Grief, Loss, And Hope: The Unseen Blessings In Our Hardest Battles With Tony Lynch

Widowhood Real Talk | Grief

 

Within the pain lies the power to transform. Today, Tony Lynch shares his journey to show that we all have inner strength and that our deepest wounds can lead to healing. Tony’s life story shows how strong people can be, from a difficult childhood to becoming a father, facing loss, and dealing with personal struggles. As an introvert, he shares how he found solace in himself, but also discovered the importance for men to have a safe space to share their stories and feel their grief. This led him to create “Memories of Us,” a nonprofit organization that supports men going through grief. From touching stories to personal transformation, this episode will help you feel seen in your grief and show how you still have hope. Tune in now!

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others. 

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide

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Grief, Loss, And Hope: The Unseen Blessings In Our Hardest Battles With Tony Lynch

Our guest for this episode is Mr. Tony Lynch. Yes, he is an author. Yes, he owns a nonprofit, but. what you will hear in this conversation is the life struggle that brought him to the place to accomplish the items that you may see on the surface. His journey is deep. The troubles he has experienced, the lessons he’s learned in life, and his ability to look at life in four different ways from being the victim, the villain, the superhero, or the observer Let’s get into the conversation now.

 

Widowhood Real Talk | Grief

 

Welcome to the Widowhood, Tony.

Thank you for having me.

Thank you for being here. Where are you at this current moment?

At this current moment, I am in the beautiful Loveland, Colorado.

Is this where you’re from originally?

No, I was originally from Newport News, Virginia.

That is right down the road from where I’m at. I’m in Norfolk.

I grew up right across the water. I used to fish the James River. I have family over in Norfolk, Hampton, Virginia Beach, Richmond, Norfolk, and Chesapeake Bay. I have parent family over in Kentucky tuck. That’s what my great-great grandma used to live. All of that, Smithfield. A lot of people don’t know anything about Smithfield. I’m like, “Smithfield is the place that you want to go to get your fresh food.” You know what I’m talking about.

What has been the journey from here in the Hampton Roads area to where you’re at now? Take us as long as you want with that. Take that wherever you want.

To explain the journey, I have to go back to when I was six years old. I was introduced to a very very dark world where the reality was that there were people capable of doing bad things to other people. At the age of six years old, I was molested by my neighbor’s son. When it happened the first time, I tried to tell someone and no one believed me. They were like, “Nobody does that to little boys. You got to watch out for your sister.” No one believed me.

When it happened again, I had to make a decision. I said, “No more. I didn’t like it.” When it almost happened the third time, I took a knife and stuck it in his stomach. I told him, “Go ahead and scream. Since nobody wants to believe me, now they’re going to believe me.” I was like, “As soon as you do, my family is going to kick your butt.” I became a different kid after that. The loss of innocence and everything else. On one side, it was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On one side, I’m a mama’s boy. I have a sister who’s two years younger than me. I’m the protector. I’m an older brother. I’m a straight-A student in school. I went to Dunbar Elementary, Dunbar Middle School, up until Ferguson High School. During that time, I was living two lives.

On one end, I’m a mama’s boy. On the other hand, I’m a drug dealer and almost a gang-affiliated kid. At the age of eleven, everything blew up out of proportion. I didn’t even realize it. Looking back on it, it was slowly from 11 to 13. Within that short amount of time, which seemed like it was forever, I went from selling nickel rocks to selling kilos to meeting people. If it was on a movie screen, that’s the only way I’d be able to describe it. You see people like the Italians, etc. These were the individuals that I was meeting. People came down from New York and Washington DC. We all know about how all that goes in Little Haiti. We all know how it is.

These are the people that I knew at a very early age who were like, “We see what you’re doing.” I was so young and everything. We grew up in the projects. We grew up broke, and I wanted to do something. I didn’t want to be broke. I knew that if my mom found out, she was going to break my butt in half. I had to maneuver that world, and there was a lot of things I did in front of her that she never even knew that I was doing. I would have brand new cars out in front of my mother’s house, and my mother would like, “Whose car is that?” “I don’t know, mom.”

I was so young. It would be out there for a little bit. Sometimes when she was gone, I went out and moved them down the street like it was the neighbors or something. I had to turn it back around. I had to move it to other parts. I was back here. The last thing I need anybody to do is to figure out what I’m doing. I got wrapped up in selling guns as well. I’m selling guns to people and things like that. They found it and busted me, but then again, they didn’t really bust me since they were the same ones that I was dealing with.

When my mother finally realized what was going on. She didn’t realize the extent or the depth that I was already in. Her words to me were, “Make yourself a ledger. Make sure you document everyone that you’re dealing with. This is going to save you in the long run.” I say, “Yes, mom.” She sat down with me and we made a ledger. When they finally did decide that they were going to try to make me the fall guy, that ledger came in handy. My mother said, “We’re going to make about 4 or 5 copies, even if they take this one right here.” It’s like something out of a movie. I was like, “This does not happen,” but it did and I was like, “Okay.” That saved me.

Make yourself a legend and make sure you document everyone that you're dealing with. Click To Tweet

At the age of fifteen, I left home. I went to Washington DC for two years from 1990 to 1992. At the age of seventeen, I moved to Colorado. The two years that I was in Washington DC was the best years of my life. I didn’t have to worry. It was a lot of fun. I was lifting. I got into lift and weights. I was teaching karate. I was taking Kung Fu. I was boxing. I was playing football. I was having a blast. At the age of seventeen, I had my first kid. I think to myself, “We’re going to raise this family.

We’re going to raise our daughter.” Unfortunately, when we moved to Colorado, it didn’t work out that way. When I moved to Colorado, life said, “Remember all that stuff that you got away from, we put you right back into a different situation in a different city. Life for the next twenty-some years had been up and down, homelessness, being shot, going to prison in 1994 for a crime I never committed. The endless game of violence, losing friends, etc. It’s been a hard road and it’s been a lonely road because in that lifestyle, you learn not to get attached to people. The only mode that you’re used to is survival. You don’t know that there’s another side to life.

