Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sleep? Never Heard of It.

It's 4:30am and I cannot sleep.  Again.

This has been an issue for the past couple of months.  There have been several reasons for it.  My new job's schedule had later hours that pushed my schedule back a bit.  I've been stressed out about a few things, depressed about others, there was some heartbreak somewhere in the mix, and I'm doing without certain crutches I used to rely upon.

So it's not like I can just wave a magical wand and snap out of it.

Right now, my brain is gnawing on a bone I wish it would just bury and forget already.  But no, in those hours where sleep is the goal, my brain likes to spend time with the most painful and depressing subjects.  It's no use, really.  No matter how much time it spends, there will not be a happy ending.  It's another mark in the Loss column and really it's time to move on.

But no.  Some part of my brain has decided there is a bit of marrow hidden in this bone and it's worth gnawing on some more.

These last few months, when I have slept, have given me some incredibly powerful dreams.  My subconscious mind was worried about me.  I was on my way down and it was screaming at me to pull up out of my nose-dive into oblivion.  Begging me, with all it could muster, to see that I should stick around for a while longer.

My dreams never give me a reason to stay.  I find that odd.  Instead of making a logical argument listing out the reasons for why I should stick around and then ranking them according to some matrix involving the various rewards and merits of each, my brain simply says that I should.

I'm not afraid to die.  I've died before.  Several times, even.  I've experienced a quantum suicide.  I've felt my spirit slip from my body.  I've seen glimpses of the other side.  And I have somebody waiting for me over there.

It feels like a piece of me is still there and that's why I'm not fully engaged in this world.  It's why often times people are just shadows moving through fog to me.  And when I do connect with somebody, that rare case when I see somebody clearly and they see me, those connections are incredibly important.  I latch on to those people because they become a tether for me.  They are my safety line.

I did a summoning spell a week or so ago.  I'm not sure on the day because they all run together for me right now.  My harbingers never came back.  Nobody came back.  Nobody answered my call.  I wasn't enough.  Or I wasn't right.  Or I wasn't something or too much of the wrong thing and so all I heard was silence.  Again.

I'm sick of silence.  I'm sick of being ignored.  I want to light a fire so big nobody ever ignores again.

It's 4:42am and still, I cannot sleep.

I remember when I was learning to astral project.  A guardian came to be with me.  I heard his garments rustling as he moved to my side.  I was ready for the deep plunge but I couldn't get the vibrations right.  Something was wrong and I failed again and again.

And then suddenly, one night, I blasted out.  I saw my neighborhood as if I were an owl.  I saw the magnificent night, the dark beauty, from a place of comfort and peace.  It's been hard getting back to that.  I've tried and I'll keep trying.  It's important.

I remote viewed one time, too.  Beginner's Luck.  Remote viewing has beginner's luck for those who work with it.  Great results that first time and then after that a long road of work to get back there.  It's weird.

If I could do it again, there are people I'd like to visit.  People I'd like to see again.  But then again, what would I see?  And could I honestly take such an emotional beating?  The last time, I watched something that hurt me terrible--a woman who had just broken up with me was fucking the guy she left me for.  I wish I hadn't seen that.

Seems like everything is tinged with those sorts of emotions anymore.  It all hurts.

It has been suggested to me I should get a service dog because that would force me to be more active, get out of bed, put on clothes, and go outside.  It would force me to walk.  It would force me to interact with the world around me.

It would cut through the fog that seems to be growing denser and denser by the week.  And it would give me a reason to give a shit about what's going on in this world.  Because right now, I don't.  I care so little about this world I reach out into other worlds just for some kind of contact.

But that summoning spell was weak.  I need to do it up right if I'm going to call out.  I need to do it right and blast a beacon so bright and loud the angels will have to make an effort to ignore it but the demons won't be able to resist it.

It's 5:00am now.  My job has cut my hours so severely I doubt I'll have more than 10 on this paycheck.  I'm left with a question:  do I hold out and assume this is a temporary slowdown that will pick up soon or do I jump ship for another job and the potential of an even shittier situation?

How much time should I give this job to get its shit together and give me the hours I need?  Or do I just give up on them now and bail?

My brain is gnawing on that question, too.  I prefer it, in a way, because that doesn't always circle back to a statement about my failures as a human being the way the other issues always do.

