I want to be real. I'm freaking Pinocchio, trapped in a wooden body, fighting to break out and become a real boy.
And in some sense that is literally true. I am trapped in a body wracked with pain and limited mobility and often crippling headaches that render me unproductive for days and sometimes weeks.
But I am talking about something we all struggle with. We want to be what we perceive as our perfect self. We see that there is a version of ourselves that we want to be. Maybe that has to do with our job, or our kids or where we live, but overall I think we all see a version of ourselves that has more to do with habits and hangups than it does with outward appearance.
"If only"... if only I could quit smoking. If only I could lose weight. If only I could be a better spouse. If only I could stop doing x. If only I could start doing y.
Friends, "if only" will kill you. Literally. I'm being very serious here. Chasing that "if only" will literally kill you. Maybe not quickly, but it will steal your life and leave you staring at your mortality with a wasted life.
We all want to be better. We all want to do better. And that's good. We should all want to be our true self. The problem comes when we look toward that true self and weigh it on the scale with 'if only' and see the huge pile of 'if only' outweighing the potential of reaching the true self.
And we feel like a failure. And we feel small and worthless. We feel this way because it just seems like an insurmountable mountain of 'ifs' that we need to overcome to become our true self.
Friends, let me make this really clear.
You are perfect as your are.
Let me say again, YOU are PERFECT as YOU ARE.
YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE. RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW.
I don't care what your boss or your doctor or your church or family or anyone else is telling you.
Your true self is who you are right now. It's not an ideal that you have to waste your life to achieve.
Ok so you have this issue or that. You might have an addiction you need to deal with. You might be overweight. Yes, those are real things that you need to work on.
But those aren't the real you. Those aren't barriers to get to your true self. They're just globs of dirt that you need to brush off. Your true self is you as you are right now.
Everything you want to be is here. Now. Anything you see as a barrier is an illusion.
What is really stopping you from being who you are? Fear. Specifically fear of failure.
I have one question for you: Who flipping cares?
Ask yourself this: If you had unlimited resources and unlimited time, what would you do with your life? Put aside the mansion and the sex partners and the piles of guns and consider, really consider, what you would DO? Put aside your family and friends and the selfish things and consider actually what you would DO as a vocation. What is that THING you would DO that you want to be. Is it a writer? An athlete? A philanthropist? Movie maker? Comedian? Lecturer? Teacher?
Now ask yourself this: Even though you don't have unlimited resources and time, what can you do to do that thing you want to do? What is honestly stopping you? Put aside your need to make enough money to eat and have a place to live, that's your job, it's not who you are. What can you do, in spite of your job, to become that thing you want to be?
There is really only one answer, isn't there? Fear. What if I do it and I suck at it?
Let me let you in on a little secret. You will suck at it. Everyone that has done something you consider great has also done something that is a complete disaster. But here's the secret:
They kept trying. They KEEP trying. They DO.
I am writing as much to myself as to you. I live in fear of failure. Of failing my family, of failing my church, of failing my God. (Yes, I am a 'religious' person, this may or may not apply to you). What do I want my real self to be?
I just want my real self to be .... real. I don't want to be the mask that I put on to hide my pain and disability. I don't want to be the mask I put on to hide my addictions and stuggles.
I want to be that person that lives without fear.
I am in my late fourties. My life is probably more than half over. My father died in his 50s. I could lament over how much time I have wasted. I could cry over how many lost opportunites I have had. I could be angry about how much time I have wasted in fear.
But I'm not going to do that. I don't want you to do that. I want you to dare to be real. It doesn't matter what you define as your real self. Just DO IT.
Do it. Go. Do. Fail. Get up. Fail some more. Who cares? What is the worst that could happen? Well, ok, you could die. But unless what you are trying to is skydiving or Russian Roulette, is death really on the list of worst things that could happen?
It's been a while, hasn't it? Life and things and stuff just seems to have shifted my attention away from my blogs, so I just don't have much desire to keep it going anymore.
But today I feel like writing. So I'm writing.
