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 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 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 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 339

1PM:

I thought that the concept of the Uncarved Block

“According to Lao-tse [author of the oldest existing book of Tao-ism], the more man interfered with the natural balance produced and governed by the universal laws, the further away the harmony retreated into the distance.  The more forcing, the more trouble. … Everything had its own nature already within it, which could not be violated without causing difficulties.  When abstract and arbitrary rules were imposed from the outside, struggle was inevitable.  Only then did life become sour” (Hoff, 4).

“The essence of the principle of the Uncarved Block is that things [and people] in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed … ‘things in their natural state’” (10-11).

“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun” (20).

“When we learn to work with our own Inner Nature, and with the natural laws operating around us … then we work with the natural order of things and operate on the principle of minimal effort.  Since the natural world follows that principle, it does not make mistakes.  Mistakes are made – or imagined – by man, the creature with the overloaded Brain who separates himself from the supporting network of natural laws by interfering and trying too hard” (69-70).

…spoke to disruptions in sex, in emotion, in fatigue signals being the result of my disruptions in hunger.  By automating hunger, I disautomated the things of which the universe takes care.  I created difficulties and struggle and sourness and spoilage and overload and separation by messing with hunger.

It does not appear that that’s the case.  Based on our mistakes learnings, the disruptions in my hunger appear the same as the disruptions in sex, emotion, fatigue, gentleness.  The disruptions in all these appear to be because of difficulties and struggle and sourness and spoilage and overload and separation brought on by me messing with the “a lot / too much” principle.  They’ve been caused by me walking a very fine line between taking on a lot and taking on too much, probably on the latter side much more often than I’d like to admit.

My Uncarved Block is buried in black gook.  Our road of recovery, the path to reclaiming healthy, is about washing and scraping and chipping away that blackness surrounding my ME.

Day 333

10AM:

In preparation for these often-mentioned, aforementioned next phase/lines, it’s time for reflection.

Before that though, since this reflection might lead to thoughts of MISTAKES, let’s go back…

If these are not mistakes for the sake of mistakes, stumbles and falters and collapses in themselves, we can gain strength and courage and respect and love from them.

Tao of Pooh on the true nature of wisdom: “In the final section of the Tao Te Ching, Lao-tse wrote, ‘The wise are not learned; the learned are not wise.’ … From the Taoist point of view, while the scholarly intellect may be useful for analyzing certain things, deeper and broader matters are beyond its limited reach” (24).  If we gain from our mistakes, in this way, they serve to make us wise.

Universal Post-It: “Remember, we all stumble; we have to fall before we fly.”

Keeping that in mind, it was not a mistake to try intuitive eating.  What I gained and learned from the experience:

  • I like drinking an enjoyable bottle of wine, even alone, but I’ve learned not to use it for nourishment and not to do it so often
  • I can trust what others cook for me
  • Soft counting isn’t bad and small differences don’t matter – my body takes care of it
  • Sitting down and reading does not really change appetite dramatically – body self-regulates through healing faster or slower, and therefore, rest allows the body to heal faster and burn more calories in the next workout
  • The fight the urge to eat systematically or by formula might be a created fight, but fighting the urge to “eat later” needs to happen (this is not a created fight, it is a necessary one)
    • Self-consciousness comes from the perception of portion counting, not through the act of it – and it is only after trying intuition that I have learned this
  • Suicidal and thoughts of self-harm increase when I’m stressed and hungry; portion counting becomes less of a source of fear and spinning and self-consciousness when I’m full and rested enough
  • We were thinking that numbing my hunger was responsible for numbing my sex drive, but the latter has not increased since trying intuitive eating – it doesn’t appear that I’m numbing everything else, and perhaps the true culprit is overstress

Now it’s time to reflect on what we’ve learned, what I’ve gained, what will allow us to make the next steps in recovery, in reclaiming healthy.

Day 332

11AM:

I’ve had a song stuck in my head all week. No, not that unusual for me. But it was Sheryl Crow (at least it’s not Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil while working with missionaries in Kenya):

Not sure if this quite sums up where we are, where I am on this road of recovery. Mostly due to the irony of the song, it doesn’t really fit (ever so snuggly, he remembered). It doesn’t fit reclaiming healthy, finding the me-est version of me.

What’s better is this:

Never been a huge Sloan fan, but they have a resoundingly appropriate chorus: “If it feels good, do it. Even if you shouldn’t. Don’t let people mess you around.”

I shouldn’t portion count, says majority opinion.

I should eat intuitively,  says majority opinion.

I should be able to rest if I just listen to my body, says majority opinion.

I haven’t been able to. It is not me, at least for now. I don’t feel hungry if I’m not constantly paying attention to it, checking the levels by a watch. I don’t like having to worry, about food in this case. I shouldn’t,  but these feel good, appropriate for me, right. They fit ever so snuggly.

So fuck you blackness and your shoulds, since that’s the source of them, I know.  We’ll do what works for us, the lines that work for us and make us vivid – a vividness that will fight to outshine even the blackest of your dark corners.

Redrawing the lines for the road ahead, so I can be the Don I want to be; seeing the lines form and others fade away.

Reclaiming healthy.

Day 331

9AM:

After digesting Thursday’s Naturopath appointment (a part of the support system and a resource, but not a driver of recovery – that’s US!), my own thoughts over the last week, what Guidance friend said to me yesterday about heart and soul and last but fucking definitely not least, what my wife wrote to me on the fridge, here’s what I’m thinking the true culprit is…

The True Culprit

 

Imagine that there is a battle – a battle that wages between the blackness that grabs hold when stress is over-stress, a battle that is won with the whites, the tools of recovery.  There are still gaps, especially in the whites, these coping strategies and boundaries that prevent the blackness from taking hold of the greys.  But it’s another step.

This is not yet the next step.  This is seeing where to take the next step, the next puddle in which we will jump, with giant smiles on our faces, holding hands, hands that fit ever-so-snuggly.