In the Morning the Battle for Endurance has Been Lost.

In my last few entries, I’ve discussed how much better things have been for me recently. That is still true, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still problems. As good as things are, I still have strong feelings of emptiness, failure, and overall malaise. Yes, it’s possible to enjoy myself and still feel those things.

It bothers me that I can’t completely enjoy myself, even in the some of the best of times. I KNOW that I have a bigger social circle than I’ve ever had. I have closer connections to people that I used to have, yet there’s still a lack of something. That’s the emptiness that I feel. I don’t know how to fix that.

I am doing better than I’ve probably ever done in my life, yet I still feel failure. I sometimes wonder if this, more than any other aspect of my life, is due to how I was programmed as a child. Praise didn’t come my way as much as criticism did. My accomplishments were often ignored. I’ve often realized that if someone points out something that I did wrong, they’ll focus on that, and not that I fixed whatever thing was wrong.

The malaise that I mentioned is just an overall feeling. I have more free time, yet I feel like I don’t. I have time to get up early in the morning and do things, but I don’t do that. I hit the snooze button again and again until I have no free time in the morning. I don’t know why I have such problems with this.

My issues are not an easy fix. Maybe I would feel somewhat better if I just got out of bed in the morning and did something. Like many things I write about, this may not make sense to many of you, but something as simple as getting out of bed early to do something is very difficult for me. I don’t have an explanation for it. It’s just not easy. It’s not a laziness thing. It’s a mental thing.

The part about having so many friends and feeling empty doesn’t really make sense either. I try not to think about it too much. That’ll just cause anxiety and make me feel worse.

The failure part is a difficult one. As I’ve said, I know I’m doing better, but am I where I should be? Can I get to where that is? But, then again, but what standards are we judging that by? I don’t have those answers. I don’t even know if I want those answers.

Going day by day allows me to not worry about long term things. But, not worry about long term things may be cutting my sights short and not giving me anything to strive for. It’s a conundrum.

Some people may think the problems that I’m describing here are simple fixes. Some people may think they’re not. I know I like when I get things done. It’s just difficult to start doing things. That mental block that is very difficult to get past. Being aware of it is good, yet bad at the same time. The fact that I see this in other people makes me more aware of my own issues and how I KNOW I would feel better if I just did what I thought could improve my situation, but as I said, doing it is sometimes inexplicably difficult for me.

I’ve said before that I was brought up in a world of “can’t” and “don’t.” Meaning I was always told what I can’t do, and often told “don’t do (whatever).” It really has made me almost sure that I can’t and shouldn’t do things. I know that world has to change, but I have to figure out how to change it.

But, as I said just a little while ago. I take everything day by day. And despite what it may seem like in this entry, even with the feelings I’ve described, I’m in a good place right now. I want that to continue. I’m afraid of what how I would feel if I wasn’t where I am now. And maybe that’s exactly why I need to take things day by day.

Advertisements

I Walk in the Darkness and Neon Lights.

I’m generally a miserable, cynical, pessimist. I can’t help it. It’s what I’ve become. It’s how I’ve been programmed to be. I’m not saying any of that for sympathy. I’m saying it because I think, in a way, it’s helped me appreciate certain things.

On more than one occasion, I’ve written about how I always expect good things to end. I don’t enjoy happiness as much as I should because I don’t expect it to last.

Another thing I’ve said a few times and have written entries specific to this is how much music has helped me through so many bad times.

Everything I’ve written in this entry so far is tied together by experiences I’ve recently had.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a few concerts over the last few weeks. The bands I saw were bands that I had seen MULTIPLE times before. Their shows were great. I have nothing bad to say about them. But, the music and the bands were almost secondary to the overall experiences that I had during those times. It was really about the people, friendships, and relationships that I’ve developed because of the music.

This is another difficult entry for me to write. I’m so much more creative when I’m miserable. I’m so far removed from being miserable right now that I almost don’t know what to write about.

