The Light of Recovery………………”KNOW THYSELF” Above the ruins of the temple of Apollo at Delphi in Greece, there is an inscription…… “KNOW THYSELF”. And so, what comes in to your mind when you think about about those two words? Personally, I have been working on understanding myself for almost half a century. By the way, I have given up doing a follow-up to my first blog, “What is Sex……..REALLY?” I really do not understand the topic enough to write about it. Anyway, the underlying basis of my new book, “DARK SOUL” is an attempt to understand my “Self”. As of this writing, I still struggle with honestly defining my identity. And I believe that I am not alone in my efforts to really know who I am. Basically, the definition of “Self” is the understanding of a person’s identity through acknowledging the meaning of his/her experiences in life. See, I believe that my difficulty in knowing “Thyself” is rooted in identifying my real personality and identity because of my life experiences forty-five years ago when I lived undercover in drug organizations and organized crime associations for almost five years. However, you can read about my struggle in “DARK SOUL”. I believe that, for many people, defining one’s identity is, at times, extremely difficult because our true perception of “Self”, of the person we perceive ourselves to be, is often distorted by the mysterious and mental reflection of the image we see in the “mirror” of our mind. I talked about this topic in my blog last week. See, for me to honestly understand my “Self”, I need to understand my behaviors, both past and present, my attitudes, my feelings and emotions. And personally, that awareness can be very scary. To “Know Thyself” means walking through a process of personal introspection, looking in the “mirror” of your mind, walking into the “cave” of your psyche and maybe that is not very comfortable for many people. As some of you know, I am also working on a pilot episode for a future television series based on my current book, “LIFE AFTER RUSSIAN ROULETTE: REDEMPTION”. I see the main character, myself, as a combination of both the Protagonist (the main character) and the primary Antagonist (my own worst enemy) in my life. In reality, I believe that I have always been my own worst enemy, my main adversary, the “person” that I have always competed with and struggled against most of my life. To admit that part of my life is to “Know Thyself”. I believe that most people, when they think about it, are really the primary Protagonist and the main Antagonist in their lives. What do you think about yourself? See, understanding that we are both the primary “character” and our own worst enemy, at times, is the significance of knowing how the Chinese philosophy of YIN and YANG relates to our personality. Both YIN and YANG work together in creating our identity and help us to “KNOW THYSELF”. I would like to read your comments, feedback and suggestions for future blog post topics. You can send me a message on Facebook, “friend” me, write to me at or send me a message at my website, .

THE LIGHT OF RECOVERY……………”CAN YOU HANDLE THE TRUTH” I know that I promised you that I would write my follow-up to “What is Sex…. REALLY?” this week. However, I was talking to a friend, Roger Sheesley, a couple days ago about scheduling a book signing event at his restaurant and I remembered a quote he gave me for my book, “DARK SOUL”. Maybe I will get to the follow-up on Sex next week. Anyway, what is another week? Roger’s quote is found in Chapter Eight, “Mirrors and Masks”, but that is a topic for another week. What I do want to talk about this week is the quote that I begin Chapter Eight with in my new book. It has become one of my favorites. “Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.” I first heard that quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe expressed on a television series titled “Criminal Minds”. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe would suggest in his insightful statement, the way we see ourselves is often reflected in our behaviors, attitudes, projections and perceptions. And, many times, the perception that we project to others, even in our most intimate relationships, is not always the way we see ourselves in the “mirror” of our mind. Think about it. Think about yourself. Maybe you will just have to read my book, “DARK SOUL”. My friend, Roger Sheesley and his wife, Susan, own a restaurant, “Tom’s Eatery at Fox Crossing”, in Mount Pleasant Mills, near Selinsgrove (Pennsylvania). Stop in and say “HI” for me. Anyway, Roger gave me such a powerful quote pertaining to the chapter in my book that I wanted to share it with you. It also defines the topic of my discussion for this week. Here is his reflection on the way many people project themselves. And I must confess, I am one of those people. You might want to read Roger’s reflections slowly. “There are two truths in our lives. Two styles of truth. The one is the truth of what we show to the world. The truth of what we openly reveal of who