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 362

12:53AM:

Take care of yourself; you’re worth it.

That is a should for me.

I find value, strength and purpose in others, in connections, in care and Tz’u, in love and Don – to be that, I need to take care of me.

Take care of myself, by using the candle a day.

Take care of myself, by limiting myself to two things a day.

Take care of myself, by having a cut-off time for work and emails.

Take care of myself, by listening to my support system (the ever-strengthened one) when they see I’m doing too much and lend a helping hand (or hug).

Take care of myself, by having food timing and systems that work for me and us.

Take care of myself, by having (and really enjoying, a forgone conclusion) sex dates.

Take care of myself, by using my anti-blackness toolbox, like happy lists, looking up and writing.

Take care of myself, by alleviating the wife-blackness-related stress, being knowledgeable of her tough hormone weeks and setting lines with her of support, for her and us.

Take care of myself, so I can be Don for others.

Day 361

2:30AM:

Our vows knew it.  We will have a conversation later today (probably one of the reasons why I’m awake right now) about our next steps on this path of recovery, of reclaiming healthy.  But our direction, our vows knew before us:

  • “I promise that when you’re taking care of others, I’ll take care of you.”
  • “The beautiful, amazing and loving world you and I create is greater and more everlasting than anything I could have imagined being a part of.”
  • “In my eyes, great love starts not with the words ‘I love you,’ but with the first action of true affection.”
  • “I’ll fix all the cracks when you say you’re broken.”

They were promises of who we wanted to become. We weren’t there yet and we aren’t there now, but we are more there than then.  We had not achieved them, but for one brief moment, one beautiful sliver in time, we both got complete insight into that path.  They are the me version of me, the her version of her, the us version of us.

They were promises we need each other to accomplish.  They are our dreams, dreams we now call to reclaim.  But in fact, we’ve been reclaiming our dreams for ourselves ever since we met.  This is not new, not a new push to work on us.

This is our life together and we shared this path of recovery, these dreams, these versions of us to each other on March 18, 2011.

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 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 357

5:30PM:

Anxious about anything?

How about sitting down without food or my wife or a drink?  Because that’s what happened last night when I tried to just sit down and read.  These anxious feelings have happened before, but never to this extent.  They have never been this loud, this blackness-decibeled.

I know that I am seriously out of practice.  But I will do it again.  I will not give in to the anxiety.  It is not a signal that what I’m doing is wrong; it is a sign that my body is not used to that amount of de-stress, that much I know.  I know that I have read Perks of Being a Wallflower or a Fleming Bond in one sitting.  I know that I have enjoyed magazines and Jazz music without care.  Once upon a time, I even watched a football game, a TV show, or two.

Now, there is anxiety though.  But just like a junk food addict whose body seemingly rejects healthy offerings, being active or fresh air, those signals are not a call to avoidance.  They are a first step.

The second step isn’t as high, as far.

The third, even less steep.

In a few days, War and Peace cometh!!!  Ok, maybe a few weeks and maybe a short novel… but it COMETH!!!

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