Anthony was the kind of guy that reminded you, in a way, of Ferris Bueller. Particularly the scene where Ferris was passing himself off as Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago. Anthony loved to schmooze and finagle. And he would take the play to the limit. Just when you thought someone would call security, he’d get what he wanted. Usually some piece of schwag that would likely sit in the bottom of his closet never to see the light of day again.
He would call me from time to time to see about seeing lunch. But lunch with Anthony was a whole other experience. I often begged out of lunch because of it. You couldn’t take a 30-minute lunch with Anthony. It was always going to stretch to at least three times that. And if you went to an all-you-can-eat sushi bar? Take the afternoon off.
And he loved to flirt. He would flirt with every server, cashier, and booth attendant hat would look at him. And they just passed it off as the quirky older guy who complimented them.
Anthony died this morning of thyroid cancer.
I’ve been doing better at forgiving myself of my mistakes, but I regret not having taken some of those lunches with him. I hadn’t talked to him in close to two years, and had no idea he was ill.
It seems that this week, Mortality decided to pay me a visit.
In a little less than a month, I’ll be turning 50. Yes, I know, it’s just a number. But I’m a numbers guy, so numbers actually do mean something to me.
My dad died at 69 years old. I’m in much better shape than he was, and I expect I should go a bit longer. But how much more? And how many of those years will be “good” years?
Even if I live to 80 or 85 years of age, the majority of my time on this spinning rock has passed by. And I am alone in terms of a partner. Which is where my dad comes into play. You see, for about the last thirty years of his life, he had a partner, someone he loved and who loved him. The chances of me finding someone who will love me for that amount of time are getting slimmer by the day. It;s just math. If I found someone today (which won’t happen), I’d have to live to 80 just to have that much time. So, you might say I’m envious that my dad had what he did.
And I worry about declining health. I’m doing ok right now, even having survived a fairly significant heart attack. But little things pop up. My shoulder is in need of surgery for repair. My best friend has already suffered a stroke. Two others from Lupus. Another from pulmonary embolisms. All these friends – and myself – are slowly aging and starting to lose the battle against Father Time.
My dad saw it coming. He knew he was going to die. I am convinced of that fact. About a year before he died, he started doing little things that seemed trivial then, but make sense now.
One day, he was telling me a funny story. He finished, I smiled, and he asked “I’ve told you that story before, haven’t I?”
He had, but it was a funny story and I thought he liked to tell it. The problem was, he didn’t remember telling it. And he told me that he was having trouble remembering other things.
Keep in mind that my dad was the guy who would play chess against you while cooking dinner without ever looking at the board. and kicking your ass in the process. His mind was his source of pride, his self-worth. He was smart as hell. And when he sensed it going, it affected him greatly.
He started doing things like showing my brother and I where he hid cash around the house, just to make sure that one shirt with about $2,000 in cash in the breast pocket didn’t get thrown out. Again, my brother and I dismissed it. “You’re not going anywhere”.
But he knew.
Not long after, he took a trip to Argentina to visit family. I believe he intended that to be his goodbye trip. He started coughing before he left, and came back a couple of weeks later with the cough intensified. He ended up in the hospital.
Understand that my dad was perhaps the worst patient on the face of the planet. He hated the hospital, and he was going to make sure that everyone in it was miserable with him.
But the day he dies, he was going in for an angiogram. He was laughing, joking with the nurses, and being overall pleasant. Because he already knew he wasn’t leaving. He died in the cath lab that morning.
He had grown tired of the fight, and scared that he was going to have to rely on others for the rest of his life. That was the ultimate indignity as far as he was concerned. He did not want to rely on anyone. Period.
And now, as I get closer to his age each day, I start wondering when I’ll see those signs, and if I can handle them with dignity. How much time do I have left? How many of my friends will I lose as the days go past? What becomes of my daughter when I’m gone?
I can only do my best. And these moments, these days pass and I work to prolong the inevitable, as we all do and think nothing of it. Until another day when Mortality comes to visit.
RIP Dr. Anthony Fedan.
In figuring out how to move forward I have begun compiling a list of “rules” – things to keep in mind and to guide me in finding the right relationships, the right path. You can see all the rules here.
No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try. – Yoda
The story goes that explorer Hernan Cortes, having faced a previous attempted mutiny, decided to avoid any further problems. He scuttled all his ships, effectively stranding him and his men there.
