My Spiritual Trauma

I’m 28 minutes into the latest Liturgist podcast and already I have to take pause.

The rapid-fire thought barrage has already reached maximum capacity, and in an attempt to calm the cacophony of my mind, I am writing this down right now. This might not make sense to you. This might be too real and trigger some deep shit in your own mind. However this hits you in your place in space and time, please be gentle. This is my story. Its gonna be messy, possibly incoherent, and full of things that you might disagree with. But thats not the point. I’m not writing this to prove anything to anyone. So calm down, have a cup of tea, and only read further if your heart is open. This is my story of Spiritual Trauma.

If you asked me a year ago if I had suffered spiritual trauma, my answer likely would start out the same.

I would surely say yes, and then move on to one of many stories about our transition from being leaders and foundational members of an Assembly of God church plant to being independent, progressive house church leaders.

Stories of members of our previous church family praying for us to come back to the will of G-d.

Stories of youth pastors who sent me long, angry emails about how my house church was a tool of Satan and I was directly responsible for sending people to hell.

Stories of a community (Light House Church, or LHC for short) that said, in one loud voice “You are no longer one of us. You are not good enough. We can no longer associate with you.”

I still remember the day that I realized my old Pastor unfriended me on Facebook. Thinking back on it today, 9 years later, the pain still lingers. The pastor who prayed over us, in the church that we helped start, blessings and support for our new mission.

And then never spoke to us again. That is, until the day I sent him a message asking why he chose to finally sever the one tie we had left.

But, if you asked me a year ago, I would tell you that as painful as these memories are to recollect (I am shaking thinking of these things as I type), I had largely processed a lot of them, quite openly and vocally. I may have been through some trauma, but I came out the other side. I was through the weeds. Looking back on the scars brought back painful feelings, but scars were all thats left.

Because I moved on.

I went through the cycles of loss and came out the other side. I found a faith, my faith, in the years after that. Most of this time I spent on my own, with occasional conversations with a friend (many of which caused those friendships to end, unfortunately). But, nonetheless I ended up in this place: Post-modern. Progressive. Mystic. Some other buzzword that will scare your evangelical grandma. I find myself regularly talking about the creative energy of all things, and connecting with the divine mystery. I even found a new faith community, after nearly giving up entirely on the idea, that puts up with me. I fucking love those people so much. I love that can write that I love them so fucking much and I know I won’t get slammed with a spiritual confrontation.

I have shared much of the trauma that I explained above. Things that had almost become normal to share with people, after being told so many times. I also found that in sharing these stories, and others of my time in AoG bible college and church, that our experiences and traditions were deeply poisoned by the theology that I had, years ago abandoned. Things that I never realized had affected me as deeply as they did.

It was here in this new community (Sellwood Faith Community, or SFC) that I realized there was a second form of spiritual trauma I had experienced.

One that lay hidden beneath the big, gnarly scars of our fallout with Evangelical Christianity. It came out in weird places. I would be picking music for our Sunday dinner church, and suddenly I would be gripped with panic and anxiety.

Is this song good enough? Spiritual enough? Too spiritual? Is this some shitty, “Jesus is my Boyfriend” worship garbage? Is this too evangelical? Is this too esoteric?

I would weep over the fear that my choices would be judged. I remember one time specifically bringing up a song choice to our pastor, who is vocally Pro-Choice. The song was “We Are Stronger” by Gungor, and in the middle there is a bridge where the vocals go:

Every black life matters
Every woman matters
Every soldier matters
All the unborn matter
Every gay life matters
Fundamentalists matter
Here’s to life and all it’s branches

And I messaged her, terrified that she would be offended by that bolded line. She first told me that the song is awesome, that as someone who is pro-choice she absolutely believes the unborn matter, and that this did not feel like a politicized lyric. She assured me that the song is great, and that I should feel free to bring whatever songs I want to the table. Then she said something profound:

“Just because I believe something doesn’t mean it’s right.”

I had never heard a pastor say those words before. I knew right there that this was exactly where I needed to be, but I also started to realize that those wounds that Evangelicalism caused aren’t as healed as I thought.

