Chapter 10: Now what?

Do you know the greatest difficulty of depression? Is to be seen. When I first starting doing therapy I didn’t know how big of a shit I was in. I knew it was big, but no idea it was that big. That is what she said by the way.

Here is the thing, what makes us humans is our emotions and our ability to feel it and express. When I first started therapy I knew something was wrong, and hearing that I was depressed meant nothing, because I was emotionally numb. Therefore, I need to learn how to feel and learn my emotions again. Once I did that I started to understand how big the shit was.

Once I accepted that I was depressed I realized that it was about my existence, my feelings. Just like the song walking contradiction; “I have no belief but I believe I am walking contradiction and I have no right.” That is how it felt, like I had no right to feel how I felt, not even if was causing me harm. Now what makes it harder is when you finally accept and tell people you were depressed most people think is bullshit. They think that because is something invisible and in my case I was a good actor pretending everything was fine. Kind of like on that movie Anger Management with Adam Sandler.

Now the opposite of Anger is Joy and there is nothing more fun than learn and play these songs. I believe that feelings are our super power as humans, because they guide us and life is how you feel. So, now that I got my power back I can say “Don’t fuck with my feelings”. Learning how to sing, play, write (blog and book), write punk songs for kids is such a big metaphor for me, like I am gaining really gaining my super powers back (voice). That feels really good, like I can finally love myself and rise out of the depression that I was in for a long time. Like the Religious heaven boring and all the same and what is worst, in a bad neighborhood since you need to go through the gates of heaven.

Now is time to raise hell because isn’t a bad place, and now that I got my power back nobody messes with my feelings, neither with my kids feelings. Not even God (per Religion), because the truth is people might never understand how music makes me feel, the same way on how marijuana doesn’t numb my feelings it just amplifies, the same way music does. Now, I don’t give a shit of what people think. However, I do care about children that is why is important to teach them not to sell their soul.

Punkaste,

Rirou

Listen up here, I’ll make it quite clear
I’m gonna put some boogie in your ear
Shake and bop, don’t you stop
Dance like a maniac until you drop I don’t mind, I don’t mind
I can run a razor right up your spine
What are you waiting for?
What do you think you were created for? Show us, you care, show us you dare
You don’t know what happened if you weren’t there Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
We know how to do it and we do it real well
Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
Voodoo medicine, cast my spell
Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
Play that guitar just like ringin’ a bell Take it or leave it Going for broke, rock ’til you choke
It don’t matter if you drink or smoke
Speak through the beat, get up on your feet
Sweating like a hound dog, white as a sheetDon’t you be scared, don’t you be scared
Everybody terrified, it don’t seem fair
What are you waiting for?
What do you think you were creating for Out of your seat, blind in the heat
Do the nasty boogie mama, stomp your feet Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
We know how to do it and we do it real well
Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
Go back to zero, take a pill and get well
Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
Be a good soldier and die where you fell Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
We know how to do it and we do it real well
Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
Go on out and boogie ’cause you never can tell Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
Be a good soldier and die where you fell
Born to raise hell, born to raise hell
We know how to do it and we do it real well

Chapter 6: “I have no belief, but I believe I am walking contradiction…”

Well, we that was how we started our NICU journey. Looking back at my life I could clearly see that I went to 2 big transformations which all of them had a piece of spirituality. The first one was a mental transformation back in 2003 when I decided to start fighting depression, and I started yoga back then. The second one was a body transformation that started back in 2012, that is when I started receiving Reiki. When we got pregnant my spiritual awakening just grew exponentially. In every transformation I went through things get pretty intense at first, specially if is a radical one. They get intense because you need to destroy the old in order to build the new. To be honest, that is the only way to do, otherwise you will never change. If you wanna change you need to be Roots and Radical.

In the NICU the feelings were raw an intense, that push all your limits above and beyond. Those are real human emotions and super intense, you literally go from 0 to 100 is seconds. Anyways, for me, inclusion starts at home, so my wife and I pretty much moved into the room that the hospital provide for families that lived far: The Conine House. And that is where we lived for the next 84 days, after all we are a family, we are all in this together. My mother-in-law stayed at home with Bolt (our dog) that did not leave Luke’s room until we were back home 84 days later. Honestly, he only left to go outside and then back to his room. Crazy!

