Archive for Brain Dumps

The key to life

My high school baseball coach used to tell us “Balance is the key to life!” At the time we didn’t think much of it because he was surely instructing us on how to finish our swings, or square for a bunt, or position ourselves for a ground ball. Without balance, those things were going to fail. We were going to be out in front of a curveball, or pop up a bunt, or Buckner an easy play.

I suppose he was coaching us for life in those moments, as well, but when you’re 16 you don’t think about stuff like that. You think about girls, sports, girls, girls, parties, and girls. You don’t get deep with things like “balance is the key to life,” because it’s not the key to life at that age. It’s the key to baseball success.

Little did we know at that time that he may have been giving us the passport to happiness. Everybody wants to be happy, save for the occasional grumpy cat, but we don’t have much control over what makes us happy. We can’t just call it up any time we want and sustain that feeling, no matter how much we practice. At some point our happiness will fade. At some point our balance will be thrown off. We all want a satisfactory level of homeostasis (triple word score!) and that is when we can smile and feel at peace.

I’m not implying we can control the balance in our lives, either, but I think we have a greater influence over how smooth our lives can run day to day. I have friends whose calendars are full with soccer practice and drinks at Bill’s house and a doctor appointment at 4:45 on Thursday. Their lives are regimented and they’ll say that that’s the only way they can stay organized and accomplish everything they need to. I’m not arguing against that, but a hiccup throws it all off-kilter. There’s no room for something to go wrong.

On the other side of the spectrum are those people whose lives are taken as they come, which is essentially how I live. I live reactively and not proactively, and I use the feeling of being overwhelmed to justify it. I’ll deal with things when they get too big and not a moment before. I’ll run the dishwasher when the boys complain that there are no cups. I’ll vacuum when the dog hair starts to form into another mutt. Obviously, this isn’t an ideal way to live, because while I tend to have a fair amount of time for myself, I also tend to find myself lonely in a crowd, because I’ve not made plans, I’ve just hoped they would happen.

So what’s the answer? This is where I cop out on my post title. I’m not saying that balance isn’t what will bring happiness, but I am saying that I don’t know how to achieve it. It’s different for everyone. Balance will mean sometimes saying no to your kids so that sometimes you can say yes to your friends. It will mean losing some sleep so you can watch Game of Thrones. It will mean staying sober so you can enjoy the play the next morning.

We need to own our decisions. We need to call our choices good no matter how they turn out and not regret what we may miss because of it. I’ve been thinking about this a lot because something has changed the way my mind has been working lately. I think I know what it may be, but I could be wrong, and I’m not going to share my theory on that. But things are different and unclear, and I feel almost carefree. Not carefree in a shitty, selfish way, but carefree in that the relatively minor issues that dominate my mind are easier to sweep off the plate. You could say that’s progress and I’m moving on, but I’m in a fog and insensitive to some of my actions. I’ll get my money’s worth in therapy tomorrow and hopefully start to understand it, but I think it’s all going to boil down to balance.

Give the little things the attention they deserve. Focus on myself and face my fears, especially as they relate to new things in life. Accept that which I cannot change, be there for my friends, and all the while relax and find the balance that brings me happiness. Everybody around me will be happier for it. And we heal.

Days like this

I woke up in a rough place this morning. Nothing in particular made this happen, but I still knew the moment I sat up in bed it was going to be a tough day.

I went through the motions getting the kids to school and stared at my messy house and piles of laundry. I watched my cat scratch itself, as it does regularly because I haven’t found it in myself to take her to the vet. The dog limps by for the same reason. It’s all backing up again.

The advice pours in from friends.

“Change it, make it a good day!”
“Play some loud music!”
“Come see me!”

But the fact is, I’ll find excuses to ignore this advice. I won’t say I find comfort in sadness, but I guess it’s something like that sometimes. I’m afraid if I don’t sit through it it’ll just come back at some point, or worse yet, collect together and drop on me all at once.

