Normally, John posts on this blog, but today, I wanted a chance to share my thoughts about a tragedy.
I vividly remember the first time I met Trey Pennington. My husband, John, and I were at Launch Greenville. I was not at all thrilled over giving up one of our precious Saturdays to spend sitting in a seminar hearing people talk about launching business in Greenville. John and I were perfect candidates for this gathering as we had recently started our new business with Homeland Secure IT. We soaked in every word of the day although later we agreed that there was little to offer in the way of new material to our business plan. I guess this at least gave us a “good job” pat on the back. I will never forget and have thought of it often as we were talking to others during a break period, Trey coming up to us to chat. Sensing our struggles as new business owners, he wasted no time in connecting with us through family experiences. He mentioned his regret of not having his wife by his side at such events, but understood given their six children. Trey offered a boost of confidence in telling us how recent his business had taken a turn in a better direction since recently his family was at a church dinner and both he and his wife had only one dollar to their name. Today was a different situation he indicated with a thankful heart.
I ran into Trey at a few more conferences in Greenville after that first meeting and connected with him over Twitter and Facebook in the two years to follow. Every time I saw Trey, I always felt a sense of pain in his tired, puffy eyes. John and I always dismissed this as a tribute to having such a big family and always keeping up with their ongoing activities as well as a traveling business. Then in June, around the 20th, we hear of Trey’s desire to end his life and news of ultimate divorce. John and I both could relate.
One thing that I find extremely irritating as I read it over and over again in posts and blogs is how great Trey appeared… all skinny and healthy. When did “Skinny” become the new “Healthy”? I am certainly not in the medical field, but I can speak from experience. Thin can be an outward cry for help…an attempt to gain control. I have lived in the place of such dark despair that eating becomes a huge effort, and even swallowing past the huge lump in your throat almost causes a gag reflex. I remember how the days continue on in one long sequence and it’s suddenly hard to remember the last meal you ate much less enjoyed. This feeling feeds into the dark tomb of emptiness and exercise becomes the only therapeutic relief from the pain. Then one day you begin to hear from others in passing, “Wow, look how much weight you’ve lost! You look great!” I began to wonder if I looked so bad before, why didn’t someone tell me? THIS looks great? Boy, if you only knew what I look like on the inside! And the nightmare continues! Someone once asked me, “What are you doing to lose so much weight and get into great shape?” I was quick to bark back with, “You don’t want this diet plan it’s called DIVORCE! You RUN to escape and NEVER EAT!”
I saw this look in Trey’s eyes. The cry for help in his photo posts at the Fall’s Park Bridge and Starbucks downtown. His lips pursed and unhappy, his eyes sagging with exhaustion. But like many, I just didn’t feel close enough to reach out to him. What is “close enough” to reach out to someone? When is it okay to let your guard down and assume someone will respond in like? I have NO idea what details Trey was faced with in his life anymore than the rest of you scouring social media to find answers to his decision not to continue on in this life. I have to say that I too was tossed out of my church and I do believe that I must have felt something similar with an institution that once consumed most of my life. This church faced me and said that they were tired of the drama my family’s problems were bringing and it needed to end. They strongly suggested that I leave quietly even though I was not to blame (I was the victim). I should leave “for a season” and allow things to cool down. After all it was much easier for me to walk away than to ask my husband to leave since his entire family attended the church and offered a big financial support. Really? I left with my tail tucked. I’m so amazed to hear of something like this happening to someone else. I am very thankful that I discovered my faith in God is stronger than my faith in church. We are all only human after all.
I have mixed emotions about the passing of Trey Pennington. Anger that he has cheated his children of the beautiful moments that could have been. Frustration that he gave up on life and the lives that he had yet to touch. Pity that his dark demonic life was too dark for him to find any more light. Sadness for his friends and family that will never have the chance again to make an uplifting contribution in the life of a great man.
Pamela Hoyt – Homeland Secure IT
@PamelaHoyt – http://www.facebook.com/PamelaMHoyt