A Cat to Keep Me Warm
You know your life is sad when you have to warm up your glucose meter before you use it. Right now it’s 31° and I’m feeling every degree of it. I mean yes, I’m under a pile of cover. But my breath is smoking and I’m using a cat to keep me warm. But it is what it is, and there’s not a lot I can do about it. Funny though, I have friends that complain when the store runs out of their favorite creamer. But the last two weeks we’ve been rolling up loose change, eating one good meal a day, and eating one pack of ramen for breakfast/lunch.
I know, l know most of you are tired of hearing me poor mouth. But this is not really “poor mouthing” as much as it’s reality and having gratitude for what I do have. Like my grandma used to tell me, “We were so poor during the Depression, we didn’t know there was a depression”. We so often forget gratitude is the key to survival. When looking at one’s circumstance, you assess the things you have and the things you don’t. From there you take the gifts you’re given and use them wisely. All the while focusing on your survival by doing the things that need to be done.
Look these last two weeks have been a struggle and there were days I had to lay under the covers just to make it through. But the point is I made it. So be grateful for what you have, use the talents you were given, and create a support system around you. Look at your circumstances clearly, take small steps, and don’t give up. Hey, the last thing I want to do is “piss on your parade”. But life is real and life is hard. But with enough planning and patience, you’ll make it through.
Such a Phony
There are some days when I feel like such a phony. Take yesterday for example I posted a selfie basically bragging about my weight loss. Now to most that may be something to brag about, but to my damaged mind it just felt awkward and creepy. For decades I was verbally abused by family members and peers. You see, I grew up a bit of an “odd duck” I wasn’t any good at sports, I was overweight, nerdy, and worse yet I wore glasses (definitely not cool).
So I was an easy target for Type-A personalities, jocks, and just good old-fashioned bullies. Needless to say, after a lifetime of being looked down on, you start believing the hype. Much like a partisan cable news viewer, if you’re fed enough shit, shit eventually becomes fact. While I recognize that I have a self-esteem issue, that fact will not correct my thinking. In order for me to de-program my brain, I have to forgive myself, practice self-love, and give myself a little compassion.
None of this is easy, when I was reading the comments I received from that post. I felt awkward and a bit like a phony, like I was some “Desperate Danny” fishing for likes and compliments. Look I’m just being honest here, I don’t take compliments well. The mind is a really hard thing to rewire. So like many of you, I see my faults with a glaring spotlight. It’s not easy, but by recognizing those negative seeds, you learn to stop watering them. Understand that you are worthy of love. Now I can tell you that all day, but until you start practicing self-worth, compassion, and forgiveness; nothing much is going to happen. So be kind to yourself and remember love begins and ends with you.
I’m not angry, I’m just tired. Tired of stressing out over things I shouldn’t need to stress about. Things like food, medicine, making sure the special needs people in my life get proper care. The things that keep me up at night, that cause me to make rash decisions. I don’t think I need to tell you about what stress can do to a body. I know for sure it has wreaked havoc on mine. First in 1999 and later in 2015.
I do my best to put things out of my mind through acceptance and self-compassion. But with so many responsibilities slamming me all at once. Hiding under the covers is becoming a viable option once again. The noise of the world can often just be too much. I wish the jester’s mask I wear could just stay on all the time. But unfortunately, it’s only held on by the bullshit smile I must wear. I tell myself I must be strong for the family. But as some members draft away, I’m left holding the remaining pieces. Now much older and much weaker than I ever was before.
So I stand here on my confessional, holding the jagged pieces. Feeling more vulnerable than I have in a while. Maybe I should just keep all this shit to myself. Showing the world only what it wants to see. The success, the vanity, the happy moments that do sometimes exist. But that would serve either you or I. For life is life, and we all have our tribulations. And for most part the only way to survive, is show solidarity. You are not alone.
Pool of Goo
Between NASCAR on Fox and a new audio book, my Sunday should be occupied. But I’d much rather have a stimulating conversation or work on my great American novel. But not many people even wish to say, “hello”, let alone take a moment to read a book. So I have the TV turned down to a low southern droll, while the audio book got uninteresting really fast. So here I am again, writing to no one but myself, out of sheer boredom.
I wish I could appreciate days like this a little better. But after years of self exile, the need for human interaction often rings through. When you live in the vacuum of failing health and a troubled mind. Silence is often a healing thing, but then there are days when you I wish to be among the living. But as I realize a few weeks ago, those wishes still need to be taken in tempered doses.
Life is a series of gives and takes. Where often a balance of the two is all we can ever hope. So I’m learning to pace myself with the situation around me. Not being so stubborn as to not change or to be so flighty as to not flip on a whim. All we can ask of ourselves is to listen and respond to the changing pace of the wind. To realize when change is an improvement or a hindrance to our growth. So always question your motives and never let the grass die under your feet. For life is meant to be lived, and to not become a stagnate pool of goo.
