A Personal story of Acceptance…In Memory of Tyler McGuire

Tyler McGuire was my brother in law. He was a true friend and a bad ass. We all have difficulties in life and unfortunately Tyler was dealt the difficulty of bone cancer.  We lost him in January of this year. I have attempted to accept a lot of difficulties in my own life but accepting that he has passed is at the top of the list. Tyler didn’t just get cancer, he battled it to the end. He believed in fighting the good fight and always encouraged me to keep moving forward no matter what. Tyler had a huge heart and was full of love. His spirit motivates me daily to give back and try to help others through my work as a counselor. Here’s to you brother, we love you and miss you.

I wrote the words below a few days after he died. Our friend, Phyllis, with the FUMC of Fort Worth, was kind of enough to read this for me at his funeral. Please see below. Thanks.

TYLER MCGUIRE – FROM BROTHER IN LAW, JEREMY RUDD. 1 26 17

I wanted to take a few minutes to express my love and gratitude for my brother in law, Tyler. I remember first meeting Tyler at a gas station in Bedford. Heather was going to introduce us that week but I happen to run into the cute couple while I had stopped to get gas. Tyler was just as Heather had described. As we know, Tyler was a man’s man and was also a really nice guy. After meeting Tyler and his family, it was easy to see why Heather was so crazy about him. Tyler greeted others with a hand shake and always made eye contact. He had manners and he was genuine. Shortly thereafter, our family met Barry, Mary and Andrew and they were of course a blessing just like Tyler was. They all had manners, love in their heart, and a sense of humor, just like our Tyler. Tyler was the real deal. I always told him that he was a God send. He and I became instant friends and soon starting calling each other a “brother from another mother.” He was so welcoming and fun to be around. He had that smile and confidence that was contagious. Tyler is one of the most generous and thoughtful people I have ever known. It didn’t matter what he was doing, if he thought I might have some interest in doing it with him he would invite me. It could be a camping trip, a drive to look at a house for his business, or just taking a ride to the auto parts store. There were countless times when Tyler just insisted on paying for lunch or dinner. If Tyler had it, it was a given that he would be sharing it with his family or friends. With Tyler, you just knew you had a wing-man for life. He showed these same characteristics as a dad, a son, a husband, a brother and so on. Tyler was gonna be there for his family and friends no matter what. He was the guy that you could call at 3 in the morning stranded in another state and he was gonna show up and help. I always appreciated Tyler’s passion. It didn’t matter if it was baseball, the right to bear arms, or a brand of beef jerky, you knew where Tyler stood. I can still remember the glow in his face on the days Sydney and Jack were born. It was the same glow he had in October 2004 when he married our wonderful Heather. We could be driving somewhere and see some random piece of metal stuck in the ground or an unusual looking piece of equipment on a flatbed truck. I would usually have to ask him what it was. He always had an answer. He could do just about anything he put his mind to. If it was a project or task he didn’t know how to do then he would soon do what it to took to learn it on his own then get the job done. A few minutes later, he could make someone smile. Then he might tell you about a movie he watched last week and how he felt the film had a Mark Twain feel to it. I can remember being his helper on occasion when he would go check on a property for his home preservation business. I have seen him tackle a project with relative ease countless times. One day stands out in particular. We show up at a house and Tyler says we have to build a swimming pool cover. I’m no handy man, but when I saw the size of the pool I immediately asked him how we were gonna get to the other two jobs he had scheduled for the day. As usual, he told me not to worry about it and to let him figure that out. Less than two hours later, Tyler had that pool cover built. I have had my share of car trouble. Tyler was there regardless of the day or time. A few months after he started chemotherapy, we were talking and I had brought up that my car wouldn’t start at my office in downtown Dallas. I was going to have to call a tow truck. He immediately said that he would be picking me up in the morning and that we were going to Dallas to try to get the car started. I tried to talk him out of it worrying that he wasn’t feeling well enough and he wouldn’t listen to any of that. As we all know, when he made his mind up about something, there wasn’t a lot of convincing him other wise. He brought his cane and some tools and he drove us to Dallas. He was a little unsteady on his feet so I held the tools and tried to hold onto him as he was looking under the hood. He was always there for me when I was in a tough spot. Over the past few years, I have tried to hold Tyler up when he was in a tough spot, just as he has done for me from day one of our friendship. No matter the topic, Tyler would listen to you. We all know he would often give his opinion, but he would listen. A few years back I got the word “VERITAS” tattooed on my arm. This was something I did with Tyler in mind. Veritas means “truth” in Latin. This was a reference from one of our favorite movies, The Boondock Saints. He and I often talked about it and it was a bond that we always shared. To me, Tyler was truth. He was true to his family and friends and true to his beliefs. Tyler McGuire, we love you brother and your incredible strength and light will shine through all of us the rest of our days. We will continue to see your spirit in Jack and Sydney and we all look forward to seeing you again. I will look forward to talking to you about the Rangers pitching rotation and hearing you laugh again. The first time I ever heard anyone outside of church use the term “salt of the earth”, it was Tyler telling me about his brother Andrew before I had the pleasure to meet him. A few days ago a kind gentleman from the church was delivering food to my sister’s house when I was leaving. My mom and I shook his hand and thanked him for bringing food over for our family. I walked him to the door and we started to talk about Tyler. We chatted for about a minute before I ran out of words. I shook the man’s hand, thanked him, and then I said, Tyler was “the salt of the earth.”

