Day 0 = “I HOPE THIS IS THE LAST TIME I HAVE TO HAVE THIS FIRST CONVERSATION WITH SOMEONE (DOCTOR, DIETITIAN, PSYCHOLOGIST, COUNSELLOR…)”
I have been writing every day, for one year. The chronicles are lengthy and deep, laugh-inspiring and dangerous, loving and deadly, long-winded and diminutive. 365 steps in the direction of recovery, that’s what that means. But perhaps not.
Yesterday, my wife had a risky yet eye-opening foray into job-people-asshole-relationships. This foray showed us that her next steps require some sort of job search, career path. I am on board; ultimately, I want her happiness, for her to be grateful and appreciative, above all else. I love her and we will make it work. Luckily it was just a warning shot though, a burnt orange instead of a bright red, one that will allow us to take the next steps – while tenuously – on our own terms. Given how things have been articulated here, recovering herself would be a way to frame this.
As for me, I am currently stepping into a new form of self-reality (I know that self-actualization is a more proper term, but the douche factor requires a less-accurate synonym), stepping into a new understanding of myself. I started writing because we understood its value as a recovery tool for me, because we were looking for experts on me when we were the only two true ones. As a result, we know many more of my triggers, warning signals, agitators and alienators than we did one year ago. We also know that when stress gets away from me and us that dire consequences ensue: judge and jury, I give you broken hand. I also know many more of my feelings, my loves and desires, my cares and Tz’u, my purpose as Don and my hopes and faith. I feel more comfortable being who I am after 365 days, partially because we have expanded the me version of me, but also because we have explored the me version of me, which has given us an understanding of shoulds and the parts of me that are me, not black. As we discussed earlier in the week, my wife and I know that my next steps in recovery include rest and managing the inevitable stresses of living on the edge, of giving 100% to do good and be beautiful, amazing and loving.
Odd thing is, if I hadn’t been pushed off the edge two weekends ago, I wouldn’t have had cause to have the difficult conversation with my aunt last weekend. And if my wife hadn’t had her encounter of the fucked up kind, I would not have gone to my aunt for counsel about college teaching (a reach out that wouldn’t have happened without the difficult conversation), she would not have seen her potential for vivid expansion and I would not have found a potential perma-support in Kind Science
Work Friend. So is this really about recovery?
Through blogging, I have learned so much. By writing, I have faced demons with my wife, with her affair, with my family, with my brother’s illness, with my blackness. Like our summer before life happened, writing allowed growth beyond belief. However, I will stop blogging after today and this is my final Tale as the Recovering Recoverer. Not because I don’t love writing – I will continue to do that as a tool. But given the acquired understanding of the last 365 days, I now understand that this is not a path of recovery, not solely. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am recovered by any means. I will continue to understand that I am recovering from anxiety and hyper-vigilance, perfectionism, orthorexia and disordered eating – my personal blackness. I understand that the potential for that blackness taking over will always be there. I understand that we will need to face every day one day at a time, with serenity and courage and wisdom. I understand that I and we will continue to adapt our vivid to fit the current lines and colours, to use my tools and support system and stay vigilant against the blacknesses within us.
But I understand that this is only a part of me. I have realized that I have not been writing about a path of recovery, not solely. This is not a story about recovering from a deficit; this is a story of growth. No, there is not an ending here, but that’s because this is a tale of a different sort – this is 365 days of life.
Before I broke my hand, I signed on to supervise tonight’s school dance. This was before the broken hand, before the broken spirit (thank you kindly frosty workplace, as yesterday’s slips of the tongue revealed), before the broken heart, before the broken sleep last night (and many more before that night), before the broken pain threshold (fucking hurts in the bones). I wanted to bail. I thought all afternoon about an out, about sixty-two outs.
And then, I thought about a model. I thought about WWGD = What Would Gibbs Do. He would keep his word. Ultimately, I want to keep my word.
As has been made clear throughout this chronicle, there is a code by which I live. These rules are fundamental parts of the ME version of me. The best models, I have taken pieces of them. The best ideas, I have developed elements from them. The me version of me is a mosaic of these all. Specific to this character though, these are the Gibbs-ean pieces of me:
Rule 1: Never screw over your partner.
Be the best of you, not the worst of them. Treat others as you wish to be treated. The Golden Rule.
Rule 3: Never be unreachable.
The code of the Don. It’s why I sleep with my phone beside my pillow.
