Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

Super Bowl Eve


I have been a diehard Seattle Seahawk fan nearly forever.  I have put up with so many losing seasons, so many years without playoff games.  That is not to say that there have not been years that the Seahawks did not do well, it just did not happen that often.

In the first hint of an improvement in the team, came one fateful day when the Seahawks would face the Green Bay Packers for the NFC championship on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.  It was a good game, championship caliber, until regulation ended, and Seattle’s quarterback decided to pull a “Joe Namath” and during the coin toss, instead of just calling the side of coin, decided to add, “because we’re going to win.”  Unlike Broadway Joe who actually won his game that he bragged about, Matt Hasselback threw an interception to a Packer that scored the winning points.

But in 2006, magic and consistency developed for the Seahawks.  So much so, I had a gut feeling that it was going to be their year.  Unlike the boast made by the former quarterback, I had something else to be the deciding factor of the Seahawks going to the Super Bowl, Murphy’s Law.

I was due to travel to China to adopt my youngest daughter.  And as the timing drew near, my fears would come true.  There was a good chance that I would not get to watch the Super Bowl not only for the first time in my life, but the Seahawks would actually be in the Super Bowl.  I even joked with a friend that he should “bet his house” on the Seahawks beating the St. Louis Rams for the NFC championship.  “I am telling you, the Seahawks are going to win the NFC championship, and go to the Super Bowl, and I will not get to see it because I will be flying to China.

The Seahawks beat the Rams to go to the Super Bowl.  And I was flying over the North Pole during kick-off.  When I landed in Hong Kong, I called my father to let him know that we had landed, my father, who knew as much about football and I did about Nascar (he may have known the color of a football, and I knew cars went around in circles).  My father broke the news to me that it was good that I did not get to see the game and then began to rattle off one statistic after another, clearly he was paying attention to the announcers.  But the Seahawks had lost to the Pittsburg Steelers.

And so, with a 13 hour time difference, Emmalie was placed in my arms later that Super Bowl Sunday.

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I never did get to see the game.  I had DVRed the game, but technology combined with my desire to record the game in HD… memory had been filled during the two weeks we were gone, and the Super Bowl, being the oldest program, was deleted from the memory.

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But every year, I would get my daughters into the Seahawk spirit to route along with Daddy, and cheer on the Seahawks.

So last year, should have been the year that I finally got to enjoy the Seahawks return to the Super Bowl with a rising star at quarterback.  I had been planning on hosting a Super Bowl party, but had decided against it, as I was in the middle of my divorce, and instead watched the Seahawks dismantle the Denver Broncos for their first Super Bowl Championship from my laptop.

Here we are, the Seahawks have the chance to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, the first time since it was done last, by the opponents they face tomorrow, the New England Patriots.  All controversies aside, all I want to see is a good game.  I wish my daughters were here with me to see it, but I will be surrounded by friends who remind every day, that my daughters are always with me, in my heart.  This time of year always means more to me than just a game.

My pick… Seattle 24    New England 20

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Something I Will Not Apologize For


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I have developed a very bad habit lately, and it is a side-effect of my having filed for divorce.  There is no pun intended, but I have begun “snapping” at people trying to take my picture.  It should be a harmless enough act, just taking my photo, and for the recipient of my displeasure, you would have sworn I was Axle Rose going after a paparazzi.  Do not get me wrong, I have had plenty of photos taken in my time, and though the model has not always been the best subject to work with, I have normally never objected.  When it came to photos with the family, only when it came to my daughters, did I voluntarily venture to the other side of the lens.

Years ago, I suffered a left wrist injury that left me on a leave of absence from work for 9 months.  It was a silly situation really.  It was a work-related injury that my employer decided to deny.  I won my appeal, and my lost pay, in a sense ending up with a 9-months vacation instead of accommodating my health restriction, allowing me to complete work that I was more than capable of doing.  But that is not my point.

During the earlier part of my battle, I made the decision to give one more effort to convince my employer to give me one more chance and accommodate my restrictions before being sent home.  What I got in return taught me a huge lesson.  With the office door closed, the director of my department (3 levels up from my supervisor – I was not wasting time), was giving me a warning for my activities outside of work.  He made a direct implication about me playing softball for our work team.  “You know Paul.  If I were you, I would be careful about what you are seen doing outside of work and your home.”  I looked confused at him, because I was injured and was not doing anything to go beyond my “use only of one hand” restriction.  “You have been seen playing softball.”  I cut him off right there.  I knew that his secretary was listening through the closed door, and I replied with this:  “Excuse me, but I am not playing softball this year specifically because I was injured before the season even began.  Now I did play last year, and I know your secretary who is probably listening at the door right now, took pictures of us playing last year, but I want to warn you, I am 20 pounds lighter and my hair is much longer than what the picture would show.”  End of argument.

