“When Jonathan Cried For Me” is a tremendous story of struggle and redemption. After a childhood filled with sexual abuse at the hands of a pedophile, violence, and intimidation, Carter Lee was being destined to become a monster. Against all odds, he took control of his destiny and turned his life around. The foundation of this metamorphosis was the attainment of True Inner Peace, through the cultivation of True Self-Esteem and Total Self-Confidence. This book provides a road map for others to attain happiness in their lives and to reach a true inner and lasting transformation.
Carter is blatantly honest about his inner demons and wears his heart on his sleeve. More than just a motivational, inspiring, educating, or an entertaining read, this book transcends any one genre by coalescing strengths of each form into a powerful teaching tool. he is witty, unconventional, and has a knack for describing highly technical mental processes in layman’s terms. Sometimes controversially, but always with honesty, Carter delivers what so many of us need; a real way to facilitate internal change.
And you may ask yourself
Well…How did I get here?
And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife
— Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime”
It was four years ago, 5:00 on a Friday evening, when I was sitting next to the rest of the cattle who were getting ready to escape monotony for two days. They would talk about the picnics they would go on, or a couples’ dinner, or the game. As for myself, I was trying just to breathe. It was that time again, the same time I faced every day of the week, the lonely inevitable. I packed up my stuff in my briefcase, said my goodbyes, and headed off to fight traffic in my disheveled Jeep Cherokee to only face the unavoidable.
I spent most of my commute home trying not to rear-end people as I flipped through radio stations, occasionally glancing at the road in front of me with almost an indifference of crashing into someone, frantically trying to listen to anything that wasn’t related to love or life. Channel surfing and trying not to kill people on the highway was a sufficient distraction for the time being. For the moment I was safe, at least for the commute home, unlike those sharing the road with me. Exiting Houston’s Highway 10, I headed to my suburban neighborhood, filled with cookie cutter houses. As I approached my house I tried not to get my hopes up, desperately attempting to avoid the disappointment I could feel mounting. This was impossible though, and my heart sank as I saw that once again I was pulling up to an empty driveway.
Neighbors were outside trying not to stare and would still wave to be polite. I felt like someone with an awkward handicap. I left all of my shit in the car. I walked up to the house, opened the door, walked in, closed the door, and before I could even say hello to the dogs, I collapsed. It wasn’t because I felt sorry for myself. It wasn’t because I wanted sympathy, because I doubt my dogs were impressed by my display; they would have been much more impressed had I opened the back door for them so that they could do their business. It was for the reason that I had to collapse. I collapsed because my wife Katelyn had left me just a week before, taking my stepson Christian with her. The reality was setting in.
Initially my relationship with Katelyn started out great. It was practically love at first sight. The first two years were very fulfilling for both of us and you could just feel the love pour out of us. Our energies were intertwined and we were both dedicated to Christian. However, there were issues with communication, and I wasn’t truly healthy. Our relationship began to suffer. The kinks in the armor of our relationship grew into gashes, as small problems became big problems. But in the end, we were two very different people, and we eventually grew apart through the last two years of our marriage.
I was once a man who ignited a room with excitement when I walked in. I was once a man who was motivated. I was once a man who was a professional wrestler and a dream chaser. I was once a man in a beautiful house, with a beautiful child, with a beautiful wife, with a beautiful dog (insert Talking Heads song here). I was once that man. Now I was just a three hundred pound fat-ass, lying in the foyer of my house, crying and drooling like a pathetic fool. Now I was just the angry man I had become in my marriage, with no inner peace, no self-confidence, and no hope. I was just three hundred pounds of excess fat, anger, and a shitty self-esteem to boot.
The dogs looked at me like, “Open the goddamn door already.” But I couldn’t. I could only lie there. I knew that the more I walked into my house, the more it would hurt. I didn’t know how I would conjure up the strength to stand, so I lay there, in the foyer, sobbing myself to sleep, as I smelled the stench of old food in the sink.
As I woke up in my new cozy tiled bed, I realized that a new scent had joined that of the rotten food…dog feces…next to my face, in fact. Fair enough, little ones, and very apropos. Waking up was always very difficult during this time, very similar to when I had lost loved ones in the past and the death was still new. The first few seconds when I awoke were fine, but then I would remember, and a chill would cover my whole body, followed by a seemingly endless flow of tears. After reflecting on how I used to wake up next to someone I loved in a bed, rather than the floor, I finally stood up and realized I had been asleep for six hours. I was disappointed that my only means of escape didn’t last longer, and that I had to wake up at all. I then finally let the dogs out. My new nightly routine of chain-smoking and living in my head would then ensue. What a hoot! This time it was different however, as I found I was running out of reasons to keep on living.
Night after night I tried to think of reasons to stay alive, but I was out of hope. I was done. I didn’t know who I was anymore, and all I knew of what I had become disgusted me. I had been through enough trials and tribulations in life, enough valleys, that I wasn’t about to face this one too. If this was life, what was the point of living? What was the point of getting the courage to face life since everything I loved was taken from me? What was the point? I had achieved so much, only to lose it all or push it away. My marriage was collapsing. My job was following a similar path. I didn’t like anything I did. Everything was fucked! I thought there was more to life than this, but if life were to continue along this hopeless path, I was tapping out.
I was at the end of my rope.
I went into my bedroom and got out my shotgun. I cradled it for over an hour, staring off into memories on the edge of the bed where passionate love could once be heard, in a house where once love could be felt, but now I was by myself with gun in hand. I remembered laughter filling the hallways of the house, the smell of lilacs, my stepson’s birthday parties, family dinners, and the sound of toys being played with, all creating a beautiful symphony of noise, love, and life. Now there was just heavy silence around me, and the noise of painful memories that no longer brought joy to me.