I’m jealous of those who are changing their lives and those who are tackling their struggles head-on. Some days I can do that and others I cannot, and today I cannot. I don’t want to put on my happy face today. I want to be that quiet guy in the corner you forget about when my seat’s empty. I don’t want to be anybody today.

thisclose

I felt inspired by my earlier post and wanted to write some more today. I thought about working on my screenplay more (huh? you say) but couldn’t get more than about two minutes of screen time on that, so I came back here. But what to write about? Anything and everything, I guess.

I have a friend who went through what I went through. She lost her husband a little over a year ago and had a very difficult day today. I offered my shoulder to cry on as I’ve done on hers so many times, but she said no. She didn’t want that. She didn’t want anybody. I don’t know how that makes you feel but it’s perfectly understandable to me. We perfect the art of putting on a pretty, happy face for people around us whose concern is probably genuine, but our apprehension in sharing our grief is incredibly overwhelming.

I often talk about the pain of being alone. I often talk about how loneliness is debilitating and destroys any plans I may have for any given day. But you shouldn’t think for a second that being alone is always a terrible thing for me. I regularly choose to be alone and I’m not above lying about what I’m doing to have time for myself. I listen to the Shit list I mentioned before, or I go to breakfast. Shit, I even just flat-out close my office door at work, because being alone is so much better than being fake. So much better.

At the same time, my happiness isn’t always fake, either. I honestly enjoy the company of my friends and do what I can to be with them as much as I can, when I feel like it. I went to a concert last week in a smoke-filled bus and had a fantastic time with a bunch of people I haven’t really hung out with before. I enjoy the pick-up line at school because it affords me the opportunity to spend five minutes with people who often find it difficult to spend social time with me.

So what’s the point? My life is feeling more like mine. It feels less like a life I am hoping to have and more like one I’m supposed to have, and I’m getting comfortable with it. I’m setting boundaries all around me and controlling how effective those boundaries are. I’m accepting what I can get when it doesn’t jive with what I want, and I’m worrying less. I’m here for people to come to for whatever reason, and I’m going to people who can help me with whatever I may need, even if it’s just a smile.

I don’t know if it’s right or it’s wrong, and I certainly expect a different plan will be in place before long, but this is how it is today. I wrote before about playing my cards closer to the vest. I wrote about some people getting more of me than others. Those things are still true, but everybody gets a little bit of me. It may just be here. This place is the least I give. It’s everything I’m completely comfortable with. But there’s so much more. And I like saving that for just a few of you.

I think I’m gonna learn to fly.

Inner Happiness

It’s a term that has come up an insane amount of times in the past few days. Friends, therapist, myself, Google. I Googled “Inner Happiness,” because that’s how desperate I was to find a meaning I could work with. Inner happiness has been missing from my life for a long, long time, since before Dawn passed. I’ve talked about the last 18 months of her life and how difficult it was to deal with, be it from the pain nobody could seem to diagnose or treat, or the deep feeling that the battle was being lost.

Since she passed, I’ve found my happiness in things outside of myself. I’ve found it in doing things I hadn’t done much my whole life. Happiness, to me, was in staying up late, or missing work. It was in leaving my children with others at the drop of a hat, or at the bottom of a bottle. It was in relationships with wonderful, yet unattainable women.

I’m not saying I won’t find happiness in some form of these things, but to the extremes I’ve been using them, it’s not been healthy. It’s immensely easier to take advantage of these things and enjoy the feeling they give me than it is to recognize how they actually affect me when they were used in excess. A good friend brought this point to me and I pretty much refused to listen, but after a couple of days of thought and looking within myself, I know she’s right. Maybe that makes things easier for me – simply accepting it as unhealthy on that level.

I suppose this is rather bland and ambiguous, but specificity isn’t the point. The point is I didn’t manufacture my own happiness. I made everybody else generate it for me, which isn’t fair or healthy.

Once I came to this realization, I wondered what used to make me happy. The most obvious and most difficult to remedy is the happiness I got from companionship. So let’s push that aside for now. The other things that made me happy, that I enjoyed, came to mind as such, in no particular order:

The boys
Outdoors
Diet Coke
Cooking
Beer
Cigars
Video Games
Flight Simulator
and now – exercise

Yes, beer is on that list. I had a couple at lunch yesterday and stopped long before it was a problem, and it felt good to feel that control again. I suppose it came from the realization that quitting drinking wasn’t what made me happy; quitting drinking before I was drunk was what made me happy. Unhappiness came in excess, yet again. I’m still vigilant and cautious about alcohol, and so are my friends in my stead.

