Keep My Mouth Shut
Just got back from grocery shopping and dog inspection. Both went well. Saturday though wasn’t a good day, my digestive tract went back to it’s old ways, and tied me to a porcelain throne. So yesterday I more was more than timid to make a Krystal run I promised my wife. But a promise is a promise, so off we went on a 45-mile round trip pilgrimage to Hazlehurst. Surprisingly the trip wasn’t too bad my gastroenterologist gave me a little leeway in how and when I can take my new meds.
By upping the dosage of the acid binder and lowering the dose of the anti-diarrhea medication, I’ve seemed to have stuck a happy medium. I know all this is totally gross to discuss and my adult children would much rather I keep my mouth shut about it. But this is the world in which I live, so I can pretty much say this is my focus and frame of reference.
Rather suffering with a chronic physical or mental pain, no matter how much you try to focus on the every day things around you. That damn problem is never far from your mind. It controls your actions and effects those around you. No matter how hard you try the mask the discomfort, it always has a way of creeping into the forefront of your mind. I’ve had a number of issues to confront in my life. Beginning with my mental health issues, then my heart issues, and now my digestive issues. None of which I’ve completely overcome.
I’m a far cry from being victorious. In fact, I could be the poster child for, “Can his life get any worse?” But despite the fact that my ass has been whipped more times than I care to count. I’m still having a pretty good day. So take your victories where you can. Be active, even when strapped to a toilet seat. Make a plan to live your life. Be proactive in finding treatment, and never let the voices around you silence you.
Dedicated to those that feel the same.
I pick through the stories that clutter my mind. Digging at wounds that should have been forgotten long ago. Yet here I lay, another three o’clock testimonial to the person I’ve become. I dampen my head with a cold towel and calm my gut with warm heat. Interchanging to two at the appointed time, seeking a certain comfort that never comes.
A miserable soul living a miserable life. Too responsible to abuse myself in the classical sense. But willing to drag out my pain through a thousand tiny cuts. What is the comfort in such self-abuse? Is it some learned helplessness that craves attention? Or is it the only way I perceive love through the harsh training of abuse? Too many questions with too few answers for me to grasp. For I live in a world of simple logic, pretending to be something I’m not.
So I write and I write. Spilling the blood of a lifetime in selfish pain. Told by my peers to pray and forget it. But my prayers never got any farther than the ceiling. I cannot “will myself happy” nor can I tolerate any more of this pain. So I live through the ebbs and flows of this mortal flesh. Searching for emptiness within a noisy world.
That One Person
I would love to say I was just taking a break from writing and social media in general. But honestly one of the side effects of my new treatment has been drowsiness and fatigue. Not the worse things that can happen to you. But when you’re the caregiver and decision marked, it tends to bottleneck the system.
Me and my best friend and main collaborator, have both been having one hell of a summer. Me with my digestive issues and her with chronic issues of her own. We are both caregivers, which complicate matters even worse. And frankly it seems either one of us has a “when button” when it comes to putting others before ourselves. We commiserate each other often through text messages and video chats. But even those are interrupted by the demands placed on us.
But we do have our work together, through each other’s words and photography. We grew up together on the banks of the Ogeechee River in Chatham County Georgia. I’ve basically known her longer than both my wives combined. We watched each other grow up, make good choices and way too many bad choices. But we’ve stuck together just like soulmates do.
Yes, I said the word, soulmates because that’s what we are. A secret we’ve kept bottled up for nearly 50 years. But considering our ages and health conditions, why hold back now? I suppose the whole point to this confession is to tell you wrap yourself in support. There will always be times when you will be utterly lone. Face it, there ain’t no two ways about it. It’s in those moments when you’ll need a soulmate. That one person to will instinctively know you need someone. Please don’t limit yourself to superficial relationships. Keep your antenna up for those that are really there for you. So don’t hide yourself under in a blanket of lies. Have that one person in your life that’s closer than even a lover. You won’t regret it.
Can no Longer be Ignored
I don’t want to be mad. I don’t want to be bitter. I even don’t want to be an asshole. But I am all those things and more. This has been a strenuous summer packed on by even more strenuous week. Having to do things I’m really shouldn’t be doing. Putting myself last “outweighing the needs of the one, for the needs of the many”. But of course, these are considered noble traits, ask many parent. But when the caregiver can no longer care for themselves?
