Archive for Finding my way

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.

Progression

The boys and I had a great vacation. We needed the time away even more than I thought, and I think we have been able to sufficiently reboot from this long, cold winter. The weather was perfect, the pools were heated and open late, and we saw some baseball. All in all I couldn’t have asked for more, and I’m feeling good going forward, at least for the near future.

I’m learning that it takes more than just one or two trips like this to keep myself going. A trip like this will hopefully get me through the spring, when I’m sure I’ll need some other escape from life to keep going. I guess the hope is that the time between these shakeups stretches longer each time, until some day I realize I don’t need them for anything more than leisure.

Leading up to this trip, the proverbial phrase “it’s always darkest before the dawn” rang loudly. There were several important things in my life that were crashing down on me all at once, and I fell into a pretty deep depression over it all. I felt completely out of control and hopeless. I felt, again, that the things I held so dear to me had no desire to walk with me anymore, and it was nobody’s fault but mine, and again, nothing was changing it, and nothing was stopping me from trying to change it.

On our way to Florida, we stopped and saw a couple friends – one of which I hadn’t seen in 24 years, and another that I’d never actually met in person. Me and the boys sat and talked and laughed with them and had a good time and didn’t talk once about what I had been through. This gave me a sense of relief about my plight that I had yet to experience, and it felt good, and it jump-started my vacation from the cold and the snow, and mostly, my life. At one point on the way I texted a friend and said “you know, I haven’t spent a moment thinking of the bad things in my life.” This wasn’t how it had been before, and this wasn’t what I thought would happen. It was just me, my boys, the traffic, and music.

As I stood on the beach the day before we left, watching the boys fight the waves of the Gulf of Mexico, a thought crossed my mind. It was just the three of us. Nobody else was there. Nobody was acting kind to me. It was just us, and no matter what happens, it’s going to be just us, and I cried happy tears. It’s all I need, and everything else will work out. I can’t go wrong with that in mind.

I can’t change things in my life if they’re going to change, no matter how hard I try. I just need to appreciate what I have and build on that. Sure, there are things and people who make me happy, but sometimes they’re going to move on. That’s nothing on them, it’s just the way life goes.

No matter what life throws at me, there will always be the three of us. The rest is just gravy.

Concern

I was stopped in the school parking lot today by someone who wanted to express their concern for me in person. This isn’t the first time that someone has seeked me out in the last few days to check on me. It has been a very difficult couple of weeks and I can’t seem to catch a break, but in that regard, I’m having trouble feeling like I deserve a break right now.

I’ve put a lot on Facebook and Twitter about how hard it’s been for me lately. Probably too much. My mind has been a mess for a couple weeks and I’ve done almost nothing to change that; I’ve let it eat at me. I’ve complained about people and pinned shit that I thought would make me feel better, but all I’ve felt is regret. I’d like to be able to tell you all that it’s not as bad as I make it out to be on social media, but the fact is that it’s at least as bad as I make it out to be on social media.

I’ve disappointed a few people and likely lost someone very important to me, and that’s pretty much on me. I can barely handle myself and I dump everything on other people. It’s incredibly selfish to look for people to bring me up, especially when all I do is drag them down. I feel awful about that, and none of you get to say good riddance to those people. They mean the world to me and I fucked it up, and it hurts.

I’d do anything to earn the trust and friendship back, but I understand if it’s gone too far and I have nobody to blame but myself. I appreciate everyone’s concern, though, and I hope to keep working on getting better and finding myself again. I’ve tried to make good with people I know I’ve disappointed and I plan on holding my bad times for therapy and not for everyone’s consumption. I’ll be okay, I’m sure, and I’ll pull out of this funk. I want you all to know that all of your worries aren’t unfounded, nor are they falling on deaf ears. I’ll simplify my life, and I don’t know when it will happen, nor do I care, but some day I’ll be okay. I hope my friends are here when I am.

Paralyzed

I can’t get up.

I can’t even refill my coffee cup.

I have to do something and my mind tells me to just get up and do it. Stand up and put one foot in front of the other and just fucking do it. But I can’t, and I have no idea why.

Did I do something wrong and I don’t know it? What’s making me feel this way today? What’s going to get me out of it?

It may be grief, or pain, or sadness, or uncertainty. Or maybe the world just doesn’t need me right now. Maybe it all goes on and spins without me helping it today. Maybe it’s looking at me and saying “It’s okay, just come up when you’re ready.”

But then it’s gotten the best of me, and I’m not ready to succumb. Undefined sadness stabs me in the heart but doesn’t kill me. It makes me suffer. It makes me find a way to fight.

Hope brings no happiness today, but I still hope I figure it out before I run out of ways to fight.

I just need to stand up now.

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.

Valentine’s Day

I hate this day. I didn’t think I would, because we never really celebrated it, but I hate this day. I’m happy for everyone who has someone today and for those who don’t but do not let it bother them. I envy all of those people. I never expected it to feel this way.

In less than two months it will be a year since she died. I fear that day more than all the milestones that have passed combined. Today by itself has been tear-filled as I try in vain to make the time pass with anything I can get myself to do. Everything is coming together today to bring me down. “Think of it as just another day,” is the advice I’ve gotten. The other days haven’t been very kind lately, either.

I hate this fucking day.

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.

I don’t know

I try to share as much of myself as I feel comfortable.  Some get more than others, while some get none at all. Like anybody, I’ve always wanted people to like me and accept me into their group, but I rarely end up in groups. Perhaps I’m just too damn comfortable as a wallflower, because I always worry about doing stupid shit and embarrassing myself. I also don’t take praise too well. Never have, probably never will. It’s just how I’ve always been – pensive, quiet, on the fringe, to steal a phrase from a previous post.

