Parents

My parents are simply terrible communicators. I have listened to them down-spiral this morning as they fought each other in bed resulting in multiple verbal traumas. After all of the coaching I have done, it was as though my dam had been made of paper and been asked to hold back a lake. There was no moment in which good communication skills, or even basic listening took place. The downside of living with people in such close proximity is that if they had a bad relationship, it sends negative vibrations throughout the environment.

Personally, logic should have prevailed in their argument instead of suppressed emotions. Uncorking on each other is a pretty unproductive activity and results in no progress forward. In the short time I listened, I heard vocal agitation, misunderstandings not clarified, NO I statements at all, accusations, judgements and insults. These are not the tools we should be using with each other when attempting to communicate something important.

The one thing I have tried to pass on to them is a practical application for the principles of mindfulness. Before driving as fast as one can down the emotion freeway, we need to stop for gas and make sure we are headed in the right direction before charging off. My parents have failed at doing this, which leads to the bulk of their issues. Fights like the one they just had only deepen the ongoing resentment and cause bitterness and anger to take root. It’s a destructive process and they need to be aware of that before it becomes the ONLY way they know how to attempt to resolve conflict or attempt expression.

My first job as a Peer Support Specialist is to repair the broken communication bridges between my mom and dad, and help them find a better way to speak to each other. Obviously, what’s going on right now is not working, and no matter how hard they threaten, they’re not likely to go their separate ways. They just need a better way of communicating. which will need to be something they are both equally invested in doing. At this point, it should be obvious to them that what they have going on right now is unsustainable, or at least, in desperate need of repair.

I have often been this person for my parents, but I detect now things are different. I have a unique position of regard, and I need to take that role seriously and balance my approach as a true impartial figure. Frankly, this is not hard since both parties are in a similar state of decay, and similarly need work done in order to rectify the issue. I’m optimistic though, because this deterioration today is a valuable lesson about how we don’t want to keep doing things. Fights hurt. Feelings get smushed. Crying and snot happens a lot. It’s not the best thing ever. What we need to be doing is looking at that and going: “How did I get here?” “What do I need to do to prevent myself from getting here again?” If we can divest ourselves of the need to ridicule and blame, then we are likely to make progress forward.

So for now there are tears and anger, but soon the dust will settle and they will be more receptive. In times of acute emotional crisis, the best thing is to focus on diffusing that heightened state with compassion and safety. Once out of the altered state, the work of understanding can be done.

The Prodigy

Milestone moment for me Blog! I have just received my 4 certificates of qualification from the Peer Support programs I enrolled in over the last few months, and I am pleased that my training is largely complete. I have volunteer hours I still need to log, but the hard work is done.

Yesterday I had an actual graduation ceremony at Recovery Innovations, International’s San Diego office. Only about half the class turned up for the event, but I was very glad my parents could be there. Every single classmate I gave a hug to spoke highly of me to my parents, which felt wonderful. As the ceremony drew to a close, I was the last person to speak before the gathering. I always find public speaking to be a bit “amplifying,” however, I think I handled myself with poise.

Someone I was not expecting to see was there, my old case worker Annette. Back in 2014 when I came out of the hospital, she was right there helping me get back on track. She got me into the WRAP classes and that really made such a big difference right away. As I got healthy and went back to work, we closed my case and I said my goodbyes. Here we are 4 years later and she’s representing NAMI San Diego watching my graduation from PET. “Before I met you I was but a learner… now I am the master.”

She gave a big speech about how proud she was of me and that really warmed my heart. She saw me at my lowest point, and now here I am reaching all new highs. It must have been refreshing for her to see that. I was moved by her words and my mom turned into a puddle. My instructor Gloria also stopped and made a special point to highlight my skills and accomplishments. I was showered in praise and compliments which was altogether overwhelming.