So, you’re naturally wondering, what do Yoda and Cortes have to do with relationships? The answer is simple.
There is no half way.
You’ve probably heard many times the phrase “meet me half way”. And in many situations, that’s a perfectly fair request. But not in relationships. In fact, half way is a recipe for disaster. Instead, we should be focused on both parties going 100% of the way, giving their all at each step. Not half-hearted attempts.
There are two kinds of people in this sense. There are the Yodas, the Cortes’, who commit completely. And then there are the Luke Skywalkers. These are the people who want to take “baby steps” or take things “one day at a time”. These people, for whatever reason, do not wish to commit. Whether out of fear (very common) or just plain selfishness, they don’t want to give 100%. They’ll tell you they can’t; they don’t have it in them; they don’t have the time – fill in the blank with whatever excuse you’ve been given. They aren’t honest with themselves, can’t admit that they won’t take the leap to give 100% of themselves.
Now, at first blush, this appears to be in conflict with Rule 1 – where we decide that we won’t give 100% of ourselves unless we know we’re getting it back. But in fact, it is the direct extension of the first rule. Once we have determined that this person is the one that excites us, that gives us that flutter, makes us respond “F Yes!“, then Rule 2 is the next logical step.
And like Rule 1, there is a big caveat – the other person must be equally invested. In fact, that is the essence of the rule. With Rule 1 we have discovered a person who gets that same excitement, same feeling about being with us as we do with them. Rule 2 says once you have determined that, yes, this is the right person, you now need to commit 100%. And they need to as well.
That’s very important, so I’ll repeat it: They need to as well.
This is at every stage of the relationship. Whether it’s just dating, it’s moving in together, hopping under the sheets together, or going to dinner. Both of you need to be equally invested and out forth your full effort. It’s as simple as going to dinner and putting away your cellphones so that you are paying 100% attention to each other. Or communicating and listening to each other as you get physically intimate and focusing on your partner more than yourself.
But again, this has to happen on both ends. One person can’t carry it alone.
So what’s the matter with meeting half way? It never is half way. See if this sounds familiar: You are in a relationship. You’ve been trying to make things work, but you just aren’t getting what you need. So you talk, you ask for them to meet you half way. And maybe, for a little while, things get a little better. And you hold up your end of the bargain. But they start to go back to their previous behavior. So you try harder. But it still doesn’t get better. In fact, pretty soon, you’re at 100% and they are giving no more, and perhaps less, than they had before.
You’re doing all the work. They didn’t meet you half way. But then, that’s because the two of you are working from an assumption that the relationship is a math equation. That somehow, you going half way and them going half way adds up to a whole. But relationships aren’t math. Besides, meeting half way means you’re both only giving 50%. Need to understand why that doesn’t work? Refer back to Rule 1.
No, for a relationship to work, you both need to be giving 100% in how you treat each other. 100% listening. 100% caring. 100% loving. 100% support. If you – or they – can’t give 100%, you missed something in Rule 1. Go back to the beginning. Figure out what you didn’t see, or what you thought you saw that wasn’t really there. Go back to the point where you both say “F Yes!” to each other, and give 100% there. And when you take the next step, go 100%. Both of you.
For me, I’m the Cortes. The lesson I’m having to learn is that while I’m scuttling the boat, the other person is sitting offshore. I have no problem committing 100%. But I have allowed that “no option but forward” mentality get in the way of seeing that the other person isn’t ready to make that leap of faith, that commitment to the relationship.
So, while for some it’s important to remember to give 100%, that there is no half way, there is no “try”, for me, it’s just as important to remember that I have to be sure the other person is in the same mindset.
Some days, you just wonder why you got out of bed. This is not one of those days. I know exactly why I got out of bed…
Went to bed last night, tired and having had a needed but painful discussion with a good friend. Probably up a bit too late, but I went to sleep when my body was ready.
Next thing I know I’m driving a car after meeting the above-mentioned friend. I’m racing across country to get back home, and there appears to be water suddenly ponding on the road. Before I can stop, the car plunges into the water, sinking rapidly.
I wake up with my heart pounding, feeling like I was out of breath from nearly drowning. Bad dream. Sometimes, they suck.
So, I go back to sleep.
