MARCH 18, 2020: “Just Living The Dream” …

6ff7a7bd-c566-4984-9047-585bac6ede2eLIVING THE DREAM

“Captain America, are you off to fight the bad guys? Hey, mighty Superman, can you save us from ourselves? Hey, Mr. Universe, can you lift us up above this? ‘Cause I’m just Iron Man, I’m a ghost within a shell. Take a look around. Just look around. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Why did they never mention what’s real and in between? It seems the path we’re on was paved with blood and sorrow. No thought about tomorrow. Just part of the machine or so it seems. Yeah, so it seems. We’re all living the dream. We’re all living the dream. Hey there, Your Majesty, is there anyone above you? It must be lonely when you’re up there looking down. Hey, Lady Amnesty, there’s no one that can judge you. We’re all just broken toys beneath your crooked crown. Take a look around. Just look around. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Why did they never mention what’s real and in between? It seems the path we’re on was paved with blood and sorrow. No thought about tomorrow. Just part of the machine or so it seems. Yeah, so it seems …” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

NOTE TO SELF:

Life is not a game my dear, it’s only just a song, so be mindful and intentional in all you do or say. If indeed you get to see the miracle of tomorrow, do everything you can to make it the most powerful “I’ve got another shot at this” kind of day ever! You’re sitting here writing this, which means you’re still alive, so keep “living the dream” well my little warrior Phoenix friend, taking NOTHING and NO ONE for granted.

(PS) YOU GOT THIS!

(Don’t forget Who’s driving the car.)

Sig

 

MARCH 8, 2020: “The Brighter Side Of Grey” …

img_8259TO MY KIDS …

“I’m writing this in case I’m gone tomorrow. I’m writing this in case I’ve moved along. There’s something that I hope you’ll remember: That life is not a game, it’s a song. So take the best parts of me, locked away without the keys, and know that I’m forever by your side. When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey. If you’re reading this, I know you’re feeling sorrow. If you’re hearing this, I know you’re probably scared. Just know that all the things you want are borrowed, and all you get to keep is all you’ve shared. So wipe away the tears for me, know that we’ve made history. Remember no one ever really dies.  When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey.” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

THIS PICTURE. One I sketched in my early 20’s using the literal ashes from both my father’s and His ashtrays. At the time I had no idea the impact this or any of my 32 Sketches would have on me down the road, yet as I look at them now I can’t help but notice that although I was in very dark place when they were born, something inside me was distantly hopeful. Still, this one. It begs the younger me to stay focused on the very bright future I couldn’t see through the fog I was in, yet was patiently waiting for and calling to me all the while.

If you know me well, you know that grey is my favorite color, which is evident in my predominately “black and white” or grey artwork. What’s interesting about this one is how it poignantly reflects upon the mental illness I fought so hard to overcome for the better part of my life and long before it was diagnosed or named. My illness imprisoned me in the dichotomy of “black and white thinking” and held me for ransom inside the compartmentalized boxes in my mind where I stored all my feelings and pain. Before I put my insanity into remission I was unable to accept people, situations, emotions, or behaviors as anything other than “good or bad”, “right or wrong”, or “one way or the other”. MY ENTIRE WORLD WAS BLACK AND WHITE AND THERE WAS NO SPACE FOR THE GREY! I had a defensive view of both the positive and negative qualities of myself and everyone else and there was no way for my broken thought process to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space. How did this happen you ask? The general consensus is that my “splitting” was the result of severe emotional and psychological abuse from my childhood, and yup, I do tend to agree. I was raised in an environment of conditionally based reward, praise, affection and acceptance. If I was “good”, I was praised, affirmed and rewarded. If I was “bad”, I was admonished, punished and rejected. They “washed their hands” of me too many times to count whenever I screwed up or simply failed to follow “the rules” and ZERO was the validation or consideration of my feelings. My mind would “split” as I desperately attempted to shield myself from the constant fear of being abandoned, betrayed or eviscerated by anyone who claimed to love me. For the record, I do not believe that these traumas were visited on me purposefully or with the intent to murder my soul, but the trauma indeed was real, as was the effect it had on my damaged psyche. But wow have I digressed again …