Last week somebody told me to never let a woman know I don't believe in Happy Ever Afters.  Because I don't.  Sure, some people have them.  But not me.  I don't even believe in a happy tomorrow, much less the rest of the tomorrows.  My friend said that women believe in them and even if they didn't, there's a part of them that wants to believe in them, so they buy into the fantasy.

Maybe I should believe in Happy Ever Afters.  Maybe if I did believe in them, something might change, and I won't feel like the guy who pissed of Fate.

But what in the hell would my Happy Ever After look like?  I don't even know anymore.  I used to.  I used to know what I wanted.  But it was denied me for so long, I gave up, because hope is cruel and painful.

I realize now why none of my dreams give me a reason to be here.  I'm not supposed to have a reason.  Happy people don't ask themselves why they are still here.  The only people who question it are miserable fuckers like me.

And life isn't supposed to be like this.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Onward and Forward

Today was a weird day.

It's not like anything really happened to make it weird.  Aliens didn't barge into my apartment and probe me again.  I wasn't bogged down in memories of the past.  I didn't find myself going over and over about how I felt towards anybody.

I slept last night.  That's a major headline for me.  It's the thing you go outside to shout so the whole neighborhood knows it.  I slept.  Sleep has been a rare commodity in recent months.  There are a number of reasons for that.  My new job has a work schedule that has me waking up later.

But as always, there's something else going on.  A list, really.  People, situations, and that longing you get when something or someone is just out of your grasp.

Last night I slept.  That's a huge statement for me.  And I woke up feeling decent.  Stiff and sore, sure, but rested.  I felt like I had actually slept, too, which is nice.

Then work texted me that I wouldn't be needed until 5pm, a full two hours later than my usual log-in time.  No problem.

I churned some ice cream.  Good stuff, too.  Cinnamon gingersnap cookie butter.

As many of you know, I have a Youtube channel called Ice Cream Every Day.  I don't talk about it on here much because I like to keep my life compartmentalized.  The lesson I've learned in recent months is how that's no longer a healthy behavior in all matters and it's okay for things to cross over into other aspects of my life.  

After all, it's my life, and things are all under the Umbrella of Ted.  So it's okay that my horror peeps know I make ice cream.  Or my ice cream peep know I write horror.  

And everybody knows I'm bat-shit crazy.  

Here's the thing--this week I've been going over events from about 24 years ago that totally changed me.  This change was radical, complete, and so profound I cannot imagine any aspect of Ted being untouched.  

For the past week, I've been going over those events.  And I'm not the only one.  Others have been reviewing their own pasts as well.  It's like there was something in our stars that said, "time to review the worst moments of your life."  

My friends have all been telling me similar accounts.  We all have those moments in our lives.  All of us.  Dark times that damn near killed us.  It hurt and that hurt lingered.  We took damage.  And it wasn't the kind of hurt you could just walk away from.  No, this stuff bored into us until it reached bone, where it anchored tight.  It wasn't going anywhere.  

These were events that shaped us with all of the delicacy of an atomic bomb or a brick to the head.  Events so traumatic and so catastrophic most of us couldn't talk about them to more than one or two very close friends.  And even then, we normally ended that story with our faces on their shoulder as we cried, because the hurt was till there.  

My friends and I relived moments that shaped us and molded us like a blacksmith's hammer wielded by a maniacal demon strung out on a weeks-long meth binge.  He laughed and screamed with every blow, our blood dripping from his grinning face, and if anybody who gave a shit about us saw they turned their heads away because they couldn't bear the sight of seeing us suffer.  

This is why I sometimes have a thousand-yard stare and I speak from a place of truth about matters of the soul.  

This past week, we went over those events, and none of us knew why.  It made no sense at all to us.  Why would we want to root through those memories?  Why would we want to even acknowledge them?  

I have a theory about this.  

Many of my friends, myself included, are at a point in our lives where changes are happening.  We are changing.  Our paths are changing.  Our actions are carrying us forward and into new phases of our lives.  

Me?  I'm on The Epic Journey of Ted:  Book III.  I just wrote the first paragraph.  The first words of a new life.  There's an old Navajo proverb.  In order to move forward, you need to look at where you've been.  

And I've been to some dark places, brother.  