Anyway…

Getting back to what I said at the beginning of this entry, I really do appreciate everything that I was able to do over the past few weeks. A few years ago, there is almost no way I would be able to afford all that I did. Heck, I may not have been able to afford it just one year ago, but so much has changed since then.

I live really close to New York City, but it is EXPENSIVE to drive there. Something as simple as being able to afford to go to concerts in NYC two nights in a row is something that I very much appreciate being able to. I’ve been so much worse off financially in my past that I am very much aware of how good it is that I can do that.

Perspective is a good thing to have. I’ve been THOUSANDS of dollars in debt. I’ve been miserably depressed. I’ve worked at jobs that I could barely afford to keep working at. None of those situations apply to me now. My life is so much better than it’s been. I’m very much aware of that. Yes, I do expect the ride to come to an end, but I’m actually enjoying it too much to worry about that right now.

I know things could be A LOT better in my life. But, I also remember how bad they’ve been. I do not lose sight of that. I cannot lose site of that. It keeps me grounded. It keeps me sane, which is actually quite a task.

I’m genuinely struggling to find something bad to say. I’m so conditioned to be miserable and cynical that this current version of myself is confusing. I’m not saying that I don’t want it to last, and as much as I think it’s not going to last, I’m going to do whatever I can to make it last.

This is how a lot of my recent entries have gone. I don’t know what to say in them. I haven’t been unpacking much baggage. It’s ironic that I’m almost bothered by the fact that I don’t have much to complain about. It’s like I’m hoping for something traumatic just so I can write a really good entry. And as much as I’m tempted to say something snarky like “with any luck, that’ll happen some time soon,” I’m actually glad that I don’t have much to say.

Between Striking Out and Striking Rich, Just a Risk. One I’ll Take and Take Again…

What a difference a year makes.

My late June blog entry is always about my upcoming birthday and what that means to me. Last year’s entry was a bit darker than others that I’ve written. And after just reading it again to get a feel of what I was thinking at that time, I noticed that I had I said that I had originally written a darker draft of it. I almost wish I had saved that draft just to see how bad it was.

One year ago I felt that I had nothing going on. I was at a dead end job that I could barely afford to work at. My social life was not what I wanted it to be. My financial situation was horrible. I just wasn’t in a good place.

But, as I wrote in the follow up entry, a lot changed very quickly.

I’m in such a better place than I was last year at this time. I have a much better job than last year. The travel time is significantly less (I can walk there), I’m paid better than I was, and I have affordable health coverage.

My social life is better than it was a year ago at this time, but not exactly where I had hoped it would be. By no means is it bad. I haven’t felt lonely in a very long time. I’ve actually felt like I belong in the situations that I’ve been in. Not feeling like an outcast is a massive improvement.

Over the past year, my circle of friends has grown. I’ve had a few people return, only to disappear again. I’ve met some wonderful new people and I’ve reconnected with a few that I honestly thought I might never talk to again.

I’ve recently had a series of things go wrong, that a year ago, would have been financially crippling for me. But when they happened, I was able to take care of them. Now, instead of those things causing me to worry about if I’m going to be able to afford food or if I can afford the gas for my car just to get me to work, I’m just upset that my bank account is lower than I want it to be. I cannot stress enough how much better that makes me feel.
Money may not solve all of life’s problems, but having more of it than you did before certainly does alleviate some burdens.

This entry, like a few that I’ve written recently is difficult for me. Not because I have a hard time discussing my issues, but because I’m not in a bad place right now. Misery is so much easier to be creative about.

I don’t want to say that I’m “happy,” but I’m definitely not “not happy.” I’m not sad, nor am I complacent. I know that I’m in a better position in life than I’ve been in a long time, if not ever. But, I’m also VERY much aware of how bad things have been for me. I don’t want to ever to forget how bad things were. I NEED that perspective.

