As I have reported for the last several days, this humid weather has left my sinuses draining and my eyes watery. It’s given me a scratchy throat and skin itchy. Not to mention a low-grade fever and some restless nights of sleep. It has also not done much for my attitude or my overall creativity, let alone my “charming personality”. Still I’m trying to be consistent with usual correspondence and encouragement to others. I mean just because I feel like shit, doesn’t mean everyone has too, right?
Within my immediate family I’m considered a “bull in a china shop “. If you ask my extended family, I’m one of the more quieter ones in the bunch. My oldest is constantly arguing with me about my brash Gen X attitude. But I like to think of myself as more of a late Boomer. Stuck somewhere between a Leave it to Beaver suburbia and a Married with Children dystopia. However you label me I will admit I’m a bit crusty around the edges.
I’d like to think that gives me a hint of realism when I look at life. Because we all damn well know life is often just a soggy sandwich. But it doesn’t mean you can’t wash it down with a good cold beer. The Bible says to be of good cheer and to greet someone with respect and encouraging words (1 Thessalonians 5:11). I like to think I do that most of the time, even if I don’t do it for myself. Kind words are seldom found in today’s world. So risk the cliché of being laughed at while giving encouraging words. You never know who may need it more than they are letting on. Right?
There are nights when I sleep on a cloud of tranquility. But then are nights I toss and turn on a bed of anxious nails. Fear is the primal root that has kept us alive since before we could walk on two legs. For me right now that primal root center’s on my breathing. It seems lately that once I lay down, especially at night, I find it difficult to breath. And yes, given my medical history that may seem like a reasonable diagnosis. But after medical examination the root cause always points back to health anxiety.
Living with Panic Disorder is no walk in the park. It has affected my life and the life of my family since 1999. It has caused me to lose jobs, isolate myself, and cause my family to suffer. Thinking back to when panic first weighed on me I was in total paralysis. I couldn’t get out of bed, all I would hear at night were voices of doom and dread, and I carried such guilt for not providing for my family or myself. It took a good two years before I could get back to being reasonably functional. But even then the price I paid for that functionality was high.
Laying here in the middle of the night isn’t anything new to me. But the comfort I get from jotting down my confession is a welcomed relief. Knowing what the problem is isn’t worth a pound of cure unless you put in the effort to fix it. Who knows what I’m trying to say other than. We can complain and moan all we want about our given situation. Still it takes some effort on our part to get help. Fear is a heavy burden to bare. But don’t believe for a second you have to do it alone.
It’s too late in the afternoon to take a nap. Besides I know for a fact that I’ll be fixing supper tonight. So I’m laying here on the bed feeling a little out of whack. My left eye is still sore and my muscles are twitching ever so slightly, which more than anything it makes typing this a bit of a chore. Then on top of everything else my side and upper back are cramping. I know, I know I should stop complaining and think positive thoughts. But oftentimes pain is just that…pain. So despite my best efforts I’m hurting.
When dealing with health anxiety, no matter how much you recognize the signs of an attack. You can’t help but succumb to it’s effects from time to time. Just this morning one of my morning pills decided to linger in my throat. This can cause a considerable amount of discomfort down my throat and into my stomach. But if I hadn’t paid attention to what was happening, my mind would automatically gone to thinking it was chest pains. It’s an acknowledgment kinda thing. There are moments, like now, where I feel like a trapped animal with way to escape. It’s in these moments when I slip into acceptance mode and do my best to ride out the storm.
Often, at least for me, there’s no escaping bad decisions or poor judgement. But I like to think that my motives were good. So I do my damnest to trust that time and a little good karma will turn the tide. Acceptance of a situation often pulls the blinders from my eyes. Opening me up to new experiences and answers to the questions that are buried deep. Even now as I write this I feel a certain amount of peace. Knowing that most any situation can be overcome with acceptance, awareness, and understanding of what it is and who you are.
