Dogs

I woke up at 0500, as I am wont to do. I generally fall asleep to movies or podcasts, and last night it was Battle Royale II- Requiem. I made it through Battle Royale earlier in the day, because it just cracks me up. Yes, there is so much violence and not very much humor in the movie as a whole, but the instructional video makes me laugh until my sides hurt. I’m going to have to go back and watch the ending of II, because I should know by now that I cannot start a movie between 2030-2100. It reminds me of my dad coming home from a Covey seminar on time management, where the instructor told a funny story:

Instructor: I get my kids to wake up at 4:00 AM for a planning session every morning.
Guy in Class: How do you do that?
I: I put them in bed at 8:30 PM.
GIC: How do you manage THAT?
I: I get them up at FOUR IN THE MORNING!

I’ve puttered around the house for a little bit… went through the trash looking for recycling because my roommate is not so good about it. Made myself both a Hawaiian Punch and strong black coffee. Took all my psych meds so that I can ignore the “Meeting with Bob” reminder later (I call all my medication reminders “meeting with Bob,” and it really caught on when I was in the psych ward at Methodist. By the time I left three days later, I had my entire cohort saying “I have a meeting with Bob later.”

Yes, children. I checked myself in at Methodist thanks to an ass kicking by my precious Argo, who put everything succinctly: why do you expect everyone else to fix you? Can’t you see the common denominator is you? I didn’t realize that asking my friends to safety net me was in fact keeping me from moving under my own power, failure to take responsibility for my own actions. When you’re that far down into depression, anxiety, and PTSD, it’s hard to see. The kicker was suicidal ideation that I knew would go away with a trip to a psychiatrist who could adjust my meds, but I called and I could not get a new patient appointment for another three weeks. Anyone who’s been in that situation knows three weeks is way too long- halfway to SpongeBob Squarepants headstone (don’t think I won’t do it- not the suicide part, the hilarity of an actual SpongeBob headstone for all eternity).

Teenage trauma was compounded by my relationship with Dana ending in a fight to end all fights. Dana pushed me over and I just went off like a chihuahua with a God complex. All the fight was taken out of me when Dana punched me in the face so hard that for a moment, I thought my eye socket was broken. It wasn’t, but I had a pretty nice bruise under my eye that my glasses didn’t cover. I forgive, but I don’t forget. I concentrate on my hilarious memories with Dana now, because I cannot live my life in the smallest place possible. I take responsibility for not running away at the first sign that the fight was turning physical.

I, however, have stopped feeling that I deserved to be hit, because the fight absolutely made me come emotionally unglued. It took a while. The mobile assessment team that evaluated me at Methodist reassured me that I had a natural reaction to being pushed over, but that it was probably a bad idea to try and fight back with someone whose fist was three times bigger than mine. In the moment, my thought process was that it was a bad idea not to stand up to a bully. To Dana’s credit, she was immediately sorry and didn’t just give lip service to it. She really put herself through an enormous amount of self-help, which is why I can forgive her so easily. I wouldn’t be so laid back about it if I thought that there was a possibility it could happen again.

The one mistake I made was going home after hospitalization. I didn’t count on the emotional swings between us getting much worse. I made due by sleeping at friends’ houses and going to the house to pick up my stuff when I knew she wouldn’t be there. It wasn’t that I carried anger around. It was that I was trying to cut any and all fights off at the pass. It is a very, very difficult thing to go through that with someone you love so desperately, so my choice is not to be bitter and to remember all the things that happened between us that were overwhelmingly positive. It is enough that we are not in contact anymore, reducing the possibility of hurting each other again to zero, whether that means emotionally, physically, or both.

But that was a little over three years ago, and I cannot emphasize enough how much different my world has become. I’ve had an enormous swath of time to think things through and work on my own issues so that I’m less quick to anger, and trying to love my friends through their own problems, because so many people did it for me. I’ll never be able to pay it all forward, but it helps to try.

I am very open and honest about what it took to get past all this, but the stigma is there. People don’t always realize what it took to get you to the place of hospitalization, and only concentrate on how crazy you must be if you had to get that kind of help. It’s a black mark, whether it is deserved or not. I’d had severe psychological issues since I was a teenager, and I can’t help but think how much better my life would have gone had I been hospitalized in the moment rather than stuffing everything down into my socks. It made me feel like I was fine, thank you very much [Morgan Freeman: Leslie was, in fact, not fine].

I was able to lay everything out in front of Argo because she was a stranger on a train, not part of my physical life so she saw everything differently. She asked pointed questions that made vomiting up old trauma unavoidable, and I cracked into pieces. And then, with two sentences, I make no qualms about the fact that they probably saved my life…. yet another thing that I’ll probably never be able to repay.