Rule 4: The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself. Second best? Tell one other person – if you must. There is no third best.
I know my one. I love my wife, my best friend, my confidant.
Rule 5: You don’t waste good.
Give your all, give your best. Do all the good you possible can do. Bring the love and care as best you can. Be 100% in. You do risk getting hurt, but the other way, you will waste good, waste life.
Rule 8: Never take anything for granted.
Rule 10: Never get personally involved in a case.
Rule 12: Never date a co-worker.
Ok, broke those two – but I said it was a mosaic of Gibbs and more, not a carbon copy. And hell, he breaks the first rule constantly and as for the second, the NCIS series isn’t done yet!
Rule 14: Bend the line, don’t break it.
Don’t go so far or yell so loud that you become the problem, your message gets lost. It does you and the cause a disservice.
Rule 15: Always work as a team.
Teamwork in family, work, marriage, even when you have to be the best of you as opposed to the worst of them.
Rule 18: It’s better to seek forgiveness than ask permission.
When in doubt, act like you’re supposed to be there. When that doesn’t work, barrel through (case in point, 2011 Medical Tent incident in Penticton = importance of losing a swimmer supersedes grumpy-ass nurse).
Rule 23: Never mess with a Marine’s coffee… if you want to live.
Same goes for tea (I’m thinking of you Tim Hortons double-double instead of double milk – yes, two years later I still remember this).
Rule 42: Never accept an apology from someone who just sucker punched you.
“I’m sorry” needs to matter.
Rule 45: Clean up the mess that you make.
Take responsibility for your actions.
Rule 51: Sometimes you’re wrong.
A hard lesson for me to learn. It took me dropping to 135lbs and spending two weeks in a Mental hospital to come to this, to grow to this. But I wouldn’t be here, be in this now, be on this path had I not.
The Unspoken Rule (as revealed by Mike Franks): You do what you have to do for family.
So I will be a man of (or victim to) my word, because that’s the me version of me, because that’s the person that I want to be, because that’s what Gibbs would do.
This notion of finding purpose and value in others, in this being part of my Uncarved Block, to be for and of the people, it rubs some the wrong way. I had a politely heated conversation with Naturopath last week about it. Its influence is reflected in yesterday’s post about “taking care of myself, so I can take care of others.” My position is that taking care of myself for others does not devalue myself. Finding connections with others, being loved and living with them, being hurt and harmed by them, this does not devalue myself. Hers is that it will lead to self-destruction due to neglect; martyrdom; undue self-sacrifice; broken hands; not being of the people, only for the people
I have my purpose – love, care, Tz’u, Don – and that cannot be a bad thing (as long as it does not lead to self-destruction; martyrdom; undue self-sacrifice; broken hands; not being of the people, only for the people). As long as it stays an imperfection and does not fall victim to the blackness and its much-too-easy, oil-slick-like slipperiness into the darkness, it cannot be a bad thing. As long as it stays mine, my beautiful imperfection, and as long as the blackness doesn’t claim it as its own, as a flaw, it cannot be a bad thing.
How the hell does this connect to The Lorax? The Lorax speaks for the trees.
This video I found reminds the world – nay, screams at all those who I rub the wrong way with my purpose – why I do what I do. I speak with (not only for) the exceptional but exceptional, with the amazing but marginalized, with the “disabled”:
Take care of yourself; you’re worth it.
That is a should for me.
I find value, strength and purpose in others, in connections, in care and Tz’u, in love and Don – to be that, I need to take care of me.
Take care of myself, by using the candle a day.
Take care of myself, by limiting myself to two things a day.
Take care of myself, by having a cut-off time for work and emails.
Take care of myself, by listening to my support system (the ever-strengthened one) when they see I’m doing too much and lend a helping hand (or hug).
Take care of myself, by having food timing and systems that work for me and us.
Take care of myself, by having (and really enjoying, a forgone conclusion) sex dates.
Take care of myself, by using my anti-blackness toolbox, like happy lists, looking up and writing.
Take care of myself, by alleviating the wife-blackness-related stress, being knowledgeable of her tough hormone weeks and setting lines with her of support, for her and us.
Take care of myself, so I can be Don for others.
Our vows knew it. We will have a conversation later today (probably one of the reasons why I’m awake right now) about our next steps on this path of recovery, of reclaiming healthy. But our direction, our vows knew before us:
- “I promise that when you’re taking care of others, I’ll take care of you.”