Avoid the Situation?
You know, I want to be happy, I want to have a bright outlook on the day. But at the moment I ain’t feeling it. Some might say, maybe you should just keep your mouth shut till it passes. But you know what? For decades I did that and all it brought me was nothing but more pain and misery. I still have a bad habit out of ignoring things. Just shutting bad situations out of my mind, putting them off as much as I can.
I suppose it’s just a trigger mechanism I learned as a child to avoid scary situations. You know like when you’re defenseless against certain bullies down the street. So you take an alternate route to avoid them, you know kinda like that. I mean you want to be brave, but after getting beat down repeatedly you just give up. So you learn to just avoid the situation just to keep the peace within yourself.
But over the past few years I’m learning to be a “ripe the band-aid off kinda guy”. By using this medium to express my emotions, both good or bad, I just get things out. Through mindfulness practices, I’m learning to look at the pain. To give it a voice, to love myself, and to tell myself it’s okay to feel this way. Christendom has a similar way through confession. But considering my experiences and my mental health background, I’m more of a “physician heal thyself” kinda guy.
Listen life is hard, and I completely understand having bad days, weeks, even months. But you’re not alone. There are clinics, counselors, and just plain other people out there that understand. You don’t have to suffer alone. A great resource that helped me through some dark hours was Panic No More. It is a website that has forums dealing with various mental health issues. All I’m saying is, don’t keep that pain bottled up. There are solutions, there is relief.
Smoke & Mirrors
Let’s get real, vulnerability is not anyone’s strong suit. In a world that believes in winning at all cost, I am considered a failure. My credit report says so, my bank account says so, hell even my family tells me so. Many would say, it’s best if I just kept my mouth shut. I mean, what do I know, right? But success is often just smoke and mirrors for a life lived in a lie. On the outside we are so put together, but on the inside, we die a thousand times over.
I’ve had enough of trying to live up to other’s expectations. Do I have talents? Yes. But it’s up to me how those talents are used. I thought I wanted money, fame, and comfort. But even when I had that, all I wanted was more. And for what? To have more shit to stuff in my closet? I can publish books from my laptop and an internet connection. I can make art from a $199 smartphone and a free app. Plus I can create and publish my blog from a $6 a month app and a free website.
My life is what it is and it is real. I struggle every month to keep the wolfs at bay. I’m responsible for the welfare of two other lives, while struggling to take care of my own. Honestly if someone had told my 25-year-old self this is what’s going to happen, I might have ran. To deny yourself the ability to be vulnerable, is to deny of yourself an ally. Another weapon in your arsenal to fight back the enemies of pride and self-delusion. Don’t let those things take you down a dangerous path. Be aware, know your abilities, and live your life.
Painted into a Corner
I’m supposed to take my morning medication at 7 o’clock, but I usually end up doing it around 8. This morning things got a little busy, between being the caregiver and getting everyone else ready and answering some early morning calls. I didn’t get to my own medicine till around 10:30. Let alone have breakfast or even a whole cup of decaf. I have to admit I’m feeling a little sluggish and foggy. But this ain’t my first time putting everyone else’s needs first and I’m pretty damn sure it won’t the last.
I’m not telling you this to get put on anyone’s pity party list. Lowd knows, I do enough of that on my own. But we all have to do what we have to do. Rather out of love or obligation, we do things we’d rather out do. But we do them anyway, because they have to get done. Right now I got even more things I need to get done. But to be honest, I’m not ready physically, mentally, or even financially ready to do them. I feel like I’m painted into a corner and that’s a feeling I definitely don’t like.
Some of us lash out when we feel that way. Other’s cower hiding themselves till the danger passes. Then there are some of us that just give in and let the beast devour us, dying again and again. I’ll freely admit that I am often the latter, freezing in my tracks and taking whatever fate I am handed. I suppose it comes from my conditioning to be a good boy and accept whatever comes. But that doesn’t make it right.
I suppose what I’m saying here is, don’t accept anything less for yourself. You are just as worthy of love and respect as the next person. Also, don’t let past pain dictate how you treat others. As I walk this journey towards healing, I’m made aware of my treatment of others. Don’t allow past abuse to define how you treat others, especially yourself.
Doing What I Can
I hated having to pull away from living. I mean I love collaborating, working with teams, and being a leader in my field. But life threw me a couple of snags, robbing of my mental and physical stamina. So I’ve had to strip down the façade of who I am and get back to the core. Searching for less strenuous ways to maintain my passions.