I do, however, offer up prayers into the universe for her a lot. It gives me something to pray for her happiness, healthiness, and the joy of being alive with possibility. Her sunshine is bright, and it was a gift to stand in it. I simply would not be the person I am today had I not been able to see every place I went wrong in black and white.

It was an incredible motivator to keep going with psychiatry, talk therapy, and instituting behavioral patterns that keep me from going back to the dark emotional place that doesn’t allow for my own sunshine. I truly have a lot of it to give. It’s hard to notice when I’m spilling my guts on this web site, because most of my entries deal with problems I’m trying to process, but I am incredibly funny. My love is gigantic, from the personal to the international. I don’t just care about my friends and family, but the problems that arise with just being a human.

All of it shows more easily in person than it does while writing, something I am trying to change as both my marriage and the death of my mother fade further into the back of my mind. There are always going to be times when I’m incredibly sad over each, but especially my mother would be horrified to know that losing her caused me to lose my knack for both cracking jokes and laughing easily when others do it.

I am looking forward to a lot of laughter starting on Tuesday, when my little sister arrives for a work trip. What cracks me up the most about her is that when I say something sweet, her response is usually, “thanks, Boo.” It works on two levels; the first is that it is a loving term of endearment. The second is that my mood often bears a striking resemblance to Boo Radley.

Harper Lee is my spirit animal, and I will speak more as to why.

It is my unverified opinion that Scout and Boo are the same person, Harper Lee at different points in her life. Think about just how much she isolated after To Kill a Mockingbird was published, and I think you’ll see it, too…. keeping in mind that I’m wrong a lot. 😛 It seems to me, though, that there’s probably at least a grain of truth in my ramblings about somebody I don’t even know. The now unanswered question in my mind is whether Lee was reclusive before or after creating Boo…. did she base Boo on herself, or did writing about him put her into that place? Chicken, egg, etc. Either way, I’m not sure it renders my opinion invalid.

When I am able to support having a pet, I’d really like to get a dog. This seems unrelated, but it’s not. I often need forced interaction because it’s hard for me to do it on my own, and taking my dog for a walk provides just that. I know this because I used to live in an apartment complex, so letting my dog relieve herself in the backyard was not an option. Therefore, I met lots of other people who also had dogs, which not only gave me opportunities to socialize, but something about which to discuss that didn’t dig too deep. It was just fun. And, of course, if it’s a boy, his name will be Arthur. If it’s a girl, her name will be Louise.

Perhaps I should get a chihuahua with a God complex. Apparently, we’d have a lot in common.

Living Water

I’m starting to wonder if I’m ever going to figure out what to do with my life, because I can see where it is I want to go with such clarity… but there’s a deep chasm between here and there. The staircase has cracks and is, in some places, completely broken. For the longest time, I’ve wanted to work with the homeless, to be pastor of my own church, to be a writer tagged as more theologian than blogger, to help others heal themselves by laying out my own broken pieces and hoping that something I’ve said will trigger an “A-ha!” moment. I am thankful that I’ve done at least a small bit of the latter with this web site; the rest of me wonders constantly if I am healthy enough to work with other people in 3D.

It’s a question that not enough people ask themselves when considering careers as pastors, social workers, therapists, etc. Three years ago, I was in the psych ward at Methodist hospital… but I have trouble deciding how much of my depressed and anxious state was current and how much of it was a delayed reaction. While it was great to find an anti-anxiety medication that worked, and indeed, to learn I needed to add it to my already-established protocol, that was just psychiatry. Once my brain chemicals were sorted, that didn’t mean anything in terms of correcting behaviors that began as unhealthy in childhood, and proceeded to self-destructive as an adult. The difference, of course, being depth. When those behaviors were new, they would have been a hell of a lot easier to fix. And then I got old…. er.

I thought I was doing fine, and then the dam broke. All of the lies I’d used to convince myself that I was fine stopped working, and as I have said before, I just started emotionally vomiting trauma. I was a grand total of 36 years old, and I still felt like an arrested teenager, especially in my smallest moments. 36 should be old enough to know better, do better. I’d simply folded most of my hands as I watched my same-age friends come in Kings full over Aces.

I’ve never been in doubt about the fact that I was bright, had talent in multiple areas, etc. I just haven’t known how to collate that into success… and when I’ve achieved it, how to learn to live there. Every time I’ve had money and nice houses and retirement accounts and the whole nine yards, I have sabotaged myself in so many ways, torching it all to the ground.

