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 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 337

8:30AM:

I am not infallible.  I try to live up to my mantras, not always able to live by them – they often are the lines that allow me to be who I want to be, to be the ME version of ME that I know I can be, the one who she loves and adores.  If I could always live by them, never be affected by the world, then I would truly be for the world and not of it, giving to it without receiving the love or pain that comes with being a part of it.

Today would have been Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s 95th birthday.  He might be Canada’s greatest Prime Minister to date – championing multiculturalism, inclusivity and (arguably) the Canadian spirit.  Trudeau, in his 1984 farewell speech to the Liberal Party, said, “Our hopes are high. Our faith in the people is great. Our courage is strong. And our dreams for this beautiful country will never die.”  This was a mantra of his.

However, he was not infallible either.  He wanted to live up to this, knowing that he could not always live by it.  In his anger, in his emotion, he made mistakes.  The one-finger salutation he gave to protesters in British Columbia is remembered; the fact that they were screaming anti-francophone slurs is not.  Last week, I let myself get so tired that I made an error in judgement.  Doing the right thing, but in the wrong way, my metaphorical finger was greater than its message.

In this next stage of recovery, we will try to foster an environment that prevents me from getting so exhausted, so unchecked, that the mistakes black out the message.  This means boundaries, stop-gaps and lines that help support the anti-stress movement, and (as I wrote yesterday) moving ahead, it means further thought about what to do about this whole stress thing (since the stop-gaps support the symptoms more than the disease).

But in this next recovery stage, our hopes are high.

In this next recovery stage, our faith in ourselves is great.

In this next recovery stage, our courage is strong.

And as always, our dreams for this beautiful bubble will never die.

I will continue to try to live up to my mantras, to live up to the person I want to be.  And whenever doubt creeps in, whenever blackness infects that hope and our dreams, in the words of Trudeau: “JUST WATCH ME!”

Day 326

10:30AM:

As we sat down to breathe for a half hour yesterday, my wife comforted me, telling me that I get misunderstood, that I’m a complex person.  I would say that I’m complicated.  I would say that I am difficult.  I would say that I am not easy (but nothing beautiful ever is…).

However, I would argue that I’m not all that complex.  Maybe in the world we live in, maybe here, I am complicated.  But complex, difficult to understand?  I would argue no.

My philosophy is not complex.  It is quite simple actually: strive to be the best version of me possible – with strength and respect – by helping and caring for others, loving ferociously and doing the most good I possibly can do.

It is why I was relieved to find out that my Boss had to go official based on Friday.  She did not ignore my feelings purposefully and even though I have a wealth of evidence to the contrary, the best version of me possible right now is framing this ignorance as having to go the official route and not out of sheer ignorance or frosty workplace philosophy.  Wearing my heart on my sleeve makes this emotional relief complicated, but it is not complex – I love, I hurt; I tilt at the windmills others ignore, knowing there are giants hiding behind them.

As the drug store cashier put it yesterday when I bought a $0.75 box of fancy Kleenex for my girl, as a just cause for the woman I love, “Wow, you’re simple!”

Day 307/308

4:30PM:

I have finally gotten to the end of my 17th book.  It took a couple of days of fatigue-filled forcefulness – forever fucking my retention – as opposed to literary-inspired love that kept me reading.  Likely, I will not remember the end.  However, very often, the end is not the most important part of the story.  Here are the rememberances that got bookmarked from The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (also the ONE recommended book from this journey that did not suck serious ass, excuse my less-than educated language), to assist in my retention of the most important parts:

“Magdalena was epileptic, and therefore restricted to small distances and small pleasures. … Darisa, seven years her junior, doted on her, adored everything she adored, and had grown up with the notion that her welfare was his obligation, his responsibility.  Standing in the hallway of their house, watching the footman carry his father’s valises out to the waiting carriage, Darisa would cling to the lapels of the engineer’s coat, and his father would say: ‘You’re a very small boy, but I am going to make you a gentleman.  Do you know how a small boy becomes a gentleman?’

‘How?’ Darisa would say, even though he already knew the answer.

‘With a task,’ his father said.  ‘With taking responsibility for others‘” (in keeping with the aforementioned comments, the page number has already been lost and forgotten).

  • It is not the act of being an adult that makes you capable – and in this current climate, ME – of being a Don.  It is the act of being a Don that makes you an adult.

“When your fight has purpose – to free you from something, to interfere on the behalf of an innocent – it has a hope of finality.  When the fight is about unraveling – when it is about your name, the places to which your blood is anchored, the attachment of your name to some landmark or event – there is nothing but hate, and the long, slow progression of people who feed on it and are fed it, meticulously, by the ones who come before them.  Then the fight is endless, and comes in waves and waves, but always retains its capacity to surprise those who hope against it” (283).

  • There is purpose in Tz’u.  There is purpose in being the dependable.  There is value in being the person upon which people depend.  I find value and purpose in being that person.  I find value and purpose in fighting that fight.  I find value and purpose in being Don.  That fight, that courageously caring fight, has purpose = Tz’u.  And therefore, that purpose and value and Tz’u will ALWAYS be tied to hope and love and faith and caring and belief in flying mother-fucking penguins that ride chipped unicorns into the darkest corners of the blackness and come out with black, bile-infested blood on their bayonets (there’s the alliteration again!).  That fight, our recovery fight, will forever-ever have purpose.

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.