Confessions

Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth. ~~ Mahatma Gandhi

I received some criticism a few days ago. It was written in the form of a comment to my post last Thursday Half-Way to Thirty.  It came from an anonymous writer. It was criticism not of my blog, but of me. Very personal criticism.

It was suggested that I would spend better use of my time, rather than writing a blog, by looking for employment. They wrote because I was unemployed and down-and-out — more than anyone would want to be — that I was portraying “a false image, one of sophistication and classiness [sic].  Little do your readers know you’re an unemployed loser who is too lazy to get a job.”

Well you might imagine how I felt. I didn’t know who this person was. I had suspicions that it was a former friend. I know, you gotta laugh. With friends like that, who needs enemies right? But read on. So I took a deep breath and wrote a reply:

I do look for work.  In-fact I interviewed on the phone for a job a few days ago. I visited again just this week a local employment agency as I have been doing on a regular basis for a year now. In the last few weeks I’ve interviewed twice in-person. Within the last 60 days I’ve interviewed with two other local employers.  There are several others in the works and I will be sending copies of my resume out early next week to people who’ve asked for it…

I left some things out, like how I’d responded to more than 100 job postings on Craigslist and didn’t receive a single reply.  How I’d gotten my hopes up over two positions that I was a perfect match for, only in the end to lose out to someone else.  I didn’t mention I had applied over a period of several months for every possible job available at one of the larger casinos north of Seattle — even a dishwasher position — and yet, not one interview. The H.R. lady there told me I needed to dumb down my resume. Well I hope you see the point. Laziness has nothing to do with it. I was the target of false accusations.

But the story doesn’t end there. Far from it. The writer wrote again, but this time it got nastier. Ugly, even more personal accusations were made. The type that no one wants to hear directed at them. Uglier still when they came from a member of my own family, because the writer revealed his identity. To say the least these bitter, scathing allegations were a hard pill to swallow when I realized they were the words of a son. My own flesh and blood who, like some of his siblings, apparently have so much disgust and contempt in their hearts they want nothing… zero to do with their father.

After 22 years of marriage I’ve been divorced for more than 13 years. I’ve paid a heavy price because of it. I lost friends and valued relationships that could have stuck it out — through the thick and thin — but they chose otherwise. Pressures and all, took the easy out, didn’t want to make waves, “out of respect,” kicked to the curb; even worse, under the bus. It used to bother me to no end. It doesn’t anymore, because as I often say, life’s too short.  It took a while but I’ve put it all behind me. You find out who your friends are. Some among them have made all the difference.

Four years following the divorce I became the father of a daughter out-of-wedlock. I was excommunicated from my church because of it and rightfully so. It is the thing I am the least proud of. Something I deeply regret. Embarrassing is a good word. My son dared me to blog about this. It is, as you might guess, a deeply personal matter, but I made no effort to hide it from those most important to me. Soon after I learned about it I told my kids (the ones who would speak to me) and all my best friends know about my less than honorable and irresponsible behavior. I went to my church authorities and told them. Now I tell you.

Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.

After 13 long years the false, ugly, slanderous accusations still come my way. Those of you that have been the target of lies, half-truths and innuendo can relate to how those tactics makes one feel. How they can be spread, often believed and passed along as fact. There seems no end to having my shortcomings smeared in my face. Even when I’m no longer around there are those who enjoy doing it vicariously.

Some revel in gossip with no thought about its cancerous effect on people, their reputation, lives and relationships. Most of us have been guilty of it at one time or another. But then there are those who thrive in it. They take delight in denigrating others and pointing out their flaws while conspiring to keep secret their own and thinking themselves exempt from consequences. I guess for some, gossip is a lot more fun than reality. That’s okay  I’m a big boy. Laugh it up, I can take it.

No one ever gossips about people’s secret virtues. ~~ Bertrand Russell

Before the dust had settled in this latest of a long string of similar events I received a new email from my son. He apologized for what he had written and asked me to accept it. I do. After all it’s not his fault his mind has been polluted by the words of others. He’s as much a victim as I am, but is unable to comprehend it.

I love my kids like any good father does. I’ve apologized and have asked for their forgiveness for not being all they deserve in a dad.  I’ve made mistakes, yes. There were things I could have done better, both before and after the divorce.  But today I’m comfortable with who I am and my conscience is clear. It’s not that I don’t have regrets. I do.

So maybe I am a loser. Maybe if I admit to you that I’ve been out of work for more than a year, that it’s been an extremely difficult time in my life, the worse ever; perhaps if I reveal that ten years ago I fathered a child outside of marriage, and that I lost my church membership over it, I’ll lose all credibility in your eyes. I suppose if I mention to you the rotten relationship I have with several of my kids you’ll be as disgusted with me as they are. As a result you might no longer want to visit this little corner of the blogosphere. You may no longer want anything to do with me. I understand. I’ll only say, thanks for the time you’ve spent here and wish you well.

I am who I am. I’ve revealed some of the chinks in my armor over the last couple of months in this blog. Some of it tongue-in-cheek. I had planned over time to reveal more. I hadn’t planned to do most of it at one swell swoop. But there you go.

