Tidying up (final draft)

Final edit 4-17-18. clarifications, word usage, and grammar

Closing doors is difficult. So is opening new ones. I offer this as parting words for those of you who occasionally read this blog.

Since my blogging began, it has been an adventure in great insight and poor judgement, and vice versa. I think I need to close this blog properly by writing the last chapter of a book, one sitting right in the middle of an ongoing series of books.

The Burning Suit was intended to be where I explore my growth (and sometimes decline) as a person. I have not always used it for that. I have attacked, been unfair, and sometimes used it to gain a brief spotlight of support and attention. The intent was to be anonymous to most of you, and therefore more honest. For those who actually know me personally (the three of you whom I have told), I hope that reading what was written here has only helped you see me more clearly.

I regret and apologize for any unfairness I have leveled toward anyone in this space. Being a one person stage has its own freedom, but that includes the ability to spout off any opinion, whether justified or not, and to betray confidences.

With regard to me, my world is changing. I recently wrote around the edges of the topic of my increasing isolation, with a bravado and a crowing of its benefits to me. At its heart, I embarked on a path where I decided not to care so much. Turns out, my self-care suffered as well and this fact needed to be pointed out to me. Here’s what’s true: I believe I have grown stronger in myself, but I have also grown dangerously unconcerned about my personal surroundings and other elements of my life. I have justified the wrong things as well as the right ones.

Still, I feel different, or even differently. I feel enabled. This is a mixed bag.

I have written here about depression. The dark thoughts and my attempts to deal with them have been at the center of this blog. To be clear – I have not cured my depression, nor have I accepted its elimination as necessary, but I have changed the dynamic. Like any medication or change in practice or habit, the side effects can sometimes be worse than the cure. I still go to counseling, and in this process, I am still tuning my approach. I would warn against taking my example as advice. In fact, I expressly advise against it. You need to bounce this off someone who is willing to occasionally tell you that you are an ass. You cannot tune everyone out, and you need someone whom you can trust, even if you have to write a check.

The primary positive effects have been a sense of my own strength and my right to advocate for myself, plus, a comfort in my own skin, even under a critical gaze. This does not mean I am correct or even well intentioned, though I endeavor to be.

I have dived into my career, only to find a greater risk and reward in doing so. This has almost swallowed my life. I live on coffee and restless sleep, indulging either anytime, night and day. It is unbalanced and unsustainable, for sure. It was not intended to be a permanent move. Regular sleep was a cornerstone of this process when it began. Physical health and working out was another.

But there has been one curious upside: I have greater control of my emotional and mental state. I do not feel helplessness and frustration permeating the world. I have hope. I see roads before me. It feels like a beginning, like moving to a new town. Negative and desperate feelings that were once constant companions rarely visit.

In the last year, I have felt a sense of self I have not felt in so long (decades) that it genuinely surprised me.

It also feels entirely too small, restrictive, and boring. I admit one more thing that I refused to recognize: it does feel lonely (like a droning headache), and telling myself that being able to be lonely is the same as having strength enough to be alone is a platitude. The real strength comes in now choosing how to be fulfilled.

Perhaps the demons of depression are only poking lightly now and will return in force when I least expect them. Perhaps this is self-delusion hiding cowardice and escape. In that case, it may be that this way of being is the depression itself manifesting in a different way. The fact that I’m watching it, own it, and that I blame nobody else for my state of affairs feels like having my hands on the wheel, which is powerful. Perhaps powerfully foolish, perhaps an illusion. I’m trying to decide if this is running forward or running away. Truth is, it sounds like both, even to my ears. I would do things differently.

In hindsight, I believe that this actually was a radical purge. It was an attempt to shed a deep suspicion that I held. The belief was that my self worth was too tightly linked to what other people thought of me. Figuring this out was not like a sweat-lodge revelation released through penitential deprivation, but a slowly growing process of shedding the noise around me. But, I slowly decided not to give a damn what others thought of me. I ripped down my own curtains. In the process, I confused and hurt people. I am sorry for that.

Turns out we need external information to create a full view of ourselves – information we’d be wise not to discard. By we, I do mean I.

I am doing well, sincerely and truly. The sun is shining brightly in my world these days. I smile a lot, even with nobody to witness. Even today, after a discussion at the end of a relationship, the sensation of light penetrates the torrent outside my window, reflecting in and off of the rivulets on the pane. That discussion was helpful and filling, and allowed us to honestly eject a lot of baggage and touch points that I believed impossible to reach. Such are the too-much too-late discussions when neither person has incentive to perpetuate a stance. This leg of my unintended personal journey seems to be at an end. My personal take-away, minus the details, is another post for another blog.

Love for my family and friends feels more genuine than ever. My body and mind are actually starting to feel like one element, a unified person instead of a split self. I have value I choose to build up on my own, often flawed, terms. I have more baggage that I need to shed as well.

Enough of the explanation.

To those of you who read my work, I hope you find me wherever I land in the blogosphere. To the blog writers, counselors, and the rest of you going through life out loud, keep writing. I will keep reading.

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At the end

We stand at the end of the relationship, apart and barely speaking. I wish I could sum it all up, and have been re-reading all my journaling in an attempt to remember accurately, but probably more honestly, to feel each piece again before they are gone forever. What I have learned in this exercise is how wholly inaccurate the immediate assessments of every experience, every misstep, every elated interaction are in their own instant, a phenomenon made sharply clear when viewed from the edge looking back.

The process is difficult and gut-twisting, to say the least. Regrets for things I’ve done alongside of stances and postures I’d take back or not have endured at all.

