Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Et Serpentes Incipiunt Cantus

When I was an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Korea, I taught the kids the "pull my finger" game, and it didn't go so well.  They kept pulling their own fingers and trying to make themselves fart.  It was something lost in translation and no matter what, I just couldn't teach that game, but oh I tried.

It's the curse of language.  Writers will always try to get a message across and half the time it's muddled up in convoluted wording.

I've been a wreck this past week.  For a guy as lucky has I've been you would think I'd have learned gratitude and all of those other noble attitudes but no.

I'm going to say this right here--I'm the luckiest fucking guy on the planet right now.  I've got people watching my back and helping me through some seriously arduous times.

To give you an idea of just how lucky I am, my car died.  Bad enough, but my neighbor pulled apart the motor to replace the head gasket, which isn't an easy task.  I've never done that kind of work before but he does it for a living.  So, work all day, come home, and do your job for somebody else.

After all of that and putting the motor back together, he figured out my heads were warped, and that's why the gasket failed.  My car was a dead horse.

But wait!

He finds a guy who just happens to have a car that runs but needs work and he gives it to him.  Free.  Along with the replacement part it needs.

So, my neighbor, in the dead of winter, in between working full-time hours, puts this car on a trailer, drags it back here, and fixes it.

Once we get the car off the trailer, drive it, and check some things he hands me the keys and says, "how do you like your car?"

When was the last time anybody has done that for you?

But it gets better.

Somebody sent me a prepaid Visa gift card out of the kindness of their heart because they knew the State of Illinois was screwing me on my unemployment.  I didn't ask and they offered because they knew things were tight.

I have people watching out for me.  I have people helping me.  The universe, the Powers That Be, are taking good care of me right now.

I even got a short story submitted.  This story was commented on by some amazing people and I used their notes to make it awesome.  I'm certain the place I submitted it to will be kind when they reject it.  I'm afraid of being more optimistic than that, lest I curse myself, and make things even worse. 

What's the difference between now and then?

I asked the universe for help.  And I did it in plain English with simple words.  I was careful so nothing was lost in translation.

A couple of months ago, I stood in my apartment at 2:00 AM, shaking and shivering, twitching, chilled but my skin was on fire, and unable to sit because my legs had ants crawling in my muscles.  I made my intentions clear.

A soul can scream out into the ether if the will behind it is strong enough.  And I was so very tired of the bullshit.  That always simplifies language.

"I need help!"

I was done.  I was done with a lot of the bullshit in my life.  I was done with how things were going.  I was done with the choices I'd made and I was working on cleaning up a very large mess.

When you put that sort of message out into the universe, and you drive it out with the force of iron will, it resonates.  It makes things very clear to anybody who is listening.  The Powers that Be, the Gods, or whatever you believe in, and they will respond.  That's when it gets ugly.

In the past few weeks, I've gotten knocked around a bunch.  Choices have been made for me, things have ended I would have preferred to keep going, and people have entered my life who are incredible.  They say you don't want to see sausage or laws being made and when you ask the Universe for help, it's the same way.  It's ugly and brutal.

But it's right.

This feels right.  I feel like I'm on the right path.  It's been a long, hard road, but I know it's the right one.  For the first time in a very long time, I can honestly say I'm headed in the right direction, and not be full of shit when I say it.  I don't have to lie to myself and I don't have to lie to anybody else.

When you put that sort of message out there into the Universe, things change in ways you never imagined, like opportunities.  Nothing gets done for you but the way is clear for you to bury your shoulder and drive with your legs forward into the unknown.  Keep your head up and feet moving, Bubba--don't stop until the ref blows the whistle.

I know not to mess with the Universe too much.  Simple questions, simple needs.  This is why I'm alone.  I can't imagine the horror of dragging somebody else along for the ride through this roller coaster that went off the rails a long time ago.

Once again, I'm lucky.

I'd feel horribly guilty if I had somebody who made me a priority in their life as I dragged them through this hell-ride with me.  It's better to be on my own for this.  Sure, hugs are nice, but knowing you're dragging somebody too dumb to let go through this stretch of emotional broken glass is just too much.

The look of disappointment on the face of someone who cares as I relapse and lose this war is just something I could not bear to witness.  Once again, the Universe has stepped in, so that won't be an issue.

