D. Paul Fleming
Tell Your Story

Trauma does not discriminate. Trauma is trauma.

D. Paul Fleming
Listen Now
Show Notes

US Navy veteran D. Paul Flemming(D Paul Fleming) wrote a book called 2442 Steps to Crazy. It is an epic true story of his life and how he has faced his trauma head-on after years of suppression. His mission now is to advocate for veterans and help them heal from trauma, post-traumatic stress, and childhood abuse. He has been married for decades and raised six children. Committed to helping people break free from stigma and share their stories, D Paul Fleming is exploring different writing genres to reach as many people as possible.

“Trauma belongs in the eyes of the person who suffered it, and nobody, in my opinion, nobody should weigh or judge the level of trauma. It is up to the individual to determine how severe the trauma is. ”

– D Paul Fleming

Key Takeaways:

Breaking the Silence on Veteran Suicide: Veteran suicide rates are alarming, emphasizing the urgency of addressing the issue. Destigmatizing and openly discussing suicide within the military community is crucial. Suicide prevention support is readily available by dialing 988 in the USA, providing a tangible resource for those in need.

First Step Towards Healing: Initiating change starts with taking that challenging first step, especially when dealing with trauma. Individuals need to recognize that they are not alone in their pain. Acknowledging the difficulty of the first step fosters a shared understanding that pain and suffering are universal.

Healing Through Storytelling: Storytelling has been a foundational aspect of human history, providing a powerful avenue for connection and healing. Sharing stories creates a collective understanding of the human condition. Storytelling reinforces the idea that individuals are not alone in their experiences, fostering a sense of shared humanity.

Embracing Diversity in Spirituality: Cultural beliefs vary widely on the meaning and practice of faith. Respecting and allowing individuals to have their personal faith system, even if it differs from one’s own, aligns with the core teachings of many religions. Embracing diverse spiritual beliefs contributes to a more inclusive and understanding society.

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Black Hawk Books

Mark Divine  0:00  

Welcome to the Mark Divine Show. This is your host, Mark Divine. Super stoked to have you here. I appreciate it, I don’t take it lightly. I love to talk to folks from all walks of life on the show: martial arts grandmasters, high-powered CEOs, Stoic philosophers, and veterans who are on the leading edge of helping people heal from post-traumatic stress and overcome suicidal tendencies. So today, we’re going to talk to D. Paul Fleming, who’s retired disabled US Navy veteran. He’s a life coach and he’s an author, his book, 2442 Steps to Crazy, and a follow on what he calls the crazy series, is a story about personal transformation and overcoming childhood abuse and trauma at the hands of a tyrannical family member. D. Paul Fleming’s mission now is to advocate for veterans and help them heal from trauma, post-traumatic stress, and childhood abuse. He has been married for years, for decades. He’s raised six children and enjoys nine grandchildren. D. Paul Fleming, who goes by Doug joins us today. Thank you for joining me on the Mark Divine show.

Mark Divine  1:03  

Doug, so stoked to have you here on the Mark Divine Show. Appreciate you joining me today.

D Paul Fleming 1:06

Hey, Mark, it’s great to be with you. 

Mark Divine 1:08

Where are you right now? I love your background, by the way, super patriotic. You got the 13 colonies. You got the other American, the full American flag to your right, presidential seal, got the eagle.

D Paul Fleming 1:18

A couple of folded flags from some funerals. My grandfather landed on a beach in Normandy. 


Mark Divine 1:14

No kidding. 


D Paul Fleming 1:25

Oh, yeah, my other grandfather… 


Mark Divine 1:26



D Paul Fleming 1:27

…rode submarines out of the Pacific, half a dozen combat patrols and in submarines in the Pacific. 


Mark Divine 1:33

That’s incredible. 


D Paul Fleming 1:33

My wife’s father, her flag is here he was a Marine. 


Mark Divine 1:36

What was it like growing up in kind of the shadow of that? And what were some of your origin, challenges origin story, things that shaped who you are? 


D Paul Fleming 1:45

Oh, I didn’t find out about either my grandfathers until after I was in the military. Well, I knew both grandfathers were in the military. But I’d never met my mother’s biological grandfather, which is a story in and of itself, Native American who jumped reservation, claimed to be white, and spent 30 years in the military.


