You Can Heal From A Devastating Loss – An Update to Zac Shomler’s Journey
I bought today’s coffee mug in early December 2018 when my son Zac Shomler asked me to go with him up to Tacoma to Pacific Lutheran University to meet with the Brant McAdams their Head Football Coach.
I bought that mug in the hopes that I would soon have a reason to enjoy coffee out of it.
Today, Friday Feb 1st, 2019 the details were finally – at the last minute – worked out and this Monday Feb 4th Zac will be moving into his room at PLU and he will classes start on Wednesday.
In addition — Zac is on the PLU football team and he will competing for the starting QB position!
What a Journey It Has Been
I just can’t stop crying— this have been such a journey.
Back in 2010 at the end of his 7th grade year Zac declared that he was going to start playing football, become a High School QB, and play QB in College.
Zac even posted those written goals to the inside of the living room window.
Zac went on to win the starting QB job in 8th grade – having never played football before.
Zac fell in love with football and he played QB with irrepressible joy.
In High School he won the Freshman QB competition, and in 10th grade he was the JV QB.
At the end of Zac’s 10th grade year – on the advice of those who know way more about these things than I do – we moved so Zac could attend Skyview High School. We made this move to help Zac with his football dreams.
Zac was the starting QB at Skyview his 11th and 12th grade years. I can’t say enough about Coach Kizer. What a great man.
Following High School
Following High School Zac went to Lewis and Clark College for one semester and was on the football team. Great people there, however it was not the best fit for Zac.
Then tragically – three years ago on Feb 8th 2016 Zac’s brother Zayne died and so did Zac’s love of football.
Zac would not even watch the 2017 Super Bowl with me – something he used to love to do.
Prior to Zayne’s passing, Zac and I would watch the Super Bowl – he would analyze the schemes of both teams & take copious notes, and I would watch the commercials.
I never believed that Zac’s QB journey was over.
This Can’t Be How This Movie Ends
Zac loved playing football so much. I would say to myself – “this can’t be how this movie ends.”
The Immense Heartache of Being Bullied
and The Fear I Have Been Living With
For the past few years I have been faced with a very painful bullying situation.
I became acutely aware what was going on back in November, 2017, but looking back, this bullying campaign actually started in January, 2017, and others confirm that it really did began way back then.
I kept hoping that things would change. Maybe this adult bully will find another target – I’m not their first target, or maybe they’d simply move on to others things.
Almost every week I get a painful reminder that this campaign is ongoing, and sadly I have friends and colleagues who themselves have had less than pleasant experiences as a result simply because they are my friends or colleagues.
Just yesterday a dear friend of mine was bullied due to this campaign.
I am purposely being vague.
I have no interest in being divisive or hurtful or causing others to feel like they need to choose between myself and this other person.
Sharing my Story – In Spite of the Fear
That being said – I am no longer ok with at not acknowledging this painful part of my recent journey. This is the first time I have publicly acknowledged my ordeal. Of course – even saying this much is terrifying.
This bully has made it clear that’s NOT ok for me say to anything, and as many of you know, bullies absolutely HATE it when people stand up to them.
I am quite concerned what this person will do or say next, however I have lived with that fear for a long time – at least now if my honesty and openness about this painful experience results in retaliation – it will be clear to some what’s really going on.
Yes – I did block this person on Facebook etc, quite a long time ago. And yes I have actual proof that I did so.
Early on I shared this fact with someone who absolutely did not believe me and they strongly suggested I was lying about blocking this individual because they had been told that I was using social media to harass this person.
If I had really blocked this bully on Facebook, then what they had been told was not true and they found this detail I shared to be understandably upsetting and confusing.
I have many such details that very much vindicate me. If needed – I will someday share them.
Thankfully – I have friends who are aware of at least some of these details and that fact makes it easy for them to stand by me, even when they were told by this divisive bully that they had to turn their backs on me and end their relationships with me.
It is somewhat comforting, and somewhat terrifying; to know that this is NOT the first time this bully has demanded people turn their back on someone they were friends with. NOR is this the first time this bully has then gone on to punish those who didn’t abandon a close friend as the bully ordered.
Being Vulnerable is Not Fun
Sharing all of this feels very vulnerable and scary , especially this next part.
Fearing For My Safety
This has experience has been very tough for me. For example, I’m not privy to all that this person has said and still says about me – however earlier last year in a two-week span I had more than one friend reach out to me because they were very concerned for my physical well being.
During those two-weeks I was told by more than one person that they were very afraid that what this person was saying about me at that time was going to get me attacked physically. Those were scary days and I purposely laid low. To this day I’m still on high alert when out in public.
Living in fear is no way to live and I this year I have begun to be out in public more and I will continue to do so. Living my life and attending and enjoying public events that I cherish is still quite scary for me, but I can’t give into the hate.
I turn 50 this year and at the beginning of the year I made a commitment to make my 2019 epic. Peacefully and wisely facing this painful situation, in spite of my fear, is one of my paths to epic.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge the fact I that have learned much through this experience.
I will mention four of the things I have learned much more about: Grieving, Forgiveness, Shame, and Encouragement.
I have learned much about grieving since my 17-year-old son Zayne Steven Shomler passed away on Feb 8, 2016 and this painful experience has taught me much about grieving as well.
One of the most painful things about this experience has been having a handful of people who I thought were friends – people I had served and cared for – turn their back on me without even talking to me.
I have come to realize that these people were not really friends – friends would have at least a conversation with you to get your side of the story.
Still I cherished those relationships and I had to grieve losing them.
Attending certain public events and having those people – people who I still care about to this day – glare at me, and look at me hatefully is so difficult. And in some cases they’re rude to me and to my fiancé, which is extra painful.
As I am sure so of you know – It’s hard to grieve hurt that’s ongoing.
I have had to work on that spiritual discipline as well, and I have learned much more about forgiveness over the past few years that I ever have before.
Like grieving, it is hard to forgive when the hurt is ongoing. It is also very difficult to forgive when the hurt feel so unjust.
I am a survivor of sexual abuse and spent a number of years in my 20s in therapy beginning a long and ongoing journey healing from that abuse.
My abuser blamed me for what they did and told me what was happening was my fault. For years I carried a tremendous amount of shame about what I went through.
I’ve journaled a lot about shame over the past years; those of you who have endured the hell that is sexual abuse know what I am talking about.
This recent painful experience I have been referring to here has brought up many old issues related to shame. For example, once again I am being told this awful thing that is happening is my fault.
Shame is so debilitating and beyond awful.
Going somewhat public about this painful part of my journey is one of the ways I’m standing up for myself and saying that I will not live under the oppressive cloak of shame.
Haters really are gonna hate and they are going to keep on hating – sadly it’s what they do.
This experience has driven home for me how much people need encouragement.
What’s that old adage? “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”
There is a better way to live – rather than tearing others down and being hateful and critical of others – it is sooo much better to cheer others on.
This painful experience has greatly deepened my appreciation for, and commitment to the practice of encouragement.
I for one – will not walk the path of hate and criticism. I am going to continue to cheer others on.
I am so grateful for those who have been aware of this situation and who have stood by me in both small and big ways, even when they have been “punished” and sometimes even threatened for doing so.
In closing my heart goes out to those of you who have experienced the tyranny of an adult bully, I know how painful it is.
Many thanks to the men and women familiar with this situation who read over a rough draft of this article and gave me wisdom and much appreciated feedback.
Lastly – to my sweetheart and fiancé – thank you for being my rock, and for the comfort, wisdom, and encouragement you have blessed me with.