Telling the Blues

Starting Here

You wouldn’t know it by my writings I am extraordinarily private about much of my life, especially if it is imperfect in my own eyes. I intimated I was struggling in my last somewhat personal writing, here Introversion and the Blues, still, it doesn’t tell the entire story. I find I haven’t had the words, my voice simply silenced by my internal war with depression. I could not find a way to tell the story of my own fear, melancholy and my failure to be compassionate toward myself.

The truth, while this isn’t the first time I have been laid low by depression it has been one of the worst. It was exacerbated by external influences, some over which I had control but chose to push to the limits and others over which my control was limited if not non-existent. I allowed others inside my world, wanting to believe they had my best interest at heart, even while knowing they did not. I dug my hole deeper, shook my soul harder turned myself inward, allowed myself to be hurt, time and again and ultimately doubting myself, questioning myself, my value and my worth.

There were days when the sun came up and I despaired that I had woken with the sun. There were nights, I lay down and prayed for that one last seizure that would stop my breath and heart.

Terrible, I know. Terrible to write the words. Terrible to admit that I felt this for so long. Terrible to acknowledge there are times I still feel this way some nights, some mornings.

The truth is, my blues had gripped me hard this time and initially I had not realized just how hard or for how long they have had me in their grasp. I kept thinking I am out of it, the fog is lifted I am moved beyond this thing but the truth is, I hadn’t. I keep looking for the starting point, that place in time I can put a stake in the ground, in my soul, in my psyche; when did it start where the Y in the road had appeared and I took that path that led here, to this place right now. Honestly? I don’t know. There are so many intersections over the past five years, so many points in time.

I am so grateful there are a few beloved friends and family members who saw my despair and continued to stand by me, shake me now and then, reach into my self-imposed bubble of silence and demand my participation. They did this even when I retreated further into my natural state of isolation. It would have been so easy to stand aside, let me draw my darkness closer and allow me to withdraw further knowing my introversion was simply part of my personality but that this was different. They saw me and saw this was more, this was dangerous and they sometimes kicked the shit out of me and other times just gently prodded me into the world, if even just for an hour or two.  These diehards, who dug in knowing I was closer to the edge than I would ever admit to withstood my rejections, my absolute and outright sometime lies of “I am fine, really”. They threw lifelines and drug me through and demanded I stay in the world, even when my one true desire was to give up when the world seem pitiless and I wanted nothing more than to get up and get off.

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Am I beyond this funk, this fog, this blue? No, really I am not yet. But I know it has been clinging to me and I get that I have been reacting badly, letting too much of my life be taken over by this terrible. I know I have made some horrible choices because I was hurting. I know I allowed others to hurt me because I was hurting and thought they were the most I deserved. I know now I nearly broke myself because I didn’t heed the warning signs, I didn’t listen to my own heart and soul when I screamed. Thankfully, even during this time, I have made some great choices too. I have done some good things for .  myself though I nearly took myself to the brink of destruction and lost it all.

Is it over? No, not yet. I have recovery to do. I have to find those doors to walk through, those steps to take to recover what I have lost. I have to find ways to be healthy, to embrace what I know and allow others to take care of me when I need it. It is time for me to start the slow climb back, emotionally, financially, physically and elsewhere in my life so I can live with all the choices past, present and future. It is time to re-engage the world on my terms, without apology or recrimination. I have to recognize I am subject to the Blues, not let them overtake my world, destroy what I build and be proactive or one of these days I won’t have the opportunity to say no more.

For those who suffer from Depression, I get it. This is hard. It is always hard. We lose so much every single time. Do not do this alone, reach out if you can and if you can’t let others reach in grab the lifelines they throw.

Gratitude in the Blues

Yesterday I read a post from Deb of The Monster in Your Closet, Sixty Things o’ Grateful. This post got me thinking, surely despite my rather long period of blues this year I have much to be grateful for. That my gratitude didn’t just belong in this year but truly extended. I determined I would play by the rules, if I couldn’t come up with at least fifty things to be grateful for, happy about in the allotted time I would sit back and meditate my reasoning, otherwise I would post.

