Part of Us
It’s a big change from yesterday, it’s much cloudier and the winds blowing a bit stronger. Which makes it a perfect day for sitting outside. The laundry is hanging on the line, and I’m just sitting here under the sycamore trees. Enjoying the outside for long as I can stand it. Last night was a little rough my blood sugar bottomed out twice. But I still managed to get about six hours sleep. So as my meds start kicking in, I reckon I’ll make it yet another day.
Life throws all kinds of shit at us, but we persevere. Often “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”. But more often than not, the needs of the one (yourselves) are most important. Being selfish is nothing to be ashamed of, I mean it’s built into brains. At its very core our brains have a built-in survival instinct. The most primal root of who we are. To feel selfishness, fear, or panic is to feel the very impulses of this part of us.
Considering I live GAD and PD, I sort of live in a vacuum, where I can choose what and who I wish see. The isolation at first was stifling, but now I see it is a gift. It gives me a certain degree of covering when the world is just too much. Like I said, selfishness is just natural. Nothing to be ashamed or guilty about. But some religious laws tell us we must be selfless. But why can’t preservation and compassion live hand in hand? In this world selfishness can be evil. If used without empathy or compassion towards others. Give some thought to the words I’m saying. Be strong, be fierce, but remember; “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:39 KJV). Think about it, I got clothes to take in.
The Past Therein
Like peeling back the layers of an onion, pieces of my past present themselves in many different ways. I suppose it’s my mindfulness practice that has opened the door to these unresolved issues. Often, I wish I could just close this Pandora’s Box and leave it be. But it is what it is, so if I really want to keep moving forward. I suppose I must continue to open these locked doors and forgive myself and the past therein.
Recently I have been having the strangest and most disturbing dreams. Dreams where I confront relationships from my past. Seeing images of my family and the imperfections that bind us together. Of the past mistakes and the messed-up consequences that have brought me where I am today. They are disturbing and often wake me from a sound sleep. Still I’m trying to deal with them as they are, accepting them and forgiving myself and others for the things I went through.
I’m not really sure why I’m bringing any of this up. I mean, most mindfulness teaching discusses the more peaceful aspects of the practice. And while I do feel relief for many of my traumatic issues, it often comes at the price of reliving them again.
I have walked through much of my life not being who I really am. Putting on the make-up of a clown or a cynic just to bury the true emotions that I carry. I suppose it all stems from the fear of rejection and abandonment. From the moments where I felt so totally alone. Whatever the reasons, reminding myself of those hurts often gives me prospective. Prospective into the lives of those I have hurt and those who have hurt me. Thereby creating compassion, not only for myself, but for the ghost around me.
In a swirl of dizziness and sleep deprivation, I lay here wide awake. My thoughts are in no particular place, I’m just waiting for my heart to quit pounding, so I can drift back to slumber land. I don’t ask much of myself, most days are pretty good, as long as I keep my activities to a minimum. Still there are those moments when you have to put a little effort into it. And it’s usually those days that drain me the most.
At this point I don’t ask much of life other than to give me the strength for another day. Hope you don’t mind; but I tend to be a bit melodramatic when my heart’s racing. Anyway, I try not to live in the regrets of the past, instead I focus on the day to day. But I must admit when something taxing happens it definitely drains me.
But how do you live in a paradox of remaining positive when everything around you is shutting down? I suppose the best thing I can say is don’t. In life there is a certain balance we should maintain between the darkness and the light. All you can do is try and keep things level.
Life is a constant struggle to keep things even. To accept the bad moments, while appreciating the good. Thankfully, my heart is slowing to a low roam. The panic and anxiousness that often plague me are finding their center. The things I talk about aren’t some ancient riddle, just common sense. Some things in life are unavoidable sickness, disease, or heartbreak. The best we can do is remain calm and take just one more step.
Keeps You Bound
Do you ever ask yourself, is this where I want to be? Are we so tied to our past that we are unwilling to be uncomfortable? I left my safe space decades ago and ventured into a new frontier. Here anxiety and misfortune have followed my every step. But it’s that feeling of impermanence that has led me here to this moment of peace. A place where I can see beyond the four walls that confine me.
So I ask, where do you want to be? I can see the sadness in your eyes, and I know the obligations that tie you down. Still do you wish to be free. Let’s take a moment and ask ourselves, who do I want to be? Am I just an actor playing a part? For far too long I said my lines and hit my marks. But when the curtain fell, the smiles went away.
Creativity and freedom come at a price. Things like your fear and vulnerability have no place to hide. But it was those very things that weighed us down. Leaving our hearts and minds in turmoil. While I often feel uncomfortable telling my story, it is out of that discomfort that I found the ability to be.