But I'm moving forward and onward with my life.  I'm shaking off the painful past as I can.  Memories that have attached themselves to me like leeches and instead of drawing from me strength, have injected me with poison.  Memories that reduce me and make me less than what I could be.  

I don't feel agitated or angry.  I don't feel upset or depressed.  

I feel like it's okay for Ted to be on this planet today and right now, I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing and I'm doing it with the people I'm supposed to be doing it with.  There is a harmony to it.  

The kind of harmony when you look up at the sky and know the aliens are hovering just a few hundred fee above you, their ship cloaked, and they know you're there but right now they're probing somebody else.  It's not your turn, but soon it will be again, so you go about your day and wonder if they'll drink all of your beer like they did last time.  

It's the kind of harmony that comes from doing a summoning spell in your apartment because the spirits who keep coming and going never really say anything.  They just make noises or, as they did a few months ago, turn unplugged appliances on and off.  I did this spell with an invitation to talk because I'm curious as to what they have to say.

It's the kind of harmony when you deeply care for a woman and she knows it but she can't acknowledge it because that would be a whole other can of worms--one she can't deal with right now. So she smiles and gives you generic but polite answers.  You don't really know where you stand with her so you just keep doing your thing, giving her ice cream when you see her, while going around and around in the same holding pattern, waiting, and hoping she thinks of you as much as you think of her.  

Or for me, wanting to write certain things so I can be done with the project and move on to the next. I've been lazy about my writing in recent months.  Nothing is getting done or submitted.  As we close in on the end of February, I haven't finished nearly what I wanted to finish, nor have I submitted nearly what I've wanted to submit.  

But I'm okay.  I feel like there is a balance in my life. 

Instead of going crazy like a caged badger there is a peace because I'm not angry at myself nor am I disappointed.  There is a peace in simply existing.  Maybe it's the ice cream.  Maybe doing that has been enough for these past few weeks.  Or maybe it's because I know it's the beginning of a new phase in my life and I'm just so happy to know it's happening I'm not going to worry that it's not happening as fast as I'd like.   

Despite everything, my brain doesn't feel like two squirrels chasing each other around the trunk of an old oak tree.  My thoughts aren't circular anymore.  Now that the dark memories have been dealt with I'm finding a calm place.  

Maybe that was part of the point?  Review the bad times and know the present isn't nearly has bad.  Instead of losing my shit because my hours at work have been limited, I've been happy they didn't lay me off, and I'm pretty sure I'll still be able to cover rent when it's due next week.  

If this is what a good night of sleep does for me, I wish I could get more of them.  This sleep stuff is incredible!  I wonder if I can get some tonight, too?  I have to be careful.  I don't want to become addicted to it.  But if I can get a good night's sleep tonight, too, who knows what I'll feel like tomorrow?  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Worst. Date. Ever.

You guys wanna hear a funny story?

Okay.  It's Valentine's Day and it's been a rough one.

Right now, I'm watching The Voices with Ryan Reynolds.  It's got moments where it's good and then it gets lame.

But I feel the urge to tell stories about dates I've been on that went horribly wrong.

So, when I was in college, there was this girl.  She was cute, about half as tall as myself, but really smart and she didn't cringe away from me when I spoke to her.  I wasn't attracted to her but I was practicing this thing where I go out on dates, have a nice time, and leave it at that.  You know, trying to be more social and nice.

I was practicing being human.

So, a few weeks after my dad died, I felt well enough to hang out with Clarissa.  She was a grad student in the psychology program.  As I said, she was highly intelligent, and I loved hearing what she had to say about various topics.  Brains will always get my attention.

I picked up a couple of movies at the rental place, having no idea what they were, and she came over. No problem, right?  It was Micheal Keaton and a Disney.  How could I go wrong?

Well, there was a problem.  The first movie I picked up was My Life with Micheal Keaton.   If you haven't seen it, I'll give you this warning:  it's about a terminally ill man on his last days.  It's NOT the movie you want to watch two weeks after your dad blows his brains out with a shotgun.

So, I'm watching this movie with Clarissa.  I'm trying to hold it together.  I'm trying to be the tough guy.  I'm trying man up and be strong but on the inside I'm just falling apart at the seams.

I'm a wreck.

And I'm trying so hard to keep it together.

