Day 365

One year.

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.

Day 357

5:30PM:

Anxious about anything?

How about sitting down without food or my wife or a drink?  Because that’s what happened last night when I tried to just sit down and read.  These anxious feelings have happened before, but never to this extent.  They have never been this loud, this blackness-decibeled.

I know that I am seriously out of practice.  But I will do it again.  I will not give in to the anxiety.  It is not a signal that what I’m doing is wrong; it is a sign that my body is not used to that amount of de-stress, that much I know.  I know that I have read Perks of Being a Wallflower or a Fleming Bond in one sitting.  I know that I have enjoyed magazines and Jazz music without care.  Once upon a time, I even watched a football game, a TV show, or two.

Now, there is anxiety though.  But just like a junk food addict whose body seemingly rejects healthy offerings, being active or fresh air, those signals are not a call to avoidance.  They are a first step.

The second step isn’t as high, as far.

The third, even less steep.

In a few days, War and Peace cometh!!!  Ok, maybe a few weeks and maybe a short novel… but it COMETH!!!

Day 301

10:30AM:

My treatise on the word FUCK:

It has the ability to give power to something otherwise powerless: ___ you, just does not have the same impact.

It shows passion, feeling, motivation (or in some cases, degrees of inebriation): want to ___?

It brings two loving people together, intertwines them; it shows them another dimension of their relationship, demonstrates to their universe and their’s alone, their vividness; it becomes a part of them and makes their passion manifest: (really, you need an explanation?)

It gives anger and frustration a voice, one that amplifies them and to the sayer, retains its shock-value – its emphasis – evermore, until the anger and frustration are no longer, until the precipice is no longer in view, until the never-forgotten memory fades just enough, until that voice is not a part of my life…

It represents belief, belief that’s more than faith and hope, because it is a call to arms, a care in action: fuck you evil mind (if you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up – seriously, what the fuck?!), because penguins can fucking fly and the blackness will never fucking win – yippie ki-yay motherfucker.

Day 285

5:30PM:

Finding value in others, in the challenge of strength training or marathon training; helping a friend; being there for my family, my adopted mother; holding on through the appearance of spousal blackness (coming closer and closer to getting ahead of it, but taking a whipping in the meantime – but more on that another day).

They have the ability to distract myself from, take myself away from the way I look, that ever-obsessive part of me.

Distracting the blackness?  Probably.  Crisis mode?  Definitely.

The only problem with crisis mode is that if I stay in it too long, it will take away the parts of me that are loved.  They will take me from the Don to the automaton.  From inside the world to outside, from of the people to for the people, but not with the people.

I have seen that before, and it is ever-the-more precarious given my increased responsibility at work, at home, with my potential Masters, in the family, in my head.

I am scared that no one will be there.  I am afraid there will be a repeat performance.  I want more than anything to have more than just my beliefs, my faiths that it won’t be like that.

But it only takes once.  It only takes one reinforcement of that belief, one glorious gloriousness to break through.  Getting ahead of the blackness takes practice.  In this case, practice makes perfect(ly imperfect).

Day 282

7PM:

I have had Workout Friend’s voice in head, especially after Wednesday’s post and particularly after the recent Don-ish musings.  If I am not waiting, even if I am and it is temporary, as the new Don of Tz’u, it means being invincible.  Scratch that…

The Don is not invincible.  The Don is not Superman.  These are illusions, but illusions that are part of the role.  The Don appears stone-faced, steadfast, without doubt or vulnerability, because it is from this that others gain strength and trust and security.

Truth is, the Don just makes decisions, uses supports and blackness-weakening tools, chooses to live so that this perception is possible.  For me, that means doing things and accessing supports that will allow me to be a better teacher, a better student, a better husband, a better son, a better employee, a better rock.  Better able to deal with family drama, with my mother-in-law’s impending surgery, with my wife’s thoughts about changing jobs or at least changing the make-up of her current one, even through the job I will face come September, the Masters for which I have gone all in, the house to keep mortgaging along.

That means taking it slow for a few days, recovering.  That means setting the stage so that physical rest can be restful, because physical rest is not restful if my mental health is unhealthy, is weak, is screaming the sirens’ song of the blackness.  Perhaps that means shifting meal-conception to allow for more regularity, more regular blood sugar and blackness-weakening strength spread throughout the day.  I tried varying the times and number of meals per day (trying to act on my natural hunger cues), but ended up eating certain amounts and not spreading it out.