I suppose it was only natural for me to return to writing. Not only does it offer me an outlet for my joys and frustrations. It allows me to give lessons on how endings can actually be new beginnings; especially in the game of life. So now I spend my days doing the best I can. Seeking truth and healing my body and soul. Still there are days when the desire to do what I was originally trained to do bubbles up, mainly team building and project management.
But in the scheme of things, these are but a footnote in my timeline. The world will continue to turn and generations will continue live well beyond me. But I am at peace with that, still I don’t like to waste time. I don’t like being stagnant; so I pen my thoughts and I continually work to improve myself. Appreciating the moments which I have been blessed. For this is the time I spend doing what I can, clearing my conscience, working to get healthier, and always, always speaking my mind.
Look for the Signs
Do you remember the old joke about what if the dog ever catches the car, what would he do with it? Well lately that’s how I’ve been feeling. Like something I’ve been chasing for so long is right in my grasp. And I’m like, now what do I do with it? I don’t like this feeling, the feeling of unpredictably. Though I’ve been preaching about letting go and finding your own path. I’m feeling something’s wrong, like I’m taking three steps back instead of two steps forward.
I look back at the memories that are flooding my head. Of simpler times and a more fluid set of support. Yet things have changed, the past becomes deified. And the only solid thing I truly feel, is the shaky ground which I now stand. I left my life back home sure it was the right call. The struggles I’ve endured during this time were all my own. But it’s through those struggles that I’ve became who I am and my family as well. So to uproot that foundation may seem nostalgic, but is it really the right call?
I suppose this shouldn’t be the forum to unburden myself of such things. That instead I should be gathering truth and sharing it with you. Well my truth is that I’m uncomfortable, a little scared, and very troubled. Scared I’ll make the wrong decisions and troubled by the fact I’m not alone. I suppose all I can do is breathe, listen to my troubles, love myself compassionately, and show myself some patience. Nature is not chaotic until outside forces intervene. So listen to your feelings and look for the signs.
Only Kills the Soul
I’m feeling pretty good this morning after my late-night confessional. I was worried the day would get off on the wrong foot, considering how I felt around 2 am. My breath was heavy, my heart was palpitating, and I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Knowing what was going on, I pulled out my phone and started “confessing my sins”. Funny though any number of years ago I would either put up with it till it pass or franticly let my mind race to some worst-case scenario.
Not that it’s much different now, because my anxiety and fear often find new ways of tormenting me. Kinda like a mouse finding new hole into your house after you’ve blocked the others. My defenses are awareness, compassion, and forgiveness. To sit there and blame yourself for the things that happen to you only leads to self-hatred. To continue to blame others only draws the poison for bitterness into your soul.
Listen I’m no guru or spiritual leader. I’m just a man who for the better part of my life has blamed myself and others for my pain. Hell, it may all be true. But to continue to walk around with those emotions in your heart only kills the soul. Appreciate the simple things, like the finch singing on my windowsill, or Shadow purring next to my leg as I type away. It’s these and other things that make life worth living. Not the trappings of frame or glory, or even the comfort of wealth and power. It’s the peace that comes from giving and living and sharing the truth you’ve come to know.
Took a long overdue trip back home yesterday. Down Georgia Highway 204 on the border between Bryan and Chatham Counties. Along the Ogeechee River where on a high bluff lay the remains of Uncle Shed's Fish Camp. There’s not much to it now, only one cabin remains untouched and unused. A few other modernized cabins are there for family. The mobile home my adopted parents lived in and a few other outcrop buildings are all that remain.
But over 40 years ago a lost child drove down to this place. Found a spot in this misfit community and ever since it has been my physical and spiritual home. There are not enough words here to explain my connection to this ground. And while I have no physical claim, it is still my home. So after seven years, I walk around the grounds. Remembering what it was, seeing what it is; and listening to the voices echoing through the Live Oaks and Spanish Moss.
Lately I’ve felt lost, I see no home here where I am other than my children. I have no claim to anything, a nomad if you will, in a community that cares more about physical than any spiritual claim. My only friends are online, but they don’t hear my voice or see my eyes. Or do they know the history of my scares. Over 10 years ago I reconnected with my adopted mother and for a few years I visited and called her every week. My own mother had died a few years before leaving me memories but not much more.
After my exodus from Savannah in 1994 I’ve only had infrequent contact with the city, while I worked here to find myself. But things have come full circle now. I’m living my own legacy, but my place is not only here, it’s back home as well. I wish I could better explain what I’m feeling. The emotions, the memories, the desire to reconnect with a part of myself I lost so long ago. Maybe the next few months I’ll find some answers, maybe even find myself again. Because while part of me has been found, the rest still needs to be rediscovered, reclaimed and welcomed home again.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.