Doom and Gloom

For someone who had the most wonderful morning a couple days ago, you think I would be feeling on top of the world. Yet, I have this awful sense of impending doom, like my whole world is about to collapse around me. There seems to be no apparent reason for this. In fact, it had been a great week.

On Thursday, my wife Joanna’s band Drive By Todd opened for The Rustic Overtones. I’m so very proud of her. I’ve never been very good at showing my emotions and feelings, but her band has been practicing in my basement for a few years now. I heard their music practices for so long that it wouldn’t feel right if they ever stopped, even if I have to ask them to turn the volume down on occasion. So to see them on stage opening for a major band, that was a great accomplishment and at current, I can’t think of a time I’ve been more proud of her.

Sunday was such an incredible morning as well. We went out to breakfast to this little hole in the wall place in Camden. I’d never been there before. Rarely going out, Joanna has shown me so much about the area I grew up in that much of it is like a whole new experience. We each had eggs and brisket and it was amazing. We then stopped at a cute little bookstore and finally, Reny’s to browse. It was a really wonderful morning made all the more magical by the trees.

It had rained the previous day and the temperatures had dropped so quickly overnight that all of the tree branches were coated in ice making for an amazing drive. You’ve seen the movies where someone is making their way through a gorgeous winter wonderland? Well, this was more incredible. The way the sun twinkled through the hanging ice was nothing short of breathtaking. We even tried to stop in the road once or twice when it appeared that traffic wasn’t behind us to get a picture.

In the early afternoon, I went sledding with the kids. It was immense fun. I haven’t had that much fun sledding in quite a long time. The way my hat kept flying off into the air as I zoomed down the slopes. Or how I would lie on my belly and my kids would lie on my back so we could reduce wind resistance and achieve maximum speed and distance. It was simply a blast.

And then, that afternoon, I felt this awful sense of dread and doom looming over me. It just came on for no apparent reason at all. I spent probably an hour or two burning wood in the fire to clear my head, but it didn’t help. Probably because I wasn’t really thinking about anything in particular. Yesterday wasn’t bad. Joanna managed to put a wonderful smile on my face that lasted most of the day, but the feeling didn’t go away completely. I’m still feeling it this morning somewhat.

What’s particularly strange is an odd sense of peace with it. Like, I’m feeling this sense of dread, but if I were to pass away peacefully at this time, I would be okay with it. Maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. I don’t have any desire to die, whatsoever. There’s so much I want to see and do. I look forward to the day and Joanna and I are grandparents babysitting our grandchildren so their parents can get a night to themselves. I have been experiencing lots of new moments of joy that I never would’ve in the past. So I don’t know why I have this strange feeling. Perhaps things have been too good for me and I subconsciously fear it will all be swept away. Perhaps where I haven’t been drinking nearly as much, this is some withdrawal symptom. I’ve heard depression can hit hard when a longtime drinker cuts back or just quits altogether. Maybe, where I have opened up so much, I am simply struggling to deal with my feelings. Or maybe, this is just something normal people go through.

I’m sure it will pass and I’ll be back to my normal self again. Either way, I’ll come out a stronger and wiser person for it and that makes me better equipped for the hurdles that will come down the road. So at the very least, I can look at this as a good thing in that regard.

Pain and Growth

I am a fuck up. Probably always have been, most likely always will be. But I’m trying. With every screwup comes a little improvement, or at least that’s what I hope is happening. I have messed up a lot in life. It’s led to an awful lot of insecurities and it’s caused me to ignore or shutout all of the wonderful people around me. It’s caused me to reject or miss a lot of great experiences. Experiences I was a part of, I often completely missed the wonderful and beautiful things about it. When faced with challenges, I would back away or lash out at them. All this, in turn, has caused me to mess up even more. You can see it’s a vicious circle that spirals downward until change or demise.

