Tag Archives: memories

Not coping so well today. I did well at adult stuff – I bought a leaf blower and did yard work. Since this is our first home, this is a new thing. My wife is home, but working on her college project due at midnight, which means I have to leave her be.

Since I’ve not been coping well of late, mainly because of the loneliness of work travel, I’ve managed to find a therapist who’s local that can also do sessions via Skype and insurance will pay for it. I’d of went with her anyway because she seems to be a good fit for me, but that’s a bonus. I’m going to try to meet her for the first time this Thursday as my scheduled appointment out of state cancelled. Otherwise, I see her in a couple of weeks when I’m back in town.

What I need to work with her on is how to cope with the crushing loneliness of travel. I’m someone who needs physical contact. Not so much sexual contact; I can wait until it’s possible for my wife and I to be together in that way. It’s the other aspects. Basically touch and holding/being held. I’ve gone so far as to look into professional cuddlers and checked the areas that I frequent. It’s a possibility, but if I were to guess my wife wouldn’t want my to have anything to do with that, so I’m going to trust my instincts and not hire someone, even though it’s completely non-sexual.

The other thing I need to work on is that we’ve decided to start down the path of having a child. Since I had a vasectomy 18 years ago, the chances of a reversal being successful is a whopping 2%. Since those odds seem pointless, I’ve found a fertility clinic that has other surgical options to extract sperm and do in vitro, or freeze the extracted sperm if time is needed between extraction and fertilization.

So, why therapy over this? I grew up in a horribly abusive home. I literally don’t know how to interact with children. I’m the guy that if you hand a toddler, I hold it at arms length in utter terror. I really, truly, honestly don’t know what to do other that generically “don’t hurt it.” The vasectomy at 22 was because my depressive episodes were so severe that I was certain I’d not make it to 30. I also liked sex. Well, I still do, but that’s beside the point. Either way, I didn’t want to father a child and be the dad who killed himself or was too emotionally absent dealing with their own shit. So.. Yeah. I want to do this. I need guidance.

Lastly I need to talk to someone about the crushing depression that seems to be setting in. I’m not going to harm myself, but the thought of doing so is there every waking moment of every day and the urge is strong beyond words.

Anyway.. I guess that’s all I’ve got. I’ve drank a lot this weekend. Fill a large coffee mug with a couple of types of liquor and no ice, and you have one of my drinks. I’ve had two of those this weekend, and a shot of Diserono this morning with brunch.

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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.

April 14, 2013 PM – Exhausted

Exhausted, but in a mostly good way, that is.

Out of respect for her privacy (if I’m ever outed here), I won’t say anything specific other than my wife is struggling with some things right now unrelated to us or me. She confided in me the other morning, long before sunrise about it. This is rare – she has a tremendous amount of difficulty with talking about it. It’s hard seeing her going though this, but it’s one of those necessary things. I’ve been there. It sucks on many, many levels.

We’ll be relocating this year, as I’ve mentioned in a previous entry. She’s lived in this part of the country for the entirety of her life. In fact, she’s lived in about a 30 mile radius of her home town her entire life, so she’s wanting to stretch her legs for a number of reasons. I’ve moved across the country three times. Once from Michigan to Seattle, Seattle back to Michigan and then Michigan to Massachusetts. This will be move number four for me – back to Michigan.

My wife and I spoke about the more mundane and practical parts of the move this weekend. What we’re taking, what we’re selling and what we’re giving away. We also have tried to figure out how we’re going to manage getting two cars, two cats and an elderly dog to travel well for 14-16 hours. Chances are the pets will be with me and I’ll not stop along the way other than briefly for gas and food. Anyway… Details are still being hashed out.

