2018 Review of James Master

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” – John 8:7 (NKJV).

I like to judge and criticize books, movies, people, and even the State of Michigan. Upon reflection, I really shouldn’t though because I’m just as flawed as the things I critique. Except, maybe, for Michigan. I mean really guys, get your act together.

See? There I go again.

As 2018 comes to a close, I’ve taken an inventory of my accomplishments as well as my failures. I believe most of us, humans, do that. It’s only natural to look back on the year and feel proud about what we did. Sometimes we feel guilty or remorse over actions. So I thought, as recompense for all of my judging this last year, I’d remark about some of my accomplishments as well as my failures.

Accomplishments:

  • unnamedI lost 88.4 pounds (total) in 2018. On January 1, 2018 I weighed 452.2 pounds. Today, December 31, 2018 I stepped on the scale and saw 360.8 in bright blue numbers. Even though I had gained 7 pounds since Thanksgiving, I wasn’t disappointed. You can’t see me as I write this right now (hopefully because if you can then that’s plain creepy), but I’m wiping away a few tears. It’s been a long year in terms of losing the weight. Peer pressure isn’t something you should give into, but in May I finally succumbed. My sister and brother-in-law (who actually is more like a brother, but for the purposes of clarification I put “in-law” there) had for months tried to get me to try the Keto Diet. I’ve come to realize that when they tell me to do something, I should just do it. It’s been the key to my weight loss this year.
  • I had a book, The Book of Mark, and the short story The Haunting of Divine Hearts Seminary, in Crossroads In The Dark IV: Ghosts, published this year. I’ve also edited a book that was published in December. Another anthology I helped with was also published this year. It’s been a very productive and interesting year for me as a writer/editor/storyteller.
  • I became the editor of The Starke County Leader. The Leader is the weekly paper that covers all of Starke County, Indiana. Sure, it’s been a bit of a learning curve because it’s a tad different setting and atmosphere from my prior paper, The Pilot News, but I’ve come to really appreciate the people and the county. Growing up in the county to the north, I’d always heard jokes about Starke County. I’ve even made some of those in my youth, I’m ashamed to admit (I’m trying to be brutally honest in this review of myself). However, since becoming the editor, I have gained respect and appreciation for the people and the county. It just goes to show that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.
  • IMG-7745My website, the one you’re on now, has surpassed my expectations in terms of viewership. In 2017, I had a total of 197 views. As of this writing (it’s about 11a.m. here) I’ve had 939 views. I attribute that to you, my readers, and I can’t thank you enough for your time and attention. Sure, I could say that I put more effort into constant content and made sure to promote that content, but if it wasn’t for you all this wouldn’t be in the Accomplishment section. It’d be in the Failures. So… thanks. I’ve got some plans for growing the site so hopefully so all stick with me.
  • I grew as a Christian. If you couldn’t surmise from the quote at the top of the page, I am a Christian. But I never used to be. To be brutally honest with you all, there was a time in my life (not that long ago) that I would say that I believed in God, but I didn’t. Or I would go to church on Sunday, but then never pick up the Bible or act like a Christian during the weekdays. Ironic, isn’t it, that a horror author lived his life as one of the Walking Dead. It wasn’t until earlier this year, maybe around March, that I decided that I needed to make a change. Two years prior to that moment, my wife had left me, and I was living life in a fog. Reflecting back on that period now I can’t really tell you what happened. I was depressed. I was guilt-stricken. I was at my rock bottom. Maybe it was the weight loss, the looming finality of divorce, or sudden realization that I needed to get my life back on track. Either way, God brightened my life and burned away the fog of guilty and depression.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not the perfect Christian. I still judge and criticize at times (I’m looking at you Michigan). My mouth still spouts a swear word every now and then. And I’m struggling about whether or not to continue my career as a horror genre author. Regardless of those faults, I am making an honest attempt to walk the walk. That moment in March, I decided that since I’m becoming physicallyhealthier, I also need to be spiritually healthier.

Failures:

  • My marriage of nine years ended in 2018. Might as well get the biggest failure out of the way first, right? My wife and I married July 11, 2009. We divorced on June 22, 2018. Even writing that, even now, is tough. In fact, I’m thinking about deleting this entire section and only focusing on the Accomplishments. Sure, that would be easier and portray me in a better light, but that wouldn’t be an honest review of myself.

    I won’t go into detail on why we separated. I have my own explanations and so does my ex-wife. When the final straw in our marriage broke, she ended up leaving in July 2016. The first and last time I saw her after that was at the divorce hearing two years later.

    Even though I know that blame could be attributed to both parties, I blame the divorce solely on myself. I could have driven to where she was and stood outside her window holding a boombox blaring some Peter Gabriel. I could have flooded her voicemail box with calls. I could have sent flowers and letters begging for her to come back. I could have fought for our marriage.

    I didn’t do any of those things. The only thing I did was give her what she said she wanted: space. It was that simple action, or rather inaction, that sealed our marriage’s fate.

    When I was a child, my parents divorced. I’ve talked about this subject a bit in previous rants. To be blunt, it tore our family apart. It’s been years since my siblings and I have been in the same room. In the years that followed their divorce, my father would remarry several women. With each new family I was forced to integrate with, I couldn’t help feeling a bit neglected. I spent every other weekend at my father’s house, and it seemed that he’d rather spend that time either working, sleeping, or with his new family. Now, let me say that I don’t resent my father or have any ill feelings towards him. I have always loved my father and will always love him. I was a teenager back then and I didn’t know anything about how the world works.

    Fast forward a few years to 2009. I was adamant that I would never get divorced. I never wanted to put my children and other loved ones through what my siblings and I suffered. I didn’t want my children to feel neglected when I remarried. I didn’t want my kids to have to choose between their mother and father. Strictly speaking, I didn’t want to become my father.

    The point in all of this is that when my wife left me, my worst fear had come true. I knew my wife would never come back. She was, and probably still is, someone who follows through with what she plans to do. No one can deter her for long.

    I fell hard. I didn’t really care about anything other than keeping up the appearance that I was fine. I went to work, paying the essential bills, wrote at home, fed the cat, showered, hung out with friends and family, and drank coffee. I became heavily addicted to video games. As soon as I got home after work, I’d hop onto the PS4 and play Smite (it’s this third person League of Legends) until it was time for bed (typically 1 or 2 a.m.). Rinse and repeat.

    When I did go to church, friends would ask me how I was doing to which I’d say “Oh, I’m fine.” I’d sit in my usual seat (fourth row from the back, second seat to the left end). I don’t know if it was habit or the hope that my wife would come back, but I’d leave her seat vacant.

    I hit rock bottom. Hard. Like I said earlier. I was in a fog of depression and guilt.

  • My dear readers: There are many other failures I’ve dealt with this year. None of them compare to the one I just wrote about. Maybe next year.

This was just a snapshot of my year. There were other events that were accomplishments and failures, but I didn’t touch on them because I felt the ones listed were enough. Please understand that none of these things were easy for me to write about, especially the divorce. If you know me then you know I’m not much of an extrovert so when (“if” is probably the more accurate term) I post this, please know that I’m uncomfortable putting it out there.

Thank you all for your support during the year. It could have been buying one of my books, a kind comment, a visit to my website, a Twitter follow, or maybe you saw me at church/work/somewhere else and asked how I was doing.

By the way, if you were to ask me today how I am doing I would reply: “I’m fine, but I’m getting better every day.”

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