Day 280

6:30PM:

I got to talk to my barber today; it was only him and I and so (I think) Barber was a little more forthcoming with his thoughts.

I started out by asking him how he was doing, to which he jovially and optimistically responded that he woke up this morning with a smile on his face and his mind working, and that’s all for which he could ask.  He’s always been that way.  It is an endearing affect shared by few, one that I feel when interacting with Habitating Family Friend, one that makes life feel warm (even when ice cream is involved).  Then, I asked if he will take any time off in October, like he did last year when he went back “home” to Italy for a couple of weeks.  He responded by telling me what I already knew, things that we had already talked about and – I guess – is the stock answer he gives to all his clients (including me in the past): in the old town in which he grew up, in which his family lived until coming to Canada, there was no one.  His family in that town had either passed away or moved, so he had nothing there to which he was drawn.

Then, he shared new stuff.  He started talking about his wife, who had passed away suddenly a few years ago.  Barber, who is in his seventies, spoke about finding purpose in her, in her love.  Barber talked about going out with couples and friends just not being the same after she left; how if he found someone else, it would feel like he was cheating on his wife; about his love with her – intertwined – and that she was a part of him forever.  It was at this point that I was two seconds away from crying; the only thing that stopped me, the single action that brought me back, was that Barber was smiling.  Barber was smiling because while this might appear to be self-imposed loneliness to some, while this might appear to be not finding value in yourself, while this might appear to be flawed, solely finding purpose in another, it is not.  Barber was smiling because he was not sad about sharing those years, because it reflected his purpose, which was not his wife.  Barber’s purpose was revealed in his wife, it was revealed in his intertwined-ness with her, it was revealed in their love.  He was smiling, imperfectly vivid, about his purpose: love.

In keeping with that and yesterday’s post, my purpose is ever-more clear: helping others, being that support for others, finding value in others.  This does not mean engaging in my purpose in a flawed way, with the blackness driving me into martyrdom, into mental illness, into it screaming in my ear, into vulnerability to its toxic charms.  This means ensuring I am strong enough, wise enough, loving enough, courageous enough, respectful enough to best live my purpose.

This purpose might be imperfect, but it certainly is not flawed.  It might make me tired, but it does not exhaust me.  When flawed, I have tears in my eyes and blackened poison in my veins.  When imperfect, I have a smile on my face.  When imperfect, I find value in others, in helping others.  When imperfect, I am able to best live my purpose.  How does this translate into life?  I would never think about doing a 70.3 Ironman Triathlon; when imperfect, I would do it to support a friend.  I would never think about doing a 10K on three days notice, just having done a long, draining run today; when imperfect, I would do it to support the good and not-so-publicized cause of Alzheimer’s.  I would never think about taking on two jobs at once, working 30 days out of 29; when imperfect, I do it to support my Mom.  I would never have thought I could forgive infidelity, something I was sure would rip me apart, stripping me of every trustful part of me; when imperfect, we recovery, we take it one day at a time, we focus on love.  How does being imperfect and best living my purpose translate into life?  When imperfect, I am vivid.

Barber is going to play the accordion at a local retirement residence tomorrow, finding purpose in providing music and happiness to those less fortunate.  This Intentional Act of Niceness will not give him pause, will not make him think, because it is him, it is the truest version of him to be loving and demonstrate care.  Even after his wife, he continues to find purpose and imperfect vividness in love.

If I find purpose in love, in helping others, in (potentially) being the new dawn/Don of Tz’u, I know that cannot be a bad thing (and not only because barbers are those Fool-like Shakespearean characters that never lie, that enter onto the stage to reveal the truth, the meanings behind it all).  I know that because engaging in that purpose, imperfect as it is, is about being vivid.

Now, I just need to figure out how to best be vivid, so that I can find truthful purpose in love.

Advertisements

Day 274 & 275

Can someone use up their “good” years?  Their “strong” years?  I’m not talking about my wife and her mistakes or me and my blackness.  I’m talking about something else entirely…

My Mom talks about the connection she had with and the greatness in my grandfather, before he got old, before falling down (although temporary, because nothing could, even in death, ever truly keep him down), before the years took their toll.  She speaks to the end of his window of absolute strength, of absolute spectacular-ness.  He can still do magic, can still make your head spin, can still show glimmers, but has a little less Houdini, a slower spin, a briefer glimmer.

She’s not wrong.