The movie ends and it's a tear-jerker.  Even if I had seen this movie without my dad dying, I would have been balling.  But this?

I excuse myself and go to the bathroom while the credits are rolling, leaving Clarissa in my dorm room.  And I just fall apart.  I'm thinking about my dad and how he died.  I'm thinking about how terrible it was his life was wasted.  A tsunami of grief was rolling out of me in my dorm's bathroom.

After ten minutes, I pull myself together, and go back to my room.  I'm a mess.  I explain Clarissa what's going on, how my dad just died, and how I wasn't expecting that movie to be about that subject.

She says, "Oh, ok."

And that's it.  She says nothing more.  And we watch some Disney film.

Question:  if the person you're watching a movie with excuses themselves, leaves, and comes back after obviously crying, wouldn't you ask if they're okay?  Wouldn't you ask them if they want or need to talk?  Because she didn't.

And that's when I realized she wasn't the one for me.  I mean, aren't you supposed to ask a person if they're okay after they've been crying?  Isn't that a rule someplace?

I know for a fact that had to have been the worst moment for her, too.  I'm sure she was horrified.  Some dude twice her size was just having a good cry after a tear-jerker movie he picked out himself.  What the hell?  He's a guy!  He's supposed to watch horror and action films.  Chuck Norris and Steven Segal.  And he's watching emotionally draining films about death?

How many red flags can we produce in one date?  Let me count them in order...

So that, I would have to say, was one of the worst dates I'd ever been on.

And for some reason, I just felt that on this evening, St. Valentine's Day, I just had to share.  Why?  Because just because a woman agrees to be in the same room with me, it doesn't mean something good will happen, and I'm a far better kamikaze pilot than a romantic heart-thief.

I laugh about that date, now.  And I hope you can laugh at something, too.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Leave Nothing on the Table

"Love is always open arms. If you close your arms about love you will find that you are left holding only yourself."--Leo Buscaglia

When I was a freshman in college, my speech teacher used a recorded speech by Dr. Leo Buscaglia.  We were supposed to observe is speaking skills.  He was known for taking off his sport coat and rolling up his sleeves.

But I focused on his message.  He spoke of love.  And he told a story.

It was a sad story about a man who wanted to bury his wife in a dress she wanted but he was waiting to buy it for her as a gift a few months later.  She died before he could buy it.  And Dr. Buscaglia yelled at the man, telling him he was stupid for not buying her that dress when she wanted it.  The point was we were supposed to love every day like it was the last and leave nothing on the table.

Hold nothing back.

I do that.  I do that with friends and in the extremely rare cases when a woman is confused enough to allow me into her heart, I do that with in romance.

There is no doubt in the hearts and minds of those who are close to me where they stand.  I allow no room for confusion.  If you're close to me, you know exactly where you stand, and I make sure it stays that way.

I find it horrifically disrespectful to do otherwise to another person.  How could I possibly claim to care about you when you doubt where you stand with me?

No.  The day I heard that speech by Dr. Buscaglia was the day I learned to love with the throttle wide-open, to leave nothing on the table, and to be the person I'd like to love me.

This is why I make ice cream for people.

I'm often told that I'm sweet, or kind, or considerate.  The truth of it is I say and do kind things out of fear.  I'm terrified that I'll say the wrong thing to somebody and push their mood just enough to cause some kind of damage in their life.  The things we do for each other, and to each other, cause ripples through our lives and into the lives of others.  By being kind, and caring, and showing love, I am able to put more positive energy and vibrations into the word around me.  And maybe those vibrations will come back to me one day.

Selfish.  I'm a selfish, fearful jerk.  It's all about me.  I'm not a good man.  I'm simply trying to have good things happen for, and to, myself.

Loving and caring full-throttle, refusing to leave anything on the table, has gotten me into trouble a few times, too.  I've developed romantic feelings for friends and destroyed very close relationships because of it.  And that hurts so much.  It's a terrible way to lose a close friend.

But I'm not going to leave anything on the table.

The one good thing about my family, the one I lost, is that I didn't leave anything on the table with them.  They knew, beyond a doubt, where my emotions were and how important they were to me.  It's the one thing I did right.

I often live this full-throttle, love wide-open lifestyle knowing full well it won't work out.  Or worse, won't even be noticed.  And certainly, most often, it is unrequited.