My journey to "be normal" still continues. My headaches are being treated by Botox. It's helped some, but not a lot. I get about 4 less headache days a month. For some people that would be a lot, but for me that's only about 20% less. So that's some, and about 4 more days I can be productive, but .... well, there ya go.
I'm working on getting my weight under control again. It's hard without being able to commit hardcore to a diet right now, but I can do some exercise and just generally eat less. It's hard to get moving some days, but I'd really like to be able to lose 80 pounds by June next yeat.
There's a wedding!
Yes, my second child, Chenisse, is tying the knot with her beau Daniel. And guess what? I GET TO DO THE MARRYING! Yes, I am officiating. As an ordained deacon at my church, by New Mexico law I can do that. No fake ordinating on the Internet, just do the thing. I'm both excited and terrified. But I've got something like 10 months to figure it out.
What else can I tell you? Well we have a new grandbaby. Miss Rosey is about 2 months old now. We've only got to spend a little time with her, but she is sweet and adorable and healthy. School is in full swing, almost a month now. We have a 3 day weekend coming up. I still don't know why schoool starts before Labor day, but it does.It must cost a lot in AC, but oh well.
A few days ago I had a regular doctor's appointment. Technically I saw a PA (Physicians Assistant) but Bill is one of the most sympathetic, understanding people I know.
He was very concerned about my health and chronic issues, but we talked a lot about my depression issues and, for lack of a better term, my spiritual and intellectual health.
I left feeling energized. I really felt like it's time to look at things and really start doing something about how I spend my time and energy.
But here I am, three days later, and I'm still sitting on the bed, computer in my lap, wasting time on facebook and twitter and really not doing anything with myself.
I've been dealing with my pain and headaches and all the rest for about 12 years now. 12. Years. Things are in a place where the symptoms aren't getting worse - or at least not getting worse as rapidly they were. We seem to have things somewhat controlled. So it seems to be a perfect time to work on the intellectual and spiritual things.
So why can't I get out of this rut?
Over the course of the last 12 years I've started many little projects along the way. This blog, for one. Several other blogs, too, for that matter. Photography, videos, a youtube thing, trying to play guitar again, I started a book, a few coding project that I could never get to work, a box full of electronic parts and worn out computers waiting to be turned into something.....
I need to take these things out, dust them off, and see if any or it is worth working on or if it's time to dump them in the trash. Then maybe start something new. Or not. I don't know.
But I'm still here. in this rut.
And while on the one hand I feel a little energized to do something, I also feel really really TIRED. So freaking tired. And all the while my kids have to see me just sitting here, apparently stuck on the bed, struggling with the pain, yes, but also struggling to find meaning and purpose. And all the while being a failure as a father and person.
But I WANT to be better. I NEED to be better. I want to be a PERSON again.
I just can't move.
I haven't written here in some time. Since October 2014. I don't know why. I love writing. I really do. I don't pretend I''m good at it, but typing is easier than talking or any other form of communication. Rather than one on one I just throw things out there and see if people respond. If not, swell. If so, I hope it starts an interesting interaction - in written form of course.
Today I am depressed. I've shared in this blog and other places about my struggles with depression. It's been a life-long struggle, but it's harder at times than others. A lot of people still misunderstand what it is. I'm not sad. I'm not lonely. I'm not angry. I'm depressed. In my case that means I feel nothing. Just empty. Dark. Black. It's a pit of.... empty.
If I feel anything it's tired. Always just so tired. I know part of that is the other neurological things I have going on and, not least of all, my weight.
And overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed. Which is odd because I don't work (can't work... not allowed to work a traditional job... on disability due to chronic pain) but I do a lot of volunteer stuff and I have a lot of self-created 'work' with social networking stuff. None of it is life-critical. I could just quit doing all of it, someone else would pick it up and I could just.... not do it. Who would notice? Or care?
It's summer. The kids are home. They overwhelm me. I always feel like I'm letting them down. Like I need to do more with them and for them. They don't lack for anything. But we don't go to parks or pools or much anymore because of me. Because of stuff I can't do anymore. Because at any moment a headache is going to melt my brain.
Is this a pity party? Yes. It is. It's my blog. I can be as pitiful as I choose. Don't like it? Don't read it. I'm allowed. Not because I'm better than you. Not because I'm worse than you. But because this is my struggle. Your's may be worse. Your's may be much worse. And I'm sorry. But this is mine. I'll help you with your's if I can. But right now no one is helping with mine.
Because there's not much to do. I can get around OK, with a cane. My kids are old enough to help with the dishes and the laundry and stuff - in fact they do most of the dishes and laundry and cooking. Maybe that's unfair to some, but it's not hard work and we don't ask them to do anything complicated. Do they do more than what some might call their fair share? Probably, especially other kids. But we're a large family. In a large family, everyone works. And, personally, I think it's good for them. It teaches them skills they need later in life. (Bash me if you want on this, but I stand by it.)
But still... there's not much anyone can do to help that isn't already being done. I appreciate the sympathy, so long as it's not pity (I pity myself enough), and I appreciate offers to help, but there's nothing to do. My lovely wife is the breadwinner now. Oh, I still get a little from social security, but she is making more than enough now to provide our needs. She's a teacher, so we don't have excess, but we have enough. And enough is all I really want.
Well, that's not entirely true. I want mobility. I want to be able to run to the store and do other little things. But it's too far to walk (at least for me - 3 miles) and I lost the ability to drive a while ago. Oh, I could still operate a vehicle, but there are the disorientation and vertigo and all the other terrible things that make it terribly unsafe for me to drive. I've tried to talk to my wife about maybe getting an adult tricycle and then working my way up to being able to ride into town. There's still risks with the disorientation and vertigo and all the other terrible things, but they are greatly diminished when I'm on a vehicle that weighs only 50 pounds or so and going only 4 miles an hour or so rather than a multi-ton vehicle of steel and fiberglass. I don't think my wife takes me seriously, though. Or maybe it's the thought of how I'd look on an adult trike. Or... I don't know... could be anything because she doesn't really talk to me about it.
So here I am. Generally stuck in the house. It's a nice house. Small. It's a trailer. But it's ours. I know it doesn't have any real resale value. And we don't own the land it's on. But it's ours. It's a little cluttered... well, a lot cluttered... at the moment because of all the stuff my lovely teacher wife just brought home from school. I'm encouraging her to get a storage unit, at least until she can sort it and/or take it back to school in the fall. But for now, this is where I am with all the stuff.
And I'm tired.So tired. And overwhelmed. And peering into the darkness that is depression.
But Allen, what about your faith? How can you be tired and overwhelmed and worst of all depressed while claiming to be a Christian?
Well, what of it? Like belief in something is an instant cure? Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I believe in Christ. Yes, I believe that God can cure me. And I pray, every day, for healing of my body and mind and soul. Yet it doesn't come. To many that would be enough to stop believing. But my belief is not based on what prayers of mine are answered or not. Maybe He will someday, but for now those particular prayers aren't answered.
Anyone that tells you that a real Christian isn't plagued by illness and pain and depression is lying. Lying a lot. Especially if they tell you that you just need to "pray the right way" or "name it and claim it" or do some kind of ridiculous laying on of hands from particular people or "repent of your unknown sins". I never got that one. How can you repent (literally "turn 180 degrees away from) a sin that is unknown? You can generally ask for forgiveness, but for a sin that is damaging to you (like addiction) you need to turn away from it. If you don't know you're doing it, how can you turn away? And then there's the demons and "God is punishing you because of your faithlessness" and all that other nonsense. Give me a break. Sometimes things are just what they are. In the Bible, the apostle Paul had a "thorn in his side" and prayed for it to be removed. God answered "no" and "My grace is enough". I'm not Paul, nor am I really comparing myself to him, except in this one thing. I've prayed, and maybe the answer is "grace is enough". And I can live with that, even though it's hard to live with the pain sometimes.
I'm about ranted out for now. I'm feeling a little better. My head still hurts, but then again it always does. Onward...