It’s a big change from yesterday, it’s much cloudier and the winds blowing a bit stronger. Which makes it a perfect day for sitting outside. The laundry is hanging on the line, and I’m just sitting here under the sycamore trees. Enjoying the outside for long as I can stand it. Last night was a little rough my blood sugar bottomed out twice. But I still managed to get about six hours sleep. So as my meds start kicking in, I reckon I’ll make it yet another day.
Life throws all kinds of shit at us, but we persevere. Often “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. But more often than not, the needs of the one (yourselves) are most important. Being selfish is nothing to be ashamed of, I mean it’s built into brains. At its very core our brains have a built-in survival instinct. The most primal root of who we are. To feel selfishness, fear, or panic is to feel the very impulses of this part of us.
Considering I live GAD and PD, I sort of live in a vacuum, where I can choose what and who I wish see. The isolation at first was stifling, but now I see it is a gift. It gives me a certain degree of covering when the world is just too much. Like I said, selfishness is just natural. Nothing to be ashamed or guilty about. But some religious laws tell us we must be selfless. But why can’t preservation and compassion live hand in hand? In this world selfishness can be evil. If used without empathy or compassion towards others. Give some thought to the words I’m saying. Be strong, be fierce, but remember; “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39 KJV). Think about it, I got clothes to take in.
Like peeling back the layers of an onion, pieces of my past present themselves in many different ways. I suppose it’s my mindfulness practice that has opened the door to these unresolved issues. Often, I wish I could just close this Pandora’s Box and leave it be. But it is what it is, so if I really want to keep moving forward. I suppose I must continue to open these locked doors and forgive myself and the past therein.
Recently I have been having the strangest and most disturbing dreams. Dreams where I confront relationships from my past. Seeing images of my family and the imperfections that bind us together. Of the past mistakes and the messed-up consequences that have brought me where I am today. They are disturbing and often wake me from a sound sleep. Still I’m trying to deal with them as they are, accepting them and forgiving myself and others for the things I went through.
I’m not really sure why I’m bringing any of this up. I mean, most mindfulness teaching discusses the more peaceful aspects of the practice. And while I do feel relief for many of my traumatic issues, it often comes at the price of reliving them again.
I have walked through much of my life not being who I really am. Putting on the make-up of a clown or a cynic just to bury the true emotions that I carry. I suppose it all stems from the fear of rejection and abandonment. From the moments where I felt so totally alone. Whatever the reasons, reminding myself of those hurts often gives me prospective. Prospective into the lives of those I have hurt and those who have hurt me. Thereby creating compassion, not only for myself, but for the ghost around me.
In a swirl of dizziness and sleep deprivation, I lay here wide awake. My thoughts are in no particular place, I’m just waiting for my heart to quit pounding, so I can drift back to slumber land. I don’t ask much of myself, most days are pretty good, as long as I keep my activities to a minimum. Still there are those moments when you have to put a little effort into it. And it’s usually those days that drain me the most.
At this point I don’t ask much of life other than to give me the strength for another day. Hope you don’t mind; but I tend to be a bit melodramatic when my heart’s racing. Anyway, I try not to live in the regrets of the past, instead I focus on the day to day. But I must admit when something taxing happens it definitely drains me.
But how do you live in a paradox of remaining positive when everything around you is shutting down? I suppose the best thing I can say is don’t. In life there is a certain balance we should maintain between the darkness and the light. All you can do is try and keep things level.
Life is a constant struggle to keep things even. To accept the bad moments, while appreciating the good. Thankfully, my heart is slowing to a low roam. The panic and anxiousness that often plague me are finding their center. The things I talk about aren’t some ancient riddle, just common sense. Some things in life are unavoidable sickness, disease, or heartbreak. The best we can do is remain calm and take just one more step.
Do you ever ask yourself, is this where I want to be? Are we so tied to our past that we are unwilling to be uncomfortable? I left my safe space decades ago and ventured into a new frontier. Here anxiety and misfortune have followed my every step. But it’s that feeling of impermanence that has led me here to this moment of peace. A place where I can see beyond the four walls that confine me.
