PhD Free: No Lab Coat Required


It’s been said there is no manual; not a book nor a guideline to prepare a person to travel through this world of chaotic beauty.  The best we can do is learn from our mistakes and bask in the glory of our successes while they last; to savor even the smallest of victories.  When I sat in the operating room and held my daughter for the very first time, I finally felt I had done something successful and good; something righteous that I could be proud of – I experienced a genuine, authentic love – one I’ve never known, understood, or could make reasonable sense of really; the kind every parent has for their child I would like to believe – its powerful and life-changing; I realized what I was truly capable of as a human being in that moment – the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

I envisioned a future full of joy and I knew that little girl had found a permanent, irreplaceable home in my heart.  I knew I could take a life if it meant keeping her safe and protected from evil and its relentless attempts to divert us from knowing the extraordinary.  I would easily sell my soul to the devil if it guaranteed the dregs of society’s un-pleasantries would pass her by.  Seriously, where do I sign?   I can’t stand the thought of her dealing with the daily struggle to see the glass half-full or the heartbreaks and pain of well-intentioned, yet chronic failure; the kind I’m all too familiar with; the kind I never cease to bring upon myself.  I wish I could take on all the pain so she never has to, but I know that’s not realistic; I know she’ll have to make mistakes and determine her own path. 

I plead and cry out to the heavens every day that my major malfunctions never surface in her – the dark side I can’t seem to fully shake; the type that births immense fear: dirty, gritty, bone-chilling fear with a heaping side of guilt for bringing such a beautiful, innocent life into what can be a terribly deranged and fucked up world.  It’s a fear I don’t see ever leaving my side, plus none of this is her fault in the first place; I tend to feel ownership and take responsibility for the things she has been or might be exposed to.  It’s not like she was given the option to exist or not.  She couldn’t stand inside a voting booth, make a decision and pull down the lever for life.  She was tossed into this thing, kicking and screaming, because the stars aligned for a moment in time; two people met and attempted to create the fairy tale that so many of us often hopelessly desire – the ones we were seemingly falsely promised in the books we read as children; the knight on a white horse and the love of his life riding off into the sunset – planting the seed that we’re all entitled to live happily ever after.

I haunt myself – it’s torture really, but as people we also torment the ones we love the most.  That’s a commonly agreed upon theory from what I know and my life features no shortage of supporting evidence on the matter.  Those we love are constantly circled around us, which means they’re always potential victims; collateral damage merely by association.  I loathe having to admit the logical truth over what my false reality of the situation has manifested itself as inside my head.  I would like to believe I’m only hurting myself – I could handle that without too much shame and guilt, but it’s not the case and it never will be.  I’m not the only one going down with the ship when it gets thrown off course.  Yes, I was supposed to be the captain; the leader assigned the honor of protecting and guiding my little girl through life the minute she drew her first breath, but I wasn’t aware that the largest immediate threat to her was me, her own father; that realization threw me for a loop when I finally came to terms with it.  I don’t even totally understand how to protect myself from me, let alone a child that is dependent upon it for survival.  Still, none of these things can stop the earth from spinning on its axis; time doesn’t cease, and I’m in a race against it to pick up the pieces and put back together what I so carelessly deconstructed.


It seems the right course of action is to punish myself; serve my justified time for the heartache and harm I have caused while accepting responsibility for what’s transpired.  While I’m not physically sitting in a prison cell, being isolated from everything I once knew can start to feel like I am.  Even the bright and warm sunny climate of Southern California, with its magnificent coastlines, palm trees, and beautiful women can’t eliminate the dark cloud that I sense constantly looming over my head; following me where ever I go ready to rain on my parade or strike me down with a well-deserved, fierce bolt of lightning.  But against all odds I’m still breathing life into my lungs and somehow I’ve managed to survive my twenties.  Terrible two’s step aside; I think my terrible twenties has you beat.  There have been countless times and situations where one more bad decision or wrong move would have put me six feet under, but for whatever reason I’m still here – and it’s my duty to discover what that reason is.

I never thought I would be a writer or at least try it on for size, consider it a hobby, and put myself in the mix.  I assumed I had nothing to share and I honestly don’t know much about the writing world or what outlets are even somewhat available – a blog seemed to be a good place to start out.  I haven’t even been formally trained to write, but maybe it’s not an art that can really be taught – just throw a keyboard and Meriam-Webster my way; I’ll figure out the rest – I can’t justify dropping fifty-grand for some stiff in a stadium seated room to tell me my use of semi-colons or hyphens aren’t entirely accurate.  Get over it.  Contrarily, I can’t say my life has been boring or devoid of troubling as well as enlightening occurrences either.  The battle of addiction alone has no shortage of tragic or triumphant situations and it does affect a ton of people and families throughout humanity.  Maybe all the brilliant story tellers out there have required personal experiences with complex emotions to make sense of before they could construct their story or say what they needed to say; like it started as therapy for their own personal maturity and growth; you can feel what they feel as you read the words because it’s real and genuine; it’s raw – not written by some PhD draped in a lab coat sitting behind mahogany doors with a zillion certificates on the wall because he read some text books once upon a time and conducted a “study”.  Don’t get me wrong, a lot of what health professionals do is fascinating, important and necessary, but enough with the flashy titles, letters after their names, insurance companies, forty-five minutes in the waiting room, and whatever other rigmarole comes along with it.  My experience is free of charge and degree or not, everybody’s shit smells like shit – close the door, leave the fan on, open a window, and spray some damn air freshener.  Maybe I am here to tell a story or be an inspiration for those that may be headed down the same blackened road I unknowingly chose – even if it’s just one lone person that stumbles across the experience I’ve had and turns around to head back into the light – is that not worth my time?  I certainly believe it is – any life is one that can be valued.  I could just be writing what’s in my head to get it out – maybe this is just an outlet for myself and becomes another working part of my process to recover.  Either way, I don’t see the harm in it. 

My higher power doesn’t have a direct line into my head; I don’t consider myself that much of a lunatic – the clouds don’t part, bursting with rays of sunlight casting upon me divine intervention, but I do think he speaks to me through other people – the people that have been placed in my life whether it be through somebody in the rooms, individuals in my family, the Barista at Starbuck’s, or someone else’s blog as that person embraces the vulnerability to share their story with me.  As people reveal things about themselves, I can potentially start to identify the same feelings – that’s my higher power showing me what I cannot see for myself.  It’s only then I can make rational decisions, weigh out the options or consequences, live with integrity, and start to improve who I am as a person without repeating my mistakes or traumatizing those that are orbiting around my potentially dangerous gravitational pull.


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