Well despite any common sense I may still have, I’m back outside. We just got back from my wife’s checkup at our doctor’s office. Once we got home Lisa went to the living to moan and piss about what the doctor said. I decided to say outside in the relative quiet the back yard. Wish I could say I feel really great but my sinuses are still giving me a fit especially around my eyes. But there ain’t no point in fussing about it too much considering the misery going on around the world.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the Taliban retaking the Afghan capital. Even though I am a bleeding heart liberal, that episode in American politics left a really bad taste in my mouth, considering the promises we made to our allies over there. It’s hard to think of other people’s pain when consumed with your own petty worries. The care and compassion we once carried seems to have dwindled with each passing year. Inside the house I get more and more self-absorbed with my own “whoa is me feelings”. That I forget to go outside and see the world painted with a broader brush.
Sitting in the shade of the late morning sun, it’s easy to forget about my own worries. To watch the clouds thousands of feet above my head. Seemingly worrying about nothing but existing and just being there. Over in the fig bush/tree I hear the squirrel neighbors fussing at their mockingbird neighbors about some minor detail in their neighborhood rules agreement. It reminds me a little about myself and the selfishness I often place on my caring. To truly understand how life works one has to think beyond self. If we’d all recognize that we are just as interconnected as we are different. Then the problems that we see as so massive wouldn’t be problems anymore.
Another Friday evening and the TV’s on but I’m not really watching it. I’m sure there’s plenty I could be watching, but I’d rather get lost in casual conversation on a comfy couch with friends. But that pleasure has been lost through the decades of friends and family I’ve lost. But in reality it’s nobody’s fault but my own that I sit here alone. Through hundreds of miles of isolation and the complete loss of my mental faculties, I’ve placed myself in this cocoon of self-preservation.
But the tears I cry have long since dried, through medication and scattered self-meditation to alleviate the pain I was put through. Jovial to a fault, I wear a pristinely polished mask without blemish or blame. Carefully concealing the scars and wounds I carry. I don’t mean to carry on in some sort of pity trap. For I learned long ago that such things only rust the hardened armor our parents embraced.
So I sit here in self-isolation only poking my head out to see if it’s safe. Sending out lines of encouragement like some much confetti at a hero’s parade. Only to watch it all get swept away like so much wasted time. But I carry on with a smile painted on my face. Never knowing when the weight of depression and blame will take over again. But confession is supposed to be good for the soul. So maybe this is the time to purge myself once again of the demons that steal my self-preservation.
It’s 5:20 in the afternoon. I just jumped out of a cold shower, if you want to call it that. The temperature is still in the mid-90’s with a heat index pushing close to 100°f. There is a decent breeze blowing out of southeast and it’s a little cloudy, but they are nice white puffy clouds. The squirrels and the mockingbirds are having a fit over on the fig bush/tree. I suppose they’re fighting over who gets the last of the sweet fruit on the top of the vines.
I’m just sitting here between the shade of the fig and sycamore tree. Swatting gnats and hearing what sounds like a tiller off running off in the distance. I’m trying not to sweat although the back of my left arm is getting damp laying on the arm of this plastic chair. Ain’t a lot dwelling on my mind lately. More than anything I’ve sort of been working on autopilot. Because if I get too deep into my thoughts I start depressing myself with the endless loops.
Each of us runs a set of scenarios through our heads. Those that can run on a loop of perpetual bliss maybe they’re able to run endless optimistic scenarios. But for the vast majority of us, we run out of happy endings and switch over to autopilot. Ignoring the consequences and simply dealing with the endless failures we see. Now I’m not going sit here and give some no nonsense work around for this kind of behavior. Instead I’m simply going to say that I understand. I understand the guilt and disappointment we place on ourselves. I suppose the hardest thing for me to overcome is the utter disappointment I place on myself when plans and hopes fall apart. I don’t know but maybe expectations are nothing more than a roll of the dice. Where chance and blind luck have to play their part.
You know, I’m a damn good actor. After 20+ years of hiding my depression and anxiety from the world. And another seven years of masking my heart failure and other ailments with a smile. Somewhere along the way I deserved an award in this game of life. But oftentimes the smiles and the laissez-faire attitude hide pure exhaustion. And right now the longer I lay here, the more exhausted I’m getting.
