Mark, the Bull Riding Marine, Part II


Last week, when I walked into the restaurant where I was to meet Mark, I have to say I wouldn’t have recognized him had he not called my name. You know how people tend to stay “frozen” in your mind looking the way they looked the last time you saw them? The “bull riding rodeo cowboy stuffed into the cammies of a Marine” was in there somewhere, but he was buried under the pain and fog of addiction. It broke my heart to see my friend this way. Don’t get me wrong, this is not condescending pity! I found myself sitting across the table from a mirror and I am just one single drink away from being on the fast track to where my friend is now.

We meet twice in three days and hung out for a few hours each time. During each visit he was what would be recorded in a psych-med briefing as “hyper-verbal” although there was nothing really “hyper” about the way Mark acting or spoke. The constant presence of opiates in his body seem to make the air thick all around him and every word or eye movement had to drag its way through the translucent muck. He needed to talk. I understood that. He talked about the disastrous end to his marriage. About firearms. The death of his dog who was his best friend. About infidelity, deceit, and betrayal– on scales large and small. He told me about having a man die in his arms after a heroine overdose and about then doing the same heroine that had just killed the man. He told me about restarting the man’s heart with his boot. Talk of death segued into discussions of Afghanistan battlefields and half the time I didn’t know if his mind was in the mountains of Afghanistan or the American Rockies. But I’ve been around enough veterans to know that what they often need the most is someone who understands to listen to them. When I say understand, I mean deeply understand. Mark is fighting two wars. I know both of these wars very well.

I wanted to jump up and say, “Dude! You need help now! ” and rush him to the nearest rehab. But unbelievably, he’s not ready. And if my seven years’ relationship with Adam taught me anything it is that you cannot instill willingness in the addict who does not desperately want to get sober no matter how badly you want to be able to. It has to come from them or from some “higher power” but it cannot come from me. That’s a hard pill to swallow (unintentional pun. see? still an addict), especially when something deep inside me tells me I am supposed to do everything I can to “save” another Marine or another addict. When the two intersect, it is almost impossible for me to let go.

In order for the addict to get clean, he or she must come to a place of unconditional surrender. The second article of the US Military Code of Conduct begins with “I will never surrender of my own free will.” If you’ve ever known a Marine personally, you probably have seen how this article plays out in demonstration in real life, often with great results. You likely can already see where I’m going with this. The concept that to recover I must “surrender completely” and the ingrained principle of “never surrender of my own free will” stand in direct opposition to each other. I’m sure this seeming quandary has killed thousands of alcoholic/addict military personnel and veterans. Marines are hard working, hard fighting, hard fucking, hard playing scoundrels who have been charged with the defense of the free world. Try walking up to one of these hard-chargers and telling them they must surrender to win. See how far it gets you.

That’s where I ended up with my friend Mark. It’s a difficult place to be– for both of us.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap it up with him, as least as far as the story has progressed up to this point. Please say a little prayer for him now if you’re the praying sort. He’s a good man, a good Marine, and I love him. I really, really do not want him to die.

I’ve revised a couple of the daily action items on my goal sheet. Here is the revised version:

I. Emotional, Spiritual, Psychological
1. To live free of depression
-list ten things for which I am grateful EACH DAY
2. To live free of anxiety
-meditate ten minutes every morning and evening
3. To be true to my spiritual path
-read spiritual literature for ten minutes each morning
4. To be happy
-ask someone each day what I can do to help them be happy
5. To help people who suffer from PTSD and/or addiction
-go to at least three meetings per week where other people who are living in a better, healthier relationship to addiction and/or PTSD meet and talk about their experiences.

II. Health and Fitness
1. To love what I see in the mirror when I’m naked.
-to look in the mirror each day (naked) and tell that guy I love him
2. To be great at CrossFit
-go to CrossFit three times a week, every week
3. To look like MMA fighter… or a gladiator… or an NFL quarterback
-lift weights three times a week, every week
4. Perfect sexual health
-do a three month “reboot” program of total abstinence while I figure out what I want this area of my life to look like.
5. A body that serves me well in what I endeavor to do
-spend thirty minutes each day doing Mobility WOD

III. Sex and Relationships
1. To live free of codependency
-read Codependent No More
2. To use my sacred “NO” when doing something would impair my ability to be of service in the long run or would compromise my wellbeing in the present.
-to include in my evening inventory, one time when I said “no” when I usually would have said yes just to please someone else.
3. The right and perfect husband for me.
-for now, be true to my reboot
4. Be a good son, brother, uncle, etc.
-make a list of everyone’s birthdays
5. To let go of Adam.
-pray for him daily

IV. Career and Finance
1. $110K or more per month starting now and for the rest of my life.
-write for four hours each and every day
2. To live off 80% of my income this year, tithing 10% to where I’m spiritually fed and investing 10%. I want that percentage to shift by 10% annually until by 2020, to be living off 10% of my income and directing the rest to do good on the planet.
-start now on every penny that comes in, no matter how large or small the amount.
3. To be clear about my finances!
-start today and keep a record of every penny that comes in and every penny that goes out.
4. To write 25 movies, 10 TV shows, 25 plays, 5 novels, 5 non-fiction, and a poetry and short story anthology.
-write for four hours each day.
5. The Mehadi Foundation to grow and thrive providing help for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in a multitude of ways, mostly through providing paid apprenticeships within the entertainment industry so that they can GET PAID for being creative and also to teach reliable and valid pure peer support techniques to this population of veterans.
-spend at least one hour each workday getting the website squared away, seeking funding, planning the future, and otherwise working toward the mission of the foundation.

See y’all tomorrow.

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