I’ve been homeless over eighteen times out of my life. I never could understand why. The journey kept going this way and that way. I met some good people along the way. I met some bad people along the way too. For me, that’s the way that it was. Have you ever heard the term “It is what it is?” That was me. The first time I went home I was so scared because I had no family. I was like, “What do I do? Where do I go? Where am I supposed to go?” It was a continuous fight along the way.

The second time I became homeless, I built myself from that and became homeless again shortly after that. I was living in and out of hotels, maneuvering through this world. Eventually, I got tired. I said, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” When I got out of prison in 1999, I was shot 22 times by survival gangbangers. That was this whole different journey in itself. I had a two-year-old. I say I made some mistakes. I did make some mistakes.

I know we talk about our journey. On some days, we can just breeze through it and something we remember. On some days, we start remembering a lot of that process and what that looks like. I see you right there, so allow me to pause and say thank you for your willingness to share. Thank you for your willingness to be transparent. I’m going to pick up where we’re at, but I want to shift for a little bit a little, just a little bit of diversion.

If someone is listening to this conversation and they’re a parent, an uncle, or an older sister, can you provide them some things that they should be looking out for if they have a hunch that someone is doing something that is involving it, or something in dealing with drugs, and they are second-guessing themselves, but they feel like something’s not right. Any suggestions as far as confirming their thoughts or guidance on how they need to pursue the situation?

There are a few telltale signs and a lot of them are very obvious. The people that you suspect are getting involved will change the people that they’re around with. They will begin to change the way they dress, the way they talk, and their attitude towards a whole lot of other things. If you have a very intelligent kid or have a very high potential in school go from talking about math and science and projects at school and things like that to talking about, “F that dude. When I see him again, we’ll punch him in his mouth.” Your kid has never talked like that before. He or she has never talked like that before, “I’m going to go get this lit.”

Listen to the names that they’re calling out, “I’m going to go I’m going to go hang out with little C Mac. I’m going to go hang out with this person over here.” No matter who you are affiliated with, you tend to carry that lingo along with you. You pay attention to those things. Are they coming straight home from school? Are you wondering whether or not they’re at school? If you get a few phone calls from the school saying your kid didn’t show up, 9 times out of 10, they’re out on the streets.

The streets are honest. It has a strange way of telling the truth when you’re when your kid or your loved one is out there. Pay attention to it. As a family member, parent, or close friend, you have to figure out how to have a conversation with them. See what’s going on. See if something is lacking and if there is, what is it and how can we work on it? There’s a way to bring people back in but a lot of times, the person doesn’t want to come back in because you got to remember, their perception of gang means family. They are fulfilling the avoid that they’re not getting from their immediate family.

A lot of times that can stem from unrecognized trauma. For me, it was being molested. From there, I became that angry kid. No one listened to me, so that was another thing too. Listen to them. If they come and say, “Such and such did this to me,” pay attention to them. That may be the determining factor of the direction that they go in.

 

 

Thank you for sharing that. That’s extremely helpful and the point that you made as you know yourself is so real. The things that happen to people that are undealt with will bleed out into our lives in so many other different ways whether it’s grief. Even though someone may not intentionally put that word, you grieved your loss of innocence. You grieved that child boy that never got to be that person without now being impacted and that grief started showing up in your life early in that scenario.

Grieving also the adults who did not listen and take stock in your words and validate what was happening to you. As we continue about where grief has impacted your life, something else you mentioned and I don’t want to just go through that. If I heard it correctly, eighteen times being homeless. What advice would you give to people who find themselves homeless right now?

Don’t give up. When we go to things like this, it takes me a long time to understand them. They are just seasons that you’re going through. Although when you’re going through them, those seasons can seem pretty long. It could seem like life is being unfair to you. The other side of it that I understood as I got older is life wasn’t being unfair. I was being redirected. Everybody is going to go through these things a lot differently. There are veterans out there who are being mistreated in the street. People fall on hard times. These things are understandable.

My journey was a little bit different. There were times when I lost everything. I literally have watched my life fall apart. No matter what I did, I could not stop it. It was as if I knew it was about to happen. I had to brace myself. Once it happened, I had to go, “All right, we’re starting. Where do I need to go in?” I would have to figure it out. Everybody is different but this is what set me up to do what I’m doing now because of the experience, the journey, and the process that I had to go through from being homeless. I didn’t realize that when I was going through it, every time I lost something, it was removing me from a situation and putting me in another situation.

Once that situation was done and was time for me to leave, I would lose everything again. After the fifth or sixth time, I was used to it, “Where am I going?” I realized that when I look back on it, it wasn’t that I was being homeless. It was the people I was impacting along the way, so life had a strange way of taking me along to zigzag path to impact the people that I needed to impact from the experiences that I had to go through from living the life that I was living. I can’t view it as a negative thing anymore. In the process, I had to because I was like, “Did you do it to me?” I mean being dragged through the mud and feeling like God got you in a chokehold like, “What are you going to do, Tony?” I’m like, “I’m going to fight back.” “No.”

That’s stuff right there because I’m a battle dog. What I mean by that is I’m a fighter. Any situation you put me in, it’s in my nature to fight and survive. It wasn’t until I realized the process that I went through, that it wasn’t meant for me to fight. It was meant for me to show up. What I mean by that is the eighteen times I was homeless and was moved around and being in these and another required a different version of myself to survive those situations.

You may be homeless in the wintertime. That’s going to require a whole different version of yourself and a whole different set of survival skills. You may be homeless in the worst part of your city. Just because you are homeless does not change what people are capable of doing to you. You have to remember that when you’re homeless, there are no rules on the table. They’re trying to survive too. That’s going to require a different version of yourself. You have to ask yourself how good your survival skills are. You hone the man as you begin to go.

When you're homeless, there are no rules on the table. Click To Tweet

I used to break into people’s cars at night when it was cold, sleep in the back of the cars, and be gone by the time they woke up in the morning. I’m jumping in to go to sleep and get out. I go walk off them wandering the streets, or I would dive into the big dumpsters and stuff and sleep on the trash cans just to keep the other homeless people from trying to do something to me. I wasn’t afraid of that but I was like, “If you try to do something to me, I’m going to have to do something bad.” At some point, you get tired of it, and then I became an alcoholic because I didn’t realize the reality that I lived in. I had to face it, so I became an alcoholic. That helped me cope with the reality that I’m alone.