Mark Divine 2:05



D Paul Fleming 2:06

Back when a Native American would be nothing but a cook or a stewart, you know, just like blacks and others that were…


Mark Divine 2:11



D Paul Fleming 2:12

…segregated. And in that time, I had a pretty unflattering upbringing. I learned a lot about that history post my entrance into the military. And then I really warmed up to my grandfather, who was on the beach of Normandy, but he was a great inspiration in my life. You know, he was a light tower, so to speak, that I could constantly come back to, and he’d say, he’d say, hang in there, it gets better


Mark Divine 2:35

And so you knew him. I mean, you had a relationship with him?


D Paul Fleming 2:37

I did. Probably my favorite relative growing up. 


Mark Divine 2:41

So unflattering, if you want to go deeper into that?


D Paul Fleming 2:44

Well, I wrote a book on it, Mark. 


Mark Divine 2:46

2442 Steps to Crazy.What a cool title.


D Paul Fleming 2:48

Thank you. I wrote that book not because I wanted to tell my story. It’s the last thing I wanted to do. But I have a deep faith, deeply religious in my own way, and much time talking to others about it, because we want to talk about those things. But my faith kept pushing me into telling my story. My thoughts were always, who the hell would want to read this crap. And, you know, I struggled, had a come to Jesus moment in order to get that thing written and then publish it. And then I gotta tell you, it has been a continuous help to a tremendous amount of people overcome their own struggles and find a starting point to move forward. 


Mark Divine 3:28

First of all, what is the title reference the 2442 steps? What does that mean?


D Paul Fleming 3:32

The steps, for me, it was an it became kind of a motto in my life, where that first step was always the hardest. Everybody knows that the first step is always the hardest. But for me, going back to the house that I was raised in that was always a tough first step. So I used to do as used to count the steps from wherever I was to that side door when I would go into that house. And the book 2442 Steps is about a starting point and getting to that endpoint, the point of no return, so to speak, at that side door and entering into the world of insanity and crazy. That’s kind of where I, where I pulled the name from for the title. 


Mark Divine 4:16

That’s cool. So that’s the you made a choice to kind of go back and confront the demons of your past by going back to your childhood home, that kind of unlocked all the memories or or helped you deal with the challenges.


D Paul Fleming 4:28

Not so much physically going back. Cause I’m actually, you know, 10 miles from that house now. 


Mark Divine 4:33



D Paul Fleming 4:33

So it’s a metaphor for your your childhood trauma. 


D Paul Fleming 4:36

Yeah, it is. It is. The reality is a 2442 steps is from the high school that I was in to that particular door. I would count every step that I would take, it’s a way to try to deflect that anxiety that, you know, builds if you focus too far out. You’re always trying to focus on when you’re trying to get through something that’s tough. Focus on every moment, and you know, they all add up in


this case, 2442 steps to that door. 


Mark Divine 5:04

So what happened on the other side of that door? 


D Paul Fleming 5:06

Well, I never used the word terrorized until I finished the book, published it, handed it to my wife. Now, as I say, my wife and I, we’ve been married for 50 years, greatest woman on the planet. And I mean that from my heart, she really she is my soulmate. When I handed her the book, that was the first time I’d ever opened my mouth to anybody about my childhood. 


Mark Divine 5:29

You hadn’t communicated to her about it?


D Paul Fleming 5:32

Never said a word. 


Mark Divine 5:32

Oh, my gosh, interesting. 


D Paul Fleming 5:33

We have six kids. Now, nine grandchildren. I never said a word to anybody. No friends, no military, nothing, never said a word. So she sat down and read the book, you know, she cried and cried and cried and apologized a few times. And I was just like, oh, I probably shouldn’t have, But she said, you were brutalized, you were terrorized. The stuff that was done to you is inhuman. And then she says, now I understand. That’s a big statement based on a lot of decades together, you know, where a lot of pieces started falling in, when somebody is able to hear your story. And for me, it became a moment where I had hit the top of the hill. Now, now it’s all out there, not not all of it. But those particular years are out there, I understand why the spiritual piece kept pushing me to tell the story. And at the end of the day, it’s telling my story to help others tell their story.