I would go on to have more panic attacks about picking music. Each time I would bring them up to the community, not to guilt, but desperately seeking some level of acceptance and validation as a person. My community has been absolutely wonderful to me. Still, those wounds linger. It’s gonna be a long time, and I may never get to the point where I don’t feel anxiety picking music. Fearing that I am either being too pushy, or too esoteric, or too god damn weird. I still worry that I talk too much, or that I repeat myself. Even in the most accepting and loving community, those scars still affect me.

The smaller ones, hidden under the big, gnarly wounds.

But the thing I really want to talk about in this goes even deeper.

See, during lent this year at SFC, we did this thing. Its the kind of thing that a younger me would probably mock. Its the kind of thing that normally doesn’t affect me. During Lent, one of the main themes is the idea of finding space for G-d. Typically, this involves some form of fasting or sacrifice. Many know of Lent as the time you don’t eat meat, or the time you give up something. I had been quite busy with my music through the lenten season, so I missed quite a few dinners. But, I ended up at this one. Where we did this thing. This thing that normally wouldn’t affect me.

We ate sang our prayer, ate our dinner, and then started to talk about our time through lent. I was fairly quiet, mostly because I hadn’t done much for Lent. We went through the conversation, maybe we did a Lectio Divina (I don’t actually have a super strong memory of the conversation leading up to that thing that normally wouldn’t affect me). But then we brought out a big bowl and some antacid tablets. We were supposed to write something that we needed to let go of, something that might be getting in the way of our connection with the divine. I immediately brought up how in our previous evangelical existence, this kind of thing would be used to guilt teenagers into feeling shitty about their budding sexuality, or their choice of music, or some other inane, non-helpful, damaging bullshit. I talked about how freeing it was to be in a community that had such different priorities.

And then it came to me. I was a deer on a lonely country road. These words, the truck speeding around the corner at 70 MPH:

I need to stop hating myself.

I’m in tears now, as I change the formatting of those words, to emphasize the weight of their meaning. I was in tears then, trembling, attempting to write “my self worth issues” onto an antacid. We went around the table, placing our struggles into the water. The teenager in our group leaned back, exclaiming “Kobe!” and splashed me. But in that moment, I wasn’t really there. I was alone, in my office, trying to stop the inner voice that, on loop kept saying “you’re not a good musician. You’re not a good husband. You’re not a good father. You are a bad person.” I swear to you, that one simple activity was the hardest spiritual act I have ever done. Because I knew that I couldn’t put something that important out there, and then leave it be. The action was merely representing the fact that I knew it was time for me to deal with my self worth issues. My imposter syndrome. My anxiety. My depression. My self-hatred. My lack of belief in myself.

So, I brought it up at therapy. I brought up the story from church, and I brought up the things that I thought might be a partial cause. I figured that some level of it was caused by bad theology and the evangelical fear of humanism. I felt free because I let it out, the process started, and I would find my way, like I had many times in the past, to the other side.

This has been my last month.

This is why streams end up not happening and videos get delayed. This is why I write “I have been processing a lot recently” in my write-ups.

Because processing these negative self images has been extremely taxing. I have found myself in the hardest depression I have gone through since college. I have come to terms with the fact that I do, in fact suffer from depression and anxiety, labels I had previously been wary to embrace, mostly out of fear of co-opting someone else’s struggle.

Every week we have uncovered some new stuff that has helped. We talked over some things that helped me to take the first steps in saying that I am proud of something I have done. That the way I think about certain things is good, and meaningful, and special. (Although even now, typing that is extremely difficult). Its the first step in a long journey, and its not gonna get easier for a while, but ultimately I am hopeful.

But this last week, I realized something. I realized how much of this goes back to Spiritual Trauma.

Because under those big, gnarly scars of abandonment and excommunication…

Under the tinier scars of bad theology and damaging understandings of leadership and counsel…

There was a deep infection, that goes to the core of my being. This thing that screams out “You are not a good person.” The demon in me, that I can nearly visualize reaching up, out of my chest to squeeze my throat closed as I attempt to utter:

“Your way of seeing the world is special.”

“The way you imbue emotion into your music is a gift.”

Its a shadow, small and wrinkled, curled around my heart, screeching at me to stop every time I try to say something good about myself. (I picture it like something out of a miyazaki film).

I wanna talk, quite candidly, with you all reading this about my struggles. I wanna talk about the roots of this illness that we have been uncovering. This is the rawest moment. Much of this is a struggle to type, because that shadow is screaming inside of me to stop.