To be the person that I truly am, not the cynic or the loud obnoxious grouch I usually portray. I see the world in different colors, in different shapes, in different ideas. Gone are the infantile notions that the world must work just one way. In its place are the infinite possibilities of life. So is this where you want to be? If so then get uncomfortable and shed the skin that keeps you bound.
One of my favorite side effects in taking medication for chronic heart failure is peeing. One medication in particular keeps me going to the bathroom. It helps drain excess fluids and salt from my body since my heart doesn’t pump as well as it should. Another funky side effect is constantly having to rehydrate, even if I’m indoors. It sounds a bit like an oxymoron, but it is what it is.
I don’t know what got me thinking about this, other than needing to go to the bathroom. I mean I should be used to this by now. But I do what I’m told and take my medication, besides the alternative is pushing up daisies. I shock a lot of people with the attitude I have towards life and death. It’s not like I have a death wish, in fact quite the opposite. I enjoy life. Still my fascination with mortality kinda freaks people out. But I like to think of it as my way of being at peace with the inevitable.
Through the depths of depression I experienced, I always maintained a certain degree fight. Rather it came from my children or from something buried deep within myself. I knew I couldn’t give up. Once I pulled myself from out of that abyss. It was my drive and paranoia drove me to where I am today. But I can’t blame anyone but myself really. So I take life one day at a time. Facing the challenges I face and doing the best I can with what I got. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Doing what we can. I suppose I could be bitter, at least at myself. But what’s the point? Life is meant to be lived, so why waste it.
Lost in Stories
I’m painting a picture in my mind. Of two people lost in stories where they lost control. Two narratives carried by their faith in love, only to be burned by the selfishness of others. Plagued by poor timing, fear, and the charms of another. They thought they had found what they wanted, only to be sweep away from whom they truly loved.
Our lives sometimes take foolish turns. Not so much because of our stupidity, but by our lack of self-esteem. Believing we are not worthy of the grace standing before us. We listen to the words of others; whose foolish pride causes us to doubt our own selves. For far too long I have talked myself out of the things I truly wanted. I allowed myself to be robbed of the happiness and satisfaction I truly desired.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge of my life. Far too many missteps have been made to turn back now. But from this moment forward, things can be changed. Apologies can be made, fires rekindled, and stories can continue to be told. About the life, love, and the passions that are still there.
Don’t look at your life with shameful regret. Accept the past, live in the moment, and don’t worry about the future. Once you learn to forgive yourself and ask forgiveness of others, you can create new beginnings. You can start to look at love again without remorse or regret and renew old passions. For our stories will never finish being written, until our ashes are thrown to the wind.
In a world blinded by negativity it’s a wonder any of us can even think straight. Every morning I’m bombarded by notices from various social media apps clickbaiting me for my attention. Each claiming to have something important to tell me, while selling me sensationalized half-truths and opinions. My Grandma always told me “there’re two-sides to every story”. This was especially true for her with my four uncles and my mother. Three of my uncles seem to burn through relationships like a chain-smoker with a box of matches. While my mom and my oldest uncle had long term marriages, they were not without problems.
It seemed like each one of them would parade through Grannies kitchen with their own stories to tell. The funny part would be when their spouses or girlfriends would eventually show up with their side of the story. Granny was a good listener but tolerated very little bullshit and would love you despite of yourself. The powers to be seem hellbent on conveying just their side of things. This isn’t anything new the powers to be have doing this since we started painting on cave walls. It’s just that today the news travels faster.
But I’m not here to spout off my own “conspiracy theories”, this is a story about balance and our own morality. Even the noblest of us can be wrong. But often our pride and temperament won’t allow us to admit it. I’m sure each of my poor relatives, including myself, that sat at that kitchen table knew we were right. But you know what, maybe we were not. Judge by the actions and motives that you see. Do they line up with what we know to be fair and moral? Or do they line up with the fear they provoke? Maybe we could all use a kitchen table.
It’s nearly four in the morning and the sinus cavity over my left eye hurts. Since I’ve been up, I have edited a story and rewritten a poem. My wife is laying across from me gently snoring. But I am grateful for the four hours of sleep I got. In the darkness I can hear the box fan turning, as I listen and touch these tiny little keys.
Spinning cherubs cross my mind as I dream through my semi-consciousness. Closing my eyes I still see the sparkling little lights of red and black. They run in chains dancing across my eyes. As a child I would lay in bed and watch them dance. Bringing me comfort as a cowered under the covers waiting for the monsters to come.
There is still a fear that I feel when I tell my stories. Throughout my whole life words have danced across my mind, but I mostly kept them to myself. Fearing what others would say. The hatefulness and taunting laughter I can still hear. The shame I would feel. With nowhere to run, trapped in a corner. Helpless.
I lay here in the dark. Much older, but not much wiser. Letting those same fears torment me. Listening and accepting the words and images of that little boy from under the covers. Playing the poet and writer I’d dream of being. Embracing the darkness, not really fearing it, just listening.