Five Finger Death Punch is one of the bands of my life and their music has been a driving force in my mental health journey and recovery. For so many years I felt alone and voiceless, regardless of the people who “appeared” to be standing beside me. Their songs have not only helped identify some of my lost and broken feelings but they’ve also given my former “voiceless self” permission TO SCREAM THEM OUT LOUD! Several months ago I pre-ordered their new album and had been counting the days until it was released. I was so stoked when it finally hit my library and just started from the beginning as I headed out for my day. Meanwhile, when THIS SONG cued up I literally had to pull my car into the breakdown lane on the highway as the words began to cut me in all the most bittersweet ways. I couldn’t stop the tears or the physical heartache and I literally couldn’t breathe. It was one of the most cathartic, awful and beautiful moments of my life, as if he were singing it himself. To me. To her. To the very few people he left behind that he truly loved and let into his very private world and who loved him just the same. Someday when it’s time for her to finally read “the letter” he wrote her but never actually sent I will play it for her. Knowing God the way that I do, this song will be a part of her healing too. 

HERE’S THE THING: Grey is not just a color to me. It’s everything in between! It’s the “grey-se” (grace) I’ve received that is so undeserved yet given to me anyway by The One who has never loved me “with black and white conditions”. He “takes the best parts of me and locks them away without the key” and I know He is never far away. He’s the Light that shines ahead of my journey and saturates the blackness into the most beautiful shades of ashen. For more than four decades I lived a “black and white life” with no room for the grey I knew I needed so much but didn’t know how to connect with. So, as I look back at this picture now I am filled with the most unbelievable hope, peace, balance and inspiration you can imagine. It reminds me of just how far I’ve come, that it was always supposed to be this way, and there is always a “brighter side of grey”. Not gonna lie, it is now my greatest wish that when it’s time for me to move along this is the last song I hear as they say goodbye. It means everything to me. Literally, everything. 

Them

Sig

 

DECEMBER 16, 2016: “Born To Battle” …

IMG_8008{Artwork by The Phoenix Collaborative}

BORN TO BATTLE

A blazing flame slowly dies in a night as cold as snow. From the ashes a Phoenix will rise – it will spread it’s wings and blaze again and the world will watch in terror.

A tree stands tall, unshakeable in disaster, with leaves that feed and a trunk that houses things that are large and small, from the lions resting in it’s leaves to the mice that every bird is after, and thorns that wrap around this tree as it loves and must protect it all. The tree that has been through storm and fire will watch as it stops danger in his tracks and fill the forest with powerful laughter.

A tidal wave races to land as anger from the broken earth surges through the city in it’s wake. Salty water fills what once was home to a beach pristine with it’s white sand. Concrete jungle, horrible and strong, your walls are beginning to break. The creatures that destroy it’s castle are now drowning in it’s tears. Water will heal if you show it respect, but woe it brings in oppression.

A wind from four corners will push on still – tornadoes and hurricanes do not stop for lesser things. You can track and prepare but you cannot break it’s unstoppable iron will. Yet only days before, a soft breeze gently embraced the leaves and refuse from the Sun’s sting. It is no fault but their own, taking for granted and taking advantage of something they do not know – of something they will fail to control. So the wind sounds a warning of a storm on the roll.

A roar charges through a burning world as a warrior departs. The pounding of horses running and the power of thunder rumbling. Rubber on asphalt spins and burns as those four doors carry weary hearts, heavy. Hearts that move, hearts that love and hearts that have been through too much. This world hurts what is afraid of, yet the strong ones have made struggle an art. So, bring on what you have – just try and stop them. When you push them they will be ready!

~ Gia Embach

Giaa

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Sig

OCTOBER 3, 2019: “The Agony Of Regret” …

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Dearest Cat: If he were still here and standing right in front of you right now, what would he be saying? Wouldn’t it probably have sounded a little something like this? Couldn’t have this could have been his song?

SO HERE’S MY DAILY PSA TO ME AND ANYONE READING THIS:

Don’t ever look back in the agony of regret of any kind, as not a single good thing can be gained from it. Sift through your wreckage in search of only the gifts, beauty and strengths you “got to earn” (not “had to learn”) from being hurt, broken, let down and disappointed in even the most egregious ways. The best day in your life will be when you finally look up and thank God for all of it – most ESPECIALLY all the bad stuff. Trust me when I tell you that the taller the shadow of devastation that looms behind you the more powerful and precious even the smallest of shiny treasures waiting on the road ahead of you will be! ~ C ❤️

 