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19 comments on “Confessions

  1. Terri A. in Redding says:

    Read Jonah… it’s just an interruption… you are a not a loser for not taking all the high roads, you just have more to share with others and that could be WHY you took the detours. Consider them God Interventions.

  2. So many thoughts go through my mind after reading this post -where to begin? First -although you said you understand and accept the excommunication from your church, I have to agree with the others who feel much as I do that yes, you may have sinned but in their doing what they did -in essence shunning you -they have done much worse then. Judge not, you know, is the beginning one of Christ’s most notable things, isn’t it?…

    The unemployment problem though, oh man, how I can relate to that issue! One former classmate once told me my problem with the jobs I have held and not been able to earn a half-way decent income, was because I just took the first job that came along and I should have held out till the right one came my way. Unfortunately, when you have three children to feed and clothe, provide shelter, etc. for them, sometimes that is definitely not an option available! At. All. If ever!

    I went to college at the age of 46, worked at least one job, sometimes two, while going to college, had two teenagers at home… I did fairly well in college -made the Dean’s List 3 times… After 9 years with what would in some respects seem to be a totally useless degree, I ended up with a diagnosis of cancer, which then also brought a few more health issues … the result was physically I could not work so disability was the ticket written for me then….

    Whether a person is unemployed due to an inability to get a job for which they are fully qualified to perform, or if you can’t find work because of other issues in your life, the upshot of those predicaments on the individual can lock a person into mega depression for openers, beaucoup financial worries often that get you behind in your bills and then, there’s another strike against you too with a potential employer -you’re a deadbeat…

    Bottom line though Rick -there are a whole hell of a lot of us out here who know EXACTLY what you mean, what you are going through about just about every single thing you said about that issue!…

    Other than that and knowing you are not alone, the only other thing I can offer is to say “This too shall pass!” Peace.

    • Rick Gleason says:

      Jeni,

      I had to prune your words down to a more manageable read as a “comment” but made every effort to include the meat and potatos of your message, I hope you don’t mind. Certainly a great post there for your blog.

      Your experience proves what I’ve written before. Many around us struggle far more than we do, their difficulties far greater to bear. Of this I am certain and for that knowledge I am thankful.

      When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
      When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
      Count your many blessings, name them one by one

      Again in relation to my church and it’s actions. I don’t feel shunned, far from it. I will not fault them for what was done. Again it’s a fundamental difference in our beliefs. I knew what was expected of me when I joined the club. I hold only myself responsible. But I do understand how people would believe otherwise.

      I didn’t realize until now that my post had a lot to do with unemployment and deserves to be tagged as such.

      Thank you.

  3. oldereyes says:

    Hello, Rick.

    I haven’t commented much here but I’m glad I came by today, as hard as it is to read what you’ve been through. Personally, I probably would have not approved a comment that seemed abusive, but that’s me. My own beliefs are very different … and a lot less well-defined … than yours, but I truly believe that our mistakes don’t define us if we learn from them. We don’t come into this world a finished product … we’re here to learn and grow. That to me is part of the ongoing act of creation. I don’t know if the words of a spiritual-not-religious old guy help but I hope so.

    Bud

  4. Magdalene says:

    Rick,

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy and love your blog. You’re a masterful story teller and write from the heart. Your sentences and their structure full of meaning and comical inference. You’re an absolute delight to follow.

    I’ve been witness to the same issues you have with people who will do whatever it takes to destroy the reputation of a man near and dear to my heart. A despicable group that is hell bent on ruining the relationship he has with his children. Lies, half-truths, innuendo and ugly gossip are powerful forces of evil.

    It’s a terrible price to pay and is more common than many might think. My thoughts are with the young who have no idea what’s going on around them. As you wrote, they “are unable to comprehend it.”

    God’s speed and blessings.

    Magdalene

  5. Judy Yost says:

    Rich, we all have “skeletons” in our closet and have less than perfect lives. We have all made mistakes, but it takes a good person to admit it. We have to pick ourselves up and go on. I’m sure your son is sorry for his accusations, and you are a good person to forgive him. What bothers me the most is that your church didn’t stand behind you and encourage you. After all Christ died for all of our sins. Yours, mine and everyone elses. He has forgiven all of them and your church should have to.

    Stay strong and have faith everything will get better. I, too am trying to find work, even a part-time job. Times are tough and jobs don’t come easy.

    Judy

    • Rick Gleason says:

      Judy, thank you for your comments.

      I understood that my church might be the subject of some criticism but I don’t feel the same as you. As a long-time member I’ve understood from almost the beginning the consequences of certain behavior.

      I try to avoid the subject of religion in this blog as much as I can. It is however a big part of my life and comes up at times. I don’t want to debate differing doctrine but I believe excommunication is part of repentance. As hard as it might be to understand — even the process of the excommunication itself was, from my point of view, fulfilled with love, understanding, and concern. Some of those who stood in judgment are among my oldest and most valued friendships.