Thank you. Those coping skills, going back to the idea of brief or whatever the trauma is that we’re dealing with, we will find some way to try to numb ourselves from that reality. Sometimes coping skills are healthy. Sometimes they are not but as human beings not wanting to feel that sheer pain, we will find a way to try to turn that off. It goes back to the idea that if we don’t do it consciously and intentionally, it will happen subconsciously by any means necessary.

You’re absolutely right about everything that you said. If you compel that and use the maker training program, you can add all of that in there because all of it is true. It all depends on the individual desk going through the process and what their journey looks like to them. I can only speak from the process and the journey that I was on and things that I did, where I’ve seen people going through their process on the path that they’re on and watched their journey take them in a whole different way. They had to go through a whole different process and end up where they needed to end up.

I realized that now. Nothing is wasted, it’s how you respond to it. Are you willing to adapt, get rid of the things that you think you need, and adapt the skills that you need in order to face the challenges ahead of you so it doesn’t keep happening? People can get stuck. Is easy to get stuck on your homeless because when you’re homeless or in any situation as a human being, you realize that we play three different roles in our lives. We are either the victim, the villain, or the superhero.

Nothing is wasted. It's how you react or respond. Click To Tweet

This is the circle that we go around in our own individual lives. When you’re homeless, you’re a victim. When you’re trying to survive, you can easily become a villain. I was that dude. When I was homeless and things got bad, I would go rob someone. It was easy for me to do that. I’m saying, “These boys are doing this to me. I have to do something.” I’ll go out there and catch somebody and rob them. There were times when you were in the same in that same circle where I had a lot of female friends and sometimes their friends weren’t nice people. I’ll get that call, “Tony, he put his hands on me.” I’m on my way. You don’t do that. I’m on my way and I can become the superhero.

It wasn’t until I was already in my 40s that I realized there was another version of it. I could become the observer. I no longer wanted to be the victim, villain, or the superhero. I wanted to understand my life. Where did I go wrong and what did it all mean? I need to step outside of this thing. I need to make sense out of it because I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling like I have no direction or purpose. I’m tired of feeling like I’m fighting a fight, but I can’t even see the enemy.

Every time I turn around, I’m getting left and right hooks. It’s wearing me down. I’m falling down. I’m getting up but I’m beaten, battered, bloody. I don’t know how to stop. I don’t know how to stop running. I don’t know how to stop fighting. I don’t know. Who can I call to explain this thing that’s going on with me? I say that to say this. Everybody has their own journey. It’s not for someone because I have to be careful about saying the things that worked out for me because the things that worked out for me are only personalized to me.

That is true, but what I have found and I believe that you would agree with this. A person is tuning in to this show and they hear about what Tony did, it empowers them to take a nugget from your story, from your journey, and personalize it for themselves. We share our own experiences, but the person who’s homeless listening to this conversation goes, “That guy was homeless eighteen times.” We haven’t got to the part of the transition, but they know that there is hope because if you’re only around the same thing, you don’t know how to get beyond where you’re at.

You have to hear somebody else who has endured, overcome, survived, and learned to thrive that my life is not this one season that I’m in. There is a possibility for more. There is a possibility that life will be something where I’m not just existing but I do enjoy and what that looks like. The present situation can be so daunting. It can be so overwhelming that you may feel as if this is where you will be forever. We then give ourselves chatter and convince ourselves that this is where we deserve to be. This is where we ought to be.

This is all that is for me until someone brings a rope and tethers us out of that situation because we’re drowning and go, “I’ve been where you’re at.” In this conversation at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning if someone is listening to this could be on the street. They may have a phone and have bills to pay. This could be their turning point to understand. We talk from our experience but no one wants to hear what you learned in a book. They want to know how you made it in these streets and how you did this because you can read a book, but I want to know how that guy did this. You’re tired and you’re exhausted. How do you come from that to make a change? How does that happen?

That’s the fun part. This is where the journey gets interesting. The last time that was the longest period that I was homeless was two and a half years. Out here in Colorado, we have what you call Indian summers where you may get a couple of weeks of cold weather. After two and a half years, this is my last winter and I remember it was cold and I got nothing. Everything I have is gone. I got on a tank top. It’s almost after the beginning of the winter season. I would say around January or February, this month right here. There was a blizzard out. It’s blowing snow. I mean it is blowing and howling, and the white house. It is in the smallest pile enough.

I am underneath this bridge. Now I drag out on the tank top. That’s all I got. I’m cold and I’m underneath the bridge downtown on 16th Street. I’m down there with a few other homeless people that are bundled up and things like that. This is like something out of a damn movie. We had a little iron burrowed that we had gotten wood from trees and stuff. We had broken branches and all kinds of stuff and we put it inside the barrel and we got it underneath the bridge. We got us a fire underneath there. This other homeless dude that I was with, I’m going to tell you, when you’re down on your luck, this is when you know that you’ve hit your version of rock bottom. It’s when the homeless dude that you’re down there with has to give you something to keep you warm.

That man said, “Young blood?” I said, “Don’t call me blood.” I’m still holding on to the gang mentality although I’ve lost all of these things. He said, “Young blood, it’s cold out here. Here’s my jacket.” The man gave me his jacket. He was like, “What are you doing down here? I’ve seen you down here for some years now.” This old man, we had a chance to talk. He brought a lot of things to my attention. He made me feel bad for being homeless. He was homeless too but he made me feel bad for being homeless. He was like, “Look here, man. Why don’t you get a job? Why are you hanging out on the streets with us? Did you give up on life?” This man spoke something to me that nobody had spoken to me before.

 The homeless dude I was with saw me down there. He gave me his clothes. He was like, “Young blood, why are you down here with us?” That conversation was so profound. This man made me feel bad about being homeless. I have no family out here in Colorado. It’s just me. I’m trying to survive now. I’ve left the gangs. I’m homeless. I think to myself, “Who are you to be talking to me this way? You’re in the same situation as me.” This is what I’m thinking but I didn’t say it out loud.