He is 82 and his years of taking on the evils of the world with the unwavering-ness of an army general (and of getting kicked out of brothels, according to a long-ago story of sport travel to Poland, and surreptitiously running away to Scandinavia to play soccer) are behind him.  The years of him displaying that are someone else’s now.  But that is his impact, his legacy for when he passes = the physics-defying passion and courageous care he’s passed along, payed forward.  It is his time to bask, to still be involved as a fitness counselor, life simplifying-er, idea bouncer-offer, loving recipe researcher (so don’t get me wrong with that point), but he has shifted from Don to consigliere.  For this reason, his role in recovery, in supporting, in providing tools is crucial and his knowledge and care and intellect are vital, but his role is secondary.

I felt that the new Don, my mother, would be a member of the primary.  Along with my wife and I, my mother’s intellect (bolstered by me encouraging her self-confidence, especially in not being a reflection of an answer, but in tapping into her knowledge for the answer) and care (bolstered by my father’s true nature of never-ending love – when the flaws brought on by the blackness are not in charge) necessitate her as a primary, a central figure, the new Don, the Don of Tz’u.  Necessitate her as the unwavering one, the one to have perspective, throughout.  Necessitate her as the one to combine head and heart and soul, having vividness in perspective.  Necessitate her as the one appearing lovingly fearless, unshakably fierce, adaptable.  That’s why my wife’s letter in January was offered first to my parents – they were behind the looking glass, down the rabbit hole and to be holding a flashlight to give luminescence to our path of recovery.

And then came my brother’s fall, his regression into blackness.  My mother fought hard – we all did.  She stumbled at the start, but when the true test came, she was ready, stood tall, had fire in her veins and the courage of an army general.  She was the Don.  She called the cops, stood up to my father and stayed that way through the hospital and legal committal process.  Exhausted and worn down though we were, we stood together like a mountain range, holding together and protecting each other from the erosion of my brother’s illness.  After witnessing his return to self – medicinally regaining hold from his blackness – they have breath, they have air again.

However, during last month’s job, I saw the fatigue in her.  I had shared my recovery plan with her days before, reminded her that day and did not find support, I found neglect.  Neglect, though, that was a side-effect of fatigue.  I witnessed a fire in need of nursing; a lessened strength, fight to care, courage to be aware.  So I took the opportunity not to simply bare witness, but to be the nurse.  I took that opportunity to backseat my recovery, which was very much in need of an intentionally aware support system – a system of Tz’u – to nurse the Don of Tz’u back to emotional, psychological, intentional health.  Short-term sacrifice for long-term gain, regain, reclaim.  I supported that reclaiming of my mother’s health, of the Don‘s health.  I not only waited for the reemergence of that strength and courage, keeping a vigil for it, but I supported it with care and most of all, supported the rest for a tired little mouse.

Lack of Tz’u, that was a symptom of fatigue… right?  That’s what I chalked it up to, thinking the best and hoping that the phone call to the cops was not the supernova’s last, greatest, brightest moment, the one before living out its days as a beautiful star in warmth, never being what it once was.  But there are shadows, questions, maybes: uncomfortableness with confusion; driving without confidence (actually backing into me with the car – akin to backing into a table, a familiar sign from Habitating Family Friend; lacking awareness to model proper eating habits, not for her sake, but for mine; standing up for support as opposed to caving as an enabler….

I am asking a lot.  That letter pre-brother asked a lot, but not too much.  Now that we’ve clawed our way back, now that we’ve come back to it, what I’m asking may be too much.  Now, the starbursts of support may be in warmth, or in echoes, while light years away, the supernova has dwindled, used up its primary energies, become a secondary star.  Imperfections regressing not out of flaws or blackness, but out of the supernova bursting and fading, out of the natural path, out of the diminishing of a spirit through the circle of life.

Given that, was it an ebb and flow in the starbursts, with the brightest yet to come?  Or is it time?  When I was that unwavering perspective through my brother’s madness and held on, was the torch being passed?  Am I the new dawn/Don of Tz’u?

Day 248

11AM:

Cue Mr. John Lennon…

I am in my hour of darkness, struggling through this new stage of recovery because it will be for the best.  And therefore, I have tried to find that metaphorical “Mother Mary.”  Two days ago, I found it in Habitating Family Friend, using a wireless printer that was wired in his room.  Three days ago, I found it in my grandparents and their new-found interest in veganism that stemmed from their not-so-new-found interest in me.  Four days ago, I sought it in digital companionship, digging into the silent online community who have gone through or are going through stages of recovery, of their reclaiming healthy.