Therefore, perhaps to be a more capable Don, I need to vary the amounts, but make the times more certain, more definite: eat too much at breakfast, eat a light lunch; not feeling hungry at dinner, eat something small.  This will also ensure that I am not drinking to gather up much needed calories (and suffering the aforementioned consequences).  Instead, allow my body to tell me the truth, provide the colour, but within the lines of breakfast-lunch-dinner regularity, and by doing so, finding vividness, strength against the demons inside, rest and peace, the appearance of being superhuman.

Day 269

11:30AM:

Started this new stage on Day 241 – four weeks ago.  They say it “should” take three weeks to break a bad habit, but this is a giant one and so it might be a little longer, especially because there have been slips and there have been trips and there have been mistakes and there have been falls.

But we’ve dusted ourselves off, picked ourselves up, looked the lines over and adjusted them to fit my colour.  Falling down is a mandatory aspect of life. Getting back up is living.  For instance, the five-day resting experiment is going well.  I have stuck to two things a day and it is allowing me to sit down for longer periods of time (more when I don’t do the two things back-to-back and have an extra-long period of sitting/resting, because that seems to perk up the “move your ass” shaming blackness-voice, and yesterday’s exhaustion might have been due to skirting the rules a LITTLE bit).  It might be the new way of doing things, a new way of establishing a routine for me that does not exhaust me, one that allows me to be vivid, beautifully and perfectly imperfect.

I am still tense, acceptably so though.  I am anxious, acceptably so though.  I am uncertain, acceptably so though.  I am tense and anxious because I am trying to find certainty in an uncertain world.  I am trying to know where I need to trust: in me, in my wife, in my support system, in my recovery.  There is no know of the future, but I am tense and anxious as preparation.  To not be tense and anxious in the face of this – the proverbial bear in the woods (not the one that greets you with Hunny or helps fight off your demons with a sword) – would lead me, lead us, lead us all susceptible to a mauling of epic proportions.  A mauling that we would not see coming because that natural fight-or-flight response would not flutter in our hearts, that mauling is something to be tense and anxious about.

“The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers” – M. Scott Peck.

So as we walk through the woods of recovery, I worry about my ability to put one foot in front of the other (being strong enough to fight off my blackness’ bad habits and ill-intentioned flaws, and wise enough to know what to do when I cannot), I worry about my wife not always holding my hand (being intentional and aware with her love, being caring and listening to her beautiful, amazing and loving strength) and I worry about my support system being there out of love (and not out of obligation) when we call in the cavalry.  I worry because even after four weeks, I am still inclined to eat less than more or skip the occasional meal or let my hunger get in the way of my gentleness.  I worry because of the obsessive feeling I still get of loose stomach skin and what that feels like when I am riding my bike.  I worry because of that voice in my head when I sit for a lot (not too) long.  I worry because recovery is uncertain.  All we can do is be ready (AKA strong, respectful and wise) if and when the beast emerges from the woods.

Day 266

6PM:

These might all seem like separate things, or even worse, redundancies. Two-hundred and sixty-five days of over and over, dropping one thing and going to the next, picking up one catch phrase when it better suits and putting down an old one, or again, even worse, being redundant and repetitive and (dare I say) edu-speak-ish.

Fuck off.  That is not the case.  These ideas do all fit, they fit around recovery.

Recovery is creating an environment – through lines (structures, respecting your true nature and not shoulds, working through blacklists and exposure therapy, safeguards, routines), support systems (literary and asking for help from the warm-blooded – familial and therapeutic) and tools (regular exercise, expressing gratitude and appreciation, writing a blog, happy lists) – that starves the blackness inside, taking away its power, taking back the things it stole as flaws (taking your thoughtfulness, contemplative nature and warping it into toxic hyper-vigilance and overt control, anxiety and over-thinking, an eating disorder or alcoholism to cope and depression, low sex drive and thoughts of self-harm as a result; taking your self-awareness and bastardizing it into self-doubt and fear, whereby you run and cheat and lose your you version of you) and reclaiming them as your own beautiful, amazing and loving imperfections, and in doing so, allowing yourself to find vivid in recovery one day at a time, reclaim healthy, manifest as the you version of you, your true nature, your Uncarved Block (healthy veganism, thoughtful gentleness, IANs, creative attentiveness and loving care).

Without the breaks and brackets (and questionably avoided run-on sentence):

Recovery is creating an environment that starves the blackness inside, taking away its power, taking back the things it stole as flaws and reclaiming them as your own beautiful, amazing and loving imperfections, and in doing so, allowing yourself to find vivid in recovery one day at a time, reclaim healthy, manifest as the you version of you, your true nature, your Uncarved Block.

See, it all fits – perfectly imperfectly.