It's a great night to write.  It's snowing and there's nothing on television.  I'm working on a novella that was missing something important until I figured out it needed a Little Timmy.  Sadly, Little Timmy isn't going to make it, and his death will weigh heavily on our MC.  I'm not sure how exactly I'm going to kill him off and how it will connect to the MC yet, so I've been playing around with it, waiting for Little Timmy to speak up and tell me how he buys the farm.

I'm writing because that's what the universe wants me to do.  It's the only thing in my life that feels like forward progress to me.  As many of you know, I feel a kinship with Darth Vader, and I always have.  This week I found a video about his character that solidified this connection for me even more.  It is only through my writing that I can find any glimmer of light.   

If this is what the Universe wants then I guess I'd better go with it.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Anxiety: The New Super-Fuel for 2018 II

I had high hopes for myself in this new year.  But really that's another way of saying I put a great deal of pressure on myself to do amazing things suddenly and without build-up.

You know, just be awesome and let the rest of the shit work itself out magically.

Being awesome and getting awesome results aren't always the same thing.  To get awesome results, you need to work hard for them, and often for a long time.  I'll admit I haven't done shit.

Not a goddamned thing.

Today's Grand Accomplishment has been putting on pants and updating this blog.  That's it.  Oh, and I totally fucked up a pie crust.

I love to cook when I'm under stress.  It's a thing with me.  I throw some dough around, make a mess in the kitchen, and come up with something wonderful.  Most of the time I pawn it off on my poor neighbors as a sort of consolation prize for having to put up with me.

Let's just say I don't close my drapes as often as I should and as many of you know, I'm very much adverse to wearing pants.  I figure, if watching an old fat guy in his fudgies (if you're lucky) is what does it for you, then God bless you!  Throw me a few bucks and I'll strike some poses while I'm at it.  You know, a few provocative stances, showing off my unique physique.

And then there's the random curses shouted at hours just before dawn, the insane things that come out of my mouth randomly, and how I always seem to know exactly the wrong things to say at the right times.

Living even near me is an adventure.  Next door?  There had better be something in it for them.

So, I cook.  I bake.  I make all kinds of delicious goodies and I share.

I've been under a lot of stress so far this year.  My car died two days before Christmas (blown head gasket).  And then my job fucked me.  I was working for a mail-order company and I was looking forward to some OT hours during the busy holiday shopping season.  Instead, I was lucky to get half my scheduled hours.  It's a long, stupid story to explain that one.

I say "was" because the day after Christmas, we were all fired by a group email.

So I'm now unemployed.  I filed for unemployment but the State of Illinois hasn't started sending my checks yet.  According to one website the checks are supposed to start 1-3 business days after I certify, which is their term for calling in, or logging into the website, and refreshing the claim while telling them I've been looking for work.  I certified on the day they told me to and that was 6 days ago.  Still no check.

I'm trying not to freak out here.  I'm trying to just admit that Illinois is slow because the state employees have been scuttled down to a skeleton crew and now the average state worker does the job of a dozen people.  I get it.

I'm trying not to freak out.

But the anxiety is thick.  The anxiety has been building daily.

So, I bake.

Times like these, I turn to friends.  But each and every one of them have been going through the same thing.  Each one has something in their lives that's got them going through all kinds of stress.

Healthy framing means I acknowledge what's going on in their lives and show some empathy.  Instead, it's triggering my abandonment issues.  I feel like everybody is leaving me behind. 

I'll admit I'm a handful.  I tend to dump some horrendous stuff on people by the truckload.  And dealing with somebody who is as close to the edge as I am can be stressful.  Plus, most of my friends are women, and there is always the danger I'll get too close.  That's happened a couple of times. 

That is the worst kind of unrequited love, too.  You burn.  Inside, you are on fire, tormented by emotions you cannot express while they talk about how lonely they are or how they have needs.  You want to be "the one" and you know you never will.  So you keep quiet and silently burn. 

It's a terrible feeling when a friend pulls away.  You feel like you're a broken engine in an old car.  Or a machine that suddenly started making defective parts, and you want to try to fix them, because if you can only go back and fix them, they'll come back and things will be as they were.  If you could only go back and undo whatever it was you did, even if you didn't know what you did, then they would come back and stop ignoring you. 

But life isn't like that. 

None of us have a time machine to go back and fix whatever we did wrong.  Plus, sometimes people move on and it's not even about us--it's about them and what they need.  Or no longer need. 

It doesn't make things feel any better.  With all of the stress I'm under and how uncertain my future is, I would love to not feel like somebody who used up all of their talk time with a friend, and now they're on their own. 