When you get me, though, you get all of me. I’ll never apologize for that, but it comes with its own adverse qualities. Recent experience has taught me that all is too much and that I should probably live a more closed-in existence. It may look good on paper to share feelings to the nth degree, but in reality it doesn’t work, not for me. For me it brings heartache, regret, sadness. I’ve not been capable of anything but persistence lately, to the point of discontent toward me. I just can’t let go, even when someone lets go of me.

Conventional wisdom suggests that I should take my dignity and go home when someone pushes me away, but it’s not that simple in practice. We fight for what we want and we try and convince ourselves that there is nobility in this tactic, but do we ever consider the success of it? For every time it works, maybe there’s ten failures, but that one time it worked is all we think about. “I can do this again,” is the refrain. This, frankly, just breeds more despair.

I’m emotionally exhausted. I don’t know if I have any fight left in me, not for these kinds of battles. I’ve shared my happiness, my pain and my sorrow. I’ve begged for acceptance and another chance. I’ve turned it on them, as if I’m the only thing that could keep them happy. I marvel at people who find strength somewhere in the pain, but they sometimes do so at my expense. This isn’t to vilify them, rather, it’s admiration of their self-serving ability in the face of all that is crumbling before them. I respect that and I wish I could do that for myself.

There just isn’t any strength for that right now, so my pain shows tears.

All by myself

A couple weeks ago the boys headed to grandma’s house for a sleepover, affording me the opportunity to head out on my own and do whatever. My plans for the night, like Napolean’s, were to show up, then see what happens. 11,000 Internets to whomever gets that reference.

At the end of that night, I wasn’t doing well. I probably expected way too much out of an evening ripe with possibilities, and when nothing came of it, I was disappointed.  I’ve had trouble managing my expectations since I started going out in search of something more, but I think I’m getting better at it. One of my friends reminds me to expect nothing so as to not be disappointed, but I’m not so sure about that approach anymore. I’ve yet to find a way to adequately express why that is, but I can’t eliminate expectation from my life. In the same way, I can’t eliminate hope. God knows I’ve tried.

Last night I went to the pub for dinner and ended up sitting with six or seven friends who I didn’t know would be there. They razzed me a bit for my Pepsi order (“Pepsi and what?”), but they do that in fun, knowing that the problem I feel I have is less than I make it. This isn’t to say they don’t support my decision to not drink, but they know me and know how to tease. It’s cool. I sat and laughed with them for an hour or so before going to the movies to see “The Monuments Men.” Before you ask, I’ll say it’s a good movie for a rental, but I wouldn’t recommend paying at the movies to see it. That’s just my opinion.

This was the second time I’d gone to the movies by myself in the past month. The first time ended horribly, partly because of the aforementioned expectations issue, and partly because one of the guys in “Lone Survivor” took his last breaths in exactly the same way Dawn did. It was a huge shit sandwich and I had to take many bites.

Last night went well, though. I went back to the bar after the movie to see if there was anybody there I knew, and also because I wasn’t ready to go home yet. I watched Tretiak run about 83 miles to get to the Olympic Torch, I fished around on Tinder for a bit, then I went home, happy with my evening. Once home, I turned on the TV while relaxing on the couch and thought more about the idea of enjoying my own company before seeking out the company of others. I honestly don’t know what I enjoy by myself. Which carries with it the question of how in blue hell am I supposed to know what would be enjoyable with someone else, right? Maybe I keep the relationships and friendships I have now in their place and not look for more. It’s just a matter of convincing myself to do just that. In a strange turn, I need to not expect more than that out of the people in my life. Funny how I come full circle.

The hits just keep on comin’.

 

Sunday

I was eating breakfast with a friend Friday morning when she asked me what my worst time of day was.  I hesitated for a bit before answering, because it has changed from time to time in the past few months. “Night time,” I said.  Night time is when I’m left alone with my thoughts.  It’s the time between turning off the light and actually falling asleep.

For the first couple of months after Dawn passed, this was easily the worst part of every day, and every day was bad.  Even when my days got better, bedtime was the time I dreaded most.  I’d lay there, exhausted, begging for sleep when my mind would just race and race and I couldn’t sleep.  I’d find myself awake for hours pondering a million things about my life, none of which stayed in focus for more than a few seconds at a time.  For a while that changed, and I grew to enjoy the solitude. It gave me a chance to focus on things I enjoyed doing by myself, but before long it came back and I now dread the nights alone.

Sunday has always been hard.  Sundays are quiet and relaxed, save for the cleaning of the house and washing the laundry.  We’ve always had easy Sundays in our house for as long as I can remember, and now they are no different.  What’s become of Sundays, however, is that they are essentially 24 hours of night.  I have no energy or motivation to move a muscle or do a thing.  I sit with my thoughts and I live with the loneliness that death has given me. I suppose a big part of my weekend drinking was to spend at least a portion of the next day nursing a hangover, so I could be distracted by alcoholic illness instead of dealing with my life.  Obviously not a healthy choice, but it did wonders for my mental state.

As expected, I was up early this morning despite all my best efforts at staying asleep for as long as I possibly could.  My morning was filled with thoughts of trying too hard to form relationships and if I was ever going to be able to just let things be.  I got nowhere with that.  I miss everybody, but does anybody miss me?  This is how my mind works on Sundays, and at bedtime.  I can’t escape it.

I crave companionship, like so many other single people.  I crave it and I think about what’s wrong with me that I can’t find it.  I can’t help it.  I know I try too hard.  I know it will happen organically, as Tanya always tells me.  I’m just lost and sad and lonely and impatient.  I haven’t given up on Hope, but it has tried my patience on many occasions.  I just want something to take my mind elsewhere, for just a little while, and that’s why I try so hard.  I hope I can quit trying, because it hurts too much to get so little in return.