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 364

5:30PM:

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.

Look up.

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.

‘Nuff said.

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.

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

 

 

Day 342

3PM:

Fuck you.

Fuck your lack of appreciation.

Fuck your lack of care.

Fuck your forgetfulness.

Fuck your lack of Tz’u.

Fuck your blindness of heart.

Fuck your perky, obligatory, false, cursory bullshit.

I didn’t do this for you.

I didn’t do it for you.

I did it for the smile on the retiree’s face.

I did it for a colleague’s peace of mind.

I never need your satisfaction.

I never need your appreciation.

I never need your heart (with all its glitter and sparkles and cupcake sprinkles).

I never need your care.

I never need your Tz’u.

But nevertheless, fuck you.

I am tired, but I am satisfied because I care, I am the Don beyond you.

Are you satisfied?  Is a life of glittery blindness worth it?

Day 312

7PM:

Good lord, this is what “regular folk” take for granted?

She works six days a week – combining colour and lines to find multi-dimensionality, vividness and genius in her profession, in one of her passions.  I work 25 (now 26) days in a row – two jobs, both out of love, and going to school to do my Masters, to open myself up, to allow myself to express that love in the most vivid way possible.

Regular folk say that we are crazy, that our times off do not mesh enough, that we must have it hard.

We have lattes and wine and joyful magazine excerpts and reading books and mantras and just-cause cards and writing.  And we take none of this for granted.  We are grateful for these hours.  We do not miss our time together because we are appreciative of these times together.

We take none of this for granted mother fuckers – you pity us, but once you wake up, you will realize that we are the ones who have it right = looking up always, being grateful and appreciative always, loving forever-ever.

Day 296

5 Things to be Happy about right now:

1. Strong enough to have a snack – whether it’s 1:30 in the afternoon or 4:00 in the morning

2. Don enough to take care of our parents – a day for mine and a recovery for her’s

3. The comfort of a warm hug, even the thought of one to come

4. The ability to be honest with someone I work with

5. The knowledge/experience that wine, work #1, work #2, work-floor or work-wear (compression tights), have nothing to do with being awake; the workout does (that is, the lack thereof) — even if it is two hours earlier!

Day 290

7PM:

DO NOT LOOK AT THIS AGAIN!!!

Now that that is over with…

While it is true that my comments about Summer Reading are stuck in time, static and representative of the me in that moment, it is important to express how they impact me now.  Otherwise, and this would be a correction to yesterday, the commentary becomes meaningless, the writings become meaningless if I never comment.  And then I’m just one of those self-important douche-bags who start to bemoan the art (or make sound installations that make no noise…).

As such, I will reiterate – DO NOT LOOK AT THIS AGAIN, and in doing so, the words will always represent trueness and possibility.


So, the rest of the story is a dystopian mess, but Ursula K. LeGuin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” has a point here:

Joyous! How is one to tell about joy? How describe the citizens of Omelas?
They were not simple folk, you see, though they were happy. … They were not less complex than us. The trouble is that we have a bad habit, encouraged by pedants and sophisticates, of considering happiness as something rather stupid. Only pain is intellectual, only evil interesting. This is the treason of the artist: a refusal to admit the banality of evil and the terrible boredom of pain. If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. If it hurts, repeat it. But to praise despair is to condemn delight, to embrace violence is to lose hold of everything else. We have almost lost hold; we can no longer describe a happy man, nor make any celebration of joy.

There is nobility in being strong, in not falling down.  However, there is nobility in peace, in quiet, in calm, in Tz’u.  There is no nobility, no honour in exhaustion, martyrdom that leaves you without power or capability to continue being a good person, being a Don.  There is no nobility in destruction and the dead tell no tales.  The dead get one celebration; the living celebrate every day they are grateful and appreciative.

And in the “weirdest finds” category (kind of like the one workable item in an otherwise crap-tastic antique shop), we have Tracy Hickman’s Wayne of Gotham:

“Gotham balances on the edge of an abyss, and I alone feel the weight of holding it precariously there.  What kind of a life is that?”

“An important life,” Alfred urged.  “A necessary life.  A life given so that others might live theirs.”

I’m the guardian.  Who guards the guardian? (220)

Doesn’t Wayne’s life suck as a result?  He is stuck being for the world, not of it, and as such, loses pieces of his care, of his potential, of his power of Tz’u.  If you care about the concept of people more than people themselves, losing sight of people, then disconnection is imminent, cynicism is resolved to and a life of lovelessness is guaranteed.

While not as good as his first novel (The Imperfectionists), Tom Rachman’s The Rise and Fall of Great Powers does include some truisms that we would be stupid to neglect:

According to the world, capitalism had won [the Cold War], but Humphrey called it a tie at best.  He couldn’t see capitalism lasting.  What was the point of any system, he asked, if it only encouraged the worst in humanity, elevating self-interest to a virtue? (61)

In the same vein as Batman, it is not a life of Tz’u, a life of love — fuck that, it is not a LIFE to neglect care and ignore Intentional Acts of Niceness in the way or system in which you live (that’s why veganism suits me fine).

Family meant nothing more than did random names in a telephone directory.  The relations that counted were those of choice, which made friendship the supreme bond, one that either party could sever, and all the more valuable for its precariousness. (73)

It is not a LIFE to take the quality of bonds for granted and not be intentional or aware of that precariousness, thereby taking the people for granted.

Her only unease was a hovering sense of responsibility – that she ought to be looking after someone.  But there was no one anymore, just herself, which seemed so frivolous. (371)

It is not a LIFE to live without people-purpose, to live without love.

She resolved to blunt her flintier side, not to assume that she understood people entirely, and to accept that to be surprised or disappointed or even betrayed was not a catastrophe.  It could be a revelation to learn that you were wrong (372).

It is not a LIFE to lose the humanity in you, in the way you live, by trying to predict perfectly, to control wholly, to try to out-think the universe, to allow your head to dictate your nature (a la Tao of Pooh).  Give the universe its due, it has been around much longer than you.

At the beginning of this literary trek, the world lost a legend, Maya Angelou.  No books of her’s were read, but her words are loudest:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Intentional Acts of Niceness = focus on the people, not the act; focus on what is meaningful to them, on how it will make them feel; love people the way that you can, but as much in the way that they will receive it.

“You may not control all of the events that happen to you but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

Gratitude and Appreciation = “what’s one good thing about your day?” — looking at the best of the world, as opposed to the worst; there will be shit thrown at you, but you can decide to cry or make mudpies – I will make mudpies!

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Writing has helped me immensely.  Putting a stopper in myself, keeping it inside, also keeps the blackness in, keeps its torment and its toxicity and its absolute power over emotion.  Writing this down, connecting with other writers, communicating with my wife, talking to my support system (when I could), these things released pieces of the blackness that held onto my silence.  I try to ensure that my students have the same ability to share, the same ability to release pieces of their blackness with a safe space, an ever-present ear and a kind word.

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

It is interesting how the wisest words often are shared by the wisest ones.  While different and generationally distant, Taoism, Winnie the Pooh (Benjamin Hoff) and Maya Angelou all believe in Tz’u.  They all believe that care, kindness, truth, generosity, honesty and goodness, that these things all start with being courageous, with being able to manifest the first step, and then the second step, and then the third.  By doing courageously – which sometimes means doing without knowing the outcome, which probably means falling down and getting back up, and which definitely means being frightened and not having that stop you – that potential for care becomes limitless, infinite.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

Love conquers all.