During the NICU time I heard all kind of things from Doctors. I was scared and confused, but somehow I knew in my heart that Luke was okay. I was so overwhelmed with everything around me. So, I had to slow down. I started to meditate even more, specially next to Luke with lots of mental talks with him. I started to receive Reiki every time I could, and I started to go to Reiki circles in the hospital (super cool that the hospital have a Reiki Circle). I also restarted practicing yoga own my own in the Conine house in the early AM before crossing the street to see Luke wake up. My goal was to be strong spiritually so I could help Luke, and be there for him. I told Luke I couldn’t stay there 24/7 there, but I left the Chewbacca mask next to his bed, so he knew he was not alone.

With time everything started to make sense to me. Honestly, the way it felt was when Luke was born he came with so much light that it blind me for awhile. That being said, as the days went by in the NICU I started to see again but much much more clearly, and things started to make sense, and it was really ironic. Once I heard that irony is the face of God, and as I look to my life is pure irony, like I am literally walking in contradiction. You doubt? let me tell you:

  1. I was a sensitive boy that cried a lot, but at the same time I love heavy metal. I heard my entire life, how I could be so zen and listen to metal?
  2. I am metal head that loves punk rock, usually those 2 don’t match. I hear all the time, you are a punk that likes slayer?Yeah, I fucking love slayer! I also love the dark side of things, because they are real and raw.
  3. I feel I have a really strong spirituality, (intuition, deja-vu etc). I honestly feel that the universe and I have a super strong connection (its a huge story). Truth being said, up to now my feelings were 99.9% of the time right, it’s just hard to trust them because of what I learned. Yet, I don’t believe in God because I hate religion (Religion is simply exclusive, like a box or an aquarium). However, I believe in the Force, the life force that bind us together because for me it’s all connected.
  4. I was a pro athlete that didn’t want to take performance enhancing drugs (I always like weed but weed is not a drug). Yeah, don’t pretend you don’t know, 90% or more of the athletes take something. Even amateurs. Anyways, I was racing for me, because I had a purpose for doing 18 fucking ironmans. I was facing one demon at the time on those races, and that is when I learned that the dark side is your friend. I always loved the dark side, and as a punk I love to face them. After all I love challenging the status quo, like I was born for that!
  5. I always said that hell was a good place. I mean, think about it: Tons of beer, weed, rock and roll for eternity? Where do I sign up? and I think most of my friends will be there, so hell here I go!
  6. In school I didn’t want to cheat, and I didn’t like to study either. That is why I flunk 3 times. I am not perfect, I did cheat a few times but mostly on group work, where some of my friends saved me. But in general, I did try to take responsibility for my grades. In the triathlon was the same, I didn’t want to cheat, where 70% of the athletes did cheat. I honestly rather finish last than cheat, again I had a reason why I was doing those races. Physical pain helps with emotional pain.
  7. Now 2 triathletes have a son with muscle weakness, how ironically beautiful this is? I mean, who better than 2 triathletes, to parent a kid like Luke?

For me being a Dad is accepting a Soul that is coming, and that soul is coming for spiritual growth, meaning we are all perfectly imperfect and life is a challenging school. Therefore, the way I see it is I got the son that I need for my spiritual growth and Luke have the parents that will help his spiritual growth, same thing with my daughter that is coming soon (we are at 32 weeks today). My biggest fear in the NICU was how I was going to teach Luke about acceptance, if I haven’t accepted myself. Meaning, I dealt with depression for a reason, and now it was time to heal.

Punkaste,

Rirou

Chapter 5 – I’ve got another confession to make…

I’m no fool… yeah that is from a Foo Fighters song, title best of you. Foo fighters was the most heard band during Luke’s pregnancy in the house. The truth is Luke came with illuminating the best side of me, however that is a side that I have never really shown. In fact, that is the side that I hid for a long time for numerous reason, and the biggest factor of my depression: my spirituality. However, I am far from being religious, in fact, in that sense I am very very PUNK! And no, is not Luke from the bible, is from Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), but I think I prefer Luke SkyRocker like a friend of mine told me. Anyways, Luke lighten up that side of me like the Tatooine sun.