Today I had to make the 250+ mile round trip to see my cardio surgeon for what I suppose was a “meet and greet”. Because when I got there they didn’t seem to have a clue as to who I was or why I was there. Mind you I was pretty much expecting this anyway. My tract record with this particular medical practice has been spotty at best. But I believe the doctor is pretty good at what he does. I mean, my regular cardiologist recommended them. So with an ounce of patience hopefully we got our little impasse straightened out.
Considering my training as a Project Manager, I’m used to having to straighten out kinks in the old garden hose. And since this is something personal dealing with my health, I am the biggest stakeholder in this project. But often we let things slip through the cracks. We loose focus and attention through the little annoyances we experience and see. But I try and look past that, trying to take in the whole picture. But oftentimes in my desire to micromanage, I refuse to allow myself the rest I require. I suppose more than anything I want to tell you, vulnerability isn’t a failure, no more than the willingness to let go weakness. Surrounding yourself with a strong team, rather at work or with family. This is a sign of good leadership skills on your part, that will be carried on long after your gone.
It’s pretty cool to have animals that are so comfortable around you. That they can sleep deeply, even when you’re moving about. With our cats that is especially true. If you know anything about a cat they sleep with one eye open at all times. But it is nothing to have one of them near me and to not even bat an eye if I rub them. When I’m watching George after a little play and snacking he’ll usually curl up at my feet and nap. Like right now while I’m working on this story.
Comfort and peace of mind often allude us especially in this complicated over stimulated world. Just this morning I was hoping for a little deposit into my bank account to take us through the weekend. But being the firm believer in Murphy’s law that I am, I knew it was a long shot. So as surely as the sun rises, nothing showed up in the account. Leaving more worried and anxious than disappointed. But that’s why I create redundancies and back up plans. I do my best to leave nothing to chance. Over my lifetime I’ve found faith to be more of an empty promise until proven wrong.
Some of you may see my attitude as counterproductive to a life of mindfulness and living in the now. But as I have said a many a times, I’m a realist. I breathe in the quiet wisdom of nature. I don’t chant mantras or hang positive sayings on my walls. I get up everyday believing in myself and my abilities to survive. And while I do have many moments of doubt and fear. I listen to them, I accept them, and I put them away. Much like George and the cat’s trust I’m here for them. Comfort and peace of mind are never far away. Especially when you accept who you are and continue to work towards enlightenment.
Despite any common sense or the orders given by my doctor I’m outside. It’s 84°f right now with a feel like temperature of 94°. But there is a really nice breeze blowing and the walls in my room were starting to close in. The gnats are a little rough out here, but I got my bug spray. It’s an all natural product that has a bit of a strong scent, but hey, it works. The figs are beginning to ripen up on the fig bush/tree. So I picked myself a few to snack on and they are delish.
We got a few clothes out on the line and without a cloud in the sky they shouldn’t take too long to dry. It’s quiet out here for a weekday, and while my heart’s AFibbing a bit. I did mark it with my heart monitor keybob for my doctor to check later. After I wrote that little bit I went back into the house for lunch. Considering how close it is to the end of the month we are having to get a little creative with our cooking. So now it’s just a little after supper and I’m back outside. For supper I took a can of cream of chicken soup, some cheese, canned potatoes, and some streamed broccoli. I mixed and seasoned that with a bowl of rice and made what I thought was a pretty good supper. After some 30+ years of on and off abject poverty you learn a trick or two.
I remember asking my Grandma Thornton what it was like raising kids during the depression. My Granny kinda smiled and said, “we were so poor we don’t know there was a depression”. With things like they are, with two years nearly total isolation and now living through yet another recession. You’d think we’d just learn to grin and bear it. But a proud man never knew or has forgotten how to count change for a loaf of bread. So, he complains about the ones that do. Maybe I’m just in a bad position to think of such things. So I guess I’ll just sit here and watch another gate close and listen to the wisdom on the wind.
For the last few months I’ve been spending way too much time in my own head. Due to the heat it’s nearly impossible for me to spend any time outside. And as you may know, outside is my refuge, my place of release. But when the temperatures are in the mid-90’s and the dew points over 70°f nearly every day. Spending more than a few minutes outside becomes a chore in itself. So I’m dictated by fate and my current health, to spend my days confined to a very dark room.