It reminded me of the old school days when we would call out sick from school.  You could not get caught out at the movies or down in the arcade if you did not go to school claiming to be sick.  And the same goes for employment.  Which is what made my next incident even more baffling.

I had just been released from the hospital in April of 2008, after having emergency double bypass for my heart.  My chest wall still raw from being cracked open for the procedure.  Clearly, I would not be returning to work any time soon until healed.  I still had weeks of cardiac therapy to go before it could even be considered.

But my orders were clear.  I needed to get at least some walking exercise in each day.  And so, with my children up early, I made my first walk, up my street, around the corner, walked halfway up that street, then turned around to head back home.  I soon became aware of the time of the morning, as a couple of cars that had passed me, recognized me, and honked their horns at me, I thought to say “Hey!  Glad you are okay!  Get well soon!”  What they did next was shocking… and disappointing.

At least one of my co-workers reported back to my employer that I looked “great”, I was walking “fine.”  There was no reason I should not be “back at work.”  Now, not everyone knew immediately the extent of the surgery I went through, but management knew, which is why what made their reaction more difficult for me to understand.  I began to receive pressure to return back to work, by being forced to submit extra documentation to prove that I needed to be out longer than what my surgeon had determined.  Imagine, my employer felt that I should be back to work sooner than the doctor who performed my heart surgery and made the determination of when.

I have never been one to play “hooky.”  I am a huge believer in Karma, so I do not like to tempt fate.  Do the right things, and you have nothing to worry about.  And I still believe that.

However, with today’s media, and let’s face it, I am really a social-driven person, I do not feel a need to be in control of my exposure, because I do not do anything should ever lead to any kind of questions.  I am not worried about being “set up” because I am not doing anything wrong.  But as prior experience has taught me, simply planting a thought in someone else’s mind, can cause enough bother to inflict damage to a reputation.

Both my estranged wife and I have moved on since my filing for divorce.  We cannot talk to each other, unless it has directly to do with the children.  One of us has a preconceived notion about the reason for the divorce, the other, knows the truth.  But just as in our later years of the marriage, we did not talk, we could not talk.  And with us living a great distance apart from each other, only more assumptions end up being made.

But like I said, I am an open book, a simple man, “what you see is what you get.”  I want only one thing at this point, and that is to be able to spend time with my daughters.  I want more pictures taken with them.

Earlier this year, I actually had to “unfriend” and “block” people from my Facebook page, because they were sharing what otherwise would have been considered harmless pictures.  But like the incidents mentioned above, those photos were only used to affect my character in a negative way, which I quickly addressed and proved otherwise.  And though my Facebook page is a little more controlled with those who have betrayed me banned, I know, that most likely, someone will take another photo out of context, leaving me have to explain myself yet again.

So to those who will be on the other side of the lens of the camera, I apologize in advance.  I mean no harm.  And I would love to have a real nice photo taken of me, but for the time being, even a photo of me tying my shoe would somehow be used against me if it was published on the internet.  I do not mean to “snap” at your for taking a simple and harmless picture where I might be smiling, those “proving that I have no concerns about my divorce”.  I simply do not want the hassles.

And I know, as I have been consoled several times, I am simply living.  I am not doing anything that pushes my body’s physical or physiological limits.  I am not doing anything wrong.  I am blessed to have a beautiful area to live that is relaxing to me at the end of the day as I try to gather my thoughts.  I enjoy being able to listen to music, and sing music again, and I get to do it because it is free.  As my friends try to encourage me, I have nothing to be ashamed and am doing nothing wrong.  Let me make one thing perfectly clear, my current lifestyle is not what I want because I miss my daughters terribly.  And the sooner I can get past all the nonsense, the sooner I will get to spend more time with them.  If only more time and effort would be put into moving forward, instead of fighting to prove what does not exist, closure for both of us would happen much sooner.

The sad thing is, because of all the nonsense, when the final decree is made, I honestly do not believe that the reason I filed for the divorce in the first place will even be addressed, by anyone.  It does not matter except to that one person.

The Difference Between Knowing And Understanding


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“I know what you are feeling.”

“I know what you are going through.”

“I know what it is like.”

A simple statement capable of setting of an emotional shitstorm of a reaction.  Of course the expression is meant to show someone care and empathy, but instead the result is usually inciting anger and resentment from the recipient.

“You have no idea what I am feeling!”

“You have no idea what I am going through!”