I’ll move forward with these things in mind and try and continue to work these things back into my life instead of what I’ve been doing. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve gone too far, hurting myself and other people along the way. I hope I’m forgiven by those I’ve hurt, but I understand if I’m not. I know now I don’t have carte blanche just because I’m not married anymore, and I feel terrible about the disrespect I’ve given. I can cultivate a new, happy life that is fulfilling, fun, and most of all respectful to the people who mean the most to me, no matter where they are or how they fit into my life.

Most importantly, I need to be patient and let time do its work. It’ll get better. It already has started.

Friends

There are people in my life who fulfill many of the needs I have.  Most of them are right here in my neighborhood (these are the people), but some of them are hundreds of miles away.  The ones in my backyard, so to speak, are the ones I probably take for granted.  I won’t lie, we all probably do to some degree.  I pissed one of them off recently because I didn’t bother to look at her reasoning for things I felt were hurting her.  She set me straight and I think all is well.  It was good to clear the air, because I was worried.  I had no reason to be, though.  She has it under control.

There are others locally who fill various needs as well, and I won’t be specific on that.  One of the jokes made by my widow friend is that she has five guys who, when combined, make the perfect boyfriend.  I won’t say that’s what I’m saying, but I know people who make me happy in many different ways that are all their own.  That’s why we have so many friends, right?  Cuz they’re all so different and unique and awesome in their own way.

It’s the ones who are far away who I wish I had more time with.  You meet these wonderful people and they are so far away and all you want is to have them around the corner.  I worry sometimes that I overreach and maybe even annoy a bit, but then I remember how awesome I am and that thought disappears.  Amirite?

These people who are so far away are almost friends on a deeper level than many of the ones nearby, and again, that goes back to taking the locals for granted.  There’s plenty of time to delve deep into who they really are, but with the friends who live so far away, all we have is to get into what really makes us tick, and that’s where the beauty is.  It’s not that I desire the friendship of these people over anyone else, because there’s a lot to be said for face time, but theirs is a friendship I value in a different way than those of you who live around the corner.

Perhaps that’s something I should change.  I suppose I should also make more time for my friends who live on the fringe of my life, and there are plenty.  We all have plenty of friends like that.  I hope to spend more time with those who are so far away, perhaps even see if something real and exciting could come of it, but in the meantime I hope to build better relationships with those who are physically closer yet emotionally hundreds of miles away.  Why can’t we have it all?

Patience

I’m not good at patience.  I think I can be, and I tell people I can be patient, but the fact is, I can’t.  It’s stupid. Like so much so that I get myself in trouble by convincing myself something else is more effective than patience.  Kinda sucks, really.

So sure, I can wait.  I can be good.  I can stand aside for however long you need.  Well, I can’t.  At least, past experience says I can’t.  I’m trying to do it but I’m not good at it.

There’s always a good reason why I should be patient but I always find a way to ignore it.  Sometimes things come along that reinforce my need to listen and be patient and that gets me by for a bit.  Today I got that.

Yesterday my patience ran out and things went bad.  Today I was more patient than yesterday.  Tomorrow I will be even better than today, and this weekend will be better than this week.  This time, despite there being no reason to believe me, will be different.  There’s too much depending on it.  As of right now, this moment, I’m doing all I can.  I hope tomorrow and every day after I can say the same thing.

There’s no happiness in acting otherwise.  None at all.

This post is purposely vague.

 

Protected: Satisfaction

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Revisiting

In a couple days the boys and I will be special guests of the Detroit Tigers when they open a short series against the Washington Nationals.  We’ve been invited on the field for the Tigers’ batting practice, we’ve been given tickets in the front row of the upper deck just behind home plate, and a parking pass and reservation at a local hotel so we don’t have to sleepily ride home afterward.  The Tigers are doing this for us because I am blessed with wonderful friends who contacted them when Dawn died and got them to do this for us.  I don’t want to sound like the Tigers were reluctant, because they were A-1 Aces about the whole thing.  I’ve been a Tiger fan, critic and apologist all my life, and they recognized that when my story was brought to their attention.  We’re very excited about it, but I know it will be bittersweet.