The wisdom and perspective can come from the most unexpected sources and unpredicted time.

I didn’t understand that. You have to remember, I’m young and hard-headed and I just met the gang life, and I’m homeless. I have no pride. I have no place to go. I’m not running back home. I’m not going to run back home and cry to Mama or Daddy and talk about how I need you to pull me out of this. I got myself in this situation. I need to get myself out of it. That was me. I’m not going to run home. I’m not going to do it. I can do this. That’s what I kept saying. When your phone was like that, you wanted to but I couldn’t. I couldn’t go home and tell my mama or my daddy that I couldn’t do it on my own.

If someone now asked you and they were in the same situation, what advice would you give them?

Reach out to somebody who cares. Reach out to someone who cares. Accept the help when it comes. You may not have to struggle the way that I did. Those were my choices and some of it wasn’t. I chose to go through my go-through. I knew for some odd reason that I had to go through it. Why it happened, I couldn’t tell you. I have my suspicions because it was the journey. It was the process. It was all part of the story that I speak to you now. At this moment I’m with this homeless dude, he’s given me his jacket. He’s speaking life until we cool cat. Now we share the big old bottle of Wild Turkey.

Now Wild Turkey. You took me away. You take the label off.

We had the big square bottle, the big glass. I haven’t seen it in a long time. That comes from back in the day when they used to sell Cisco or Mad Dog 2020, the original versions.

Back in Chicago, if the gang members saw you with that and you hadn’t scratched it off, it had a different connotation, depending on where you were. I would prepare for that trip. I didn’t pack any bags.

That’s all right. We get the clothes when we get to the destination. That’s what it was. We were drinking and it kept me pretty warm. Imagine the scene. We got their iron. They got the metal barrel down there. We got the fire underneath the bridge. On the left-hand side of the bridge, where the bridge goes up, there are maybe 5 or 6 people sleeping on the summit. Up underneath the bridge as well, some people were down on the bottom where a walkway is. I was down on the bottom where to walkway was, trying to sleep up in the corners, trying to stay warm and things like that.

On the outside, you can look out and it’s blowing snow. It’s in the middle of the night. You got that dark light night visioned and everything. The snow is blowing. The wind is howling and this is the scene. I’m lying there thinking to myself, “What am I going to do? I can end this right now. Who would care?” I said, “I’m going to sleep on it.” I went to sleep. I curled up in that little corner up against the bridge and everything. This man is holding everything and I doze off. Early in the morning, I wake up out of a dead sleep. Somebody called my name and this seems to be the theme of it.

As I move forward, somebody calls my name. Nobody here knows me. If they did, they would definitely wouldn’t be calling me Tony. They will be calling me something different because nobody knows about Tony. They only know me by my gang name, which I was slowly but surely killing that on. I didn’t recognize that, but it called my name and I jumped up and looked. It was early in the morning. I’m looking around. I’m looking at everybody because I’m thinking maybe one of them jumped up and figured out my name and decided to give me, “Tony, what’s going on?”

I was standing there. The voice said, “Walk this way.” I’m turning around, “What do you mean this way? Which direction? I have two directions that I can go in, which direction do you want me to go?” I’m thinking I’m crazy or dreaming. I turned around and the voices said, “Walk this way” I realized that when I turned around, that was the direction I needed to go in. I put the coat back on the man. I’m walking around and I got on a short-sleeved t-shirt, walking around in the blizzard, but I feel no coldness whatsoever. I’m just walking. I don’t know where I’m going. It seemed as if I was walking in for hours and hours. I get to a place and a voice says, “Stop.” I looked around. I’m on a whole new other side of town.

I remember when I was standing, on the left-hand side, there was a safe way over here. On the right-hand side, there was a little bar, and on the right side of the street, there was a little bar, and then next to the bar was this hotel. I’m looking at the Safeway and I’m going, “Where do I go from here? I don’t know where I’m supposed to go.” I go and sit at the Safeway. Now I’m starting to get cold a little bit. I’m sitting up here with my arms in my little t-shirt and everything, trying to stay warm. I’m thinking to myself, “How did I end up over here?”

I’m looking at the back of this building and there were these trees over here. All of a sudden, I’m watching people jump out of the trees and go to the building. I’m thinking to myself. What is this building? Is it a kitchen or something? Maybe I can grab something to eat? I haven’t eaten for five days. I’m a little hungry. I could go for something to eat. Maybe it’s a shelter. Maybe I can take a shower. I haven’t showered for about three weeks. I’m dirt and funky too. Dirty, funky, hungry. That’s a bad combination right there. I was bad. It was so bad, but I followed them.

They’re going into this building and I go into the building. It’s pretty warm, but they’re looking at me because I only got on a T-shirt in this weather and it’s still snowing. I realized that it was a labor bay. I’m no stranger to hard work. I’m hungry. I need some shelter. I need to take care of some things. Here’s a sacrifice. I go in there. I asked him what was going on. How does this thing work and everything? It was like, “You go out to get paid the day. If you work today, you get paid.”

I said, “What’s the average you get paid?” “Anywhere from $48 to $56, depending on the job and what you’re doing.” I said, “How do I get signed up?” “Fill out this application, Tony.” I filled out the application. I put it back in there. I sit down and drink a cup of coffee and stuff like that. I’m looking around because all these people are not familiar to me. I don’t know anybody, so I’m not trying to talk to them because I’m not trying to make friends like that. I don’t know you. They call me, “Hey lips, I got a job for you. Here’s your job ticket. Go link up with such and such, brought on the job.” I’m excited now. I’m still funky.

Some things have not changed, but we need to work where we at.

We got to show what we show up at. This was the beginning. I go out. We work eight hours and I make $48. I go across the street to the hotel. I’m like, “How much does a room cost for a night?” I want to know two things. How much does a room cost a night and how much does it cost for a week? One is going to be more beneficial than the other. I’m already homeless. Me being out on the streets is not going to change too much of anything. If I can save up enough money to get myself a weekly rate at this hotel, I now have a week to where I can sleep and I could take a shower.