I know how to live on no money and self-worth. I don’t yet know how to rise above it… but I’m learning. It’s probably why I made terrible marriage material… for which I owe two women an apology for being married to them and one other (okay, two… but we don’t talk about two) for thinking I could. So many of my absolutely brilliant ideas live on hope, which is why therapy is so important. It helps me to turn the abstract into logic. As a spazzbasket of creative diva energy, being logical is not my forté. Dana was right in that I tend to jump from one great idea to the next without finishing any of them, except for one. I have been faithful to a fault about cataloging everything I feel on this web site, and to me, 6.13.1_Pensieve_merged_blackthat’s the dependency I’ve needed to see up close & personal where all my flaws and failures lie. It has been a life-changing experience on so many levels to be able to go back over what I’ve written and see where I’ve changed and what still needs work. My friend Kristie calls it my “pensieve.”

She is not wrong.

I have said from the very beginning that I write for me, and you’re invited. It is so true you can take those words to the bank and cash them. Nothing I’ve ever written was meant more for an audience than it was for me, even the marriage article that got more shares and retweets than I ever expected. I wrote it when my own marriage was sometimes doing really well, and sometimes crumbling into pieces. I couched it in sharing common ground with Evangelical Christians, but in reality it was to remind myself of the things I could control in my own life, and what I couldn’t. I couldn’t make my partners do anything, but I could improve myself and hope that they followed suit… and if they didn’t, I was probably in the wrong relationship and trying to make it fit.

I cannot say that the relationship with Dana was wrong for me, only that it became so. Neither one of us really got the short end of the stick. We both participated in our own destruction, not really one person’s fault or the other, just a mishmash of problems that we thought we could solve and didn’t.

If I had it all to do over again, there would have been professional help involved. It also would have been good to either go and visit Argo or have her come and visit us, so that there was relationship on the ground between all three of us, and not a secluded bubble with swells of operatic emotion on the page. My writer personality is so different than the one I have on the ground, and it would have been good for all three of us to make that connection. Had Argo been a part of our daily lives, she would have ceased to be my “Raggedy Man.” My friends would have ceased to call her “The Doctor,” because she would have been real to them instead of seemingly this person I made up. It also would have made her concrete in my own mind, because speaking of self-destruction, the wall of anonymity between us kept even me from really seeing her in three dimensions. My lips were too loose, always. It is not lost on me that because we didn’t know each other on the ground, I was capable of more love and anger with her than anyone in my life, before or since.

That’s probably the biggest take-home message I’ve gotten from this web site…. that I need tighter boundaries with emotions all the way around. I don’t always need to be a loose cannon jackass who spouts off and regrets… or in the case of love, spouts off without really thinking of the consequences my words will inevitably bring. At this point, my life has to be all about learning to think critically while leaving my emotions on the back burner.

It’s a back and forth sort of process… one step forward and two steps back sometimes, a giant leap for mankind at others. I find myself watching TED Talks on motivation, and I haven’t found anything better for thinking while mobile than Tim Ferris’ podcast. Both deal with great thinkers- TED Talks are presentations, Tim Ferris interviews industry giants on how they do what they do. I feel stronger and more strident after listening to them, which is something I desperately need. Most of the time, I feel about thisbig, because depression and anxiety whisper, let’s think about everything you’ve ever done wrong in your whole life. My coping mechanism is to, most of the time, have something going in my headphones to drown out what my AA friends call “The Committee.” The Committee is the collection of tapes in your head that stop you from moving forward because it continually drags you into the past. Instead of how do I get there from here? it’s you’ll never get there because we won’t let you. It is the well of worthlessness from which The Committee continually tries to get you to drink.

There are better sources of living water out there, and my goal is to find them. At this point, there’s no other choice.

#prayingonthespaces

Thanks for Coming Over- Have Some Tea

Today I’m dressed to the nines, just because I can. I like the way I feel about myself when I’m the male equivalent of “all dolled up.” It’s not that I’m not female, it’s just that I don’t really look it in black Dockers, a grey t-shirt (complete with blue TARDIS), a Nautica blue and white striped button-down, neon green and TARDIS blue striped socks, and black leather shoes. Samantha saw me and I said, “do I look cute today?” She said, “yes, why? Do you have a date?” I said, “no, but I might want one.” Seems legit. Dress for success, baby. Dress. For. Success.