But well earned, Blog! I worked my ass off to get to where I am now. I didn’t ask for anything, I just did what I had to do to get myself back to a place in my life I could be proud of. My parents got a chance to see how hard I’m trying to change my life for the better, and that helps reassure me a lot. I want them to know I’m not just Eric the pot smoking chocolate eater, but Westin, the articulate and loving Peer Support Specialist.

I hope you all have a good Friday. I start my volunteer hours down at my old clinic next week to complete PET requirements. That should be a piece of cake. I wish for you all to have fun on your weekend and live in an action-packed non-boring sort of way. I vicariously thrive on your vices! Fulfill your desires and yes!

In It

I am pleased to report that my PET training is going very well, and I am learning a great deal from my classmates. They are all so bold and open with their feeling, which inspires me to do the same despite my reservations. It’s not just the skills, but how they are implemented that is making a difference for me.

 

Today we are sharing our personal stories which I am a little frightened of. It is a abrasive feeling to talk about myself flatteringly, and this is the hurdle I am striving to overcome with this career path. I can’t deny the facts that I have done great things, but I still have my hands on the reins to prevent the glorification wagon from going over the cliff. My humility is one of my best qualities, which reinforces a desire to not proclaim self worth with any sort of volume.

 

But the facts remain that I have done good and I am doing better than I have ever been before. Even if I throw doubt at that, it doesn’t stick. Logic prevails. However, there are far more mercurial subjects that lend themselves to a more destructive path of logical reasoning. It can be both useful, and poignantly detrimental. I have plunged to my lowest lows because of that negative logic spiral. I learned my train could be hijacked.

 

I wish I had these skills a long time ago. Maybe I wouldn’t have been such an abrasive partner or husband If I had better communication skills, or better listening skills. I can logic that back a bit by also recognizing that even if I had been a good communicator, doesn’t mean that would be a mutual thing. All my partners had no true ability to grapple with themselves honestly, so nothing of true worth ever came to be between them and I. I see so clearly now what a functional relationship is supposed to look like. Even though I’m content that I will never have that for myself, I feel empowered knowing my future interactions will be significantly more diverse than they had been in the past. There are fewer mental obstacles to my success than I can ever remember before.

 

Well Blog, I think today is going to be a good day. I promise to be open and genuine with my classmates, and tell them the story of my journey as only I can tell it.

 

Slow and Steady

I am in a very fortunate position to have a safety net to fall back on in times of crisis. My family has always been there for me throughout the years, despite all my crash and burn events. It makes me wonder what life will be like when they are gone. What would I do if it all fell apart again? Hopefully I would be able to work something out, but the thought is worrisome. I still think that having a support structure is really important to recovery, since its not always an easy road. That is why I am getting back to volunteering, but also just good common sense. I know from experience that if left unchecked, I will slowly deteriorate into dust. Monitored, poked and occasionally questioned is best, since it keeps me in the present and also forces me to come face-to-face with my actions.

Right now, in this uncomfortable interval, I am homeless but not hopeless. I am pursuing justice as well as exerting my energy towards a MH career. I also have come to realize these things are not going to move at a speed that I feel normal about, nor are things going to be in my control very often. I am finding that the more little things I push into motion, the less control over the outcomes I have. I then find myself in this limbo between events, where I am unsure how to occupy myself without guilt. I have made with the fun for the most part with these past days, admittedly. Now I feel like I need to “get serious” or something and stop allowing myself to have largely unregulated fun. I feel guilty about doing things that are not productive, yet keep me distracted while the wheels are turning somewhere in the background. Maybe this type of conjecture is not resolvable, since there are great arguments to be made on both sides.

So I’m in a type of sullen paralysis where I do what feels good but, subsequently,¬†feel rotten about it. It’s not like I have demonstrated a desire to not work, or an eagerness to loaf. I do not prefer these as default states, as I have mentioned before, but vastly prefer ordered time be justified and valid. Work allots play, and so on. Now, however, things are different. I am not coping effectively with the feelings I am having and I feel like it is only a matter of time before I wear out my “welcome” and generate animosity in my environment. I fear this outcome though do not overly expect it will be true. These are things I fear. Hence the purpose of this place: to vent my feelings idly into cyberspace to avoid their residency in my brain. Ideas don’t stay in and not do anything.