Mark Divine 6:34

Because it’s so easy to suppress that stuff, or to push it off or to think it’s no big deal. Or it’s such a big deal. I can’t share it. So it’s there’s a lot of ways that can play out. So they don’t share. And if you don’t share, then the energy stays with you. 


D Paul Fleming 6:48

It builds and builds. 


Mark Divine 6:50

Why did you wait so long?  Was there a part of you that could have ever wanted to tell the story? Or even be honest with yourself earlier in your life? 


D Paul Fleming 6:57

Yeah, there’s a number of words I could use to answer that. Because there’s so much fear or embarrassment. But everybody’s got it tougher than you. I’ve never complained about, I’m 100% disabled vet. I’m never going to complaint. And I’ll have some words to say about the VA. But that’s a whole other matter. I’ve never complained. Same thing with my childhood. I’ve never complained. You know, you look around and somebody’s always got it different, you know, somebody over there is missing an arm, missing a leg, somebody’s got a different. Kids didn’t make it, kids that get killed…kids, and I just didn’t want to talk about it. And I always felt that there was there was reasons behind it. But I could never identify why I wouldn’t talk about it until I wrote the book. Then when I wrote the book, and started listening to people’s input, and they started looking back and saying, holy crap, it was brutalized; holy crap, that is pretty horrific. Holy crap, that, yeah, right

So I had combination of not talking about it and suppressed it so deeply that it took writing the book for a lot of this kind of comeback. And then I gotta tell you, Mark, the release is so powerful, that the VA has got me rated at 70%. PTSD. Hey, let’s go back and see if I’m fixed, right? Let’s reevaluate. Maybe I released enough to not be 70%. I say that kind of tongue in cheek, but I can feel the pain, the pressure, it’s not there the way it was prior to telling my story. 


Mark Divine 8:26

I have a theory that started with a conversation from a friend of mine named Josh Mantz, who was actually technically killed in combat. He was dead for 15 minutes and his corpsman, you know, against all odds and also against the doctor’s wishes, just kept working on him. You know, it’s one of those spiritual things just wouldn’t stop CPR. And suddenly, Josh comes back. It’d be great if it was like a happy ending, but it wasn’t because, like this guy’s posttraumatic stress, once he got physically healed, almost killed him, right. And what he said is that it wasn’t the getting killed in combat. It was childhood trauma that got magnified and suddenly was being expressed in ways that he couldn’t control because he had formerly suppressed it all. So that death experience just allowed all that stuff to come to the surface. And he spent 10 years going through this incredibly intense period of, of trauma and recovery. And so we were talking about this, and I said, well, how many veterans do you think who are experiencing post-traumatic stress, their traumas actually childhood trauma, that then then gets triggered or piled on to or somehow combat kind of opens up the opportunity to finally feel those emotions? And it’s just awful they don’t have skillful means or therapy, or you know, and then the VA, you know, I don’t want to go down this rabbit hole yet either, but then, and then the VA just makes it totally worse by doping them up on whatever drug de jurm, which then kind of blocks all stuff again and makes it worse anyways. So that’s my question. I kind of returned my question to our mini lecture, but I apologize for that. So how many, do you think that post traumatic stress is kind of a,  think the term is complex posttraumatic stress really is a lot of childhood trauma being expressed, not just combat stress. 


D Paul Fleming 10:17

Yeah, I think you need to bottle what you just said. And we need to get it out into into the veteran community word for word. What you just said, is absolutely spot on. And it didn’t really start dawning on me until Maria Ren posted a review on Amazon. And in it, it says, you know, she’s handed this book, like a lot of vets. And the psychological system has been trying to get vets to talk about their childhood, specifically because of what what you just said.


Mark Divine 10:50

And the military attracts, and this is, again, a guess that I’m making. But it’s based on my observation that the military attracts individuals who have a lot of trauma in their childhood because they want they need the structure. 


D Paul Fleming 11:04

You are absolutely spot on. 


Mark Divine 11:06



D Paul Fleming 11:06

I can’t tell you how many people who have read the book said exactly what you just said, in different words.


Mark Divine 11:12



D Paul Fleming 11:13

What it was, like they knew at a very young age like I did not think that first time I remember saying I’m going into military, I think it was 10 or 11. And a lot of people have said the same thing. 


