Tag Archives: fear

It’s official, the appointment has been made.

I researched a ton of fertility clinics. There’s one out in Massachusetts that I may go to for a second opinion. He’s the one the pioneered vasectomy reversals and other surgical options. That said, I’ve made the appointment with a more local clinic that offers many surgical options for males that have had a vasectomy more than 15 years ago. For the record, after 15 years, there’s a 2% chance of the reversal working and it can apparently take up to a year to have any positive results. As fun as that sounds between the sheets, making a baby is the focus. So, this place can do more… invasive techniques. The cost for such a process is staggering, but they have a 98% success rate, so I’m guessing it will be money well spent.

If that doesn’t work out, option two is donor sperm. A lot of guys seem to have an issue with the idea. I don’t. I don’t need a biological link to love a child. 

Option 3, adoption. My wife would want a baby. I’m more leaning toward a slightly older child because they need homes too and we still have many formative years left to work with. We’ll discuss that option further. I’m not digging my heels in on my stance, but want to be fair to kids that may have a harder time getting adopted. 

Because I’m terrified of being a father, but not much beyond what’s normal, I’ve find a therapist to work with to go through some of my childhood issues and get some direction on some things. I literally have no good frame of reference as to what a healthy family looks like from day to day. This therapist can do sessions via Skype and insurance will cover it, so I can see her on a regular basis regardless of my brutal work travel schedule. 

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5:30 A.M.

Long post ahead – feel free to skip.

So, here it is, 5:30 A.M. in a random hotel room in Pittsburgh. In spite of me taking enough Klonopin to knock over a small horse to get to sleep last night, I’ve been laying awake for about 45 minutes now. I’d ask my doctor for Ambien, but I used to do strange things on Ambien. For example, I’d get up and write really dark stuff, then leave it up on the computer to be found. I’d have full conversations with my ex girlfriend, and later my wife after we married. I was totally honest while on it. If there is such a thing as truth serum, that’s it. I was also completely uninhibited. I finally stopped taking it after I got up in the middle of the night, drive 5 miles to the nearby 24 hour grocery store and purchased 10 frozen pizzas, drove home, placed them on the counter and went back to sleep. The fun part about Ambien for me? I’d not remember anything from about two hours before going to sleep or anything that I’d do while on it. So.. No Ambien for me. Lunesta kind of works, but I get dry mouth from hell. It leaves me with insatiable thirst throughout the day. Trazadone kind of helps, but I feel like my heavy drinking days the next morning that I’d experience in my 20’s.

What’s on my mind at this hour? Aside from planning out my work day and all of the stuff I need to somehow get done, I’m thinking about my wife and I having a child or children. I had a vasectomy at 22, so a reversal at this point is unlikely to be successful. Surgically though, they can extract sperm, I can take a few days off from work afterward and sit with frozen bags of peas on my nether regions to keep swelling down and to dull the pain. A vasectomy is a pretty simple procedure. Extraction of sperm is far more involved.

Here’s the thing.. I have health problems. Some of which are definitely genetic. My wife also has some genetic health problems. It stands to reason that if we were to have a child that some of that would be passed down. I also have the carrier gene for hemochromatosis, which isn’t something I’d want to pass on. My main concern would be though, that my wife and I both suffer from horrible depression. On one hand, we get it, so there’s no fights about it. On the other hand, it’d be terribly selfish to risk having a child that might get whatever chemical imbalance we have, mainly mine. Since bipolar is chemical in nature, it’s kind of unavoidable if it’s passed on. We’ve gone round and round about all this and still do at times.

I’d be totally fine with adoption. I have no preference of race or gender. The child wouldn’t necessarily have to be a newborn, either. I’m not one of those guys who wants a kid to be his own genetic lineage. If we were to have a child, regardless of natural birth or adoption my wife would likely stop working to take care of the child until they reach school age, then likely return to work part time. We can afford to live off from my income, so it’s a viable option. My fear is that I’d be the father that’s not there with all of the work travel. Also, both of us grew up in abusive or neglectful homes, so we don’t know how parenting should work. We’d be winging it.

