Say Just Words

It’s pretty common now for people to talk about how much tougher the older generations were because words didn’t hurt them. They’ll talk about how their generation didn’t need “safe spaces” and how they weren’t afraid of the truth. They’ll say that their parents “didn’t raise sissies” or something like that. And of course, they’ll probably mention something about using violence against anyone that says anything offensive towards them.

In addition to believing the concept of an emotionally tougher generation is simply not true, I believe that type of thinking is outdated. I also believe it was never healthy and not good for anyone. Feeling what you feel at the time you feel it isn’t bad. Expressing your emotions isn’t bad. Crying or being upset isn’t weakness.

This post will probably be a bit disjointed, as many of my posts are. But, I know the point I want to attempt to get across in it. I know what I want to say. I don’t know if I’m going to say it as well as I would like to, but that’s okay. I’m going to say whatever I say.

For much of my time in school, I was made fun of. If it wasn’t my long hair, it was my glasses, of maybe it was how I dressed. The kids that made fun of me for having bucked teeth and an overbite were the ones that later made fun of me for having braces and head-gear to correct those issues. It’s been years since those things happened, but it doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten them. Memories like that can pop up pretty randomly and still cause me to have issues with my appearance.

I fully admit to issuing my share of insults and mockery to kids in school. I admit to making many off-color and insensitive comments about… well, about just about anyone and everyone at some point. But there was a point when I stopped. As far as I know, there was not anything specific that made me stop. There wasn’t a figurative light going off in my head. I had an awakening. I realized the damage done to me and I don’t want to be a part of that damage done to others.

Surviving the constant ridicule and mockery without publicly crying didn’t make me stronger or better suited for the world. It made me numb. It made me believe that I was supposed to be ridiculed and mocked. It made me not like myself. It made me not able to deal with people in an effective way.

As I often say in my posts, this is not a “woe is me” post. This is me trying to figure things out. This is me trying to understand why and maybe try to move forward in a more positive way. Or at the very least, a less negative way.

Way too often, we look at things from a particular point of view in life and we don’t change. I look at so many aspects of life differently than I used to. I don’t think as highly of some people, events, or memories of my life as I did before. I realize that they may not really have been as good as I thought or hoped they were. My opinion and my feelings changed.

One of my favorite holiday specials is Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas. In that special, there’s a band of “hooligans” that sings a song with a line that says “We don’t wish to learn, but we hate what we don’t understand.” I think that applies to almost everything I’m writing about today. People ofeten mock things they don’t understand and they don’t bother to learn why people act differently from them.

I like logic. I like understanding things. I like understanding people and their actions. Even if their actions aren’t good, I want to know why they did what they did or said what they said. But even as much as I want to understand why people are they way they are, I’ve also learned that I’m not always going to understand all aspects of their lives. I also don’t need to. If they’re not doing any harm to me or to anyone else, why should them being “different” matter? It shouldn’t, so why do we mock differences? Why do we say hurtful things?

Why do we continue to push people and push them until they reach their breaking point? Why don’t we care more? Why?

Yeah, I’m passionate about this. I’m in my 40s. Things that were said to me by classmates, teachers, authority figures, and even relatives have stuck with me. Their words have impacted me. They’ve made me doubt so much about myself. Even now, as it’s so easy for me to see how much better off I am than I have been in a very long time, there’s still things said that knock me down. There’s things said that remind me of other things that have been said and that’ll bring me down me more.

I remember what it was like to not want to go to school because of the ridicule I knew I was going to face on a daily basis. I knew I was going to hear words that were offensive to me. I knew that there was basically nothing I could do to make it better for myself on a daily basis. If I cried, I would be mocked for crying. If I told someone about it, I would be mocked for telling. So I just kept taking it. That does a lot to someone’s mental and emotional state. As damaged as I may be, I’m also lucky to have come out of it as well as I did.

One of things that bothers me the most about when I write things like this, or a political post, is that I know that the people reading these things aren’t necessarily the ones that “need to.” My audience is mostly like-minded people that know where I’m coming from. The people that are reading my posts aren’t the ones that I’m passively calling out in this entry. But, that isn’t going to stop me from writing and it isn’t going to stop me from posting. But, I often hesitate to post certain things because I’m not sure how some people will take it. I’m afraid of their replies. And THAT is what this post is mostly about.

Words are powerful. They can shape opinions. They can create emotion. They can lift someone’s spirits. They can tear someone down. Say the right thing. If you don’t understand someone or something about them, mocking them isn’t the right thing. Say words. But just say the right words.








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Step Aside the Scruples in a Stratagem of Strain.

Writing these entries are sometimes difficult for me. Very often I’ll have ideas for something that I want to discuss and I just find it hard to put my thoughts into words. Sometimes I’ll have topics I want to dig deep into, but there’s something preventing me from getting into it. I use this forum to Unpack My Baggage and to express emotions that I’m sometimes not able to express elsewhere. Sometimes I’ll do a quasi-political rant here.