This is a natural state of endings when it comes to the ever anxious, jealous, creative, loving, self-sacrificing and overwhelmingly unpredictable affairs of real people in a harsh world lived in real time.

I came out okay – smarter, and assuredly a bit tougher and a lot colder. I won’t speak for her, but it seems she is doing fine.

Now with a rucksack full of, well, everything, I suppose I came here to tie it off without anything more to add. I relived a lot in the last month, and am ready for this to end here. I wish I was, anyway, but living with heartache is the price of admission.

She started me writing. I have that to thank for surviving this long. So this is where the blogging ends on this platform as well. The most deeply powerful and personal bits never made it to this platform, and my writing will continue just as breathing and over-thinking are central to my life. What I decide to do with it, I don’t know.

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Being Alone

Written Jan 2018, but started in August or therabouts

A strange piece that hit my journal this winter. Seems out of place, pridefully foolish and out of balance now. More than a bit prophetic. Still, as a study in personal growth, I suppose it has value. So here’s a window to … something.

….

Summer heat and long lunchtime walks allowed this idea to bake within my shorn scalp and marinate in my sweat.

I like being alone.

The idea did not feel new, but the words certainly did. To give verbal affirmation to this explicit declaration was akin to walking backwards and standing at the jamb, looking back through the door of a room. I watched it grow with every step back. I took it in, and saw the whole of it.

Alone. I like it. Not as a way of life, for certainly I thrive on social situations, feeding this ego and learning from every interaction, just as assuredly I can feel lonesome, stale, and rut-ridden without other voices in my world. More than that, I love the personal connection of a one-on-one conversation.

But, it is a room in which I enjoy spending more and more of my time. My worries and concerns come with me, but so does a feeling of solid grounding inside me. My thoughts work for and fit wholly within a solitary me there. I don’t waste my alone time wishing for a redo on a conversation or pining for the next social boost.

I explore when I’m alone. I am my own audience for my thoughts. I am my own source for refilling my soul. I simply am.

I might walk through a museum, sand a floor, or play music. I’m not always alone in these moments, sometimes keeping company with friends, sometimes just out in the world. I am not suited to a hermit’s existence afterall, and I truly enjoy people. But it is an easy bond, loose and flexible.

I currently don’t spend much of my time currency in seeking outside validation for the most basic parts of my life. I don’t fear missing out.

Admittedly, there is also a bit of avoidance of criticism and obligation playing here, more of bypassing annoyance than out of fear of rejection or hiding from the larger world – skipping the social dance in order to tap my feet to a rhythm I choose.

It is temporary, to be sure.

This is renewal. Not in the manner of just sitting out a round it two, but something genuine to itself. Frequently, being alone is so enjoyable and compelling, I begin to believe all else is diversion, that it is a sovereign place its own. That is dangerous.

Selfishness rules when I am with me. Temporarily.

In these times, am I seen as anti-social, maybe weird? Self blinding? Probably. Here’s the wonderful upshot: I can’t concern myself with this. Mostly, I am deaf to it, or at least, have lowered the volume.

Graciousness and camaraderie can wait until I return, which I will do renewed, if I have anything left to return to.

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Crossroads

Sometime in the last year, I wrote this down. I don’t know when it was or what I was pondering. I really enjoyed finding it and thinking about it again, fresh. It reminds me that my choices led me here, not fate, fortune, or flaw. I did not choose my starting point in life, and much of what has been given and taken from me along the way was outside my doing. But I do have, at the end of each day, the gift and priveledge of choice, which is worth more than I could earn in a thousand lifetimes.

Standing at a crossroads, the metaphor for choice. Often, it is used to describe a moment of indecision. The thing here is that there is no indecision on the destination, but a calculation on whether one road or the other will get me there.

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Peace

I find peace
in wrapped hands
and sweat in my eyes,
in the knowing grimmace and
bent back, hands on thighs,
of my neighbor, for a split
second of eye contact,
a too hot room,
leather bags popping
mix tape pumping,
burpees and planks,
pushups and
the bell ringing.
No matter what type of day,
week, year, life, 
it drops the weight,
drains the mud,
I move
non-stop, through
the ache and burning lungs,
and time matters only
3 minutes at a time,
for an hour
of lightning streaked
peace.

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More

More days just like today.

More friends like the handful I keep close, and the score I keep a bit farther out.

More time to spend in these pursuits that have earned my time.

More returns, deserved or not.

More memories that conjur laughs.

More doors, public, private, and secret.

More pain in my muscles, more sleeping it away.

More family, home, and community.

More patience to appreciate all these “mores”.

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Spiders

The day spiders came crawling
out of my veins,
a processional
forming ranks that spelled
words and phrases
in a pulsing mass of instinct
and venom and senses beyond
sight.
That day I decided to be born
into the world, not whole,
but everywhere alive.

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Damocles

Damocles, I welcome your seat

and the pounding in your chest.

I will not beg Dionysius for

magnanimity.

This blade is far sharper,

its edges more real

than echoes cast by the

wailing shades, chanting in the

dying groves.

I am not damned by this position,

but empowered by the thought

of being damnable at all.

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Slow

Each fraction of the wheel’s rim
allowed its turn, in turn,
communion with the earth

Each lesson and lesion applied
to flesh in its moment, regardless
of the fabric’s wllingness to endure the abrasion

Slow sowing,
slow reaping,
each in season.

My mind’s throttle seems unfamiliar
with a paced discovery, floating ascension
or sinking decline, yet curiously engaged

Simply, I send the letters and the words,
I speak them with integrity to the needs,
and I sift through the echoes, panning patiently for silver

Slow filling,
slow spilling,
each in measure.

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