A Life Event

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Over the past 6 months, something happened to me that took me a long time to understand. The fire burned a little less hot, the dreams became a little less bright, the passion because a little less dull, and I started to become more and more disappointed. I was disappointed in life, people, and myself mostly. This may seem like quite a shock in the face of the fact that I just spent 6 months on a novel that truly was a defining moment in my life so far. However, as I look back on those past months, I realize how hard they were. I can see the crumbling and the eventual decline of my excitement for life. The words became a little less powerful. My expression dimmed. I saw my potential as a human being, raised my standards, and then failed to meet them. After an enormous uprising in love and determination, my life gradually morphed itself into an unknown denouement.

What sparked this? It wasn’t easy for me to put The Better Man Project into a book. Not because of the process that I had to go through, but the consistent presence of an emotional tax collector jarring at me for more. Drip by drip I drained. As I read parts of the book that were very real once upon a time, I was sent right back into those days of pain, worry, anxiety and doubt. They became very real once again and life stacked its heaviest weights on my back. That crushing feeling became a cross to bear – one that would get heavier each time I edited the book.

But it wasn’t just the toll of the novel that made its mark on me. Life’s failures, losses of loved ones, and a general displeasure with the society I was in all started to pile up on me. I started to develop this overarching complaint…and as time went on and more and more evidence was produced…this complaint went from a seed in my mind to a field of weeds. In between the weeds were very beautiful and powerful ideals such as love and passion, but were being choked of water by other roots.

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I became a bit bitter that all the effort I was putting into people was not being returned. The constant let downs drove my heart into the ground and at times I would see the worst of people. I of course knew that nothing is ever simple, especially with people’s emotions, and that everyone is fighting their own battle. I knew this was the case, but in all honesty I hadn’t excepted this idea. I retreated inside  and began to shut myself out from people. I buried myself into the sand hoping that nothing would come along and uncover me. I wanted to be alone. I got exactly what I asked for.

Pieces of me began to disintegrate. Openness. Understanding. Determination. What came to replace these very positive characteristics was a strong desire to just sleep. I was exhausted. If I could, I would sleep for hours during the day hoping that I would wake up refreshed. I never was. There is a difference between getting sleep and getting rest. My mind was a spewing mess of negative emotions that were chomping at the bit of my previously established positive thoughts. And I fed them. I looked for evidence to feed them, and in a world that is often thought to be a very tough and harsh place, there was always a plethora of material to work with.

I gave up on my dreams over and over again. I would start, battle it out for a while, and always come up short. It is important to recognize that I did achieve something monumental in my life, and that the consistent leaning on positive thoughts helped me to get there, but I didn’t feel ultimately fulfilled because of the looming weeds blowing in the wind. I knew they were there. I could see them, feel them, and hear them rustling…speaking to me…anchoring themselves deeper and deeper in my mind.

My outlet – the gym – became a place where I could trash and tear things apart without anyone noticing. I pushed myself harder and harder because after every set of picking up hundreds of pounds, whatever was controlling my mind felt nourished. Satiated, almost as if it was saying “Yes…get angry…get mean…more pain.” I think sometimes we punish ourselves because pain makes us feel alive. We know that life can be one of pleasure, but often conform to the accessibility of readily available pain. We look for it because it is much easier to live in a world full of hurt than it is to take the less traveled path of self actualization. It’s easy to get stuck in this place.

I didn’t want to go out anymore. I wanted to live in my controlled space where I could manufacture specific results that I thought were worth it. But it was all really hollow. It became a self-destructive routine that contributed to a prophecy that continued to fulfill itself. You can continue to feed positive thoughts into your mind and put them onto paper, but as with anything, the application of acid causes it to fade. You can’t lean back on what you have done because it is gone now. It has been burned out over the course of time. You look back to feel a sense of pride in what you have done and you can’t see anything. You finally  realize that the eye of the storm you were experiencing about wasn’t about not being able to understand what truly is going on around you, it’s is that you couldn’t possibly see the impact you were making because of the eyes you had. You were blind to the positive even though you could still create it – artificially. The iron will began to rust.