I've grown used to unrequited love.  It still hurts, but it happens, and often I understand it.  It's not me.  Not always.  Sometimes, the situation just doesn't allow it.  There are often more reasons than just basic attraction keeping us apart.

But that doesn't stop me.  It doesn't stop the emotions.  And I can't just turn it off like a switch.  Sometimes it hurts so bad I wish I could.  I wish I could walk away from it.  On those nights when She's on my mind, and I can't get my thoughts on anything else, it's like my head was put into Park and somebody stomped on the gas.  All the thoughts are centered around Her, as if She were an oak tree in the center of a back yard, and everything has to do with Her.  Always Her.

There's always been a Her.  There was one a few years ago, and a few years before that.  Ever since grade school, there was a Her.  And in all of my 45 years, not once has there been a Her who came to fruition and reciprocated anything towards me.  Not once.

But still I keep the throttle wide open.

"Man has no choice but to love. For when he does not, he finds his alternatives lie in loneliness, destruction and despair."--Leo Buscaglia

Dear Reader, I must ask you this--why do you love?  It's such a painful thing.  It hurts so badly that it becomes an exercise in masochism.  The pain we enjoy so much we keep coming back for more.

I still leave the hammer down and make sure nothing is left on the table.  If She suddenly decides to tell me to fuck off and die, which has happened before, my side of the street is clean.  If she suddenly tells me she's really a man who, along with his friends, has been playing a game with me, my side of the street is clear.  That happened to me once, too.

I'd like to say there is an honesty in unrequited love.

I'm reminded of a television station the United States Government created decades ago to help with the liberation of Cuba from the Communists.  It was called TV Marti.  We spent millions of dollars on programming for this station.  They had news shows, amongst others, every night.  But not a single Cuban saw any of it for years because the Cuban government blocked the signal.

Day after day, night after night, dozens of people put together a television show for nobody.  They dressed up, showed up, and did their jobs for an audience of zero.

I feel that way myself.  I broadcast knowing I might very well not be heard, and most likely won't, but I do it all anyways.    

I wish Dr. Buscaglia were still around.  I would love to know his thoughts on unrequited love and if he knew a remedy to make it hurt any less.

So yes, Dear Reader--why do you love?

It's such a painful activity, isn't it?  Because if you're not a priority to the other, then you are a nobody, and that hurts, too.  When we care about someone, we rise and fall with their words and silence, and they know they have this power over us yet somehow they wield it with reckless abandon.

It is for that reason alone I often curse myself for not being stronger, more callous, and less emotional.  But that takes us back to the switch none of us have.

It's times like these I am reminded of my true worth.  The only person noting my passage through this world was PT Barnum when he acknowledged my birth.  And while I might find some value for myself and to myself, that value is not seen no matter how much is given.  No matter what is said and done, my value will remain to myself and for myself, and unrecognized by anybody else.

Stupid, gullible, Ted.

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, does anybody else see me? 

When you make a decision to leave nothing back, there is no reason for anybody give you anything, and you pretty much guarantee for yourself nothingness.  I know that sounds weird, but follow along with me, and I'll take you through it using the straight path.

We've all heard the marriage joke, "why by the cow when the milk is free?"  Or, "Why buy the pig if the sausage is free?"

Love is the same way.  Why give anything to a person who gives you everything?  Why share anything of yourself with somebody who gives you their all without reservation?

When you give of yourself without holding back, there is no motivation for anybody to work to get closer to you, because they already got what they wanted from you.  Love is full of conundrums like that.  One would think with almost seven billion miserable assholes on this planet it would be easier but it's not.  Not for people like me.  Not for those of us who are less-than and too much.

I'm going to end this so I can make some ice cream.  It's a special recipe I came up with for a woman I care about deeply.  I choose to do this.  Why?  Because I want her to be happy.  I want to make her smile.  And that's the best I can hope for from her since she lives in another country.  Making her happy makes me happy.  That's my reward.  That's my payoff.

And that's good enough for me right now.



Monday, February 6, 2017

Comebacks Are Real

Tonight's Super Bowl taught me something.

Tom Brady and the Patriots were down and it was looking grim for them.  It was the 3rd Quarter and they were down 28-3 with very little hope.