Decisions, decisions..I think I’ll bring up the topic this weekend. She made a passing comment that having a child is on her mind constantly of late last week. It’s something we should talk about. If we decide to go the route of trying to have our own, I’ll have to make an appointment with a surgeon and a fertility doctor as it’d be in vitro.

I’ve been in a real bad place lately. That’s part of why I’ve not been posting. I can’t seem to find the words. My psychiatrist and I are changing up my medications again in an attempt to find something that works. At this moment, tonight, it’s not working. Time to knock myself out with my nightly chemical cocktail. May tomorrow be a better day.

I woke this morning feeling somewhat ok.. Numb, actually. At least I got some sleep, so there is that. The numbness wore off a couple of hours after arriving at the client site that I was at today. It was difficult to get through the day, feeling on the edge of tears. I mastered hiding how I feel inside when I was a child. Growing up an abusive household where showing any emotion was a sign of weakness teaches you to hide instinctively. It’s something that’s not changed in the 20 years since no longer living with my mother and stepfather.

As I sit here and try to articulate what I’m feeling and what’s going on under this calm and collected exterior, I’m so overwhelmed with so many emotions that I can’t even begin to wrap words around them that would do them any justice. The closest I can come is intense mourning. I mourn for the loss of myself; the very core of my being. I see my essence bleeding out and am helpless to do anything about it. I feel intense guilt and shame. I feel so ashamed that in spite of my own best efforts as well as the time, support and genuine caring of those closest to me that I’m falling again. I know that it’s biology that’s making me feel this. I know that objectively, I’ve done nothing wrong, yet I feel guilt.. Guilt for failing myself somehow; guilt for failing those that care for me. I know it’s irrational, but feelings rarely are attached to rationale. I feel both pity and anger for my ending up in this place again.

How much longer will this go on? Not just this moment, but this cycle? When is the line crossed that living becomes nothing more than existing and existing turns into cruel suffering? Being trapped in a body that will likely live for decades to come, long after whatever parts of me that once were here have long gone? This isn’t just painful to me, but painful for my loved ones as well. Those that care about me likely won’t pick up on the subtleties of my demeanor. I’ll still laugh reflexively with everyone else. I’ll still be social when absolutely necessary. I’ll play the part as I always have. Why? Because I don’t want to explain that there’s no reason. I don’t want to listen to someone who’s never been here say something infuriating like “what do you have to be depressed about?” I don’t want to have them get frustrated when I don’t get better and leave like so many have in the past. Knowing that this cycle will continue to repeat itself is terrifying. There are so many illnesses that are terminal, which the end may be incredibly painful, but at least there’s an end to it. This is horrifically painful, it’s not obvious to the naked eye. I don’t fear death – I fear this cycle continuing…

I know this entry sounds rather desperate. In many ways it is. I’m in no danger of harming myself or anything. I’m just stating how I feel. I’ll endure. I’ll go check in somewhere if need be. I’ve lost someone whom I loved dearly to suicide. I’ll certainly not put anyone through that kind of pain.

I’ve a ton of work to do this weekend. One of the things I’ll be working on is that huge project I mentioned in a post not too long ago. I’ll be doing a proof of concept which will hopefully only take 10-12 hours to complete, then present it on Tuesday. That will at least provide some time of a mental escape, provided I can focus. I know the client will go for it, so that should be something to keep me tethered to home as opposed to traveling so much. That will likely help to not feel so…alone? Isolated? I know my wife will be happy that I’m home again for awhile. I’m worried about her happiness as well. She’s having a real tough time right now with a couple of things, but I’ll not write about them. I respect her privacy. Anyway… I guess that’s about it for now.

The search for home

I grew up in an extremely abusive home. I’d get into details, but it would serve no purpose other than to give context. The short version is that there was physical abuse, rather severe in my earlier years, constant verbal and emotional abuse, and when that didn’t seem enough, there was neglect. Malnutrition level of neglect, not for lack of food, but as a method of control. I was 6’1″ and weighed 140lb. That last part lasted consistently for 3 years.