Mark Divine 11:23

Do we need to get in any details of what happened in that house? The only reason I bring it up again is because some people think that some traumas are worse than others, like sexual assault is worse than just emotional, verbal, emotional abuse or even physical abuse. I’m not sure about that. I think all abuse is awful and needs to be dealt with. Do you feel a need to kind of talk about any of the specifics? 


D Paul Fleming 11:47

So my position on trauma is that no person should judge another person’s trauma.


Mark Divine 11:55



D Paul Fleming 11:55

It should never be a scalar or graph. 


Mark Divine 11:58

Trauma does not discriminate. Trauma is trauma.


D Paul Fleming 12:00

Trauma to a person is trauma. Their trauma may not be may not feel like trauma to me. And my traumas may not be trauma to somebody else. But what it does to you physically and mentally, from my experience, can only be gauged by that individual. I’ve got a son-in-law, he’s a combat vet suffering, I mean, a classic trail, and we’re here working in the garden one day, and he just the emotional toll just collapsed on him almost out of the blue. And he’s losing it. Because he can’t understand why he feels this intense measure of, of a rollercoaster of emotions, from anger to hate a fear to, I mean we are working in a garden, it was a great day, great environment.


Mark Divine 12:50



D Paul Fleming 12:50

So what trauma can you associate with that? Where do you put that on a scale? So I use the one in boot camp. When I was in boot camp, and it was a walk in the park, a guy tried committing suicide and boot camp, couldn’t take the yelling. So trauma belongs in the eyes of the person who suffered it,  and nobody, in my opinion, nobody should weigh or judge the level of trauma. Trauma is trauma, it’s up to the individual to determine how severe. I got to tell you, you got some great insights into this. 


Mark Divine 13:19

Yeah, the insight that is kind of like percolating in my pea brain right now. I’m not even sure I should say but like, because not not everyone’s gonna agree with it. But like I my spiritual background, says that we kind of choose our conditions. We choose our parents, based upon growth that our spirit is seeking in this incarnation. And so therefore, the most spiritually advanced people are the ones that have the most trauma in their lives. And so therefore, they have a lot of grit and a lot of strength, a lot of resiliency, and humility, because they have to deal with that. And so the quicker you get to that spiritual truth that oh, I’m not a victim here, actually, in the most spiritual sense I am, I am a victim as a small child, you know, where I didn’t have really any resources. But when it comes to the spiritual perspective, you’re not a victim. Talk about the total releasement. That’s a total releasement.


D Paul Fleming 14:16

So everything you’re saying, Um, asked deep and absolute belief. You know, the hard healing of the last seven years, the last seven years is when I really started to heal and take this journey. In doing it, in my spiritual side. I had to sit there and listen to people tell me no, no, no, you you picked your parents, you pick this path. You want to blame somebody, don’t blame God, blame yourself. You know, I went through the being angry at God and all that. And it never really made sense. Until I started, you know, following my I call my Native Americanism and spiritual bliss and all that. And as I kept walking that path and reading and studying and getting around people, it just started to resonate more and more with me, so nobody’s going to tell me differently. Wxactly what you just said, I firmly believe it. Once I absorbed that Mark, again, it was like a release point. Now the pieces started lining up, I was able to start addressing the why? Because the why is what always makes you crazy, right? 


Mark Divine 15:15

That’s right, and you’re looking for cause and effect in the physical world. And the reality is there is no cause and effect. Everything happens because everything happens. It’s an infinite number of inputs.


D Paul Fleming 15:27

I agree. 


Mark Divine 15:28

I have an adopted son, and he’s 25% Hawaiian, 12 ½ %, Cheyenne, Arapaho, or either Cheyenne, Arapaho, I think the Cheyenne Arapaho are closely related. So, he’s a Native American. And I was very inspired by the Native American tradition. I’ve been to Tom Brown’s tracker school where, you know, he was trained by an Apache scout. And so I did a number of trainings in that Apache tradition in their spirituality. You know, of course, all natives and indigenous tribes have very similar philosophies, right. With the Westerners, if you studied from an academic, they would call it religion, but you and I would just call it spirituality. They believed in Grandfathers is the spirit that runs through all things, that’s God. And so that God or the spirit that runs through all things is in us, and is us is the background or the source or the reason for our existence. 

