I’m feeling down and shit is starting to sink in a bit.  Not that the plight is dire, just that somewhere an ego is bruised and I wonder if I’m going to make the same choices.  I’m terrified of that.

___

I lost my job in 2010.  Reza was almost four.  It was a particularly formative period that was marred by the self-doubt, immaturity,  and rationalizations of the man in her life who swore to be her supporter and protector.  (I’m getting a bit down on myself, but it’s ok, I gotta work through this.)  Instead, I drank a lot.  I piddled away trying to learn how to make music.  In fact, heh, the irony is not lost on me:  Just the other night, I was listening to a re-recording of a song I wrote during that year and a half, a song about her.  Ivonne teased me, asking me how often I listen to myself; it was a small green sprout from a land where crops are just starting to be sown again.  It felt nice.  But I digress.

I’ve spent the last day and a half fielding messages from previous coworkers and members of my team, all incredulous.  I haven’t the heart to tell them that I face crippling self-doubt that I may have deserved this, even though I know in my heart of hearts that there was no way to avoid this particular fate.  None.  That’s not hubris or assuaging of one’s ego, that’s the bare truth, naked to all eyes. I knew this was coming.  Still, I question.  What could I have done better?

I know those answers.  And when I look back on this in a few years, from a different place, it’ll be enough to know that I didn’t want to give what it would have taken to keep this job because I know now what I knew then, that it wouldn’t be worth that effort, not for this ignominious end.  Does that mean I’m weighing my family’s future against my own work ethic?  If so, how do I prove to myself – and to them – that my innate nature was correct?

These coworkers, these work friends, my team.  They wore black to work today in solidarity.  For me.  That meant a lot.  It was a small gesture and it’ll be forgotten in time, but for today, for tomorrow, when the leadership group will sit in that banal training room and be told the company line, it will be more than a bit vindicative that there will be a portion that will have questioned the wisdom of this move.  Seeds will have been planted; others will take root.  Others still will bloom and float away.  All in their own time.

But this fantasy, this not-so-secret desire for martyrdom needs to stay here, on these pages.  The real world awaits, outside the greenhouse of that toxic garden – and I find myself, for the first time in a long time, ready and willing to accept what will come.  The question is whether I will squander the same opportunity I once had… or will I own this moment.

____

I have a healthy fear of relapse.  I think about it in waves.  Sometimes it’ll be on my mind for two or three days, then weeks will go by before I can recall the last time I thought about having a drink.  I haven’t thought about it at all through this, except to remember what I did last time.  I feel a lot of shame for that.  But I’m not that person anymore and I won’t torture myself to recall my shitty behavior – but I wasn’t much of a dad then, nor a husband.  I was so self centered, so able and willing to wallow in my false sense of indignation, and if it didn’t feed those destructive animals, it wasn’t worth my time.

I’ve wanted to tell Ivonne how much I regret taking that stance back then; it really wasn’t that long ago, but it seems like a different life.  But I’m holding the space that we both need right now to continue to sow our seeds.  I think she knows, and I think there’s a real part of her that, while she remembers what it was like, isn’t worried that it’ll become that again.  I’m more than thankful for that.  Had this happened two years ago, different story.  Fuck, I’m glad it didn’t.

But without that chemical layer to hide under, I face harder and harsher realities than self-aggrandizing notions of doing what needs to be done to support my family, thinking that’s the measure of my part, my role – to check the box and kick back playing video games.  That’s not how this works.  That’s not how being a human works.  I clearly see the crossroads in front of us, in front of me, the opportunity to peer into the distance – away from the fog of instant gratification – to see the long game.  Which direction does happiness lie?  What are my options?  What do I want?

Because of that, I have a healthy fear of relapsing into ennui, of mailing it in once again and expecting a medal for minimum effort.  I want to work hard toward fulfillment and growth, toward the moment when I can look back with confidence and security that, while I was just as imperfect as the humans next to me, I did the right things, the good things, and I’ve made the right choices – regardless of what they are.  Because make no mistake, future me, all the choices in front of you are good ones.  Right ones.  Because you fear.  Don’t forget that.

The next brick in this structure is the one that becomes the cornerstone to that which will become your legacy, your mark on the world, the moment when you can look at your wrinkled face and thinning hair with the confidence of a life well lived.  We must, at some point, be willing to embrace the possibility of success, when success is defined only as making the journey.  Step.  Just… just step.  There you go.  One more.  Then another.  See, they build on each other and they become a path, a compass heading, a place of newness, growth, and self-actualization.  This is the time to grasp what that should be in order to be satisfied in the journey.  Because, don’t kid yourself:  The road you are about to travel, no matter which route you choose, will not have been the one you expected.

