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 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 350

7:15PM:

I do not regret that I find my value in people.  I find value and purpose in people, in others.  It means I get really fucking hurt, that I feel it to my core, in my nerves, throughout my circuitry.  Every time someone asks, “How are you?” and isn’t there for the answer, they take a part of me with them.  I am not necessarily surprised when I turn around as I am saddened by the loss of another part of my happy.

But in finding value and purpose in others not only gives me the reason to be Don, but the strength to do so as well, because it also means that I am not alone…

#1

can-stock-photo_csp18136716 “How’d it go today? (I figure you knocked it out of the park)… Good post-observation meeting?”

 

“And that’s why you’re awesome.  A lot of good comments.  And now I have some wisdom to share with you!”

can-stock-photo_csp18136716 “:).  I knew you would knock it out of the park.”

 

 

#2

 “You ok?”

“Unappreciated.  Not under, but un.  You know how it is here.”

 “Sorry a lot are feeling that way” (for an English teacher, not that grammatically correct when it comes to text messaging! – but I digress).

“Fuck ’em.  I know everything you do and all you do for that place and the support you give.  You were more thoughtful in your one phone call yesterday than most people there have been all week.”

 “Thanks friend”

 

#3

 “When a lot becomes too much I’m happy you’re by my side.  I can feel scared and at points hopeless, just for a second.  Because I know you’re there.”

“And that’s why it will never be too much.  Because foreverever together beats it every time.  Foreverever reclaimed.  I love you.”

 

 

 

Day 329

6PM:

I just left the restaurant.  I just barely held on.  Together, the 4PM “lunch” and the 3:30PM Naturopath appointment gave me enough strength to be who I needed to be, who I want to be, who I find value in being.  But just barely.  If anything, I wasn’t strong enough.  I am not sure if my wife actually felt better or worse after I left, because I couldn’t hold it all in, I couldn’t keep it all together.  I couldn’t be her puzzle piece, having been worn away too much by the last month, worn away by the fact that I have had one day off in the last thirty-eight (and some of those on days have started at 5AM and ended much too late).

If I want to be the Don for her, for my family, I need to be strong enough to be that.  Taking today’s words from the Naturopath, I need to take care of myself to take care of others.

If I want to be the Lorax who speaks for the unspeaking, the champion of equity and all things good (truth, justice and all that jazz…), I need to be strong enough to be that.  I need to take care of myself to take care of others.

Part of the next phase – the next step in recovery – will allow me to do so, to be those things, to take care of others.

Day 303

11PM:

The day is finishing.  Our day is finishing.  Our day felt like it started yesterday and it is merely ending now only for a little while, since 5AM is not far away.  Our day is pausing then, to be continued tomorrow.

These three-day days are hard.  These three-day days are event days.  Welcome to our day, welcome to our jungle.  From the outside, they seem unworthy, they seem insane – and they probably are.  But every one of us seems to have a reason to be here.  These event days of dancing monkeys and never-ending image capturing, they have their pockets, glimmers, smiles and congratulations.  They have pockets of happy and pockets that make it all worth it.

These days are not easy, by any means.  Story of my life: my mother, my wife, my family matters, my students, my cause and purpose – they don’t make life easy; they make life worth it.  They make life worth living for, worth hurting for; they make me worthy.

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.

Day 279

6PM:

Some universal signs to interpret, from today, a day that has left me realizing I’m worn down and not doing myself any favours by living on the edge:

“Peace is in each of us” (Mennonite Church)

Even though I felt like I needed the Naturopath to be a sounding board, that I needed her to tell me I am drinking too much (either to cope or to fill up the calorie tank at that point in the day), that I am not respecting my hunger out of fear of getting fat (and the never-ending thoughts of belly fat, unknown as to its delusional or truthful nature), that I am not fueling my me-ness enough throughout the day with food and rest, thereby letting my blood sugar drop, my adrenal health plummet and my ability to fight off / ignore / not hear the blackness crater.

Even though I felt like I needed her to say it, I knew these things.  I am scared of trusting myself, of trusting my opinion, even though time and time again, we draw the same conclusions: the only us experts, are us.  Peace is in each of us, or at least, in my case, the ability to find that peace is in me.  I trust my head to think, my heart to love, my soul to feel; now, I need to trust my body to heal.

“I value myself” (Naturopath)

I want to shift the way that I think from I find no value in myself compared to others, worthless in their shadows and that I accept myself as such.  I want to shift it to that I find purpose in others, I find value in helping them (like the happiness I got from doing yard work at my mother-in-law’s house today, not thinking about the selfishness that spawned me doing it, but simply having my heart focus on the love and the IAN).  However, finding purpose in others does not negate valuing myself, it does not have to.  In fact, valuing myself means I can be selflessly selfish, by taking time to heal myself, heal myself so I can engage in that purpose of others; as opposed to being selfishly selfless, making it about ignoring my own needs and ultimately sacrificing my ability to live that purpose.

“Be patient” (Mennonite Church)

We will make mistakes, we will falter, we must before we fly.  We will be patient, step by step on the path of recovery.  We will keep putting one foot in front of the other to reclaim healthy, making mistakes along the way but still going, one day at a time, one breath at a time, breath by breath.