We lived on farm land which hadn’t been actually farmed for a number of years. The fields had overgrown with grass, weeds and saplings when I was little. There were also about 18 acres of woods, which I’d go hide in when things got real bad at home. When I was a teenager I started staying out as much as possible. I was perpetually forbidden to go anywhere, but if you’re going to suffer the same level of punishment for some other failure or imaginary slight, you say ‘screw it, I’m out of here’ as often as possible. The few friends I had in school were also in abusive situations at home, so staying at their places couple expose you to some level of the same type of situation. Basically, the only downtime was in the woods.

It was made very clear that I was a mistake and that I wasn’t welcome rather frequently. My stepfather would suggest rather frequently that everyone would be better off if I were dead. Home, never felt like home at all.

I left home when I was 17. I had started working under the table at a local roofing company and found a lady who was at the time renting out rooms in her house for $150/month and was willing to let me stay there. I didn’t tell her any of the situation at home, but I didn’t need to, either. If you’ve been abused for any amount of time, you can see it in others rather easily. It’s unspoken. If they haven’t started to repeat the cycle themselves, they know the rules of how to treat each other – the things not to say, provided they have any sense of empathy after such a thing. Anyway, we saw it on each other and never spoke of it other than a passing mention without any details. I was living there, but still felt very much like an outsider. There was the guy whom had just gotten out of prison in the other room that was rented out that had a rather extensive knife and porn collection. We didn’t talk.

When I was able, I got my own apartment, got married to the girl I had dated all through high school and had a home, at least in the technical definition of what a home was. Still, I felt pretty out of place. The PTSD has really set in by that point as well. Who would have figured – I didn’t know how to not live in constant conflict. Calm actually freaked me the hell out. I didn’t create drama, but rather became very anxious all the time and paranoid, just waiting for something to happen. I saw potential everywhere for everything to come apart at the seems. It’s exhausting living like that. It was exhausting for my new wife, too. She demanded to know exactly how long it would be before I’d be ok – specifically, how many therapy sessions and how much medication it would take. We’d be divorced almost two years to the day of when we got married.

After the divorce I moved around a lot. Usually as each lease came up at each apartment, I’d move to another community. Not being the most social person, it was usually chosen based on location and cost. I always wanted to be near woods and water, if possible. In a lot of ways, I felt like a nomad. I guess I was in some sense. Either way, I never had that feeling of getting home from work or somewhere and feeling like the place I walked into was mine, if that makes any sense. It’s not about ownership, but rather about belonging; hell, maybe even deserving of having a home. Likely the latter, but I’ve not reflected on that possibility much.

So what is home, anyway? Aside from the technical definition, what is the feeling of home? Is it a sense of belonging? Is it a feeling of having your own space? Is it a sense of safety? Is it all of those things? When I was in my early 20’s I moved out to Seattle for a year. It felt like home – a lot of forest and water around.. Stunning landscapes.. Mountains. Loved it. The job there fell through, so I was back in the midwest and not too happy about it. A few years later, I moved to Boston and spent up until late 2013 there. I got remarried and I finally felt at home again, at least for the most part.

Each place I’ve lived have had some combination of the criteria for what constitutes home for me. Seattle had shelter, safety and my preferred surroundings. It didn’t have security, though. The company I worked for made it difficult to pay bills since you received your pay sometimes weeks late, and even then, you had to hold your breath until it cleared. It was never for as much as you were owed, either. So, with nobody around that I and my girlfriend at the time knew that could help if things fell apart completely, we were both on edge at all times and fought about money. Boston had pretty much everything, but things happened and we relocated back to my ‘home’ here in the midwest. I felt so out of place when moving here. I was around family and old friends and felt so like I didn’t belong. I still feel that with most.