____

I don’t feel so down anymore.

____

I told my oldest friend how much he means to me today.  I needed to say it.  He needed to hear it.  I walked into the kitchen and wept.

 

I’m going to celebrate something, maybe a bit earlier than I should, but this isn’t like starting the Stanley Cup parade before the season starts or anything.

In two weeks, I’ll have been sober 18 months.

In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a long time, but, like Sam tells Frodo, ‘one more step, and this is the farthest away from home i’ve ever beeeeeen.’

I haven’t spent this much time away from alcohol in 23 years and I’m really proud of myself.

I’m gonna be proud of myself today.

Thanks, me.  You did good.  Keep it up.  <3

 

 

Just when it seemed that the tide wouldn’t stop rising.

___

I don’t quite know how to begin.

I had the most amazing and moving experience in recent memory on Wednesday night, completely out of the blue.  Well, at least unexpected, anyway, but I should have known better given the source.

I was given an opportunity to attend a Men’s Group by a therapist for whom I have a ton of respect.  I’ve worked with him in the past and he’s just a phenomenal person let alone educator and revelator, so when I received the invitation, I found it humbling to have been considered, imagining that such a group would be curated deliberately to ensure the cohesiveness and progress of the current members while trying to identify someone who could fill an open spot with a sincere desire to learn and grow.  I’m glad he thought of me.  It made me feel really good.

A seed started to grow in the back of my mind, though.  I thought of the person I’d presented while working with him.  The person that I try to be.  He’s always made me feel like I can …

Shit.  It’s making me emotional just thinking about it, ’cause I’m landing on the reasons why it hit me as hard as it did.

He’s always made me feel like I’m not a weirdo for speaking the way I do or using the words I do or feeling the way I do.  It’s not about the nod, not about “oh, you’re smart”.  It’s about acceptance of being.  And I didn’t realize until the last few days of really tilling the garden that I’d planted seeds, within myself, of the kind of person I’m trying to become.  It’s eluded me for a while.  But I digress.

My point is this, then I’ll get back to the group:  I was invited to be a part of this because of the person I was presenting, the person I most desire to be – open, honest, vulnerable, confident, thankful, appreciative, hopeful.  All the things I’ve learned and continue to learn manifest themselves when I’d take on that persona, and I’ve started to realize that’s who I am.  I really like that person.

But the group.  I’d never done anything like this before.  I was a bit reticent to sit in a room with six other dudes and talk about feelings, like what is this supposed to be?  How does it work?  What is the protocol?  Can I really open up?

Toxic masculinity is real and I’ve perpetuated it.  I have, up until recently, not cultivated friendships or familial relationships with people to whom I can be honest and open.  I’ve always put on the mantle of the type of people I’m around in order to win their favor, afraid of showing a sensitive side that may dismiss me, because I didn’t want to be that kind of guy.  The guy the other dudes talk about as being a pussy.  I have not been real.

But within five minutes of being in this room with these guys, it became clear – perfectly crystal clear – that I didn’t have to hide.  It was… exhilarating.  I began to realize that there were other men, like me, who could recognize themselves, who could see their inner-workings, who wanted to be better today, then better tomorrow, then even better the next day.  And we talked.  For two hours.  That seemed like five minutes.

One guy announced that he was leaving the group after two and a half years of being a part of this bi-weekly session.  It was an obviously emotional moment.  I watched one man I’d pegged for a tough guy tear up as he looked into this other man’s eyes and told him how much he’s grown just by being around him, thanking him for all the support and kindness he’s shown by being open and vulnerable and it was jaw dropping.  The other man, the one leaving, was speechless and he said as much.  He said he was going to really take that and think about it and hold that with him for a really long time.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  It was real.  And I got to see it happen.

Better yet, I got to be a part of the group.  During one moment, he looked me right in the eye, looked at the other men in the circle and told everyone that he was super comfortable now, knowing that the person coming in – me – was going to be able slide right in to keep the spirit alive.  I felt it was a shame that I wasn’t going to be able to experience his gift to the group.  And I told him so.

I don’t know.  It was transformative in every non-hyperbolic way.

I walked to the car.  I sat down.  I wept profusely.

The invitation, the opportunity, bearing witness, the acceptance.  The recognition that I’d put myself out there, taken a chance, and had it bear immediate fruit.  The hope that I’d be able to learn and grow like every single man there said they had.  The truth that I’d let myself be me for a moment and it was ok.