Moving across the country or over a great distance is hard. You don’t expect to miss an area that much when you go, and once you do it’s not exactly practical to go back for a quick visit. Everything and everyone you’ve known are back in that one place (if you’ve not moved around a lot outside of a small area). The isolation really hits you. I’ve considered myself to be an introvert, but I’m really not. If anything I’m just more inclined to keep to myself for other reasons. My wife is the same way. Neither of us are the lively life of the party types. Far from it, really. I have a lot of friends and family back in Michigan. My wife is happy with being part of my family, dysfunction (tremendous dysfunction) aside. When I mentioned that she’ll likely feel very alone, she said that she’d be fine – she really likes my father and the rest of the family that we’ll see on a somewhat regular basis. I just know that the first 6-8 months in a new place is the difficult adjustment period. It takes that long to really know the roads and places you like, to meet some new people and maybe be part of a larger circle of friends – that sort of thing. The move to Seattle and back was difficult, but was overall ok. I did have a crippling depression while there though when the company I had moved there to work for had fallen apart and I was many weeks behind in pay (which I never saw). I had to call my father for help in moving back across the country. There wasn’t any other work to be found there at the time and all of my money had been used up. I lost everything – literally everything except for my car and some clothes. Moving here though 7 years ago was harder. I had become closer to my family and friends since moving back from Seattle. I wanted to move though. I’d even say that I needed to. My wife describes her desire to move as more of a need than a want. I get that – I really do, given my understanding of what she’s looking for.

My wife is the sentimental type. If I give her a sweet hand-written card she’ll often well up with tears and give me a nice hug. I always give my wife hand-written cards. The messages in regular cards are too impersonal and just signing my name under someone else’s words feels insincere to me. Anyway, I wanted her to be able to take something real and tangible from here – from her home that she’s always known for when that inevitable homesickness sets in. I had read something about a terrarium a few days ago and it seemed like a good idea, so yesterday I went out early before she was up and gathered most of the things necessary to make one. I gathered stones from one of her favorite beaches here and today we bought local-grown plants for it. She must have liked the idea for it. She picked up a second glass enclosure today for her other plants here that she wants to take with her. She cried this morning after a long pause as we talked about moving. She said she wanted me to take a portrait of her, her mother, her grandmother and niece all together (I’m a decent photographer) before we move. Her grandmother is quite old and her health is questionable. She said that when we move and she says her goodbyes to her family that it will likely be the last time she sees her grandmother alive before we’d be able to visit next. This made me tear up as well. I was with my grandmother at her bedside when she died. I was the only family member there with her even though she protested. I still miss her a lot and I’m still glad I was there with her even though at the time it was excruciating.

I want to do something more than just give her a photograph of her together with them though. Her grandmother doesn’t speak any English and I don’t speak Portuguese, so there’s more than a little barrier there. Her grandmother is also unable to read or write. My father has been telling me parts of the story of his own life. It’s odd, the things you miss or simply aren’t aware of about your parents when you’re growing up. So many things I simply had no idea of. The pictures we often paint of our parents and loved ones tend to cast the light upon them that we choose to see. There are many sides to our loved ones just as there are with us. We don’t show our parents certain sides or tell them certain things just as they don’t tell us things. My father and I have broken down that wall. Last fall when I was hospitalized I couldn’t deny things anymore and I certainly didn’t want to hide any longer. So, we’ve reintroduced ourselves and gotten to know each other, rather than holding onto the ideas we have of each other. I’m glad to know these stories now and I’ll hold onto them when he’s gone someday. It’s not a day I’m hardly ready for, but I don’t think anyone is if they’re close to their parents. Anyway, I want my wife to have these stories of her grandmother’s life. I’m thinking of taking my laptop and a decent microphone with me to see her and have her tell me the story of her life – in her words, in her voice. If it takes a couple of hours or several visits, I want to have that for her. It will help me to know the story of her family, too.