What I found? I have much that I am truly grateful for, much I am consistently happy about, many small things that are a part of my life right now that are making me grow and become more me. Some things are simply a part of my world, I need to remind myself how much these things mean, how much they are of value and how very much they make me happy. Other things, well they are new and vital to my being. I recognize how much I need to tell people I love them, value them and appreciate their presence in my life. How important they are and how much they make my life better simply by being there. I don’t do this often enough.

To join us for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click on the Blue Frog at Tales From The Motherland. 3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List. Please note: the InLinkz will expire on January 15, 2015. After that date, no blogs can be added.

Please note that only blog posts that include a list of 50 (or an attempt to write 50) things that made you feel Happy or 50 things that you are Grateful for, will be included. Please don’t add a link to a post that isn’t part of this exercise; I will remove it. Aside from that one caveat, there is no such thing as too much positivity. Share your happy thoughts, your gratitude; help us flood the blogosphere with both!

Without further ado, my list of fiftish things I am grateful for in 2015 and more. After I made the list and put it up I added pictures and in some cases an explanation.

  1. Finding love, repeatedly in odd and unexpected places, creating new friendships where I never expected.
  2. A contract that has kept me busy, paid the bills and where the client isn’t entirely crazy as is so often the case with my clients. I expect there is an element with contracting, we always see the worst.
  3. My sons, their wives and children. I am so fortunate to share their lives, things could have turned out so differently when their father and I divorced. But instead, my step-sons and their mother (wife-in-law) have remained a central part of my life.
  4. My latest sister and getting to know her. She appeared out of nowhere, another one of my biological father’s children. Born just after me, also put up for adoption but now we found each other and are getting to know each other, I am both grateful and happy. Makes me wonder how many more there are out there.
  5. Remaining mostly without pain all year.
  6. Letting myself enjoy my introversion without guilt, I think this is the first year since I was a teenager I have simply sunk in and allowed myself this freedom.
  7. Learning to say no without guilt.
  8. Traveling to my nieces wedding in Seattle.One Brother
  9. Seeing my brother more than once this year!
  10. Learning to sleep further in the middle of the bed, as if I own it. Three years of singledom and still I slept on ‘my side’ of the bed, finally I almost sleep in the middle.
  11. Getting rid of fat clothes as if I won’t grow back into them. It isn’t that I am dieting, it is simply I have been doing better about eating healthy and taking better care of myself.
  12. Letting my poetry be read again, without embarrassment.
  13. My friends, reconnecting.
  14. Sunrises on the lake.
  15. Rain, though usually I hate it all the lakes have refilled now.
  16. Gap insurance. Having had a bad car accident this year where my car was totaled, Gap Insurance saved me!
  17. Christmas gift bags, what a great solution. All the Christmas gifts would have been delivered unwrapped this year without Gift Bags, I simply ran out of time!
  18. Extended families and the oddities of hundreds. With somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty-three siblings, their families and now third generations; yes, it extends to over one hundred. It is hard but wonderful to watch all the oddballs, geniuses and lovers make their way through this world.
  19. Victim Impact and extending my participation this year to new avenues that have forced me to face my own demons even while allowing me to let them go.
  20. Only one seizure all year.
  21. My tattoo artist James!
  22. My wife-in-law and our friendship of thirty plus years. The mother of my sons has been a member of my tribe for longer than damned near anyone else, she is friend, family and partner in raising our Sons.
  23. Coming home every night from work. After more than twenty years on the road, this is one of the greatest blessing ever.
  24. Dinner with friends during the week.
  25. Fresh flowers on the dining room table. I buy them for myself and they make me happy every single day.
  26. Peace, I finally understand how critical peace in my home is.
  27. My blogging family who have sometimes kept me sane.
  28. Long drives with no destination at all.
  29. Quiet, true and simple quiet when I want it.
  30. Books, stacked to read without interruption.
  31. Growing my hair without anyone telling me they hate it.
  32. Made beds, clean sheets.
  33. Lavender bushes filling the air from early spring to late fall with rich scents.DSC_0152
  34. Kind strangers.
  35. Naps on Saturday because I can. Because I am not traveling Saturday is now a day of rest if I wish it.
  36. Taking myself on a date.
  37. Going on a real date with someone other than myself.
  38. Hugs, just that hugs.
  39. Long hot baths without interruptions.
  40. Criminal Minds marathons.
  41. Butterfly gardens.
  42. The dog warming my feet.
  43. The cats fighting for a place on my lap.
  44. New jeans in a smaller size and feeling good about it.
  45. Having my hair brushed by my grandson.
  46. Hearing ‘I Love You’ and knowing it is true.
  47. Removing drama from my world, even when it hurts.
  48. Becoming more me, finding my center.
  49. Laughter, the big huge from the heart kind of laughter that brings tears to your eyes and causes hiccups.
  50. Good deeds from the spirit, done from genuine love.
  51. Messes, because it is fine if things aren’t perfect all the time.
  52. Finishing a project, any project and knowing it is off my plate; permanently.
  53. Letting go of some of the old hurts.
  54. Sometimes, to clear the heart just a good cry is what is needed. I no longer try to hold back.
  55. Raising my arms above my head to brush my own hair! Years ago I couldn’t do this and I cut all my hair off. Now I can, I am growing it back.
  56. Letting my personal demons dance without interruption or fear.RayL
  57. Choosing life. I am grateful I no longer feel dead inside, just walking through the world with nothing to offer, nothing to give and no hope. I am hopeful.