- “The beautiful, amazing and loving world you and I create is greater and more everlasting than anything I could have imagined being a part of.”
- “In my eyes, great love starts not with the words ‘I love you,’ but with the first action of true affection.”
- “I’ll fix all the cracks when you say you’re broken.”
They were promises of who we wanted to become. We weren’t there yet and we aren’t there now, but we are more there than then. We had not achieved them, but for one brief moment, one beautiful sliver in time, we both got complete insight into that path. They are the me version of me, the her version of her, the us version of us.
They were promises we need each other to accomplish. They are our dreams, dreams we now call to reclaim. But in fact, we’ve been reclaiming our dreams for ourselves ever since we met. This is not new, not a new push to work on us.
This is our life together and we shared this path of recovery, these dreams, these versions of us to each other on March 18, 2011.
My wife has a great saying on one of her motivational chalkboards = hard work is hard for a reason, so work hard.
Last night, after receiving an overly-transparent check-in text message from my aunt (yes, the aunt of last weekend) in the afternoon, I called her. I knew it would be hard. Hell, I usually know what conversations are going to be hard. That doesn’t mean not having them is the solution. Mom and the middle sister haven’t spoken in a quarter century. That’s because the hard conversation didn’t happen. The middle sister’s daughter, my cousin, practically grew up with a piece-meal family as a consequence. That’s because the hard conversation didn’t happen. Both Mom and the middle sister feel like the black sheep as a result, feel hurt and abandoned – both of them feel that way. That’s because the hard conversation didn’t happen.
I called my aunt knowing these things. The hard conversation happened because even though it has come to the point that the benefit of the doubt no longer swings in their favour (as their honest mistake from last week demonstrated), even though she didn’t call after a couple of awkward and frosty encounters that fueled that pendulum of doubt swinging in the wrong direction, even though I was able to maintain an awesome relationship with their kids through it all, I love them. I love them for everything they have done for me, for all that I believe in them for, for the people that I know they are.
I called them because while they should have been aware of these things, who’s to say what “should.” There is just what is. The door is open, the awareness there, the seeds planted and our tears have fallen to help them grow. Blind faith in them, because that’s what it nearly has come to, has the chance now to be faith, to see. That’s because the hard conversation happened. The hard conversation of 58 minutes and 59 seconds; no longer will an hour will be spent without love and care.
My wife and I have to talk tomorrow about our recovery direction, about how we will move forward after last weekend’s breaks. We will speak of hope for recovery, of reclaiming our dreams, of rest and stress management, of reclaiming healthy minds, bodies and souls. The hard conversation will happen, because the beautiful things are never simple and the blackness cannot scare us away from them.
The beautiful things are beautiful for a reason; the beautiful things are always worth it, so love hard.
To be the person that she needs me to be, I have to be above her blackness. With her dreams, with her desires, with her promises – those things are above her blackness, above the hijacking, above the neglect, above the flaws. She dreams bigger than she is.
I don’t mean for that to sound bad. It is more like that line in the English Patient: “‘She had grown older. And he loved her more now than he had loved her when he understood her better, when she was the product of her parents. What she was now was what she herself had decided to become.'” That is not a bad thing and that is where her dreams are, even before she has or we have gotten there. She dreams bigger than she is; she just hasn’t caught up to them yet.
In my context, I work towards a more ME version of ME, which makes not being there yet frustrating. She SEES that version of herself, is able to visualize it, is able to dream it and live pieces of it in her mind. She can be in that place before she is in that place, in those dreams before they become our place. What that must be for her…
But I need to be in her now to help her get us there. When her hormones hijack her, I need to help her out, be her promises, even when that means stepping back and letting her find solid ground (because she can, her doing so at work proves that). That very well might mean highlighting the week that we know her hormones might pop up and piggy-back her blackness, for both her awareness and mine (maybe in terms of yesterday‘s rallying cry to press on, press forward, that is something we can look to do). When she doesn’t want to work out or eat healthy, I need to help her out and be her promises, even when that means stepping back and being patient, letting her find her way, being supportive by making working out and healthy eating easier, being supportive by being inspirational, not letting her give up but not being louder than her dreams.
I hope that she comes around to her dreams, to her trueness. I believe in her, believe that she will.
Reclaiming healthy is about reclaiming our dreams from the blackness.
We dream bigger than we are – that’s called hope.