Out of all of this

I feel overmatched. I sense I have no grasp of where you are. Somehow, and not slowly, I have lost the ability to read your eyes. A while back I watched you as you gazed out into the Atlantic ocean and I wanted to know what you were thinking. You had this look, the way a child looks when daydreaming, as though the whole of life turned to fantasy. I’m not sure what to make of that, but I saw it, and I suppose I am happy for it. 

I am sitting in a nearly empty room in Brooklyn, and I don’t know how all of this is gonna come out. I will be honest, and I won’t denigrate others – I will talk about you and your life, but I’m not here to judge or answer any of your questions. I will do my best to write without concern of what others may think – of what you may think. All of this is out of my control, so I toss the demons and trust the strokes my fingers make. I will trust myself here and now – And should this river turn into a wild ocean, full of fear and distant from safety, I hope you can see the love way back at the mouth of the river. Love is how this begins, and it will be how it ends. 


I fear there are memories somewhere that I didn’t keep long enough. I know who you are; I mean, the quality of person and all. I know that you have suffered for me and fought for me. To say that I am angry would be incorrect. In fact, this isn’t really about you, insofar as how it affects me – this is about me learning how to react and handle the changes you are going through, and it hurts; this type of change sends signals to the deepest roots within a person and delivers an astonishing pain. That’s what this is; all of this living and aging, it’s all just dying and losing.

Lately, it seems I’m losing more of you than ever before, and I know it’s not coming back to me.  I need to find where I end and you begin, because I am not strong enough to take on weight that isn’t my own. I get lost because I have never had to do this. Frustration and sadness set in; at times I just want to push it all inside and pretend that you can’t affect me. Fortunately, all of the time I know where that road leads. I am not willing to push off into a forest of an ocean only to find myself lost and alone yet again. I am not willing to lose everything because this has got me sideways – this work feels like constant effort, and if that’s what it takes I am willing to work continuously.


I have a battle on my hands and I know it. Yours is a battle I cannot fight; I can imagine it is an exhausting one. There will be sadness, probably more than there is now, and that’s ok. Great sadness is the mark of a great thing being removed from this world, so it is in this sadness I turn to gratitude. Though my words here may cast shadows around my current state, there is no amount of darkness to overwhelm the brightness you have given me.

Your eyes sparkle when you hear it – you still have brightness, and it is all for other people. That is what I see these days; you still want to know how I am doing. Everything that matters in this world is happening at this moment, and you seem to have found a way to reign in moments as they come, releasing them as they go. I find that to be remarkable, and consider myself fortunate to be on the same side as you.

Out of all of this, if you are reading this, I want you to know how incredibly grateful I am for each memory stored away and each moment we have together. I hope when you sit and look out at the ocean you have some of those stored away for yourself. I wish I had what it took in the past to create positive moments, and I hope you forgive me for my detachment and selfishness. I didn’t know how to give back any of the love given to me, but I’m learning it these days. I only hope I didn’t come back to life too late for this – I hope I haven’t given an underwhelming performance.

I will continue to work towards being a better person, not just for myself but for those I impact and for those I do not know. I have found a way to connect with people and at times I feel like what I think you must have felt like, only I’m in a psychiatric unit, and you were on a stage. Still, I think the eyes looking back at us say the same thing: they all want an answer to a question that nobody has. And that is how I carry you with me – through the eyes of those looking back to me, waiting for me to say something to make them believe it can all turn around for them as it did for me.

My words are no longer backed with paper-thin defenses – and with confidence, I can tell you that I always want you to be a part of whatever I am doing. I can tell you that fear doesn’t control my life as it once did – it has been replaced with gratitude and service. And it is with gratitude and service that I hope to be useful to you in any way you may need me to be.