So I ask, where do you want to be? I can see the sadness in your eyes, and I know the obligations that tie you down. Still do you wish to be free. Let’s take a moment and ask ourselves, who do I want to be? Am I just an actor playing a part? For far too long I said my lines and hit my marks. But when the curtain fell, the smiles went away.
Creativity and freedom come at a price. Things like your fear and vulnerability have no place to hide. But it was those very things that weighed us down. Leaving our hearts and minds in turmoil. While I often feel uncomfortable telling my story, it is out of that discomfort that I found the ability to be.
To be the person that I truly am, not the cynic or the loud obnoxious grouch I usually portray. I see the world in different colors, in different shapes, in different ideas. Gone are the infantile notions that the world must work just one way. In its place are the infinite possibilities of life. So is this where you want to be? If so then get uncomfortable and shed the skin that keeps you bound.
One of my favorite side effects in taking medication for chronic heart failure is peeing. One medication in particular keeps me going to the bathroom. It helps drain excess fluids and salt from my body since my heart doesn’t pump as well as it should. Another funky side effect is constantly having to rehydrate, even if I’m indoors. It sounds a bit like an oxymoron, but it is what it is.
I don’t know what got me thinking about this, other than needing to go to the bathroom. I mean I should be used to this by now. But I do what I’m told and take my medication, besides the alternative is pushing up daisies. I shock a lot of people with the attitude I have towards life and death. It’s not like I have a death wish, in fact quite the opposite. I enjoy life. Still my fascination with mortality kinda freaks people out. But I like to think of it as my way of being at peace with the inevitable.
Through the depths of depression I experienced, I always maintained a certain degree fight. Rather it came from my children or from something buried deep within myself. I knew I couldn’t give up. Once I pulled myself from out of that abyss. It was my drive and paranoia drove me to where I am today. But I can’t blame anyone but myself really. So I take life one day at a time. Facing the challenges I face and doing the best I can with what I got. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Doing what we can. I suppose I could be bitter, at least at myself. But what’s the point? Life is meant to be lived, so why waste it.
I’m painting a picture in my mind. Of two people lost in stories where they lost control. Two narratives carried by their faith in love, only to be burned by the selfishness of others. Plagued by poor timing, fear, and the charms of another. They thought they had found what they wanted, only to be sweep away from whom they truly loved.
Our lives sometimes take foolish turns. Not so much because of our stupidity, but by our lack of self-esteem. Believing we are not worthy of the grace standing before us. We listen to the words of others; whose foolish pride causes us to doubt our own selves. For far too long I have talked myself out of the things I truly wanted. I allowed myself to be robbed of the happiness and satisfaction I truly desired.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge of my life. Far too many missteps have been made to turn back now. But from this moment forward, things can be changed. Apologies can be made, fires rekindled, and stories can continue to be told. About the life, love, and the passions that are still there.
Don’t look at your life with shameful regret. Accept the past, live in the moment, and don’t worry about the future. Once you learn to forgive yourself and ask forgiveness of others, you can create new beginnings. You can start to look at love again without remorse or regret and renew old passions. For our stories will never finish being written, until our ashes are thrown to the wind.
In a world blinded by negativity it’s a wonder any of us can even think straight. Every morning I’m bombarded by notices from various social media apps clickbaiting me for my attention. Each claiming to have something important to tell me, while selling me sensationalized half-truths and opinions. My Grandma always told me “there’re two-sides to every story”. This was especially true for her with my four uncles and my mother. Three of my uncles seem to burn through relationships like a chain-smoker with a box of matches. While my mom and my oldest uncle had long term marriages, they were not without problems.
It seemed like each one of them would parade through Grannies kitchen with their own stories to tell. The funny part would be when their spouses or girlfriends would eventually show up with their side of the story. Granny was a good listener but tolerated very little bullshit and would love you despite of yourself. The powers to be seem hellbent on conveying just their side of things. This isn’t anything new the powers to be have doing this since we started painting on cave walls. It’s just that today the news travels faster.