“You are just whining.”
“Your trauma isn’t real trauma.”

“None of this changes the fact that you are a bad person.”

“Ultimately, you are going to disappoint and hurt those you love.”

That last one is the kicker. You see, one of the many trails my lack of self worth embarks me down is one of fear. Fear of disappointment. It was fear of disappointment that lead me to become a compulsive liar in college. It was fear of disappointment that brought me to tears as I confessed to the community I loved most that I made up a story about getting expelled, just to avoid the reality that I was a failure who dropped out of college.

But this fear went back to a moment that I brought up in therapy as an aside. Something that I genuinely didn’t think was a big moment for me. Until I started to re-tell it.

We were talking about the evangelical churches insanely destructive beliefs about sexuality. I had just talked about how during my time leading a youth group, I have true pride in the space we created. How one of our students felt safe enough, in an evangelical church of all places, to open up about his homosexuality. We moved on quickly to how my wife and I had to over come a lot of the damaging stigmas that were pushed on us as teenagers around sex. We talked about the nearly weekly guilt spiral around masturbation that 16 year old Ace would struggle through, week after week, constantly feeling like he wasn’t good enough.

And it was there that a memory came up. A memory of a 3 1/2 floppy disk. I had made a joke powerpoint with friends, meant to poke fun at some of our inside jokes we had with our Youth Pastor. Now, if you don’t remember or don’t know the logic of floppy disks, I guess if you delete something off of one, but don’t empty the recycling bin, those dirty images stay on that floppy disk. Teenage me didn’t know this, and so I put my seemingly safe disk into my Youth Pastors computer, dragged the powerpoint onto the desktop, and got to work on setting up the prank.

Except I left that floppy disk in the computer. And those dirty jpegs were still on there.

My pastor called my friends and I, individually into his office. He didn’t know which of us the disk belonged to, and he didn’t want to know. But, he wanted to make sure that each of us knew how wrong we were for doing this. And this is where all of that damaging theology found its way into the bloodstream. He harshly condemned us for looking at such awful, despicable things. He repeatedly talked of how we were student leaders and were to be held to a higher standard than that. We had disappointed him. We had disappointed God. But, then there was a sea change. The conversation turned to his career. How, if someone had stumbled upon that disk, he could have lost his job, his family, his everything. I have no strong memory as to whether he repeated this point or not, but the point was bored deep inside of me.

This thing.

This shameful thing that I prayed daily to overcome.

This thing that I felt I was incapable of overcoming (because I wasn’t good enough, not spiritual enough, not a real man of god).

Not only did my mentor find my shameful thing and enforce all of those damaging ideas. But, that thing could have ruined his life. I could have been responsible for destroying everything. My disappointment could have hurt others.

It was then that the lightbulb went on for both my therapist and I. So much of my struggle is tied to moments like this. Moments when damaging theology, backwards understanding of sexuality, a perverted understanding of holiness, and a man who studied ancient languages and persuasive speeches tried to be a therapist all let bits of this infection into my being.

My deepest spiritual trauma is not one event. It was spoon fed to me, over the course of many years. And even though I have shed myself of almost all of that damaging theology, the infection, the lack of belief in myself, has stayed behind.

The thing that lingers is shame. Shame pervades so much of my church past. I told one story, one that is absolutely foundational to my struggles. But its not the only one. Far from it. Its merely a brief window into the world that hurt me. The church attitudes and beliefs that damaged me. The myriad of moments when something was said by a leader that left the tiniest of pinpricks on my heart.

Like the time my senior pastor told the congregation that if you are overweight you should never lead from the stage of a church.

Like the time my pastor told my wife (then girlfriend) to leave me at a gas station after I got out of a moving car because I was convinced no one in the car wanted me around.

Like the time my pastors wife instant messaged me to scream at me about posting the word “fuck” on my xanga page.

Like the time our pastor fired the youth pastor because he had different theology. Then counseled his wife to leave him. Then shamed him for his drinking problem. Then lead the funeral service after he killed himself.

I can not possible explain in words the weight writing these moments down has on me.

These are my wounds. This is my spiritual trauma.

 

selah

 

I have one final thing I want to say.