And that to move closer to that through ritual, you know, through prayer, through dance, through cleansing the body with sweat lodges, and vision quests, and clarifying your understanding about why you’re on this planet through the vision quest process. And, and also, what I found profound is the the rite of passage, you know, that they put youth through both male and female, before they kind of entered the adult ranks. All of that is just so extraordinarily powerful, and, and useful. And yet we’ve gotten so far away from it. In the Western world, the western world is almost the complete opposite. I just want to hear your take on it, because you’re a Native American, least, you know, partial in your heritage, what’s your spiritual practice? And what’s your take on that native spirituality?


D Paul Fleming 17:06

So everything again, that you just said, I believe in all of that. I also believe in the baby Jesus, if you take the Bible and you take Native American historical belief in spirituality, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, okay, like you said, Grandfather, Mother Earth, the Holy Spirit, okay, Wanka-Tanka, Tunka-Shila, Mother Earth.


Mark Divine 17:27

There’s also, Satchitananda, from the Vedic tradition. 


D Paul Fleming 17:30

All of that stuff is hand in glove. So the core of Christianity, the core of Native American belief, and again, you can track this all over the world. Like I said, they’re basically the same, I believe, and I staunchly believe this, the ability to tap into God’s white light, and move it through us to be a hollow bone. That is something that in the last seven years I’ve really dove into. And I do a lot of healing work spiritually, mentally, physically, a lot of healing, work on on people. I do a lot of clearing, like you mentioned, sweat lodges, and purifying. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t clear sage, cleanse, use the four elements.


Mark Divine 18:07



D Paul Fleming 18:08

 And all that. So I’m deep, deep into the spirituality. But in the same breath, I absolutely believe in the baby Jesus. I know he walked, walked this earth, of course, and I stand in His light every day. 


Mark Divine 18:18

I’m with you. 100% there, I am a practitioner of the light practices, whether they come from Native Indigenous or Vedic tradition or Christian. A lot of Jesus’s teaching got kind of contorted or misused in the Bible. And, uh, but his example and some of his his original teachings, like in the Gospel of Thomas, that you hear, you start to understand that he was a master. Like he was an Ascended being, meaning he was um, at least the way that traditions talk about it, he wasn’t like us where we go through 1000s of incarnations on this ascended journey, he was just descended, like, pure in that form. And that’s why they say he was the Son of God, but his example was to show that we’re all sons of God. 

For me, he is one of many enlightened teachers, he happens to be one of the more profound for our generation, you know, for the last 2000 years. To set the stage and the conditions, to seed humanity, with the light to push back against the darkness, you know, it’s finally starting to see the fruits of his incarnation, the positive fruits, because, you know, it was co-opted, and you saw a lot of negative in his name, right over the years through the churches and all the wars and fightings.


D Paul Fleming 19:37

I hear you.


Mark Divine 19:38

It’s come full circle and time is actually this mental concept. And so 2000 years is really nothing. That’s just an idea. But his, um, his presence on this earth is being felt now more than ever, and the latest spreading fairly rapidly. And this is why institutions that are really co-opted by dark energy are really scrambling to hold on to power. This is why we’re gonna, like I said, we’re gonna have some serious, messy times ahead because all those institutions and structures, whether you call them corporations, or individuals, or families that have been hoarding wealth for centuries, are like desperate to hold on to their power and aggregate it even more. And yet there’s an equal amount of light and consciousness expanding in conversations like this being had and head without any fear. You know, people listening, you either go yet thumbs up, or I know what the fuck this guy is talking about, and tune me out. 


D Paul Fleming 20:28



Mark Divine 20:29

Either way is fine.


D Paul Fleming 20:30



Mark Divine 20:30

Because this is truth, right. But the light always wins. 


D Paul Fleming 20:34



Mark Divine 20:34

The light always wins. 


D Paul Fleming 20:35



Mark Divine 20:35

Because the thing is, there really is no such thing as darkness, just the absence of light. 


