Mutual Misunderstandings And Wounds…But Also Devotion And Love

I feel better than I did when I made my last entry. Writing helps. Also, it’s sunny and 75 degrees today (in February!). But I thing which really helps is my wife.

As always, when I pick my son up, he calls my wife. As they were talking, I thought about how supportive she’s been of my trying to find my way and resolve everything. When it was my turn to talk, she wanted to know if I was okay and if I’d made any progress (with my internal struggles) from the morning. While she can be very single minded at times and her thinking can wander, she’s been completely devoted to me and very supportive.

It hasn’t always been easy. Part of the issues back in 2014 was the relationships she had with her family and some of her friends. There was a tension and many hurts – some of which I’m still not over. Maintaining relationships with one’s own family and friends are important in a marriage. I have no difficulty with this. But when it begins to interfere with that marriage, something needs to change. If it’s not workable, then separation may be needed. Otherwise, some compromise needs to be reached which both partners can be happy with. For many years, prior to 2014, there were many things we struggled with, but the most difficult was the intrusion of her family and friends. The core issue was that my wife is a very loving and loyal person. Sometimes in the past, she spread herself too thin and tried to rely on me to help. I didn’t mind at first, but many of these other people viewed me as an outsider, someone who was taking the time my wife was spending away from them. I always tried to live and relate to everyone with the adage that they weren’t losing a daughter or friend, but gaining the love and support of someone who had as big a heart as she does. Nope, they wanted exclusive rights on her time and attention. To be honest, I don’t believe they wanted her to be involved with anyone.

I don’t want to go into too much detail, but this is the jist of it.

In the end, it got pretty hairy. I have issues with interpersonal relationships to begin with. Being reviled and humiliated when I was trying very hard to get along and play nice, made things very uncomfortable and painful for me. Everything reached a crescendo in 2014. I was done. Something happened which invoked a feeling of betrayal and rage which I couldn’t allow to pass. I had finally reached my limit. It was a very difficult time for the both of us and we began to argue about all the things of the past 20 years which had nothing to do with anything but the expression of our own hurts and anger.

My wife still has a full, loving relationship with her family…and many (but not all) of her old friends. But there were boundaries that had been crossed once too often and too maliciously. It was time to readjust those boundaries to more healthy positions. Fortunately, my wife and I were able to readjust.

These adjustments haven’t come without difficulty. There are hurts on both sides and one of the worst of what I inflict is, unfortunately, a “talent” I picked up from my mother and her family. The old saying that “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a flat out lie. I grew up with the harm that words can do and again, unfortunately, became highly skilled in the use of malicious speech. The vast majority of the time, I don’t make use of it. But when I feel cornered or become enraged I have found it to be a very effective weapon. There are things I’ve said to my wife which I will carry with me for the rest of my days. There are things I’ve said which I will never forgive myself for and spend the rest of my life trying to make up for. I have insight and a talent for reading people…so I know exactly where to thrust that verbal blade where it will cause the most damage and be the hardest to heal. Unfortunately, as a child, I learned from the best.

But I mention all this to say that, despite all of this and much more that we’ve struggled with, we’ve been able to change and adjust so that we can meet each other where they are. As I’ve written before, we support each other for the benefit of both…and we sacrifice all for the sake of our child.

It’s been a challenging road and we both are still a bit tenuous with each other as we try to find a new, more supportive and healthy, way to live together and relate to each other. In the midst of our own personal struggles and pains, we reached out to each other. When faced with mutual misunderstandings and wounds, we chose to change in a way which allows us to heal each other. It takes two. One person can’t make a relationship work. It takes both being dedicated and willing to sacrifice for the other which makes relationships and marriage work.

I’m still trying to heal from horrors that my partner can’t even imagine. We’re both trying to find a way to bring out the best in each other and be that solitary person that can always be depended on. Yes, I’m hurt. Yes, my partner is hurt. Yes, our travels have caused some discomfort for all of us (my son included). But we are completely devoted and dedicated to each other.