I should be writing.  That's the truth of it.  Instead of baking and farting around online, I should be writing.  But for some reason, it's been an incredibly difficult thing for me to do, almost painful. 

The mental version of bone-on-bone grinding. 

I'm going to say something here that is as close to the truth as I can come:  Writing is the only solution to most of my problems in life.  Job, career, money, self-worth, emotional contentment, self-improvement, and spiritual healing. 

The only way I will ever move forward is through writing. 

So why is writing so difficult for me? 

That's a question I've been asking myself for a long time.  I've been beating myself over the head with it, actually, trying to find an answer.  When I figure it out, I'll let you all know. 

Until then, I'm going to continue baking amazing crap I shouldn't eat to give away to people I annoy the shit out of because I'm terrified they'll leave me.  Wow, that sounds healthy. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Anti-Vax Rabbit Hole

I always said I wouldn't get into politics on this blog but there is something that needs to be said. 

So here it goes...

The first time I heard about vaccines maybe being unhealthy was back in about 1994 when I was in college.  I double-majored in English and Political Science and at the time was taking a class in regulation and regulatory protocols.  The entire class was about how regulations begin and are administrated and adjusted.  It was actually something I found interesting.  Back then, I was a bit of a policy wonk, and loved diving into public policy issues. 

As a project, each of us had to pick a topic regulated by the government, dive into it, and give a presentation on our progress.  Obviously there were several throughout the semester.  This way the professor could keep tabs on who was doing the work and who needed some help staying focused.  It was a graduate-level class and it was so easy to flood the poor prof with information that the core essence would get lost. 

My topic was on the growing interest in, and eventual reality of, internet regulations.  Three of the students were mothers and the smartest of the group had chosen the regulations of vaccines since her child had just recently been given one and had plenty more coming. 

She didn't go into this project thinking she would find people saying vaccines were bad.  She didn't go into the project with that sort of bias.  For her, she was focused on whether or not she was doing what was best for her child.  It felt like she was killing two birds with one stone:  First, she was educating herself as a parent and second, she was doing the easiest topic for her to get through this class. 

In her first presentation, she went over some of the basic information she had found but at the end, she pointed out she had just found a series of articles and some information stating vaccines might not be what we're told.  She said there were people arguing against the need for vaccines.  It was clear she was looking forward to diving into those articles and whatever she had found because she was a parent worried about her child. 

A few weeks later, her whole demeanor had changed, and she was going through all kinds of stats and information and connections.  She had entered The Rabbit Hole.  As a person who loves Rabbit Holes, I can tell you nothing quite compares to that high you get when you realize you've picked up the scent of something new and interesting.  Sure, she was excited, but there was something else. 

She had The Fear. 

The Fear is that unshakable thing that grabs onto you and refuses to let go.  For her, The Fear was stated in one simple, terrifying sentence:  "Did I just put my child in danger?" 

In recent years, the scientific and medical community has fought back against those who speak out against vaccines.  I'm not a member of either community and I don't even remember what information she found all those years ago.  All I remember was how afraid she was and how other mothers in the classroom were hearing her and they, too, were beginning to feel The Fear. 

The professor suggested she talk to some people in the science department.  Perhaps they could offer some perspective.  I thought that was a great idea and I did the same on my end, in my own social circle, amongst people I knew to be knowledgeable (one was a biology major and another agricultural mechanics). 

The next week, all of us reported similar results:  We were scoffed at, laughed at, and spoken down to like we were idiots.  There was a lot of eye-rolling and our heads were patted and we were told that while the science was obviously too complicated for us to understand, we were wrong and we should just know that.  Then we were dismissed. 

It was at that time I learned a valuable lesson about life--never dismiss somebody who has an emotionally-driven question about something you know about intimately.  They came to you with a question and that means it's important to them.  Be patient.  Take your time.  Explain it until they get it. 

Dismissing a terrified mother because she doesn't understand something complex the way you do will only fuel her distrust of what you say and further her efforts down the wrong path.  We call it "mansplaining" now, which is a terrible word because it really doesn't convey the arrogance as well as it condemns 47% of the population because of their chromosomes. 

I will say, with all sincerity, that the dismissive and arrogant attitudes of the scientific and medical community when answering the concerns of these parents fueled the anti-vax movement into something it should have never become. 