Why are we so afraid to peer into the dark corners of our minds? I remember asking my Grandparents what it was like to live through the Great Depression. Only to get shrugs or non-responses like we were so poor we didn’t know there was a depression. Many of us today still do the same thing when it comes to traumatic experiences. I suppose for me it was all the one-on-one and group therapy sessions I attended that finally got me to crack that shell.
For a really long time I played the game of “everything’s fine”. Or I would deny myself the right to grieve. Or better yet verbally abuse myself for ever having negative thought. I believe whole-heartedly that life is about balance. That life, bad or good shouldn’t override the other. Growing up in the charismatic evangelical faith, thinking such thoughts is blasphemy. But through my experience wishing or “praying away” mental illness is…well stupid.
Most of my mental health problems stem from verbal abuse. Another percentage stems from “faulty wiring”. So over the decades I’ve treated both with medication and cognitive therapy. Now I also use mediation and the principles of mindfulness to keep myself centered.
This means, I can’t deny the thoughts that travel through my mind, neither negative or positive. Through mindfulness and therapy I’ve learned listen to the fear and the pain, as well as, the positive. To deny one is to deny the other. So at the moment I’m listening to that frightened, angry little boy. Accepting what he has to say and loving him despite it all. Wishing and denial only work so much. But accepting, loving, and forgiving well… that lasts forever.
Laying here on the bed, I’m having a sad case of the nostalgias. Listening to Spotify to a couple of albums I owned like a century ago, Joe Cocker's Sheffield Steel and ELO's Time. I remember those particular albums well because I brought them with the Record Bar’s guarantee, if you don’t like it, bring it back. For a kid driving his Mom’s old '66 Dart with limited resources, that was a deal.
It’s funny how our lives change. How things we can’t seem to live without, never existed when I was a kid, let alone a thirty-something year old. Yet here I am running my life with device not much bigger than a cassette tape. I'm not big on nostalgia, though my kids may say otherwise. I like to keep my eyes forward. Oh I have friends (friend) and we speak fondly of the past. But we are both grandparents now, with basically the same problems we had when we had no grandkids.
But we do the best we can to forge ahead living our lives and dreaming our dreams. You wouldn’t think a person my age would have anymore dreams. Well, I do. For a really long time I was living on borrowed time. My body and my attitude were both ticking time bombs where fear led my life.
It wasn’t till four years ago that I had to honestly face my demons. Strung up between life and death, I had a decision to make. To live a life in peace or keep walking to an unmarked grave. I don’t mean to make it sound so grim, but that was pretty much how is was. The best thing I did other than fix my lifestyle, was lose my fear. I learned that some things you can’t control and that’s okay. Just as long as your conscience is clear and you know love, everything’s going to be okay. Right Beck?
Today is not a good day for making decisions. For the last few days I’ve been fighting this nagging anxiety something is wrong. Dealing with panic/health anxiety, makes you hyper-aware of any subtle changes in your physical condition. Sinus pressure becomes fluid buildup, a little stress becomes heart trouble, even weight loss becomes cancer. Paranoia can be quite overwhelming, leading to restless nights and too many doctor visits to “cry wolf”.
For the most part I can put these feelings down. But considering my real history with certain physical conditions, you have to remain aware. So while dealing with my mind telling me somethings wrong; the cherry on top last night was my blood glucose dropping dangerously low, like 56 mg/Dl low. In moments like that I’m glad my bride is a lite sleeper. She got me what I needed to get my glucose levels up, because I wasn’t able to go anywhere.
It seems like part of me is the kindling and other half the kerosene. I try and take advantage of my mental conditions, by being very aware if what’s going on inside me. But there are days like today, where I wish it would all just go away.
Being human is a hell, for all the things we’ve accomplished to get to the top of the food chain. We’ve lost our instinctual ability to be in the moment. We panic and worry about the future. We allow the past to chain us down. Awareness is key. Being in the moment is key. Live each day as it comes. Except. Forgive. Move on.
A Dab of Common Sense
I had to take my bride to the big city for a check-up. Mind you it was already in the mid-80's (29°c) when we left. So factor in parking the truck, walking through the hospital, then waiting for the doctor, then leaving. Frankly I was pooped out then. Now add to that not a cloud in the sky, stopping by Walmart, and driving home. Let’s just say we were both showing our age by the time we got back.
Anyway, I couldn’t drink enough water when I got home, then as I laid down to cool off, my landlord shows up to cut the grass. Which means I have to move stuff out of his way (lawn chairs, branches, my truck). After he was done, I walked over to where I park the truck and moved it back.
As I got to the truck, I noticed a breeze was blowing. A fairly warm but steady breeze that was definitely breaking up some of the relentless heat. So I thought for a moment about just sitting outside and enjoying the breeze. But then a dab of common sense spoke to me and said, “go inside, cool off, and come out in the evening when it’s cooler”.