…that is something I never had in my life, but the only thing I’ve ever wanted.

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

 

(P.S. Here is a song I send to my wife when I’m sometimes struck with the love I have for her: Chris Young, “The Man I Want To Be”

I also just thought, relationships and marriage aren’t something which just happens. It’s definitely not infatuation or the “warm fuzzies.” It takes work – a lot of work – and a daily renewal of mutual love and dedication to each other. My partner and I choose to remarry every morning we wake up.)

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Searching For The Beast. Ever Sailing On

It’s rather sunny in Philly today and unseasonably warm. I know I need to take advantage of it and take my walk, but it’s still difficult for me to do anything. Perhaps the days are still too short and I’m still lacking the energy which the spring and summer bring. But there seems to be something else. There was a time when I would study programming books and write programs even when the days were shortest and the coldest. There were times when I wrote all day, from the time I took my son to school until when I picked him up. I was always contemplative and would write down thoughts and ideas on any scrap of paper I could find, receipts, napkins anything. There were also times when I would read. I used to love to read and at times when I wasn’t reading, I thought about all that I had read.

But things have changed since 2014. I’ve always struggled with CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder), but there were times in the past when I had a passion and a fire which helped me push through and continue to make an effort towards things. But starting in 2014, there were a number of intense re traumatizing situations and I just haven’t been the same since then. I’ve lost my passion. I have no fire.

I’ve lost my curiosity of things. I’ve lost my desire to achieve mastery with skills and tasks. I’ve lost my ability to dream and the determination to chase those dreams. I’ve lost my passion to find a way.

I have to force myself to do the most basic tasks. Just doing dishes takes intense effort and I’m emotionally writhing the whole time. This has nothing to do with my thyroid / adrenal illness. When I had that passion and “spark” I could still go about household tasks. I would have to take frequent breaks because of my lack of strength and stamina, but I didn’t have to try and force myself to do them.

I drop my son off at school and I pick him up. I’ll be helping him study for his trimester exams (which are next week), but even with this, I don’t have to take the lead and guide him through his studies. My role is merely support and as cheerleader.

But for anything else…all I do is try to fend off the anxiety and emotional pain. The anxiety I understand. It attaches itself to certain things and there are meditative and cognitive techniques which can be used to deal with them (if not dissipate them completely). The emotional pain is a nameless, faceless creature which won’t give up the meaning or origin of itself and spends each day grimly lacerating me. I’m having trouble defending myself against something I can’t see and am unable to confront directly. This emotional pain is an amalgam of all the difficulties I’ve experienced throughout my life. It’s more than a perspective, it’s an assumed way of living. For much of my life I was able to grit my teeth and put my shoulder into my efforts in orter to move forward and make progress. I was able to push myself along even when I hated what I was doing or where I was with all of my soul. This isn’t the best way to go about things and I missed many opportunities and choises because I my eyes were closed and I was so focused on pushing my way forward. But I did what I could and made the best use of my stubbornness, determination, passions and dreams.

I haven’t felt any of that determination or passion for a very long time and any dreams which occur don’t inspire me at all.

I don’t know how to get any of that back. I don’t know how to make or force myself to care. Illness is one thing, but that’s not the problem. I’m sick within my soul. My heart is heavy and troubled. Perhaps those situations back in 2014 were the final straw, the last of many experiences which have finally made it all too much to carry. The thought of this possibility fills me with a profound sense of sadness. I just don’t know what to do about it. This emotional pain is in some deep, dark corner of the labyrinth I’m in and I can’t find it’s source, I can’t find a way to confront it directly. It’s just an existence of suffering, just a way of being.

Perhaps, with the spring, I’ll be able to rekindle that fire. I was a mess at the end of my 2014 tribulations and I’m not struggling as I first did. But the effects of those challenges, as well as a lifetime of what came before, are still dragging me backwards. I haven’t quit, but I have to say, honestly, that I don’t know what to do and am feeling rather frustrated and low about it all today.