There is no one way to do any of this, there is only action and good direction. I have no business trying to change the landscape of the past or future; I trust the way the winds blow. I have seen too much darkness in my life not to enjoy the light, and I intend to do just that. I would never have imagined I would still be a part of all of this – that you would still have that sparkle in your eye when you hear my name. Some people change their lives because they are tired of being broke or lonely – I changed my life because I was tired of being empty and I wanted to know how to give back what was always given to me. What I have now is beyond my wildest dreams.

While your eyes may lead me to wonder and confusion at times, it is untrue to say that I have no idea where you are. As I catch a glimpse of you staring into the ocean, I may not know where you are, but I know that you have always been with me, and for the life of me I don’t know what I did to deserve so much love. I guess every dog has its day.

The Sun Is Still Here

Though it satisfies my selfish mind to align myself, to toe the line, I must move away from mirrored minds and reflective voices on the chorus line shouting “we are right and they are lying.” I want my beliefs to be challenged, and you secure enough to be challenged.

I want to be without answers and confidently balanced.
I have no use for you who are right and you who are wrong.
I want to be steady on trembling roads where all is not right and all has gone wrong. I want to surprise my shadow and know that I am not all black nor all white.

Fling forth all beliefs and surrender all answers. They don’t mean a thing. The language will change and though we have the means we no longer feel the need. We will know how to move on these trembling roads and we will trust ourselves more than we did before.

Attachment melts from our golden eyes
The path we are on is not a pack of lies.
And as you beat your heart with no education
You will trust your words without hesitation.

You and I with golden eyes no longer need to proselytize or win the war or steal the skies. We just walk along on trembling roads and as we speak the pathway grows and roots are born and sorrow goes. And though the sun is sleeping even the blind can see that the brightness between us is the sunshine within us and the sunshine within us is the sun that you see.

 

FEAR

Fear of not being taken seriously.

Fear of freedom and fear of light.

Fear of being superfluous.

Fear that you won’t love your enemy.

Fear of not loving and fear of not loving enough.

Fear that what you love will prove inconsequential.

Fear of death.

Fear of running out of time.

Fear of things left unsaid.

Fear of being forgotten.

Fear that your transformation has gone unnoticed.

Fear that you won’t be fully recognized.

Fear that they won’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Fear that you are too late.

Fear that you never arrived.

 

With sincerity, effort, and error.

To Love, And Have Courage


Though I am the bearer of fragility and foolishness, I harbor no hatred. I am the spark before judgment, the ghost disguising pride; I mustn’t give in to hatred. But you! You can tell me what it is like to hate with fury. Deliver me from naivety and expose the shadows running through the heart of every man and woman. I know these shadows; you have become your shadow. You furiously cast fear and hatred into empty vessels. I have only sadness and compassion for your malice. Do not mistake my depression with despair. You are the one who is full of despair; You feel so weak in your ways that you turn to hate. Ashes embrace you but are fleeting.

Memories of those forsaken soon spell disaster on your tongue. And where has your arrogance led you? What path trembled, split and shattered beneath your feet? Who is to blame for your disillusionment? How much is your love worth now? No longer able to bear your reflection, you cast shadows on those around you, but this is not the world’s fault; it is your fault. You are too scared to see it, but you must. I will guide you through the desert, and you will confront the truth. Your mind cannot breathe as burials burst from beneath and settle on the surface. You are falling apart. Your lies collapse into your chest; your legs shake as exhausted bridges plummet from the air. You have a tenuous grasp on reality, and beneath it all, you are full of fear.

Because of this, you have my love; Do not mistake benevolence for weakness. It is because I love that I may see you as God intended. Everything exists because I love; life is love. Your hatred does not succeed because there are those who will continue, into the abyss of time, to love one another. That is my answer to your hatred: to love. I feel heartache because I love and gratitude because I love. You and your hate will burn, and burn out.

Up To Me

“I am not what happened to me; I am what I choose to become.”