It’s an odd thing to me.. I remember walking through Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston to take photos a few years ago and there were small headstones and large mausoleums there. Some of the headstones were more like monuments to certain people speaking of their greatness, where as others simply had a name and their birth and death years. Sure, there were great people with prominence or notoriety, but there are so many people that you’ll not hear of past their own death. The only people that would care of their story are those whom were touched by them in some meaningful way. Most people mean something significant to someone, but beyond a couple of generations are people remembered or known for who they were? A couple of paragraphs on a monument or large headstone are the summary – a highlight reel of a more complex life and a far more complex person. So to me, having someone tell their story in their own words and choosing what they deem to be important to tell is a gift for them and their loved ones. If I do this for my wife’s grandmother I won’t have the pleasure of knowing what she’s saying. Sure, my mother in law will be there and could translate, but I don’t want that to interrupt or overshadow her simply being able to speak freely at her own pace. Aside from that… I don’t know what else to do.. There’s all this stuff about people living on in your hearts or dreams, which is true to some degree, but I wish I had more than a photograph of my grandmother or a photograph of my best friend who died many years ago. I don’t even remember my friends voice anymore. I remember details of her accent, but the tone of her voice is gone from my memory. Her laughs, her cries, her giggling, the way she’d say “I love you.” That’s all gone. The emails are all gone too. All that’s left is that photo of her.. The same of my grandmother, too.

It was chilly here today. We drive to Newport, RI this morning, which is only a few miles south of where we live. We drove down the streets looking at the shops, then stopped at Starbucks for something to drink. We drove past the mansions and down Ocean Drive, part of which is still closed for repairs from hurricane Sandy. We sat and talked a little and just took in that ocean air smell. If only we could bottle that and take it with us. My memory is so dodgy at times.. That’s part of why I love photos. If I take that photo, at a mere glance I can recall with great detail and accuracy the things surrounding that photo. I can recall the day, the time it was taken, what the weather was like, other events from the day, how I was feeling and what was going on in my life. My photos are my mental diary and my memory is somewhat bound to them. Each photo means something to me. Some may look and see a photo they love for aesthetic reasons, or some might actually feel something looking at my work, but I feel it for a whole other reason. For me it’s a documentary thing. I’m chronicling what I see. I tend to see beauty in the everyday – the often overlooked mundane. Much like I see people that are passed by or are greatly unnoticed. I see everyday hero’s, not just those in medicine or public service, but the kind barber who always brightens people’s day. My barber is from Syria and he’s one of the most kind and friendly people I’ve ever met. I ask him about his family every time I see him and he really appreciated that I remember and ask. He’s someone I want a portrait of before we move. With any luck I’ll get his email address – I care to maintain contact. He’s such an interesting person and has stories to tell of a part of the world that I’ll likely never see.

I don’t fully understand my need – not desire – my need, to photograph and document things. I do share some of it with the world. I’ve had photos published and it’s always a wild feeling when that happens. I’ve never sought publication. The times that I’ve been published it’s been from my portfolio online or blog entries from a blog I’ve not maintained in years. It’s odd when something I’ve written gets picked up as well. Apparently some things resonate with people.

I’m rambling now… Sorry about that. Thoughts are all over the place tonight. I’m feeling pretty good, but I can’t concentrate. I need to get some sleep. I need to be up in 5 hours for work.

March 15, 2013 – Old photos

I don’t have many photos of me growing up, but there are a few. I seem to be smiling in a lot of them, and I even vaguely remember some of them being taken. I’m having good memories today, so I thought I’d share one. When my brothers and I were growing up we lived out in the country and had 20 acres, mostly wooded. Our neighbors weren’t all that close to us, so we were pretty well isolated from everyone else. My bothers and I were typical country kids. We loved spending time in the woods, riding ATV’s, shooting guns, fishing, campfires, looking at the stars and playing with any number of farm animals, dogs and wild cats that we had on our property. I remember that I used to put on my father’s boots and walk around outside when there was snow on the ground or when it was muddy from heavy rain. I loved the farm animals. I don’t remember this photo being taken, but I do remember playing with the chicks when they were very young as well as the new kittens when they were born. I do have some fond memories here and there, I just have to dig to get to them sometimes. 🙂