Yet, even if the only thing I can do is shake my fist at all which ails me, I will “sail on.” Even if I’m drug down into the depths, I scream out as Captain Ahab did in Herman Melville’s book “Moby-Dick”:

“To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell’s heart, I stab at thee; For hate’s sake, I spit my last breath at thee”

Getting myself to write was helpful today. It reminds me of who I am and what I’m capable of, damn all the rest of it.

Never surrender my friends!

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

Fatigue, Fatherhood…And The 100 Acre Wood

It’s been a challenge today since I wasn’t able to get a decent nights sleep last night. This situation is certainly better than it was a few years ago, but the lack of sleep really effects me. I was able to get a way with it when I was younger, but those days are long gone.

It’s so strange. Not being physically ill when I was younger, I had no idea what the older folks were lamenting about. My wife, who is a few years older than I am, warned me what was coming. As I felt virile, young and invincible at the time, I was foolish enough to laugh it off. Wow, was she every right! (lol) Nowadays, I pay attention to whatever is ailing her, because I know that I’m not that far behind. Of course, the fact that I pushed myself way beyond reason and wore my body out (and contributed to triggering my thyroid / adrenal issues) before it’s time means that in many ways, my body has outpaced hers.

Aside from the other symptoms, the general fatigue and tiredness from lack of sleep, significantly impact me in a number of ways. It took me years to actually be able to understand that there is a difference between fatigue and being tired from a lack of sleep. Before I understood the difference, I often took naps during the days. But it was fatigue due to a thyroid and adrenal issue, not being tired from sleep deprivation. Because I slept during the day, I ended up unable to sleep at night and this only made things worse. Back then, my system was all out of wack.

Now that I have a better understanding of what is sleep deprivation and that is fatigue, I’ve been able to better balance my system and I do sleep better. But nights like last night are not uncommon and I can’t always predict which nights I can sleep and those I’ll be up for.

One of the problems with this is that sleep deprivation and fatigue, both, independently intensify my CPTSD (complex post traumatic stress disorder) symptoms. My anxieties, intruding thoughts, lack of motivation, negative thinking, even despair, are all stronger when I’m tired or fatigued. Worse, it takes more effort to do ordinary things, at times I have to will myself to move at all, when I’m tired and / or fatigued. So even though it’s already difficult for me to do anything, I now have to summon even greater effort to even do simple things.

One big thing which effects my spouse and child is that I also become much more irritable and reactive when tired and fatigued. I know better now and either ease it back or keep my gripping and snapping to myself. Before I knew what was going on, there were many comparisons made between me and “Eeyore” from Winnie The Pooh, as well as, “Squidward” from Sponge Bob. Oh, there are times I can be soooo very charming! (lol)

Now that I know, I at least keep quiet or keep to myself when I’m feeling this way. Plus, I’ve discussed all this with my wife and son and they’ve always been very understanding about not pushing me too hard and being willing to give me space to grumble and and snap to myself (in another room).

This, I think, is so very important.

With my wife, it’s one thing, because she’s an adult and can fend for herself. But with my son, it’s been a little more challenging. I’ve tried to be honest with him about my illness and issues and worked with him to accommodate what he needs with what I’m able to provide. The problem is that children with sick parents sometimes take on a parenting role. While this might happen when I’m 90 and senile and he’s in his 60’s, it’s not appropriate when I’m 50 and he’s still a teenager. I know all too well what it means to be your parent’s parent, or your parents spouse. I lived it. I know how dangerous and damaging that can be and I set my son straight every time he starts to head in that direction.