And then they fought back.  They got themselves together and they kept working.  Brady completed some more passes.  The Patriots defense made key stops.  They tackled well and didn't let the Falcons take the ball away anymore.  No more turnovers.

My neighbor was watching the game with me.  I was happy for the company, too.  I spend way too much time alone as it is these days.  He's a huge Patriots fan.

I told him, when things looked the darkest, "If any team can come back, it's this one."

And I was right.

They came back.  The Patriots didn't give up and they didn't stop trying.

I'm a Cubs fan.  They won the World Series this year.  They, too, never gave up.

We've always turned to sports as a metaphor for life.  Rocky, Major League, The Greatest Game, Hoosiers.  The list goes on and on.

We humans strive to be more than what we are and we work through adversity to achieve what we feel is important to us.

This month has been rough for me.  But this month is just a single paragraph in a very long story.  And I'm getting ready to write a fresh, new chapter.  A new book, even, in the Story of Ted.  In this book, our hero gets up off the canvas.  He crawls out of the dungeon.  He removes the chains and shackles.  He cleans off the dry, crusted blood.

He stands up, looks up at the sky, and roars.

He roars up at the heavens.  He roars at the demons down below.  He roars at his enemies.  He roars so his friends know he's free of the enslavement he once endured.

Our hero is awake.  Our hero is aware.  Our hero is focused.

I've had a shitty past.  A hard past.  I've endured things I wish upon no man.  Shit so ugly I can't post it on this blog.  And for most of my life I've felt broken.  I've felt like damaged goods.

I have felt unworthy, unloveable, and simply less-than the rest of the world around me.  It's a terrible thing to feel broken and unworthy.  The guilt and shame, the pain and depression.

But something happened.  I got into an online relationship with a woman.  Because I have such low self-esteem and a negative self-image, I fucked it all up.  I shit-canned something that made me happy because all of the negative crap in my head turned me into a kamikaze pilot.  I self-destructed and made a real mess of things.

But I learned something.  In the following weeks, as I became a meaningless nobody to her, and I tried again and again to get her attention, I realized that the past cannot define me.

Here's the thing--I feel like I wear my past on me.  I feel like it's written on my face.  I feel like I have labels stuck all over me that say all of the terrible things I've been through and seen.  I feel like I'm carrying a large Las Vegas-style sign with a list of the things I've missed out on and all of that which has been taken from me.

It's bad enough I feel broken.  I feel like everybody else can see it.  I feel like everybody knows it.  And I feel like everybody's somehow been able to live their lives but me.  I'm somehow rooted in the past because chains loop through my scars and lock me down to my own history.

Her indifference towards me hurt.  It was incredibly painful.  But I understood it because I'm broken and I have an ugly history.  I'm damaged goods and if I had a second chance I'd just pull another kamikaze stunt.  Of course she distanced herself from me.  I would, too, if I could.  I'm broken and I don't work right.  I'm dysfunctional.  Of course I'm nobody to her.  I'm nobody to most women.  Of course she stopped giving a shit about me.   Broken people like me just drain you and burn you up.  Of course she ignored me--I'm different.

But something happened.

As I've said before, I really wish I could see myself the way so many others see me.  I have friends who support me.  I have great friends who tell me how awesome I am.  They tell me I'm worthy of love and of good things.  They tell me I'm not the broken piece of shit I think I am.

So there's been this war inside of my head.  This weekend, that war boiled over into a bloody, nasty affair.  I was full of rage at the world and then the bottom fell out and I would be in the pits of despair, certain that it was time to go and be done with it all.  It felt like there was a scream stuck in my throat and I couldn't get it out.

I isolated.  Then, I reached out to friends I knew I could trust.  I meditated often.  Eventually, I was able to settle down enough, and keep it together enough, to be around other people without losing my shit.

And then I watched Tom Brady and the Patriots turn around the Super Bowl and win.  They were going to lose--it was a certainty.  They were down 28-3 in the 3rd Quarter and most folks had no hope.  My buddy's step-dad went to bed because it was a lost cause.

Tom Brady and the Patriots pulled it out.

This is my 3rd Quarter.  I'm 45 years old and I'm down by a lot.  I've lost over and over again.  The first half was me just getting my ass handed to me.  Over and over again.  There were a few good plays, though.  I'm not scoreless.  I'm not nobody.  I did some things right.  A few good passes, a few good moves.

