Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Looking back on the last 7 years


Jen and Kyle Behnke, Cody Jinks concert

Written by Kyle Behnke

Music has always been a sort of therapy for me. I’ve had trouble in the past expressing my emotions in a way that made sense, but I’ve always been able to relate to a songwriter during various seasons of my life. Right now, that songwriter and performer is Cody Jinks. He’s an independent country artist from Texas who’s always done things his own way and has become very successful without the support of a major record label. When I first heard the albums (After the Fire & The Wanting) he released at the end of 2019, I couldn’t believe how much I could relate to some of the songs. The song “Never Alone Always Lonely” immediately struck me and helped me unpack the emotions I’d kept bottled up over the past 6 years. It helped me understand what I’d went through personally, the toll that the prior years had taken on me, and take steps to get out of a rut that I’ve been stuck in recently. I finally was able to put pen to paper on these emotions and wanted to share them with everyone, along with this song.


Take a listen to the song, click here, then read what I was inspired to write. I hope you can see the connection I have with this song.


“Never Alone Always Lonely”

Backside of thirty came fast, but what’s more

I can’t remember younger days like before and it’s a shame

I’ve done more runnin’ than most any age

Whole lot of prayin’ on the backside of a stage, scared to death

Wonderin’ what’s next


And I take the long way around every time

As fast as I can through the comfort of night and it’s a fight

People who love me they suffer the most

See me on TV and all they see’s a ghost of someone they knew

They’re tellin’ the truth


Never alone always lonely

Easy to find seldom seen

Never alone always lonely

On a fast train

Through a slow moving dream


At this point of my life, I feel as if I’ve just gotten off a really intense roller coaster ride. It’s one of those record-breaking roller coasters that turns you upside down a bunch of times at breakneck speed, takes you through some dark tunnels, all scary and exciting at the same time. It wasn’t a gentle ride at all. When the coaster arrived back at the platform, the brakes slammed you to a stop and the seat belt popped open. You hear some excited screams and some crying from other people on the ride. I know I liked the ride, but it pushed me to my limits. I started to get up to go to the coaster platform exit, but I’m dizzy from the ride and it took me a minute to stand up and walk straight.


Damn, that was a crazy ride. There were definitely a couple times where I wanted to get off the roller coaster. At those moments, jumping out of the car at full speed and inverted seemed like a better alternative than staying on the ride. I mean, we were going so fast and it didn’t seem like the ride was going to end. Remember though, I willingly rode this coaster. I got in the line for the coaster, waited the 2 hours to get on and read all the warning signs along the way. I thought I had done my preparation and would understand and be ready for all the twists and turns. I walked off the platform and looked at the photos the ride took of me. You know, there’s always 3 or 4 photos along the ride that show your face through the experience. The photos don’t lie – there were times I was definitely scared out of my mind and times I loved what I was doing. Now, here I stand at the platform with my newly purchased photos (you always have to get the photos), trying to catch my breath and get my legs back under me.


Jen and Kyle Behnke, Mack Trucks Customer Center

I feel like I’ve been trying to catch my breath and stand back up for about the past year now. I hit 40 years old last year and I really only remember the last 7 vividly – the roller coaster. My family has hit some amazing highs along the way. Our son was born in 2014, and what a wonderful boy he is. He has the best laugh and it’s hard not to smile when he’s letting out a big, belly laugh. Our son is also the most thoughtful boy there is and tries his best to make his family happy. Jen and I started a trucking company and we’ve grown that to the thriving business it is today, where over 40 people now work. We’ve bought a new house, new cars, and other stuff that used to be things I’d only dreamed about.


James at Buc-ee's, Temple, TX

We also had some incredible lows that seemed so insurmountable. The joy of having our son was shadowed by events that felt like machine-gun fire over the next 2 years. Jen’s post-partum struggles, which included multiple hospitalizations for her over the next year, left me wondering if a normal life would ever be possible again. An unfortunate accident when our son was 2 months old caused our son to have burns on his leg, requiring emergency surgery in a town 3 hours away from our home. That was one of the events that caused my wife to go back into the hospital. As she was getting back on her feet again, here came the family strife. Instead of coming together and helping us get through these tough times, blame was being assigned and those family members wanted me to pay for it. People who I thought cared for us and wanted to help us were instead trying to break our family apart. I couldn’t believe or understand what was happening.


Things did slow down some, but we still suffered some serious blows. Suicide took away a family member. Two grandparents died. About 2 years into our business, we were close to going under because we had very little cash left. It was so bad that our son (3 years old at the time) heard my wife crying, wondering where we would get some cash to pay for truck repairs and other bills. He came into the office with his piggy bank said, “You can have this to pay for it.”


That’s the part of the roller coaster where you want to jump off because its scary and it’s all happening in slow motion, with incredible intensity that seems never-ending. You’re also moving at 200 MPH and you’re so disoriented from the G-forces of the ride that you can’t even hit the eject button if you wanted to. Sometimes, that chaos can be a blessing in disguise. Had I stopped the ride at that point, I would have missed out on all the rewards and blessings that were to come from staying on.


Kyle and James Behnke, Iron Mt. ATV Park


At some point you realize that you’re not the first person who has ridden that roller coaster. Other people have survived and even gotten back in line to ride it again. You learn to draw strength from those facts. Adrenaline kicks in and you start to fight back against everything that’s being fired at you. I fought like hell and then I kept fighting. I took care of our son every night for almost 3 years, allowing my wife to get the sleep she needed to get well again. I stood up to the family members who were trying to tear us apart. I worked a second job while our business was getting its financial footing established. I fought against other people and businesses who were trying to harm what we had built. I believe God gave me the strength and perseverance to keep going.


And then finally, things got quiet. This roller coaster ride finally ended.


Kyle Behnke and Dale Moore, Mack Trucks Customer Center

As I reflect back on the last 7 years, I’m starting to see the effects of the ride. I’ve achieved a lot of goals I had set out for myself. Our family is on good financial footing. Our business is strong. I’ve grown tremendously as a business leader, learning how to navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. The 40+ employees that depend on our business for work can provide a good living for their families. My wife is healthy and getting the recognition she deserves, both for being a mother and a business woman. Our son is thriving, both in school and in sports. I’m truly able to say I’m living the American dream right now.


Although, the success of overcoming all these struggles has come at a cost. It’s been more than just regular wear and tear on my body over the last 7 years. Between taking care of our son in the middle of the night and taking phones calls for a 24/7 business, I didn’t get a lot of sleep. I could easily say I did not get a full night of uninterrupted sleep for about 4 years straight. The 4+ years of constant stress were hard on my body too. I didn’t cope with things in the healthiest of ways, mainly suppressing my emotions and leaning on my vices to get me through the tough days. I didn’t let my family see weakness, as I thought they needed to see that I wasn’t buckling under the pressure. I certainly did not let anyone in the business world see our struggles. I always wanted to lead people to believe we were doing just fine. Those coping methods led to me gaining weight. I had begun getting angry at people for no reason. Many times, it was my family members who took the brunt of that. I finally sought help help from my doctor, which led to me being diagnosed with depression. Getting older doesn’t help either and I think I’m starting to understand I don’t have the limits of a 25-year-old anymore.


So, here I am. I’m off the roller coaster and the dizziness is fading. I’ve realized that the ride was all-inclusive, meaning one can’t just experience the joys and thrills of the ride without going through the scary and fast parts that push you to your limits. There’s no question that the thrills of success and building my life outweigh the struggles we went through. I’m definitely going to ride another roller coaster. But, I’m going to need to do some maintenance on myself first, and then I’m ready to start that journey.