hands, rough, strong.
Protected, we are connected.
I feel it.
Pushing through the branches
I’m scratched, slapped, scrapped by thin wooden fingers.
Stinging pain, surging rage.
Climb down! Go back to sleep!What do you hope to see?
Take the pain.
I don’t know why, but I must find the purpose for which the branches fight.
I burst through the canopy, gasping for air.
Eyes closed, chest heaving, making room for breathing.
The crisp air is refreshing.
I open my eyes.
The tops of the trees join together.
Like frozen waves in a storm ruled sea.
A storm if thawed, would surely kill me.
The Ugly fades.
The lone tree amongst the broken becomes whole.
The ugly, a piece of a collective beauty
Tells me there is no beauty apart from community.
I see a lone green bud atop the once ugly tree.
No longer asleep.
No longer missing things. I see.
The sting of the struggle lead me to peace.
I broke free from the chains,
the desire, the prison
The numbing need to stay, asleep.
By Eric Beach
Since running my last triathlon, my calf muscle has been giving issues. At times I can’t seem to run more than a mile before a sharp pain reduces me to a walk, or light jog. I’ve tried to rest and ice it, slow down my pace, and even not run. Nothing has made a lasting impact. At mile one, the pain returns. At the 1-mile mark, my leg seemingly becomes unhealthy.
Yesterday, I needed to run. I needed a physical outlet. I’ve been reading about proper running form and had some new things I needed to try. It was 23 degrees yesterday morning when the time came to run. The first mile burned my lungs with cold, but I felt alive! But, after that first mile, the sharp pain jolted through my leg. I stopped and walked. I was frustrated but calm.
I asked myself, “What is going on!?!” Unsatisfied with walking I started to run again. I shortened my stride, doubled my cadence, and looked at the road, 20 feet ahead of me. With these things and only slightly bending my knee as I ran, I was able to finish the second mile. Setting out that morning, all I wanted to do was finish a 2 mile run.
I felt good about it. I didn’t finish without pain, but I finished. My pace was slower than I would have liked. In the past, I hated any regression, but now I see it differently. Here’s what I learned yesterday morning.
I tend to live in the future, but stare at the ground in front of me. My thought process is a little like this. “I want to finish an ironman and help others compete in the sport I’ve come to love. But, my knee is preventing me from running more than a mile. My dream then, is impossible. I am hopeless.”
I disqualify myself rather than step back and reevaluate my circumstance. Maybe I should run slower for a while instead of just quitting. I had been running a 5K in the 23-minute range. Maybe I need to run it in the 27-minute range until I’m stronger and understand the origins of my pain. That’s ok! Setbacks aren’t closed doors. Setbacks are more like hurdles, and hurdles were designed to be overcome.
Whatever dream I have, and there are several, will undoubtedly come with setbacks and hurdles. The question isn’t if or when, it’s what are you willing to overcome in pursuit of your dream.
Don’t stare at the ground on the way to your dream. You won’t see the hurdle coming and you will fall hard. I promise.
Don’t mistake the temporary for the permanent. Slowing down for a time doesn’t equal failure if it helps you ultimately get you to your dream.
Overcoming the obstacle, that thing you feel if attempted would overwhelm and kill you, requires success and failure, sprints and walks, and hurdles… A lot of hurdles.
Nobody wins a race because they were comfortable. They win because they committed to what was required to overcome the hurdles. They new the cost’s, weighed them and decided their heart was willing to pay the price. They showed up to the race wounded, bearing their scars and appeared comfortable because the physical race is the easy part.
By Eric Beach
I love a hot shower. There are few things I enjoy more than the first moment the hot water hits you. Immediately you are wrapped in comfort, and relief washes away the tension. Its so wonderful, many times its hard to leave!
As a father, I have two young girls. My youngest is just over one. Typically, when I shower, I keep her in the bathroom and she has a blast playing with towels, socks, my pants, essentially anything I've left on the ground. Occasionally, though not so occasionally, she opens the door of our ensuite bathroom and heads into the bedroom to continue her play elsewhere. This is fine except the shower has a glass door and we, like many, have windows in our bedroom...
So, as not to expose myself to the those trying to enjoy a nice leisurely walk around the neighborhood, I leave the lights in the bathroom off. This way I avoid quite literally highlighting my nudeness.
The other day, I was in the shower, working through some issues and mental blocks. For a time, I had been stuck in a pattern of being easily offended, everything was a fight. I knew I was acting childish, but wasn't doing much of anything about it. I've discovered the mind tends to keep the sick person sick, left to itself.
As I'm thinking through this problem, my one year old was playing as I showered in the dim, window lit room. I began to equate the comfort I found in the shower to that of a baby in the womb. Safe, warm, comfortable, and I know when I leave it, I will be in the harsh world cold, wet, and naked. Sounds awful!
My daughter crawled to the bedroom door and opened it about a quarter of the way. She was immediately bathed in golden light. Then clarity hit me.
Addiction, complacency, victim mentality, a spirit of offense, whatever it is that holds you back from real growth, thats your shower. In the shower, we know what to expect, we are comfortable here. My daughter represented child psychology crawling towards the door of change, opening it, and letting the the light of maturity invade the dark. She opened the gateway to relevance, purpose, significance, and the light became the golden path to servant leadership.
She looked back at me as if to say, "Are you coming with me, or are you just going to stay in the shower forever?' The problem is, to reach the light from the darkness we are required to step out from the womb, cold, wet, and naked.
To go anywhere good in this life, we must be willing to bare our naked soul. We must be willing to courageously shiver with vulnerability. We must step out into the cold world raw and fight the urge to turn back to the comforts we once knew.
Before I left the shower, I wrote on the glass, "Step out cold, wet, and naked."