The entries that are the easiest for me to write are the ones that I do when I’m at some of my lower emotional points. I find it very difficult, if not impossible to write anything of substance when I’m “in a good place.” That’s part of the problem I’m having now. I’m in a good mental and emotional place. I’m not hurting emotionally at the moment. However, I can’t say the same about my physical well being.

I’ve been dealing with what I (currently) believe to be the longest lasting lower back spasm that I’ve ever dealt. In these entries, I’ve often said that I hope that my readers don’t fully understand some of the pain I’ve felt, because that probably means they haven’t experienced similar issues. I can say that again here about the back spasms. They’re not fun.

The simple fact that I’ve been able to walk without the use of a cane today is a bright spot. Not being able to support my own weight while trying to stand up is not a good thing.

People, like myself, that suffer from some form of depression will often talk about how difficult it is to get out of bed in the morning. It’s been very difficult for me over the last few days, but not because of mental or emotional issues. I’ve physically been unable to do it easily. I’ve had to pull myself to the edge of the bed and slowly get to the ground and then try to stand up.

Before you comment that I should see a doctor about this, I want to let you know that I have. I’ve already been to my chiropractor twice (as of when this is published) and I went to another doctor that prescribed some medications for me. Part of the reason I’m in a good emotional and mental state is that I don’t have to worry about affording doctor visits or medication because I have a good health insurance plan. I know too many people that don’t have that and something as simple as back trouble could cost them a lot.

This back spasm that I’m dealing with started over a week ago when I sneezed. I’m not kidding. It was just a sneeze that triggered it. It wasn’t particularly bad when it started, so I felt comfortable enough to go to a gym the next day. I was on a treadmill for one minute before I knew I should stop. I did some other cardio machines that had less impact and I felt fine, but I was probably making things worse. I felt a little better two days later and repeated the same thing at the gym, but again, it probably wasn’t a good idea.

If you saw me walking today, you wouldn’t notice a problem. If you saw me walking a few days ago, you would see someone in complete agony. I try my best to not take things for granted, but it’s something we all do. It’s just natural. But, not being able to stand up without assistance is not something I’m used to. Not being able to easily get off of my bed is not something I’m used to. Those are things I never want to be used to.

As of the time I’m writing this, I’m not suffering. I’m in SIGNIFICANTLY less pain that I was a few days ago. I’ve taken the pills I’m supposed to take. I’ve used ice packs on my lower back. I’ve done very little in the way of physical activity. I find it very ironic that I know of some DDP Yoga routines that are good for lower back pain, but I was in too much pain to do them.

I am getting better. There’s still some discomfort. But, like everything else I go through, I just have to take it day by day. I’ve done some stretches and I’ve done some simple DDP Yoga routines. I’ve been able to get out of bed and stand up without help. It’s weird for me to say that like it’s an accomplishment, but after the last few days, it is.

I will get through this. I will be better when all is said and done. If I have to take it easy for a few days and not do any strenuous activity, I’ll do that. If I have to forsake training for races, I’ll do that. I have time to get myself going for those. For now, I just need to get myself to 100%, or at least as close to it as I’m capable of doing.


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.

Only the Darkness Can Filter Through.

I was 29 years old and hanging out with the then girlfriend. We were at her house in the middle of the afternoon. She didn’t have any lights on. Her windows were open. The shades were up. Light from outside was coming into the room. She said she doesn’t usually have lights on in her room. She said preferred it that way.

Many times when I go to a friend’s house I’ll see that their front door is open, and maybe there’s only a screen door closed. If the door happens to be closed, it may not be locked and I’m encouraged to just go inside.

Those things confuse me. They always have.

No, it doesn’t make sense to you. It probably won’t. It shouldn’t.
It barely makes sense to me. But, let me explain.

My house always has the doors closed and locked. The windows are rarely open. The curtains are always down. This is what I’ve known for the majority of my life. It’s how my parents did things in the house. If I lift a curtain, it gets pulled back down. It’s what I was programmed to know as normal.

My life has literally and figuratively been locked away in seclusion and darkness.

Breaking my programming is not easy. Some of the sources of the programming are no longer around, but what they taught me still exists. Changing my normal to something else isn’t something I’ve found easy to do.

But, this isn’t just about doors being locked or windows being down, it’s a lot deeper than that. It’s about the people, places, and things in my life that have made me depend on darkness for comfort.

I’ve been in the shadows cast my more outgoing friends and family members. I’ve been the one that was noticed or picked last. My accomplishments only get attention when I point them out. There’s always been that dark cloud over my head.

I can’t flat out tell you that I don’t enjoy being miserable. I know that I enjoy being comfortable. Miserable is comfortable for me. Happiness confuses me. Yet, I enjoy happiness. I enjoy the feelings that I get when I’m happy. However, when I’m happy, I’m sure things are going to fall apart. Why don’t I assume that things will get better when I’m at my more miserable points?

