January 31st, 2002


Beginning of a letter to my friends....

I am writing to you because I need your help and advice. I am at the end of my patience with my career. I go to work every day hoping that "today will be different". Today will be the day that I'll be able spend some time planning and strategizing. Or, if I can't come up with a plan, maybe I'll have some time to learn something new. Or maybe I can just experiment and explore new ideas or concepts. Or maybe today is the day that I will receive encouragement, praise, or patient guidance from a collegue. I am beginning to realize that this will never happen unless I change something.

I spend 40-50 hours a week in an unhealthy emotional state. Paranoia, anxiety, helplessness, fear, and lonliness rule my waking hours. It has come to the point where I have to isolate myself. I wear a pair of headphones and try to think of ways to avoid everybody just so I can salvage and embrace the withering remnants of my safety net. From the outside, I'm sure, it just looks like I'm being lazy; nothing new in the United Corporations of America. But the people closest to me know that I am anything but lazy. The people close to me know that I am dedicated, determined, loyal, and capable of suprising bursts of greatness.

So why do I put up with it? I've been rationalizing the suffering by saying that I need the money so I can provide my family a safe place to live. I want my children to have opportunities which I was deprived. I want my wife to be happy and worry-free. I've come to the realization that this is all a delusion. None of it will work unless I, too, am happy. If I continue with what I have been doing, I am just going to need more money to pay for a shrink to tell me that I'm somebody special. I will need more money to pay the personal trainer to tell me that I'm making progress toward being beautiful. I will need more money to pay the doctor to write prescriptions for drugs to make me feel better. In order to get more money, I am going to need to work harder and for longer hours to get higher paying positions. I'll probably also need to drive further. Since I'll be spending more time away from home I'm going to need money so my wife can have reliable transportation. I could continue this plot-sequence for quite awhile but I think you get the idea.

Everything I've been doing is going to backfire because I'm ignoring one key factor. My own happiness.

So what will make me happy? I've been wrestling with this question for months. Maybe even years. I had to dig deep into my past looking for scraps of happiness. The things I've been able to come up with so far are:

- I need to help people
- I need a mommy. Bear with me here. The times I've been the happiest are when I have somebody that takes pride in me. Somebody with authority that encourages me. Somebody that trusts and supports and comforts me. Ironically my real mommy seldomn provided these to me. My best mommys have been my 6th grade band teacher, my high-school choir and Spanish teachers, and (this is very strange) my Drill Seargeants in the Army.
- I need immersive work. My work must be engaging and cerebral. I need work that I can get lost in for hours without noticing that time is passing. The only activities that I can remember doing this for me are playing music, riding bike, and writing.

(no subject)

I was dreaming that I was at a party. I was outside avoiding human contact. I was snacking on a bag of fried rats. I felt a twitching in my hand. I looked down and one of the rats hadn't cooked long enough and was wiggling in my hand. In a disgusted reflex-motion I threw the rat down. I heard a female voice exclaim "Jesus!". I woke to discover that my wife had lied down next to me and was trying to hold my hand. When I reflexed in the dream, I reflexed for real. I scared her.

Why was I disgusted by holding a live rat when I had been eating a bag of fried ones?

Who was the person with which I was sharing the rats and conversation?

What synapses will endure after equating a live rat to my wife's loving hand?

I love dreaming :)

Reply to "Anonymous"

Somebody wrote:

You are so not alone in this. I think in the last part you got to what is really bugging/itching at you, the lack of (perceived? real?) nurturance. What you didn't get as a kid is what is biting you in the ass now, because your coping skills that got you this far (the ones from childhood) are now preventing you from getting what you need. Stress now makes the prior dependance look so good. It was comfortable, and warm, and is tainted with nostalgia. Being "adult" in this culture can be scary. However, maybe you are just more comfy with somebody else driving the bus in your relationships, don't want to be the one in control? That's ok, but needs to be communicated.
Everyone else is just faking it too, to an extent. Do things more that give you joy. Maybe the old things don't give you joy anymore. Find new ones. Or consider that they now have meds for depression/stress. Good meds. Self medicating with drugs/alcohol can stress your body lots more. A mom

Thanks for the reply. I didn't really get to finish the letter because it was late and I had to get up for work today :) I intended, and maybe still do, to send it to the people in my life that I've been taking for granted. I've recently taken inventory of who has touched me in profound ways; people who I can count on for some kind of comfort. The list includes:

  • Gary for limitless generosity, always helping me look at things from different angles, saying nice things about the way I look. For having a knack for generating exitement in me. Also for introducing me to Requiem for a Dream (sidenote: if you haven't seen this movie I can't urge you to do so enough. After seeing it, I couldn't stop thinking about it for days. I have lost alot of interest in movies since seeing Requiem for a Dream because it just makes everything else look amateurish and commercial. I consider my search for the ultimate movie to be over.) Gary is a link to my past which I would love to forget but is necessary that I remember. I would do anything for this guy.
  • Rakhel for being there at precisely the right time. For making me feel instantly at ease during a very turbulent time in my life. For her sense of humor and intelligence. I barely know her and she probably has no idea that she touched me so deeply. Her short involvement has improved my life in more ways than I can count. I have since met her mother and brother and have spoken briefly to her sister. Her family contains some of the most beautiful people I have ever met.
  • Ronnie for being a good neighbor. For inviting me to "drop by any time". Ronnie seems willing to share everything without expecting anything in return. He is exactly the kind of person you can wake up in the middle of the night to talk about things that are bothering you. I am honored and lucky to have moved next-door to such a great person.
  • Don for being a nonjudgemental listener. Don has a way of verbalizing what I'm feeling even when I can't. I've been able to talk to him about some very private feelings and never feared that he would break confidentiality. Don and I are very much alike in personality.

(list is inconclusive. I must wrap up because I need to get home.)

Anyway, after traversing my inventory I realized that almost all of these people are either unemployed or are unhappy with their current employment. I was(am) going to get all of these people together and just talk about business in general, work, etc. Then give an Amway presentation.....just kidding. I was just entertaining an idea that maybe I would be happier working among friends in a business environment that I had some influence over and that I would invite being influenced by. Working among people that I have no fear of talking to, or boucing ideas off.

Of course this idea is flawed in many ways. But I'm not going to give up on it entirely just yet.

You do bring up an important point, Anonymous replier(replyer?). I am mentally unhealthy. I have been clinically diagnosed as being so. I come from a long line of alcoholic, mentally unstable people. I have no problem admitting that my brain isn't quite right. And I renounce any stigma related to my admitting so. I am not responsible for causing my mental illness?...unhealth? But, as you imply, I am responsible for fixing it. I have been avoiding this responsibility for various reasons. Short bursts of motiviation and happiness surrounding being a co-leader of a family(dear god, what have I done:). Fear that I will fall prey to irresponsible doctors with itchy Rx fingers willing to overmedicate instead of doing the hard work with me.

I have tried increasing my exercise, taking better care of my health, taking time to do things I enjoy. But little of it makes me feel better for very long. My incessant feelings of lonliness and helplessness keep getting in the way of progress in every other arena. I guess it's time I went to my doctor for help before the stakes get too high.

Thank you, Anonymous repl[iy]er for putting into words exactly what I needed to hear. I am calling the doc in the morning.