Then I asked Samantha, “will you take me to a store? Like, right now?” We took off for Giant (grocery store) because I needed three things. The first was an industrial size can of CoffeeMate, because it tastes much better in black tea than it does in coffee (go figure). Running low because of the sheer amount of tea I drink every day would scare most physicians. The second thing was Zyrtec, and the third thing was a Diet Coke so I could take it in the store, immediately, Do Not Pass Go. OMG the allergies. Hayat and Mike love plants, all kinds, and I am *dying.* I cannot go for more than a couple of minutes without having a sneezing attack, and my eyes itch like a mofo. It was on sale- a month’s worth for $10, so I got two. It will take me almost that long to rebuild it in my system. Zyrtec is not like pseudoephedrine, you don’t take it as a spot treatment. In order to really stop the sneezing, itching, etc. you have to take it for about six weeks. Just sayin,’ because a lot of people don’t know that. It will work, sort of, but “histamine blockers” take a while to get up and running. They aren’t built in a day. I only put “histamine blockers” in quotes because my dad and I both thought it was hilarious when that ad campaign came out… not sure if it was Claritin or Benadryl, but we both convulsed in laughter. “You mean, ANTIHISTAMINES?” Ah, buzz words.

Then, once Samantha and I had some time alone, she told me how her doctor’s appointment went yesterday, and it’s not good. She’s not going to die or anything, but she will have to go through treatment and it is weighing on me, tender heart bear that I am. The best piece of advice she’s gotten so far, and I love it, is “you just do your everyday stuff and let other people worry for you. They’re going to do it anyway, so just let them.” I wish I’d gotten the same advice when I was going through all my mental hell. It might have kept me from isolating quite so much.

Actually, it was my old, old friend Jonathan who got me through the worst of my hospitalization, with one simple Facebook comment. I was so overwhelmed with all the love notes that poured in that I said something to the effect of “thank you so much- I will absolutely jump in for you when the time comes.” He said, “right now, just jump in for yourself.” Those words literally carried me for days. Jonathan, if you’re reading this, I need you to know that and take it in. Your words helped me focus on myself rather than all of the other patients who seemed “so much worse than me.” My dad has this saying that rang true with Jonathan’s words: “definition of major surgery? Yours.” I wasn’t recovering from surgery, but it seemed like it, in a way. I didn’t get better overnight. I went to the hospital, but it was several weeks before I truly felt better. I felt so much guilt over spending time at the hospital at all, especially when Dana said, “it must be nice to be able to just check out like that.” Well, it was better than staying with her and continuing to beat myself up, that’s for damn sure. I dismissed her take as ignorance, but I’m still furious about it. The best thing about getting a divorce is not having to listen to her bitch and moan about my mental health while she continues not to take care of hers.

I just got to this place of survival mode, like I said earlier. Jonathan said “jump,” and I fucking did. Once I got out of “I am going to die if I don’t take care of this” mode, of course I wanted to work it out with Dana. However, I couldn’t get her to see that I needed to be strong before I could be a partner to her, because by then she’d taken it all as selfishness. It was way too late for us to rebuild, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about it constantly for a while.

In our last conversation, she also beat me up emotionally for not helping her more with the move to Portland. That I just sat on the driveway close to Diane’s house and mourned. The problem with that is she didn’t do jack or shit while I was sitting there. We BOTH left everything until the last minute. It was not my fault or hers. It just was. So to blame me for both of our ADHD attitudes is just putting more on me than is rightfully mine. I needed that time to mourn. That relationship predated her by almost 15 years. My parents were married for less time than I was “friends” with her. One of my real friends likened it to “battered women’s syndrome” because of all the emotional weight I’d carried for so many years in silence. To say that I would let go easily was an understatement. Besides, I had an eternal hope that Diane would jump in for herself, that she would agree with me that it was time to pack it up and go the fuck home.

She didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there. All of it was wasted energy. On that, I agree with Dana. I just couldn’t bring myself to that place on my own. I had to have help, lots of it, mostly from her. I have called her my Rock and my Redeemer, and at that time, she was. I’ll never forget it, regardless of whether we reconnect or not. She took care of me better than anyone else, because she knew me inside out, upside down, and backwards. She was the Jordy Nelson to my Aaron Rogers, using a football metaphor because it will please her.

I wish I could bring all that back, so that I could be the Jordy as we continue to stumble through life, like everyone does. I couldn’t at that time in my life, so I’m prepared to be that for someone else if they ever ask me. I can’t go backward, but I can pay it forward. I have so many regrets in the way I’ve behaved over the last two years, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything that shouldn’t have happened. I am a better person for it, having had to sit in that much pain.

Because as is my continual anthem, after the flood comes the rainbow. Apt, because I am a Houstonian at heart. I will never move back there unless there are extenuating circumstances, but you can’t erase where you’re from. It just don’t happen. 😛 DC is my lifeblood because of my writing. Nothing will ever change that. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t need a Drank once in a while. That doesn’t mean that just because I live here, Mike Jones is any less burned into my brain. Also doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t beat for Annise Parker, whom I’ve admired since I was a kid. I am so proud of her that I could burst with pride.

I know I’m a bit all over the place today, but I just want this entry to feel like we’re sitting on the front porch, having a conversation………. because that’s exactly what we’re doing.