And even though all of this happened, a flicker of light still remains. While everything over time dimmed to darkness, resilience continues to stay present. It was resilience that brought me out of the cave the first time. It was resilience that allowed me to stay positive even during an eventual decline of character. It was resilience that drove me to publish something to make an impact on the world even though I was emotionally battered raw. No matter how dark things become, there is always light. You can miss it if you aren’t looking for it. The darkness can become overwhelming…and as I laid in my old bed the other night, the bed that I laid in all those years ago the last time I came out hell, it was. Pitch black. But before I let the lids of my eyes fall to their resting place, I saw the little space between the blackout shades in which a flicker of the moon was shining through. It was all I needed to just know that I was going to wake up today and walk  a separate path. A path of warmth and truth. A path of acceptance, love, and passion. A path worthy of walking.

– Evan Sanders

 

 

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  • mpskydog
    April 13, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    It takes precious little room for self-doubt, depression or disillusionment to creep in. But I can’t imagine how much more powerful that must have been when you started to relive the heaviest moments of your journey. But, as they say, a journey isn’t so much about where you are going as where you have been.

    We have a destination and we may feel we are still falling short of it, but one look back can remind you just how far you’ve come. Don’t let that be shadowed by how far you’ve left to go.

  • 16jh
    April 13, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    This is truly emotionally raw and honest. Thank you for opening up about the despair you felt even when you have achieved so much. I can relate a lot with this and it’s eye-opening to read.

  • kposh
    April 13, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    omg i love this. Thursday was my 6 month anniversary moving cross-crountry from New England to Southern Cali. I can completely relate to this, differently, of course, but relate nonetheless.. thank you for this. you wrote so many thoughts that have been in my head.

  • Michael
    April 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Evan, when I read this I thought about the way that sometimes, when we open ourselves up to the expression or embodiment of something greater, it may be that something starts to come that is beyond ourselves. And to make room for this gift which will propel us beyond a previous concept of ourselves and the world, the previous ‘things’ we did that were inspiring or fulfilling sometimes fall away. I don’t know. I just thought maybe the dimming of passion was simply a falling away of old modes of expressing it and the uncertainty that comes from entering that nebulous state through which we eventually come to realize and experience something even greater. Thanks for the depth of your sharing.

    Michael

  • shepherdscott
    April 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Thank you for sharing this, so relatable! I’m in those same shoes right now, thanks!

  • mlhe
    April 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    “I think sometimes we punish ourselves because pain makes us feel alive.” I think you are right. But the opposite of this is that when we love ourselves with pure heartfelt emotion, the pleasure makes us feel alive. So much pleasure, in fact, that guilt is squeezed all out and evaporates!

  • thestripedstrawberry
    April 13, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing, as I am in a situation where you’ve described to a T what has been running through my own mind lately. Your post is so relatable, you are really an inspiration!
    -Beverly

  • theforgetfulgenius
    April 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Thank you for putting to paper the feelings that so many of us feel every day. We are not alone. We are resilient. We can and will move forward.

  • Created ~ Create.it
    April 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I couldn’t have come across this post at a better time. I am in that dark place of not enough, hopelessness, thinking I don’t have what it takes. On top of that, I was sitting wondering why anyone would create a human being and give them the cross that I have to bear for the rest of my life! Then I saw your quote about embracing the conflict that God has put in our story. Thank you. It gave me strength for this moment. Thank you very much.

  • simplyenjoy
    April 13, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    Thank you for your courage and honesty in sharing this. I read it at the perfect time for me and it seems to have touched many people. You explained what it is to be addicted to pain and hurt and darkness and perhaps not acknowledge an alternative. Heck, life seems not to present an alternative sometimes. As you said – unless you’re searching for a light.

