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Has anyone ever rescued you, figuratively or literally?

Updated: Jun 25


My brother once saved me from getting my butt kicked by the school bully when I was ten or eleven years old. That is the only time that I can think of when I was rescued from a physical risk. More importantly, Mike was there to help me through many of the most challenging times of my life. He was a shoulder to lean on when Kathleen and I split up, and he was one of the few who stood by me through my divorce from Holly. I am unsure if that qualifies as a "rescue," but he was always there to help me through almost every difficult moment.

I have written extensively about the years following the loss of my parents and the end of my relationship with Holly. Those years were the most challenging and distressing of my life. Several people contributed to my ultimate rescue, if you can call it that. In the end, there was only one person I can give ultimate credit for how things turned out.

 

My therapist, Brent Coleman, who I started seeing right after Kerry and I broke up in 2011, was instrumental in helping me get my life back on track. I was at the lowest point in my life the day I first walked into his office, and I wasn't sure how I would ever find happiness again. He helped me to find a measure of self-worth and to make some sense of the years leading up to that moment. I am not sure I can say he rescued me, but he was undoubtedly instrumental in it.

I had been working with Brent for about six months when I met Marilyn. Had I met her any earlier, our relationship would have almost certainly gone nowhere. The role Marilyn had in the salvage of my life was unquestionable. She helped me see myself in a way that I never allowed myself to see. She made me feel lovable and desirable again, and maybe more than anything, she helped me accept that we cannot be defined by the mistakes we make in our lives. If you live long enough, everyone will have moments that will make them cringe when they look back on them. I was brutally honest with her about mine, and she loved me for who I was without judging me for my mistakes.

When I first learned that I was losing my central vision, Marilyn's love and compassion carried me through the fear and uncertainty that came with the diagnosis. She was instrumental in my rescue from that distressing period of my life. Today, she continues to be there by my side every day as the full scope of the impact of my retinal disease unfolds. Her love is unquestionable and unwavering. One of the things I love the most about my relationship with Marilyn is the knowledge that whatever life brings us, I know we will navigate them together, and that knowledge brings me peace.

My therapist, Chad Bennett, was unquestionably another critical member of my rescue team, as my visual impairment threatened to derail the rebuilding of my life. I seriously underestimated the emotional impact the loss of vision would have on my life. Chad helped me learn to navigate those early turbulent years following my diagnosis and taught me skills to help me grow as a person. I will be forever grateful for the time I spent with Chad. My life is fuller today as a result. 

In 2018 I signed up for a writing class, "Intro to Novels and Memoirs," taught by Doug Kurtz at Lighthouse Writers in Boulder. My motivation for signing up for the class was pretty simple. There were so many things about my parent's life that I never asked them and I thought it might be a nice gift to leave my children with some basic biographical information about mine.

Doug taught me a lot about the craft of writing. He helped me find my voice and challenged me to explore the depths of my emotions and motivations in my writing. Throughout most of the three years I spent writing “Seeing Clearly,” I was still working with my therapist, Chad, and writing became a great tool for exploring the things that Chad and I discussed in therapy. The project fundamentally changed me, and I believe I am a better person today because of it.

 

There is no way I would be where I am today if it were not for Marilyn's love, compassion, and support or Brent's, Chad's, and Doug's help in making sense of my life. They all were part of the rescue team that saved me from what could have been a disastrous life. As much as they, and many others, helped me through some of the most challenging times of my life, I cannot say that any one of them rescued me. I believe we are the only ones who can change our lives. We have to make the decision to change, and then we can welcome the help of loved ones and professionals to guide us in the right direction.

So, with more than a little humility in my heart, I offer that I was the one who rescued me from the most difficult time of my life. I did not do it alone, but I was the captain of the ship, so to speak, and I eagerly sought guidance from people who cared about me and had the expertise to guide me through difficult waters.

I am thankful I found the strength, desire, and resolve to make that happen. My motivation was always clear: I hated the man I saw in the mirror and could not tolerate the thought that my children would see me that way as well. It was clear that I needed to make an abrupt change in my life. 

Thank you, Jonathan and Jennifer, for giving me the reason to pull myself out of the deep hole I had dug for myself. I hate the mistakes I have made in my life and the hurt I have caused you and your mother. I hope that I have demonstrated that none of us are simply the sum of our mistakes and that no matter how far we fall, we can always return to the right path by looking deep within ourselves to find the truth.


(Earlier this year I began a Storyworth subscription. Each week they send me a question to answer for my family. After a year, they are all compiled in a book that is printed as a keepsake, It has been a fun exercise for me. I have enjoyed exploring where each of the questions take me. Some have been fun, lighthearted stories, others have been more thought provoking. This is one of the questions with my answer.)

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