and what we really are. This is the socially acceptable truth, the safe truth, the abridged truth. And then there is the truth that only we know of ourselves. This is the incriminating, raw, guilty and even embarrassing truth that we want to hide and not reveal to others. This is the truth that we often hide from even ourselves, preferring the public truth over the inner truth, fearing that if we accept the truth within, then it will obliterate our self-image and we can no longer present the public truth with integrity. The conflict of living with these two truths is a constant challenge. No one seems to want the inner truth to be revealed of themselves even though it would mirror, in some way, the inner truth of us all.” So, what do you think about Roger’s thoughts? I know that I have lived that way in my relationships for many years in the past and, at times, I still do. Any comments? I will close my Blog for this week with the memorable words by Jack Nicholson in his very angry response to a direct question from Tom Cruise in “A Few Good Men”. When confronted with his attempt to cover up a conspiracy and murder, Nicholson loses his temper and shouts “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.” Personally, I have to confess that I have never lost my temper. See, I ALWAYS know where to find it. I would appreciate your comments, feedback and suggestions for future blog topics. I live a very quiet and almost reclusive life and I welcome new “pen pals”. You can connect with me here on Facebook, “Friend” me, or write to me at my email address, , or send me a message through my website, .

THE LIGHT OF RECOVERY…………… “WHAT IF?” I know that I was going to write about “What is Sex…….REALLY?” today. However, life has a way of changing our plans. Anyway, Sex is really not that important. It can wait until next week. At least, that is what my first wife always told me. See, I was talking with one of my very good friends, Anne Bender, this week about future topics. Anne suggested the topic of “WHAT IF?”. And the more I thought about it, the more important that topic is, even more than sex. Now, have you ever thought about the “What If’s” in your life? Anne and I have been very good friends for 27 years. And she reminded me that we met because of a “What If?” moment. See, I was doing a workshop in Milton (Pennsylvania) and Anne had planned to attend with one of her friends that I also knew. Well, at the last moment, our mutual friend changed her mind and decided not to attend my workshop. Anne thought about it and decided to come alone and that is how we met. Now “What If” Anne had made the choice not to come alone? We would have never met and become very good friends for the past 27 years. Think about your life. What are the “What If?” moments that have changed your life? I remember the decision to leave the Air Force in 1968. I had planned to make a career of the military. I had made rank very quickly because of my career field, coming back from Vietnam, and making Staff Sergeant in only three years. And then I fell in love with the EX-wife of my best friend (now get this straight, I did NOT say the wife of my EX-best friend). And she did not want to date anyone in the military because of the way her ex-husband came back mentally from Vietnam. If we were going to be married, I would need to get out of the Air Force when my enlistment was up. And so, I took an early discharge. Now “What If” I would have remained in the Air Force? Although our marriage only lasted a couple years, I would not have experienced the life that I have had in my journey. I would not have worked for the Bureau of Customs in Washington, D.C. I would not have become a cop and lived undercover in drug groups and organized crime associations. I would not have become an ordained minister and a published author. And I would probably would not have met my second wife who changed my life. Upon reflection, my life has been a series of “WHAT IF’s?”. If I had not lived through a near-fatal car accident, I would not have gone to seminary and, eventually, recovered from my alcohol addiction. I would have probably killed myself a long time ago. Again, think about the “WHAT IF?” moments or decisions that have changed the course of your life. “What If” you had not married her? “What If” you had married some other man? “What If” you had decided to do something else in your life? Where would you be today? I would really appreciate and like to know your feedback and suggestions, positive or negative. Also, if you have any topic ideas that I could write about, please let me know. I will give you credit if you want to be mentioned in this blog. This Blog will be posted every Monday and I am not very creative so I need your help. THANK YOU, Anne Bender, for your topic suggestion. I think we all have experienced “WHAT IF?” moments if we reflect on our lives. Maybe you can share them with me. You can connect with me here on Facebook or write to me at my email address, , or send me a message through my website, .