My definition of home has changed, though. I’ve always been looking for something I couldn’t put my finger on, but I knew was missing. Then it hit me – I wasn’t looking for a specific place, or even the needs beyond shelter and relative safety in the place where I lived, it was a sense of safety. A sense of being welcome and wanted, which to some degree can be taken as being codependent, which it very well may be, but it’s not severe. I don’t need someone else to dictate how I feel. Psychologists will say that others can’t make you feel anything. As philosophically correct as that is, have someone berate and beat you regularly and see if you don’t feel something as result of someone else after awhile.

So, now, I’m starting to feel that sense of ‘home.’ Given where I live though, I am getting the nightmares back about things that happened as well as things that a psychoanalyst would likely have a heyday with interpreting. I have the sense of ‘home’ in my waking hours, at least. My nightmares pretty much all center around being helpless to protect myself, or my wife, or both. They’ve been so visceral lately.. They’ve not been that bad in over 15 years. I’ve always taken some comfort in renting because I could always just say ‘fuck it’ and move elsewhere, but now we’re looking at setting roots here.

So, now I feel like I’m actually ‘home,’ by my own definition, and I think it’s scaring the bejesus out of me.

May 20, 2013 – Thoughts

For the last while I’ve been struggling to find words for what’s been going through my mind… I’ve a very dear friend who’s been struggling a lot of late, and though my contact with them has been minimal, I’ve mostly been trying to figure out how best to help them. From what I’ve learned about trying to help people is to listen – listen far more than you talk. To truly help, you need to be able to join them in that dark place. Not as an outsider who’s observing and waiting to catch them falling, but to free-fall with them and not know where the bottom is.. To not even be certain anymore that there is a bottom. That’s what it’s like when you fall into these dark places.. When you think it can’t get any worse, it can. I know every time I’ve hit that threshold with my own struggles – what I believed to be the worst of it, I’ve been proven wrong every single time. Not to sound bleak – it can get better. I’m still alive and enjoy nearly every day now and appreciate being here even on the bad days now. It wasn’t always so, though. My friend is in that dark place, struggling to come to grips with the reality that there may be hope – that it’s not to late to stagger back to their feet and get back into the fight. Hollywood does such an injustice to those that struggle deeply.. A movie or documentary at longest will summarize what put a person in that dark place, examine it for literally a few minutes, then spend at least a few minutes at the end tidying up progress in some way. That’s not all programs or movies – just the vast majority. I do know the place that my friend is in, though. I know the years upon years of feeling the way they do right now.

I feel so guilty and selfish for the hell I put him through for several months last year. He was in the same place, but still had the energy to keep picking himself up time and again. I was in such a bad place then. Our exchanges via email were long enough to be put into a novel – truly, a novel’s worth. I was arguing my position – my place with it. I wanted to end things, and he argued against it. It wasn’t the hollow arguments that most people give when pleading with someone to not do something. His arguments were thoughtful and realistic. They were personal. I know I drained so much energy from him for those few months.. I recognize the pattern that he’s in right now, and there’s no amount of reasoning that’s going to pull him out of that place. So, instead of trying to drag him to his feet, I’ll sit down next to him and keep him company until he asks for help standing up again. We can do damage control later.