You Want to Go Where?

Minneapolis is the home to one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Jax Café. Having done several projects in Minneapolis I was determined to spend one night in town before heading to Duluth, catch up with a couple of old friends and have dinner at Jax.

My favorite place to eat, anywhere

My favorite place to eat, anywhere

I arranged my flights to insure I would have plenty of time, even with a slight delay of getting to the hotel, showering and getting over to the restaurant in time.

Dinner was fabulous! I knew everyone of course, but not everyone knew each other, they met that night. Conversation flowed with ease and we sat for hours over our meal and then over coffee. One of the reasons I love this marvelous restaurant, they do not rush you through the meal instead encourage you to stay. What a wonderful night.

Next up, we had the entire day on Friday to do anything we wanted, dinner was planned in Duluth with Kim and family for 7pm and it was approximately a two-hour drive from Minneapolis. Hmmmm, what could we do to fill the hours? Well, if you are Red and Val you drive South to the Spam Museum! That is right boys and girls, after a night of refined dinning and great conversation, what you really want to do is jump in your rental car and go to the one and only Spam Museum, why not.

There and Back Again

There and Back Again

With a bit of side trip, looking for lakes, rivers and other photo worthy items we saw this!

Red considering the consequences

Red considering the consequences

We also saw these, Red was surprised by the lack of flat terrain but finally remembered Minnesota was the home of Little House on the Prairie.

Catching the wind

Catching the wind

Finally, we arrived at our destination and it was well worth the trip.

It really is the Spam Museum

It really is the Spam Museum

Spam Curds?

Spam Curds?

Where it starts, hogs

Where it starts, hogs

Really a Spam Wall

Really a Spam Wall

Oh my what will people think

Oh my what will people think

Can you guess?

Can you guess?

Conveyor ran throughout the museum

Conveyor ran throughout the museum

Pig Door to Spam Theater

Pig Door to Spam Theater

Of course, we now had to turn around and drive nearly five hours back through Minneapolis (in rush hour traffic on a Friday) to make dinner in Duluth!

More pics and adventures tomorrow.

What I think in Retrospect

Today is New Year’s Day 2013; we survived the Mayan Apocalypse as we have so many other predictions of the end of the world. I kept asking people to send me their valuables for safekeeping, just in case mind you. It was a no go, I got not a thing except a few giggles, my friends are all so smart.