Along with the heat the economy has taken is toll on our standard of living. Food prices I can adjust to by changing menus options. But the gas prices have really burned us out. With gas prices increasing some 50-60% and the increased number of doctor visits I’m making. Bills are falling behind and predatory lending has become a way of life. I’m sure most of you are uncomfortable talking about such things. But I figure in my “absolute candor” too many of us suffer in silence. So I might as well be honest. But I’m not writing this as some political statement, for I am a believer we create your own choices. My point is at this time life is really weighting down on my head.
So what are my options? Right now I’m laying here with a light blanket and an ice pack on my head, venting my fears and frustrations onto this tiny screen. Rather that helps or not remains to be seen. But over the decades I’ve seen that by facing the fear and discomfort, I’m unburdening myself of grief and pain. To ignore something is no way of escape it. But it is a way of compressing that pressure till eventually it explodes, and believe me I know all about that. Do what you can to repair whatever situation you may have. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But mostly be honest with yourself and know that sometimes a dark room maybe all you got. So use it.
With nothing much left but casual conversation the room turned quiet. But the electricity could still be felt between hearts pleading for the truth. Guarded by the hand that was dealt, we sit idly by looking for moments, but the moments never came. Leaving us with feelings of both joy and pain.
But life will often leave you this way. Caught between the things you desire and unanswered dreams. So long ago we found ourselves caught in the lies created by the impulses of youth. A time when potential stretched on forever and the words whispered in our ears burned deep. Forced to do unthinkable things because of the beating down. Believing that this was the only way to be loved.
We walked through those valleys abused and ridiculed. Haunted by sins done in the name of survival. And yet, we walked through damaged, but strong. Gentle, but covered with scars. So here we sit in polite conversation. Not saying what we want to say, not doing what we dream of doing. All because of the fear and pain we’ve seen. Being whipped again by the same words that hurt us so long ago. Peace never comes to the abused, but the wicked sleep soundly.
It’s funny when you hadn’t seen someone in a while how surprised you are that they now look different. That’s the distinct impression I get when people hadn’t seen me in a while. I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, considering how much I’ve physically changed over the past few years. Still it is ironic how we file away these images of others, without ever taking into account the movement of time.
Within my own family we are such a distance apart, we only see and hear from each other on social media. Yet me, my brother, and my sister are grandparents now. But I often still see my younger siblings as those kids I fought and played with down that dead end street in Bloomingdale. I suppose it’s just something that happens naturally. But then there are some we were once very close to that now we hardly recognize anymore. Not so much physically, but spiritually and emotionally. So you ask yourself what happened? What happened to make them so bitter and indifferent?
With the march of time comes the different situations we each walk. Maybe something happened when you were away that changed them. Maybe something happened to you that changed you and your attitude? Either way each of us is hardwired with the ability to show kindness or hate. Oftentimes without being able to distinguish between the two. But to whomever that emotion is being displayed, they’ll know. I suppose in some twisty kinda way I’m saying. Be aware of change, do your best to be sensitive to others, and never automatically assume you are always right. In other words feel the room.
I am tired of painting pictures of this broken old man laying before me. Tired and feeble, with no strength to do anything about it. Feeling like a rung out rag dried up on the window sill, without an ounce of life left in it. I know, pitiful right? But despite whatever joke I may make of the situation, this is what you get. Still I try and write words that uplift and push things along. But lately all I feel is an epitaph pouring from out my soul.
I’m trying to file all this under the heading of just being physically exhausted. But even so I still have to fight with the demons of my anxious mind along with it. My doctors tell me to be patient. But patience is a commodity which I have very little at the moment. I can’t really say I’m in some sort of panic. Because after 20+ years of living with that old friend, what I’m seeing now isn’t living up to panic’s full potential.
I suppose more than anything I’m just here fighting with myself. Laying here somewhere between creating doomsday scenarios in my head and writing messages of positive charge. Still in-between all that is the silence that I hear coming from everywhere. So here I am tired. Tired of the tightening in my gut, tired of the misfiring heartbeats, and tired of the complicity of silence I find myself in.