I used to have a big problem with empathy. I had a great difficulty feeling it. As such, my emotions and responses were very cold, unfeeling. Feeling sympathy for other’s misfortunes was difficult. I couldn’t relate to things that shouldn’t have taken a lot to relate to. I had difficulty picking up on simple social cues and I was stubborn to the point of blinding myself to the obvious. It was absurd how much I blinded myself to what was clearly around me. I was, to put it bluntly, a detriment to myself and those around me.

In recent months, I have woken up to that fact and it hit me like a truck full of bricks. Somewhere along the line, I had stopped growing. Perhaps it was living alone for so long with little to no outside social life. Perhaps it was a growing dependence on alcohol and tobacco. The fact is, somewhere along the line, I went stagnant. Even major life events didn’t change me as much as they should’ve. I’m growing now, but it is very difficult.

I think I have a lot more understanding and compassion than I used to, but I believe that I am having trouble regulating. Having lived so long without the basic social skills and emotions that a person needs to grow, I find it difficult to determine where the lines of too much and too little are. I try and I think I’m better at reading social cues than I once was, but I can’t be certain.

One thing I am certain of is that I’m a much better person than I once was. Everything is now exciting and new to me. Looking back, I don’t like the person I was and I’m pleased to say that I’m relatively sure he’s dead. Don’t get me wrong. There were a lot of great qualities the old me had, but there were also a lot of bad ones. A lot of things I’m ashamed of and embarrassed about. I like to think I’m keeping all the good qualities while carefully burying the bad ones.

If someone asked me what I wanted out of life a year ago, asked me what were my goals, the old me would have said that he didn’t know, that he already had everything he wanted and to an extent, that was true. I had married the woman of my dreams, had two wonderful children and bought a home. However, that would’ve been my own stagnation speaking. Yes, I had achieved what I wanted and they were absolutely wonderful, but I didn’t see a need for goals from there. If you asked me today, I would tell you that I want to have a loving, long-lasting marriage. I want to make sure my children grow up into wonderful adults. I want to try new experiences, including those things that I outright rejected in the past. I want to go to another country for my 10 year anniversary. I want to go on exciting new journeys in life. And I want to write.

That’s one of the things that has been something of a blessing to me; a renewed interest in writing. I used to write all the time, but somewhere along the line, I stagnated and stopped. Every once in awhile, I’d start typing and write whatever came to mind, but lately, I’ve had more focus. I’ve been able to work on short stories and develop them a bit before posting. Writing has always been something of a passion and now that this passion has been re-kindled, I’m hoping I can keep this flame burning long. I’m not looking to become a big author or anything like that. I just want to get my stories out and know that people have read it and said, “Yeah, that was a good story.”

For the past few months, I’ve been looking at the world through new eyes. It’s a wonderful and beautiful world. It’s also got a lot of pain, but with pain comes growth. It should’ve happened much sooner, but I think I’m finally growing into the man I need to be.

Shameless plug…

If you’d like to read any of my stories, head on over to Taradiddlesoup.

There you will find an ever-growing collection of tales that I have written. I have two more short stories that I am currently working on that I hope to post soon with hopefully many more to come after that. I’ve recently posted a delightful story about photography and why you should never attempt it.

Trying new things

Yesterday, my wife took me out to have Thai food for my birthday. She had been trying to get me to go for years, but I always turned it down out of fear that I would not enjoy it.

Back in the 1980’s, the building used to be a photography studio/video rental store. Entering the restaurant, it was clear they had done some remodeling since then. So imagine my surprise when we were seated at our booth and the wall was still the slot wall from back in the day when I used rent movies off it as a child. It was such a laugh and delight. As amusing as that was, I could not be prepared for what was to happen next.

As previously stated, I had never tried Thai food, so I was quite nervous. I ended up ordering the crispy pad Thai. It appeared to be one of the safer options. But when I took a bite of it, something happened that had never happened to me before with food. I cried a little. It was so good. I couldn’t believe it. All these years I had not only been denying myself this delicious food, but also denying myself a wonderful experience with my wife. How many other wonderful experiences had I denied?

Many, I presume.

I am so grateful that I moved past my own stubbornness and had my amazing wife choose where to eat. I just wish I’d been smart enough to do this before.