The moment in the podcast that gave me pause was not some deeply triggering story or emotionally riveting conversation. It was a therapist, talking about how the struggle to overcome spiritual trauma can be so hard for so many because after leaving their communities, they struggle to feel like they are any good. Many times they end up finding therapists or partners who end up being more damaging then helpful, because they are drawn to the same kinds of leader figures as those from their traumatic backgrounds.

To this I say: I am unbelievably thankful for the people in my life.

For my wife, who has been gently (and not so gently) nudging me to deal with my self worth. Who is deeply empathetic to the struggles I am going through, and has been very supportive through this time of processing and working through it all.

For my church community who taught me that gathering together in the name of Jesus can look very, very different from the abusive world I came from. That I am loved, I am worthy. That I am enough.

For my friends who have heard bits and pieces of this story. I have sent this to many of you, so you know where I am at. Thank you for listening. For not judging me. For being willing to get real with me.

For my therapist, Melissa. I don’t know how Allison found you, but I am so happy that I found a therapist who is helping me in such profound ways. I have heard countless horror stories from friends who struggle, moving from therapist to therapist, unable to find someone who connects and helps them in the way you have helped me.

I realize how I could be in a very different place if not for the love and support of all these people. I am deeply thankful for all of you. You are reflecting the light of the divine, and you have all been essential in my path to wellness.

 

 

 

 

 

Dance in the Ashes

Theres a fire growing, but you didnt light the match

theres a fire growing, but you didnt light the match

There’s no way of stopping now, its spreading too fast

so let it burn, let it burn,  let it all burn down

 

This building we called holy yeah its all coming down

this building we called holy yeah its all coming down

and G-d wont come and save it, so you better get right out

and let it burn, let it burn, let it all burn down

and in the ashes we find love

 

The library is tinder, and theres no use saving it

the libraries now tinder, there no use saving it

The books are tales of pain and fear, from years of harmful shit

so let it burn, let it burn, let it all burn down

 

Theres a gospel thats buried, deep inside these walls

There’s a gospel thats buried, deep inside these walls

you see love’s truth: its fireproof, so theres no need for pause just

let it burn, let it burn, let it all burn down

and in the ashes we find love

 

Your heart is at the center of this temple on fire

in a building built by hurt and guilt that desperately requires

a pyroclastic moment of destructive prophecy

to show you love is all around, waiting for you to be

 

dance free in the ashes

Live free in the ashes

get lost in the ashes of what you once believed

dance free in the ashes

live free in the ashes

get lost in the ashes, where grace can set you free

 

The Imposter

I am the fire, the forest my art

watch me burn it all down

I am the flood, you are whats left, rotten and drowned

I built the alarms, with frayed bits of wire

The storm ripped right through, what am i to do

with the wreckage and mess i have made?

 

I say that I care for the cause, but i dont

I say that Im true to my word, but im nothing but words, oh im nothing but words

 
So dont praise this mess of a man

I fake my way through every song, every plan.

The notes are all lifted, the melody lost

the parts are all scripted, and you pay the cost

Shine like silver, bend like gold.

Tarnished aluminum is all I have sold.

 

If you buy the right robes, you can call yourself priest

But it won’t change the liar who’s hiding beneath.

Paint the walls all day long, and maybe you’ll hide

the decaying foundation collapsing inside

Grace for All in the Shadow of Tragedy

Someone was murdered, in a most terrible way. They were young, they were positive, they had no reason to die, let alone in such an unthinkable way.

In the midst of this we are left with a jarring disconnection. This goes against everything we think of the way the world should be.We have fear, grief, anger…all of these deep emotions trying to make sense of such a senseless act. How are we to process such an unthinkable situation?

In this, some will attempt to disconnect themselves from this person. This might be as benign as focusing on her celebrity status, and might become as severe as turning focus instead to other, more heinous realities in our world, like the deaths of many younger than her due to war, famine, and poverty.

Some will turn to change to help deal with the pain. They will focus on what they believe, in this moment of emotional distress, must be the solutions to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Talk of gun control will inevitably pop up.

Both of these will obviously upset those that in unthinkable moments, believe strongly in the purity of grief. Those who say that pushing an agenda or focusing on the overarching reality of the unthinkable pains in our world are diminishing the sadness of this individual tragedy. Like someone telling you your problems pale in comparison to the starving children in some 3rd world country.

Many will turn to belief. To prayer, to good vibes, to heartfelt thoughts being sent. This will inevitably frustrate the changers. They will see this as a cop out.