Yesterday, I tried finding it in Intentional Acts of Niceness: smiling at anyone I could to get a smile back – the grocery cashier, cyclists going the other way, drivers who I let pass ahead in stop signs = NOTHING!  It was as if the world had taken a giant step backwards in the graciousness department.  [AN ASIDE: On a more dramatic note, there was a story in the New Yorker about suicide attempts made off the Golden Gate Bridge — the following story has relevance:

Dr. Jerome Motto, who has been part of two failed suicidebarrier coalitions, is now retired and living in San Mateo. When I visited him there, we spent three hours talking about the bridge. Motto had a patient who committed suicide from the Golden Gate in 1963, but the jump that affected him most occurred in the seventies. “I went to this guy’s apartment afterward with the assistant medical examiner,” he told me. “The guy was in his thirties, lived alone, pretty bare apartment. He’d written a note and left it on his bureau. It said, ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump.’ ”

How far do you think this gentleman walked?  How many opportunities for Intentional Acts of Niceness – simple smiles – were missed on his way?  Clearly, I am not that close nor do I ever think I will be, but it does resound given the mental thunderclouds of the last month].

So being unable to find that metaphorical “Mother Mary” in my bag of recovery tricks, I sit here in my hour (oh, what I wouldn’t give for that to be a metaphor) of darkness.  I sit in the dark, worrying about having sat down for too long (even though I biked for almost an hour uphill yesterday and will probably lift weights or run later today), about small flaps of skin around my waist (that very well could have always been there, fucking hypnotic, body dysmorphic voice of the blackness) and about a stomach that touches my T-shirt a little too closely (even though I did core work on Friday and that always causes a tighter stomach).

Don’t worry trusted readers… this is not feeling sorry, indulging in self-pity or even clocking in the five seconds of Lost fear – it’s just crossing the tools off that are not working at the moment.  Instead, I will seek wisdom in the Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff, a wonderful discourse on peace of mind and quiet of soul.  I’ll let you know if…

When I find myself in times of trouble
Winnie the Pooh comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
He is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Day 242

10AM:

Lessons of relearnings:

No juice to start, I fucking hate juice.  Seems stupid to waste all that pulp – it can’t be very nutritious if you’re throwing it out!  And I like my morning routine of a big glass of water, pot of tea and ensuing “nature’s course.”  I like it.

[goes to show and it is safe to extrapolate that what’s “healthy” – juicing, portion counting, portion control – may not be healthy for me]

If I don’t eat breakfast early enough, I will have to fight off (or suffer through?  shouldn’t be fighting it off) hunger until lunch (or have an ill-timed snack in between)

Feelings of bloat will continue to lead to feelings of gloat (from the blackness, that is – oh fuck, it was fierce today; mustn’t like it getting an eviction notice).  I don’t know if losing weight scares me, or that the anxieties around not knowing if growing or slowing.  That uncertainty is tough to deal with (but also are thoughts of self-harm and suicide, aren’t they – and those have been present too much, too often recently).

Cheerios stem from Habitating Family Friend, so that can’t be bad, since it’s about love…

I use the term relearning, because that’s what it is.  Reclaiming healthy is relearning.  But it is learning.  On we go…

Day 210

2PM:

Thank you universe for my hug yesterday…

Fucked over at work (signed on for something, agreed with the person, was disagreed with by her in public) = check

Thrown for an unexpected double-loop by the personalities I have to combat, personalities who appear to have a shiny veneer and a devious centre (but I’m starting to realize that it’s truly just a shallow shine, without anything substantial or significant beneath) = check

Working out using Grandfather’s system = didn’t shake the cobwebs

Been spinny about eating for a little while, figured it was time for a cheat meal (especially given that I forgot what a cheat would count as, so I needed to do it as anxiety medicine/blacklist) = Rawlicious appetizer, entree, dessert = didn’t shake the cobwebs (the Hot Chocolate was amazing, but the other two were flavourless or watery or unbalanced – BAH!)

Enter the universe, enter the hug.

Just as I was walking back to my car, who do I see but Habitating Family Friend (the proverbial unrelated “Uncle” who has never been called such, but has lived with us/my parents for the last five years, worked with my Mom for decades before that).  Some context might be needed: HFF is one of the most beautifully imperfect people on the planet.  HFF is kind and generous to a fault, beyond comprehension and beyond means.  HFF taught me how to sell, but more importantly showed my true love.  HFF is perfectly imperfect.

I saw him walking in the direction of a bakery for his late lunch, early snack and nearly cried.  I didn’t have the time and he probably wanted the peace/quiet, but he let me walk with him, he let me sit with him, he let my talk with him, and in doing so, he let me soak in the love.  He gave me the quiet affection that made me forget the world, even for just a little while.  Thank you HFF, thank you universe.  I love you.