I’m not trying to garnish any sympathy here; these are just the things I have to do. But within the depths of heart bitter seeds are blooming. So the reality of what I’m feeling can no longer be ignored. So often we brush aside the negative emotions we feel. We either push them even deeper, swept them into a dark corner, or drown them in unhealthy habits. I’m guilty of all three. But you can only stuff so much into a garbage bag before it breaks. And just like so many times before, my bag’s about to bust.
So I’m laying here, one crisis’s over with several more to go. But I’m thinking, I’m reflecting, and I’m listening. I breathe deeply while my heart cries in pain. Listening to every frustration, every moment of pain. I know my limitations, though I’m pretty damn good at ignoring them. For the love of family, a man or woman will do all that they can. But often there is no satisfaction, no reward in what you do. You may hope karma will shine some grace your way. But in my situation, even that’s become a pipe dream. So why do I press on? To be honest, damn if I know. All I know is it’s in my nature good or bad, to just keep living and seeking peace.
A Chinook helicopter landing on the roof of the US embassy. An image so striking when compared to a similar image shoot some fifty years ago. I never served in the military; my father was died set against it. He was a Korean War veteran. My mom’s four brothers served during the Vietnam War, either state side or in country. They all carried scars of an unfinished job. Thoughts of failure and of the brothers they left behind.
I’m not going to sit here and judge the actions of our service men and women. My own daughter is an Iraq war veteran. But the disillusionment and failure is real. The promise of no one left behind is echoing deep within the minds of thousands of service members right now. I watched an Afghan war veteran yesterday, pour his heart out yesterday for his brothers in arms that were left behind.
Some missions have consequences. Twenty years of nation building may have fallen on deaf ears in the halls of power. But the real effect is with the boots on the ground, the promises made, the lives made better. Oh I’m sure there are those that say, I should keep my mouth shut. But to call out bull shit. I hear the dire warnings the Taliban are more social media savvy. Well so are we. Let the powers to be know you are not happy and to keep searching out the truth, from the one’s living it, not rewriting it.
She's Still My Child
My oldest child will be 34 on her birthday, but despite her age she’s still my child. You know, I am about as broke down as a man can get, both physically and mentally. There’s not much I can do for her or any of my kids for that matter. I have no wealth, I own no property, in fact I’m doing good to feed my daughter’s dog. But I do what I can because she is my child.
My oldest has gone through hell for the past two years for love. Through government red tape, a pandemic, a quarantine, and travel lockdown. She has not seen her fiancé in any of that time. Others would have just given up, including me. But she’s stuck to her guns and is literally willing her upcoming wedding to happen. Looking at her I can humbly say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The last few months have taken a costly toll on me. Physically I am as spent as I was during my first heart attack and surgery. Only this time it was a different surgery to put me in my current situation. But my astrological sign says I love passionately and deeply, which may attribute to some of the stupid I’ve done most of my life.
But we do what we do for our spouses and our children, don’t we? My kids are way smarter than me. They have established lives, homes of their own, lives outside my watch. I used to find the exclusion a bit shameful. A subtle reminder of my blaring shortcomings. But in my weakness, there’s still a bit of fight left in me. So instead of being a complete blueprint of what not to be. Maybe I helped lay a foundation, for how they should live, how to love, and how thrive.
Never Had Enough
I don’t want to be sad or depressed, but that’s where I am. There’s no point in sugar-coating it or lying to myself. I grew up in a world of denial, where if you had enough faith, you could pray your way through. Funny, I suppose I never had enough faith. I went through my entire young adult life never measuring up to my own standards.
Through fatherhood I was determined to be a better parent. But even then, the ghost of my painful past kept telling me I was no good. But my loud boisterous mask kept shining through. With the tough guy persona that nothing ever bothered me. But it did, it did a lot. Living in poverty in a rundown shotgun shack, I struggled, my kids struggled. To the point where I couldn’t blame them from wanting to get as far away as they could.