It’s not everyday I let my wiser angels set me on the right path. Most of the time my impulses get the better of me. A lot of times we say things or do things we later regret. What a simpler life you or I would lead if we all just took a moment to breathe, much less think. I’ve written page after page about my misadventures and my just plain stupidity. As we all grow older, let us all grow wiser. Listen to your common sense and think about the next word or action you’re about take.
All It Takes
Sometimes all it takes is a kind word, a polite gesture, or a sincere smile. People won’t look you in the eye anymore, unless it’s to convey a strong emotion. In a way that’s kinda sad, because how else can we connect. Text message? My current situation doesn’t allow me to have much one on one personal conversation. And often when I do, neither my bride or a family member drags me away.
I’m a natural talker, I come from a long line of talkers. My Granddaddy Thornton was a business owner and held court at the store everyday. While my Grandma Geiger always had a house full gathered around her kitchen table. Talking just runs through my family tree. And besides that I grew up before smartphones or the Internet.
But sadly in this interconnected world, there are still those that feel so utterly alone. It should be up to us (those of us that are aware) to always take a moment to reach out. Say a kind word, pay someone a compliment, or even smile. I know the world teaches us to fear everything, but sometimes all it that’s is a little faith and serenity to do what’s right.
So many cry for just a moment of compassion. They are often bound by chains of fear, abuse, and pain. I see it in the eyes of so many people I cross paths with. Now I’m not asking you to stop and hug every stranger you meet. All I’m saying is that you to try and be a little more intuitive. Look beyond yourself and consider the feelings of others. Then maybe, just maybe; we can all have a much better day.
What Can I Do?
We see hatred thrown in our faces, like shit flung at a fan. As facts and evidence are replaced by opinion and innuendo, while tribal rhetoric spews its own brand of hate. The true anger in all this belongs only to the victims. While the rest of us should be examining our own conduct and asking, “what have I done to create this?” A number of people I know have expressed some harsh comments, aimed at one side or the other. Yet nothing changes, nothing gets done.
I am no one’s judge and jury but my own. So as this time of mourning and sorrow take’s place let us ask, “what can I do?” Whatever side of the political fence you lean, understand we have a problem. More and more people are finding answers with a weapon. It shouldn’t be this way. We are creatures of language and cognitive thinking, yet we are also the most destructive.
Let us bring ourselves back to peace and balance. Look at the natural world see how it ebbs and flows then find your place. The distractions we surround ourselves with often pull us away from reality. That place where life flows and prospective can be clearly seen.
The trick is to not give into the noise and rhetoric. But instead see where true peace of mind comes. Does it flow from the anger that you feel? Or is your spirit more at peace when your eyes are wide open? Violence unfortunately is a fact of life. There will always be individuals that only see solutions through hate. But we can change ourselves, and as a society make better rules. See anger for what it is, a part of life that must be kept in check.
But We Know Better
Seeing that we are two souls that could never fool each other. It is apparent that no matter how much we keep to ourselves; we still know. For me that’s a bit comforting knowing that you get me. But it’s even more comforting knowing you never seen the scars. Only the truth that is contained within.
You know me and you know who I am. A kid not much different than before, that didn’t see what other's saw or worse yet wanted from you. For beyond the eyes, the smile, and the playful flirtation; I see who you really are. Just a woman who deserves respect and love.
It’s funny how we have dropped our little games. I suppose maturity and wisdom have finally wised us up. The roads we travel seem to bring us joy and despair all rolled into one chaotic ball. But does that really matter? Should we even care? For we were built for this, we are the strong ones. But truth be told…we know better.
This morning has not been a particularly good morning. For one my blood glucose as low, then I had to go to the next city to pick up my medications. On top of all that I had to go grocery shopping, all while trying to be a nice person. Well two out of three ain’t bad…right? My General Practitioner says my type 2 diabetes may be reversing itself, due to some better choices. The problem is at times I still require medication.
This puts me on a tightrope of managing my diabetes and over managing it. You see not everyday am I able to make sound food choices. It would be lovely to be able to afford foods that provide a better nutritional health. But this is the real world and processed foods are cheaper and much more convenient. Besides I have three other people to cook for, and none of them care for a more “organic” diet.
So it’s a slippery slope balancing these two worlds. Sadly most of the time they win, because of time and economic reasons. But every now and then I can slip in something nutritious. I’m not entirely sure why I’m mentioning with this, other than to say. Even the best of intentions often collides with the situations we face.
The thing to do is your best and to try and not let setbacks drown your will. Far too often I'd work toward achieving a goal. Only to face some adversity and then simply give up. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Resilient thinking and ending the self-hatred are two good steps in the right direction. Don’t let the obstacles block the vision of your goals. Do what you can and keep stepping forward.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.