Across Our Backs
Dark drifting into a trance. My mind speaks volumes muted by the apparent roar of fatigue. Two souls consumed by the slow erosion of life. While two are consumed by pain and selfish desire. Not able to let go, chained by words spoken in love. Now tied around our necks bound and choking. Screaming with obligations once appreciated then excepted.
I pull at the chain as guilty as ever. Physically beaten by a wipe I carry. Shaking from exhaustion and thirst, I drawn into myself. A cocoon that reflects no light, no growth, or redemption. Towing that chain.
Grace covers a multitude of sins. But what torments me is a selfless burden. An inadequacy seemingly taught from birth. That to be good enough you must give away your soul. A price I find too much to give. So I labor under the melodramatics of an unanswerable god. That beats me with a plow strap of guilt.
I had planned on taking a nap this afternoon. I mean the weather is just perfect for it, raining with just a touch of thunder and lighting. But laying here with most all the lights turned out. I can hear the rain hitting the window AC with the slightest scent of vanilla burning off my Dollar Store candle. Your face is burned into my memory, conversations tip-toeing around we really want to say. Telling the same old stories we tell ourselves each and every time.
But it’s our canopy of protection, our secret escape plan. Like a moat built around a castle wall, it’s that little extra overkill to keep pain away. We appear so open, so available to what others say. And in a way it’s so very true, we are available and open to help. But to open ourselves to a position of vulnerability it’s a god-damned scary thing. Because at some point we did that, usually when we were very young. Then without shame or remorse someone/something snatched it away from us.
So we live our lives giving without getting. Giving without being vulnerable because one too many times we’ve watched it happen. We’ve watched sincerity and even gratitude turn into wanting and expecting. Till all the obligation we ever felt because of our own damaged lives melts away. Standing at the river between what we really want and what we really have. I look across and I see what you see. Pain, desire, toughness, and fear. For once we’d love to tear down this wall. Each day we chip at the mortar and loosen the bricks. Patience. I keep telling myself…patience. So that dollar store candle burns reminding me every day.
Forgive me but my brains feeling a bit scrambled this morning. But to be perfectly honest, it’s been like this for a few weeks now. Ever since I left my gastroenterologist office a few weeks ago, where I was prescribed medication that slows digestive issues. Apparently this bad boy has greatly normalized my digestive system, but not without a few issues. I suppose when you resort to chemical cures, you can expect a little blow back. So I’m kinda going through another weight loss issue again. It seems like my appetite has disappeared and I’m only eating when I absolutely have too.
For many that maybe a great problem to have, but it has been effecting my cognitive and physical abilities. So as I said, I’m losing focus distracting my mind with mindless bullshit from social media. Avoidance is often our greatest imperil. To just “laugh it off” or “put it off till tomorrow “, is usually my go to modus operandi. But it’s hard not to look at things that way. Especially when juggling so many different medical procedures and appointments.
So I’m writing this down, as more of a therapy for myself then anyone else. Often my mind plays with me. Telling me to put duty before self. With outside responsibilities such as my wife and sons. You end up going through a sort of hero complex where you have been conditioned to believe you are the only one who can solve the problem. And while there is some nobleness to being the caregiver, it often comes at a price. So be aware of you limits. Know when it’s time to slow down and take it easy. Right now I got some major procedures coming up. So a balance must be maintained between my own health and the wellbeing of my family. I mean, what good are you to anyone else if you refuse to take care of yourself?
I usually don’t go through this much summer/hot weather suffering with my sinuses as I have this year. But unlike my usual hurting through the spring, then easing up for summer. These last few months of usually hot weather have been a bit more different than in the past. So I lay here under the AC like some dried up sickly person who’s never comfortable no matter what the weather. I mean, I hate feeling this way. Used to when something would get me down, I’d eventually bounce at some point. But this past year? I don’t know, it’s just getting harder and harder.