Then I see myself trying to handle a snake which I have been told was a boa. That’s when it snaps its head around and sinks its teeth into my hand, right above the webbing between my thumb and index finger on my right hand. Apparently, this was a highly venomous snake, and not a boa. While we are trying to get help and I am trying to keep calm and not move much, my daughter is bit by the snake as well. I feel a pain coming on.
I wake up again with my heart pounding. Another bad dream. Two in one night.
That never happens. In fact, it’s rare that I have bad dreams, although occasionally I will have ones that I remember for years. I have one the hit me when I was a teen and it is still a vivid memory.
I don’t put much stock in dream interpretation. As far as I can tell, it’s just the result of synapses firing randomly, and your brain trying to make sense of the triggered imagery. Nothing more. But I’ve never had two of these disturbing dreams in the same night. And never two as intense and causing me to wake in a panic like this.
I fell back asleep and was awakened at 6:15a by the dog whining. I had a hunch he needed to go out. I really didn’t want to change clothes and take him out, but he was letting me know. I got up, decided I needed to go as well, and went to the bathroom. I was in there no more than 60 seconds when my daughter yells that we have a problem and that she’s not cleaning it up.
Sure enough, the dog has emptied his bowels and bladder on the kitchen floor. At least it’s linoleum and he didn’t make a mess on the carpet. And it’s still only 6:30a by this point.
Well, no big deal. Clean it up, it’s not his fault, he was trying to tell me he needed to go, and apparently needed to go more urgently than I did. Daughter, meanwhile, is throwing a little bit of attitude because I asked her to clean up her room. Which then turns into a struggle for whether she should find her library card – which she would find if the room was clean. She argues that it would take all day, and fights against it for five minutes. Then finds the card in 30 seconds. It’s now almost 7:00a.
I had planned a peaceful morning, taking her to breakfast down the street at Denny’s, then a trip to the library. Peaceful did not come. So now I have a mess on the floor to clean up, a recalcitrant daughter, and I’m exhausted.
But, we finally made our way to Denny’s, and had a discussion about getting “second chances”. It’s one of my daughter’s favorite phrases. And it drives me nuts. Because every time she’s gotten “another chance”, she makes a poor choice – again. We had the discussion that continuing the same behavior and expecting a different result is never going to work.
Finally, we finished our breakfast and took the two buses and one hour commute to the library, where I now sit typing. In store ahead? Grocery shopping, underwear shopping, kitchen cleaning. Because that’s what my days off look like.
Maybe somewhere along the line I can get a nap. Maybe.
As I progress, I am looking at many different sources of inspiration for ways to move forward. If you have any great inspirations, be sure to share them in the comments.
You can see all the steps along the journey here
One of the first things you find in the assorted posts and books and talks on relieving stress and becoming more content in your life is that you need to be able to forgive yourself. For example, I had read the article “100 Ways To Overcome Stress” and sure enough, there it was:
1. Forgive yourself for every mistake you’ve ever made.
Now, I understand the idea here. But every mistake? Whew, that’s a tall order.
I am an imperfect being. We all are. Just trying to think of all the mistakes I’ve made is a daunting task. But there are some doozies.
But what I’ve had to really do is understand what the phrase actually means: “Forgive yourself for every mistake you’ve ever made.”
The literal, analytic, numbers guy part of me looked at that phrase and said “Wow, that’s a lot of forgiving. I should probably make a list. I need a lot of scratch pads.”
It actually wasn’t until I started writing this post that the other, and more helpful meaning came to me. That I can forgive myself these mistakes all at once. That I can simply accept that I am human, I am fallible, I am imperfect, and as such, I have made and will continue to make mistakes.
This has been a tough one for me in the past as a rule. In one case, I carried around the guilt of being an ass to someone I actually cared about from nearly twenty years. And when I finally was able to apologize for it, she told me she didn’t even remember it. Twenty years. How much did I limit myself, how much energy did I have wrapped up in guilt over something that she didn’t even remember. And yet, I remembered it strongly enough to apologize for it twenty years later.
I have made many mistakes. I try not to repeat them. Some are difficult to learn from, and some result in outcomes that are so painful that it’s hard to even think about them now. And yet, I have to somehow find a way to forgive myself. For all of them.
I’m not sure I know how to do that.
