// Decibel Magazine

In my last post I talked about having a dream of writing for Decibel magazine, a great publication covering most everything heavy in the music realm. I got a gig with the help of some friends. My story went live on the Deciblog yesterday at 3 p.m. I wanted to link to the story here. Please check it out:

Strength Beyond Strength

So many thanks to Decibel, and especially to Justin Norton, who helped get this thing going.

Follow Decibel on Twitter.
Like Decibel on Facebook.

I hope this article helps people out.

JHS

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// A Dream Come True

About two months ago I posted something on my Facebook wall, as I do quite often. It was a simple statement: “I want to write for Decibel Magazine.” I didn’t expect much after I had written the sentence. It was a pipe dream, after all. A friend put in a good word for me, and sent in a link to my own blog. A day later I received an e-mail from one of Decibel’s editors. He invited me to write a piece for the magazine’s blog (the Deciblog). I’d get 2,000 words to tell my story of survival and how music—namely metal—helped in my recovery. Needless to say, I was pretty excited.

I started writing that very same day. Before I knew it I had written almost 1,000 words. At that point I thought I needed to outline a bit. So I did. It helped immensely and I was able to finish pretty quickly afterward. Nervously, I sent it to my contact.

News came back fast. Everyone had loved it. I only had a few changes to make and a couple of questions to answer. They were satisfied. I was over the moon.

The piece, titled Strength Beyond Strength: The Jason Statts Story (not my title), should go live on the Deciblog January 30.

Dreams do come true; even pipe dreams.

JHS

// Recent Madness

The following is something I wrote in response to our current state of crazy. I encourage anyone who might have mental issues to seek help. Read on.

“(Person), thanks for thinking of me as eloquent in any way. I appreciate that.

I do not mean to put you, or Morgan Freeman, down. I was fed up with much more than people sharing Mr. Freeman’s quote. I didn’t mean to offend. He said something that should be on our minds all the time. It’s not news to me. That’s the reason these kinds of things happen. It’s us. All of us. We’ve all grown more and more apathetic and desensitized to pretty much everything that once caused us—at least some of us—to cringe. I didn’t want to talk about CT for the simple fact that it has been talked about. It’s done. Kids are dead. Teachers are dead. It is horrible. We should talk about ways to fix broken people and a broken system. I was shot and paralyzed by a gun. A gun held by a disturbed and misguided kid. The gun didn’t shoot me. The young man did. Crazy is crazy, and it begins at birth. It can be inherited. Or it can be beaten, or raped, or mentally driven into a person. There’s usually a sign and it can be dealt with. Some people just need help.

Anyway, this is more than I was going to write. It is a general thing, too. Please don’t think it is aimed at you, (Person). Thanks for your response. Appreciate it.”

JHS

// My Five Stages Of Grief

Being shot changed everything for me. Everything I knew, everything that was normal, my work, my marriage, my love life, my connections to people, everything. It’s hard to wrap your brain around something like that. In a way it is tragic. But it could also be seen or recognized as a time for a bit of a rebirth. At least that’s where I am taking it now. I thought I would write about the five stages of grief. My five stages. It seems appropriate to my situation, so here we go:

1. Denial
Denial of the whole incident started before I even hit the ground that night. Before I saw my blood running into the gutter, I already had thoughts that I was paralyzed and didn’t want to believe any of it was really happening. I wasn’t scared per se, it was more of a serene knowingness of my condition. Even then it was hard to take.

These thoughts were still with me even as we entered the hospital. I woke up the next day knowing exactly what had happened. There were a few visitors and every one of them cried. I told them not to, of course. I tried to be a big man and take it, but inside I knew that I was about to break down. Big time.

2. Anger
My bout of anger didn’t last very long. Admittedly, I was pretty angry at first. My life was going well at the time of the shooting. I had a decent job with a great company, made average money for my field of work, had a good marriage to a beautiful woman, and was finally ready to start a family in the coming months. Life was good. And it was taken away. Taken by a cowardly kid who thought killing someone might somehow be better than receiving a beat down from one of his intended victims.

I was pissed. I wanted nothing more than to hurt the guys that had hurt me. I wanted to fuck their lives like they had fucked mine. Then I realized it would do no good. And my brain felt better.

3. Bargaining
As soon as I was able to let go of the anger, I allowed myself a bit of a break. By then I was in limbo, wondering why it was me who had to be shot that night. Why I had to be the one paralyzed and useless, unable to even help myself piss or shit. What if Dave and I had waited five more minutes to show up to the party? What if we had played one more song that night? What if we had been in my truck and just pulled away when we saw the two guys headed our direction? It was all that and more. Much more. Why me? The question. It’s a horrible place to be, wondering. Sinking.