The Light of Recovery: Introductory Blog……………………… Beginning next Monday, I will be writing a weekly blog, The Light of Recovery, that will also be posted to my website, . My hope is that this blog becomes very interactive because I want to hear your comments, suggestions, input and even criticism of the topics. Basically, I want to hear from you and get your feedback and reactions. My first topic, scheduled to be posted next Monday, will be “WHAT IS SEX…………..REALLY?”. Now, this could be a very controversial topic for many people. And maybe you are already questioning why an ordained minister, who actually graduated from seminary, unlike some of the ministers that are online, would choose to talk about “Sex”. Well, I will explain in a couple minutes. First, let me explain how I chose “Sex” as a topic for discussion. I actually got this topic idea from my contributing author in my new book, “Dark Soul”, Carlyl (pronounced Carlisle) Pike. She enjoys watching reruns of “Sex And The City” on television. Have you ever watched episodes of that series? I thought they were very interesting in several ways and we will talk about the “plots” next week. For now, think about it, those four women had a lot of sexual encounters and experiences; however, did any of them ever have really long-lasting relationships? Sometimes, Sex can be very stressful. I think many people equate sex and love to be synonymous in meaning. Trust me, ladies, just because the guy has sex with you, that does not mean that he is in love with you or that he is going to meet you at the altar. See, Sex sells but true love is priceless. And now, for the rest of the story and to answer the question in the second paragraph. I can still remember Reverend Miller, my sponsor who helped me get into seminary, when I told him that I wanted to be a priest. (see, I was raised Roman Catholic). The conversation took place when I was in critical condition in a hospital following a near- fatal automobile accident. I had just made a commitment to God, in one of my morphine-induced hallucinations, that if I could walk again, I would serve God. Reverend Miller smiled and responded by confronting me with the reality of the truth. I liked women too much to be a priest, I should consider ministry. I agreed, became Protestant and entered a seminary when I was able to walk again. And I think one of the most interesting ministries I had after graduation and ordination was serving as a chaplain for the dancers in a Gentleman’s Club. Believe me, “Sex Sells”. However, that is a topic for another week.

THE LIGHT OF RECOVERY In my life, I have walked into both the light and the darkness more times than I can remember because of my personal choices, decisions and life-styles. And, at times, I have felt very much alone in my journey. However, I believe that I am not alone in the way I feel. I have known many people who have felt the same way. Those thoughts and feelings will form the basis of my future contributions in my new Blog. Hopefully, we can all grow healthier, understand our attitudes and behaviors in better ways, and become more positive about life. Recovery is defined as “The act or process of becoming healthy after an illness or injury. The act or process of returning to a normal state after a period of difficulty. The return of something that has been lost or stolen”. I believe that most of us can relate to those definitions as we think about our lives, the results of our actions and decisions, and where our choices have taken us to the place we find ourselves today in life. In order to recover from the dark places of the wrong decisions, the key words to think about in the definitions of recovery are “act or process”. First, we need to acknowledge that we are in the state of life where we have found ourselves today is because of our own personal choices and decisions. To heal and recover mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically, we need to take personal positive actions and realize that healthy recovery is a process. Within the words of these future articles, we will look at workshop topics such as “Perception of Self”, “Mirrors and Masks” and “First Impressions – False Perceptions” and “The You Factor”. We will also discuss addictions and addictive behaviors, depression, negative thoughts and feelings, destructive life-styles, spirituality, faith, love and more. Hopefully, we will understand that there is a difference between sex and love in a relationship and that sex, love and relationships are not one in the same all the time. See, you do not need physical sex to find true love in a relationship. The most important aspect in love is to, first, love yourself and appreciate the person you are within. Relationships teach us about our own love. See, love is not enough for a relationship. We need to learn specific skills to have a healthy relationship, not only with another person but, most important, with ourselves. We are not born with these skills and we seldom learn them in school. One important topic that we will look at periodically will be the difference between Loneliness and Aloneness. See, it is not always a bad thing to be alone. We need “quiet time”. However, the continued state of Loneliness can be very harmful to our health. I would appreciate your future suggestions and feedback as we build this Blog together. You can contact me through my Facebook page or or my website, .