I’m a nervous wreck. My body and mind feel weak. The pull to go back to the ranch is strong. But, I’m resolved to stick to my decision to face the harsh realities of life again. It’s a bold and risky stance, but it’s what the old Jeremy would have done.
Bishop Lund can finally tell I’m serious about the direction I want to go. He accepts my decision. James and Carson are politely dismissed from his office. Neither of us know at this point what the next step is. Bishop Lund says we need a plan. He can’t bear the fact of me sleeping outside alone at random places. So, the first thing he does is reserve a hotel room for me for one night. After that, well, we have to play that by ear.
I’m driven to the hotel and dropped off. I walk into my room. It’s painfully quiet. There’s a musty smell. I feel grateful to have a place to stay the night, but I still feel so utterly alone. There’s nothing to do. I lie on my bed and just cry most of the evening.
The darker it gets outside, the darker I get on the inside. Despairing and dark thoughts ambush me and even though I try and fight them off, I’m completely overcome by them.
Somewhere in the midst of all the anguish, I fall asleep.
I have a horrifying, dreadful dream.
I dream I’m in water, a large lake of some sort. I’m wading in the water next to a dock. The water is very clean, but completely dark so if you go under you can’t see a thing. The next thing I know, off in the distance, I see, my 7-year-old son, Anson, struggling in the water and bobbing up and down as if he’s drowning. He’s all alone. I can’t figure out how he got out there.
Then, suddenly, a giant shark bursts up out of nowhere, gapes open his mouth wide (I can see all his sharp teeth) and just devours my son. The shark and my son disappear under the water. I immediately go into shock and panic. I swim as fast as I can to the spot I saw him go down. The dread and hopelessness I feel are indescribable. I dive under and it’s completely black. I can’t see a thing. I feel totally helpless.
Somehow though, I reach my arms out and can feel my son’s body. I wrap my arms around him and bring him to the surface and swim him to the dock as fast as I can. I climb onto the dock and cradle him in my arms. Words can’t describe what he looks like. He is completely shredded, his entire body. He’s lifeless. It’s so bad, all I can think to myself is there is no hope whatsoever. He’s dead. No one could ever recover from the gaping bloody holes, rips, and tears all throughout his body. He doesn’t look like my son anymore. He doesn’t even look human. I cradle his lifeless body close to mine and wander around crying out for help as I sob (actually wail) in pain. There are crowds of people, strangers, all around, but there’s a thick fog and it’s like everyone is totally unaware of me. They can’t see or hear me. No one acknowledges my mere existence or what’s happened to my son.
I wake up in the middle of walking around in this crowd of people, wailing over my lifeless son, and feeling all the pain and agony as if it were real.
Immediately upon awakening the thought enters my mind, “That little boy is not your son, it’s you.”
It is a traumatic dream and the visuals are forever imprinted upon my mind. I don’t know what or if there was an intended meaning. I’m so shaken up by it, I call my sister, Jennifer, and share it with her. She thinks it’s depicting exactly what has and is happening to me. One thing is for sure. I identify entirely with both the little boy and the adult me in the dream.
This won’t be the last traumatic dream I have.
On a more hopeful note, Carson Brown finds a guy who graduated from the ranch and has a room available for 3 days. His name is Christian.
Bishop Lund tells me my Goal #1 is to find a place to live within that 3-day timeframe. It seems nearly impossible. But, I commit to doing it. I’m picked up from the hotel and taken to Christian’s apartment. Christian is awesome to me. He tells me to help myself to their food or anything I need or want. There’s a little Christmas tree up with lights. It’s a cozy little apartment. I’m grateful beyond belief to be there instead of outside.
To find a place, I need a phone. My iPhone has no service. Bishop Lund had given me a few bucks, so I walk several miles to a Wal Mart where I purchase the cheapest pre-paid phone they have. I have just enough money. It feels good to actually accomplish something. It’s a small victory; it’s progress. I now have a phone number.
I call lots of people and get no response, except for one. Jeanna Haakinson, a woman who used to work for me, returns a message I left her. I assume she knows all that’s happened. She doesn’t. She’s blown away when I tell her about the last 7 months. Without hesitation, she tells me she is coming to pick me up, and I am staying with them for as long as I need to. She lives about an hour away.
The next thing I know, I’m in her mini-van on the way to her house. Goal #1 accomplished in one day. Jeanna and her husband Kat have 3 darling little girls who just brighten my spirits.
I sleep on their couch. It is actually extremely comfortable. Of course, I’m comparing it to sleeping on an upside down bookshelf in 33º weather outside.
Jeanna is an incredible cook and makes sure I’m well fed. My days typically include getting up in the morning and immediately going for a long walk. As I walk, I record voice memos of exactly where I’m at, what I see, how I feel, and what I’m thinking. I have voice memos of just about every single day. It’s already surreal to go back and listen to some of them. At the time, it’s therapeutic to talk out my feelings even if it’s to a phone recorder.
I end almost every recording saying, “I can do this.” Looking back I’m amazed at how I was able to function at all. I truly had strength beyond my own.
After my walks, I would shower, get dressed and go up to their clubhouse and try and work to find a job. Each day I would write down 2-3 things I could do that would improve my situation. They were simple, small things. That’s all I could handle.
Jeanna and Kat are a set of angels to me. It’s unbelievable the things they do to help me. More on that later.
Even though I live over an hour away from Bishop Lund’s congregation, he insists upon keeping my church records with him and that is where I attend church.
Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I call him. EVERY time I do, he answers. He informs me I am the only one he does that for. I call him when I need encouragement, reassurance, I’m having a lot of pain or anxiety, or I have good news to share with him. I rely completely on his counsel and advice. I do everything he asks of me no matter how impossible or hard it may feel or seem to be at the time.
He is also in touch with Amy quite frequently. As with everyone, he can’t reassure me that things are going to work out. He thinks it would be a tragedy if they don’t though. He sees a lot in me and he thinks Amy is incredible, funny, and very composed considering all she’s going through.
Meanwhile, no job prospects are coming through except the one at the fitness center. It’s still available if I want it. For whatever reason I don’t feel good about taking it, so I turn it down.
Right afterward, I walk into the LDS employment center with Jeanna and immediately feel this is where I need to go for help. I feel hope when I’m in there. I’m told of a “fast-track” program they have for executives.
I’m introduced to a man named Scott Sessions, the manager of the employment center. We schedule a time to sit down and talk. When we do, my confidence tank is on empty. I’m full of anxiety. I just don’t feel stable or well enough to even interview well, much less perform well in any position, especially an executive one. Scott can tell how I’m feeling by the way I carry myself.
He personally takes me under his wings and becomes another angel in my life. I tell him my whole story. The good, bad, and ugly. It doesn’t phase him. I’m shocked that it doesn’t.
He thinks I should shoot for the very best position I’m qualified for. He doesn’t think I should settle. He tells me he’ll help me throughout the entire process. Every time I talk with him he pumps me full of positive thoughts and feelings. He genuinely believes in me, and I can feel it.
Man, I can’t describe how good it feels to start being surrounded by people who sincerely believe in me. Bishop Lund, Jeanna and Kat Haakinson, and now Scott Sessions. More will be added. These angels hold me up while I’m incapable of holding myself up.
My entire soul thirsts for encouragement and reassurance and each of these individuals never fail to deliver. In their own special way, each of them helps me to start believing in myself again. When I’m with any of them, I feel hope. When I’m by myself, well, that’s when the dark thoughts come crashing in on me.
At some point during this time, a dear friend, Larry Powers enters the picture again. He’s been trying to track me down through Bishop Lund. He is a long time friend, business mentor, and financial investor in my businesses. We had made money together for many years, but when my business went down, he lost a good sum of money. In spite of that, he tracks me down and only wants to help me. Bishop Lund informs me that he has been in contact with him and that he wants me to call him. I do.
He is very kind and encouraging over the phone. I can feel he genuinely cares about me and my well being and especially the well being of my family. He’s floored when he learns I slept outside. His genuine care and concern in spite of his financial loss at my hands in and of itself lift my spirits big time! I have enormous respect for Larry. He worked his way up to be president, CEO, and chairman of the board for a company he grew and sold for over 2 billion dollars. And he did it the old-fashioned way. Through hard work, grit, thrift, and never cutting corners. I’ve always known him to be a man of integrity. I carry a lot of pain to this day for letting him down.
Larry is very practical and realistic. He’s candid with me about the hard road I have in front of me. He’s also been in contact with Amy, and he tells me something that absolutely blows my mind.
In the middle of our conversation he says, “Jeremy, Amy is still madly in love with you.”
EVERYTHING up to this point, from my perspective, conveys just the opposite. When Larry says that, I can’t believe what I just heard. I make him repeat it. I ask how he knows.
He says, “Because she told me that.”
In that moment, I feel a relief like I’ve never experienced before in my life; a burst of happiness ensues me.
On the flip side, he, like everyone else he can’t reassure me that she’ll ever take me back.
He invites me over for dinner. When I go, he and his wife, Sherry, are kind and loving toward me. They see a dramatic difference in me from the last time I was with them. They tell me what I was like then and the things I said. I can hardly believe them and couldn’t recall many of the things they shared with me. In fact, I couldn’t fathom ever saying some of the things they said I said. They knew something was terribly wrong with me. It was so bad that Larry said Sherry just cried after I had left.
When we’re finished eating, we sit around in Larry’s beautiful home and discuss life. Larry has more recently spoken with Amy, and I can tell he’s less optimistic about things working out. In fact, it’s obvious to me that he doesn’t think they’re going to. My spirits sink. I want reassurance so badly. Before I leave, I turn to Sherry and ask her, from a woman’s perspective, if I should keep trying or accept that I’ve lost Amy and move on with my life. At this point, whatever Sherry says is what I’m going to do.
She tears up and tells me to do everything in my power to win her back and that she thinks it is still possible. She says exactly what I wanted and needed to hear. I resolve to keep fighting.
Scott Sessions had told me I needed a mentor to help me through this. I ask Larry if he will be the person. He says he’ll do whatever he can to help.
I’m beginning to feel strength and support gathering around me. Bishop Lund, Jeanna and Kat Haakinson, Scott Sessions, Larry Powers, and others on their way. Bishop Lund begins to call this assembly of people around me the “Jeremy comeback team.”
I am strengthened immensely by all of them individually and collectively.
I still live every moment hurting on the inside, but I can begin to feel the momentum in my life slowly shifting. I’m pushing back against the darkness. I’m leaning into the headwind. I’m forcing myself to do things I don’t feel capable of doing.
Christmas is in a few days. It doesn’t feel like Christmas at all to me. I’m dreading Christmas eve and day. I anticipate lots of pain and sorrow. I try and prepare myself to endure it.
Little do I know that miracles are right around the corner.