After Luke was transfer to Joe DiMaggio Children’s hospital at midnight, my wife stayed in the hospital with her Mom and I went home try to sleep. By coincidence my middle brother was in USA for work from Brasil, so he stayed with me. We woke up early the next day and went to Joe DiMaggio, and as I was going in to the hospital I had at least 3 deja-vus. I was still confused, but it really felt that I already knew, and in fact felt like I already knew that place even though I have never been in that hospital before.

Got in the NICU the nurse explained to me all the test and what was the plan. I was able to change Luke’s diaper for the first time, and I told Luke what was going on. I also, started to play with him like he was doing chest press since we knew it he was not moving much. That is when I stopped to look the sticker in the incubator and guess when that incubator was clean? My birthday 2 weeks ago. For me, that was no coincidence, it felt like it was written in the stars.

The social worker asked me if I wanted any spiritual practice for Luke, so I requested Reiki since I always believe in energy, and energy do not lie. For my surprise they had a Reiki master in the hospital. Meantime we were waiting for the Doctor discharge my wife in the other hospital. The hardest part of all that was to explain to my wife everything that was going on and the fact that we gonna arrive home without a Luke for now until we know more. That is extremely fucking hard.

For me, when you decide to become a parent your are actually bringing a soul to the world, and each soul have a personal challenge. Why? is life and life is challenging. Luke was no different, he has his own personal challenge like every other soul in this planet (we are all perfectly imperfect), and in my view, my job as a parent is to empower that soul to achieve their personal challenge. That being said, I told my wife: “The answer for all of this will not be in the realm, and I believe we choose our parents, therefore Luke choose us for a reason, there is no coincidence” and I also show her this video:

That was the begging of the 84 days in the NICU…

Punkaste,

Rirou

Foo Fighters song:

Chapter 4 – I believe in miracles

A few days before we went to the hospital to be induced, we talked to the doctors since is was showing too much amniotic fluid. The doctor advise inducing since it could create dangerous for mom and baby, so we all agreed in the day after July 4th to induce. That night, I went to Doctor Google and read about extra amniotic fluid and first thing I saw was stillbirth. I simply refused to believe that could happened, because it was not what my heart was saying, and I always trust my feelings and now I was starting to learn how to listen to them. So, I said fuck you Google and went to sleep.

We went to the hospital with Dark Vader mask, and a playlist of Luke’s favorite tunes (based on reaction his in the belly, on that time his favorite was Kids aren’t alright by Offspring). Funny thing is when I marked on Facebook that we were in the hospital I marked the NICU without realizing, anyways she got induce at 7 am July 5th. On that time we didn’t know what was going on, expect the extra fluid.

By midnight contractions started to get stronger and by 4 am we had a scary moment when Luke’s heart rate drop to 40’s. I was so scared and nervous that our Douala told me to go for a walk. I remember I went to have a coffee and I sat at the hospital zen garden, looked to the moon, that was waxing crescent, and I literally said “what the fuck?” and I started to meditate. After a few minutes I went back to the room.

Things just started to get very intense at 7 am with another heart rate drop, and by 9 am another drop in the heart rate. From that point on the room was full with 3 doctors and 7 nurses. By 11 o clock am Luke was born, and his Apgar number was 2. He was basically brought back to life in my wife’s belly the Douala told me “he needs a familiar voice”. So, I told him “Luke, I am your father”, just kidding, I said “Dad is here”, he grabbed my finger and that was PUNKASTE at first sight. I honestly felt like he was giving me knuckles and saying “boom, I got this!” I kid you not, I felt whole, literally like “The punk in me honors the punk in you”.