And in my mind there's something I keep going back to.  About a year ago, my best friend and his girlfriend had a baby.  She was born early and just a tiny little peanut.  After a while, we met up for lunch at a restaurant and they brought her.  I held her and she didn't fuss at all the whole time.  She let me hold her.

Babies don't readily accept people they don't know.  And they don't accept just anybody.  This baby was perfectly content in my arms.  She looked around and just relaxed.  She was comfortable with me and it meant everything.

I keep going back to that day, to that moment, and how she was totally at ease with me.  It was important.  She didn't see some broken asshole covered in scars and bite marks from demons.  She saw somebody who was kind and gentle.  She accepted me.  Me, of all people.

I'm coming to grips with who I am.  I'm learning to accept that I am a kind, gentle sort.  I'm emotional, sure, but loving and empathetic.  I am worth the effort.

I realize now that I'm not healing and I'm not rebuilding.  I have all the answers I need.  I have all the tools I need.  Everything I need to move forward is already within me.  And I am far more capable than I ever dreamed.

I am no longer afraid of love.  I'm no longer afraid of being whole.  I feel more normal now than ever before.  I am not broken.  I am not worthless.

So this is Our Hero.  He's walking into the sunlight.  His eyes hurt because it's been so long since he's seen the sun.  He's not nearly as bruised and battered as he seems.  He's good.  He's ready to move forward.  He's ready to take charge.

It's the 3rd Quarter and he's got the ball.  Hang on to your seats, folks--this is gonna be one hell of a show!  2017 took the opening shots but Our Hero is up and ready to go.

Cue the dramatic showdown music.  

When the Story of Ted is told, this is the point where Our Hero gets up, looks over at those who knocked him down, and smiles.  This is the turning point.  Our Hero survived the Trials of the Gods and defied Fate, who had him scheduled to be destroyed.

No, Our Hero is still alive and he's starting to move forward.  The days of lamenting loss are over.  The days of wishing are gone.

A grave has been dug for Our Hero but he's not ready to fill it--not just yet.  The first chapter of The Story of Ted:  Book Two has just begun.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Joys of St. Valentine's Day

I am incredibly lucky.

I'll admit I used to really hate Valentine's Day.  It was like a curse.  It felt as if everybody around me was happy and I wasn't.  I was miserable and alone.

Until recently, however.  I realize now that I have some of the best friends in the world.  I run crying to them about my paper cuts and they help me.  They're there for me, which isn't easy, because I'm needy, demanding, and constantly putting my head in wasp nests.

I'm the kind of friend who e-mails you at 3AM to tell you about how close I am to doing something very stupid and permanent.  And it's legit.  I'm not looking for attention.  I'm right there.  And then you have to use some kind of logical syllogism to somehow break through the swirling shit in my head to get through to me.  Once you talk me down, then you have to make sure I don't go back to where I was, so you have to ask questions.

It's exhausting being my friend.  I've burned a few people up.

But I have friends.  I have people I'm extremely close to who care about me.  To them, I'm a priority.

That's a word I'm learning to apply more and more...priority.

When somebody cares about us, we become a priority to them, and they show it by a number of ways.  I'm learning the difference between somebody who cares about me and somebody who just accepts my affections.  I didn't know there even was a difference for a long time.

I've always had diminished expectations when it came to anything more than bare friendship.  Part of that is my low self-esteem.  The other part is past experiences.

Nobody will give a shit about you until you love yourself.  Until you can say to yourself, "I love me more," you will have nobody and nothing.  I'm still learning how to do that.  I'm still learning my value as a human being.

I'm the first person to admit I'm a work in progress.  I've always said that.  And there are some incredibly basic lessons I'm just now learning about how to take care of myself and how to be good to myself.

I'm learning how to make myself a priority to myself.

On Monday, I gave myself an assignment:  I was to make a list of the things I love about myself.  I failed in this assignment and wasn't able to write a single thing down.  I was too depressed and disgusted with myself.  I was angry at myself for choices I made.

I was upset that I wasn't strong enough to say, "I love me more."

It takes strength to be able to say that when it's not really something you believe but know you have to say anyways.  But it's like a lot of things--we say them often enough and eventually we'll believe it.