There are times when we can’t be perfect in front of our kids. I know that’s a bummer, but their going to find out anyway! (lol) One of the many stumbles my parents made was trying to be what they thought parents were supposed to be. Their reference was the 40’s and 50’s, “Donna Reed” and “Father Knows Best”. Admirable…I suppose, but my mother wasn’t Donna Reed and my father wasn’t Jim Anderson (“Father Knows Best”). The problem with this plan was that, because of the fact that they couldn’t be perfect, they ended up pretending – and insisting to my siblings and I – that nothing was wrong and everything was normal. This might have worked (I doubt it, but it might) if I didn’t have access to those TV shows! If those shows were “normal,” then I saw normal and what was happening in my home just didn’t match.

I do what I can with my son. I try to be honest without going into unnecessary detail: I explain, but don’t elaborate. But the main thing I always impress upon him is that my problems aren’t your problems. If I’m not feeling up to snuff, I say so and go off by myself or turn inward. With children, this isn’t always possible and there are times when I just have to suck it up and do the best I can. I may not achieve the level of “Sponge Bob” or “Tigger,” but I’m not “Eeyore” or “Squidward” either.

It’s all about doing the best you can with what you have to work with. Forget perfection! I want to be the best of who I am!

…Well. I must say that I’m rather pleased with myself for being able to make an entry. I’m pushing myself, but I’m exhausted and foggy and didn’t think I could string 2 sentences together.

I hope this all made sense. It’s good to write even when I’m not feeling up to it.

Thanks Everyone!…

And Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

(P.S. Though I’m not feeling well physically, this entry makes me feel better, more “Tiggery,” which is who I really am deep down inside.

Just remember everyone, no matter what happens, “Your braver than you believe…“)

Trying To Better Respond To Comments

I’m going to change my settings so that they need approval. The reason for this is so that I can better see the comments and respond.

I feel that if someone takes the time to send me a comment, I need to return the compliment with some kind of a message and response. I’m still working at better responses and I’m very grateful for everyone who comments and “likes.”

Hope All Is Well With Everyone,

Theseus

Thanks For Keeping Me Company Tonight!

I try to read other blogs as much as I can. The thing is that I often get so engrossed online that the world just passes me by. This is why I didn’t last on Facebook that long. I have people here in the house and a whole world outside my door.

There are also the health and CPTSD issues I wrestle with. Much of the time it takes most of my time and during these times, I prefer solitude and silence as I try and make my way through that maze of the Minotaur.

But as I’ve been reading various blogs tonight, I have to say I’m amazed and humbled by the tapestry of folks I find out there. There’s pain. There’s joy. There’s humor and irreverence. It’s truly amazing.

I just want to thank you all. These sleepless nights can be rather difficult. But tonight, I was able to share it with all of you and it’s been a great ride.

I’m still trying to get used to contacting others and leaving comments. I’m also trying to bounce around and get back to everyone as I can. Don’t think I have the hang of it yet. Just bare with me if I write something stupid or something that sounds inconsiderate. I don’t want to do that. I consider all of you new friends.

If I’m “following” you, I’m thinking of you and wishing you a deep sense of peace.

Just…thanks for being here with me tonight. 4:43 AM and I’m going to try and go back to bed now.

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

Night Owl

Well, it’s 2:46 AM here in Philly and I’m wide awake. This is fairly common, but thankfully not as common as it used to be. Apparently, there’s an issue with my adrenal glands which puts my wake / sleep cycle off kilter at times. While I do take some medication / supplementation to help regulate my adrenals, there are still times like tonight when I just can’t sleep.

This is problematic because of how important sleep is. When I was younger, I had no idea how vital sleeping is to processing things psychologically / emotionally and healing both body and mind. Another difficulty is that for many of these sleepless nights, my level of anxiety tends to spike rather high.

I don’t know. Not much I can do about it tonight, but try to ride it out and hope for a better night tomorrow.

Wish me luck!

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus

(P.S. Just for fun, here’s a song I was thinking about as I came downstairs: Little River Band, “Night Owl”)

My Broken Dreams Find Joy In My Son’s Own Wings!

(Oh, yes! I think I have a good one here!)

