Monday, January 31, 2011

Time for Some Block Rockin' Beats...

I wouldn't have thought it possible, but today I feel more "normal" than I have felt for at least the last 5 years.  I am not feeling like leaping tall buildings in a single bound or composing a sonata, but I can actually feel a change in my brain chemistry.  Now, before you run off and begin the Hallelujah Chorus, I still had some struggles today to keep my attention at more complex work tasks, but I do indeed feel a little stronger.  I am abstaining from many of the more self-destructive behaviors, which in and of itself feels like a small victory.  I am being very conscious of sharing my feelings when I can actually identify those strange things, something that this blog and my email friends can attest to.  I am also looking at my own thought patterns and actions surrounding them (being petty, being gossipy, being overly emotional) and seeking to diffuse my feelings before I drift to negativity.

Now comes the hard part, and I know it.  I am going to have a bad day, or an emotional set back and my response to that will tell all.  Will I drift to the easy solutions, of finding solace in the wrong ideation?  I don't know, and I am scared to find out.  I want to be better, I want to not feel so heavy and lifeless. I want so badly to get some life back.  I am trying to express that while I am scared, I am also hopeful that I am putting some small pieces in place to try to get my snit-shit together.  

My enemy, my greatest enemy, my mortal enemy at this point, is self-pity.  I can get so wrapped up in it that it blinds me to all other things.  I can literally wallow like a pig on Sunday with the best of them.  I feel sorry for who I am, for all the horrors that happened to me, for how I feel so destroyed inside and for all the little things that people have done to me that I cease functioning.  So my faithful readers, I beseech you a request.   Self-pity, it is a destroyer of worlds.  How do you cope?  What do you do to overcome its tempting embrace?  I really would appreciate a bon mot or deux on the topic.  

Sunday, January 30, 2011

And I Ran... I Ran so Far Way, Couldn't Get Away...

It the best of days, it was the worst of days... 

So, I had a nasty headache all day.  Sinus pressure, dropping barometer, and eating ice cream before bed, a wonderful cocktail for a lack of sleep and a crushing vice on my cerebellum.  I had to crawl back in bed a couple of times, and it helped.  There really wasn't much I could do, and I was so grumpy with the family that I had to do something.  Actually not beating myself up too bad for taking a bit of time for myself is a smidgen of progress.  Not perfect, but I am trying.  At the end of the day, I was able to do things with the kids and enjoy their company, so I am on the uptick there.  

I really am appreciating my wife's serenity in light of all the mess I've created with my behavior. I don't think that I'd have had any hope if it were not for that.   I don't mean in the "working things out" kinda way, I mean more in the hope to ever have a functional life kinda way.  It really is a gift that she is the most sane of us two, something that I am not sure I could have said a few years back.  She's really wonderful, and rather attractive, so I am doubly lucky.  

I attended an Al-Anon meeting tonight, somewhere that I am expecting to become somewhat of a habit for me on the Sabbath.   I actually shared a bit, and didn't just try to be passive.  One of my great challenges is in listening and not trying to just blurt out what someone should do in the situation they are describing.  I don't actually ever blurt anything out, I just know that it isn't healthy for me to be listening to solve their problem, and not just listening to let them feel heard.  It is a subtle change, but one I know is for my betterment.  The "rules" in the meetings are good for me, because I don't normally respect rules, as I know they don't need to apply to special old me.  

So, my title matches what I intended to blog, but I didn't, but I don't feel like conjuring up another one, so my deepest apologies.  This is the halfway point to my commitment to blogging for 21 days about my depression, my hurt and my attempt at recovery.  I've already met some very wonderful people online in the little journey, something I am deeply grateful for. I started this with the intent of keeping in private, but knowing that I wouldn't be nearly as accountable to myself, to others if I did.  I am striving to be something here, that I rarely am, and that is honest. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Letting Go of My Lead Balloon

Feeling a little grateful today.  I'm happiest in life, up to date, when I am learning.  I am voracious when I want to learn, and have something I feel the passion to know more of.   I started with reading my new friend Chaz's blog and he had a very insightful post relating to the barriers to learning.  I had never considered for a moment that the biggest challenge I feel isn't the utter absence of any healthy self-esteem, but rather my rampant self-pity.  I am not being critical of myself, too much, but I know that I wallow in my agony.   It is comfortable, like an old friend, or a faithful black dog.  I know I can not will it away, but somehow, some way, I do feel that a little of the weight of the ballast is lessened in awareness.  