I know when I was at my worst, I was pressing for him to say it was okay to give up. I wanted validation that the fight had been fought with every fiber of my being and that continuing was cruelty. I wanted it to somehow be okay with at least one other person – for someone to truly accept my decision and to give me permission. My God, the stellar attempts on his part literally kept blood in my veins for months.. At my lowest point though, I’d not hear it anymore. I won’t get into the details of exactly how things went here at home, but I didn’t say exactly what was about to happen when I went for the door, but my wife knew me well enough to grab my arm and try to keep me there. I’m physically much larger and stronger than her. Her trying to physcially force me to do anything is more of a gesture. She sobbed and begged me to stay. I had been cold and rigid to that point. For a split second, I put myself in her shoes, not being able to physically stop the person I love from leaving to die by their own free will. I asked myself if I’d be able to live with that. I walked back in a few steps and sat down on the floor. I lost it.. It takes so much to work yourself up the point where you can actually go through with it. Emotions are so charged up, but lay just under the surface. You need to remain calm enough to actually go through with the physical process – whatever that may be. To override instinct and go through with the act takes true commitment and resolve. Emotionally you’re like a volcano just waiting to explode from under the surface of the frozen mountaintop. So, there I sat on the floor with all of that charge and nowhere for it to go. It’s been at least 15 years since I’ve sobbed like that. Not shedding a few tears, or crying, or weeping – sobbing. I still feel so guilty for the things I said to my wife during the couple of hours that followed. I put myself in her shoes now and imagine what it would be like for her to say that she wants to die. Not in a cry for help sort of way, but to say it with true conviction. Then to say it’s pointless, that she loves me dearly and doesn’t want to hurt me, but she needs to end her own suffering. Then I imagine what it would be like for her to ask me to let her go… Then for her to ask me to forgive her for what she’s about to do. . . I imagine this and it shakes me pretty badly inside – to truly imagine her saying any of those things. She doesn’t have to imagine though. My friend doesn’t have to imagine either. I put them through that. For the last few weeks I’ve been hearing these arguments more and more from my friend. I do understand that place that he’s in. I know it well. It’s like revisiting an old apartment.

Tonight I saw something that really shook me. I didn’t expect it, nor did I see it coming. I’m largely unaffected by the things I see and hear, but this was something in a television series I was watching on Netflix. For anyone familiar with psychology, this was a trauma-related trigger. For many years, my triggers have been entirely physical, and very specific at that. I need to find balance. My friend needs me right now, and I’m not going to bail on him. I am drained right now, mostly from that given that it brings up so much of my own things. I need to keep myself a little more guarded for awhile. I’m also going to do something nice for my wife – something to honor her. I need to thank her. In spite of her own struggle which was tremendous at that time, she joined me in my horrible place. I was so blinded by my own bullshit that I didn’t even see how badly she was suffering. I owe her an apology for that. I’m not apologizing for my being the way that I was. Even as self-critical as I am at times, I don’t see where I was as being avoidable.

I know there’s a whole set of words that psychologists and therapists tell someone not to use, but I find it to only be useful to an extent. Yes, certain words aren’t exactly empowering, but to omit them is to omit the truth sometimes. I’ve been broken and weak at times. Some of those times I had no one to help, and other times I’ve had amazing people in my life to help me back up. I’m left wondering tonight if we aren’t all somewhat bruised or broken and that we can’t wait until we feel strong enough sometimes to help each other out. If you happen to be reading this and want to parrot the whole “you can’t help someone else before you help yourself” speech, save it. I did put on my oxygen mask first, just not very well, apparently. It’s so fucking hard to reach out when you’re in the thick of it, I’m not going to stomp on his fingers telling him to seek help elsewhere. I’ve had that happen – I didn’t reach out after that. I just need to find some balance. And rest.

Sorry for the infrequent updates/entries. My health has been stable, but I’ve been so incredibly tired lately. I can’t believe how much I’ve been sleeping. I’ve terrible pain that started tonight around my kidneys and liver. It’s sharp pain. If it gets any worse tonight or is still as bad as it is right now I’ll go to the ER. One of these days I’ll need to take a couple of actual vacation days from work that don’t involve staying in the hospital. On that note – it’s time to get some sleep.

…Sometimes it’s harder to accept that it’s going to be alright..

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Just because someone has physically removed themselves from an abusive situation doesn’t mean that everything is automatically better. I’m 17 years older than when I moved out and some days the feeling of safety and knowing that things are going to be ok are terrifying. That’s often hard for people to understand. It feels safer to stay in that guarded place than to let go. The fear of things somehow going back to the way they were from a better place causes a visceral terror. This is why it’s hard for some to let go and move on. I know it’s going to be ok. And it scares the hell out of me. Some days, that is. It takes time.