Part of that comes from the fact that I feel I should learn from the mistakes, and by forgiving myself it’s like saying I don’t have to worry about the learning. I can’t abide that. But that’s because I haven’t quite been able to separate the mistake from the lesson. Intellectually, I can see how the mistake should be forgiven, because the lesson is its own event. Forgive the mistake, learn the lesson. Two different things.
I think part of me is still working from that corporal punishment, shaming mindset that if I make a mistake, I’m somehow less of a person, a failure. This got drilled into me when I was a child. Here’s an example:
When I was about 10, I was responsible for making dinner on many nights. On one particular day, I read a recipe that said I needed to add 1 cup of boiling water to the ingredients. I took our 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, added a cup of water… and placed it on the stove burner.
I then witnessed a lesson in physics. If you heat something made of thick glass quickly on a burner, the glass in contact with heat will expand much more quickly than the glass that is not. This results in a rather impressive shattering of the glass. The Pyrex measuring cup was no more.
I went into panic mode. Maybe, if I replaced it before they got home (they being my mother and her boyfriend), they wouldn’t notice. And I had enough time to get dinner done anyway. I hopped on my bike and started hitting every little store I could.
And not one of them had the 2-cup measuring cup. None. So, in my 10-year-old mind, I did he next best thing: Buy 2 1-cup measuring cups.
I look at it now and laugh. It made mathematical sense. But practical sense? Not at all. But I raced back home and made dinner with my newly acquired pair of measuring cups. When the adults got home, I still got in trouble. I was berated for being so stupid as to put the measuring cup directly on the flames. And what was I thinking buying 2 of the same size?
So, my initial mistake was not forgiven, and the attempt to correct it was not only unappreciated, but ridiculed. You can see where this would foster a sense that mistakes cannot be tolerated. And that has translated to my dealing with relationships. When they come apart, I see all the mistakes I made, and I have a hard time forgiving them. The old recordings play in my head. “How could you have been so stupid? How did you not see this coming? If you hadn’t…” And so on.
But forgive is what I must do. As I have been going through all my self-exploration, I realize more and more how my inability to forgive my mistakes has manifested itself in things like how I parent my child. I stress out because not only do I see her make mistakes, but I internalize them as a failure on my part to teach her the lessons she needs to learn. So, I not only don’t forgive myself for my mistakes, but I take on responsibility for hers as well. And that added stress reflects in my relationships.
The solution is as simple as it is daunting: Forgive.
I have to come to a peace with my mistakes, and accept that I made mistakes, that I am human, and I will make more. And that it’s ok, and that making mistakes does not make me a horrible human being. It just makes me human.
One of the toughest things to do is to be truthful to yourself. And yet, it’s part of this journey I’m on. If you want to see more of the the journey, click here.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the circumstances that have led me to my current place in life. Why did I get here, how did I get here, what choices could I have made or made differently?
One theme that keeps coming up is truth. On the one hand, we have to deal with people who are not truthful with us. Well, actually, we deal with the results of them not being truthful. But we can’t change their decision to break our trust by playing with the truth. Our actions are after the fact, after the truth is mangled and the trust is damaged. We can’t change what they do, we can only change our reactions to it.
But the truth we can control is our own truth, how we perceive ourselves and how we express ourselves to the world. And this is a difficult, sometimes painful thing to do.
For me, it comes with a fair amount of pain. I have to admit to myself that I have damaged relationships with some of my choices, even if they were unintentional. I have to accept that I didn’t pay attention to give a partner what they needed. That resulted in pain for everyone and a a heartache that all must endure.
I also have to accept that having understood that, I put myself through even more pain by overcompensating for those shortcomings. By pushing a relationship further and faster, trying to make sure I didn’t leave someone behind, I went faster than the other person could or would, and created my own pain when they finally decided they didn’t want to continue.
The biggest common element in all of this is truth – my own truth. I know that I feel I am a better man when I am in a relationship – or at least I felt that way until recently. That’s because I focus on the other person to the exclusion of myself. I change to try to be what they need – and invariably, I get it wrong.
And the reason is that I am not being truthful with myself or them. By changing, I become someone else. It’s not intentional. I don’t set out to do it. Part of it is learned hyper-vigilance. I’m always watching trying to ascertain what a partner wants or needs, then morph into that.
But that’s often not who I am. And not who they were initially attracted to. So it stands to reason that their feelings change as I do. And in each effort to change who I am to satisfy them, I push them farther away.