Next, I heard from an old friend who had asked me to not contact them anymore.  It seems that the horror of my life, my past in my abuse, my suicidal thoughts/actions, my repeated traumas and the general gruesomeness of my history had just become more than she could imagine anyone holding their sanity against. She said she had nightmares about the things I shared with her, and she couldn't deal with that.  I wasn't ever intending to try to scare or impress, though I have done that in the past, I was just relishing in the interaction.  I'll be honest and say that her reaction hurt me, and it struck a deep nerve in my heart and left me feeling rejected at the very moment I had opened up to someone.  But my perspective is so skewed that what I take for granted, as it is my history, that "normal" people can handle it.  I am glad she's returned, though I am not sure for how long.

Finally, I drove all of 5 blocks in my Big Black Truck (I so love my BBT :)), to attend an Al-Anon meeting.  I haven't attended this meeting before, so I walked into the church basement, a moment or two late ( I was playing mini-sticks with my son), and the meeting had already started.  So I sat down and it quickly dawned on me that I was in the "wrong" meeting.  Quotes are for effect at this point, because it turns out that I was totally in the right place for what I needed in that moment.  I was sitting in an Open AA meeting, celebrating the 29th birthday of one of its members.  They had a speaker, who spoke of all the craziness of the disease of addiction.  He spoke so well of the impact on everyone around the addict, the spouses, the children, the friends.  But what he said about the disease leaving him never having felt connected to other people until he got into recovery and learned the skills of connecting left me very drained in feeling that he spoke of what I've known.  It drains me even now to realize the impact that having been surrounded by mental illness and addiction in my formatives left me with so few skills in relating.  I am very fortunate that I went downstairs in the church hall and not upstairs.  Someone/something was looking out for me tonight.  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bitch Slapping Happy

Just being brief.  I need some bitch slapping.  Work is going fantastic, couldn't be better, I am getting tons of validation and admiration.  That's great, but maybe not the healthiest, because I am finding myself creating situations at work where people are going to tell me how awesome I am, with the only useful outcome being that I hear it.  I am going to work on being more conscious of my neediness, and try to be aware of what and when I feel that trigger.  By any measure, objective or subjective, my work product is incredible, but my shoving it in other's faces merely for gratification doesn't strike me as terribly healthy.  Feels a little good to be aware of that, to be totally honest. 

I attended an Al-Anon meeting tonight.  It was very helpful.  I walked away seeing myself in the stories of the people around the table and heartened to hear how it was helping them.  I want some of that.  It also left me with a great deal of gratitude, unexpectedly, that my life, while challenging at times, does not suffer from anywhere near the acute nature of insanity and active drama that some other people around the table's does.  It makes me grateful that I haven't some of the hurdles that I heard of real challenges that cause real hurt.  It left me hopeful.  

My lack of self-esteem is chronic and infecting.  It doesn't get much simpler than that.  Without anything healthy in my heart in my view of myself, I leave myself defenseless to neagtive thinking and reaching for anything to make that hurt go away.  I just never learned anything healthy.  It appears I actually was raised by wolves, after all.    

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Agony of the Urge to Self-Destruct

I am here, in truthful self-analysis, for the very reason I read on an astute blog today, "I am seeking treatment for my life problem, not my heroin problem".  Ok, so I don't have a smack problem, but I have run through a whole series of stupefiants, intoxicating myself and my diseased soul with anything and everything that'd give even a fleeting moment of respite from my omnipresent self-loathing.  

I don't hate myself for hating myself, it is everything I've learned and everything I've ever known.  That was a weird sentence to write, but it really says a world to me.  In my head, I feel like I am at such a low point that I could actually start to rag on myself for being so harsh to myself.  

So, two strains are multiplying in the petrie today.  First is the blowback of the emotional events of yesterday with having taken my daughter to the hospital and watching her suffer as they tried to sort out what turned out to be a scratched cornea.  I am feeling the tightness in my chest from, I think, the fear that something was wrong with her that I couldn't fix and the feeling of powerlessness that I was very conscious of.  It took a real effort on my part, and I am not proud to say this, though I am proud of the outcome, to be there for her emotionally, and I just kept asking myself, in a loop, "what would I want a parent to do for me"...   The second strain is actually the first strain leaving me bereft and thinking about finding that easy solution.  I have thought a couple of times about logging into some of my old "trouble" accounts and seeing what is going on.  Not so much of an urge as a response to the emotionality that I feel.  It's an easy fix, I know, but I know that it isn't what I want.  Just the soupcon of an idea, that there's a solution to the churn in my heart.  