I guess my first come to Jesus moment came in 2015, with my first major heart attack. That’s when I was pretty sure I was going to final meet the guy face to face. Shake his hand, then I’d take the escalator straight to hell. But you know what? My life wasn’t done. My mindset changed, I changed. And surely, but slowly I have grown to understand. Life isn’t so much about goals, it’s about living. Which brings me too here.
The past few years and especially the past few months, have brought about a lot of physical change. To the point that I don’t recognize this body anymore. The emotions and physical pain have made me weary, tired, and just plain angry. I’m back to questioning my own judgement. I’m pissed at my medical team. I’m home bound tied to a life too embarrassing to discuss in polite conversation. Folks I’m tired of letting go. I’m tired of these chains. I’m trying to be proactive and in charge. But at the moment it doesn’t feel like enough.
Impossible to Break
I woke up under a canopy of worry. Marking moments by the second, fearing disappointment, wasting time. It’s a habit I like to think I had broken, it’s a habit that’s impossible to break. Looking through eyes jaded by my own reality, it’s hard to feel moments of optimism. So I sit silently watching the world pass. Making up excuses to stay off the ride.
I do so many dumb things, all in the name of peace. I spend too much, I laugh too much, I give in too easily to a child’s cry. All for those precious moments of peace and happiness it brings. Keeping the consequences of my actions close to me, eating away at my heart. But those moments of pleasure are hard to resist. The brightness of that smile and the satisfaction I see. You don’t mean to spoil anymore rotten. But in this world of disillusion, it’s often the only time I feel alive.
But quietly I shrink back into my corner. That same bullied child, a target, the easy mark to hit. It’s that child that’s been hidden away the longest. That manifests I himself in sleepless nights, panic attacks, and failing health. All I can do is listen and write. Cleansing my soul one drop of poison at a time. Looking into the eyes of the ones I love. Staring into the heart of truth, knowing we’re cut from the same cloth.
Dreaming of a Void
Can it be a bad dream when the one’s you love are there? In the heat of the evening, dreams swirl through my worried mind. Images of you and me, surrounded by family and friends. Talking about and living days long past. A sweet twist of thick candy melted from the heat. Celebrating bittersweet love, laughter, and tears.
We ask so little of life. A reassuring smile, the touch of a hand, a kiss on the cheek. Yet all we see is pain, discomfort, and the chain of obligation. It’s not like we haven’t been trialed before, judged for our sins and free spirits. Sentenced, condemned, and hung for simply surviving. We’d cry in our pillows, if allowed such luxury. Instead we smile, tell our silly quips, and plow through the rocky clay.
But our thick skin grows thin. Strong arms give way to loose flesh and bone. Fear overtakes our mind, with the cries of how much more. I so want the give encouraging words, but the black ink of pain covers me. To taste those sweet lips again, to actually hold you like we used too. These are the things I cling to, the dreams I still dream. Broken, cursed to live this half-lived existence. Dreaming of a void of just you and I.
Clear My Head
I’m sitting here for a moment trying to clear my head. After a semi-restless night, I woke up to a lovely sinus headache. I just got through taking my morning cocktail of medication hoping that might settle my headache down. It’s working a little, so I’ll just sit here and jot down some thoughts. A friend posted on social media about the death of her father nearly thirty years ago. It brought back to mind that my own father had passed away just a year before her father.
It’s ironic that both my parents died at the age of 59 and that this year I’ll be turning 59. For years I often joked about having a warranty that would last until that age. But lately those old haunts about death have been creeping back into my mind. For years my mind dwelled on the thought of dying. It was one of the fears that drove my wounded soul after my initial mental breakdown. It wasn’t until my first heart attack in 2015 that I truly found peace with those thoughts. So through all the other health related shit I’ve been going through over the years, I’ve always felt a sense of peace when it came to death.
But ever since my recent surgery and the slow process of recovery. Those old thoughts have been creeping back into my mind. I know that I shouldn’t let such things bother me. But with my history of verbal abuse and self-hatred, I cannot help but have such thoughts cross my mind. So here I am, listening to the fears my inner self thinks. Trying to block out such thoughts only delays the inevitable explosion that will occur. But by listening compassionately and letting go of such things, you can find peace. This takes practice and a great deal of compassion. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger towards yourself. Create a time each day to clear your mind and breathe. Listen to your inner fears, forgive yourself for having such thoughts, and remember to forgive others. You will never be perfect, but at least you can find some peace. I know I try.