Sitting on the bed, I looked down at the gun, and then looked up at the picture of my family, and I put the cold steel barrel in my mouth. My finger was just on the edge of the trigger. As I gripped the barrel with my teeth I thought that my last sensation in life would be the taste of metal and gun oil. It had actually come to this, Jesus. I had been through so much pain. I had caused so much pain. The happy ending I fantasized about as a child never materialized.
Forgiveness, healthiness, true love; it was all bullshit. As I had the barrel in my mouth I saw the picture of Christian. I couldn’t do it while looking at him. At that point I didn’t think I would be able to be in his life anymore, or I wouldn’t even have gone this far. I spat the barrel out of my mouth and turned his picture around. I wasn’t crying or frantic; I was ready.
I sat back down and assumed the position. This time, however, something else happened. Maybe it was because of seeing a picture of Christian. Maybe my subconscious was reaching out to me, but a thought ran across my mind. It was me, as a miserable shocked child, and a promise I had made to a childhood friend that I would have a better life. This is what I allowed myself to become? So far gone from hope that I would do this to my friends and family? I then moved from sadness to anger.
This was the gift I had given myself, that traumatized child who wanted a better life? I had been a man filled with dreams and aspirations. I had suffered so much and my solution to this suffering was now suicide, not becoming better or changing the things around me, or myself. I threw the gun to the ground and I screamed, “Fuck!” over and over again, as tears streamed. I screamed and screamed. I felt so hopeless, but I made the most important decision of my life by not pulling that trigger and having the resolve to fight and live. How, though?
If I were going to continue on, it couldn’t be the way I had been living. I couldn’t keep going through life filled with anger, hopelessness, sorrow, and doubt, feeling unattractive and unlovable. I couldn’t expect other people to fulfill what was empty inside of me. If I was going to persevere, I decided that I had to live life on my terms. I was going to need a whole new mindset.
I had always had a deep connection to Jesus, or so I thought. I was a Born Again Christian plugged into the church, and truly had faith in Christ as my Lord and Savior. I had even done overseas and domestic missionary work. I was not one of those annoying missionaries who tried to convert everyone by cramming their faith down others’ throats, but everyone who knew me was aware of my convictions.
During our wedding, Katelyn and I even made sure the message of Jesus was put in the center of our ceremony. I had tried religion my whole life, so for once I was going to try something different. My faith in Christianity was changing, and I knew that wasn’t the answer, but what was?
It was only a minute or so after throwing the gun down that I saw a book my dad had sent me earlier in the week, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Dr. Viktor Frankl. Dad had originally read the book in college. He told me that it was a great inspiration to him and his mindset, which I greatly admired and envied. So I picked up the book, took the dogs back outside, and I began to read.
Dr. Frankl was a psychotherapist and survivor of Auschwitz and other concentration camps in World War II. Through his experience in those camps he founded Logotherapy. Dr. Gordon Allport, one of the founding figures of personality psychology, called Frankl’s philosophy the “Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy.” Where Adler focused on the will to power, and Freud focused on the will to pleasure, Frankl focused on the will to meaning.
After the first few chapters, the book had already grabbed me, and I couldn’t put it down. Here I was, reading about this man who lost his family, his home, his clothes, and who endured torture, yet still found meaning in his life and the will to continue on WITH HOPE and JOY. This gave me a great deal of comfort. I want to make it clear that my comfort came from the mindset Frankl was revealing, not because he went through something worse than I had. In fact, one of my main concerns when I share my story is that the reader or audience will think I am trying to make them feel better by pointing out that I perhaps have been through tribulations worse than theirs.
People often try to “comfort” others by just pointing out how it could be worse. Imagine the following situation.
“I have a throbbing headache,” said George the Painful.
“Well if it makes you feel any better, I get migraines daily,” said Randy the Idiot.
“Yes, your migraine issue all of a sudden just took my headache away,” said George the Painful.
This method of “comfort” doesn’t make any sense, yet people do this to others all the time. And what’s worse is that this logic is all too common in the motivational/self-improvement world. Often you hear speakers and authors share horrific stories to comfort others. It’s a way of saying, “It could always be worse,” but that doesn’t take care of our pain now, does it? They share their stories yet don’t really reveal any transformational methods for someone who is suffering. Because of this, I’m very careful to only share stories that reveal meaning to what I’m trying to teach. It’s pertinent to understand the transformation I went through because of my experiences.
Pain comes from many sources, but the cause is less relevant than getting to its foundation. Pain itself is the problem.
Dr. Frankl’s book was a quick read and I didn’t put it down until I was done with it a few hours later. I learned so many things through the book, but one quote really stuck in my head: “Everything can be taken from a man or woman except for one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” I was at a fork in the road— would I turn left or right? I decided to choose my own way; I went straight ahead.
Carter Lee is the President of Innovative Social Dynamics, a professional speaker, columnist of In That Moment of Space for the Washington Times Communities, and author of When Jonathan Cried For Me. Formerly an actor, stand-up comedian, and involved in the sports-entertainment industry, Carter was a licensed professional wrestler, promoter, and booker. During this time, Carter struggled a great deal internally.
He was diagnosed with chronic depression, PTSD, due to childhood sexual abuse from the hands of a pedophile, and struggled with his weight and anger. He decided he was going to stop living under the oppression of his negative thoughts and emotions, and began a journey to transformation. Through this journey Carter found his road map to freedom, and no longer suffers from PTSD, depression, anger, or his weight; and he’s on no medications. He now dedicates his time to helping others achieve a true-transformation similar to his own.
Preferred link to purchase the book: http://www.whenjonathancriedforme.com
Link to video trailer for the book: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blur80-eGHE
The Washington Times book review: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/entertainment-news-and-reviews/2011/dec/14/when-jonathan-cried-me-recovering-child-sexual-abu/