Again, I’ll say that I’m sure this doesn’t make sense to some of you. I’m almost envious of that. Although, if you’re happy all the time, I’m confused by you. I’ve often wondered what type of delusional world that eternally happy people live in. Does it really exist? How are they oblivious to what I see and deal with? Or am I oblivious to what they see and deal with?

I don’t have the answers to the questions I’m asking here. You probably don’t either.

How can someone change 42 years worth of programming when so many situations that have caused that programming remain the same? How can I change what may not be able to be changed? If I can’t change some things, can I work around them?

I’ve written 10 entries this year. Some of them offered hope. They offered prospects of renewal in my life. They offered new chances. There’s a lot of good things happening for me right now. There really are. I’m very much aware of that and I have enough perspective to know that things are going (mostly) well for me. And yes, I did have to throw in that little hint of doubt. It’s because I’m constantly expecting everything to fall apart around me. The balance I’ve been seeking in my life seems to be there already. I see it as lots of little good things being canceled out by bad things.

Do I focus too much on the negative? Do I imagine the negative? What if things really are going great for me right now and I don’t know it? What if things aren’t going to fall apart?

Here’s some irony for you. My anxiety levels just spiked as I was typing that last paragraph. Yes, as I was discussing the possibility that my life might be going well, I got anxious about it. I think that sums up this entry very well.

Now that I’ve taken a few minutes to gather my thoughts as I wrap up this entry, I realize that what I said earlier is very true. I don’t have answers for my questions. I think I just have to keep going on this journey. Yes, my journey may be through darkness, but maybe one day there will be a window of opportunity and some light will filter through.

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.

All You Know-It-Alls With Politic Views.

Thomas Jefferson famously said “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” I do my best to abide by that philosophy. It’s become more and more difficult in today’s political climate.

I have friends that have vastly different political views than I have. I could very easily lash out at them online when I see them post something that I vehemently disagree with. I could call them out on spreading falsehoods. I could hide their posts so I don’t see them. I could even just disassociate myself from them. But, I don’t want to do that. I like dissent. I think Thomas Jefferson would agree that this country was basically founded on dissent.

If you know anything about Jefferson’s political life, you know that he was no saint when it comes to taking shots political opponents. He and John Adams pretty much wrote the book on dirty campaigns when they ran against each other for President in 1800. But, they ended up being very close friends again during the last years of their lives.

Our current environment doesn’t seem to lend itself to such civility. Even though all sides seem to agree on certain things that definitely happened, they can’t agree on how it impacted things, the fact that it’s still and issue, or who’s to blame for it. Yes, I’m being vague. But, does that even matter? There’s so many issues this could apply to.

Just last week, Senator John McCain died. A lot has been said about him. There’s been a lot of praise of him from his friends, colleagues in Congress, newscasters, and from me. I did not agree with much of Senator McCain’s politics, but I respected him. I believe he served his country with dignity and class during some tough times.

During the 2000 Presidential Election, he made it very clear that his opponent Barack Obama would be a good choice for President, but he felt he could do a better job. That’s why he was running against him. He made it clear that Obama was a good man, but the two had differences of policies and views. That’s what the entire election was about to him, and to be honest, that’s what it should always be. It doesn’t need to be name calling, tarnishing of reputations, or smear campaigns. It should be “I want to do things this way, my opponent wants to do things that way. Which do you prefer?”

I could go on a mini rant of my own and point fingers at whom and what I believe started us down this path. I don’t think it’s any one person, place, or thing. It’s a culmination of things. Where we are now and who we see acting out isn’t the cause, but the effect. I’m just hoping we can turn things around.

I want to be able to vote for a candidate because I think he or she is the best person for the job. I don’t want to vote for someone because I know that he or she is less awful than the opponent. I want a candidate to tell me specifically what they will do for me. I don’t want them to tell me how bad the opposition is. I want to be able to discuss the differences of opinion with someone and not immediately get angry.

I don’t know if we can get back to a civil society. Each side has their own set of facts. Even though that’s not at all possible. People believe what they believe, no matter if it’s true or not. I try to read things from all perspectives to gain insight so I have a better concept of what is true or not. I don’t just go on hearsay.

Building on that, and if I may (once again) quote a Founding Father, John Adams, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

But, this isn’t so much about facts as it is about discourse and conversation. Yes, facts play a part in that, especially now. I’ve had many political discussions with people I don’t agree with. Some of them are close friends. We’re still close friends. But, those are ones that don’t deal with the rhetoric and name calling that I see online all the time. I have theories as to why we got to that point, but that would be extend this entry to a very long one that I don’t have the patience to write, and you don’t have the patience to read. Maybe one day I’ll get into that history lesson.

What I’m trying to say here is that I think we need to make a concentrated effort to get past the anger and hostility. We need to stop believing things that simply are not true. We need to accept what things are wrong and not do the “yeah, well (insert name here) did that too.” We need to stop the blame game and see truths.

Unfortunately, I think we may have gone too far in the wrong direction already. I hope I’m wrong.

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.”