Yesterday I thought about all the things this past year brought, good and bad, bright and dark. Yesterday I also slept a great amount of the day away; I have been doing that a great deal lately with the assistance of my broad-spectrum painkillers (thanks doc).

This is in no way an attempt to make New Year’s Resolutions; I don’t do those anymore they simply add to my feelings of inadequacy when I systematically ED TV Ads Viagra Ad fail to achieve them. Do not mistake me, I do not feel inadequate on a regular basis only sometimes, like any normal person even if we don’t admit it at least aloud and in public. I don’t think there is Viagra for the heart and mind, well
there is actually but you can’t take it based on ‘periodic feelings of inadequacy’ versus ‘all the time’.

Did I just compare my now and then feelings of not measuring up to Erectile Dysfunction? Gad

Well, back to the main thrust of my ruminations yesterday, what did I learn as I pondered the last 365 days?

I am still capable of passion. It is in fact a core of my being too long ignored, too long tapped down so others are more comfortable with me. Even here, in my writing I have worked hard to be balanced, fair, pragmatic and inoffensive knowing those who I have great respect and love for might turn away from me should I let my passions fly.

Though I have exposed much of my history on these pages, I remain very much a private person holding myself within the four walls of my soul. This dichotomy has caused me to withdraw from friends, from those who wanted to draw me in, even from self at times. The more I drew back the curtains of the past the more I retreated.

I lie, yes, I said it I lie. I lie to myself every now and then but I lie to others also. I say I don’t care what others think but that isn’t really true at all; of course I care, I am after all human. My investment in caring is long-standing; it is part of who I have always been. Caring what others thought kept me in miserable marriages long past the time I should have exited. Caring what others thought kept me standing and laughing with my bullies in school when I should have demanded justice. Caring what others think now keeps me from standing up sometimes and saying, “No, I will not be quite, accept your judgment or your bad behavior”, simply because I need the connection.fourwalls

I say yes when I should say no. This is true in every aspect of my life. I allow others to dictate my direction based on their need and desire without consideration of what I might need or want. My narrow shoulders carry a huge burden yet I don’t seem able to say NO. The only thing I seem able to do is crawl under the covers and allow ‘sad’ and ‘pain’ to dictate my response to ‘no more’. This reaction is new this year. As I have debrided the past it seems I have also found new ways to hide from others and myself. For a year, I have lived in chaos, emotional and environmental chaos. The ability to say either HELP ME or NO has escaped me and thus I have lived chaotically all year.

I am fooling myself, not really but yes, I am fooling myself. I have spent the last year in pain. I tell others I have a high pain threshold and thus living like this is simply ‘what it is’. That answer is frankly Bullshit. That answer is destroying my life, my marriage and my future. I do have a high pain threshold, which should not matter a whit. This year has seen me go from working with a trainer in 2011, walking fairly regularly and actually losing weight to being nearly sedentary in 2012. My body hurts, I have gained weight again, I look and feel like warmed over…..well you know. I cannot live this way. Not only is it unhealthy, I do not feel good about myself.

 There are still things I want to accomplish in this life! There are still things undone.

That is the greatest conclusion I have come to. There are still things undone. Still lessons to learn, people to meet, love to give, passions to explore, waves to ride.

I admit it, I spent yesterday beating myself up a little bit. I felt as if I had let some people down over the past year. I hadn’t always lived up to my end of the bargain in our relationships, whether marriage, friendship or business. I always knew when I failed, when I fell down; what I failed so often to do is say to them, “I am sorry, I couldn’t do what I promised”.

I have to get better at only promising what I am able to deliver. I have to get better at judging my own capabilities and capacity. That is one resolution I plan on actually working on, just trying to be a better friend, wife and business partner.

I have to get better at taking care of myself. No, not working through the pain that is only for the fools who enjoy abuse and I am long past that. I am going to find a way to reduce the pain, go back to my trainer and do something to get off my azz this year. I simply cannot live this way.

I am going to find a dream or two to follow, chase like mad even. I have them, really. I have had them for a very long time. It is past time for me to put myself on the front burner, stop saying yes to every damn-body else and say yes to me.