Nobody likes being talked down to and nobody likes being treated like an idiot.  When somebody has a genuine fear of something they don't understand, you have an obligation to help them understand, and not dismiss them with a shrug and a roll of the eyes.  It's rude and it makes a person question the legitimacy of your answers. 

This student I was in the class with was shaking.  Her hands were shaking.  Back then, they were just starting to question if autism and vaccines were connected somehow and she was asking herself, "What did I just do to my child?"  The other mothers were afraid, too.  As one said, "I feel like we're not being told all of the information and it pisses me off." 

That's was patronizing, dismissive answers will get you. 

This was before Google.  This was before much of the scientific data was put online.  Back then, a few of us had Netscape Ver 1.0 on a floppy disk, and that's what we used to get on Lycos and look for stuff.  So it meant library time and complex data many of us just didn't have the scientific understanding to comprehend. 

At some point in the last five or six years, things changed.  Members of the medical and scientific communities both realized that in order for this anti-vax movement to be stopped, people need to understand the science behind it.  And in order to communicate this information effectively, you need to be able to address people as human beings with empathy and kindness.  Instead of blowing them off as crazy or stupid because they don't have the education in science you have, take the time to explain things in a way they will understand. 

This pattern has fueled a lot of the various things labeled "pseudo-science" and "snake oil"   Is it any wonder why so many of these fields of alternative medicine are lead and practiced by women?  Often the patterns of patriarchy are reflected in the fields of medicine and science so no wonder patronizing sighs and pats on the head just don't reassure anybody. 

Homeopathic remedies are often rooted historically in the practices of women who were once burned at the stake for witchcraft.  Once again, the same pattern is repeated over and over again.  These so-called witches were known as "Wise ones" and were educated better at healing for centuries than the best doctors of the day.  It's only in the last 100 years or so our species has seen a change to where those educated in medicine reliable people to look to for healing and recovery. 

And it's clear modern medicine still has a long way to go.

The homeopathic practices are still challenging the medical field.  I have a good friend who is struggling with a thyroid condition and she's had to educate herself on some very complex subjects.  Part of the reasoning is just how expensive medicine and medical treatment has become and the other is just how successful homeopathic remedies can be, when administered properly. 

Sure, I don't agree with much of what Gwyneth Paltrow puts out there, and it seems a bit like snake oil mixed with cultish devotion, but some of the attacks on her fans comes close to misogynism. 

I'll admit I questioned the validity of vaccines for a while.  Part of it was how I simply do not trust those who dismiss others when they come with honest questions.  It often felt like I was a kid again, telling my dad about a problem with the car.  He would nod his head and go back to drinking his beer, then a week later I would be stranded someplace, because that problem got worse and nothing was done about it. 

The other reason I questioned vaccines was because of how much I knew the pharmaceutical companies manipulated our government.  As I said, I was majoring in Poli Sci.  I knew how much money these companies were spending in Washington and I knew how much money they were flooding into elections.  I also knew the underhanded tricks they employed against anybody who questioned them.  How can anybody trust information coming from somebody like that? 

I've noticed how recently more and more people from the scientific and medical communities have come forward with more personal and editorial articles about the need for caution when seeking out alternative treatments.  Instead of flooding the articles and videos with facts and stats, they've put a personal face out there, and stopped treating the public like a bunch of potatoes. 

These people are still demeaning anybody who uses homeopathy but at least they're not calling all of us stupid, which is a nice start.  

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye, 2017. Please Kiss Me First, 2018

We should all get Participation Trophies for 2017.

You know, one of those generic trophies that says "As long as you had fun, you won!"  But that wouldn't really cover shitshow 2017 was, would it?

Perhaps a Golden Turd.

It's important to reward those who so richly deserve to have their efforts recognized.  This year sucked.  Normally I'd personify the year and come up with some kind of witty dialog to illustrate just how badly it sucked but honestly, at this point, it's just too much.

Perhaps we should offer other awards for this year.

A lot of us deserve that award.  So many people had it coming, too.  It was hard to get through 2017 without stabbing somebody because it seemed like every day somebody new made the list.  

This year was so bad, I feel like I can't really speak the words but instead I have to use a doll to point at the places where 2017 hurt me.  The problem is, so much of what happened this year was self-inflicted.  

I did a lot of it to myself.  I wish I could say it was all "them" or "that" but no, I'm self-destructive.  