I got to see what I’m becoming.

Anyway.  This is incongruent and that’s ok.  All I know is that it was an amazing experience that immediately made me a better person.

The kind that decided to swim.

 

I recognize that I’ve been wallowing a bit.  I need to sit in it.  I’m wrestling with pride (of course) and hope (always) and uncertainty – but I feel rumblings.  I had a conversation with Reza last night that was more a lecture to myself than it was to her:  We have to take responsibility for our own feelings, to let others have their own without letting it bleed over onto our goals and progress.  Some days I do a good job of remembering this.  Lately I haven’t.

That’s not to dismiss the trauma and work my loved ones are doing right now.  It’s recognition that their work is their work and I have enough of my own right now.  (Even if I didn’t, that’s not my lane anyway.)  And I believe that’s the best I can and should do for them, to give them emotional space, even if it’s antithetical to my nature.

I struggle because I want to affect the outcome.  I want to say and do the right thing.  These are fallacies.  I have no more control over someone else’s feelings for or about me than I do over the sun rising tomorrow.  My actions speak for themselves; if they are too much to bear because of past failures, I can’t wish them away or dull that pain.  I have to accept the consequences of who I was just as much as who I am now.

 

I’m feeling pretty fucking anxious lately.  Today, just right now, stability eludes me, and I’m worried that even saying it out loud, putting it on paper, would somehow cause backlash or misunderstandings that are completely unmerited.  I’m struggling with limits:  When they’re reached, what that means, where boundaries lie, when self-preservation is invoked and what my own health is worth.  I’m lashing out internally.

I can’t remember if it was Edon or John that said something along the lines of that when we find ourselves in a place of upheaval, the nihilistic portion of ourselves – it was John; we were talking about parts – wants to just blow it up and walk away like Michael Bay movie.  This is not foreign to me.

Not that I would, but sometimes the urge to pull the ripcord is very very strong.

*deep breath*

It’s debilitating to feel that I unduly qualify my thoughts and expressions, like I don’t have the wherewithal to feel the way I do, with perspectives constantly misconstrued.  But this is why protocol is in place and worth the effort, I think.  I’m really trying to weather this storm with the idea that I will be a stronger person when it passes, but I have this fissure of self-doubt yawning in front of me.  What if my thinking isn’t healthy?  What if it’s selfish in the wrong ways?  What if I’m burdening when I intend to lighten?  What if my growth processes are burying others?

I want to be strong.

Today, I am not.

 

I haven’t been here in months, but it waits patiently.  I always say I need to be better at writing my thoughts down, but it’s become increasingly apparent that I’m so very out of practice, rusty and misaligned.

*big deep breath*

I’m having a moment today.  It’s been creeping up on me for a few weeks now, slowly and inexorably, like an imperceptibly declining level of oxygen, threatening the surprise of regret.  Maybe it’s the music.  Maybe it’s the repetitive nature of the eight-hours a day I spend in toil.  Maybe I’m lonely as fuck.

I didn’t used to feel lonely.  It’s hard to recognize loneliness as we hunger, then feast, on the elements of the stars around us; it’s harder to realize starvation awaits nonetheless.  This is the nature of a singularity.  So as I’ve changed my consumption, as I’ve changed the laws of my physics to become my own light, I feel alone in my cluster.

There’s an irony, isn’t it?

Blame is not an element to be found in the violence of celestial birth; worlds are destroyed to become the particles of young stars but I cannot deny that I feel like a solitary untethered astronaut listening to the sounds of my own breathing, waiting for the inexorable alarms to pierce the tranquility of the view of the nebulae in my visor.

I miss her.  She’s working so hard, from nova through accretion – building newly habitable worlds – but I miss my person.  It’s not her fault that I miss her and it’s ok that I do.

 

 

 

I have to write this here because it’s fucking bursting out of me and I need a way to look it in the eye.

I have to do step four now, and I realize it and I’ve avoided it because i’m fucking terrified.

I know I’m not supposed to be scared, but the prospect of doing this inventory has had me on the verge of tears for three days.  It sucks that the timing of the stepwork is coincidental with so many other things going on that intersect with this process – only because of perception, not because I’m resentful about the work.  I’m resentful about a lot of things, but not the work.

I feel like I’m standing in the middle of the same warehouse that holds the ark of the covenant.

I haven’t been this scared in a long long time.

 

Each of them posted something on my timeline to get my attention, to say it was ok, to give me that invisible moral support they somehow knew I needed.

Fuck, I needed that.