But as I write it out, I am suddenly feeling the idea sound ridiculous.  I know that writing a journal can be an important part of recovery, at least of the core of depression.  I chose to blog, in a semi-public way, frankly, because I want the accountability that comes with doing it this way.  I want to live without the net of being able to twist and turn my words if someone reads them and deny that it was me that wrote them.  I want to be open and honest and this is my baby pool in learning how to do that.  I will be honest here, in the guise of limited anonymity, but with the full knowledge that it can be read by people I love, should they stumble upon, or I point them to it.  I am not lying anymore and writing ensures that I can't. 

I am making slow progress, and it is flowing at the speed it is supposed to flow, not my forcing it.  I will admit the frustration, but I am trying to learn not to drive the bus.  It is a little discombobulating...  I need to fix my living problem. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All's Swell that Ends Swell

I am gassed.  It was that day.  The day that I've been dreading since the balloon went up.  It all began so well... got the kids rolling, all the way to the bus stop when my youngest daughter was in mid-convo with me when she suddenly began to howl at the top of her lungs and started rubbing her right eye...  I felt something I never feel, panic.   It was obvious that something had gone on, but I couldn't fix it... That's not something I think I ever would admit, or even think I've ever felt.

Long story short, got her settled down, assumed it was a eyelash or something and took her to school.  It was cool, and I even got to give my glare of death to the Vice Principal at the school when she questioned whether my daughter was shirking or faking...  My oldest?  The drama queen?  Yup.  My smarty-pants and even keeled girl?   Noppers.   But I left her there and even did something I haven't had the courage to do for a while, I walked into the school office and chewed my courage cud and told them exactly what I wanted them to do if the problem looked like it was getting worse.  

Had a really productive time in the morning at work.  Feeling a little stressed, and was very conscious not to beat myself up to much.  Then I got a phone call that the eye was worse.  I was scared.  

Went and got the girl and it was really obvious something was really wrong.  I was even more terrified.  I don't do that.   Being afraid.  I just bull through.  But I just kept telling myself, and her, that it was going to be ok.  Took her to the ER and after a couple of hours and lots of little girl screaming about strange people wanting to look into her sore eye, it turns our she scratched her cornea, about 3cm's worth, no idea how/where/when. 

I was very conscious of just comforting her, just telling her the things and doing the things that I told myself I had wished someone would say to me in the same situation.  But emotionally, already compromised, I am overfull.   I am exhausted. I don't do this emotional, feeling stuff.  These are muscles that just never get used.  Frankly, I need some comfort myself... 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Shame! I'm Gonna Live Forever!

If it isn't obvious, I love to take syntactical linguistic meme's and flip them into something cutesy with a subtle turn of the phrase.  It makes me giggle, and is something that I actually like about myself.  There isn't much these days, so I gotta take what I can get, wouldn't you say?  

Shame.  It is my guiding force, my constant friend and the greatest companion to my faithful black dog.  It drives all of my emotional output, be that as limited as it may be, but it also is the loudest voice in my head.  I seem to have had some sort of arrested development in my emotional state, so cliché in children who grew up in homes seeped in addiction and abuse.  It doesn't give me much more than cold comfort, but I have a intellectual sense that that realization will become more crucial as we move further down this road. 

I am deeply ashamed of my behavior, most acutely in the last 3 or so years.  Somewhere between there and here, I ceased being a functional person, and have been somewhat of an abject failure as a father, husband, friend, employee and general person.  I went off the rails.  As I read in this blog and found some comfort, I too stopped drinking/drugs through sheer willpower many, many years ago.  What I didn't do was address any of the core elements that made me so afraid and so ashamed.  Four years ago, almost to this date, I developed a very serious illness.  Out of that illness, I had a hard breakdown.  Out of that breakdown, I entered counseling. Out of that counseling I developed a sense of misdirected entitlement to my own "happiness".  Out of that entitlement, I fell into serial infidelity.  

It was a yucky experience.  I picked the most damaged and disturbed woman for my partners.  I was very obviously trying to fix these women.  To salve my oozing open sores (shame, absence of self-esteem, anger, rage), I picked women who'd see me as their Knight in Shining armor and tell me, over and over how freaking awesome I was.  I would lie and manipulate to "appear" to be exactly that perfect. it was unconscious and uncontrolled, and I am deeply ashamed of that.  It worked, this medication, until the subtle realization that I was getting validation from incredibly compromised sources.  I feel gross for some of the things I've done, mostly in how freaking damaged, way beyond me, these women were.  