There’s still a lot that I can improve about my life. There’s a lot that I can change and a lot that I can’t. Unfortunately, the stuff that I can’t change actually does frustrate me quite a bit. I keep hoping for different outcomes there, but I don’t know if I’ll ever see one. Yes, I’m aware of the definition of insanity. I know it well.

The things that I can change are sometimes difficult for me to achieve. My depression and my programming is hard to overcome at times. I get more stressed about things I haven’t done than needing to do them. I don’t know if that makes sense. Part of the problem is how regimented my days have become. Doing extra things seems like a break from a pattern. I know things need to get done, but if they’re done at certain times, they’re interfering with other things. I think this particular topic should be saved for another entry and I should try to go into detail on it.

Last year I said “I do know that I’m tired of starting over. I feel like I’m constantly starting over. I’m just not going anywhere. There’s beginnings and endings. The middle part seems very stagnant.” Ironically, I basically did start over not long after that. It was good for me too. I don’t think I’m going nowhere now. I THINK I’m moving forward, just not at a very fast pace.

In just a few days, I’ll turn 43 years old. Am I where someone my age “should be?” Probably not. But, I am where I am, and that’s not where I was. Where I was wasn’t good. Where I am is not great. But, where I am is a lot better than where I was, and that’s a good thing.

In the Still Eclipse, Every Light is a Heartbeat.

I end every year with a blog entry where I ask the question “Am I better off than I was one year ago?” It’s not always an easy answer for me. There’s so many variables in it and it’s often difficult for me to say for sure one or the other. This year is very easy. I am absolutely better off than I was at the end of 2017.

As I’ve stated in a previous entry, I started a new job in September. That job may end up being one of the best things to ever happen to me. I make more money than I did before, the commute is barely a thing, and I enjoy the job. I really can’t ask for anything more there.

The job and the pay have made my financial issues a bit less worrisome. The stress relief there is almost immeasurable. By no means I am financially set for life or even close to that, but I’m doing A LOT better there now. I’m actually spending more now, because I can. Over the past few months, I’ve had to replace two household appliances. Buying them wasn’t a concern. I could afford them. I didn’t have to worry about if buying them would prevent me from being able to afford enough gas to get to work before my next paycheck would arrive. Again, I really can’t describe how much of an incredible feeling it is to not have to worry about that right now.

My social life is basically where it was at this point last year. Throughout the course of 2018 I went from optimistic to disappointed to very happy to very disappointed and back to optimistic. I don’t have any regrets about the choices or pursuits that I made in 2018. The various disappointments came from issues that were basically out of my control. That doesn’t mean I’m deflecting blame or responsibility, it really means that there was nothing I could do to change the outcomes, because of things that were set into motion long ago. I would like to go through 2019 without the disappointment. But, we’ll see how that goes.

Last year I lamented about how I only ran in 3 5k races. Throughout 2017 I kept saying that I “wasn’t ready” or whatever excuse/reason I had for not doing more. I did 8 races in 2018. I’ve done a total of 31 since I started and 3 of the first few that I did this year are in the bottom 5 of my slowest ever. But, the last one I did was .4 seconds away from being a top 10. So, I ended my year a lot better than I began it. As for my slower ones, I am a little bit bothered by the results, but knowing how completely exhausted I was after each one, I know that I could not have possibly put any more effort in during those races. I literally exerted every bit of energy I had. It’s not possible for me to sign up for the races yet, but I already know the dates of a few races that I want to do in 2019 and I have somewhat of a plan in place to get myself ready for them.

Again, I didn’t come close to reading as many books as I hoped during the year. I think my new job will allow me to have more time to read. No, I don’t mean I’ll be reading books while I should be working. I mean that I have more free time than I did before with this job and I’m also a lot less stressed. Even if I only read a little bit on weekends, I’m so much more relaxed that I’m able to get a few chapters in during a sitting.

Just like every single year since I started doing the program, I still haven’t been able to perform a Black Crow pose in DDP Yoga. One day I will achieve that.

