“BEFORE — NOW” -Part One

Posted: November 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

“I was fighting myself, trying to be some empty version of what I was before.  

But I think I need to try to find a way to be who I am now.”1


Hearing those words brought about an unexpected, but positive turning point in my own mind and spirit.  Something I had been unable to really accomplish on my own almost magically — “just happened.”

Recently, there was a closing scene on the NCIS TV series entitled, “Scope.”1It involved a Marine combat veteran living in an internal seclusion with depression and with PTSD, after major losses and injuries from combat … loss of a limb, friends, family, and purpose to name a few.  He just couldn’t seem to navigate the changes and that nagging sense of failure.  Then someone, another Marine vet, in a quiet subtle way, listened to his silence, understood his needs, and made a difference with his persistent presence and acceptance.

In that scene, the struggling vet, through that quiet encounter, had arrived at that point where he felt something change inside.  Now unstuck, he began to live again.  The Marine vet expressed it this way: “I was fighting myself, trying to be some empty version of what I was before.  But I think I need to try to find a way to be who I am now.”

Yes, hearing those words brought about an unexpected turning in my own mind and spirit. I felt something change inside.  I began to feel a stirring within, a good stirring.   The Marine’s words resonated with me, especially the part about trying to be an empty version of what I was “before.”  I had been stuck, but now felt a renewed sense of freedom to find a way to be who I am “now,” personally and professionally. Rather than being tied to my “before,” as good and meaningful as it has been, I now felt a renewed sense of freedom to look forward through the broad windshield of my life with only a reflective glance in the rearview mirror.  Through that “chance” encounter, I found the freedom and ability to become and be who I am “now,” to make it happen without apology or reservation.

Without realizing it, I had been somewhat stuck in the process that takes place in the inevitable gap that exists in between who we were before a major life change occurs and finding the freedom to discover and be who we are now, rather than depressively, perhaps even unknowingly, hanging on to an empty version of the past.

The journey from before to now can be confusing, lonely, distressing, and complex. A future that once seemed so clear and the direction that was so evident becomes veiled by a great cloud between the two mountain peaks of before and now.  As you descend into the valley in between, into the inevitable gap, perspective can easily be lost and bearings confused.  Trail markers seem misplaced or missing, and are at best unreliable. Wrong paths are easily taken.  Walking in circles often occurs, or so it may seem.

Most people in this gap encounter but may not recognize the grief that comes with loss and change. There can be a profound loneliness even in the midst of a caring community. Some you thought you could count on betray your heart by their ignorance, indifference, and even sometimes arrogant “counsel.”    Then there are those that count, who even if they do not understand — listen to your silence and make a difference with their persistent presence and acceptance.  Your core values and beliefs may be tested, altered, or refined to be sure.  Perhaps like me you once felt very close to God, but in this gap, that sense of closeness may be replaced with what seems to be a cold hard indifference to your soul and your pain.  At the same time life keeps happening, more changes occur, stressors abound, and the cloud and veil may thicken.  These “Before —Now” experiences happen to us all.  The knowledge and skills we take into them will ultimately either serve us well or fail us in the daily choices we each must make. Key principles, like tools in our back packs, are helpful traveling companions as I move along my way.  Here are several that I found to be important in the journey between “Before and Now:”

  • It’s personal. Your journey is your journey.  You must do it your way.  No matter how

much people say they understand, no one truly can.  No one truly can because no one has the same sum total of all your experiences.  No one in all of history has had the same DNA, the same emotional, psychological, spiritual, intellectual or social make up that you have. No one.  And no one has the same belief system or the same relationship that you have with yourself.  Your internal dialogue, for good or ill, is reflective of your core belief system.  Our behavior will always reflect these beliefs.  Often, we seem to be human doers rather than human beings.  If I could whisper one precious truth into your heart as you make your way in your journey, it would be this: “It’s okay to be you.”  Actually, it is essential to discover who you are and to be you…and to learn to like you.  You may not even know who “you” are at the moment, or fear facing him or her, or even despise yourself.  I get it.  I’ve been there, but somewhere in successfully traversing the valley and the confusion you, I hope, will come to really get to know “you,” the real you and to really like “you.”   Regardless of your faith tradition or lack thereof, I hope you get to see yourself as your loving creator sees you, as a wonderful masterpiece, beautiful with God’s beauty with a wonderful purpose to be lived out.

I like me.  I really like who I am. But it hasn’t always been that way.  More accurately, as much as I can, in a healthy way, I really like who I am.  But, that can fluctuate as circumstances change or trigger some of those unhealthy false beliefs that were once imbedded in my childhood Limbic memories.  (That part of my brain that doesn’t tell time.  It doesn’t know if its 30 years ago, or yesterday when a “trigger” occurs and my reactive beliefs and defensive behaviors kick in …or try to.).

Here’s an experiment that someone taught me.  Think of someone that you really do not like.  Think about what it was like the last time you were with him or her.  Now imagine if you will that you have to spend 2 hours with them.  Okay, 2 hours is up.  How do you fell?  Glad that’s over? Now picture yourself spending 6 hours with him or her.  Like tomorrow you must be with them from 9 to 3.  After 6 hours with that person you do not like, how do you feel?   But it doesn’t stop there.   The next day you are going to spend an entire day with this person and it isn’t going to be pretty.  So, imagine spending a whole day with him or her.  At the end of the day, how do you feel?  Exactly.  Now here is the question: “What if the person that you do not like is you?”  Is it any wonder why you feel so worn out and depressed and just “tired” at the end of a day?

A very helpful counselor once asked me a very important question.  She asked, “Do you ever wonder why it is that you feel like you don’t fit in?” (Pause) “It is because you don’t fit in.”  She then went on to tell me that the results of my temperament assessment revealed that my profile was shared by 1% of the population.  1%.  She went on to explain that as an INFJ I could sense things others cannot. I feel things and know things that others do not. I have little time for small talk, but easily delve into the depths of the soul whether my own or someone else’s.  Her point was that I was unique.  I could either understand and celebrate my uniqueness or complain about it.  I chose to embrace, to learn more about, and to celebrate who I really am.

It transcends temperaments and personality profiles.  Our culture objectifies both men and women from appearances to sizes to incomes, etc. I am 5’ 6” and like who I am.  I have a modest income and like who I am.  And the list goes on.  How about you.  This journey is very personal.  You will meet yourself and parts of yourself you may not like right now. But in the end with good self-care, some healthy choices, and some help along the way, you will be able to say, “I really like who I am.  I am still growing and changing, but I like me.


WHAT’S NEXT?  Here are some thoughts about what’s on my mind… tune in.  This was only PART ONE….  Open to feed back…and questions….suggestions….

  • People matter but not all are helpful.
  • It’s personal, but never private.
  • It is a process, not an event.
  • The direction you move determines destination.
  • Your choices determine direction
  • Perspective, woundedness, and core values influence choices
  • Purpose is constant, but platforms change
  • Growth, Faith, God, Courage, Forgiveness …


BE BACK SOON… Bob Barnett




Comments are closed.