      If anyone has ever stood behind me, the best friends I’ve often spoken about in this blog, they are members of the church. They have been my companions and strength through both the thick and thin of life.

    • Ron Susek says:

      The scriptures are clear that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from ALL sin. People who have been hurt by another’s sin(s) may not want such grace to enter ones life. But that’s not their choice. It’s God’s choice. Further, it is wise to cry out to God in all of our lives.

      When a person confesses their sins God puts their sins out of his mind and never again brings them to recall. He separates us from our sins as far as the east is from the west–that’s infinity. He buries them in the deepest sea. All of these bibilical statements are God’s way of expressing the completeness of redemption. It’s so complete that the worst of sinners are invited through the cross to be dressed in Christ’s righteousness, given the right to Jesus’ name and invited into God’s throne room in the heavenly realms to address him as Abba–Daddy.

      You have been fully open to the fact that you sinned. And that has caused great pain to others. I would never minimize the depth of their pain, however, what you did cannot destroy them. Their reaction can.

      Amy Charmichael wrote, “Nothing in life can harm you, only your response.” As my wise wife notes, things can hurt you but they cannot harm you. But a wrongful response can harm. These words are not meant to reprimand, but to encourage the wisdom of conducting ourselves in the light of God’s love and grace lest we bring more harm out of one person’s sin.

      • Rick Gleason says:

        Ron thank you, I will leave your words stand without comment.

        I’m proud to know you and prouder more that you are also a cousin and a man of the cloth.

        One of my life’s great blessings. Thanks again.

  6. Mary Jo Hoak says:

    Rick, I sympathize with you!

    I don’t think there are many parents who have not had the same thing happen to them. Mine came a couple of years ago from my daughter. She and her husband were going thru a very difficult financial time and had to make some very difficult and life changing decisions, one of which was that her husband had to go out of state for work for months at a time, had to sell their house and she had moved in with us.

    One day she just blew up, I was handy, she said some very hurtful and mean things. She did apologize a few days later. I know that she said those things out of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety. So, do you think maybe your son is going thru something that may have caused his outburst? Hopefully feelings will mend, even though to this day, I still feel a little niggle of hurt!

    Parent/children relationships are very difficult at times.

    Good luck with it all, including the job hunting!

    Mary Jo Hoak

    • Rick Gleason says:

      Thank you Mary for your words of support. I wish it were as simple as what many parents have gone through.

      My situation is much more complicated, far more entrenching, and with far deeper ramifications than what most deal with.

      I’m not asking for sympathy but some understanding and open hearts would sure go a long ways for those of us affected. Looking forward rather than backwards is the answer if only we all could come to making that kind of commitment.

  7. Dear Rick,

    Ouch. Just reminds me why I don’t have a blog.

    But I hope you do not let it get you down. Although there may be little you can do to change your family relationships, you will eventually have success on the job front. It’s all a question of who you know and what job opens at the right time for you. Keep plugging away and it will all work out for the better!

    • Rick Gleason says:

      Bill, thank you so much for your words of confidence and support.

      If we can’t depend on our non-blood relations, through the marriage of a distant first cousin, three generations removed, then who the heck can we depend on? 🙂

  8. Dear Rick, You are incredibly courageous. Everybody has sins, they may be different, but they are things we know we have done out of selfishness. Most folks do not stand up and take responsibility as you have in your blog. Most of those people you confessed to at church may have “worse” sins. Your situation resulted in a beautiful child.

    I felt for you when you told that your son criticized you. I know that was a dagger in your heart. Thankfully, he apologized and proved that he had courage too. A chip off the old blockhead! Little joke on you!

    You certainly are not a loser. Our economy is the loser. What the political brains and power have done to the American people, is the loser.

    Your blog is an effort to reach out to others and engage in profitable personal growth.

    I applaud you Man!

    Stef

    • Rick Gleason says:

      Stef,

      Thank you so much. It means a lot coming from you especially.

      You mentioned selfishness and I remembered this quote:

      “Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves.”
      ― Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare

  9. Christopher Dickens says:

    I think you do not have to ever justify your life or your past to anybody! Look at the way employers dig into your past and personal life. Why do we as Americans tolerate this abuse and allow this to be what it takes to get a job. I had my own business for 16 years and just recently had to close down my business and go back to work for an Employer. I fought it tooth and nail to not have to return to the office politics and the abuse you now have to go through just to go to work in these times.

    If I was you I would have deleted the email and just ignored it. There is no one in this life that is perfect and read what God says about gossip and those who spread it.

    I’ve enjoyed your blogs and have read them for over a month. I do not care about the personal life of the writer the writing and words you put out are good. Look at the work and not the person is what I think is what people should judge. But then who am I? Just another sinner on this planet trying to get by.

    Keep up the blog do not give trolls and haters the time. Ignore the abusive and destructive people in the world.

    No man has to answer to man only to God!

    • Rick Gleason says:

      Thanks Christopher for your insightful words.

      I might normally ignore such emails, but I am glad in this case that I didn’t. Sometimes one has to draw the line and stand up for themselves. Especially when it’s your children caught in the middle.

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