So Blog, I am thinking that I will try to post daily, and start documenting the feeling I am having through this process. I have decided not to go back to doing therapy with Margaret as she has proven to be a bit out of touch now that we see each other so infrequently. I’m not in a regular therapy kinda place. I have the fundamentals down pretty well, but need real hands-on experiences dealing with all sorts of issues as they arise. Whether my interpretation of something internally or an observation about something outside myself, I need to know I have the tools and can use them. I find my parents and their dysfunctional system of communication is a good place to start.

I will keep posting as the days go on, and new emotions come up. We are all going through these things together at different times in our lives. This is my time to struggle,  and soon it will be yours.

#1333

I’m capping off a good evening by myself with a little mental health check in.

Emotionally, I’m very stable and consistently happy. Ever since I moved in with my parents, I have been doing much better in terms of my mood being more up than down. I do have moments of lethargy and anxiety, but I find that I remain confident. I know I’m continually adding more to my schedule, not stagnating. I’m turning the volume up slowly, patiently. As my new career path begins to unfold. My emotions have been good, and steady.

Anxiety has been a bit of a challenge, and has made going out a little harder. I find that because my dad is handicapped, his need to go out and do things is more important than my anxiety about not going. I know he needs my help and I will always be there for him. So I kind of have a cheap escape from a lot of the agoraphobia in my righteous task. Its empowering to be a caregiver, and be so integral to the success of the mission.

That is the actual number of total posts on my blog: 1,333 including this one. Most of those posts are complete bullshit crap festival. Some of it is processing, but oh my the venting. I’ve done more yelling at this blog than any person in my whole life. If you could run away blog, I bet you would have by now.

I have gone through a lot of “learning,” or stepping on an explosive and being blasted through the air like a floppy rag doll. Lessons are hard earned, but I have the trauma to prove I’ve gained something from it all. The fact that I can come out and share my story is a part of why I am having success with coping. Everyone should share and draw the venom from the wound. We spend so much time burying things we don’t want to deal with when the truth is coping, exposing, understanding. This is what I have come to see clearly.

I hope tonight finds you being introspective, and looking inward for truth and meaning. We are so frivolous sometimes. We take our stability for granted, and are ill prepared when it is ripped away. I don’t sit around calculating contingencies or anything, but instead, I have loosened my grip on the reins. I don’t want to try to control things outside myself anymore. I have a hard enough time handling my own monkey fuck zoo. To manage anything outside of that has proven itself to be impossible.

So I isolate myself from partnership and pursue good mental health for the remainder of my eroded life. I’ve fucked up pretty bad, but now I have a real shot to change something that matters. This brings me a new level of profound worth that is stronger and more meaningful than any accomplishment I have yet achieved. To save someone from darkness. To offer that hand right before they slide over the edge. I want to help now. I don’t want to go on a slave to the machine. Even after my parents are gone and my resources are all used up, I will still work for the poorest and most disadvantaged. I have nothing of worth in this world but the life I have lived and the memories I can make with others to help inspire happiness in their lives. Hopefully more people in this world will think of me as a good man than as a complete fuck up.

Companions

On Thursday, I’m going to meet my Side by Side companion and see if I can help him. I’m pretty fucking awesome, so my hopes are high. I like meeting on the winter solstice too. Literally, the darkest day of the year and here I am holding tightly to the light of hope. To me, it’s an interesting coincidence, since every day can feel like the darkest day of the year to someone who is depressed. This captures the importance of tomorrow in both a literal and metaphorical significance. I am pleased by the nature of such oddities.