What I am coming to realize more and more is that I need to stay true to myself. I am who I am, and if that’s what someone is looking for, great. Regardless of how attracted I am to someone, if they cannot accept who I am, right now, then it’s never going to get better.
So what are the truths I need to accept?
I Want A Partner: I need someone in my life who wants me in theirs. They have to be able to show that. And they have to be able to show that in a way that makes me feel wanted, makes me feel loved, and makes me feel safe in letting them in to my most vulnerable core. In the past, I have given this up far too easily because I want that partner in my life. And that’s a truth I need to deal with – that I have on the past thrown away, given away, my heart and my love to people who cannot return it. Who, for whatever reason, cannot give to me what I want to give them. And I have to accept the truth that I am susceptible to falling too quickly, and be vigilant and hold back until they can show me they want me in their lives.
In the past, I have ignored this truth, thinking I could out-love the person, overpower them with my love and they would come along. And that’s just wrong. I meed to accept this truth, that I need someone who wont just meet me halfway, but who will give 100% as well. To whom “we” is important. Ignoring that truth has not served me well.
I Am Physical: While the initial impression of this is that I want sex, that misses the point entirely. I need physical contact. I need someone who can reach over and rub my neck while we watch TV, without any need for a sexual connotation. Who is willing to hold hands, hug, or cuddle because they want to, and are willing to initiate it, not wait for me to take their hand, or give them the hug.
In the past, I have ignored this truth, expecting that “eventually” a partner will get more “touchy”. And when it doesn’t, I keep trying. So, I have to accept that this is who I am, what I want, and make those needs known. If they aren’t being met, I need to speak up. And if they still aren;t being met, I need to be willing to move on.
I Need To Be Wanted: Yes, this is in great measure about sexual attraction. I need to feel I am wanted, that I am sexually attractive to my partner. That they want me as much as I want them.
Where I have failed in accepting this truth is that I fall into the same hope that they will develop that desire. But when I don’t get it back, I get resentful. If I am the only one initiating intimate contact, it makes me feel like I am begging for the sexual attention. And when we do get physical, if the desire isn’t there, I get no emotional connection. It is empty, and I feel even worse.
I need to accept that I need my partner to want me, and if they can’t give me that, it isn’t going to work for either of us in the end.
I Have Baggage: We all do. And minimizing it doesn’t work. The truth to be accepted here is that I cannot change my past. I cannot undo what is done. And that my judgment in matters of my heart might just be suspect. I need to accept the baggage as part of who I am and move forward with that knowledge, not ignoring it.
I Am Imperfect: This is not to say I believe I am perfect – quite the contrary. But I have to accept this truth to allow myself the mistakes I will inevitably make, without bludgeoning myself with them. I am my own worst critic. For every person who has – in a well-meaning way – told me I am irresponsible for doing something, or a lousy parent, or any other of a variety of criticisms, I can guarantee I have already beat myself up about decisions that go sideways. My self-flagellation is an order of magnitude greater than anyone else could deliver.
I haven’t quite gotten the art of forgiving myself perfected. Or even remotely adequate for that matter. I suppose it’s why I’m so willing to forgive others, to ignore their shortcomings. Because I see my own. And since I don’t forgive myself, at least I can forgive someone else.
I Worry About Others At The Expense Of Myself: This is one of those truths that I need to really accept and improve from. I put myself at the lowest rung of priority. I work six days a week so others don’t have to. I don;t express what I really feel because I worry how it will make others feel. I bury my own needs and desires so that someone else can feel good or get what they want.
Now, to be sure, there is some good in that. But the truth is that I am willing to do it to the detriment of my own heart, my own needs. I genuinely care about others, but I need to be able to be more honest and look out for me much better than I have.
There are more truths, but what it boils down to is that I need to be honest about what I need and who I am before I can accept the truth about someone else. It’s going to be a difficult challenge, but it’s one that needs to be met.
One of the recurring themes I’ve been running into is that we need to allow for our own mistakes, to forgive ourselves for our past transgressions before we can actually move forward in our own lives. This is definitely a huge challenge for me. And a large part of that comes from regret.
There are many, many things I’ve come to regret. In terms of relationships, they range from things I did that hurt others to things I didn’t do that hurt me. As a parent I regret the time spent being angry and stressed, and I regret the times I have not been present.