I love you, brother.

Jeremy

Acceptance

Acceptance. We have all heard the word over and over again. This word can often can be brought up in a tough situation. When we lose a loved one we may be asked to accept the truth that they have passed. We all handle grief differently. Losing a loved one, a job, our independence, a pet, a friendship, etc. These situations can all lead to a time of grieving. It can often seem like we are always grieving about something! No matter how hard we wish this were not the fact, we often get knocked back down to earth with the idea of trying to accept a certain outcome. We often don’t want to accept this and it’s easier to stay in denial or use distractions to cope so we don’t have to face what has happened. With all the atrocities in our world, it’s not hard to see how this can easily become a form of survival. With support, love, and time, we can often find some relief in our grieving. Obviously everyones support system can look different or some unfortunately may be nonexistent. Often we see grief support groups offered in the community which is a great thing. Not everyone is blessed with a supportive group of family and friends. The good news is that these situations may start out as gut wrenching but can often lead to a new friendship or to a recharge of a past relationship with a family member. Even those who may not reach out in a tough life situation may be left with a new awareness or breakthrough in their own life. It hurts like hell but can often lead to a new beginning. With grief often comes depression. Sometimes this can be symptoms of depression that were brought on with a loss or maybe the depression was already there. When we are dealing with a behavioral health difficulty like OCD, depression, anxiety, etc, another blow to our lives can sometimes seem like too much to bear. We also know that depression can often go hand in hand with OCD, Anxiety, chronic pain, etc. When we are dealing with emotional struggles in our daily lives, another loss can feel like someone took a sledgehammer to our chest. Our minds and hearts become a sea of emotions and pain. The tears and loneliness can become an everyday occurrence. When dealing with depression or symptoms of grief, we can often feel like we are completely alone. It’s common to often feel alone when dealing with depression. Even if we are surrounded by people who care about us, it’s easy to feel like you are isolated on an island with no rescue in sight.

Again, acceptance is often suggested when someone is dealing with a loss or seeking assistance for some emotional support. This could be from a therapy situation or in a substance abuse support group. As brutal as it can feel, the process of accepting something can be a freeing experience. It gives us a starting point. There is obviously nothing we can do to change anything in our past, whether that was 3 seconds ago or 3 years ago. All we have is now, sounds cliche, but it’s reality. No one is promised an hour from now. If we accept this, it may help our struggles seem more manageable. The 12 step groups often talk about “one day at a time.” Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy both offer a key component of “mindfulness” in their techniques. Jon Kabit Zinn is a world authority on mindfulness. He defines mindfulness as: “awareness that arises through paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non judgementally.” This can lead to acceptance. No matter how difficult the moment, if we can accept the moment for what it is, we might have an easier path to what we want to achieve. Often what we want to achieve is more peace of mind, more happiness, less pain, more focus, etc. Mindfulness can show us that no matter what we are dealing with, that paying attention in the moment, and attempting to stay neutral about our thoughts, can help us feel more in control of a situation. We can often train our minds to look at our thoughts as “good” or “bad”. Maybe “lucky,” or “okay”, or “sinful.” Mindfulness teaching often suggests to look at thoughts as neutral, not good or bad, just as thoughts. ACT therapy techniques suggest being mindful of our thoughts, and once again, just noticing them, not reacting to or trying to fix them. This is one of many areas where Exposure and Response Prevention as well as Acceptance Commitment Therapy have been helpful for OCD symptoms. They share the common suggestion to notice the thoughts or obsessions and not participate in rituals. We can’t stop our thoughts from coming but we do have power in what we choose to do with these thoughts. If we are caught in the ugly grip of OCD or another behavioral health issue, its easy to feel helpless about our reactions to our thoughts. We all have thoughts that may scare us at times. A lot of individuals may have a certain “quirky” thing they do with the shirts in their closet or have a “lucky” tune they sing before a stressful situation. What separates these people from those diagnosed with true OCD, is the intensity and amount of time spent on obsessions, compulsions, rituals, etc.  Someone may feel that it is good “luck” to put their left shoe on first. This person puts the left one on first every morning for “luck” and goes on about their day. A person with OCD could be caught in this same situation for hours trying to get those shoes on “just right” and in a special order. Mindfulness can help put a distance between us and our thoughts. We often hear in OCD circles that we are not our thoughts, we are not the OCD, OCD is something we have but we are not the person it tries to suggest we are. This is especially true when dealing with OCD symptoms of a violent nature. E.g.- the mom who cannot leave the house because she is afraid that she will do something awful to her neighbor on the way to pick up her kids at school. OCD symtoms try to tell us that we will do these awful things, but it’s the OCD. In ACT therapy they suggest to “look at thoughts, not from thoughts.” An example would be placing our thoughts or images in our mind onto clouds. We can visualize this and put these thoughts, words, or images on the clouds and watch them float away. Once again, it puts distance between us and our thoughts, because again, we are not out thoughts. Just as if someone is doing Exposure Response Prevention to work on their OCD. They can place themselves in a situation on purpose that raises their anxiety. By not giving into the rituals, and being in the moment, we can find some more flexibility in our minds and see that the anxiety will eventually come down on its own.We can just notice what our brain is asking us to do, check, count, ask, pray, doubt, wash, etc. We can notice these thoughts and images in our minds, and again we don’t have to respond to the demands of the OCD. This is great news! There is hope, truly!

