I’m still here.
Work and school have me busy, but I didn’t want to lose track of this space.
I was going on a bit of an ego trip, ran across a picture of Reza and me from about five or six years ago, and promptly fell on my emotional face. God dammit.
Nope. Gonna pull out of this before it becomes a spiral. I have too much to do.
Interesting. I’m in a much better mood this morning than I anticipated. Sleep is good; that’s really the only dot I can connect.
Time change this year fuuuuucked me up something fierce. With Sarah heading back to New Hampshire yesterday morning, that 4:00 AM wakeup call to get her to the airport – normally not that big of a deal – fucked us both up even more. I think we were too tired to be sad.
So last night, she went to bed early. I stayed up, did a bit of homework, played a bit of Playstation, and then all of a sudden it’s 10:00. My cat is being a super asshole lately, so she decided that 10:30 was the right time to find something under my bed to play with. She lost her privileges soon afterward.
A bit after 11:00, while listening to Jonathan Keeble’s soft cadence reading Bertrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy, I was out like a light. And lest you think that it’s the narrative that put me to rest, I will tell you that it’s one of the more impressive and clever works I’ve read in a while. Did you know that Pythagoras founded his own religion with tenants, among others, that decried beans? I mean, beans. It’s awesome.
So, today being Thursday, I have some school reading to do today, a quick review paper to write by tomorrow evening, and four chapters of a book on the American Civil War to read by Sunday. Not even tripping. Gonna be a nice, chill weekend of reading and elevating my knee.
I am finally settling in, though, to this emotional space on the outside. The last month or so has had me pretty down until recently. Sarah coming into town helped that tremendously. Coming to grips with what is versus what I want has helped even more so.
Here’s the thing, from my limited perspective: I have always, in my imperfect humanity, only wanted to help. That has been misguided in many ways because, in general and by my own nature, I am sensitive, hungry for approval, and prone to over-analysis. Therefore, the kind of assistance I find valuable is based on my own needs rather than the needs of others; I try to educate and place the mantle of what helps me onto the shoulders of others which, I’m coming to realize, is custom fit only for me. It chafes the necks of others, itching like a shirt sprinkled with cut hair, weighing down the shoulders like sodden fur. I would reject that kind of assistance, too, if it weren’t my own, but that rejection – especially when coming from the people who matter most in our lives – remains excruciatingly painful nonetheless because what has been eschewed was and is an extension of our being, an attempt to mold in the pattern of ourselves so as to create even deeper connections than those that happen naturally. In this, the absence of something yields positive results. And isn’t that the real goal? We want our loved ones to be happy. So the acceptance of what is, maintaining a strategy, taking advantage of opportunities when they arise, and doing the best one can every day – these have brought me a semblance of peace, a peace I might be able to build on.
Now, the beauty of a good partnership is in the unconditional recognition that our process are our own, and we’re loved because of them. I will also readily admit that the depth and potency of the essence of my nature is hidden from most; it takes time to truly come to understand the people who choose to love us because when that depth and potency scares those of us who possess it, then how can others actively embrace it without eventually being crushed under the weight of realization? That’s fear talking. Fear of rejection. And rejection is only tempered by trust.
So being rejected by one human while being embraced by another, isn’t an indictment on the former, it’s a recognition that we, intrinsically, can be loved. This understanding brings hope, not only that we can be loved by those we love in return, but that we are worthy of it.
Right or wrong, that sense of worthiness brings me peace.
There’s only so much pain the human body can take before it shuts down. The mind is no exception.
I have to recognize this, that in its current state, my relationship with R is very unhealthy. I shoulder the king’s share of that burden, yes, but it’s spiraled into a sea of discontent that threatens to drown the both of us. But I’ve taken to gaslighting myself lately, and that’s even worse.
The farther I am removed from an incident, the blurrier it becomes. In those moments, I feel justification for my actions, like I had reason to seek love when I hadn’t felt that connection for years. But as time goes on, the reasons erode. All that’s left is the feeling. And feelings aren’t facts.
I get hung up on technicalities, though. Given X, Y is true. I will provide an example.
