Sunday, October 30, 2016

Birthday Notes From an Old Man

My birthday is on Halloween.  And yes, I know that makes sense.

Everything adds up now, doesn't it?

Traditionally, it's the real New Year's Eve.  It's when our ancestors used to look back on the year behind them.  I do this as well.

I'll be 45 years old and I'm going to stop lying about that because I used to say I'm 29, but I'm tired of doing that.  I'm tired of calling so much of my life something else just because it makes me feel better or to avoid the truth of it.

I've been sick these last few days so I've stayed home to binge-watch Grimm.  I didn't like it at first but after binge-watching it for a while, I got sucked in, and now I've watched the first four seasons. That means I'm out of free episodes to watch, Amazon wants to charge me to watch the fifth season, and I can't afford to do that just yet.  Also, Hulu only has the last 5 episodes of the 5th season available for some reason.

It boggles the mind.

But now my fear of abandonment is acting up.  From a tv show.  Yes, I know.  They're going to cancel Grimm after the 6th Season, and even that won't be a full season, just a 13-episode half-season.

I don't do well with people drifting out of my life.  If I get attached, then I expect them to stay there, from now on.  But that's not how life is supposed to be.  People drift in, people drift out.  Fate decides we talk to somebody when we need them and when we're done, Fate removes them from our lives.

I had a great online friend when I was in college named Cyn.  When I met her, she was in college and getting her degree to teach high school biology in Texas.  She was really into fish.  Cyn was in her mid-30's when we met.

I relied upon Cyn for a lot of things and one of them was to keep me alive while depression and psychosis tore me apart.  I was a wreck.  I was so close to the edge that when I look back, I honestly don't understand how I managed to avoid going over.

Cyn yelled at me when I needed it, offered advice and experience, but most of all she was somebody who knew how screwed up I was and yet she was still there for me without flinching.  She didn't run away.  And when you're human wreckage, limping, barely alive, and reaching out for somebody's hand, that lack of flinching means everything.

Cyn was the first person I went to when I had my epiphany about myself.  The moment I realized I was indeed a human being was powerful for me.  For years I thought I was something less than, something different, discarded and worthless.  When I realized I was a human being, it meant something to me.  And when I told her, her response was perfect, "Maybe now you'll give yourself a break and be good to yourself."

Sometimes I wonder what a comic book representation of myself would look like, with all my demons, ghosts, and issues.  What would I look like to an outsider?  Would I be a large infant screaming about a paper cut?  Would I be a spoiled man-child raging for more entitlement?  Or would I be a man being devoured alive by an unknown parasite that whispers in my ear how everything is just fine?  Whatever Cyn saw, she didn't run away, and for that I will always be grateful.

I lost contact with her when I lived in Korea.  I tried to keep up but my life over there went turbo. And once again, she offered me advice I should have taken, because she was right.  Cyn was always right.

People drift in and out of our lives, but family always remains.  I think that's part of the whole reason we're supposed to pair up, make children, and settle down.  It gives us a reason to wake up every morning as we grow older.  In our early years, we live for ourselves, but as we grow older, we live for those we love and who love us.  We live because somebody is counting on us.  We're raising children, or we're in a close relationship with somebody who loves us, and accepts our love for them.

As I said before, I've been sick these past few days.  IBS.  My system's gone schizophrenic and if I eat different foods too often, it locks down, and freaks out.   It's painful, I can't sleep, and it eventually causes a fever along with the dry-heaving and everything else.  After two days of this, I was pretty strung out.

My mom sent me a birthday care package.  Included were some nice Halloween trinkets, some Halloween decorations, a book from my cousin, and a card with a check inside.  The book my cousin sent me was amazing--Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1918 edited by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and it was in wonderful condition.  A true gem, really.  I called her to say thanks and ended up breaking down.  I had no warning, it just came.

It was the kindness that got me.  I wasn't expecting it even though it was my own mother who loves me and wants the best for me.  While I'm always expecting her to be disappointed in me for some reason, she never is, and sometimes just that alone is powerful enough cut me to the bone.

This month has been rough on me.  She's heard it in my voice during my weekly calls to her and now she thinks I'm at the end of my rope.  This is not what I wanted to convey.  I'm not at the end of my rope.  But I'm finding out a lot of people are worried about me, not just Mom and a few friends.

The problem is, I don't see this as depression.  I see this as a realistic appraisal of my life.  It's all very rational to me.

I'm going to be 45 years old and I have nothing to show for it.  Most folks by now have children, some kind of significant other in their lives, a halfway decent car, and maybe even a house.  I have none of those things.  Just insurmountable debt and a dead-end job I'm pissing away while I physically deteriorate from neglect.  I'm currently at my heaviest, slowest, weakest, I've ever been.  All the warning signs are there for serious health problems coming down the line unless I do something radical and soon.

What I find myself doing now is looking at my life critically and scrutinizing the merits of continued effort with a cost-effective paradigm.  Is it really worth it to continue beating my head against the wall?  What's in it for me?  Best-case scenario--what's the best I could hope for?  What are the realistic outcomes possible based on past performance and current trends?

I'm almost treating myself like a mutual fund and trying to decide if I need to keep riding this wave or if it's time to cut my losses and cash out.  And right now, I cannot find a reason to invest any kind of effort today into a better tomorrow.  The patterns I have seen, and past performance, all indicate there is absolutely no reason for me to even bother.  It's been shit up to this point, and they were supposed to be the best years, so why would I want to invest any kind of time or effort into the downhill slide?

And no, this isn't one of those moments where you need to get on the phone and call somebody to get over here.  It's not like that.  I'm just re-evaluating.

Earlier, I've been framing my life more in terms of mythology.  I've posted a few times about this and if you're curious what I wrote, feel free to check it out here.  The movie Mythic Journeys changed my life.  It forced me to look at my life and what I've been doing in a totally different light.  Instead of what I've accrued, it taught me to look at what I've learned, and how I've been able to use those lessons in my life.

The lessons I learned in the past year were harsh and I haven't implemented much at all.  I have stubbornly refused to change and as a result, I am every bit in the same mess I've been in.  This is all on me, too.  I can't blame poverty or stress.  

I haven't done what I've needed to do because I have no faith the future will be any better regardless of the effort I put in improving it.  I've had all kinds of people tell me that we never know what the future will hold but that's bullshit.  We know exactly what to expect because life just doesn't suddenly improve.  

But here is what I've decided:  I'm going to move forward and work on improvements.  I have begun being more active.  I've been writing again, and last night I found out I've got a short story accepted, plus my brain is coming up with plot bunnies once more.  I'm getting out and about to actually talk to people face-to-face.  

My reasons for doing this are simple:  I want to know at the hour of my death that I didn't give up, that I at least tried, and I didn't leave anything on the table.  Maybe there is somebody out there for me.  Plus, I'm enjoying my ice cream hobby.  I love making ice cream for people.  I sell it sometimes so I can afford to keep making ice cream.  

I've even been making videos about making ice cream.  Weird, I know.  

But no, this journey isn't done yet.  And after the October I've had, it is with morbid curiosity I continue to stick around, because Satan only knows what's gonna happen next.  

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