Acceptance can be a great thing, and it can also knock us to our knees. The good news is that it can be a great building block to better days ahead. Life can obviously be very difficult. If you are ever having any thoughts of harming yourself, please, please, reach out to someone. Hang in there.

Jeremy Rudd           

 

 

The “fix” is Not in

Human beings often want to “fix” what ails them. It’s our nature. If we have a headache we might take an aspirin. If we have car trouble we might call a mechanic or try to “fix” it ourselves. Chances are the aspirin and the mechanic could be helpful. With OCD, we are often left with a different situation. With endless obsessions and compulsions, we often try to “fix” the situation by doing compulsions only to find the OCD continuing to grow. If we are obsessing about something happening to a family member because of a thought we had, we might then try to “fix” the situation by touching a doorknob 8 times. This may or may not lower our anxiety for a brief moment but then the OCD will rear its ugly head somewhere else or even keep us stuck with the doorknob. If we touch that doorknob “just right”, or say that specific prayer a certain amount of times, then we can feel better about the situation and make it “okay.” Sound familiar? We know that this does not work, maybe for a brief moment we think that the compulsions gave us a break, but once again the cycle continues. Research shows that “talk therapy” is usually not helpful for OCD. We can “talk” about OCD for days, however discussing why it happened or where it came from usually won’t have any positive effect on our symptoms. We will always have OCD, but the good news is that the symptoms can be decreased significantly and often managed through the help of Exposure and Response Prevention. An example of this would be putting ourselves in an anxious situation on purpose, knowing that our OCD and anxiety symptoms will be increased. That is the Exposure. The Prevention part of this technique would be withholding from the compulsions. Over time, by continuing to place ourselves in these situations on purpose, and by attempting to withhold from the compulsions, we can see ourselves less bothered by the OCD symptoms. It’s often helpful to have a therapist to work with that is trained in Exposure and Response Prevention. As we know, OCD is often fueled by doubt. Living with uncertainty is actually what we want to strive for, because in reality, life is uncertain. It doesn’t make sense at first because we may have tried for months or years to “fix” our doubts or obsessions by taking part in our rituals or compulsions. We often think that this can make us feel “certain” that we or the situation is “okay” for the moment. How soon we see that this is only temporary. We see that being present with the Obsessions and not trying to “fix” them is where we could find some freedom from this stuff. Let’s say for a moment that OCD is a big bully. If we are in the bully’s presence, and we stop giving into the bully’s demands, we often see it can be less and less bothersome to us. As we know, OCD symptoms can pop up anywhere. Our daily lives can become one big exposure, and this is more good news by the way. It can be scary at first, but over time we can see how putting ourselves or our thoughts into these situations on purpose can be helpful. By withholding from our compulsions or rituals we continue to starve out the OCD.

Trying to figure out why we have OCD or what caused it may be tempting when an individual is first diagnosed but it often just leads to more useless rumination. Again, we have seen this used in “talk therapy” and is rarely helpful for OCD. A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy approach and Exposure Response Prevention has been shown to be the most effective at treating OCD. We try to “fix” OCD by no longer trying to “fix” it with compulsions and rituals. We purposely raise our anxiety levels to slowly see that our anxiety will come down on its own without our compulsions and rituals. Just like with the bully example, we can acknowledge that the bully or OCD is there, but if we stop giving into the demands, they often float off into the background. Seeing the thoughts in a more accepting way, without trying to fight them or “fix” them, will eventually give them less power over us.

Jeremy Rudd