In 9 minutes Luke was intubated and we went to the NICU. I felt whole and secure but scared. It was confusing how I felt with what was going on, but I knew one thing for sure…

Yes, I believe in miracles cause is many ways I am one…and I also believe in a better world…

Punkaste,

Rirou

Song lyrics:

I used to be on an endless run.
Believe in miracles ’cause I’m one.
I have been blessed with the power to survive.
After all these years I’m still alive.I’m out here kickin’ with the band.
I am no longer a solitary man.
Every day my time runs out.
Lived like a fool, that’s what I was about, ohI believe in miracles.
I believe in a better world for me and you.
Oh, I believe in miracles.
I believe in a better world for me and you.Tattooed your name on my arm.
I always said my girl’s a good luck charm.
If she can find a reason to forgive,
Then I can find a reason to live.I used to be on an endless run.
Believe in miracles ’cause I’m one.I have been blessed with the power to survive.
After all these years I’m still alive.I believe in miracles.
I believe in a…

Chapter 2 – 1000 days

At the end of 2010 I finally quite my job at the running store and started to live the triathlon life full time. I was coaching and racing professionally full time, so I can say I made but by 2012, I started to see professional sports with different eyes.

May 28th 2013 I finally won my first triathlon race. After I won that race things started to get kind of blurry again, because the truth is I won the race but how I felt inside did not change. I really thought I would feel different, but I didn’t. Crazy because I had that goal since 2004. After I won the race I kept looking for the stars looking for answers, because that was not it! The empty feeling was still there.

Triathlon was not making it, in fact it was making it worst. I mean, I was physically getting tired and sick, and I started to find out about all the drugs in the sport (I was a basket case). Not only that, but also how almost nobody played fair even during the race. Long story, but that just made me angrier. After that race, I bought a book that changed my life forever: The secret race by Tyler Hamilton, a book that tells in details the drugs in the Tour de France when he raced with Lance Armstrong. On that book Tyler talk about 1000 days, something like that he said: “takes about 1000 days in the sport to realize either you take drugs or you will never go far in your career”. Little by little I was realizing that was not for me, and the count down of my 1000 days started.

On December 23rd, Festivus Day I went to a friends house to borrow his bike, because I was changing sponsors and my bike was not ready yet. That day when I saw him with his kids I had a intuition, it was almost like time stopped and I heard: Fatherhood is what you been looking all for all this time.

2014 came along and I did 2 ironmans that year, and after the last ironman of the season in Arizona, I decided to smoked a joint the day after the race. I haven’t smoked in so many years so I went to Ruby Tuesdays and 2 burgers and 2 deserts later I stop to think. I look up the sky and thought: “What the fuck I am I doing?” I was so confused, I had a huge triathlon team, I was racing pro, technically a dream come true, with 6% body fat, another dream come true but I was not happy, or healthy. Weed always opens my mind, and like I always say “it does not numb my emotions, it just amplifies”. However, I was addicted to the stress, and my I guess my ego spoke louder so I signed up for another race in January.

January 2015 I did probably my best race ever, even with a 45 minute flat tire I got 2nd place in the local ironman. My best race ever, but after the race that feeling was back again and this time even stronger this time. It felt like I was being choked. Well, the inevitable happened: CRISIS! This time the worst crisis of my life. I was fucking up in so many levels and in all areas of my life. I remember getting in therapy with a headache for hitting myself in the head, and I told the therapist I finally did something right I am in pain. The answer of course was “that’s not good”.

Anyways, that crisis made me release a lot of shit. I took on writing and made me feel really good. I took sometime off from training, racing and increased my meditations. In one of those meditations I realized I was ready to be a Dad, and at first try we got pregnant. Luke was so ready to come. However, I decided to do another ironman in Cozumel and boy that was not a good idea. I lost my bottle, dehydrated and the race was a disaster. So, I did not finish the race and took the rest of the time as a vacation.

When I came back home I thought, that can’t be the last race, so I signed up for a local 140.6 (Ironman Distance in miles) in Naples Florida, same as January 2015. I did the race, won and came back home the same day, cause that is where my soul wanted to be. I didn’t even stay for the podium next day cause I was really done. The funny thing is back in 2004 I had a dream that I won an ironman with the time of 9 hours and 50, and guess my time on that race? 9 hours and 55 minutes close enough.

February 22nd I complete 1000 days and that day I went for a run, after the 1st mile I stopped because everything was hurting, specially my neck. I looked up the sky and thought, “I think I am done with this shit”. But what about the my business? That was a good question that I had no fucking clue! All I knew is that my soul was screaming for a change, I could not keep that going physically, mentally and emotionally.

Punkaste,

Rirou

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