This is the way my mind is going. I’m going, “I’m going to work this thing out.” I went and found out which it was. I don’t have enough to get a nightly room. I got enough to get something to eat, but I don’t want to spend all my money. I’m at Safeway and back then, you could buy full rotisserie chickens for $5.89 so that’s what I did. I’m like the lone wolf. I’m going to stay where I need to be closest to the resources that I need in order to survive. That’s what I did. Even though I can’t get a hotel room, I know the hotel room is across here and I got Safeway right here. I know the labor bay is right there. All I have to do is try to figure out what I need to do out there tonight to survive the night cold and I can go back in and go work tomorrow.

You’ve been there before and now you have hope for something to change.

I’m not trying to move too far because I’m not familiar with the territory. I’m still in survival mode. My back is against the wall just in case. Since I don’t know these individuals, I don’t know their intentions. I do not know if they’re going to try to get me or something. I have to be on red alert. This is in case I have to protect myself. This is the mentality that you have to have when you’re homeless around other homeless people that you’re not familiar with.


Widowhood Real Talk | Grief
Grief: You have to be on Red Alert. This is the mentality to have when you’re homeless around other homeless people that you’re not familiar with.

 

Sometimes people feel like that in the business environment. Keep going.

That’s the same concept. The lessons that I learned there were the same ones that I learned when I started my nonprofit, and we would talk about that as well. I’m in this situation. The next day, I go out. I make another $48. That goes on for probably about a couple of weeks. I’ve now managed to save up some money. I get a hotel room. I have a little money left over. I can buy myself some underwear. I could buy myself a nice pair of jeans. Maybe some shoes and socks.

Maybe I can do some with this long-ass hair that I got because it’s not being at it. I didn’t wear glasses. I need to get some glasses. I managed to save enough money to do all of these things and have food. When I got into that room and ran that bath water and I sat down in that tub, it was the best feeling in the world. That might be too much because, by the time I stayed there for about 10 or 15 minutes, that water turned dark. I look like I was playing some plans over here. I ran some more and I got some shampoo that I’m using as a bubble bath.

You make what you make out of it.

I get out. I have to take care of myself because the bottom of my feet is swell because of the socks I had on that when I pulled them off, it pulled off the skin and everything. Sores all over, That’s pretty gnarly. I cleaned myself up and got something to eat. I lay in that bed, turned on the TV, and filled up. It felt so good. Immediately after I did all that, I got up and took the clothes that I had been wearing. We’re not doing that anymore. We’re not going to do that. I got a roof on top of my hair right now. This is me.

I managed to save up that money. I managed to get the clothes and get myself in a little bit more of a better situation, not a stable situation but a better situation. This is when life got interesting for me. I’m going through that. I go out on the job. I’m a worker. I go out on a job. I go back in there and they’re so impressed with the work that I do. I have a good work ethic. I just messed up along the way. I’m not a lazy dude. I was just beat up dude. I’m out there working.

I go in one of these days and they’re like, “We got a ticket for you. I think you’re going to like it.” I said, “I’m willing to do whatever.” They said, “This ticket pays $119 a day and it’s for the next six months. We want to put you up here. You’re going to help build the post office.” “All right,” so I went from making $48 a day to making $119 a day. I get into a motel room. Life is starting to look pretty freaking good to me right now because two days, I could pay for a week. I can pay this up and everything and not have to worry about it.

Maybe buy a few extra clothes, maybe buy some new shoes, etc, and splurge a little bit. Enjoy life on a different level. Maybe I go to a restaurant and get me a nice little steak potatoes, things like that. I didn’t do any of that. I did a little bit of it. I didn’t do it to that extent. What I did is I got ahead of myself. I said, “That bar is right there. A little drink is not going to hurt me. I’ll go over there and have me a shot and maybe give me a little pain drink on that. Maybe play a little cool little music. Maybe find me a little female or something like that. I got to be a man once in a while.”

This is what you think about. That’s when my life changed again. That alcoholic me came out. You don’t realize it until it is already too late. What ended up happening was that I began drinking. I began meeting different people. The opportunity that was presented to me was the best opportunity to where “I got a place down here. You should come to live with us and rent this room.” When you get a house with alcoholics, how do you think they’re supposed to work out? I didn’t know that but I was like, “I’m going to take the opportunity. I’m going to go ahead and go and do it.”

We drink all the time. Went to work and drink, went to work and drink. That’s all we did. It wasn’t too long before I lost everything again. I’m going back to jail. I’m going back to jail for six months. I got out and got nothing. Luckily, I made some good friends. I met some good people. When I got out, I caught them up and said, “I’m not asking much. I just need a place to stay for a little bit. Can I sleep on the couch? If not, that’s fine.” There’s like, “Tony, we’re coming to get you. Where are you at?” These people came and got me. They help me get back on my feet. Help me get a good-paying job. I stopped drinking again. That didn’t last for a very long time. They didn’t last very long.

One thing about the streets is when the streets want a hold of you, it has a good way of getting you back. I think that was life’s way of saying, “Are you really wanting this life that you want, that you’re walking in and things like that?” I always say, “I want it. I want it.” The first time I got the call from the hood, “Where you’ve been, man? Such and such got smoked. Such and such is in jail and this, that, and another.” I’m thinking to myself, “I haven’t talked to these guys in years.” The last time I talked to them, they pretty much told me, “Don’t come back to the hood anymore.” I’m on my own, yet as soon as they call me, I’m like, “Yeah, man. What happened with such and such?” “These fools over here at Compton. These fools over here in Inglewood.” I’m like, “What? I don’t even trip. We got to go ride on these men.”

Was it that connection or that family that arises in you and it feels like you’re connected again? You have this family. You’re not alone.

It’s not even the family. You have to remember. I’m a battle dog. I’m a war dog without a war. You create a scenario where I can go be a battle dog again.You introduce a scenario to me saying that these dudes kill my homeboys. I ain’t even worried about the gangs. I’m going home. It’s time to get back in action again. That’s what happened. Everything I worked for, I walked away from and went back to the damn streets again. It’s one of those sayings. Have you ever heard the term “Wash, rinse, repeat?” That’s what happened. I’m going back.