I am going to continue to evolve the relationships I started this past year with long lost family members, including siblings and my first mother. They require nurturing; I am going to work on that garden.

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So there you have it, my non-Resolutions based on my thoughts of this past year. How was your New Years?

Lost in Transformation

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That first rush of infatuation, the giddiness of a new relationship. It is like riding a tilt-a-whirl at the carnival, up and down, faster and faster and then the sudden stop. The world comes crashing in and down around us.

Does he like you as much as you like him? Is he the one? Are you the one for him? What should you do, how much should you do? What does he like? Who can you ask that will tell you his likes and dislikes with precision so you can follow a script to his heart. When will he call again? Should you call him? How many texts a day are too many? His last girlfriend was a blond, should you bleach your hair? His last two girlfriends had big tata’s, does this mean he is definitely a breast man, how do yours measure up? Should you ask him or just get a new rack as a surprise, how much does that cost anyway.

STOP…..are you insane or have you simply forgotten yourself in the rush to find a mate.

Do you find you have suddenly stopped girls’ night out? Are your friends wondering where you are or worse who you are because when they call you these days you rush them off the phone to keep the line free while you wait for him to call. This is a sure sign you have begun the slow descent into the strange and horrifying world of lost personalities and lives, that place where you leave yours at the door called ‘relationship’.

Linger too long in this bleak alternative universe and it is a hard road back into the life you left behind. Worse yet, the partner you are pursuing might not join you in that desolate place you have stumbled into; you may be on a lonely excursion. What were you thinking when you made the decision to forget yourself, your friends and even your family excluding them from your life in favor of your newfound paramour? Did he ask for this sacrifice or is it just your way of showing him your dedication and love.

If you remember the list from the first in this series, Chasing Perfection several of the items on that list had a consistent theme:

  1. Giving up our own life (family, friends and interests)
  2. Lack of Ambition or Sacrificing Ambition
  3. Not being our authentic selves
  4. Trying to change ourselves, worse trying to change him

These are clearly woven together into a single strand and for those of us who transform ourselves in our desperate attempts to be loved and accepted we are ultimately lost to ourselves and those who truly loved us just as we were. So what happened? Where did we detour on the road to self-actualization, personal ambition and fulfillment in favor of what can only be termed emotional thralldom.

Before going further, it is important to sweep out the notion that we are talking of those circumstances brought on by abusive partners. Those partners who isolate you from society and strip you of self-esteem, financial support and personal ambition do so to enable their abuse. While it is true if we see the early signs and don’t run, we are enablers through our continued presence. Usually abuse of this nature is slow and stealthy. The abusive relationship has an entirely different pathology and one that we won’t delve into here.

Lost in Transformation

The phone rings and you don’t answer unless it is him. How many Friday nights have you waited for him to call? When did you determine his phone call was more important than chatting with your friends or for that matter a

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Saturday of shopping? You use to take on special projects at work, sometimes working late nights or over the weekend to complete them; this represented opportunity for you to advance in your chosen career. Now your boss wonders if you are ill, perhaps have a brain tumor because not only aren’t you volunteering for special projects your regular work is suffering and you are out like you have rocket fuel under your heels at 5:00pm sharp.

You are making clear choices in your life, giving up yourself your friends and your personal ambitions to mold yourself to someone else. Ask yourself, did that person ask for these sacrifices? Are you far enough along in a relationship where these sacrifices are warranted? Is there any clarity to your thinking in making these changes, who are you becoming and in this becoming how authentic are you now?

The person you were when you went on your first date who was that person? Isn’t that who was attractive to the man you are now changing your cosmos for? Will he still be attracted once you change yourself completely into who you believe he wants?

Do you honestly believe in making the changes you will somehow, some way retain your true and authentic self or is that less important than gaining the man?

How happy will you be once you have converted entirely to a shadow of the person you once were to gain the esteem and love of a man you barely know and who will now never know you.

Red has done a marvelous piece on Self-Actualization and I recommend a stop at her shop to participate in this discussion.

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