― C.G. Jung

I cannot recall my first memory. As I scan through my mind and search for memories I find something distinct from any concrete memory. I find a feeling instead; It is an overwhelming sense of fear. I have lived with this fear my entire life and for most of it I have not known what to do with it. I have buried it deep within my soul, drowned it with drink, slept it away. Then it happened one day, as if perfectly choreographed, all of my solutions stopped working. I was left alone, shattered, and ready to collapse. Worst of it all was that I could no longer hide — death was the only hiding place left and even in my delusion I was too wary of death; I could not punish the world like that! My ego wouldn’t allow it.


As I child I would watch cartoons throughout the entire night; I secretly wished I could become one of the characters. I knew that these cartoon characters were not real. Therefore their feelings weren’t real, meaning they didn’t feel anything – I wanted the freedom these cartoon characters had. 5-year-old children generally want toys, games, and friends; I wanted to not feel anything. I always wanted to escape whatever situation I was in, but of course, you cannot escape yourself. I would run for years beyond my youth, but I never got away from the thing that haunted me; myself.

What was it about me that I wanted to escape so badly? There are not very many negative things one could say about me, at least not very damaging things. I absolutely have my fair share of character flaws, but I treated myself as if I were a monster, a villain that needed to be defeated or avoided. At times I believed myself to be downright unlovable and even let my thoughts drift so far as to think my childhood friends had been paid by my family to spend time with me! It ‘s hard to be yourself around anyone when you always question why they are there in your life.

I didn’t understand why anyone would choose to spend time with me, and over time I developed an exterior that told the world I was above it; I was better, smarter, and more talented than you and I lived in this world between self-idolizing and self-hatred. Living on these two spectrums makes it seemingly impossible to find a way to understand much in the world and even harder to behave accordingly to the ways of the world. I didn’t know who I was at any given moment, so I looked to others to tell me what to do, who to be, and whatever you thought of me is who I was and that was that! It was as if everything I pursued in life was guesswork on my part; Either work, a cause, a woman, a friend: I made my decisions based on what I thought others would see as agreeable. As long as I thought others would approve of my choices, it didn’t matter what I actually wanted, for I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted and even that I didn’t know until the end. I thought I was doing what I wanted and in a very real way I was: I found my value in the approval of others so I did what I thought you wanted so that I could receive the approval and value that I wanted. It was as insane as it sounds.


Over the course of 10 years, I had treatment for this fear of mine, and I found it in the bottle. I didn’t know it when I began, but I had found something that would finally allow me to escape myself; it was the magic I had looked for my entire life and at last I found the cartoon life I had long wished for. I found a way to deal with my fear and insecurities by completely avoiding them, shutting that part of my mind down, and it worked for some time. It worked in the way that is not fulfilling, however; I was able to work, have relationships, have fun, etcetera.

But I was never relaxed, never present, and never actually happy. I was able to make myself look good enough to the world, but deep within me, I knew the truth. I knew that this unhappiness, this blatant avoidance of fear was slowly killing me. And in a way that is exactly what I needed; I had to kill that version of myself because it was made up of lies and confusion. There was nothing authentic about me and the life I was living was a complete waste of life, up until the point I decided to change. Once I made a decision to change my past experiences became invaluable to my recovery and to the recovery of others, so in this way, I am grateful for my cartoon life.


I chose to put down the bottle and the other “solutions” I thought I had found. It was in doing so that I had finally admitted the truth, that my life was not working and my way of solving my problems was terrible. That was part of the beginning for me: an admittance that I didn’t know anything about myself, my insecurities, my fear. My ego and false pride had to be acknowledged as well and then had to be torn down.

Everything I thought my life was built of and in fact the very ideas that had kept me afloat needed to be destroyed; not altered or tinkered with — they had to be completely removed from me, and it is painful. This is the part most people avoid because of the pain that comes along with growth. But without this pain and admittance, one cannot make progress; the options are always to avoid or to accept, and I chose to accept the challenge.