I’m an alcoholic, but I wasn’t abusive in the traditional sense. I neglected my relationship with my wife and I marginalized her. I made her feel unheard and unloved, enough that, when shown affection by someone else, she warmed to it. It was only when I realized I was losing her that I started to shift my direction toward repairing our relationship. We are divorced now because I took more than she could give. Those are the facts.
The defenses I build from nuances and details have eroded – If she hadn’t done this, I wouldn’t have done that; If she had been this, I would have been that. I could have very easily been that changed person well in advance of the love being lost, I just chose not to.
So when I look at my relationship with my daughter, a relationship I desperately want to repair, I feel the sting of injustice because the details matter to me. Yet they don’t to her. She doesn’t care that I moved on so quickly from my marriage because it was one-sided for the final few years; she sees only that I started a new relationship while I was still married. This is an affair. This is a fact.
I have hundreds more examples of what is seen versus what is real, but, as I’ve always preached: Perception is reality. If her perception is that I’m abusive and scary, then that’s what I am. To her. If her perception is that I abandoned her for another family, then that’s what I’ve done. To her.
I know, in my heart, I’m not that person. But that’s what she sees. And I struggle with the concept of pride and technicality.
Part of being an alcoholic, especially in a 12-step program, is taking responsibility for your actions, doing a ‘fearless moral inventory’, and recognizing the patterns that lead to substance abuse; fix those things and life as a whole becomes better. I am a prideful person. I think too much of myself sometimes. It burns me to know that I will have to swallow the coals of her perceptions in order to start healing anew.
The night of the fight, you might feel a slight sting. That’s pride fucking with you. The scariest part of this fight is letting go of the hope that it works. It’s not about anything ‘working’. It’s about being true to the people who need it. It’s a hard leap to make.
There’s a window of time that determines the outlook of a day, the blurry few seconds between checking your morning notifications and getting out of bed to get in the shower. I have no control over how those few seconds will play out, but they are crucial to my well being – whether I’ll have a spring in my step, an anvil on my back, or something in between.
More often than not, I’ve been waking up with a hold on my heart of varying shades of grey. It’s like a cold spiderweb or a rough net that contracts and expands on a whim, it seems, unless I happen to find a spark of joy in the darkness before I open my eyes.
I try very hard not to let this sadness consume me. I can see it, I can recognize and validate its existence, but I ask it, kindly, to let me lead from self-energy today and not cloud my vision with the thunder and lightning that can, very quickly, wreck my sense of purpose and strength.
Sometimes, it says “no.”
I’m a football fan. I know, I know… a lot of people my age have issues with what the league has become, but the NFL was a lot of fun to watch this year, until the Cardinals decided to shit on their own lawn for the last half of the season. But that’s a different post.
Unlike the NHL and MLB where the offseason is truly an Off Season, the NFL never stops. They roll from a championship spectacle, straight into measuring and evaluating college kids who dream of being drafted, to the beginning of Free Agency (read: a shit ton of money flying around like one of those game show tubes), then to the draft itself – all of this within a 60 day period. It’s fun, if I’m being honest. We get to Armchair GM our favorite teams, complaining that this guy wasn’t taken or this shortcoming wasn’t addressed, while we gather at parties of like-minded individuals and celebrate Persephone’s emergence from the underworld of defeat, warm in the hope of a brighter future where Kyler Murray will hoist the Lombardi trophy over his head, hopefully in a Cardinals uniform.
But for me, though, it’s a reminder of a different change, a shift in which, this particular year, I can quietly and personally celebrate five years of sobriety: It was on NFL Draft day, 2017 when I took my last drink of alcohol.
Five years is a long time. It’s not quite here, but it’s coming, and today, I need to pat myself on the back for something I have accomplished rather than punching myself in the dick for things I haven’t.
By the way, I feel better.
It’s nice to get it off my chest.
I know that not everything is bad, but you can’t appreciate the rays of the sun without recognizing the storm clouds they shine through. The idea that we present this idea of ourselves in totality online has to stop, especially from ourselves. What we write or post or show isn’t who we are, not really. It’s a facet, at piece, a shard of the mirror that makes up the whole.