I'm starting to feel like crap.  I'm thinking somebody gave me their bug.  Because it's so damned cold out, and I don't have a car to drive anywhere, I'm kind of stuck here.  And I don't have a job, either.  I lost that a day after Christmas.  The car died two days before Christmas.  

What this all means is I'm sliding into 2018 ready for some serious changes.  I'm ready, too.  I'm ready to blast into 2018 like a 10 year-old shithead on a sugar rush in Walmart on the day they put out the toys for Christmas.  Come at me, bro.  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Ghost of Jacob Marley's Shithead Grandson

It's Christmas Eve. 

Thankfully I'm not with my family.  My car showed mercy upon me and died.  I'm thinking it's most likely a blown head gasket.  I say it's a mercy because it snowed today and my tires are bald. 

Better stuck at home than in a ditch with broken bones sticking out of my skin as my car burns with me trapped inside.  I say that's my luck but the truth is The Powers That Be would never do that to me.  They'd never let me out of this rotten manure pit hurling through the cold dark of space so easily.  I'm fucking immortal.

That's a bitter thing to say but honest depending on your perspective.  But that's all about what life is supposed to be, right?  Perspective?  How we frame something is supposed to make it a reality, they say. 

I've been getting better at framing things in a more positive light.  I hate it, though.  I feel like Karl Rove standing behind Rupert Murdoch with a hand on his shoulder, whispering in his ear.   It feels like self-propaganda as if I'm somehow spinning reality to fit the narrative. 

It feels false to me to say this Christmas Eve is somehow not bad at all.  After how rough these past few weeks have been and all, to say simply that things aren't all that bad feels disingenuine but it's the healthy choice.  It's the healthy path. 

Self-deception can go both ways, I guess.  You can lie to yourself and tell yourself all kinds of stories about how you've gotten a lot of positive things done despite the harsh terrain.  Or you can totally discount your progress as inconsequential because you're not this enough or that enough.  For some reason I am perfectly content to discount myself but even remotely being positive is about as comfortable as shoving a cactus up my arse. 

Tonight I walked up and down a flight of stairs without issue.  I even carried laundry baskets full of wet clothes without having to stop and take each step one at a time, or keep the basket on the steps while I repeated the tedious trek.  Put the basket on the highest step you can reach, put both hands on the walls, take one step at a time until you catch up to where you set the basket, then repeat. 

That's how I used to go up the stairs leading out of my basement where the washing machine is located.  It was a rough journey, too.  My knees would feel like they were about to blow out and I wasn't nearly as stable as a toddler just learning how to walk.  I was terrified of falling. 

That's a reality when you're too big to move around much.  You know if you fall down you're fucked.  Proper fucked.  Because you're not getting up that easily and when you're a loner like me, that means you might be on the floor for a while. 

When I was a kid, my grandma's sister, Naoma, fell down and was pinned between the couch and the radiator in her apartment.  She was horribly burned because she was stuck there for over a day.  She was in the hospital for almost a month.  That's not going to be me.  I'm careful.  I'd much rather learn from the tragedy of others than from my own mistakes, miscues, and missteps. 

The Frank Capra classic "It's a Wonderful Life" is on television right now.  It's an annual thing I haven't watched since I was in college.  I always found it a hard movie to watch.  Capra was a genius in his day for making the audience sympathize with his main characters. 

Just like George Bailey, we've all made choice we thought were best for other people. 

Something's been bugging me lately.  Well, okay, a lot has been bugging me.  I try to reframe it but it's still there.  It's the self-destructive thing again.  The things I have ruined. 

I've bitched and complained about relationships I've tanked plenty but I've never mentioned how I've done the same with jobs and other aspects of my life.  Right now I'm faced with some decisions about my employment and I'm wondering if I'm going to repeat those mistakes over and over again.  It's bad enough I can't be happy for more than 24 hours with a woman but I'm almost as bad with jobs. 

If the job is utter shit, I stay.  If the job is really bad, I'll apply twice and stop by once a day until they give me the damned job.  Usually it's something horrible like shoving a cactus up my arse for minimum wage and a bonus for extra needles they take away routinely because sometimes the cacti are too smooth.  That's my dream job and I've done that job with a dozen employers over the past 20 years. 

I wouldn't know what to do with a good job that paid well.  I'd just blow that extra money on all the bills I've neglected for the past 30 years anyways.

But this is the season of re-framing things and being positive.  I have no idea how to reframe this one.  I don't have a fucking clue how to spin this shitty story into something positive. 