I regret not believing in myself and allowing the angry words of others diminish who I am. I regret listening to the toxic opinions of others who mean well but judge from just a snapshot of reality.
I regret not being strong enough to stand up to bullies, and I regret being a bully when I couldn’t handle my own rage.
I regret not giving enough of my heart and supporting someone who loved me. And I regret giving too much of my heart to someone who could not love me.
But what is the purpose of all this regret? What does it serve to carry these weights around my neck like iron chains?
The fact is, it serves nothing if I don’t learn. I need to find the lessons in that regret. In addition, I need to learn the right lesson. I can regret not being supportive enough, not loving enough and turn that into being too supportive, too giving, letting myself get run over. And that’s exactly what I did. I overcompensated. I did not learn the real lesson, that I need to be supportive without sacrificing my own needs. That I need to open and willing to give of myself, but only as much as someone is willing to give to me.
And yet the regret is there – that I screwed up something that might have been great because I was too broken to see that she needed more from me. And the regret that I gave so much, so quickly, that I let my heart be invested in a relationship with someone who cannot give back.
I regret that I have allowed myself to get to a level of stress so intense that it ended up nearly killing me. And that I’m heading that direction again if I don’t make changes. And that I’ve let that stress affect my relationship with my daughter, blowing up at her pre-teen attitudes when she really needs support from the only person who has remained constant in her life.
And I will have more regrets. I’m human. I don’t believe we can live a life without regret. To do so would mean you are not making mistakes. And those mistakes are what we really need to learn from. The key is to learn from the mistakes that cause the regret, forgive ourselves for those mistakes, and move on.
Some days, that’s easier said than done. But I’m working on it.
In my ongoing process of trying to rebuild my soul from recent events, I have spent many hours reading about different techniques to change my own perceptions of what I need to do to effect the changes I want in my life.
Have you tried any of these? How did they work? Let me know in the comments.
If you’re looking for self-help info, the Internet is a storehouse of a few gazillion pieces of well-intentioned information. How to lose weight, how to lose a gut, how to follow your gut feelings, how to not let feelings control you, how to allow feelings to exist. It’s all out there.
So I recently loaded up my Feedly account with nearly 80 sources for informative, positive posts to see what I could glean. It’s like trying to drink from a firehose.
But one lesson that keeps coming back is that if you want to see change, you must take action. Keeping that in mind, I decided to just start. So each week, I’ll document one change I’m going to make and the last day of the week-long effort I’ll report back how it has been going.
Just one goal each week. Should be able to achieve that without a problem!
So, for the first week, I’m taking a note from an article by Sara Hohl over at Tiny Buddha. The article, “Getting Back Your Spark When Every Day Seems Hard” talks about what you can do when you seem to have lost your way in life. Especially apropos for me lately.
The first suggestion:
Acknowledge and appreciate everything that happens, even the seemingly bad.
Woof. That’s a tall order. And yet, it’s probably one that will help immensely.
The idea is that by appreciating even the things that suck, you learn to find the positive in every situation. That’s awfully tough to do when nothing seems to be positive, when in fact, everything seems to be going straight into a black hole.
But I also know that the stress level I am currently carrying has the potential to kill me. That’s not an exaggeration. In 2009, I had multiple tests on my heart because of a bout with vertigo. Every test came back clean and healthy. Yet just two and a half years later, I suffered a massive heart attack with 97% and 98% blockages in three arteries. One is ominously nick-named The Widowmaker. The only real difference in that time? Not diet, not exercise. No, My stress level.
I have always had jobs and life circumstances that have jacked up my stress. But during that time, my stress level soared. I moved, lost my apartment, had to move in with friends, got a new apartment, tried to maintain a long-distance relationship, lost a job, went unemployed for four months, and started a new job that involved much more strenuous physical activity. All while raising a then 8-year-old daughter by myself. Yup – stress was high.
Stress can cause distinct and detrimental changes to blood flow and blood clotting, and can make increase the potential of damage to arteries. Here’s a scary list of potential stress effects from the Cleveland Clinic:
Unmanaged stress, especially stress-related anger and hostility, can affect your health. It may cause:
- high blood pressure
- irregular heart rhythms
- damage to your arteries.
- higher cholesterol levels
- the development and progression of coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis)
- a weakened immune system.