 

What I knew of myself was that I had this deep fear that led to thoughts of self-doubt and insecurity that led still further to grandiose thoughts and high levels of egotistical thinking and behavior. I may not be able to control my lineage but I can control my actions, and my action was to understand these character defects and work to rid myself of them by building strong character traits. This was a new type of pain and fear for me because I now had a plan. I did not fear the unknown, I feared to have to face my inner self and the demons within, and it is the only way to find peace.

By allowing myself to encounter my insecurities I was able to recognize how little self-confidence I had and I began working to understand why it was so low. I’m a talented, generous, decent looking guy; why should I be so down on myself? The simple fact is that I didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t see myself the way others did and in this confusion I hated myself for lacking clarity.

The progress happens when one is finally able to admit that it has been themselves holding themselves back their entire life. The blame has to be removed from the people and from bloodlines, and responsibility has to ensue. This is the thing so many people fear: taking responsibility for their own actions and thoughts. This is the cause of so much unhappiness and lack of fulfillment. We do not dare say we are at fault and in the rare instance that we do it almost always comes with the inclusion of someone else’s fault. One may say they were being unreasonable in their actions but will generally follow with a reason for their actions caused by another person; “Yes I was wrong for slapping you in the face, but you kept egging me on, pushing my buttons!” There is no acceptance in this, it is shifting responsibility to another person and believing another has control over our actions so much so that we find ourselves rarely at fault because there is always someone who “made” us do it.

This is the truth I had to find: that I am in control of how I receive other people and I am not responsible for how other people feel about me. I spent much of my life claiming to live a certain way because others expected me to, but it simply was never true. Nobody ever told me to live a certain way, and that is actually not even the important part. Nobody has the control or power to make me live a certain way unless I allow them control over me, and whatever way you slice it the responsibility comes back to me. This was the beginning of my journey to finding a more authentic self.

I have finally realized that I have a choice in how I live my life and it does not need to be met with the approval of anyone. I have trust in my actions, emotions, and motives. I know that though I make some mistakes my aim is always on a positive target. The need for others to accept me begins to drift once I accept myself for who I am, and that meant learning who I actually am. This takes time, and it continues today. By facing my fear and going through it, I removed my insecurity, self-doubt, and ego. I found a sincere compassion, a thoughtful mind, and a willing attitude to learn and accept.

I follow a path of humility, honesty, acceptance, and a release of control. The way others see me is none of my business, and that’s hard to accept at times, but I have no choice in the matter anyhow — I have no control over how you see me.

When we are able to accept responsibility for our behavior and leave the blame game to others, we find greater peace, simply because it is authentic. When I blame anyone for my behavior, I am refusing to take responsibility and am looking to avoid what ails me. We are of course not always 100% at fault, but this is not important; we are always 100% responsible for our own actions, and this is all that should concern us, for it is all we can control. I do not meddle in the lives of others because I care for them and respect them, not because I don’t have time for them. I do not try to force others to live how I believe they should because I do not know how others should live their lives; the use of force does not work when hoping to help another person improve.

Every day I see people behave in ways that I see as inappropriate, annoying, and unhealthy but I do not say a word about it. Others will not change until they are ready to look in the mirror and admit that they need to change. This is a moment of grace that few experience because few will accept their faults, it is too painful for them to do so. I am sure people will read this and think “I am glad he finally admitted he was wrong. He finally learned to take responsibility as the rest of us have long ago.” This is the sad truth and the damning reason for so much unhappiness: No matter how much I change, no matter how happy I am or how miserable I am, I cannot change you.

Knowing myself allows me to trust myself and frees me from feeling responsible for the highs and lows of other people’s lives. We take responsibility for our lives, face the challenges ahead of us and admit our imperfections. A life of avoidance is an unexamined life, a cartoon life with no real feelings, beliefs, or happiness. There is only delusion and the lies we tell ourselves, but at some point, we begin to dig, and we see the truth. We feel the weight of our unhappiness and loss of identity. At this moment each of us has a choice to make, a decision that will decide our future, and it is simply to accept and rebuild or avoid and retreat.