And this grief will manifest itself in many other ways as well. Complex combinations of the above. Reactions to reactions to reactions will start to surface, all clouded by the pain and emotion of the unthinkable. Ultimately, I think the thing we need to realize is that we are all struggling, as human beings, to process the unthinkable. To mentally handle a situation we were not prepared or ready to think through. Something we thought couldn’t happen.

I may well disagree with some of these methods as being healthy or helpful to anyone. But in the shadow of tragedy, I choose instead to have grace for all trying to process. I encourage you all to understand that there is a struggle, inherent in all of us, to come to terms with such tragedy, and that might manifest itself in ways you are not used to, not comfortable with, or even not okay with. But, try not to start fights, or be critical of others in this moment. Have grace. Allow people to process this information in their way. If you feel someone is “using this tragedy to push their agenda” or “not respecting this person as a human” that may be true, but realize those people are also struggling. And fighting with them on the internet isn’t going to help. Grief is messy. We need not add to the mess by being quick to criticize.

Because the people who move to political reform and just trying to figure out a way to limit the amount of pain we will experience in the future. Those who appeal to the purity of grief just want to focus first and foremost on the memory of those who are lost. Those who turn to belief and prayer are trying to process the unfathomable through something beyond them, and those who move to what they believe to be the greater societal issues see tragedy as a mirror, that reminds them of how much work is still to be done in our world. None of these are the right or wrong way to deal with grief. And my opinion on one persons reaction to grief isn’t important. What is important is that I love and respect people, and I choose to not judge, but to have grace with them in their time of mourning and processing.

Love and grace to all,
Ace

What I believe….

I have been a Christian since high school. In high school I went to an Assembly of G0d youth group and had a wild, Pentecostal conversion. I raised hands. I spoke in tongues. I told kids they couldn’t be Christian because of the music they listened to. It was a rough time in my life.

In short, I was an asshole.

I was taught that there was one way to interpret the bible, and it was “TRUTH” and that my pastor knew the truth. I even went to bible college to learn more about this truth. And there I found out something that shocked me: Other christians, use the same bible, in the same way, and come to VERY different results as me. Even within the conservative streams of thought. There was so much vibrant debate and discussion. It really opened my eyes to the ass I was being. I started to re-think what I believed about all of this.  It was hard. It was powerful. And it changed me. I read a lot of philosophy at the time. I learned a lot about how modernism shaped theology. I learned a lot about the history of christian thought, and how much of it is ignored by hyper conservative christians.

I eventually started a house church, where we embraced anyone, wherever they are, as long as they were open to discussion. As long as you didn’t silence others with your beliefs or ideas, you were welcome to dine and discuss with us. It was messy, but beautiful.

Then I moved to Portland. And I started a YouTube channel. And I got pretty quiet about my faith. I was worried about being associated with that old point of view I once had. I was worried that my friends would think of me as a close minded bigot if that title was associated with me. I didn’t want the baggage. And I didn’t want to bother my friends who didn’t believe. But something weird happened.

Every time I did speak up about my beliefs, it wasn’t non-believers who got upset. It was Christians. Christians who thought that I was wrong. Who needed to tell me how wrong I am. And I am used to this. And it got to me. I would come in to a conversation and say, in nicer terms “Hey, lets not be shitty…” and I would be attacked and banned from the conversation. And I started to think…Is being a christian actually = being shitty? Because maybe I need to finally let go of this. But there was something meaningful there to me. There was a belief I held very true. A belief in love and radical acceptance. A belief in a G-d who pulls humanity towards progress. I knew logically that there was a deep and wide tradition of belief that was in line with what I believed, but the narrow minded theology of conservative evangelicals made it hard to emotionally accept that.

Then I met The united methodist church. Who showed me that there are other christians, who have existed for a long time, who believe in a G-d of love. Who believe in radical acceptance. Who believe in grace. Who shuddered at the thought that people actually believed some of the things that came from my tradition.

And so now, I just feel like I need to say this. Christianity has existed for a long while. We have had 2000+ years of thought, and most of what is represented these days factors in about 80-100 years of that timeline. It is fundamentalist in nature, it is exclusive in nature, and I want NOTHING to do with it.