D Paul Fleming 20:39



D Paul Fleming 20:40

To piggyback that story, one of my wife’s relatives just finished a book. She called up and said, How did he survive? Well, the short answer is, I never thought he could kill me. I never thought my stepfather could kill me. I mean, I knew he could physically beat me to death. But he could never kill me. And it would frustrate him into more beatings and more beatings and more beatings. Because I would never quit, I would never surrender. But that never quit. Never surrender, was now I know what it was, it was that light inside of me. That was, you know, I’m here for a purpose. You can’t beat me, you can kill me, but you’ll never beat me. I’m hand in glove with you on what you’re saying the light will always win. And the mission here is to get people to see for themselves in their own way. 


Mark Divine 21:33

Their light, their light within. That’s right.


D Paul Fleming 21:35

Preaching to people is useless, you know, just tell the story and let people figure it out. But I’ll close that thought with this. I think you are so spot on that the growth, you know, use that word, you know, where the whole world just kind of like crashed into disbelief in the last decades in this country, of ripping the word God out of everything, right? Well, now it’s coming back in a hum of momentum. 


Mark Divine 21:59



D Paul Fleming 22:00

Nobody’s really saying anything. We’re saying the baby Jesus coming back.


Mark Divine 22:03

Well, because it’s not the institutions that are crying. It’s just a groundswell of individuals having conversations, believing…


D Paul Fleming 22:11

It’s coming from each person’s light inside of them. 


Mark Divine 22:15

That’s right. 


D Paul Fleming 22:15

They’re kind of looking at this thing going, you know what this feels right. And that is enough. And I need to stand up. 


Mark Divine 22:21

That’s right. 


D Paul Fleming 22:22

And I think it’s growing.


Mark Divine 22:23

I do too.


D Paul Fleming 22:23

Kind of cool though.


Mark Divine 22:24

It is cool. So what I love about your book, and your work is the power of healing through stories. 


D Paul Fleming 22:31



Mark Divine 22:31

That’s the native way, right? I don’t know if you even thought about that. But the native way was to heal and to teach through stories. Storytelling, that’s what you’re doing. So people read your story. And they’re like, oh, my God, I resonate with this because I had something similar happen. And so oh, wow. If it’s okay, for Doug, and Doug found healing to talk about it, then maybe I can talk about it. And that opens the doorway to healing. 


D Paul Fleming 22:55

I have to tell you that talking about it. I heard I heard those words. You got to get people to talk. You got to tell their story. I couldn’t connect the dots. And I still am. Because what you just said kind of caught me a little bit. And I’m like, You’re right. I mean, I know that storytelling in any native community, you know, it is that healing. You just helped me connect some dots. Thank you. 


Mark Divine 23:16

You are a healer you said, and we’re very spiritual man. Like, what’s next for you? Like, where do you see your path, in the next 5-10 years?


D Paul Fleming 23:25

Never in my life, did I think I would be a, you know, an author, let alone a published author, right.


Mark Divine 23:31



D Paul Fleming 23:31

Right. I mean, I graduated 293 out of 313 people in high school. Right, listen…


Mark Divine  23:37  

That’s awesome.


D Paul Fleming 23:38

And book two of the crazy series. It starts out by saying there’s a very angry man in a row up on an elevated wooden platform, pointing at me, okay. And so, at the age of 17, I was, you know, me in the military. We were connected. 


Mark Divine 23:54



D Paul Fleming 23:55

And guess what happened in book one, listening to everybody and asking for more, more,  more. I decided to say okay, I’m going to tell these stories. So the crazy series Book Two is, it’s working its way through the editing system, the process, but I also decided to write some other books. So the next book coming out next couple of months will be, The Mysteries at the Wyndham Inn. And it’s based on an actual building, a historical building. And the theme behind the story is the same thing. Tell your stories where the ghosts that are trapped in this building, the spirits that are trapped in this building, are stuck there because they never could tell their story.


Mark Divine 24:30

Oh, cool.


D Paul Fleming 24:31

They need a live body to tell their story to so they can make that connection and move on to heaven. At the same time. You’ve got darkness, biting at him and constantly biting at him and trying to pull them into the depths of hell. 


Mark Divine 24:44



D Paul Fleming 24:44

So it’s a mix between real life ghost stories.


Mark Divine 24:48

Like real stories.


D Paul Fleming 24:49

Real stories.