I think I don’t have to be in the hood anymore because although we had this agreement to where I had to leave, they invited me back in because of who I was and what I was capable of doing. Not because they wanted me back. It’s because the people that were in the hood were too scared to go and do things. Talk about a big gang. I do this, that, and another. I don’t talk. They don’t need to talk. We had to do something. Let’s get it done, and then we’re going to get it done. We’re going to keep moving. That was me. I’m the one that you call when it is time to go to war with people because it didn’t matter to me, whether we fistfight, gun plan, or night plan. It didn’t matter to me, either which way goes, I love to play.

You can’t invite me to a party and expect me not to show up. I’m showing up. I expect you to participate in this party that you invited me to. I’m that dude. Now we show up and now realize that that dark side of me is now being released, that’s enough to make the average person step back to go, “We probably made a mistake y’all. He ain’t going to stop. He made a mistake.” Just like that, I was back on the streets and then I had to figure it out again. I did. This time, I developed some skills and things like that.

The process wasn’t too bad this time around. I met some pretty interesting cats. The last cat that helped me get out of get out of where I was at was a pimp. He was fair, back in the day when I was out on the street. He said, “I can’t see you like this. Come on, man. Let me get you cleaned up. Give you some tonight.” He took me and the man took care of me. He put a little money in my pocket. Put some clothes on my back. We traveled to many states now. This is the next step in my in my life. I didn’t watch them term women and all kinds of things. I’ve never been with all of that but to each, they’re all.

What I didn’t realize was that he was giving me the gang. He was seasoning me to get out there and do what he was doing. When you’re out there, you see the lights. You see all of these different things and it’s exciting because you live every day like it’s your birthday and every night, like it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s a party all the time. You have consistent money. You’re surrounded by beautiful women and anything that you want and anything that you want to do, you can do. They put money in my pocket too. I mean different people from across the globe. People that you already might even see in movies. Big names that’s been in the game for a very very long time.

These guys took a liking to me. It was like, “What’s up with him?” They’ve given me a gang that does all of these other things and I’m like, “Wow.” There came a time when I realized that the pimp gang was a very lonely gang. You only run it with people for a short amount of time. The pimp game is a lonely gang. That’s not one of those long-term gangs where you would you hang out with the dudes. They do what they were like, “I got to keep it moving with these women over here.

What I’m going to do, I’ll give you enough gang. We’ll put a little money into your pocket that will get you up in the hotel room, but you got X amount of time. You do now know the gang. You’ve been seasoned. Go ahead and use what you got. You are either going to sink or swim. You’re either with it or you’re not, but you can’t keep rolling with me. I’m going to X amount of state. I would love to see you there. If not, I’ll see you around.”

Needless to say, I persevered. It was the worst and best decision I’ve ever made. I say that because I was never raised that way. The best decision because I made a lot of money in a short amount of time. Worst decision because I have a mother and I have a sister that I love very much. It’s a conflict of interest because I wasn’t raised that way. I was raised to be respectful, not harmful, to be a protector, and not someone who does damage. It took me a long time and I hit that version of rock bottom. I gave away everything. I didn’t want the cars. I didn’t want the money. I didn’t want the house. I gave away everything. I went right back to the streets again. I was homeless again.

Intentionally this time, with all the women that I had, I separated the money and gave it to them. I said, “You all go home. I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s not right.” “I don’t want to go.” “Go home. Get your education. Use this money to get your car and go get your house. Lord knows there’s enough money here for each and every last one of you to buy your old house outright. Go do it. As far as this right here, I can’t do it anymore.” I remember my grandmother had passed away and I remember praying, “Grandma, I’m sorry. Forgive me.” My grandma said, “Why? You have fun. Now it’s time to get back to doing what you’re supposed to be doing.” I did.

I’ve met some new people. I ended up in a different place, and then one thing led to another. In this process in this little period of my life, I went back to work. I end up getting a better position or job. I was moving furniture which led me to meet this other dude, which led me to meet my good friend James, which led me to he had a room in his garage that he rented out to me for $275 a month. That opened up the doors for me to meet this new name Wayman who had a house down in Denver that said, “I’ll rent this house out for you for $500.”

It was a half-acre of land, a dog run, a one-bedroom house, $500 a month. I had moved into there. I’ve worked at the tournaments to get to this position and then now I still have a problem because me and James, we like to drink and we like women, so going out to the clubs every weekend, working during the week, going out to clubs on the weekend, going to church on Sunday morning. That’s what we did. We’re going to go out there. We’re going to have a little fun. We’ll go get drunk and we’re going to go to church on Sunday. It’s a good time.

That’s when I met my son’s mother. It was supposed to be a one-night stand but she stayed around. She stayed around seeing up getting pregnant. Moved up to Loveland, Colorado. She bought a condo. When my son was born on December 18, it was the best time in my life but also a very revealing time in my life because that’s when I realized that the woman that I was with was a narcissist and I didn’t even know what a narcissist was at the time, but she was. She became very mentally and verbally abusive towards me. When Jake was born, I thought it would change and it never changed. It got worse. We moved and then finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and I left.

She dragged me to the mud. I became homeless again because she got me evicted. She got me fired from four jobs and had two of my vehicles repossessed. Lo and behold, the good Lord said, “Thank you for your patience. I got something for you and he he worked it out. He worked it out. I got into another place. Got temporary custody of my son. I became a single father and was raising him, for the best time in the world. 2015, I’m going to go back a little bit and fill in this little gap. At the time when all of this is going on, she is dragging me through the courts, reaming me like nobody’s business, up, down, side to side, you name it. They were doing it. It was booking me some fierce.


Widowhood Real Talk | Grief
Grief: The good Lord said, “Thank you for your patience. I got something for you.” And He worked it out.