That’s just what it does to your heart. And the longer the stress keeps up, the more likely a combination of these problems will manifest themselves.
I’ve already been there once. I’ve changed eating habits, exercise and tried to reduce stress levels to try to mitigate these effects. My daughter only has me. I have to stay healthy for her.
Which is why I need to try this first goal, of seeing the positive in even the really sucky things that are happening. My stress level right now is so high that it feels like emotions are seething beneath my skin, waiting for the slightest scratch to burst out. At times, I can’t think, can’t reason. My anger is on a hair trigger, waiting for any little thing to set is off. If I keep this up, I’ll be back in the hospital, or worse, on a slab.
So, I need to try this. To make it work. To try to channel the negative into a positive somehow. I’ll take it a day at a time, a week at a time, and I’ll report how things are going.
How well do you turn your negatives into positives? Got a secret trick? Let me know in the comments.
It was bound to happen.
It’s been a little over three weeks and I’ve been doing pretty good so far. The hurt, the pain is still there, but I’ve been working on the healing. I’ve had a number of insights, and uncovered a number if issues I need to work on. Seemed to be making good progress.
But it’s no surprise that eventually, I would hit a wall. Today was that day.
It wasn’t any one thing. Just a number of little stressors that just built up. Aching and exhausted from a gig yesterday. Having to ride five miles first thing in the morning because there was no room on the bus for the bike. Raining buckets when I was ready to leave work. Getting home and chores had not been done, dog had not been given any water since morning. None of these were all that big.
But they added up. Then include an honest conversation about mistakes made and possibilities wasted. It washed over me like a tsunami.
I lost it. I got home, and all the little things – the room not clean, the dishes not done, the dog’s water – and I lost it. Not immediately, mind you. It took a minute or two. And it took me trying to explain to my daughter where I was in my head.
You see, of late I have been very quick to anger. Hair trigger. And I know why. But she was likely clueless. All she saw was a dad whose face was getting red, was raising his voice, who never seemed happy. And she would be right – I haven’t been happy. I can’t find happiness right now. I’m trying, really, really hard, but I can’t.
So, in all my grand wisdom, I decided that telling her why I was angry and stressed and sour was the right thing to do, so at least she’d have an explanation. Maybe she’d get it.
But the hurt was also bringing out hard truths. Truths that maybe I shouldn’t share. But I couldn’t hold back any longer. I tried to explain to her how her behaviors, her lack of following directions, her choices to do what she wants rather than the right thing, all her choices affect everyone around her, including me. But I could see within seconds that this was going nowhere. We’ve had that discussion before. She just rolled her eyes.
That was it. That was the breaking point for me. That was where I lost composure, and told her a hard, hard truth: That her behavior had been a significant element in my last two relationships failing.
I know, there are plenty of you reading this who just gasped. You’re already judging how awful I am to put that on an 11-year-old. I can assure you, no more than me. But I felt she needed to know, and I am hurting, deeply. When you are told that yes, there might have been a chance to save a relationship, but that your daughter’s behavior was so impactful that it created an insurmountable hurdle, it hurts. Yes my daughter is just a kid. But at some point, she needs to understand the impact of her behavior.
And to understand that adults make their choices. They choose whether the behavior of a child is hurtful to them. But that her behavior is also a reflection on me. And that when two consecutive relationships, the only ones in six years, both have that element as a large reason for their crumbling, that it reflects on me. That her behavior is a reflection of me as a parent, and that I must be seriously screwing up and that this is my reward.
No, it wasn’t fair. But I’m not in a fair state of mind. Hell, I’m typing this to keep from just curling into a corner as a sobbing mess. I’m going to turn 50 in less than six weeks, and I have no one close to turn to. I have no back-up, no shoulder to lean on. I just have these waves of pain and emotion crashing over me and I’m doing all I can to get a breath in between.
And I dumped a big part of that on my 11-year-old. How fucked up is that?
Yes, I will apologize, but right now, I can’t. I can’t see straight. Emotionally, I am destroyed. Torn apart. I couldn’t get a word out without breaking down. I can’t get a word on the screen without breaking down.
And it just keeps coming. Every time I think I’ve got things settled down, another wave of pain, regret, sorrow for what I’ve fucked up washes over me again.
I’ll be alright. And I’ll fix this and I’ll move on. But right now, I just want it all to stop.