Mark Divine 24:49



D Paul Fleming 24:50

That I’ve taken a tremendous literary license on. My spin on it where the truth is Mary Bagshaw was the first woman hung in the early 1700s in this part of the world, in Connecticut, okay. And she did it because of this thing that happened. Well, I don’t see it that way. And here’s the crazy part. I had this vision of part of the story when I first started putting it together, and the ghost hunters that have been in there, you know, it’s been a number of them in there, some of the famous ones, ones are on TV. Have been in this place. And I kept having this vision of ghost hunter picked up the wrong spirits inside there, and the spirits killed him. 


Mark Divine 25:26



D Paul Fleming 25:26

If you’re ready for this, a friend of mine, 20 years in the Navy, Corpsman, lived down the road, ran Eastern Connecticut State paranormal. Did two investigations in this in the Wyndam Inn. Right when the book got released, I reached out to him and say, hey, books out. Hand to God, didn’t call me, dropped dead at 58 years old, dropped dead, no explanation, no reason. So I go talk to, you know, my mentors. And kind of looked at em and said, remember that dream I had, and said, you got to be shitting me. They said no. Be careful what you write, you know, what I’m saying, Be careful what you say or be careful what you wish for. Anyway, for me, I’m trying to mix in a little bit of fun, as I’m trying to spread this out. So I don’t get pigeonholed into a certain genre. If you’re trying to tell the story to help people talk about trauma. How do you come at this thing? So I’m trying to come at it from a number of directions. 

And one of the books that I kind of see through a spiritual lens as being kind of a benchmark, so to speak, is the book I’m I’ve titled, A Date with Suicide


Mark Divine 26:30

Oof, yeah.


D Paul Fleming 26:31

Right. Now, for the first 50-plus years of my life, suicide and me, they were constant companions in my mind. And I came very close to suicide a number of times. My faith held me off on that. But the book that I see kind of really putting some things in motion, is that particular book, A Date With Suicide. It’s going to talk about veterans that I knew that committed suicide, both in the military and post military, it’s going to be a raw conversation about suicide, the pain that goes along with somebody who’s thinking about suicide and the creative ways you think about it. And, and frankly, Mark is going to talk about how many methods Veterans use to commit suicide without committing suicide: drugs, alcohol, racing, guns.

 Again, I’m not saying about guns, I’m just saying, you know, there’ll be reckless with guns. So, you know, all of those things, you know, I’m gonna swerve into the oncoming tractor trailer. Okay, all of those things, and I’ve heard some pretty wild stories, you know, hat. But the book that I see kind of really putting some things in motion, is that particular book, A Date With Suicide. I think that books gonna, hopefully, really move the conversation of mental wellness onto the front burner. And guys like you and I, I firmly believe we have to destigmatize mental, you fill in the next word. That’s why I open you know, I talk about it so openly. I’m not bashful about saying, you know, talking about my issues? 


Mark Divine 27:58

No, you’re right. It has to be talked about, because a lot of people are dealing with it. And a lot of them are in denial too. I lost areally good friend of mine, Navy SEAL, this guy was revered in the Force. He was in charge of all the instructors at BUDs, his last job and he did as a contractor, and there’s no signs at all that he was struggling. And then he just offed himself one day, shot himself in the heart. You know, the only thing that I can assess is that he didn’t want to be a burden to his family. You know, he was sixty years old, he thought there might be some cognitive decline. You know, he had unaddressed TBI and posttraumatic stress, he didn’t want to be a burden. A lot of vets feel that way. And that’s, you know, you’re not a burden.


D Paul Fleming 28:36

In this book, it’s not just going to talk about suicide through the I of those who want to commit it. It’s also going to talk about the pain.


Mark Divine 28:43

The left behind. Yeah.


D Paul Fleming 28:45

Like I said, you know, you can you can commit suicide today. But the rest of us have to suffer with it every single day for the rest of our lives. 


Mark Divine 28:53

So in that sense, it’s a very selfish act. 