There’s nothing worse than sounding like a “Debbie Downer”, right? Well anyway, as I approach that magical age of sixty. I’m beginning to think my own smart-ass rhetoric about it is getting the best of me. I mean for my immediate family I am charting some unknown territory. I mean no one, not my Mom or my Dad lived to see the age of 60. And being that I’m the oldest sibling I’ll be the first one to cross that threshold. And yes I know, age is just a number. But considering my overwhelming battle with health anxiety for the last 20+ years. You can see how this shit is often front and center in my mind. We all deal with our own inner demons. Rather it’s an addiction or a phobia, but unless you’re in total denial, there’s always something that triggers you down deep.
There’s a lot more about this than I can tell you about in just one last paragraph. But know this. Sometimes fear can tighten up around me till it feels like it’s about to kill me, and believe me, I’ve been there. The key I suppose is to just hold on. Yesterday I went through a violent attack of acid reflux. To the point that I was questioning if it really wasn’t a heart issue instead. But I pressed on dealing with the discomfort till it finally started to subside. Now that’s not to say I didn’t mark the incident with my new heart monitor or at the very least check my blood pressure, because I did. I guess the thing is to never be ashamed to admit that you are afraid. Often it’s that fear that keeps your ass alive. It can also make you more aware of your priorities and give you a clearer idea of your self-determination.
I figured I’d sit outside for a few minutes till the gnats find me and tout me off. Lisa and I just finished shopping at the local “Wally World” and “Dollar Twenty-Five Cent Store”. Picking up this and that listening to store managers complain about corporate’s latest cost cutting memo designed for their own greed. Working in retail most of my life I guess I have a sympathetic ear to what they’re saying. But now that I’m retired from the game, all I can do is just listen, pay for my items, and go home.
The sun can be a close friend or ruthless enemy depending on the season. Right now it is blazing hot on me, while at the same time it’s causing a harvest to break through the ground. I don’t know what I’m trying to say with this pointless jabber. But sitting in front of our TV sets and smart phones, we’re shoveled regurgitated information with expert analysis thrown in for good measure. But me sitting here and complaining about it isn’t really much different than what mass media is already doing on a larger scale.
So for now, I’m just going to enjoy this little breeze and listen to my new neighbor cut her grass. There’s something to be said about the smell of fresh cut grass or the smell of just washed laundry on the line. At least in the silence I can hear myself think. And ask myself the hard questions that many are too afraid to ask. Sitting in this moment of reflection the sun filters though the green of the leaves. Making the leaves nearly translucent penetrated but not quite penetrating. Giving off a sense of what and who they are. Giving no judgement, just showing us purity of what is real.
It’s five o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. Me and Lisa spent part of the day visiting our daughter’s and our grandkids at their homes. I’m very proud of our four kids. Our two older girls and their husbands have ventured out and are doing well. They both own their own homes, both have good careers in their given fields, and have hard working husbands. In other words, they’re both doing far better than Lisa or I had done, at least on paper. But that’s the way I was always told it was supposed to be, that the offspring should always do better than their parents.
I’m sure all our kids in their own jaded, smart-ass way would say, “doing better than Mom and Dad wasn’t that hard to do”. And honestly, I wouldn’t be offended, because it’s actually true. From the word go Lisa and I struggled, marrying with one kid on the way. Then having three more in rapid succession. I struggled with work and making a living wage to house and fed four kids. Lisa struggled with her own disabilities. Then my own mental and physical health started taking a toll on our families well-being. I’ve always thought the reason our kids are successful is because they already seen the bottom and don’t ever plan on going back.
I suppose the point of dragging out all this personal business out is to say. No matter how successful or unsuccessful you may be, it’s the point that you tried that really counts. Rather it’s your kids or a co-worker, people are watching your actions. And if they see you trying then your point has been made. Oh, I can talk a big game. I come by that naturally. But my family also knows I’ll move heaven or hell for them. If you can build that type of trust in most every individual you know, then you have built a legacy no amount of failure can ever take down.
I figured I’d take a chance and come outside for a while or at least till the sand gnats tote me off. To my left a mockingbird sings his morning song. While overhead a squirrel and a nesting bird are having a property dispute. I’m really trying to feel better but my head is in such a fog. Last night I slept well till about 3am then the tossing and turning began. I guess I’m anxious about the upcoming month and all the doctor appointments I got to coordinate. It seems like you get no rest when you have health issues to manage.