But on this Christmas Eve, while I sit alone and monitor a quiet internet because everybody is with family and people who care about them, I can say I've done more this holiday season to rise above the darkness that always consumes me.  I have done more positive things for myself than ever before and I have made more progress than I thought possible.  I might not be hitting any home runs in my life but I've made positive steps in the right direction. 

That's not bullshit spin control, either.  That's truth.  So sure, a year ago I was a basket case, and my brain spun around like a centrifuge, while I lined up another kamikaze ran into the dirt, but that's not happening this year.  This year, I've gone full Bill O'Reilly and Wolfe Blitzer, and I'm telling a positive story--truth be damned.      

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Quest for New Memories

My wife and I were married on December, 18th.  Today.  And it was 18 years ago. 

I'm not doing well.  I never do, either. 

I hate the fucking holidays for a lot of reasons.  This is one of them.  To me, this day is a reminder that I used to be happy. 

Here's a memory I always go back to in my head:  My wife and I, sitting in our small apartment in Seoul, in the Ewha District, as she holds our daughter.  Raven is drinking from her bottle and I'm petting our dog, Charlie.  Charlie is laying down and Seung-Hee, my wife, is looking at me and smiling.  We're talking about how lucky we are.  We're talking about how fortunate we are to have gotten to the point we're at and how incredibly grateful we both were to have what we had because neither of us thought it was possible.  Not for us.  Not in our lives. 

My wife and I both remembered where we came from.  Her life wasn't very good, either.  And she wasn't looking to meet anybody when we first met.  Our first dates weren't even dates.  I was teaching her English via e-mails and both of us had very shitty weeks.  I was starving for something other than the few dishes I knew and I told her--be my food guide and I'll take you out to dinner. 

That was our first few dates.  They weren't dates--she was teaching me about Korean food and I was teaching her English. 

In short time, we discovered something about each other--we respected each other on an emotional level.  She knew I wasn't going to be some drunken asshole, I wasn't violent, I didn't yell, and I didn't push her around or bully her.  I respected her thoughts and feelings, asked her rationally what she thought about things, and we made choices based on a calm, respectful conversation. 

Most of the time.  I was an asshole sometimes.  I'll admit this.  And there were times when she was very controlling and jealous.  Plus, she really didn't like my darker side, which I kept very hidden from her.  Gladly, too.  I wanted to be for her what she wanted me to be. 

On that night, I knew I'd finally had everything I've ever wanted out of life.  I had a family.  That's all I wanted.  That was the ultimate goal for me--a family.  I wanted to do it better than my dad.  I wanted to be a better husband than him, too.  I wanted to start from the beginning with a family and be the man I knew I could be for somebody who cared about me the way I cared about them. 

And I lost it.  All of it.  I had it and lost it all.

I won't go through the long, shitty story but suffice to say I lost everything no matter what I did, how hard I fought, and it left me devastated. 

Is there anything worse than knowing what you have and then losing it? 

On this day, every year, I am reminded that I was happy once.  I was happy once, goddammit!  And I can't get it back no matter what I do.  Losing my family changed me in a thousand ways and I'm no longer the person I was.  If my wife saw me today she wouldn't even recognize me.  I'm not the guy she fell in love with anymore. 

I've tried to get back what I had and I just can't.  It's like they were taken from me because I had to fall apart.  I had to be damaged.  Fate had plans other than happiness. 

And sometimes the answers to our prayers is "Go fuck yourself." 

When December 18th rolls around, it feels like I haven't been happy since I lost them and that no matter what I do, I never will be again.  Every effort will be nothing more than a feeble attempt at a replacement for what I had so I can lie to myself and make believe it's ok. 

But all of that is nothing compared to the guilt.  My wife forgave me.  Our last conversation on the phone was her forgiving me for all that happened.  She said she knew it wasn't my fault and I gave it my best, but there were too many things happening at once and it just wasn't allowed by fate. 

It is a punch in the gut to have someone you failed forgive you and tell you she still loves you.  I wish she had told me she hated me.  I wish she told me she wanted to shoot me in the face.  I wish she had told me, "If I ever see you again, I'm going to throw acid in your face and cut off your various body parts, you son of a bitch!" 

But no, she was the woman I knew she was when I married her.  She forgave me. 