D Paul Fleming 28:55

Yeah. So in this story, I’m trying to in this book, my intent is to tell the story from a suicidal viewpoint, and tell the story from living with the consequences of our friends who committed suicide. And I’ll close that thought with this, out of the blue, a guy I served with, hadn’t seen him in 30 years, reaches out says, Hey, I read your book, want to meet. So off I go, we’re bite number two into a wing. He goes, so I gotta tell you.  didn’t know all that stuff wnet on, I’m sorry about it. He goes but uh, I was gonna kill myself until I read your book. Now, I can’t. I’m learning how to respond to that. Right? For me, I had to go back and say, so when the baby Jesus said, you need to tell your story, I guess he saw a lot more than my fear. Right? 


Mark Divine 29:43

Yeah. That’s an amazing story. 


D Paul Fleming 29:44



Mark Divine 29:45

Well, when you get the that book done, let’s have another conversation because people need to hear about that. And where can people learn more about you and how would you like to connect with folks are listening. 


D Paul Fleming 29:55

So Facebook D. Paul Fleming on Facebook

If you want to reach out to me directly, dpaul@BlackHawk books.com, the publishing arm is Black Hawk books. 


Mark Divine 30:08

That’s your imprint Black Hawk Books.?


D Paul Fleming 30:10



Mark Divine 30:11



D Paul Fleming 30:11

Actually, my wife owns it, kind of enjoying separation of…


Mark Divine 30:14

Let her do the business stuff. 


D Paul Fleming 30:16



Mark Divine 30:16

You do the writing.


D Paul Fleming 30:17

I’m telling you Mark, if I could tell people, two things. One, once you get done with all the crap that you got to do in life, once you get all that crap done, two great things are gonna happen. One is you don’t have to worry about shit anymore. 


Mark Divine 30:30



D Paul Fleming 30:30

And two, you have grandchildren.


Mark Divine 30:33

That’s awesome.


Unknown Speaker  30:34  

Grandchildren are God’s way of saying, I’m gonna get you to come back here and do it again. Okay.


Mark Divine 30:40



D Paul Fleming 30:41

Right, grandchildren are the best. They make us all worthwhile. 


Mark Divine 30:41

Yeah, they are awesome.


D Paul Fleming 30:44

If I could bottle that and sell it, we could end suicide tomorrow. 


Mark Divine 30:48

Yeah. Awesome. Well, Doug, I appreciate you very much. And thanks for doing what you’re doing. And I look forward to talking to you again, when you when you write the next book, A Date With Suicide. And I’m sure veterans who are listening are in gratitude as well. So go out and get your book 2442 Steps to Crazy.


D Paul Fleming 31:06

If there are any vets out there that need someone to talk to, I am here to listen, right. And that’s the one thing I tell people. If a vet wants to tell a story, don’t ask questions, just listen. 


Mark Divine 31:15



D Paul Fleming 31:15

That’s all they want. They just want to be heard. So if you can’t find somebody reach out to me. I’m happy to listen. 


Mark Divine 31:21



Mark Divine 31:23  

Well, that was a powerful, powerful conversation with Doug Fleming. Thanks so much for joining me today really, really loved the conversation that went in directions that I just did not expect. So I hope you enjoy it. And if you’re a vet, and you found it to be useful, reach out to Doug or share this episode with your friends. Show notes will be on my website at MarkDivine.com, YouTube will be up on our YouTube channel. You can find me on LinkedIn or reach out to me on Twitter at Mark Divine or Instagram or Facebook @ Real Mark Divine, or wherever you hang out in social media. Reach out to us let us know what you think and give us ideas on guests or just generally connect with us. Quick plug for the Divine Inspiration newsletter, which comes out every Tuesday, where we have show notes for the week’s podcast, my blog book, I’m reading other interesting things that come across my desk, as well as links to our show sponsors where you can learn more about special offers they give to us. So go to MarkDivine.com to sign up and subscribe. Shout out to my incredible team, Catherine Divine and Geoff Haskell and Jason Sanderso, who helped produce the podcasts and the newsletters, and bring folks like Doug to you every week. Ratings and reviews are very, very helpful. So if you haven’t done so please consider rating it and reviewing it. Wherever you listen, it helps keep us up and relevant in the rankings. Thanks so much for being the change you want to see in the world. We can do this at scale by sharing these ideas sharing this podcast and bringing more love and light into the world. So let’s do that. Why not? Hooyah, till next time. This is your host Mark Divine.


Transcribed by Catherine and https://otter.ai



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