I guess I shouldn’t bore you with such mundane facts, I mean everyone’s got their troubles. But at the moment this is all I got to vent those frustrations. Life often hands you baggage to carry that you didn’t even pack. On top of my physical issues there are the mental issues that often get put off to the side. Recently, old haunts have been able rear their ugly head again. Manifesting themselves in simple discomforts; that through panic and anxiety overcome any sense of stability you might have.
At the moment these feelings of fear encircle my brain. It should be easy enough to just dismiss such thoughts. But for individuals like me that have build up a tolerance towards such things. Even an old mental health vet like me can still be overrun by such emotions. Having an empathetic mind doesn’t help either. When you see others suffering in mass, it can effect you so deeply that you have to just shutdown. So as the cicadas cry raises and falls through the trees, I’m left hidden under my protective armor once again. Wishing I could ignore an enemy that lives deep in my soul.
Today is the first time I’ve been outside in three weeks. Down here we have been under a heat advisory with temperatures around 100° and a heat index around 105° to 110°. So I wisely been keeping myself in the house. Because I learned the hard way that I may feel okay at the moment, but that moment can turn around in a hurry. So I wisely watch my “P’s & Q’s” when it comes to weather and my health.
It’s 92° with a heat index of 98° right now, but a steady breeze is blowing and under the shade it feels quite nice. Still I listen to my body’s little ticks like my skin being very dry, my breath getting a little forced, plus the fact that I’m getting a rather sizeable headache. So despite my wanting to stay and enjoy the outside, my better judgement says it’s time to go. Well I scurried back to my dark air conditioned room, got me some water and an ice pack for my head. It may sound a little extreme, but I could see the signs of heat exhaustion coming.
Most of the time we ignore the warning signs. The quiet before the storm, the sudden drop in air pressure, the dry skin, or the careless disregard for caution after a pandemic. It’s the way the mind tricks you into believing everything’s okay. But some of the time, it isn’t okay. And a devil dressed in lamb’s clothing is waiting outside your door. I don’t mean to sound so paranoid, but in times like this, selfishness and greed often wear the brightest smile. Be aware of your surroundings, even the most peaceful shade can hide danger. The danger of those wishing to steal what you worked so hard for, like your freedom and even your humanity.
Lying here under the air conditioner while the world outside continues to move without me. It’s a hard truth I’ve been forced to accept even through my stubbornness. I’m often complimented for my optimism and fortitude towards life. But in my eyes I’m just looking at things as they really are. Now my Grandma Geiger was no stranger to hard times or adversity. She was a great listener, and while she often wouldn’t spare you her opinion of your situation. At least you never felt like you were being put down or belittled for it.
It takes a great deal of discipline to wean oneself of negative chatter. That constant belittling voice inside your head that tells you you’re no good. It’s quite the oxymoron to grow up in an environment where you’re put down and insulted one minute. While being taught that you were made “perfect” through religious obedience. We were told salvation was a gift, yet there seems to always be a “but” somewhere behind that precious statement.
I never really gave up on the concept of a higher power. It’s just that maybe that higher power is right here among us without all the rules and obligations. That nature itself is the teacher if we only listen. I’ve learned to not be afraid of who I am. To not sweep under the rug of shame the emotional baggage I carry. But instead to embrace it and show it the compassion it deserves. Kinda like my Grandma Geiger would do. I guess that’s why I am like I am. I accept my limitations but at the same time I don’t let my limitations define me. Imperfection is a difficult pill to shallow, but not an impossible one. It takes awareness, calmness, and determination to make it through life’s difficult times.
As the tensions seem to be easing around here from the last few years. It seems like we are tentatively coming out of your cages to see the light of day. But I must admit the world seems a little stranger, a little more resistant to the ways of the past. But I can’t say very much, for my current physical condition leaves me isolated and shut-in most of the time anyway.