Sometimes, we have to pick at the wound before we can let it heal. That was today. Yesterday was worse and tomorrow will be better. For today, though, my lady loves me, my friends love me, my child loves me (I know she does; she told me so), and I’m a better human today than I was a short while ago. Growth is usually incremental.
This is where we’ll start. Hell in a hand basket.
Putin invaded Ukraine last night under the pretense of clearing the area of Nazis. The Dow tumbled 700 points in the last couple days; the crypto markets – despite the façade of decentralization and financial independence – have been following that trajectory for some time; interest rates are about to hike because inflation is so bad that gas is $6 a gallon in downtown LA. Not that any of that financial shit really matters to me personally, mind you, because I’m barely able to make my car payment despite a pseudo-comfortable six-figure salary, so saving isn’t even in the realm of possibility. These are the color gels of the world, now. I’ve had and continue pervasive conversations with friends in disparate groups, all of us going what the actual fuck is happening, because something is very very wrong right now.
I tend to believe that hubris deludes us into believing that a grand design has anointed our generation as the witnesses of humanity’s final doom, that Armageddon is slated for tomorrow tomorrow, not our grandchildren’s. What if I’m wrong?
I can’t believe that. If I did, then let my scraping of sores, clothed in sackcloth and ashes, reflect the question: What’s the point of all of this?
I’m middle-aged now, looking down on the valley that will be my final destination, wondering – like all of us – what lies ahead. But I’ve realized, for the past few weeks at least (definitely longer), I’ve been looking backward when I should be embracing what’s to come. That, though, is far more difficult that it sounds.
I fired up Horizon: Zero Dawn a couple days ago; the sequel was just released and it’s getting such rave reviews that I thought it might be time to revisit the first. In 2018, I’d only made it about a quarter of the way through – maybe half? – when I lost interest for some reason or another (Narrator: Divorce) and while I had my issues with the HUD and a bit of cheesery, reviewers consistently give that – and now its descendant – rave reviews as one of the best video game heroines in history. I’m clearly missing out. I’d finished Cyberpunk 2077 the day prior and all of a sudden, after a dearth of good games on the market, there’s a bunch I want to play. But I’m watching my duckets very closely right now and rather than spend the cash on a new game, I figured I can go back to the first and satiate my appetite to sit at the cool kids table. That amount of time away from a game, though, forces you to re-learn how to play when the tutorials are long gone. Sometimes it works. I’ve attempted this strategy before and it’s highly frustrating, regardless of whether you remember where you left off in the story. Which I didn’t. So, fuck it. Let’s just start from the beginning … but I was so not prepared.
It all came flooding back to me, like when a trace of long-forgotten perfume brings tears to your eyes. Reza watching me play, asking questions about the main protagonist. Where were her parents? Who was the man who raised her? Why were they outcasts? And there’s this little girl, running around a cave, finding dead people, scratching the surface of the mystery that will undoubtedly unfold in later chapters – when the pang of regret caused an involuntary inhalation that sounded like I’d just crested the surface of a lake. Any story about a young girl and her father brings me no joy, only pain.
To endure oneself may be the hardest path in the Universe.
I am a shell of a person without the love of my child. There’s no getting around this. I have debated – internally and from the rooftops – about how much I should let this affect me, but the hubris that permeates history has taken root in me, too: I have no control over the agony of this loss and I cannot will myself well on hope alone.
I have made so many mistakes – as a man, as a husband, as a father – and I look for justice where there can be none. This, I think, is root of my fear. I’ve lost her. I’m tired of blaming other people, of wrapping reality in a coverlet of deflection. I did this. Not by myself, of course, but if I am the master of my own life, the arbiter of justice in my heart, then I could have – and should have – found a way. Yet, if pride is all that’s left now, maybe that was the problem all along.
There is a world outside my head and my heart, though. And while my child is a permanent part of that universe, she’s not the only thing in it. Why does that knowledge create so much guilt?
Oh my, I’m out of practice. I’m tired now. My knee is bothering me and I need to stretch. But, incoherent as it may be, I was here, and sometimes that’s all we need to get through another day.
You do not take from this universe. It grants you what it will.