I feel like I've ruined her life.  I feel like I have exposed her to all kinds of horrible shit because it's Korea and dangerous for women.  I feel like I'm responsible for everything bad that has happened to her since I left.  And I am responsible.  She was my responsibility and I failed her.  Fate and the gods be damned, the blame rests at my feet, no matter how many incredibly weird things happened to destroy our marriage. 

But here's something I'm starting to consider after friends pointed out a different perspective:  What if it wasn't about me?  What if all of those times I got back up and came so close to getting them back only to be derailed by something was Fate and the universe removing me from their lives so they could walk their own path? 

What if it wasn't about me at all?  What if they needed me to be removed from them so they could grow in their own ways? 

I've blamed myself for things that were totally out of my control for a long time.  Long enough, really.  I'm afraid to let this go, though.  I'm afraid to walk away and I don't know why.  But I can't keep living like this.  I can't keep punishing and tormenting myself for things in the past I couldn't control in the lives of people who deserve their own fate. 

In the past, I have written a letter to my daughter, explaining to her how badly the guilt I have carried around for years has eaten away at me.  I shared that with some but a friend suggested I do it again and this time, keep it private.  The goal of this is to communicate with my wife's higher self on a soulful level.  Those vibrations are important.  She might not hear me directly but she will in her heart. 

I can't contact my family.  They moved when I was homeless and I didn't get my mail, so I lost contact with them and I have no way of finding them.  It's done.  I wrote the letter to my wife tonight and I feel better because of it.  I didn't say "goodbye" as much as I released myself from the bonds of guilt, anger, and loss. 

I feel like I made a step in the right direction today.  It's going to be a long journey and it might take a long time for me to let go of this.  I'm still angry and incredibly upset.  I think part of that is because I just haven't dealt with this much and instead buried things because I just couldn't deal with it.  Maybe one day I'll find some kind of happiness.  I'm trying.  I really am.  I'm not sure what to do next but I feel another lesson will present itself later on down the road. 

For now, I will accept that I have lost happiness, and hope it doesn't last forever.  It often feels like it is forever but I've been wrong before.  I hope I'm wrong about this. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Love Songs of a Kamikaze

Earlier this week I reminded somebody the entire reason I'm making all of these changes is because I don't want to die alone.  Sure, the world is full of people who die alone.  Thousands of people a day die alone.  I don't want to be one of them.

Yet I have structured my entire life to keep women away.  Not at a distance.  Not at a certain length.  Away.  Totally and completely away.  

Oddly enough, all but a couple of my closest friends are women, but we can ignore that.  Nothing is going on with any of them.  No friends with benefits, no friends with an occasional hook up, or anything like that.  

In fact, my friends don't talk about sex at all with me.  I love that about them.  I love not hearing about their sex lives and I love that all but one never sends me naked pics of themselves.  

I'm not like other men.  I know this about myself.  I don't watch porn, and in the past few years, all things sexual have become abhorrent to me.  To say I get uncomfortable when a woman talks about her sex life is an understatement.  

This week I've been having a lot of nightmares.  On Monday morning, my alarm woke me out of a nightmare about a woman cutting off my Mr. Happy.  She was laughing and just as the alarm woke me, the blood was beginning to gush.  And it really hurt.

That nightmare probably says more about how I react to women than I'd spell out in plain words.

I don't hate women.  Quite the contrary.  I fear them.  I'm terrified by them.  I see them as either a friend or a vicious, carnivorous predator ready to rip organs out of my body and feast upon them.  When I see a beautiful woman, I see claws, fangs, and bloodlust.

No grey area, either.  One or the other.

It's part of the reason I seek out women who are unobtainable.  My dream girl is over 1000 miles away, totally out of my league if we were to meet face-to-face, and possibly married.  Knowing I'll never meet her is best.  Knowing she'll keep me her dark secret is even better.  Sure, it sucks she'll never tell her friends about the weird guy in the creepy van, but it's best this way.

But all of that doesn't matter.   It really doesn't.

Within 24 hours of being happy, I will self-destruct.  I will ruin everything and totally make a huge mess of things.  I've done it way too many times.

If the most intelligent, witty, kind, and beautiful woman came to me and told me she felt a connection with me, within 24 hours I would do something stupid to drive a wedge between us.  I would tell her something about myself out of context that would make her realize I was a mistake.  It would be the truth, but it would be a random thing out of context, and she would have to realize things were wrong.

I self destruct whenever things are going well.  I don't know why.