I say this for two reasons…if you once saw something in this guy named Jesus, but have a hard time with all the bullshit that comes along with it…I feel you. There are other people out there like you. We don’t need to take it anymore.

Secondly, if you have never had any connection to this group…I write this as both an apology and a way of saying “I promise you, we are not all assholes.” So here are some things I believe.

I believe there is an objective reality to our universe, but all we can see is our subjective interpretation of that reality. We can only understand what we ourselves interpret through our sense, intuition, and knowledge. This lens, no matter how hard you try, distorts reality. Some things we can get close to fully understanding. What an orange is. The purpose of a chair. Other things can be more influenced by our upbringing, culture, and past. All people deserve the same rights. Black lives matter. Transgender people are people. And then you have the deeper thoughts. Meditating on a reality that is both beyond your comprehension, and made itself personal and human. G-d. Truth. Heaven. These are so hard to wrap our minds around, it is crucial that we realize that we, never as humans, are speaking of Truth, but rather our interpretation of it. I believe we must equally forsake and embrace our understanding of these things because they are woefully inadequate and also all we have to tap into a divine reality I believe wholeheartedly to be true. The point being, when someone says “I believe in Truth because it comes from the Word” to me this is a whole other language and culture. There is so much built into this statement that cant be deconstructed simply, that I have to walk way.

I believe that theology that doesn’t bring progress and love into the world is useless. If your beliefs don’t manifest in you being a more loving, caring, compassionate person…you should probably rethink your beliefs. In the words of Michael Gungor:

“If it brings violence more than peace, Lord let religion cease”.

I believe that the good news of grace is for all and I believe that it is not founded in shame or fear. I believe that radical acceptance and standing for the oppressed is essential to the ministry and mission of Jesus. I believe that the kingdom here and now is those ideas of radical acceptance and fighting for the oppressed being worked out in and through the Church, and when the church fights against marriage equality, or belittles transgender people, or tells someone they are not allowed in their doors unless they look or sound correct, they are in direct opposition of the gospel.

I believe in love. And that means I have a hard time when I get caught up in pointless conversations with people who only want to attack and belittle my beliefs. I get on the defensive, and then act in unloving ways. I am trying to work on it. Its hard.

Because I genuinely believe that there is a lot of damage being done in the name of G-d, and it makes me angry. It angers me that my tribe has come to represent close mindedness. It bothers me that the word christian carries with it the ideas of ignorance and anti-science and bigotry. This goes directly against everything I believe about the divine.

I want nothing to do with the G-d who sends millions of people to hell forever, because they didnt believe the right things.

I want nothing to do with a G-d who wants you to vote for Trump because “he doesnt believe in gay rights”.

Finally (for now) I believe that bible is a powerful and important collection of poetry, history, song, story, and myth, all meant to convey deep truths. Truths that are not multiple choice. Truths that are found in answers that are actually more questions. Truths you have to interpret and think and debate upon. It is a book that has been used for a lot of harm, because people misuse it, but I also see the deep beauty and truth of it. I think it is meant to be wrestled with. Its meant to be talked through. Its meant to be discussed and chewed on. Reflected on. I did a lot of biblical study in college, and I find so much of what many do with the bible these days to be antithetical to its purpose. Its not a metaphysical textbook. Its not a rule book. Its not a “how to get into the club” book.

Anyways, if you read this and go:

“Man, Ace sure is a heretic!  I should leave him a comment with 10,000 bible verses and convert him back to truth!”

Please don’t. I don’t want anything to do with that god. I don’t want the paradise promised by a madman. If that god turns out to be true, have fun in your mostly empty heaven. I will be standing beside my fellow sinners, suffering beside them, loving them, just as my savior did.

11.2.2015

I am a a weird mess right now. I can’t pull the trigger and start working on my next video. I can start to arrange it,and even start planning sound, but the moment I think to start working on the drum beat, the thing that will push the project into motion, I freeze up in panic.

See, last week I made the best video I have ever made. Not only that, but it’s easily my most positively accepted video from fans and newcomers alike. It’s performing extremely well (I will state that its at 25k views not to brag, but so when I look back on this in the future I can hopefully smile at what extremely well meant at this point in my life) and its gotten almost entirely positive feedback.

And I am terrified that I can’t live up to it.

I am terrified of the inevitability that I will go back to the pattern of my videos that aren’t Undertale (which view wise has been total garbage). I am so nervous that all my new subscribers will be disappointed.