In December, I made the decision, tacit as it was, to stop doing this shit.  I'd had enough of the crazy shit I was doing and the fact that I couldn't take the baggage that I had to take to even come close to getting anything from it.  I had subconsciously recreated the drama of my life and it was destroying me.  

My heart is aching at the moment, so I will cut shorter than I intended this post, but suffice to say, it hasn't worked out for me very well in the corresponding month.  My wife, as wonderful as she is, discovered my infidelities and it prompted the broken place I am currently in.  This is my hell, one I created, one I am responsible for, one I need to be accountable for, but it can't be decoupled with the fact that I am deeply damaged from my childhood.  The hopeful side, other than her courageous decision to try to move forward together, is that I have descended as far down the rabbit hole as I am wanting to go, and I am asking for help.  But I am ashamed.  Deeply.    

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hurry! Fetch Me My Pithy Helmet!!!

Sitting at my desk, trying desperately to find the spark of inspiration that'll allow me to actually get something more than the random set of things that I get done most days.  You know, the common drudgery that most corporate entities expect their humble and grateful peons to perform in order to move the one pile of virtual paper to another.  I haven't really been able to do that for quite a while, maybe even counting into the years, except for brief moments of defenestration-inducing agony where I literally forced myself to complete it.  

I am struggling, in particular, with the most gruesome self-immolation today.  I am beating myself with reeds on the inside.  I am feeling so deeply, so intimately the shame, the searing shame on my person, of my actions.  I feel so weak and powerless, so out of control for having succumbed to something, anything, to mask my inner torment.  For, if you didn't know, or hadn't looked it up on Wikipedia, I am the Universal King of Self-Control.  I don't do anything, say anything, even think anything unless I am 100% sure of the outcome on the other end.  I avoid all things, all intoxicants, all stupefiants, all risks that I might lose the control I have exercised so greatly on myself, my family, my wife and my work.  But mostly, I have tried to control the horror I've felt inside seeping out.  I've always felt that should I even let out a little of what's inside, it will all come out at once, out of control and spew my toxic venom allover everything and everyone... 

So I am an addict.  A control addict.  Of the most cliché persuasion.  Born into a drug addicted, sexual abusing, raging and alcoholic home, I've grown up into a marginally functional grown man, who's survived surprisingly well for the tools I've acquired.  That last little bit of self-validation, while important, does but cause a tiny ripple of positivity in the sea of crushing despair I feel on the inside.  Pithy and self-absorbed?  Of course!  But I don't really know any other way...   

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Diseased Heart

Past and present.  Someone said something very profound to me today.  It went something like this:  "I am always figuring out, in my mind, scheming and calculating, what my reaction will be to every potential outcome or situation that I might face".  My brain runs overdrive doing exactly that.  I literally, as recent events have shown, run myself into exhaustion in planning and controlling what may/might/could happen.  

I do it, I think, as a primal learned response to protecting myself from pain of being let down and disappointed.  I don't handle that very well. I am ready with a response, and have cleared the pathways in my emotional brain centers to being ready to deal.  

I haven't the writer's bug today, so I am short the drive to spew my guts on here, which I expected, but I also promised to write even when I don't feel like it.  Like all this, I am trying to do little things to change my behavior, and actually being accountable to myself and something I committed to (i.e. this blog), I am not going to bail out on before my 21 days.  

All that said, I am doing better, I think, but I know the hard work is ahead. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Bang a Gong

Went and saw the new counselor yesterday for the first time.  Walking in the room, it was everything I fear, the artsy decor, the slightly bohemian dress and books about Freud strategically placed all over the place, to remind me of my inner conflict with my Id, or some such.  Well, not to leave too much suspense, but the session was very, very promising.  She, and it wasn't my choice for a she, just what the Employee Assistance Program assigned me, was very serious and very in touch with the places I want to go.  The 4-pack a day, Marge Simpson's sisters voice aside, she challenged me and I really appreicated it.  Two things she said really resonated:

  • She told me that if I wasn't serious about making change in my life, she'd refer me to someone else.  I was kinda taken aback, and that was obviously the goal, because I was like  "if you think I am just here to placate someone else (the wife perhaps), or that I am thinking this will be some easy road, you are crazier than me".
  • She also told me that I was obviously very self aware and had a good grasp on what I needed to overcome, something she said can take years of therapy to get to the point of.  She may have been patronizing me under the guise of trust-building, but I don't care, it was validation and I need a little to keep moving forward at this point.
Told my boss yesterday that life has kinda gone sideways for me, especially at home and that I am really distracted.  He was supportive, but I got the sense that as a wunderkind, nothing short of me getting up on his desk and taking a vicious dump would leave me less than fully loved.  I hate feeling that way, to be totally honest, because it feels like a bit of an enabling factor.  For many years in my last job, or at least the last few before they paid me a lofty sum to go away, I could breeze into any situation and make a few pointed, but as yet unconsidered observations, and be deified for my almighty intellect.  Then of course, free to wander off into the desert and be totally checked out and do no real work until the next call on the Batphone to Mt.Zion.  I want to be accountable to others, maybe as a crutch for having no internal feeling of accountability.  See, this blogging stuff really does work, I just had a moment of subtle realization, in that last sentence.  Hmmmmm, gotta noodle on that. 

So, a day of baby steps, of doing lots of small things that reflect or enact a change in behavior.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Ships Float on the Horizon

Greetings earthling. 

You may be asking yourself, how did a charming and elucidate fellow such as myself end up on the wrong side of the crazy train?  Well, that's a hell of a story, one that'll fill a billion pixels or so to describe.  Suffice to say, and I think this says it all, but I know I had an emotional response once, but then I got angry.  I am possessed of the emotional toolbox of a 9 year old.  I get angry and then I get angry.  I've done a pretty good job on controlling my anger as it relates to dealing with other human life forms, or at least enough that I don't feel like I am going to go all David Banner on everyone around me.  But, I've never abated in the unceasing self immolation that I call my personal hell.  I am self-abusing in the extreme.  Not in the, 5 Hail Mary's, 4 Our Fathers', self-abusing way, but in the "You are no good, you are weak, you are worthless" kinda way that makes so special my inner dialog.  On the outside, I am a wickedly successful guy, hugely respected, loved and admired for my intellect above all.  

Ahh, the intellect.  See, I am smart.  I can visualize how the most complex systems on the planet work, all in my head, and rationalize with an incredible speed what the smallest change will do to the working of the entirety of the system.  Even among smart people, I am admired.  If it sounds arrogant to say it like this, it isn't.  It has taken me a long, long, long time to even come close to accepting the brain I was born with.  It is a brain that seems to have been gifted to various members of my paternal grandmother's family.  My father has it, his grandfather had it and most importantly for my personal acceptance, my son has it.  He is amazing, my son, with his mathematical and complex systems understanding, particularly when those systems are flipped on their temporal plane.  It is eery and awe-inspiring and made me understand what I would be, in potential, if my brain wasn't encumbered, so, with the horror of my childhood.  He doesn't have that. 

Depression has been my companion, in some form or another since I was 10.  This is not, in the context of my admitted self-indulgence, one of those "wah, wah, my childhood was bad and it caused all my problems" overstatements that people of my generation are so prone to exaggerating.  I like to tell the story that I have made a counsellor cry in front of me with my story.  It isn't for some attempt at grandiosity through agony that I say that, but more as a resigned sigh.  More to come in the next 19 days.  I am committed to being better.  I am not going to keep keeping on with nothing in my heart. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Few Drops of Desperation

So, welcome to my nightmare.  It isn't much, but I like to call it home.  Make yourself comfortable, a beverage perhaps?  Some snacks? 

My pithy, occasionally ironic writing stylings aside, this is my vainglorious attempt to start down a path I've needed to travel for quite a while.  I've come to the proverbial end of the line.  No, no, no, not THAT end of the line, though I've been there a time or twelve, but instead the end of the line where I just am not going to continue living this way.  It just isn't working and I am beyond misery.  So whether anyone reads this or not, I don't think I care, because I am attempting, in utter desperation to be candid, to change my outlook, one tiny, itsy-bitsy step at a time.  Writing has brought some comfort in the past, particularly in letters and emails, so I am picking up the gambit, to mix my metaphors and am going to try to write for 21 days. 

I am tired of feeling dead inside.  I am tired of fighting the Black Dog and self-medicating and lying and living double and triple lives.  I am gassed.  It takes more effort to raise my head from the pillow everyday than anything else I do.  I want this to stop.  I am committed, like only someone who's seen the Gates of Hell can be, to getting out of this.  I am not delusional, I don't expect it to be better in 21 days, but I am going to keep moving forward. 

When you are going through hell, the best bet is to just keep going...

Welcome to Day 1