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Sig

SEPTEMBER 12, 2019: “Far From Home” …

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FAR FROM HOME

“Another day in this carnival of souls. Another nights end ends as quickly as it goes. The memories are shadows, ink on the page. And I can’t seem to find my way home. And it’s almost like. Your heaven’s trying everything. Your heaven’s trying everything to keep me out. All the places I’ve been and things I’ve seen. A million stories that made up a million shattered dreams. The faces of people I’ll never see again and I can’t seem to find my way home.’Cause it’s almost like your heaven’s trying everything to break me down. ‘Cause it’s almost like your heaven’s trying everything to keep me out. To break me down.” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

Dear “Brother”:

I understand that you are upset right now and maybe a little with me too. All I am asking you at this point for HIS sake and for the sake of all that he went through while he was here on this Earth is that you please try to come to terms with his truths. His realities. His last wishes and decisions. That note he left us was a gift. IT WAS FOR US, NOT FOR THEM! You, me, Gia and Rick? We were “his family”! No one else! Those words he wrote in his suicide note were not intended for either the general public, the world at large and most ESPECIALLY the “family” that threw him away like garbage! I will always consider you my family D. And in my journey to speak his truths I will never fail to credit you for being the only brother he had because that is how he saw it! That’s how he spoke of you and that’s what he made painfully clear to anyone that paid attention. He always felt that you were “caught in a void” between “all of them and the truth” because maybe copping to the sobering facts was going to be as painful for you to bear as it was for him. When Zack made the decision to excise them and the “thought of them” from his heart it was a bittersweet and painful gift to unto himself.

So that’s all there is to it. Rick and I are here for you when you’re ready to talk true facts. I truly hope you can be well someday. He worried about you incessantly and I cannot say it enough! It always bothered the fuck out of him how you let them treat you like a revolving door, only using you as they needed you, in and out, in and out, and there was nothing he could do or say to convince you to stand up for yourself and say ENOUGH and walk away like he did! He kept praying you’d find a family of your own one day, a nice, safe, loving woman to finally give you a real home and some joy and healing and peace so that you’d finally “not need to accept their bullshit scraps and leftovers”. Your brother’s legacy “before he got sick” will carry on somehow – I’LL MAKE SURE OF IT! You need to do everything you can to honor him and all that has happened here and start finding a way to, in fact, say the words: NO MORE SCRAPS AND LEFTOVERS!

And for the record, regardless of how it appears on the surface there is no “hatred” in my heart for anyone involved here. I feel nothing for the people that destroyed my beautiful husband from the cradle to the grave! Nothing! Absolutely NOTHING! They aren’t worth my energy! If anything, I feel sorry for them all because they missed out on REALLY knowing one THE BEST human souls that ever walked this planet. They missed out on his “best 10 years” and getting to see him flourish. Smile. Succeed. Grow. Be fearless. Courageous. Change. Become self-aware and strong (much stronger than he even knew). Experience joy. Laughter. Happiness. They missed out on getting to know what an amazing human being, husband, brother, friend and DAD he was to Gia! We got the BEST of him. Everything good he ever did, was or could have possibly been, WE GOT TO HAVE AND WITNESS IT. He was a fucking miracle and you can’t not know it’s true. With all the odds stacked against him, statistically the last 10 years should probably have never happened. He was the frog who turned into a prince and then eventually into a king – he just needed love, and a home and a family to get there. And? HE FINALLY HAD IT! It’s just that the holes your mother left inside his broken heart were deeper than any of us know and he couldn’t find his way out of them anymore. He got too tired and fell. THEY ALL FAILED HIM MISERABLY AND YOU KNOW IT! I’m sorry if this upsets you. I just want you to help me honor, validate and hold ALL his many painful truths and realities up to the light. It’s the right thing to do and I WILL NOT HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY!

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NOTE: As of the night I posted this entry, December 28, 2019, neither of the only two “blood family” he’d ever believed he could rely on to be there when his cards were down bothered to “come and get him”! These are the keepsake urns that Rick and I had made for each of them, somehow foolishly believing that for once in his life OR his death they would FINALLY JUST SHOW UP FOR HIM! “Taking him home” is no longer an option for either of them at this point as I would rather spread these ashes amongst the footsteps of his ancestors in all the places he dreamed of going than to let ANYONE ever treat him as “scrap” again!