  • dsmythjr
    April 13, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Wonderful entry! Absolute honesty that more of the world needs…

  • sonjadurand
    April 14, 2013 at 2:14 am

    This text struck me as somethingnI had to read, even before my morning tea. It is wonderful to read your words, because your descriptions make everything come alive. And, thanks for sharing this particular story. I think most people get to that place at some point in their lives. I know I have. I hope you are closer to the good ending now, than you were then:-)

  • kamranmehr
    April 14, 2013 at 3:50 am

    Thank you for your honesty in sharing this. dont forget to visit my blog http://www.revolutionflame.com 🙂

  • Paul F. Lenzi
    April 14, 2013 at 6:09 am

    powerful – resonant – I’ve been there, too

  • Melia Alexander
    April 14, 2013 at 6:47 am

    “No matter how dark things become, there is always light. You can miss it if you aren’t looking for it.”

    You said it, Evan. Being human, it’s super easy to become overwhelmed and miss that sliver of light. Great post!

  • llpllc
    April 14, 2013 at 6:49 am

    Evan: Thank you for being brave enough to share this. I don’t believe anything happens coincidentally — all things happen for a reason; so it’s providence that I read this post this morning. I think I have something that will be of interest to you.

    I’ve been working my way through a process called The Deeper Path (check the web for deeperpathbook.com or Kary Oberbrunner). He’s a fellow John Maxwell Team member and he wrote this book about how we all live with pain and most of us will choose to live with chronic pain rather than go through acute pain to actually discover and experience the source, and work our way through to the other side–healthier.

    He talks about recognizing our crown, understand the cross we bear, and drives participants to author their OPUS (life masterpiece). He does this through a coaching cohort process (over 10 weeks, with 10-12 other from all over). I’m working on my OPUS now, and it’s been a tremendous process.

    If I were certified in the process (seriously considering doing this once I’m through the process), I would offer to take you through it…but I’m not there, yet.

    All I can tell you is, it’s been a thought-provoking, soul-searching, clarifying, revealing process for me, and I know I will never be the same.

    If you want to talk about this, send a message!

    Positively!

    Laura Prisc

  • ForTheLoveOfSass
    April 14, 2013 at 9:23 am

    Hey! I just stopped by to let you know that I’ve nominated you for The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Please visit the page I dedicated to your award at http://4theloveofsass.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/the-very-inspiring-blogger-award/ Happy blogging! 🙂

  • Jacki
    April 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Its good to know we are not alone and all live in the shadow sometimes. Thank you for sharing this.

  • ittymac
    April 14, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Every time we hit a brick wall, we become more aware of our deeper identity. Maybe it’s two forces of energy colliding, defining distinct shapes as they scrape, pushing and scaring each other, or maybe it’s just the realization that nothing is ever finished, it’s all a work in progress that we do either with great effort or apathy.

  • Tammy
    April 14, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Best of luck but it’s part of the journey. It helps us realize the really good times.

  • sophiebuck
    April 14, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    I’m a little speechless. I don’t really know what to say, but I just wanted to say something so you’d know that your writing left an impact on me.

  • DaVida Nature Photography
    April 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I’ve been wondering what you have been up to lately.

  • Day 104: A Life Event | A Better Me in 2013
    April 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    […] I borrow the picture andtitle for this blog for a specific purpose.  Please, when you have  a chance, head over to Evan Sanders’ blog The Better Man Projects and read this post. […]

  • destinyallison
    April 14, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks for the honesty. I go through something similar every time I finish a major creative project (or large chunk of it). Creatives bleed, turn themselves inside out and let the world drag its fingernails across our raw and tender skin. When I wrote my first book, I had to relive so many painful memories it was like I was back in time. Be well and nourish yourself. The field, once worked, needs to go fallow for a time. It may look bleak, but it is healing. 🙂

  • Jane Risdon
    April 15, 2013 at 3:41 am

    Evan I know exactly how you feel. Most novels take their toll on the writer and delving into the depths of the past and all that baggage it drags up is mentally and emotionally exhausting. I don’t find this so much a problem with fiction but faction is another matter. I’ve just gone through a similar experience co-writing a book with another author. We have a shared past and as I began to write, full of excitement and joy at recalling the music and the fashions and the vibe of the time we were revisiting, I suddenly felt a deep melancholy. It began to insidiously creep into my my and emotions and, like you I felt overcome be feelings of loss and resentment – meeting all those people who had let me down didn’t measure up, all the lost opportunities and all the hopes and dreams which have evaporated into the passing years. I couldn’t read what I had written and sent it off to my co-writer. She hasn’t commented yet, but I gave it to my husband to read and to check details (he shares the same past), and his first comments were about how sad it made him feel and what a loss he felt reading it, though it made him laugh and he loved being reminded of those happy care-free days, he also wept for them too. We put our all into our writing and it gobbles it up and shoves it right back in our faces…..we cannot ignore it and the feelings which overwhelm us. Loved your piece and hope you have managed to move on and feel optimistic again. I wrote some comedy afterwards and then another murder. Feel much better now.

  • Judy660
    April 15, 2013 at 5:58 am

    This resonated so deeply. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey and letting me know that the light is still there even if I can’t see or feel it.

  • rkibod
    April 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    This post was very deep it must taken a lot of courage to write it. I love the concept of your blog and become a better man resonates with me extremely. Your perspective on the pain and displeasure in your life during that time seems intense. Ironically I just posted today a list of ideas and actions that really get me back on track its part of a four post event i am doing. I think some of them would be beneficial for your writing and growth to become a better man. http://fightingthefatman.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/changing-your-mindset-and-experience-the-potential-a-4-post-blog-event-intro/

  • inkateswords
    April 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for your inspiring words… I appreciate them. Keep going. You are good at what you do… Wasn’t that Abraham Lincoln that said, “whatever you are, be a good one…” Thanks you are an inspirer.

  • AnnoyingBobby
    April 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm

    Reblogged this on AnnoyingBobby.

  • http://www.ddeashion.com
    April 15, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Reblogged this on http://www.DDeashion.com.

  • Christina Channelle
    April 15, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    I wish I could triple like this post. Thanks for writing this.

  • Tenzin Sangmo
    April 16, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    This post is exactly what i need right now and wasn’t expecting it. I am new blogger and follow just few and thank god betterman happened to be one. I went through the same thing. I lost interest, energy and hope. How i wish i could sleep for days and wake up refreshed with my sunny attitude and do away with this crawling negativity that came with abrupt changes and certain events like depression and death of dear ones and overwhelming feeling of guilt and wanting to do so much with this life yet feeling impaired.
    But i realize all along that only you can lift yourself outta it.
    I found great relief in this video on youtube by a guy who went through same things. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlXvUg9MnRQ

  • Niki Williams
    April 17, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Choosing to live in the light doesn’t mean the darkness disappears. At times it demands our attention so as to remind us how light our lives are now (in my experience). Thank you for such a well articulated glimpse into your journey.

  • kittymobile
    April 18, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Keep at it. It’s always an uphill battle for those of us that can see the badness in life and can’t ignore it. Find whatever is out there that puts a little smile on your face- silly cats, cartoons or ice cream. Every smile adds up to a slightly better mood. That new mood is what keeps us sane.

    I for one end up writing stories and reading to escape for a little. They always bring me back to reality a little better off.

  • keliwright
    April 19, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Been there. Often. Thanks for being real and honest. Get the weed whacker and the WD40 out–you have something to give the world!

  • JoAnn Grasso
    April 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

    “It was resilience that drove me to publish something to make an impact on the world even though I was emotionally battered raw.”

    Thank you and wishing you the best.

  • vlackerine
    May 1, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Reblogged this on vlackerine.

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