4. Depression
There was definitely a time when I felt unimportant. Not unloved, not at all. But useless. In the way. A hindrance to everyone in my immediate vicinity. It didn’t matter if it was my wife or my family. I felt numb. My wife, Lyra, and I had decided to end our 15 year marriage around this time. It was a joint decision, but hurt like hell. We loved one another and didn’t know what else to do. We did what we thought was right: to give each other a chance at sanity. Even though we had made the joint decision to do it, there was still a feeling of loneliness and a sense of abandonment. Not the case, but that’s where my head was at the time. And it only got worse.

Only a couple of people know this: I tried to kill myself (kind of). It was after I had been sick for a few weeks. I had a terrible infection that eventually turned into a horrible condition (I would later be hospitalized for having a pressure ulcer on my back, down near my ass). I felt like I was dead already, so I figured why not just end it?

My weapon of choice was a gigantic pair of scissors that I’d had for years. They’re made completely of metal and measure about a foot long. They’d do the trick. I positioned them in such a way that they were wedged against a tray on my chair and my chest. My plan was to plunge myself forward, stopping my heart. As I sat there, all I could think about was my then ex-wife and my roommate (and good friend), John. I didn’t think it would be fair for either of them to find me. I didn’t think it would be fair for anyone to find me. And finally, I thought of myself as being remembered as a coward. Never in my life had I been a coward, at least I don’t think so. So I let loose of the scissors and (I think) let them fall to the floor.

I took a cigarette from my desktop, and rolled slowly outside onto my deck. I smoked and thought I had made a good decision. I haven’t thought about killing myself since. And doubt I ever will again.

5. Acceptance
It’s been about a year since I was put into the hospital for treatment of my wound (naturally occurring, not self-inflicted). As I have healed physically, I have also healed immensely mentally. I’m actually glad that I’ve had this time to reflect on everything that I’ve ever done wrong in my life, bad decisions, my past, my future. I’ve done many things in my short time here, and achieved more than I ever thought I would so far. And it’s not over. I’m not dead. I may not be able to move as much as I used to, but I can do just as much as I used to… and more. There are many things I want to do. There’s still time for kids, or travel, or a novel. There’s still art in the world. There are still beautiful girls walking around beautiful neighborhoods smiling beautiful smiles all over the place. There’s still fun to be had, friends to be made, and knowledge to be known. Lastly, there’s still love out there… and that’s enough for me.

I’m good.

JHS

// Alone In The Dark

One of my best friends caught me with tears running down my face last night. I think it’s the first time he has ever seen me do that.

Dave, a friend and former bandmate, was with me the night I was shot. We were standing next to one another when the young gunman pulled the trigger. The bullet entered the left side of my neck, exited the right side, entered the front of Dave’s throat, bounced around, finally ending up in Dave’s right upper shoulder/neck region. Needless to say, we are very close and share a bond that not too many people are able to have. He knows me pretty well. He knew I had been crying. He also showed up a little early. Usually I keep this from friends, as I don’t want to cause worry. It is my cross to bear.

Sometimes the pain is excruciating. Right now it is made worse by a large stone floating around in my bladder. Unexpected muscle spasms cut my air supply, but only for a split second. This hurts. It’s hard to explain to someone who has never experienced it. This pain, coupled with my neurogenic nerve pain is enough to drive me insane. I don’t let it. I would never do that. I have conditioned myself to be pretty tough. I think I could handle just about anything at this point. There is no sadness regarding my paralysis, at least not that I can consciously acknowledge. I am at peace with my situation. But the pain…

Having alone time and a bit of privacy is pretty important to me. It’s in these times that I can sit and meditate on life, love, or the lack of it. It’s in these times that I can harness the pain, but every now and then pain gets the better of me and I do cry.

Alone in the dark, I cry.

JHS

// End Of An Era: Divorce, Part II

The shooting was one thing, but the paralysis was something new and completely different to us. In the beginning, Lyra wanted to do everything. She cared for me so much that she didn’t want anyone else to do the things required to keep me functioning on a day-to-day basis. Eventually this created problems.

We basically began to fall apart. We took out our anger on each other quite a bit. We called each other names. When you get to that point, it is very hard to return to something normal. She stood by me for two years. She did everything in her power. We even went to counseling. It did not help. In the end, she needed to be out and I knew this. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to go through what she did. It was a life-changing situation. One in a million. And I have no ill will toward her at all. In fact, I wanted her to go. I wanted her to be free. From everything. It was a hard decision on both our parts. The love was still there. This was the hardest thing to wrap our brains around. We divorced.

It hit me very hard. I felt lonely and a bit abandoned, even though I had a huge part in her departure. There were times when I felt like I couldn’t go on. But I did. And for the better. We are still really good friends. We talk a lot. The love is still there. I don’t think it will ever go anywhere. We have a special bond. One which I cherish, and will forever. Her name was Lyra and I adored her. Still do.

JHS