 

I got lucky. They finally caught her because her daughter called CPS and said, “You need to go over here and check this out.” Everything I’ve been trying to tell them came to fruition. They were like, “You weren’t the crazy one.” I feel like, “Yeah, that’s why I kept my mouth. You didn’t want to believe me anyway, so whatever.” We moved through. As I said, I got lucky. I got into a place where I got my son and it was supposed to be a court order to where I had him on the weekends, every weekend, which I didn’t mind. I was like, “I’m a father. Let me be a father,” but I don’t know how to be a father because now I don’t know how to be a man. You have to remember, I’ve been surviving my heart my entire life. What do I know about being a man? What do I know about being a father? Nothing at all.

At that moment, I realized, this was just for me when I came from this. I realized that I needed a mentor. I didn’t have any mentors. I looked up to God. I said, “Look. You don’t need what I know. I need you to guide me. I don’t know what it’s like to be a man. I don’t even know what it’s like to be a father. What was I going to do?” My relationship with God began and he began to teach me. He began to guide me and put me in situations to help me learn. He humbled me. My little boy saw me doing all this he began to teach me how to be a good man towards him.

How are you able to recognize it is God teaching you and not yourself?

It’s something I believe. It’s easier to believe that something is guiding me than to think that that knowledge was already there because I never had any examples. That was my way of saying if I have faith in this process because I’ve been protected pretty well my entire life. I have to have faith in this process and if I have faith in the process, I have to have faith that God is looking over me. I want to lean on him.

I want to have this relationship because I no longer can do it on my own. I realized this. Depending on what you believe and what you don’t believe, I don’t fall for anybody for either-or. It’s just the things that help me because if I can believe that there’s evil in the world, I have to believe that there’s good too. You can’t have one without the other. This is yin and yang to it. I believe that there’s evil and there has to be good because I was in there. I was a part of it. Now I’m in this part of it. I got to go, “Let’s explore this unfamiliar territory since I don’t know what that looks like.” God does.

 

 

Let me learn. Let me get put in these situations so I can become a better version of myself and I did. My son began to teach me. When you have a conversation with a four-year-old and he’s like, “This is what’s going on with me, this that, and another.” The things that he’s saying should be things that I should be learning from another individual. He has to get that knowledge from somewhere. I didn’t teach him. Now, the father become the student. We had a good bond and then for the next few years, we grew.

We climb trees together. We had father-son, nice or red Applebees, movie nights at that movie theater, Chuck E Cheese days, play dates, and shopping. He was a growing kid. He got to get the shoes. He got to get some pants and things like that and I wasn’t rich but I had enough to make sure that he was taken care of and got to put food in the refrigerator. I’m responsible because I’m responsible for raising this little man to be a better man to me.

I’m responsible for having conversations to teach him what to do when I’m not around. I was teaching my son to live in the world without me because that’s the natural order of things. He’s going to outlive me. I need to teach him the things that he needs in order not just to survive in the world but to live and thrive in the world, so I have to teach them things that I never knew. He is a plant. I must water him and nurture him, and make sure that the fertilizer that I put on him is going to fill everything that he needs to be a good man in this world.

Thank you for sharing that. What type of nurturing and watering did you receive from your mother?

My mother was a Gemini, and I being the oldest one, would say that our parents do the best that they can with what they know. I was my mother was tough on me. They say I got my butt with all the time. My mother always told me, “A good man does this. A good man does that, good man go this, good man do that, but we ain’t raised no punks around here. If anything ever comes out, you might want to man up.” That’s why I realized that the word man up was dangerous. When I got older, “Man up.” All punks around here, young man don’t cry. The ones who teaches how to be men are the women. They have no right to teach us how to be missed especially when you don’t walk in a man’s shoes.

They may not have a right but they’re left with that if the man is not there.

The problem is that when you try to raise a young man, you tend to raise them as the version of the man that you want.

The problem is that when you try to raise a young man, you tend to raise them as the version of the man that you want. Click To Tweet

I agree, but the challenge becomes that man, not being in that relationship and being there for their child. In that place of desertion, the woman is left to have to carry that. If the man was there, she would never have to have to carry that.

Here’s the problem. You got brothers, you got uncles, you got a grandfather. Why don’t you put that little man with the man in your family?

I get what you’re saying. It seems to me she’s left doing the best she knows how to do. To ask her why she didn’t do all those things. I have a single sister. I have friends who are single. They are doing the job that is meant for two people. They are trying to go to work. They’re trying to provide Godly counselors, trying to do all those different things because the other part that was there to make that child was not there. My questions would always divert to that person who was absent. Not to try to question our burden or maybe badger that person who is trying to do the best that they can. Because they’re there, then I feel like they’ve done a lot.

The question would be where is that guy? All the questions are to him and I’m cheering her on because she’s there. To ask her why she didn’t do this, I would ask him, why didn’t he do that? Because she can’t get she can’t carry the burden of it all and she’s there doing the best that she can. I feel like the scale is not equal in the balance of where that goes because there’s a whole bunch of over here this absent, all those questions go to them.

The reason why I say that is because it took me a very long time to understand. That’s why I said now being a male who was raising a young male. I understood the importance of raising that young male as a male.

Let’s go back to the question about your mom. If you could talk about your mom, her passing, and how that’s impacted where you are with the nonprofit and skewed the things you’re doing with that. We can move it that way.

There’s a two-parter to that. My son passed away first. When my son was born, my father passed away when my son was six months old. My brother passed away when my son was nine months old. My son passed away after a major overdose in 2015.

I mean sons, you said son passing. There’s something else at six months and nine months.

My father passed away when my son was six months old. My younger brother passed away when my brother when my son was nine months old. My son first suffered a major overdose on October 31st, 2015. Only to have him nine months later to pass away from unknown causes. It was 16. July 25th, 2018 which is two years after that. On my grandmother’s birthday, my mother passed away. All of these things impacted me.

I went through that process. I went there a process of grief that I never understood because everything that I thought had been a lie and all my hopes and dreams are now gone. I’m back in a world where I don’t understand that the grieving process is not what you think it is. It’s not where everything that I’ve seen from other people. It was a lot of pain. That was a lot of bad decisions. There was a lot of diffusion and then there was the final stage which was suicide, then the next stage after that was the gift. I went through all of that, hit my version of rock bottom, and lost everything all over again.

The grieving process is not what you think it is. Click To Tweet

Grief will do that to you.