My friends see me for much more than I see myself.  I used to think they just said those things because they felt sorry for me.  But no, they genuinely mean it, and it humbles me to know somebody cares that much about me.

Valentine's Day used to almost unbearable.  I did whatever I could to unplug and run away from the despair.  I always laughed bitterly at women who told me it wasn't much of a day for them, either, despite how many men wanted to be with them or cared about them.  In my mind, their cup ran over and it still wasn't enough.

Wait, you're complaining about the meal on your table not having enough garlic and too much black pepper?  I haven't had anything on my plate in so long I've forgotten how food tastes. 

But I'm not going to get into the disappointments and heartbreaks.  I've done that far too much and no good will ever come of it.  I can't fix the past.

I've discovered that with friends I'm still finding that emotional connection I crave so badly.  Sure, there's a line, but I'm used to that.  I'm still a priority to them, though.

It's an incredible feeling to be a priority to somebody.  To know that somebody is thinking about you and wants the best for you.  That feeling you get when you know somebody else sees you struggling and wants you to find peace.  I used to be really upset that nobody felt that way about me in a romantic sense but I've come to accept how special it is to have friends who care just the same.

I might not be a priority to a woman right now and I might not have been a priority for a woman in a very long time, but that doesn't mean I'm unloveable or unwanted.  I'm not sure what it means, exactly, but I'm not broken and damaged goods.  I'm not.  I'm a good person and worthy of being somebody's priority.  Maybe I'm not ready.  Maybe I have a lot more work to do.  That makes more sense to me than being the monster I used to think I was.

But I'm not a monster.  I'm a person.

I can't tell if I'm healing or if I'm rebuilding.  Either way, I'm doing something for myself and I'm doing it just because I'm worth it.

I'm more active now than I've been in a long time.  I'm eating smarter and getting rid of bad habits.  I'm writing more, too.  I've got my novella done and I'm working on my query letter and synopsis to send off to a publisher.  My goal is to send it off by Friday.  I'm getting a tripod tomorrow as a gift from an admirer of my work.  I'll certainly give him some ice cream anyways, though.  But this will do wonders for making my videos look better.  

I'm doing positive things for myself.  I'm doing the footwork to improve and move forward.  And I'm not alone.  I have friends who are with me and in support of me.  Despite all the stupid shit I do, they support me, and genuinely care about me.

If I could have one thing in this world right now, it would be to have the faith in myself my friends have in me.  They see me as a much better person than I see myself so this list of things I love about myself was supposed to be my way of getting to that point.  But I stalled.

I just don't see what they do.  And that's my fault.  It's all my fault.  But I'm working on it.  I've been meditating and that's helped me clear the shit out of my head and help me focus on what's right in front of me.

Right now I'm making ice cream videos for all of the women who are important to me because I don't know what else to do for them.  I'd like to do more, but it's what I have to work with, so that's what I do.

Being positive about Valentine's Day is important.  I wish more people did it.  I could go on about all the terrible memories I have but what's the point?  It's best to focus on the positive.  I have great friends.  I'm not unloved or unwanted, I'm well cared-for, and better off because of it.

I used to define myself by what I could do for a woman who allowed me to care about her.  I measured myself and our relationship by how much she would accept from me.  You would think that was a recipe for me getting used a lot but no, that's not how it went.  I was rejected before that happened.  I have a respect for women who did that now.  They could have used me for everything I had and I would have happily given it all up at the asking.  There's a kindness in rejecting somebody without using them.

But think about that for a moment:  I wasn't concern with what I got in return.  Instead, my only thoughts were on what I could do for them and what they would allow me to do for them.  What they would accept from me.  That was it.  As long as they told me I was in their thoughts, then that was enough, and that alone would carry me for days.  A woman simply telling me she felt something for me was enough to put me on a cloud.

Not that I was a priority for her.  No, just a thought.  I was merely a thought.  A nobody, really. I didn't need her to change anything in her life for me, just to say some kind words.

That was then.  That was before I learned what taking care of myself meant.  Or what caring about myself entailed.

I am a priority to myself now.  One of these days, I'll learn to say, "I love me more."  And that is what Valentine's Day is all about--the love we have in our hearts for those who are really important to us.