Nothing More to Give
Disclaimer: I often write to vent my frustrations and fear. This is one of those times. This is my release, my way of listening compassionately to my inner voice.
I am so physically exhausted right now. My body has been purging itself all week. The only thing I can think about is how my insides have nothing more to give. This whole situation has left me tired and weak, to the point that I’m physically shaking. But this isn’t something that I haven’t felt before. Pushing myself to physical and mental exhaustion is what started all my troubles some 22 years ago. When answers and absolutes seemed so much simpler to find.
I sometimes find myself asking the age-old question, why? Why do I continue on? Why am I pushing myself to be better? Why am I even telling this story? I have no sense of uniqueness in my abilities beyond those of anyone else. I’m a good talker, although I do tend to ramble. I am still grossly overweight and unhealthy. And the weight loss goals I had achieved were quickly erased after my recent surgery. Maybe, if anything I have an acute sense of awareness. That comes by naturally through conditioning, survival, and my mindfulness practices.
There’s really no point in me talking about this. It’s just me rambling on again. Just waiting to make it through to another dawn. To get up again and begin the routine of living, just like a billion other people. Still, I’m tired and I’m lonely, just throwing words to the wind. Knowing that in the darkness parts of my mind there’s just more loneliness. But we survive, I survive; clinging to threads of existence that at one time were real. Breathing and believing that there’s something more, until you have nothing more to give.
A Place of Bitterness
What makes us tick? As humans does the ability of introspection make us unique or just more arrogant? While circumstance could easily make me selfish; at the moment I’m choosing to put my pain to work to care for others. I take time out of my discomfort to reach out with simple words of greeting and sincerity. I learned a while ago that pain often turns one inward. But beyond the benefit of self-refection, there often lies a place of bitterness.
That bitterness benefits no one. It can turn a good heart to anger and a clear mind to disbelief. Most of my life, my mind swam in these waters. Seeing the joy and struggle of others and feeling nothing but contempt and jealousy. It took me a really long time to get over those feelings. To learn that compassion and empathy are much better ways to see the world.
Yet with our ability for introspection, we still look down and refuse to consider another’s situation. I get mad at myself sometimes for the words I say in the moment. But I guess that’s a good thing, it shows I’m learning. Through the pain of whatever you’re going through. Offer moments of compassion and kindness. For the kindness you give, is often the compassion you receive.
No One's Really in Charge
Well, it’s been one of those weeks. So I stayed up till midnight just to see if it would end. Fortunately it did, but not without giving me one reminder, that no one’s really in charge. It all started innocently enough with discomfort in my abdomen after of my gallbladder surgery. My abdomen was swollen with fluid and in pain. So I made an appointment with my PCP for last Tuesday.
Tuesday afternoon my PCP sends me to the local hospital for a CT scan. This ended with a Wednesday visit back to the hospital for a possible abdominal tap. This was postponed due to one of my medication’s I had to stop. Then Friday, apparently I got Thursday off, I went in for the procedure. They drew more blood, tagged me with a hospital bracelet, and I even got an ultrasound. Then it was decided they wouldn’t do the procedure after all.
So I went home, just as swollen and bloated as when I started. I suppose I should be upset about the whole fiasco, but I’m trying to see it as a information gathering experience. As a business systems analyst, my job was to basically find the bugs in the flow of a system and make corrections. So now I’m gathering information. Armed with a mountain of recent test and charts, me and my PCP are creating a plan of action for this current situation.
You know when you panic, things can get out of control. My PCP on Tuesday was working blind only on information I gave. No test results, no surgeon’s notes…nothing. Basically a breakdown in communications between doctors, surgeon, and the different offices caused most of the problem. It is sad that I have to put my own pain and discomfort aside. To gather up all the necessary information that my Primary Care Physician needs for my well-being. But if that’s what it takes? Because apparently no one’s really in charge, but yourself.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.