One of the biggest complaints I have about the last few months since I’ve started my new job is that I haven’t been able to listed to the various podcasts that I enjoy so much. I’m not in my car nearly as much as I used to be, and that really cut down my podcast listening time. If that’s one of my biggest complaints, I’m obviously doing a lot better than I have been.

I don’t know what 2019 will bring me. I have some ideas for things right now. I have some plans to fix a few things in my house that haven’t been looked at or thought about in years. I want to live in an environment that is as stress free as possible I know that being completely stress free at home is not possible, but if I can make a few changes here and there, it’ll alleviate some of the stresses I currently deal with.

My New Year’s Resolution is always the same. It’s “I want to make it better.” I think I did that this year. Despite some really dark and depressing days for me in 2018, I’m leaving the year better off than I started it. I’m really not able to look at 2018 and say it was particularly bad for me. There were enough highlights. I’m hoping to be able to say the same thing about 2019 when it’s over.

It’s Always Darkest Right Before the Dawn.

Sometimes my blog entries have a darker and very pessimistic tone to them. The one I wrote at the end of June of this year definitely had that. In that post (and others I’ve written), I was feeling like I was stuck. There was no chance of any improvements in my life. I had a job that didn’t pay enough, didn’t offer me affordable health coverage, was 30 miles from my house, and I was 100% paycheck to paycheck. My social life seemed to be stuck as well. I was feeling that everything I had worked for a few years ago was gone. There wasn’t much hope left.

One month later I wrote an entry that talked vaguely about possible changes in the near future. I said there was something on the horizon that could (and should) make my financial situation better. I was optimistic, but cautious. It seemed too good to be true. It seemed too long of a time to wait. I had some doubts that it would come to fruition. But, it happened.

Just a few weeks ago I started a new job. It’s SIGNIFICANTLY closer to my house and just a lot better for me, for many reasons.

For the past few years, I’ve felt burdened by basically anything I had to do. Driving an hour to and from work is exhausting. My 8 hour work shift took up at least 10 hours of my time. The stress of getting to and from work was draining me of all of my energy. I didn’t mind the job itself, but it wasn’t healthy for me.

Household chores were beyond just chores for me. They took significant emotional effort from me to get them done.

I couldn’t read books. I tried. I had no energy to concentrate on them. My days off were spent doing things that didn’t require a long attention span. While doing these things that didn’t require a lot of concentration, I would get upset that books I’ve started weren’t being read.

There seemed like there was no escape for me. That was what my life had become and I had to accept it. I had to deal with it. No matter how miserably depressing of an existence it was.

In just a few weeks at the new job, I’ve noticed a significant difference in my days. I’m getting more rest. I’m more relaxed. I’m working out more. I’m getting things done. I’m not necessarily more energetic, but I think that’s mental. I don’t think my mind has adjusted to the changes.

I still haven’t experienced all of the benefits the job has to offer. But, I am experiencing the one that may be most important. My quality of life seems better. Just a few weeks in. I cannot stress that enough. This is a good thing for me.

I have done some form of workout every day this week. Sometimes twice per day. I haven’t done that consistently in years.

Waking up doesn’t seem as difficult as it did a few weeks ago. Although, I did quickly learn the minimal amount of time needed to do whatever I have to do in the morning before work and I’ve utilized that knowledge a bit. But, even knowing that, I’m still a lot less stressed.

For the first time in a very long time, I have concepts for things I want to do in the future. I haven’t been able to have any real forward thoughts for a very long time.

While I’m actually optimistic about things at the moment, there’s still that little voice in my head telling me that this is too good to last. I’m doing my best to ignore that voice and any and every instinct that tells me not to enjoy this.