Growing up in a world that still guarded itself with innocence. Troubles were just starting to bleed over own television sets. While most of our time was spent outside riding our bikes playing cops and robbers. Our uncle’s and big brothers went to war leaving their hot rods covered up with tarps, waiting for the day they’d come home. Sometimes when our parents weren’t around we’d go pull off the tarp and pretend we were driving the hot rods they left behind.
But for an unlucky few the cover never came off. One neighbor eventually sold their son’s '65 Ford Falcon 500. While down the street another neighbor kept their son’s yellow '65 Impala Coup parked next to the driveway where he left it for decades. A sort of silent tribute to a pain they never spoke about. Today most of us just seem to be angry. Mad at the time we lost and the many we lost along the way. I don’t know, sometimes I just want to turn the whole thing off. But thinking back to the “good old days “, there was just as much pain and suffering back then as we feel now. Maybe it’s just time to scream and release the pain. To accept the suffering and move on.
Loneliness is a hard human condition. Leaving you with thoughts of isolation and abandonment. For the last several days I’ve been fighting off these feels of isolation and abandonment while fighting off physical symptoms of congestion, heat exhaustion, crippling headaches. My sleep at night is nearly non-existent and I just can’t seem to get comfortable. I hesitate to mention this to any doctor since I have two scheduled doctors appointments already this month.
Staying at my daughter’s house only compounds the problem since most of my “creature comforts” are at my home. Along with a feeling of isolation this current heat wave has drained me of all my energy. It’s hard to focus on which problem bothers me more. But in all honesty it’s the loneliness that has dominated my mind. I live in such isolation. Now in days, I don’t have any friends to call. The ones or one I do have has their own problems they’re submerged in. So I lean towards thoughts that it’s my own damn fault that I find myself without a relief value.
I often wonder if this is the road that leads many to self-destruction. I’ve played with these thoughts and symptoms more times than I care to count. And while I usually pull myself from this dark abyss. The moments I walk through it, relief seems a million miles away. So I sit here in my thinking chair, pinning thoughts most wouldn’t dare admit. But in a way that is the key to all this madness. To have the courage to say what you need to say. And to bravely bare yourself open to the slings and arrows of your own heart.
Pulled once again from a deep sleep. The house is quiet while Lisa’s sleeping peacefully, as well as, our daughter’s dog and cat. So here I am alone with thoughts that not so much troubling as they are familiar. Sometimes subjects swirl through my head like distance storms on the horizon. So tonight isn’t much different than it’s been before, it’s just that it’s been a while since this has happened. So as I usually do I pull out my phone bring up Word 365 app and type away.
Stirring through the fog that makes up my memories, I pull comfort from the knowledge that we all have common ground. But as an observer of human nature I also feel the pull of tribal tendencies which we all have. I worry about my neighbors and the wounds they may carry. The festering fears that cloud their minds. The fight or flight tendencies that form their anger and hate. Even I am not immune to these thoughts and prejudices. For we all have a part of us that longs to be safe.
Outside influences that are often not even in front of us create the fear we feel. The news, rumors, and now social media brings the fear of death and destruction to our doors. For centuries we could minimize it through the limited information we received. But in this modern world we are inundated with the news of a fallen world. Honestly for the most part these fears are real. So even in the quiet of most everyone’s nights, there are fearful dreams we relive again and again.
Fear was one of the first things that attacked my mind some 23 years ago. It was a crippling problem that I learned to hide well. But the silence took it’s toll on my body. Leaving me in the physical condition I am in today. But I’ve leaned to live with it, through mindfulness and soul searching meditation I have a greater understanding of my fears. More recently using complete candor, especially in my writing, has opened me up to an even freer focus of myself. By learning to stop hiding behind a mask of stoic discipline, I’ve freed myself of the chains of pride, fear, and indifference.
So as I look into the clouds of fear and angry all I can see is a world tearing itself apart. I could easily be one of the many that screams for destruction and revolution, but I am not. I am simply one that walks a path of introspection and hope. A hope that one day through all this chaos we’ll learn to clear our thoughts. To move beyond the instinct of fight or flight and build a world of collected understanding.
All post written by
FD Thornton, Jr
All Rights Reserved.