As I started my morning walk, I let Diesel off his leash to run freely through the open field at the head of the trail. I use an electronic leash to keep him from going too far, but let him off the 6ft leash so he can run his 12 miles to the 2.7 I walk over the course of the roughly 50 minutes we are typically on the trail.

I put one earbud in my ear, leaving the other ear free to keep tabs on my surroundings, and turned on the exercise tracker on my Apple Watch, and the latest episode of Armchair Expert and started off down the trail. Diesel was already running, and prancing in his hope to find any small, moving creatures hidden in the tall grasses of the open Kansas field.

As I listened, and walked, my mind also drifted to my journaling and the recent suggestion a friend made that I move my Facebook posting to a more public blogging space. This has been both scary, and what my heart has increasingly been feeling called to do.

I have little interest in giving advice, I could get someone lost trying to explain how to cross the street. But I have learned that while I often felt that many of my emotional experiences were unique, they are in fact quite common to a variety of people in the wide range of different experiences we each walk through in life. As I move into opening my writing to a potentially larger audience, there are also fears I have in offering many private thoughts and moments to a world that is often uncaring.

In the words of my favorite podcaster, Dax Shepard, in the interview I listened to on my walk this morning, “I took it to heart (referring to a concept by a former anthropology professor) and it has kept me an optimist. Now, I am far more pessimistic about people. Only because I don’t trust anyone on the planet more than myself, and I am so f%#*ing fallible it’s insane! And this is with a ton of tools, and checking in regularly in a community keeping me accountable, and it’s still nearly impossible”.

Even on Facebook, what I write is essentially public, but it is also not of enough interest to most people to have much concern of its spread outside of the closely chosen group of people with whom I am, and am not friends with on Facebook. While I have no idea if my new blog will have one reader or 1000, and I honestly have little interest in that particular detail, I am very aware that I am letting go of aspects of control, and nobody would be lying if they accused me of being a bit of a control freak.

So, as I begin to make the shift to my new blog, that will likely be ready in the next few weeks, I would like to ask you, the dear friends who have started this journey with me, to help me with several things as I make this transition.

While I have offered my own story into the hands of my Lord, there are ways in which I cannot tell my own story without sharing some of the places as it has intersected with others. However, I can closely guard the individual stories and anonymity of those specific people, and institutions, who I believe deserve to make their own choices about sharing publicly. For this reason, as I begin to share more specific stories, and characters from the journey of my life. I will be changing the names of almost all people, unless given explicit permission otherwise. I will also be fictionalizing certain identifying aspects of those people and institutions in order to more closely guard their anonymity.

Some of you reading are those people. Some of you reading know who others of those people are. So, I ask you now that we all make a commitment together. As I share my own story and experiences with the aim of being of use to others, I will promise not to name you, or identify you, to whatever degree I have the ability to control. In return, I ask that you also protect the anonymity of others and to accept the slight deviations that some places and generally less relevant details make from the truth.

I also asked that in the unlikely event that my readership extends beyond a handful of people, that you will continue to hold this anonymity out of your love for me, just as I guard yours out of my love for you. I understand total control is not possible, and will forgive you the same small missteps I hope you also forgive me. But please also know that violation of this trust between us will be as deeply felt for me as I imagine it would be for you. While it might never be any detail of our personal connection that I am ever sharing publicly, please keep in mind how you would feel if it were my private journey with you that I was publicly sharing.

In this promise between us, I ask that whether your acknowledgement be a public ’like’, a private message, or by sharing it with the Holy Spirit that connects us, I ask that you acknowledge this connection and promise between us in your own way.

With that, I introduced to you one of the most important characters who has played a role in my life. He is my brother-from-another-mother, and while the exact details of our original meeting do not currently need to be shared, I will simply say that we originally met in a way I would highly discourage anyone from meeting a quality friend. I will say only that it is because of the great humor/irony of God that me and this very unlikely companion met, and have endured over a decade of, often tumultuous friendship, that has made me call him brother.

With our shared brown hair and brown eyes, and his love of fitness and my frequent struggle to maintain fitness, we have both totally opposite and totally similar traits that make me want to strangle and hug him with the same frequency as any other family member. It is also in honor of some of these similar traits that I named his character after my oldest nephew, who was born the day before my suicide attempt in 2011, and shares some of the same wonderful, and also at times frustrating, traits as both my dear friend Lucas an I share. They are the things that have made Lucas able to explain concepts to me in ways others never could. He also possesses a fierce loyalty and drive for personal growth that are such driving motivators in me.

It was in therapy on Wednesday when my therapist and I had some breakthroughs in understanding the deep connection I have with Lucas. It helped me identify some of the reasons I so deeply value his friendship, although it can often be hard for outsiders to accept that it is not at some level a romantic connection. While the relationship did start out with a casual, physical connection, it was less than a year into the friendship when physical aspects ended for good.

I had temporarily ended our relationship in one of my many addiction fueled temper tantrums of that season of my life. But, this time, when I inevitably was drawn back in my own brokenness, he drew boundary. He had recognized my broken mental state and struggle with addiction. He realized that while with my words I was trying to agree that our physical relationship was only casual, that at the time, I had more romantic feelings towards him.

While he has never explicitly spoken these words to me, his actions of the 10 years since have told me that he understood he had unintentionally hurt me, and he desired to make that right. Since that day, more than a decade ago, he put up a boundary, ending that chapter of our relationship. Since that day there has not been as much as a kiss shared between us. Our physical connection has been hugs and occasional heads on the shoulder on the couch, that may occur when any two siblings watch a movie together.

This is what I have discovered is the place of our deep bond. In all of my life, he was the first person who I understood to value me based on absolutely nothing that I was providing to the relationship. It was only out of his Buddhist heart’s desire to do no harm, and be of service to all beings that he has walked alongside me. In his own way although, he has never said the words to me, I came to understand that he loved me just because I am me.

This has been the love that has helped see me through the broken moments that I could not love myself, and before I truly understood, both the love of my God, and my family. As a child I often felt emotionally unsafe and prayed for an older brother. At the age of 30 I met this brother in the accidental, but not so accidental casual encounter that introduced me to Lucas.