I have been visiting the San Diego NAMI office a lot lately and everyone there has been really great. They have turned me on to resources and may have even got my name moved up in the PET waiting list. I was expecting to be on hold until some time next year, after speaking with some savvy individuals. I feel very fortunate that I have been given this opportunity and I won’t miss out. Overall, I feel like I am taking patient, measured steps forward advancing my career and causes.

I live bound to my honesty. It is the backbone of my pride, and helps fend off depression and negative thoughts. I hope to illuminate the strength that can be found within, once one is willing to accept the truth. However foul or unforgiving, the basis of all recovery is to have ones feet in the real world, and work on the rest over time.

I don’t give advice anymore, especially since my in-depth education on mindfulness. I am learning more and more the two aspects of effective communication. Hopefully this peer to peer experience helps me build on my skills. I feel genuinely optimistic about this new direction in my life and know I am already starting to make a difference.

I am proud of who I am to my parents. They see me not only as their son, but a voice of moderation and reason in their sometimes turbulent relationship. I have always been called an “old soul,” despite my insistence that such descriptions are in accurate to my core beliefs. Nevertheless, I have this shamanistic sagelyness to my demeanor that generally appeals. All of these aspects help me be as friendly as lukewarm bathwater. These “medium” qualities help me keep my mother lassoed to the Earth as she rockets away from the surface at mach 8 and scoot the boulder of reason that is my father close to her. He’s just barely holding on to the balloon string most of the time. Now, there is a big piece of elastic underwear holding them together. I’ll let you imagine your way out of that one.

I do hope you all have a happy holiday season. Celebrate however you want, with those you hold dear. Cherish each other. We only have a widow of time together in this world.

Exit Stage Left

I know a great deal of this blog has been a narrative of my journey towards partnership. Starting with Jax and all that followed since the blog was re-established, I have had nothing but failure. My own doing? Yeah, a lot of it was, truly and I accept my responsibility for that. I have also been afforded a great deal of time to be introspective after my last encounter with relationships. This moment, here and now in my adult life, I have come to a clear understanding about myself. I have mentioned this earlier, but I do believe it to be more true now than ever. I need to be alone, for my own safety, and the emotional safety of others. I have fully come to understand that as things stand now, I am not at all ready to embark on a partnership, and I know for certain I never want a family. I have seen what relationships are, and hoped for what they could be. I am very sure that the instability that most people can cope with in their partnerships jeopardizes my mental stability. I can’t manage my own mental health and be constantly worried, anxious, walking on eggshells to avoid conflict. I have never had equality, unconditional love, or respect. Maybe that’s because I never earned any of those things, but I’m definitely not he best judge of that.

Regardless of where the blame falls, I seem incapable of producing a healthy relationship. I have give it plenty of tries and have no more tolerance for failure. At this point, I need to get used to the idea of being happy regardless of love or partnership. I need to be able to by happy in my life and not looking around for more. I’m living with my amazing parents now, and helping take to load off my mom for my dad’s care. I’m part of a family unit again, and that feels good. We all love each other, unconditional. They have saved me from disaster on multiple occasions, and now is my chance to give back to them. I’m with them now, as they get older and need more help. My sister will be there too when we move, so It’s not going to be all me or anything. I am genuinely glad to be entering this time in my life. I want to help, I need it. I use that to build meaning in my life again with accomplishments I can look back at and feel proud of. I need to feel like I am helping, that I’m giving back to my world rather than sucking he essence out of it.

I’m feeling bolstered in my confidence about my life direction lately. I have integrated into a new home, with change and prosperity on the horizon. I won’t give my time and energy to a mindless corporate entity, but will endeavor to help someone who is less well off than I am and help them build confidence and feel understood. I hope you all too find wisdom in your introspection, as I have. I see what will help keep me healthy and what will not. I see now where I have made a misstep, and where I need to be more careful in the future. I’m not closing the door blog, but I used to give a great deal of energy to finding someone. That energy is going towards improving my mental health now, and forwarding my new life with my family. I think that’s a much more useful application of my resources, don’t you?