“You have no idea what it is like!”

Understanding

No one, other than the individual involved can have any concept of what is going on can ever have any knowledge of what is happening at that particular time.  We can only see what we see, hear what we hear.  And the rest is up to perception.

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Of course, we mean well when we try to extend out a hand, especially to someone who is going through a difficult time in their life.  But the misunderstandings that are created all because of the misuse of a simple phrase, “I know…” can leave hurt and devastation, often insurmountable to overcome.

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But when we put a little more thought into our well-intended outreach, we show those that we are trying to support, not that we personally know their angst, but we let them know that we understand the problems that they are facing.  I will never be able to know what it is like to have been adopted and being the parent of two adopted children does not give me the ability to know their life experiences.  All that I can do is offer them understanding.

Even in an area that I consider myself well-versed in, the world of cancer, I will never claim to know what another cancer patient is going through because each person going through their own cancer struggle, is unique to their experience.  When I write stories, I never claim to know what every other cancer survivor experiences, even those who have battled the cancer that I dealt with, Hodgkin’s Lyphoma.  Every case is unique.

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And the same goes when it comes to marriage.  I will never claim to know everything about marriage.  I cannot.  My first two marriages, and there will be no more, have only revealed that I entered into both with false expectations that did not seem like a big deal at the time.  But for the most part, I have left the dissolution of both of my marriages between myself and my exes private and between just the two of us.  No one will never know everything that I have been dealing with.

Why is it such a big deal to recognize a difference between “knowing” and “understanding?”  Because “knowing” is personal.  The only one who can truly “know” what is happening, or how it feels, is the one that is experiencing the event.  It is extremely personal and regardless if it is a happy event or tragedy, it is something that only the person experiencing the event can know what it is like.

When a person going through any event, good or bad, reaches out, they are looking for understanding from others.  It is not necessary for someone to hear how bad someone else’s experience was, when the one seeking support is looking for a way to deal with and get through such an event.  A person struggling is not looking to be told to be appreciative that their situation is not as bad as someone else’s situation.  Most often, all that is being sought, is just the ability to vent to someone who will understand what they are going through.

Understanding does not require the tongue to move.  Understanding provides support that is being sought.  “Knowing” implies that the recipient should expect a certain sequence of events which may or may never happen.  And if those events might cause even more trauma than what is currently being experienced, that is not support.  Expression of “knowing” is a form of narcissism.  And the person seeking support usually does not need any more issues placed upon them.

I am far from being a politically correct person, nor do I have a desire to be one, but this is one particular situation that I will agree that it is important to differentiate the difference between “knowing” what someone is going through, and “understanding” what someone is going through.  When someone reaches out, they are not looking to be made to feel worse, they just want to know that someone understands.

I am an adoptive parent.  I have no idea what it is like to be adopted.  I have an understanding of what my children have gone through, and what to expect.  But only each of my daughters will know themselves, and it will only be each of their own experiences.  And their experiences will be different from even the other children that they were adopted with.  They will only know their own experience, but will be able to understand what their travel mates have gone through, as well as anyone else that they meet.

I am a cancer survivor.  I know only what it took for me to get to this point in my life.  But I have an understanding of the struggles that others face from the disease itself, and the many societal issues that come from that battle.  My survival guilt will be different from others.  Everyone’s cancer experience is unique, even when it is the same cancer, same typing, same treatment, same side effects, and so on, the experience will still be unique.  I will never know what someone else is going through, or has gone through when it comes to cancer, but I will be able to understand.

I am an adult child of divorce (ACOD – great movie by the way dealing with issues of children having grown up in a split home).  My experience of having been a child of divorced parents will be different than what my children will experience.  I cannot know what they are going through, but I can definitely understand.

I am a father in the middle of his second divorce.  I do know that the proceedings of my second divorce are far different from my first divorce.  I know what led up to me filing for both.  But only one of my former spouses had any exposure to the procedure of divorce and that was through a sibling’s divorce.  The circumstances that led to both are not unique, one being children, the other money.  And while divorce is not something anyone plans to expect when getting married, is to divorce, the process itself for both, must be kept between the two individuals.  And that will be the difference between my two divorces.  If you look at both of my divorces processes they both began with an act between both of us.  The problem was between both the husband and the wife.  And when dealing with a divorce, it is when outsiders are allowed input, especially those who have no interest or business being involved in the process, and also have no idea the aftermath that occurs with a bitterly-directed revenge-guided divorce, that the whole reason for the divorce ends up not even being dealt with.  Only the two individuals who are involved will ever truly “know” what led to the divorce and how the divorce should end.

Do you understand?

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