I’ve agreed to share my story with a website dedicated to the Tigers, so I’ll be sure to let you know when that gets published.

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I’ll carry on now.  This post will be all over the place, probably.

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I decided last weekend, after another bout with my racing mind, that I was going to get off the people train and go all hermit for a while.  This actually worked out pretty well, despite not removing myself from all social situations.  If nothing else, I think it gave me a sense of control in my life, and it let me prioritize that which was cluttering my brain.  There may have been one or two things that I recognized as the biggest reasons for my problems, and once I figured that out I tried to block it out.  I’m not saying these were bad things, but they were thoughts I couldn’t get comfortable with.  Again, I’m being purposely vague.  So I’m feeling better now.  I need to work more and spend more time cleaning my house and be less lazy, but my head feels like it’s under control now.

—–

I’m having a patio installed in my backyard this week.  These guys are working hard, as this area is built almost entirely on clay, so digging down for prep work is a real pain in the ass.  This is why I hired someone to do it.  I like watching the progress, but I’ve learned that TV gives a false sense of the time it takes for something like this to be done.  They’ve been here four days now, and it seems like the guys on TV can do it all in like four hours.  I’m not complaining, but I’m excited about it being done.  I may pee myself when they start actually laying the brick, especially since I’m about 50% over budget.  I like the shit to look good, so when I thought about what I had quoted I started to think I wanted more.  So yesterday I asked for more.  And I approved the cost.  This thing is gonna be so awesome.

—–

Lastly, and I’ll be purposely vague about this, too, but I’m doing rather well right now.  Some of you know why, and I’ll just leave it at that.  There are things that I won’t take from just anyone.  I’m happy right now.  I’m making new friends and enjoying my old friends.  I’m not going to elaborate.

It’s Friday.  Have a good weekend.

This post is not protected

Well, I decided against it after all.  Part of it is like walking into Best Buy dead broke and thinking that the 70″ TV for sale isn’t that expensive.  It’s only when you walk in with the money to buy it that it seems exorbitant and you walk out with nothing more than a Jock Jams CD.

The other part is that even protected, there are things that I hold sacred, that even my closest friends don’t get to hear about.  There are, in fact, some cards I play close to my vest.

About a month ago I met a woman who lives just around the corner who lost her husband in a car accident just before Christmas last year.  She’s boisterous, she’s over the top, and she finds a lot of joy in playfully playing the “dead husband” card.  There’s no malice or expectations when she does it, she’s just living on, so to speak.  Anyway, I think we’ve become pretty good friends in this short time and I think I owe it all to her.  She’s very open and honest and open and, did I say open?  I always felt that life should go on but it was hard for me to get out of bed every day and do so, and everyone says “I know,” or “I’m sure it is” but she’s one of the few people who actually knows.  She was married for a long time and is trying to do right by her four kids and herself, but she’s not turning off the part of her that died along with her husband that night.  She doesn’t know it, but I look up to her a lot in this.  She hasn’t let me down.

My boys were out of town for a couple days so she and I decided to meet for dinner and drinks Thursday night.  We talked a lot about many different things, and ended up closing down two of the three bars in this sleepy town.  Afterward, we decided to walk the two miles home instead of call a cab.  And no, there’s no romance in this post.  We won’t be dating.  We are in this shitty club that, thankfully, is highly exclusive.

It was a good night.  She made me cry.  She made me laugh.  She made me live for that one night out.  She made me find the strength to make the next day and the next day and the day after that be a good day, and be a man and face my fears.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the days to come now.  Maybe a little too cautious and not enough optimistic, but these are baby steps.  I had long conversations with another good friend the last couple of nights and that felt good, as well.  There are a TON of things that I have no idea what to expect from, but a few things are coming into focus for me, and I’m understanding myself a little more.  I’m becoming more self-aware, which despite what I said a couple days ago, may have slipped in the last few months.  I think I’m genuine, though, and however far that will take me is far enough.