Sunday, November 18, 2007

This blog has been a laboratory of sorts, allowing me to work out my life as I do best, by typing it out and seeing it front of me. For me to concretely hold my thoughts, I have to see them in front of me. (My mental filing cabinet is overstuffed and utterly disorganized.)


Some weeks ago I was feeling odd, emotionally speaking. I had to run some errands, so while out in the truck I put Randy Newman's "Little Criminals" CD on.

As I pulled into the garage, my favorite song, the slow, haunting "Texas Girl at the Funeral of Her Father" came on and I was bludgeoned by an acute feeling of loss as I listened to the lyrics and thought about my father, who died several years ago.

Here I am lost in the wind
'Round in circles sailing
Like a ship that never comes in
Standing by myself

Sing a sad song for a good man
Sing a sad song for me
Sing a sad song for the sailor
A thousand miles from the sea

Here I am alone on the plain
Sun's going down
It's starting to rain
Papa we'll go sailing

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I sang along, my heart aching to burst under a cascade of loss. Newman's lyrics perfectly captured my feelings--and my pain: "Here I am lost in the wind.... alone on the plain."

I missed my father terribly that day. I felt utterly alone and unprotected, sitting in ruins. The loss boiled through me as I realized that, emotionally sealed away and inept at parenting though he was, he really had loved me as best he could.

I thought about this blog some days later. I live my life in my head, rarely in contact with my heart, that emotions go unacknowledged and ignored until they mount and mount and finally their weight against the door between my heart and mind bursts it open, and I'm overwhelmed by the flood of raw emotion.

That's why so much of this blog is about my pain. I don't know why I'm comfortable working out my emotional life here. The more I work this pain out, the less it seems to overwhelm me. In my past posts, I wrote about my temptations to suicide. Yet those have almost all faded away. Yes, they spike when I'm in conflict, especially with my wife, but it's only a spike on a baseline chart and as soon as I see it, I dismiss it as ridiculous. Killing myself is no longer an option I take seriously because I see it as a chilish response that I had enshrined as my ultimate act of "fuck you, too!" rebellion. I suspect the temptation of suicide as a release from pain will always be a faultline in my soul, but having a weakness like this is no different than what other people live with every day. Theirs merely labeled differently: Drugs, alcohol, rage, overeating, running away, perfectionism, et al.

If I could have my dad back for ten seconds, I would tell him this: "I miss, you Dad. You were a sonofabitch too many times and a disaster as a parent, but you did give me some good things in my life. I love you."

I don't know that I'll ever not miss my dad. I hope I don't, I hope this pain will act to keep my heart open to me so I can learn to live in it rather than my fucking head. I presume the intensity of the pain will subside, and that's fine by me, but I never want to forget my dad or the good things--and bad--he gave me. I want a complete memory of him, not one whitewashed or spattered with flung shit.

I miss you, Dad.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Matter: (n) 1. the substance or substances of which any physical object consists or is composed.
7. something of consequence... 8. importance or significance. (


Do I matter?

Is there any reason I stride this planet, hereandnow, any reason at all apart from random biological chance during my conception? Has God actually created me--via my parents and all my ancestors up the chain of being--or am I a physiological accident?

If I'm nothing more than a genetic crapshoot, then the issue ends here. C'est la vie, c'est la mort--rien n'est important. (My attempt at philosophical French: "That's life, that's death, nothing is important.")

But if I am crafted, if I am brought into being deliberately by my Creator, then the question still arises, unsatisfied: Do I matter? Am I important in the works of creation? Would the universe suffer by my absence?

I am terrified at the thought of being inconsequential to God. No, I mis-write. Not inconsequential. Wrong. I am terrified at the thought of being God's mistake, that somehow, by my sin(s) and ineptitude at life, I have caused God to wrap me in tissue paper, shove me in a shoebox, and put me on the shelf. Neatly labeled and out of the way. "Out of the way, thank God."

I am terrified my life does not matter. I type this with tears in my eyes. I am terrified my life has no eternal value, not even temporal such. Yes, Jesus died to save me, redeem me, etc. Yes, yes, yes, I stipulate all of that. But for yesterday and today, I question if my life has value. Have I cocked up to the extent God has sidelined me? My life as a Christian has hardly been exemplary. My charitable giving is spotty at best. I absolutely refuse to sacrifice a second's worth of my time to anyone or anything that does not promise entertainment, profit or at least emotional anesthesia in return.