me as a kid

February 11, 2013 – Randomness

Last week a friend of mine called me when she was very upset. We haven’t seen each other for over three years, though we only live about an hour apart. I was taken a little off guard when she said she had forgotten what my voice sounded like. I still remembered hers. In fact, her accent has changed slightly. She asked for a male perspective on some things, which I gave her, but with the disclaimer that I’m far from a typical man. Either way, we spoke for a little over two hours, I gave my opinions and the call ended well. There is one voice I don’t remember, but skimming my memory, Dee’s voice is the only one I don’t remember. I can barely remember her accent.. She had grown up here in the US and moved to the UK sometime in her late teens to marry a lawyer that was a little older than her. While in… I can’t even remember what part she was in now. Either way, she had picked up some of the local accent which always got to me. I remember that it was a mix of a mild southern drawl and a British accent. I can remember that, but not the actual sound or tone of her voice. It’s strange how memory works. I have large holes in my memory. In some cases, entire years are missing, or are a vague blending of fragmented memories from years spanning over the course of a decade with no real timeline. They just.. Are. It’s hard to recount things is any order. My mind certainly doesn’t store things in order. A few weeks ago I found my only picture of Dee. A small square picture that’s all of about 2″x2″. I had lost that photo a long time ago, or so I thought. I felt so guilty about having lost it. There’s the only thing I had left that was physical or tangible to remember her by at this point. I had beat myself up so many times for having lost track of it. I couldn’t remember what she looked like. How can you forget someone whom you loved so much? I’ve heard many things relating to loss and death.. Most of which to offer comfort in some way. Time heals all wounds, or that she’s still out there looking over me – that sort of thing. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, I can assure you that at least for me, it doesn’t. Time allows you to get past the visceral pain and reaction and basically learn to live with it. At best, my soul has horrific scars. As far as her still being out there.. There were times when I literally felt what I believed to be her presence in the years following her death. I don’t know if there was anything beyond wishful thinking than that. Whatever it was, it was a comfort to feel that at the time, so I’ll leave it at that. Memory has always been a battle for me though. Even when I’ve tried so hard to remember even the most basic of things from day to day I struggle. It’s more than mild absentmindedness. I’ve worked out a system of notes and such to get me through the workday, and it rarely ever fails me. Though she thinks it’s ridiculous to do so, I’ve asked my wife to write down a list of things she wants or needs me to take care of on the notepad in the kitchen. It may be ridiculous, but since she started doing this regularly we’ve had no more arguments about what I should or shouldn’t have done. When it comes to big things though, how much of our memory is wrapped up in emotion and not details? Studies have shown that even traumatic memories aren’t consistent over time. In general, what’s remembered isn’t reliable at all. When I look at the past, I’m at a loss as to how much of what I remember is accurate at all as far as details. I had a therapist once that told me that the details aren’t all that important, what’s important is what I’m left with and am dealing with now as result. To some degree I see the logic in that, but I think whether something happened or not does bear some importance. It is odd though, living with so many large gaps. There’s so much unknown. It’s strange living while having little to no past, really. At least in my mind I don’t. At times I feel like a fraud, like I’m living a lie of some sort. As if I’m occupying a body and playing along in a role in a life that is foreign to me. I have been diagnosed more than once as being mildly dissociative in relation to my youth, but to my knowledge, it was never explored much. That would explain the gaps in memory, but what does that make me? A host? An alter? These things don’t keep me up at night, but they do cross my mind now and again. One could argue that we aren’t the mere sum of our past experiences. I would argue that I know who I am, but I don’t know much about where I’m coming from, but what little I do know, it’s not from a pleasant place. I’m here, and I’m good with who I am – I like me, a lot. I just don’t know how the hell I got here sometimes.

So many random thoughts today… I can’t seem to focus. I’m completely exhausted. The blizzard left somewhere between a foot and two feet of snow here. The power was out for a good portion of the blizzard and my wife was mandated to stay on at the hospital on her floor. She wasn’t happy about not being allowed to come home, but she was better off there – at least they had heat. I spent most of the time in the car while it was idling to stay warm. Luckily I had a number of friends who helped me pass the time by texting.