But I’m not here to spout off my own “conspiracy theories”, this is a story about balance and our own morality. Even the noblest of us can be wrong. But often our pride and temperament won’t allow us to admit it. I’m sure each of my poor relatives, including myself, that sat at that kitchen table knew we were right. But you know what, maybe we were not. Judge by the actions and motives that you see. Do they line up with what we know to be fair and moral? Or do they line up with the fear they provoke? Maybe we could all use a kitchen table.
It’s nearly four in the morning and the sinus cavity over my left eye hurts. Since I’ve been up, I have edited a story and rewritten a poem. My wife is laying across from me gently snoring. But I am grateful for the four hours of sleep I got. In the darkness I can hear the box fan turning, as I listen and touch these tiny little keys.
Spinning cherubs cross my mind as I dream through my semi-consciousness. Closing my eyes I still see the sparkling little lights of red and black. They run in chains dancing across my eyes. As a child I would lay in bed and watch them dance. Bringing me comfort as a cowered under the covers waiting for the monsters to come.
There is still a fear that I feel when I tell my stories. Throughout my whole life words have danced across my mind, but I mostly kept them to myself. Fearing what others would say. The hatefulness and taunting laughter I can still hear. The shame I would feel. With nowhere to run, trapped in a corner. Helpless.
I lay here in the dark. Much older, but not much wiser. Letting those same fears torment me. Listening and accepting the words and images of that little boy from under the covers. Playing the poet and writer I’d dream of being. Embracing the darkness, not really fearing it, just listening.
Why are we so afraid to peer into the dark corners of our minds? I remember asking my Grandparents what it was like to live through the Great Depression. Only to get shrugs or non-responses like we were so poor we didn’t know there was a depression. Many of us today still do the same thing when it comes to traumatic experiences. I suppose for me it was all the one-on-one and group therapy sessions I attended that finally got me to crack that shell.
For a really long time I played the game of “everything’s fine”. Or I would deny myself the right to grieve. Or better yet verbally abuse myself for ever having negative thought. I believe whole-heartedly that life is about balance. That life, bad or good shouldn’t override the other. Growing up in the charismatic evangelical faith, thinking such thoughts is blasphemy. But through my experience wishing or “praying away” mental illness is…well stupid.
Most of my mental health problems stem from verbal abuse. Another percentage stems from “faulty wiring”. So over the decades I’ve treated both with medication and cognitive therapy. Now I also use mediation and the principles of mindfulness to keep myself centered.
This means, I can’t deny the thoughts that travel through my mind, neither negative or positive. Through mindfulness and therapy I’ve learned listen to the fear and the pain, as well as, the positive. To deny one is to deny the other. So at the moment I’m listening to that frightened, angry little boy. Accepting what he has to say and loving him despite it all. Wishing and denial only work so much. But accepting, loving, and forgiving well… that lasts forever.
Laying here on the bed, I’m having a sad case of the nostalgias. Listening to Spotify to a couple of albums I owned like a century ago, Joe Cocker's Sheffield Steel and ELO's Time. I remember those particular albums well because I brought them with the Record Bar’s guarantee, if you don’t like it, bring it back. For a kid driving his Mom’s old '66 Dart with limited resources, that was a deal.
It’s funny how our lives change. How things we can’t seem to live without, never existed when I was a kid, let alone a thirty-something year old. Yet here I am running my life with device not much bigger than a cassette tape. I'm not big on nostalgia, though my kids may say otherwise. I like to keep my eyes forward. Oh I have friends (friend) and we speak fondly of the past. But we are both grandparents now, with basically the same problems we had when we had no grandkids.
But we do the best we can to forge ahead living our lives and dreaming our dreams. You wouldn’t think a person my age would have anymore dreams. Well, I do. For a really long time I was living on borrowed time. My body and my attitude were both ticking time bombs where fear led my life.
It wasn’t till four years ago that I had to honestly face my demons. Strung up between life and death, I had a decision to make. To live a life in peace or keep walking to an unmarked grave. I don’t mean to make it sound so grim, but that was pretty much how is was. The best thing I did other than fix my lifestyle, was lose my fear. I learned that some things you can’t control and that’s okay. Just as long as your conscience is clear and you know love, everything’s going to be okay. Right Beck?