DON’T LET ME GO
4 years ago, after 32 years together, my wife, Amy, decided to end our marriage. It wasn’t the first time. In fact, over the previous years we had been to this cliff’s edge several times before. For me, each time seemed to come out of nowhere. I just couldn't fathom what could be so wrong with me...with her...with us.
We had been in therapy through the years, together and separately. A LOT of heavy therapy with many different therapists. Still, the trips to the cliff’s edge kept coming. We were able to avoid catastrophe before, but this time was different. It was over. Why? Why did we keep returning to this place when we clearly loved each other? There was so much that was right and good. We were a faithful and God-fearing couple who were only trying to do the right thing every day. What was making it so difficult?
Her decision to end our marriage was devastating...life-ending for me. I just couldn’t comprehend this kind of failure on my part...on our part. What followed was absolute emotional chaos and suffering - for both of us. I was completely and utterly helpless...begging God to keep this from happening...begging friends and family to help me understand.
Through all the hurt and upheaval, I was never angry with Amy. I honestly felt deep compassion for her. I loved her. I prayed for her. I hated to see her so confused and desperate. I didn’t understand why, but I knew I was the last person on earth who could help her. After all, I must have been the problem.
Months into our divorce process, and just days away from settling everything, Amy called and asked to meet with me. Immediately I was overtaken by a wave of fear...followed by a wave of hope. What was this about? We decided to meet at a restaurant we often dated at. A half hour later, I showed up extremely nervous to say the least. After a few meaningless ice-breakers, and some awkward silence, she paused...she looked me in the eye...what was left of my heart was in my throat...and she said, “I can't do this.” For a moment I didn’t breathe. I was thinking, “Do what? The marriage? The divorce?” Well, thankfully she couldn't go through with the divorce. Exhale.
We agreed to stay separated so that we could work on a wise way to move forward together. However, as relieved as I was, I knew deep down that the “root problem” hadn't been resolved. It had to be fixed or our history would surely repeat itself, and I knew I couldn’t survive going through this again. We needed a miracle...plain and simple. And we got one.
The months of dying gave way to months of resurrecting: one entire year of separation from the love of my life, but it felt like God had finally looked down upon us and said, “No more!” With His divine intervention, and the right therapist at the right time, we were finally able to get to the core problem...the elephant in the room...the ghost that haunted us...the “monster” - whose identity I had worn for 32 years - called “PTSD” (Civilian - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Yes, we had been unknowingly battling this insidious beast for our entire marriage. As frustrating and difficult as it had been for me, for Amy it was absolutely crippling, confusing, and all consuming...for most of her life.
It’s not that PTSD was a new term in our world. It had been suggested, and even diagnosed by multiple psychologists and psychiatrists over the years, but neither of us recognized how severe it was. In fact, Amy had never really grasped the diagnosis because she was dissociated from any memories that would have validated it.
Let me fill in some blanks here: Amy had spent her adult life searching for the answer to what made life and relationship so difficult for her; for the reason behind the debilitating anxiety that plagued her every day. She had explored many therapists and modes of therapy, but whenever PTSD was diagnosed, it didn’t resonate. So the monster stayed hidden, which made it all the more powerful.
PTSD comes with triggers. A trigger takes you back to the trauma in a split second. Triggers can cause even the most benign of exchanges to become the emotional end of the world, and can render basic relational issues totally insurmountable. Enter the Trigger Man. I walked right into it time and time again, and I didn’t even know I was doing it. Since neither of us understood PTSD was to blame for our marital unrest, I ended up wearing the title of “monster” for all those years. Her pain was real. I must have been the cause of it.
Over the following months, I witnessed my wife, the most tenacious and courageous human I’ve ever known, fight through her demons, fight for herself, fight for her inner child, and fight for our marriage. It was unfathomably painful to watch her get in touch with her trauma. However, it was miraculous and beautiful to watch the healing process in her and how it began to change the way we were able to relate to each other.
Today, through her daily hard work, Amy is able to manage her triggers and process her emotions. She now trusts me. She feels emotionally safe with me. This is all new for us. Oh, and I’m more than thrilled to have lost that “monster” title, too!
So, this is a “happy ending” story where the guy does get the girl...again. And they are getting back the years the damned locusts ate...every last one of them!
“Don't Let Me Go” is a song about my agonizing emotions during those devastating “months of dying,” but it's also about hope...even in desperation. It was an incredibly painful and lonely year of separation for me, but we both had friends and family supporting us, and, more importantly, we had a faithful God who said, “No more!” He then proceeded to rescue and heal our marriage completely. Now we are loving every second of it...loving every second of us...like never before.
The Reveal - playing "Don't Let Me Go" for my wife for the first time...
All songs written, produced, performed, recorded, and mixed by me. I use only pianos, vocals, and vocal effects to create these tracks.
Working on a new hymn - My Lord, My Love
My childhood nickname. My annoying older brother made it up out of thin air. I despised it as a kid: Hode, Hody, Hodell, Hode the Toad. I mean...ugh! It didn’t seem to let up and dang if it didn’t catch on among my family and close friends. It took forever to outgrow, even though I’ve heard there are still a few folks out there who refer to me as Hode.
Fast forward to now. Here I am, 58 years old, and looking for a short brand name to use for releasing some of my own personal music. I look up the meaning of the name “Hode” and it means “to ordain; consecrate; admit to a religious order.” Well then, let’s use it...if we can get it! Turns out, it’s available! So here we go...
I’ve been a music business professional for almost 40 years. As a producer and songwriter, I’m always working with and for other artists. I love it! I wake up and make music. Like they say, I feel like I’ve never worked a day in my life!
I have recently been processing a long and difficult season, like so many have. I just do a lot of my processing at the piano. I have a beautiful baby grand in my living room that a friend of mine is letting me caretake, so that’s where I’ve been. With my wife working full time, and our 4 kids out of the nest, I’ve had a lot of quiet time to sit and create whatever comes out of me with no real agenda.
I decided that I would start recording some of these songs by myself. Just me and a piano. I love that hōd is 100% my musical DNA...no collaborating on anything. I’m known for my overproduction, so it's a challenge to rely only on pianos and my voice, but thank goodness for amps and effects! There are no limits to how many pianos or vocal tracks I want to make either. Believe it or not, all the sounds you hear are made using only pianos and my voice...oh, and some clapping! In a strange way, I find great freedom in expressing myself with these self-imposed limitations. I can manipulate the sounds any way I want. I don’t have to answer to anybody. I don’t have to be cool, and as a bonus, it costs me very little out of pocket to craft and put my songs out there.
So over the next season, I’ll be releasing some original tunes that I’m super proud of. I‘m pulling from six decades of music, so you’ll hear the music that influenced me throughout my lifetime. From my musical sandbox to yours - I hope you’ll hear something you enjoy or find meaningful.
My Baby Girl
Ready, Set, Go! Every evening when I came home from work, my daughter would be waiting across the room for me to come through the door. I would take a knee and say “ready, set, go!” Grinning ear to ear, she’d run full speed across the room with her little bare feet pattering on the tile floor, and jump into my waiting arms - almost knocking me over every time! The best welcome home ever!
Now she’s a grown woman, and this year we married her off to a wonderful man. It has been a time of letting go and expressing to her all that she means to me.
This song captures my delight in her and how proud I am of her. And even though I treasure those little princess days, I’m inspired by the woman she’s become; her fearless ambition, her vibrant spirit, her beauty, and her grace.
So go conquer the world, my baby girl. You have everything it takes!