I've lost weight.  I've made progress.  I've been doing so well.  But too many people have complimented me and encouraged me.  I've been starting to feel like I'm not a waste of flesh and that there might be a better future than the one I imagined.

So, I've been eating carbs.  I've been eating chocolate, ice cream, and bread sticks.

I can blame all kinds of things.  Budget, food costs, etc.  But no, this is me self destructing again.

I can't stop it.  I have to destroy anything that brings me happiness or puts me on a path to a better life.  And I don't know why I do it.  I just don't.

One of the reasons I've stopped connecting with women was because I just can't bring myself to hurt another one with my self destructive instincts.  It's instinct at this point--I just do it without even thinking about it.  And it kills me to know how badly I've hurt women who cared about me.

I don't know why I do that.  I really don't.

I keep going back to that quote from Milton's Paradise Lost they used in the movie The Crow. 

Am I really that bad? 

I can't be, but somehow I have developed a self-perception that is and it has tainted everything around me. 

I keep going back to a memory from not too long ago.  I cared about her, she told me she cared about me.  And then the clock started to tick.  Within 24 hours it was done.  I'd fucked it all up. 


I was furious with myself.  I still am.  And it still hurts.  Just 24 hours and I'm still angry at myself for fucking it all up.  I hurt a woman deeply just because she was stupid enough to care about a guy like me. 

I'm working on sorting this out.  Last week I had the realization that all of my perceptions of self, since as far back as I can remember, were based on the valuation given by broken people with issues.  People who were deeply hurt and from painful pasts who could only cope with alcohol and violence and rage. 

When I was three and a half years old, I watched my babysitter throw her drunken husband down a flight of stairs and proceed to beat him with a vacuum hose while he begged her to stop.  I was sitting at the base of the stairs.  I pulled my knees up to my chest and covered my eyes with my hands while I shook with fear. 

When I was about four and a half or five, somebody giving me a bath suddenly flew into a rage, grabbed me by the back of my head, and shoved my head under the water.  They held it there for a long time and I was certain I was going to die.  I ran out of air and let go, knowing that was how it was going to end.  Then, they suddenly pulled me up out of the water.  They were pale, shaking, and crying.  We went downstairs to have some orange juice and never spoke of it again. 

Food healed the hurt that night and made it all better.  Another pattern I need to work on. 

Somehow, I took moments like that, and instead of assigning blame to the people doing the deeds, I turned them around on myself.  I somehow twisted events like that into meaning that I was a bad person.  I have no idea how that bit of logic worked out but that's what I did. 

I thought, for my entire life, there was something fundamentally and centrally flawed about me as a human being when all along it wasn't about me.  Even decades ago, when I learned it wasn't about me, I kept the original self worth and self identity.  Despite knowing and understanding the world I grew up in, I maintained the flawed perspective that got me into this mess. 

The old lens through which I looked at myself is falling apart and good riddance.  I am working on developing a new one.  For so long, I always saw myself reflected in the eyes of others.  So when somebody liked me, I instantly thought they were somehow flawed themselves, and of poor judgement.  I knew who and what I was, why didn't they? 

I am now re-thinking and reinventing everything I knew about myself.  I am looking at how I came to believe in who and what I am, then trying to see where those perceptions were false.  I have no clue what to do after that. 

I have people who are helping me and guiding me along but this is scary shit sometimes.  But sometimes, it's like being able to re-take a driver's license photo.  I get to have a more honest appraisal of who I am. 

I have to fix this.  I just have to.  I'm self destructing in a thousand ways with a dozen choices every hour.  I don't want to die alone because I have the instincts of a Kamikaze pilot with a hundred kills painted on my side.  But more importantly, I can't hurt any more women.  I just can't.  I feel so horrible already and knowing I can't control this makes it worse. 

After a while, it becomes just another sick cosmic joke.  The guy with severe abandonment issues self destructs when he finds anything close to happiness.  You can only tell a woman you're sorry so many times before they start to think you're doing it all on purpose.  Or worse, they realize just how far gone you are mentally, and how they need to run.  You feel like a monster when that happens.  Inhuman.  It's hard to apply the new self valuation and perceptions of self when she's backing away like a woman in Hannibal Lecter's kitchen after she sees a couple of toes in the garbage disposal.   

A lot is changing.  I know that I am changing, too.  I am changing in the most positive way I know how and with the help and aid of friends who genuinely care about me.  I'm not sure who I am but I am starting to narrow it down a bit more every day.  I'm very curious about what I'll come up with.