I am exhausted. I have cried out to God to let me matter. I don't mean naming a bridge or a school after me mattering. I don't mean my name in lights on a marquee or bandied about by tv news anchors or celebrities mattering. I don't want to be a household name like Billy Graham. I would find that level of "mattering" shallow and draining.

What matters about mattering to me? I want people's lives to be better because I was there. That's all. Yes, my name in lights would be nice, what, I'm the Dalai Llama or Ghandi? O hell no! But more than the surface crap, far more, is the matter of mattering to other people. Of mattering to their hearts, souls and spirits. No, I do not want be Jesus Christ! No one wants a fat, insecure Messiah. You can't get booked on Letterman if you are.

I don't want to be responsible for someone else's life, either spiritual or temporal: "I wanted to shake your hand, Ken, because without you I would have shotgunned myself right after I killed my family." O God, no no no nono! So what do I want?

I want to live. I want to live my life, the life apportioned to me and designed for me, and I want to know that's what I'm doing and that I'm supposed to be doing it. I want someone's day to be brighter because I was in it, even for a moment. I want to give someone a cold glass of grace when they're laboring in the hot desert wind. No, what I do or say in that one moment won't save them or damn them, I don't want that power--not even a little of it. I want the people I give grace to, to remember me as a conduit of God's grace and they feel more free to turn to God, just maybe, as a result. That they remember if God can use a man like me, He can use them far more profitably for the kingdom of grace.


Do I matter?


Sunday, October 07, 2007

I feel strange tonight.

I feel...naked. Completely vulnerable to the elements, to passersby, to Fortune or God, I feel as if someoneone stripped me naked, took away every defense I possessed, every coping mechanism, and dropped me naked in the middle of Times Square, but no one's noticed me yet. ('Yet' being the operative word, here.)

Today was an okay day until we went to church, the 10:00 service. My step-son chose to go with us, which I liked, but despite his musical ability, he never sang along with any of the songs. During the sermon he was bored, distracted and fiddling with things. IOTW, a typical 15 yr old.

When we went to the grocery store afterward, his mom loaded up on frozen meatballs, Budget Gourmet frozen entrees, frozen bean and cheese burritos for him. This made me irate, as I feel she caters far too much to his food likes/dislikes. While she makes him take "no thank you bites" of many foods, I'm getting really tired of him not willing to give new foods a fair try. I'd like to enforce a "eat what's on your plate or you don't eat at all" policy, but I don't know if this is a fight I can win, especially with his mom taking his side on lots of issues.

While I was cooking dinner I blew up at him for disobeying his mom and my request he take out the kitchen trash, and my anger affected him. I went back to his room a minute or two later and asled him to come back to the kitchen, I wanted to talk with him.

I told him I reacted so strongly because he'd blown off his mom and me, and not only was this rude, but also short-circuited our efforts to raise him to be a man others could respect, including himself. I stressed the man he would be in 10 years was the man he was building right now, so his choices were critical for the next few years. I said O was ovwer my mad, that we were human and imperfect, so, yeah, we'd bump heads sometimes, but the important thing was how we handled afterward, did we care for each others' hearts. I asked him if he understood what I said, he said "Yes," so I asked him to shake my hand, which he did.

It's still difficult for me to be around him for an extended time. So much of his behavior irks me. So I guess I get to learn to love him even when he pisses me off. Especially then.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm not purely a miserable bastard. No, I'm not. It just seems like it because so far all I've posted here has been pain. I went back and re-read my posts and I got depressed all over again.
But this is something I need to do. Like lancing an infection; you have to get the crap out so your body can begin healing itself. That's why this blog is good for me; it allows me the freedom to do that. Plus, I'm enough of an exhibitionist I'm doing so in public.

While swimming at the gym today, I realized something. I was doing the backstroke, staring at the ceiling and trying not to run into the lane lines, and was thinking about my folks. I realized my one overriding goal in all my romantic relationships had been validation: Since my mom never validated me (she had abandoned me in every way except physically) , I craved that from women. They didn't have to be attractive or available--I just wanted a woman to represent my mom and tell me she loved me and I was okay.