ANDANDONED

Sig

AUGUST 22, 2019 (Sometime Between 8PM And 11:30): “He Refused” …

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I REFUSE

“I don’t wanna die alone. I don’t wanna live forsaken. I refuse to let this go. Because my soul is breaking. I don’t wanna let you know that my heart is just so jaded. I refuse to let it show. I refuse to let it go. Wake me up when this is over. I’m tired of living life like it’s a dream. Please wake me up when it’s all over. I’m tired of living right here in between I refuse. I’ve always walked alone. I chose the path less taken. I refuse to let you win. Life’s a bitch and I’ve been shaken. It’s not a joke at all. Inside my spirits fading. I refuse to take the fall ’cause no one cares at all. Wake me up when this is over. I’m tired of living life like it’s a dream. Please wake me up when it’s all over. I’m tired of living right here in between. I refuse. ‘Cause at the end of the day I’m not you. I refuse. Wake me up when this is over. I’m tired of living life like it’s a dream. Please wake me up when it’s all over. I’m tired of living right here in between. Wake me up when this is over. I’m tired of living life like it’s a dream. Please wake me up when it’s all over. I’m tired of living right here in between.”

~ Five Finger Death Punch

Zack

Sig

JANUARY 1, 2017: “When The Seasons Change” …

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WHEN THE SEASONS CHANGE

“There’s a light in you that tears me down to nothing, there’s an angel in your eyes. There’s a hope inside that you can make it better. You see right through my disguise. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring you down. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down when the seasons change. There’s a hope in me that I will die for something. Was the fire in my eyes? All this pain inside – will it be this way forever? I can run but I can’t hide. When it rains it pours, and everybody stumbles. I won’t let them bring me down. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down when the seasons change. When the seasons change and we’re in for colder weather, look for me on the divide. I won’t let you down when the seasons change. I won’t go down. I’ll fight through the pain. I’ll be there right by your side. I’ll never let them bring you down. I won’t let you down. When the seasons change.” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

My Dearest Catherine,

From the moment I met you I knew you were special I just did not know HOW special you were and how special and important you would become to me. I can honestly say that you have shown me the best that life has to offer despite our problems, issues we have had had and things we have done and said. I know it can get even better than it has ever been.

I know I don’t verbalize it enough but I really do think overall that you are an incredible wife, friend and mother to OUR kids. You are more thoughtful, forgiving and caring than anyone I have ever met or anything I could aspire to be. I truly envy that about you. You are also a gorgeous woman. Your inner beauty has always been the biggest draw from me and it is the reason that I married you and the reason I love you so much.

I know I have not always led you to believe this but I also love to hear you talk and I do enjoy talking to you. You are the only person in my life I feel that I can truly confide in and not be judged. You know more about me than any other person on this planet and I know that goes both ways. You are a very passionate speaker and you always do your best and take the extra time/effort to help someone understand your point or feelings. I love that about you and it is one of your greatest strengths in my opinion so long as you are tactful and light handed with criticism. Please don’t ever feel that you talk to much or that you are a bad person for speaking your feelings/thoughts so long as you know in your heart that you are coming from a good place and do you best to be constructive which you usually do.

I have done, said and thought so many things to/about you that I am not proud of and I am deeply sorry for. I know that 2017 really can be the best year of our lives, that this year we can really start over and get back to the place where we truly love, honor and cherish each other with no regrets, bitterness or anger in our hearts towards each other or anyone else for that matter. You are the reason for my happiness and confidence. You built me up when no one else would, picked me up when I fell, held me when I cried, celebrated with I thought I had done nothing spectacular, kicked me in the butt when you knew I needed to get over myself and believed in me when I did not even believe in myself. You ARE the light and the love that has filled my soul all along. You are hte reason that I am the father, husband and human beign I am today. You have taught me more than I ever thought I could learn from a person and challenged me to do things that I never ever thought I could do and more. We met for a reason and we are together for a reason that was always meant to be. We love each other, feed off each other, mend each other’s wounds and fill in each other’s cracks. We must continue to do so because we will break without each other. We have to stay together even when we don’t think we can and give each other no reason to like the other or be likeble to the other.

I know we will grow from everything that has happened this past year and that things have gotten better already and will continue to do so even if they get worse for a time. Our pain and suffering is temporary but our love and connection is literally eternal. I am sorry I forget that sometimes.

Happy 2017 Baby! I love you and I know you love me. It’s time to truly enjoy life TOGETHER and make this relationship we have better than it ever has been. I Love and adore you Catherine Williamson and I always will. Thank you for being my wife and thank you for being you.

With all my heart

Zachariah Lucas Williamson

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Sig