Yeah, that entry I wrote in June was dark. And I’ve always been a firm believer (based on evidence) that things usually get a lot worse before they get better. Well, things did get worse for me. Time and time again. Maybe this is my dawn. Maybe this is when things start to get better. When I’m at my lowest points, I take life day by day. I mentioned that I’m thinking of things for my future, but I’m still going to take life day by day and enjoy the ride, for as long as I can.

This is Another Chance or So I’m Told…

What a difference a month makes.

The last entry I wrote had a darker tone and prompted a few people to ask me questions about my well being. For the record, there was nothing to worry about, but I’m grateful for the concern.

The last thing I said in that entry was “I can’t go back to where I’ve been.”  For the most part, that is true. There’s a lot of things in my life that I can’t return to. There’s situations and scenarios that shouldn’t be returned to. There’s things that should be left where they were in the past.

However, there’s also things that can be returned to and it looks like they might be. I’m going to be intentionally vague here. The only thing I will say is that it’s possible that I could be returning to a situation that I really enjoyed being in. We’ll see how it plays out.

At the beginning of the month, I was lamenting my employment and financial status. Those haven’t gotten any better, yet.
There’s something on the horizon that could (and should) make both of those a lot better for me. I just have to stay put for a little while longer and wait for things to fall into place there. Again, I’m intentionally being vague.

I’ve often written about how happiness and good things going on for me confuse me. And based on that, I’ve had a very confusing few weeks. Since my last entry, a lot of good things have happened. I’ve had some very good times. I am A LOT less stressed than I was just one month ago.

Another thing I’ve written about a few times recently is how I’ve had trouble talking about specific details of events or scenarios from my life. I’m having trouble with this entry too. I’m not even talking about the vagueness that I’ve already mentioned. I’m just having a hard time writing about things that aren’t generally miserable. I guess that’s a good thing. As I was starting this paragraph, a quote from one of my favorite actors, Simon Pegg, came to my mind:

“We are never more creative than when we are at odds with the world and there is nothing so artistically destructive as comfort. Princess Leia taught me that.”

I like that quote because I understand it and because of the Carrie Fisher reference. I’ve documented how much of a hero she was (and still is) to me. But, as for that quote, it’s very true. I’m never too complimentary of most of my writing, but I’ve always felt my best work happens when I’m most miserable. And today, when I’m a relatively calm and good mood, I’m having a very difficult time writing about myself. Is that good?

Another reason I have a difficult time writing about good things is that I’m sure everything is going to collapse around me. I’m sure all the good stuff will go away. Do I think that because it’s happened too many times? Do I think that because it’s just the way I’m programmed to think? To be honest, it’s very confusing to me. But, right now, I don’t want to think about it. I want to ride this out. I’m enjoying the wave of good times, good news, and a possible good future.

I know this entry is short, but it’s like I’ve said, I don’t have much to complain about right now. I’m in good place, well…
maybe I should say, I’m still where I was, but things are looking better.

Just a few months ago I wrote a blog entry talking about how bad of a time I was having and how I had a string of a few good things. My mood had changed a bit. The last thing I wrote in that entry was “Depression isn’t just a phase for me. It’s much bigger than that. Smiling may be a phase, but it’s a phase that I’m hoping to extend.”

The past month has really been a good for me. I hope that one day soon I’ll be able to go in detail about the things that have happened, the things that have been talked about as happening in the future, and how the way things happening now are making me smile a lot more than I had been in a very long time. So, let me paraphrase myself to close this entry. “Smiling may be a phase, but you’re damn right I’m going to extend that phase for as long as I can.”

My Prospects Have Become Less Promising.

Just two years ago I was dreading my 40th birthday. I had a lot of questions about my future. I was working for a company that was going out of business. And while I was technically a full-time employee with health benefits, I was only working around 32 hours per week. That was also the lowest paying job that I’ve had since the 1990s. I was also working a part time job on the side to earn more money. When the full-time job went away, I got a 2nd part time job to keep myself going. While my employment situation was iffy, my social life was looking pretty good. There was definitely an upswing there.