 

Every time I log into WP Admin to write a post, which isn’t often lately, I see the button at the bottom of the login screen that says Remember Me.  I chuckle.  I wonder if my website wonders where the hell I’ve been.

Certainly not on social media, that’s for sure.  I’ve cut down my FB usage to a bare trickle.  I have a filtered group of five or six people I deign to follow, but beyond that, it’s done for me.  It became a sickly cancerous place for me; I’ve got a chat client that I use to for daily communication with certain unnamed individuals, but beyond that, I’m not interested in the feed anymore.  If someone has something cool they want to show me, hey, I’m game, but I like the interaction that goes along with, “Hey, I saw something I thought you might like and wanted to send it to you.”  It makes me feel that I’m on people’s minds and that’s a far healthier relationship for me than trying to drink from the firehose of people’s thoughts.  It just got to cacophonous and it’s not for me anymore.  Not that I’ve had the time anyway.

I just wrapped up my second term of school with nary a point lost in this last class.  That puts my First Year Composition aggregate grade at a 99%.  I’ll take it, even though I don’t think aggregation matters to the school; it matters to me, though, so fuck it.  Nice work, me.  I’ve got a couple weeks off before I start the mid-level English classes, but then it’s a few curveballs:  I gotta get this fucking math class booked, but I’ve gotta bone up on my skills first.  No joke.  I’m remedial.  This makes me happy in a really sick way.  But the best part is the four-term Spanish program that starts in two months.  Ivonne is gonna have a field day correcting all my shit.  I’m hoping it satiates her desires to tell me how to drive.  (I LOVE YOU!)

Speaking of which, this last Tuesday marked fourteen years of marriage.  Despite the bouquet of flowers that arrived without the god damned card it was a pretty phenomenal day.  We went to dinner at Born and Raised, I ate the best steak I’d had in years – but I’m not a steak guy, so that might not mean much – and we came home to a quiet night of long-term digestion.  To Full To Fuck is real, kids.  But that brings up a good point:  We’ve never been ones to insist on sex for holidays, like anniversaries, birthdays, christmases, and the like.  We didn’t fuck on our wedding night so non-fucking is more of an annual tradition than fucking.  Not that I’d have a problem with it, of course.  I’m just saying; this is what we do.  With that in mind, though, I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that this was one of the best anniversaries that we’ve ever had for a myriad of reasons, but those are ours.  I’m just really proud of us.

Yet, I’m proud of me, too.  I’m not perfect in any way but I’ve made a lot of significant life changes since a year ago.  I was worried that I’d fall back into patterns of commitment and change, only to see them fall away as I lost momentum.  Not this time.  Sure, I’m not doing yoga as much as I should but in reality, that’s the only piece that’s waned as other commitments wax.  Having a healthy fear of going back to the past keeps me focused; this is something I bring up quite a bit in my AA group.  Lots of people have ‘higher powers’ they use to keep themselves going.  Mine is memory.  I remember what it felt like to have everything I cherish almost lost.  I keep that front and center.  I vacillate between not wanting to care about a sobriety anniversary and recognizing how important it is to the people around me.  I’m glad for them; I’m glad for me, too, but this is a dichotomy I need to explore in more detail later.  For now, though, I’m a year in and I’m proud of myself.  I know they are, too.

So yeah, that’s where we are.  Jason’s wedding is coming up, I’m knee-deep in work shiz and we’re right back to it.

Not much going on at all. 😉

 

Yeah, so, lots of school related posts are coming.  I can feel that shit like my intestines after the holidays.

OK, so the first term is scheduled.  English 1011 and a one-week orientation that officially start on Monday of next week, then two classes scheduled to begin in March – another credited ASU-related class and a Geography course to fulfill the social/cultural general requirements.

I am way fucking nervous but fuck it.  Here we go.

In other news, I took this Accuplacer test yesterday right?  Max grade was an eight.  I scored a six.  First, I’m pissed about that; I should have done better.  Second, I set myself up for a bit of disappointment in that I thought there was a mid-level course for which one would qualify if they didn’t achieve the perfect score required to get into the 105 class straight out of the gate.  Nope.  Go to 101, motherfucker. Bust.

So, lesson learned.  This is why you’re going to school, asshole.  You don’t know it all.  Yet.

Good news is that I found out my work has a pretty robust reimbursement program.  Gonna take advantage of that like whoa.

That’s it for now.  I actually have to do some real studying now.

You believe that shit?

It’s rad as fuck.

  1. which still bugs, but I’ll get to that in a minute []