This weekend was challenging, but well worth it.

My son has started studying for his trimester exams and, as always, I sit with him and help him as he does so. Can you believe someone who starts studying for exams 2 weeks beforehand!? I say nothing. At this point, I don’t even have to review his grades or check in with his teachers. They know him and I have complete confidence in all of his instructors. Not only that, but my son is able to self advocate for anything that he needs or is uncertain about and any issues or problems are resolved before I even hear about them. My wife and I have worked very hard to help him get to this point. But the real credit belongs to our son and his teachers – especially our son as he knows what is expected of him and he innately strives for “personal excellence.” That boy has learned to fly on his own. Soon, I believe, we’ll watch him soar.

One more quick comment on this. I believe that part of the reason he’s doing all this and doing so well is that he’s been through very tough times, but he’s had support and love all the way through. My son has been through years of 4, 5 or more hours of therapy a day, every day for a very long time. He knows what it’s like to struggle, but also knows what it’s like to overcome the seemingly impossible. That’s what love and support create: Self confidence and a nonchalant determination.

Our son doesn’t consciously remember or think about such things, he simply expresses the best of who he is…naturally, by default and assumption.

Anyway, he and I studied between 12 and 6 all weekend and yesterday (which was “Presidents Day” holiday). At times we did problems together, other times we would review material and he would explain it to me, still other times, he would practice vocabulary or work on a problem and I would just sit by and cheer when he got something right or figured something out…

…but there was something else I offered him as well.

With study, there are some times when just reading or thinking are required. At such times, he needs to review the material himself, without my assistance or input. At such times, my getting involved would actually prevent him from learning things in a way which works best for him. As I’ve mentioned before, my son thinks differently than I do. His thinking process is much more like my partner’s than mine, so any effort from me would only be confusing interference.

At these times, I just sit quietly next to him. There were times he read and thought – stared at the wall, mumbling formulas to himself – for an hour or so. I just sat. At times I got him more juice or a snack, but for the rest, I sat silently next to him. All I would do was pat him gently on the back when his face lit up with some success or revelation he had been struggling with internally. He didn’t acknowledge my back patting, nor did I expect him to. But I know he felt it and I know he enjoys such nonverbal praise. At times, I didn’t pat him on the back, but just shook my fist gently and whispered “nice!” or “sweet!” Sometimes, though still deep in thought, he would grin and cast a quick, sidelong, glance at me before re-submerging within his own, solitary thoughts and meditations.

But every time, the whole time, he knew I was there. Deep within his mind, as he struggled to comprehend and memorize, I know he felt that part of me, within him, which helped steel his determination and gave him the desire to reach beyond his understanding (of the material). My parents and their family tore me down for their own purposes. My spouse and I tear ourselves down in deference to him. Our child will be the ultimate expression of the better part of ourselves – and yet the heights will be of his own achievements to claim.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that our children don’t always need expensive tutors or prep courses. They don’t need us (parents) scrutinizing current grade averages or test scores. They don’t need to hear what we think the answer is or how we would solve solve the problem or answer the question. They don’t need us to pound our fists on desks at parent / teacher conferences or fight with the administration.

What our children need is our faith in their abilities and talents. They need respect and love for who they are, rather than who they are not or who we might want them to be. They need our praise for “best effort,” regardless of what the score or grade is. They need to know that we have only one, primary, uncompromising demand: Personal excellence which comes from best effort. However, sometimes, and this is the most important thing of all…

…they just need us to sit with them quietly – to just be present. To gently ruffle their hair in silent praise. To gently shake our fist at their smaller successes and whisper “YES!”, “nice!” or “good job!”

If we support and praise them for their smaller successes, they will find, within themselves, pleasure and joy in the achievements of the larger ones.

I’m filled with rage and bitterness at my own stolen potential…but watching my son take flight and soar – Oh does he soar! – fills me with joy and makes all things alright with the world.

Be Well, My Friends
Theseus