Which is why I am just doing exactly what I want to do for the track. Because if I start chasing what I think other people want, I will burn out. But it still doesn’t stop this intense fear that is paralyzing me.

I know once tomorrow comes around, crunch mode will push me out of it…

I just felt like I needed to get this feeling out there. Get it off my chest. Maybe it will help.

Thanks for listening.

-Ace

10.05.2015

Things have been rough for me and to make matters worse, I am not keen on public complaining. Even when it’s not complaining, but just being honest, I still have a hard time with it. Every time I write something about myself that isn’t positive on Twitter, I feel like an asshole. I just feel like someone is going to assume there is some nefarious motive behind it, and the thought of someone thinking of me like that is just super uncomfortable.

But, here I can be more honest. I don’t publicly share these journal blog posts. I mean, the blog is public, but I don’t go out of my way to get this into anyone’s hands. If you are reading this, you chose to be here. It removes a lot of the possibility of it being a show.

All that being said, things have been rough. I recently got a few rejection emails for various projects and jobs I had been pursuing. I didn’t have a lot of hope in them in the first place, so it wasn’t that big of a disappointment. But it sure makes following up on these new leads a lot harder.

I feel like I have this one skill that I can use to take care of myself and those I love, and if I can’t find a way to do that, I really don’t have many options. I feel fairly useless outside of music, which is one of the reasons I am so fragile when it comes to my craft. A fan recently told me that it should be “about the fun to make these videos…” And it is fun. Its more than fun. It’s the moments that I feel most alive. Putting songs together, especially when I let go of any expectations. When I can allow my brain to let go of everything and just dive deep into the sound, that is where I thrive. That is where I am well.

Then I push the submit button.

And comes the expectations. Not so much from the audience or the comments, but from myself. See, as much as I understand that I will probably never make it “big” with my channel, my goal is to support myself and my own off of my music. And my channel is a big part of my music right now. So, every video that doesn’t do well is a burden. How did I fail myself in sharing this? or was it just not good enough? This disrupts all aspects of my life. This wears me down.

And recently, for whatever reason, things have been slow.
Really slow.

And as much as I should focus on the positive, and push forward. It’s just fucking hard. It’s hard to see your goal get further out of your reach. It’s hard to see the future looking positive when I just feel stuck.


I went to an indie game con this last weekend. I met with developers, told them who I was. Got contacts. This week I am going to be sending out emails. I hope something comes of it. Something needs to come of it. I still have options in the future. A movie that I desperately hope gets funded, because it really is the dream. The perfect situation. I have a big opportunity for my channel that I am hopeful about coming up. I have friends who are super supportive and kind.

While I was at the game con, a developer was telling me about their most recent project, that needed a composer. I got excited when he started talking about the style he was going for. I got a card, and thought….this is my best lead of the day!

Then I saw that his last game was soundtracked by Disasterpiece. And I panicked. Completely panicked. Ready to run out of the convention and rip up all the business cards I had collected. Why? Because I realized that these people worked with real composers. And it’s really hard for me to convince myself that I am a real composer.

When I am alone in my studio, I am proud of my work. But put me in a room full of game developers, and in that moment when I see the people they work with, I immediately feel like a fraud. And I am totally convinced they can all see through me. They all know I am a joke, and just put on a smile when I tell them I am a composer looking for games to work on. They are just being nice to the loser in the room. And all of that collapsed onto me as I was standing in the middle of the convention.

The moment I got home, I had to take the business cards out of my pocket and put them away from me. It took a lot of strength to not throw them away. I was so broken. I felt so useless.

And that led to Sunday. Where I finally opened up a bit on twitter about how I feel worn out. I have no doubt the convention has something to do with it. I have no doubt my channel not growing the way I feel it should have something to do about it. I am worn out. I am discouraged. I am nervous. I am self-doubting.

But working on my next song helps.

Listening to Kamasi Washington on vinyl helps.

Playing with my son helps.

Holding my wife helps.

So, I am dealing. But, know. I am struggling.

I need to say this somewhere, otherwise I will get lost in my own thoughts. And I am worried where that would lead.

-Ace

Post Script: Sorry if this is scatterbrained. Its not a formal essay or anything. Its a journal essay. So, I am just getting my thoughts out of my head.