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Before You Fall - Shine Your Light

by BK Johnsen 6 months ago in humanity
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Learning How To Jump

"This little light of mine… I'm gonna let it shine…"

I always wanted to be a writer, but I never felt confident in my writing ability. Every one of my English teachers had spurned my efforts, and whenever I mustered the courage to show my friends or family my works, I would only be told what was wrong or what was missing from what I wrote.

But in 2017, something funny happened: I fell apart both mentally & physically then became severely depressed. And though this was such a terrible time in my life, the sadness and pain I experienced surprisingly gave birth to an inner voice in my head that said "Finish and publish at least ONE book before all hope is lost."

Well, it took a lot of work, but with the help of my friends and family (especially my sister who co-wrote the book with me), it happened. I published my first book. And since its publication, I've also spent over a year as a live-streamer/content creator/entrepreneur. Now, starting today, I want to add "writer/blogger" to my list of things to continue working at.

As I take my first steps here with online blogging, I would like to start with a dedication to Kenshin. I dedicated my first book to him, and now want to do the same to kick-off my blogging journey. Because without Kenshin, I would have never gotten this far. His one day on earth has once again guided me to a new chapter in my life that I never saw coming. So, without further ado, here is an excerpt from Before You Fall: A Book On Pride

Cover design by BK Johnsen - Photo from

How This Book Came to Be - Kenshin's Story

March 16th, 2017 - Japan

I had been sleeping on a couch located a few steps away from my wife's hospital bed for a month. I was in a foreign country and was trying to communicate in a language I wasn't fluent in. It was 3:00am and I had just been woken up by the doctor. He had come to inform me that my 1-day old newborn son was dying and there was nothing they could do to save him. Kenshin was born 2 and ½ months premature but had survived the birth. The last time we saw him, he was sleeping peacefully in an incubator.

The situation would be terrifying and heartbreaking for any couple wishing to start a family. But with our experiences dealing with infertility, it was especially devastating to us. For the past 10 years, we had tried so many fertility programs and had had many losses at different stages. This was the farthest along we had ever gotten in an attempt.

From a young age, one of the biggest goals in my life had been to have kids and raise a family. We had been close so many times. But because of how many losses we had to go through over the years, my wife and I had decided this would be our last attempt to have our child naturally. So, the news from the doctor was not only devastating because our son would die within the hour, but it also marked a tragic end to a lifelong dream of having a child without adoption or surrogacy.

So, what does all of this have to do with Pride? Well, when your lifelong hopes and dreams are crashing around you, the pain shocks you into questioning what you believe is right about everything in your life. This was personally the most excruciating pain and suffering that I had ever felt, both mentally and physically. I didn't have the energy to care about myself or other people, so there was no more pressure to cover up or hide things that I used to feel insecure about.

When faced with the reality that my lifelong dream of a starting family seemed no longer possible, I had to figure out what I believed in and decide if I still wanted to believe it. I had to analyze every aspect of my life and what I believed was right, and be brutally honest about them: My marriage, my family, my friends, my job, my beliefs, my goals and my purpose in life. Everything. There was nowhere I could hide from it.

The sorrow and pain of what happened that night in the hospital had shocked me into thinking about everything like a child again. I fell down the rabbit hole of "why's" in every part of my life. Why am I doing what I'm doing? Why did I do what I did that got me here? Why do I think the way I do and why do I believe in what I believe is right? Why am I in so much spiritual pain that I can hardly bear it? Why did this all happen? Why? Why? Why?

The non-why questions also were circling in my head and hurt even more. What did I do that led me to this? Was there something I could have done to protect myself from feeling this horrible again? How can I feel this pain inside and still maintain my beliefs about how the world should be good? Am I in this much pain, because I believed in good and the world is just so bad I should stop doing what I thought was right and just take what I can when I can? How can I fix this horrible pain inside without just throwing away all the moral beliefs I lived by my whole life and held as true? If this pain changed what I believed was right my whole life, how could I blame anyone else who also changed because of pain, and why should I get angry at the evils in the world like I always have in the past?

With all these questions and many more coming at me at a rapid pace, I realized that healing the pain and anger would not be possible until I worked on my mental state. So I tried to let time and counseling heal my wounds. I spoke with my wife, family, friends and signed up for therapy. But soon after my therapy sessions, I suddenly had severe stomach and back pains that would keep me up most nights.

One night, I was taken to the emergency room and they found that my kidney was bleeding into my abdomen. After various tests, the doctors couldn't find a definite reason this happened so chalked it up to stress. I spent 10 days in the hospital after which I was sent home. While the bleeding had stopped, I still had a 4x7 inch pocket of congealed blood in my abdomen. The doctor said if it did not start bleeding again, it should go away with rest.

With my physical and mental health deteriorating, my wife and I had to decide what to do next. Thanks to her hard work and care, and some savings we had, I was able to quit my job and tried to relax as much as possible. I tried to distract myself with video games and watching tv, anything not to think about how miserable I was inside.

It took a full year before I felt I was on solid enough ground to begin looking at my own mental stability again. But when I started to work at understanding my beliefs and goals again, I found there was one question I had to answer before I could ever get back to living life. Why did this happen? The first three answers that sprang to my mind were: 1) Bad luck. 2) By design. or 3) All my fault.

Unfortunately, deciding on any of those as the only answer to the question was not helpful. If I'm in pain because of randomness or some cruel design of life, then there was nothing I could do. And if it was my own failures, I would have to start my life over from scratch. Which would most likely mean losing all my family, friends, and everything else in my life in the process. But the truth is often not as simple as it sometimes seems. The true answer was likely to be a mixture of the three answers that I had thought of, and potentially more that I hadn't even imagined.

