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.

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Day 363

8:45AM:

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”:

Day 360

4PM:

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.

Day 359

3PM:

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.

Day 358

11AM:

My hand is broken in three places, but it doesn’t need to set off metal detectors.  I fought for a splint over a cast, knowing that since surgery isn’t needed, there was more to lose by not having mobility (not being able to wash, NEVER being able to type or write) than by not having security (not being able to knock it around, NEVER being able to weight-train).  I know that we dodged a bullet here.

Two years ago, there were motivations on her end.  This needs to be the last motivation of this year: my drinking, my loose language at work and this.  Her trifecta (belief in threes) is complete.  My hand being broken, that needs to be it.

Part of me reclaiming healthy is taking care of myself to take care of others.  That means using the tools, scaling back the stressors, leaning on my supports (even if they can let me down unpredictably, hopefully temporarily).  I got sucked in last week because I wasn’t healthy enough to support who I want to support and be prepared for when the shit gets flung from all directions in my direction.

She needs to do something, I need to do something, we need to do something.  Reclaiming healthy is on us – it is fueled by our hopes, our belief and faith, our strength and love and respect, our serenity and courage and wisdom, our unbelievable ability to soar, as only penguins can do.

Day 353 & 354

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You won.

My job neglected my contributions, my devotion, again.

My family forgot about our history of affection, a history that’s becoming lost.

My wife, overwhelmed by her blackness, forgot about her loving capacities and vows of understanding.

You won.

I broke my hand, the world having forced it.  No, it was not solely my fault, but it was my mistake.  My coping strategies were not enough.  The tools cannot compensate for too much work, when it is combined with too much pain.  I could not get past them.  I got sucked in.

I punched; it was a mistake – a mistake from which we will learn.  We will learn that coping strategies cannot compensate when things get too dark, when the plate gets too full.  We will learn that my wife’s blackness cannot make me a victim too; that I need to be the level head when she cannot be the lifeboat of love and care and understanding for which I have come to re-trust.  We will learn that one thing too many is too many, even if it is just one thing.

You won.  You won, today.

Day 351

8PM:

At the end of August, I decided that it would be helpful to re-gig the August Greatist Challenge, continue it for the months to come as loving, supportive inspiration to my wife on her journey of recovery.  In October, it was less a day-to-day set of lines to structure.  It became more of an “open in case of emergency” situation.  Having a shitty day?  Check out the Greatist calendar and breathe five times.  Work using you like a punching bag?  Check out the Greatist calendar and name five things that make you happy right now.

Well, work has treated me like a punching bag for the last (insert what-I-wish-could-be-a-hyperbolic statement HERE [but it won’t be hyperbolic until there is care to remember that I am volunteering for the benefit of the school on a Saturday and that I asked for their blessing in stretching my professional limits for the benefit of my professional development]) and my back appears to be completely fucked either by lack-of-outlet stress or by working out to compensate for the stress, so I looked at the calendar and here are five things that make me happy right now:

#1: I am able to gloat about my grandfather, about the connection that he and I have right now.

#2: I have the means to be a little bit stupid.  And the universe knows it will make me happy, so it went from 10% to 40% to 50%.  Not making it any less stupid mind you, but somehow increasing the right-ness of it.  In setting the stage ever-so-snuggly, the universe made it fit ever-so-snuggly.  I can’t wait.

#3: As a supplement, being in the spirit of happy, of giving, of loving and caring (even for an hour), the parts of my brain that often go unused (because of the whole frosty workplace element), kicked into overdrive.  It gave me a way to combine #1 and #2 that will be beautiful, amazing and loving.  I can’t wait.

#4: Work sucks.  To escape, I went to my brother/sister/mother-in-law’s house after work today.  I was greeted at the door by my nephew, who’s initial reaction was to ask, “Are you staying for a visit?”  I did.  I didn’t because there were some ulterior motives.  I didn’t because there were political gains to be made.  I did because he enjoys the fact that I talk with him, at a level that is him, within his lines and colours, within his vivid.  I did because he enjoys that I read to him, and yes, he and I get impatient, but it is beautiful that he wants to know and learn and be immersed in something.  I did because he and I created love and amazing and beauty in that, because I get lost in that every time, because I got lost in that today.

#5: Work sucks.  To escape, I went to my brother/sister/mother-in-law’s house after work today.  I was greeted at the door by my nephew… no, this is not a repeat.  This deserves its own spot.  In sitting with my nephew, listening to him extolling the various Clash of Clans minutiae, my niece comes along.  Dressed as a beautiful princess (are there any other types at the age of two?), she found her nook = good lord, does she ever act like my wife (even her nose mirrors the cuteness of my love’s scratching and “stop iiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt” [AN ASIDE: I LOVE IT!!!])!  Not only that, the loving side of this beautiful 831-day-old took her Mickey and Minnie dolls, made sure they were holding hands, snuggled them up to me, made sure they were holding hands, closed my arms around the three of them, made sure they were holding hands and found herself immersed in the comfy, began falling asleep.  I got to notice that.  I got to get lost in that.

#6 (because it’s been one of those mind-fuck days/weeks/fortnights/months/semesters): Even if the blackest parts of me don’t believe it (or the not-so-black parts of which the eating disordered, controlling blackness still has a hold), I can pass on the wisdom of my experiences to the next generation.  Even if the blackness-soaked parts of me scream differently, I can prevent further blackness, further destruction, further disordered thinking, further body dysmorphia and anorexic masochism, further self-hatred through the wisdom gained after being blackened…

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This means nothing

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This means everything