Life came back and said, “We’re not done with you. We got something for you.” That’s where everything changed. That’s where my life was fast-tracked. The grief that was there began to come out and teach me, grab a hold of me, and start. It was like a computer died on dollars. All this information is online. Where is this? After that, it was a fight because life is like, “I need to do this.” Nope. Not doing it. You should. No, not doing it. I’m not doing it. You got the wrong person. I need you to go do that. I was like no. They redirected me so that I ran from it again and it reached right back at me every time. Every time, it was like this crazy Waltz and eventually, it caught me. It was like now that I got you. I need you to do this over here.

I was like, “All right but if I fail, you leave me alone. If I fail at this, you leave me alone.” Okay. I started Memories of Us. I said I’m going to connect with another man like myself. I wanted to fail so much because I did not want to do it but I didn’t. I don’t know how to start it. I don’t know how to do a nonprofit. Let alone how to support other men. I can barely support myself. Are you crazy? We’re not doing that. Lo and behold, all the information I needed was already inside of me. I just didn’t know. It tapped me on the shoulders like, “See that dude over there. You should go talk to him.”

I want to talk to him on they found out that he was in a similar situation to me. Lost this kid, and then it was a trickle effect. I met more people who have lost Jeff and they’re more men and these men sort of talking to me and I started talking to them and then I realized that was formed into these great strange relationships. It was like a brotherhood. I was like, I’m going to do some support groups. I started and these men started showing up. They started talking.

Everything that people were telling me it’s hard to get men to talk and this another. I don’t understand this now. I know it’s not hard to get them talking. You don’t understand we all talking then they don’t know me, but there’s no women around. We’re going to do this then. Shortly after that, I started podcasting because I wanted to do so much more and I’ve never podcasted. I’m a shy introverted type of guy. I’d rather be quiet and go into the corner. That was me.

That’s what happened. I went from doing that to coming out of my shell and hitting the ground running like nobody’s business. what I thought was a long period of time was actually a short period of time. Everything opened up the doors to the opportunities the people I met and the things that the things I was able to do, fundraising and bringing awareness, educating other people, writing a book, movie deals, pouring, and guest speaking. I didn’t see this coming. I tell you what, I haven’t been homeless since then. I’ve missed a meal neither.

I know we spent a lot of time talking about how you got here. We may have done this part quickly. Those were the deep roots of the story. People may see what they see now. They may see, “Tony has a speaking gig. Tony got a non-profit. Tony has this this and this.” That’s the leaves on the top of the tree. The root is the story, the pain, the place that you have been that existed long that this still in a moment will cause you pain and think about what I’ve been through.

People are seeing the glitter part now. I’m glad we had the time to spend with the part that puts you where you are today because the rest of the story, as it is helpful, but the meaning of it comes from those experiences that you got to get to where you’re at. When you’re telling another man that don’t give up, you’re seeing it from that experience that Tony went from. You’re not saying it for some lofty philosophical you hang in there sort of thing. You were saying that from somebody who has been through the trenches of life.

 

Widowhood Real Talk | Grief

 

I know that if I can do it, I’m a poor boy from Virginia, that was a very destructive individual and there are people out there way better than me. They’re going through it. I know if I can do it, I know that they can do it and they can probably do it a lot better than I did. if I can encourage them to do it, I would

Thank you. What is the name of your book?

It’s called Relentless and it’s stories of overcoming adversity. I called out to this book and it became an International bestseller on Amazon. I did it with nineteen other people and it was such an amazing book.

I’ve asked you a lot of questions. Any questions for me before I give you my final two questions?

No, I just want to say thank you for allowing me to come over here and share with your audience.

You’re welcome. Thank you. If you were to pick any time in your life, any age, and you could speak to Tony, what category or age would you think and what would you tell him?

The time when it all started, six years old. The pure version of me needed me the most. I have spoken to the six-year-old version of me and I told that six-year-old version, “Life is going to challenge you. I promise you. You’re not by yourself anymore, because now you got grown-up Tony to walk with you. You don’t have to be afraid anymore. You don’t have to be angry anymore nor do you have to be alone anymore. I got you.”

 

Widowhood Real Talk | Grief

 

Thank you. What gives you Joy?

Serving other people. Helping them along the path of healing. To share what I’ve gone through so they don’t have to struggle the way that I did. To fulfill my contract in this world because my gift is not mine. It’s for everyone else. That’s my goal is to give it give it back to them. Leave this place empty, but leave a legacy of mine so that those who come behind me can be inspired to do better than me.

Thank you. I will let you in this conversation however you want. Maybe there’s something you want to cover that we did not and I leave it to you.

There’s no better way of imminence. This stuff was saying don’t let the moments in your life slip by because they’re challenging. They’re challenging because they want to teach you. Don’t let that one moment that challenges you drag you out throughout the day because then you’re going to miss everything else. It’s worth being patient.

Thank you.

‐‐‐-

That was quite a discussion and I know we wrapped up quickly as far as what he did with the nonprofit and how he has taken his journey and made it helpful for so many other people. I believe and you hear in his struggle and you hearing his challenges that there will be something in your life that you are enduring and going through, and you will be able to leverage what he shared.

You will be able to pluck out the pieces that help you learn how to keep moving on, to help you know that you are not alone, to help you continue on the path and create your journey and your life. Thank you for being here in this conversation with us. If you’re interested in sharing your journey, please email me at WidowhoodRealTalk@gmail.com. If you have topics that you would like me to cover, please send them to the same email address. Thank you for your time and have a good day.

 

Important Links

 

About Tony Lynch

Widowhood Real Talk | GriefI’m Tony Lynch, founder of the non-profit Memories of Us Ltd. grief support for men, host of the grief let’s talk about it podcast, #1 international Amazon bestseller, and guest speaker. My grief journey started after the loss of my parents, younger brother, and my son; I went through the grieving process, and at the time, I did not know and after many bad choices, losing everything and planning out my suicide, did I have my Ah Ha moment and I began to explore this thing we call grief. I have been connecting with men like myself to provide a space to connect, communicate, and be supported.

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide