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Friday, May 17, 2013

Random thoughts from a Homeless Dad

Yesterday a friend of mine told me how he had just watched the movie "Zero Dark Thirty" and how they showed some of the techniques used to extract the information used to find Bin Laden.
He said, "You know...the final breaking happens when they torture these guys for days or weeks or months and then they stop. They clean them up. Give them better food. Stop the sleep deprivation and whatever else they were doing. They let them gain a glimmer of hope that perhaps they have endured the worst nightmare they could imagine, then just when they start to grasp that hope...they start it all again."  He told me that according to the film, the breaking happens quickly after that, because they dropped their guard and began to hope. Once that faint glimmer was extinguished, their fight is all gone. Then he said something I'd been feeling since February but couldn't quite understand, he said, "You know...that's what happened to you. That's why this is so much harder this time. You endured that for four years, worked your butt off got your degree, wrote two books and started a business and got yourself in a house. Then the wheels came back off. It has to hurt worse than before...much worse"
He's right. It does. I didn't know about this being a tactic of inquisition...I just thought it was a particularly cruel twist. It hurts and it hurts like nothing I can describe.
     I picked up my daughter after school today. I do this every day to help her mom out. To be's something I look forward to. It makes me feel like I'm still her dad. Like I'm doing something. I spend about 20 minutes with her every afternoon, driving from school to her mom's house. She is usually burnt out after school so we don't talk as much as I'd like.  But I get to see her and for me, that's everything. I can't put into words how much I love my daughter. How much I wish I could get out of this nightmare and make something of a life for us again. How much I would give to hear her saying bedtime prayers, to cook breakfast for her, or to help her with her homework. This life of my hurts. It's painful. I'm past the point of dreaming dreams for myself anymore but I sure dream them for her. I dream of her being happy and fulfilled and becoming who she was put here to be. 15 years ago, when the doctor put her in my arms I felt the enormous weight of being the person who was supposed to make the way for her. It's her job to dream the's mine to give them wings. And I can't.
I look at a $20 bill and try to figure a way to make it stretch into a tank of gas and some food, while our erstwhile president is partying like a rockstar this week. I am losing hope...and something had better change.
Meanwhile my daughter races toward adulthood and I am almost the invisible man in her world. She loves me and respects me and appreciates the sacrifice I made to remain here in Nashville and in her life. But she can't live on the intangible forever, and neither can I. Something has to break my way. More has to break her way. Her dad needs to find the success he once knew, and he needs to find it now. Because time is racing by like the wind. I can't describe how I miss her and the five years we have lost. I lived in my car and tried to rebuild. I studied and got my degree. I wrote three books. I started a little business. And for all that, I am back to sleeping in the car again...and this time the shame and humiliation is killing me. It is literally draining life from my heart. It hurts to live like this. In ways I can't describe properly enough to do them justice. You will never know what it is to lose your career, and your home, and your family. Most people experience one of those...maybe two. But few ever experience all three together. I have. It hurts. Physically hurts...I feel like I am lugging around a 300 pound man strapped across my shoulders. The shame and humiliation is palpable. But the lack of hope is the worst thing. How do I get that back?
I just want my daughter to be happy. And I want to be there to see it. I'm losing the ability to imagine that day.

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