Now, I’m just a few days away from my 42nd birthday. I’ve just passed 1.5 years at a full-time job that pays me the most I’ve been paid since 2001. That job doesn’t offer cheap healthcare coverage. I have to drive over 30 miles to get there. I haven’t had a raise and I don’t see one happening in the near future. I made choices about my jobs that looked to be the right ones. I’m in the exact same, if not a worse place, than I was when my situation appeared to be less stable. And oh yeah, my social life isn’t looking nearly as good as it was two years ago.

After the initial dread of my 40th birthday wore off, I was really optimistic about things. I had a lot of good things happening. But, it’s now two years later and a lot of curve balls have been thrown at me by life. How many more can I foul off before I strike out?

How can I really be optimistic when I see no hope for me? The economic system is set up to hold me down, not lift me (or society) up. I certainly can’t thrive in this environment. I can barely survive. As I said, I have a full-time job. I don’t have the time for a 2nd job. Trust me, I would probably get one if I could. I’ve been looking at employment opportunities elsewhere. I’ve looked at entry level positions that are closer to my house that offer comparable pay to what I’m getting now. I’ve noticed that a lot of entry level jobs require a lot of employment experience. At least that’s what their descriptions say. I think the people writing them don’t understand the term “entry level.”

I’m not going to use this entire entry to go over my employment/financial issues. Trust me, I could go on for days about them. They’re definitely a big source of my anxiety and worries. My social life is as well. It’s amazing to me that I can say that I truly have more friends than I’ve ever had, and yet I feel lonelier than I have in a very long time. That’s what chronic depression will do for ya.

As I mentioned in last month’s entry, I often write these out and then delete entire paragraphs. What you’re reading now is many re-writes. I had originally written something MUCH darker. I discussed something about a big fear I have about being 42. I went into (vague) detail about what it means for the rest of my life. My heart rate rose as I typed it and the thought of publishing it was too much for me. I know, I know. I can’t just leave it out there like that, but I have to. It’s something I not really capable of publicly talking about. To be honest, it’s more of a superstition about a family history thing that I’m almost sure will impact me as well.

I’ve written about how I was bullied as a kid. I’ve talked about other things from my past that had negative impact on me. I’ve gone into that a lot. Is it weird that I still look back somewhat fondly on the days of my past just because they seemed simpler? The struggles of adulthood are very overwhelming. It’s even more overwhelming when you’re sure that you’ve accomplished very little, are years behind where you think you should be, have no money to your name, and are having thoughts about mortality.

Yes, that last sentence was a reference to the thing I said I don’t want to talk about.

Everyone has a breaking point. I often wonder why I haven’t reached mine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I haven’t. But, how much can one struggle before he (or she) gets there? 42 years old. Never moved out. Single. Paycheck to paycheck. No help and no hope in sight. I’m not really putting a lot of optimistic shine in this entry, am I?

Again, let me assure you that if you think this is dark, it is not nearly as dark as the original versions of this entry. Maybe one day I’ll be able to really get into some of the darker thoughts and concepts in my head. I’m just not able to now.

I don’t know how long my story will last. I know that there’s a lot of unfinished chapters. There’s chapters that I wish could be erased or modified. There’s also chapters yet to be written. I don’t know how those unfinished and unwritten chapters will play out. I don’t know how much control I’ll have in them. I don’t know how long they’ll be or how many remain.

I do know that I’m tired of starting over. I feel like I’m constantly starting over. I’m just not going anywhere. There’s beginnings and endings. The middle part seems very stagnant.

I also know that I’m going to be very disappointed at many points of my life. Let me put a positive spin on that. I’m going to be disappointed because I care. I’m going to be disappointed because I keep trying. I’m going to be disappointed because I keep doing things. They’re not all going to work out. Things that I think may be going well, may not end up good. But, I’m still going. I’m still fighting. I’m still here. My current prospects may not be so promising, but I can’t go back to where I’ve been.