Still, for any chance at mental recovery, the source of the pain had to be at least partially identified. A year had passed since the trauma, so my spiritual and mental agony had to be coming from somewhere in my thoughts and feelings. Meaning, it was coming from within myself and not anywhere else. But what exactly was causing it and why couldn't I shake it? Every possible idea I thought of on my own and also from my family, friends, and therapists, were coming up empty. I couldn't figure it out.

Then one day, while clearing up some storage space I came upon the journals I wrote as a teenager. I decided to scan them a bit before throwing them away for good, and I happened to stop at a question my 18-year-old-self had written down many years ago: "Is Pride the source of all human suffering?" My eyes lit up when I considered the validity of that idea. I had to look back at all my choices and thoughts about life and cross check them with the intense pain and suffering I had experienced for over a year through this new lens. In the end, re-reading that journal saved my life. Because, before I read it, I had been seriously considering throwing my life away.

Have you ever been so sure that you believe in something but never act as if you do? Death is an example of this. We all understand what it means to act as if you don't believe in death, when you actually do. One could argue most of us do this every day. Well, taking an honest look at the question "Is Pride the source of all human suffering?" was also one of those times that I realized I believed in something, but never acted as if I did.

I believed Pride was a big problem since I was a teenager. But I just didn't fully understand what that may have meant about life in general, until I was faced with an example so mind-blowingly painful and confusing as what I had experienced in 2017. The more I thought over the possibility that the source of my pain might be my Pride, the more I realized that it was Pride that was making me miserable all along. I asked many questions and made many guesses, but nothing ever made as much sense as Pride when it came to looking for the source of my pain.

But I never dreamed the source of my mental and spiritual anguish could be from my Pride until I was miraculously asked a question by my 18-year old self. A question I hadn't thought of since high school: "Could Pride be the source of my suffering?" If I never had considered this possibility, I would go on looking at every father playing with their children in the park with anger at the injustice of it all. I'd be angry with any woman who has the audacity to complain to my wife about how hard it is to raise children. I'd make enemies out of everyone else who isn't in as much pain inside as I was. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that is merely a fraction of the misery and destruction our Pride is trying to guide us all towards.

So after that, I realized the only chance to alleviate my pain and suffering, without destroying who I am and what I believe in, was to understand how to control or fight my Pride. Memories I had throughout my twenties came flooding back to me - "I know Pride is dangerous… but then again, so are a lot of things. Pride is just another to add to that long list, right?" Boy was I wrong.

I thought about everything in my life and considered Pride's possible influences on them. It was a journey I started 18 years ago. But I didn't understand how much pain it was causing everyone, without anyone really being aware of what it was doing. It took the worst day of my life to realize that the source of all my suffering was, and always would be, from one thing: my own Pride.

Pride is what gives us our unrealistic expectations. And then when things don't go our way, we often lose hope. But that pain is coming from yourself. Your Pride. It is so complicated, and such a terrible force for pain and suffering in us all, that I had to talk about it with as many people who knew me personally before I could even consider it to be true. Once I did, the more I spoke about it with others, the more I knew I had to begin writing about it. And that is how this book came to be.

I hope you enjoy it and can find some relief through understanding Pride's role in your life as I have in mine. While it is hard, complicated, and painful, it is worth it in the end. Because, like the great Jimmy Dugan said, "If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great."

Conclusion: Learning How To Jump

"The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself."

-Mark Caine

By Kid Circus on Unsplash

Photo by Kid Circus on UnsplashI heard from a blogger that it is a good idea to read your blogpost out loud to yourself before posting, so I plan to do that for every one of these posts. Well, as I was reading this one to myself, a YouTube video my friend asked me to watch came to my mind.

In the video, Steve Harvey talks about "jumping" and that we all have to jump to discover our unique gifts/talents and to find success through our dreams. But whenever we jump, we all will experience many falls and pain until you finally find that jump where your parachute actually opens and you glide to safety. The ideas in this video help serve as a reminder to myself that no matter how much pain, struggles, and failures I go through during this journey, it is important to keep moving forward and taking those jumps for your dreams.

With this being my first blog post, I feel like I'm jumping out here for the first time. And with all first-time jumps, I'm certain there is much to learn, which means there are many more surprises, some great and some painful, coming my way in the future.

But this actually feels vaguely familiar. I felt a bit like this when I worked on publishing my first book, I felt this when I started live-streaming, I felt this when I asked my girlfriend to marry me… And the more I jump, the more things begin to slow down enough for me to notice some things as I free-fall. I see that one of the biggest hurdles on every jump is believing in yourself. Maybe, a big reason why this is so difficult is because it will be different for every individual.

For me, I find it difficult to believe in myself because of all the failures my wife and I experienced with infertility and our life-long dreams never coming to fruition after 14 years of marriage and hard-work… For others, the difficulty in self-belief will always be a completely unique experience with different obstacles in their way.

But I do feel like believing in the good dreams you want for yourself is a huge step towards overcoming any hurdle in life. Because even as I write this right now, I'm still struggling to believe in myself. How long can I keep this up? How bad do I want this dream? How much do I believe in myself to reach my dreams? To answer these, there is nothing for it but to jump.

And as I take this jump and take my first action to go wherever this takes me, I can see others who are watching not only me, but many other jumpers like myself falling down into the unknown. To anyone who is watching us jump, I just want to say one thing to you all: I most definitely believe in you and your ability to reach your dreams.


About the author

BK Johnsen

Author of 𝐵𝑒𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑌𝑜𝑢 𝐹𝑎𝑙𝑙 & 𝘓𝘢𝘥𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘜𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘭𝘥, streamer, podcaster, entrepreneur, karaoke-enthusiast, & Jedi. Born in Seattle, I now live in Japan with my wife, working on keeping my own Pride in check.

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