This could explain why all of my dating relationships rolled over and died. (Altho I was always the instigator of the break-up.)

Same thing from my dad; although I got physical abandonment from him in addition to emotional. When I struck up friendships, one of my big motivators was to get approval: "Please tell me I'm okay."

Then, still swimming, I thought of this: My parents are dead. They're not coming back. No one else on this planet is going to validate me in the manner I need, because what I need only my parents could have given me. Am I screwed? No.

IMO, all validation comes from within the person seeking validation. Even if my mom and dad had stepped up and given me their love and approval, their gifts cannot create validation inside me--I have to do that. The only person who can truly validate me--is me.

So I decided I wasn't a complete bastard, I was just me. And that was okay. I'm not going to be everyone's friend. There's lots of people that won't like me or want to be around me. And there's not a single damn person on this planet who can give me what my parents failed to. So I can stop looking to people as milk cows for my appreciation and instead see them as people.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

"Everyone thinks you're cheating."

That was what A., a nurse at my local cardiac clinic, told me yesterday when I went in for my infusion of diuretic.

They were talking about the fact I was gaining weight, not losing it. I was up 2 kg from last time I was there.

I became so angry, carried so much of a "fuck you, too!" attitude. I was tempted to stand up and walk out of there. Show them, huh?

Then it all crashed down on me.

They're looking at numbers, and the numbers don't lie. If I'm not losing weight, then I'm eating more calories than I'm burning. Q.E.D. There can be no doubt, no question over this in the long run.

Yes, my diuresing has decreased drastically so now my output is no more than I'd normally kick out were I not on the drugs. That means I'm packing on more water weight. Yes, this will offset the weight loss, if any, by some amount, but all of it? No, I don't think so.

So now all my depression has returned and shit on my head. Well, poor fucking me, boo-hoo. I can't decide if I'm more depressed or angry at the nurses for what they said or angry at me for doing it in the first place.

For me, the scary part is they're right and I'm too ashamed to admit it. I don't want to eat that big a crow--it's the size of a fuckin' Thanksgiving turkey!

But I know they're right. I'm tired of lying to myself about it, tired of the "poor me" head trips, the excuses, the "it's not my fault"s, the mind games I play with myself to make sure I'm protected from realizing what I'm doing, make sure I continue on just I've always done.

Now I get to choose: Make the hard choice and stop lying to myself, start participating in my own recovery; or, make the easy choice; forget about all this as best I can and stay comfortable.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I want to live.

For the first time in a long time.

Thank you, God.

I only have a few minutes to write (headin' up to see the Bay Area doc!) but I thought it important to post this.

I want to live.

I really do.

I can feel God's grace upholding me, much like braces uphold a crippled person's legs. I know if He removes His grace, I'll tumble backward into the shit. I don't think He'll do this, tho. He's my dad and He says He loves me.

I'm willing to trust Him on this one.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Something's missing.

I don't know what, but I can feel it down inside me, around the center of my thorax, a bit to the right of my sternum. There's a hole there, I can feel it, like a tongue feels the empty socket where a tooth used to be.

What's missing?

Things have changed since a few weeks ago.

My cardiologist has put me on a no-added sodium diet. That means no foods with salt added to them in any way.

Do you realize how much salt is in our everyday food? I'm not saying this as a crusader, I'm saying this as someone who feels like he just whacked in the face by a brick. It means most all my favorite foods are now off-limits to me if I want to adhere to this regime and live. It means I have to spend lots and LOTS of time reading food container labels for sodium levels, it means it takes longer to buy groceries now, it means my food tastes funky to me and now not really very good, it means this is one more plateau I get to stand on that makes me yet more different from other people.

It also means it's a way for me to live, live longer, probably even live better. It means it's an avenue to maturity for me if I choose to take it and not limp around in a circle whining about how goddamn tough it is to be me.

This is a an avenue for me to put a fucking steel-jacketed bullet into the black, flabby heart of that bullshit tape that's been running in my head, courtesy of my parents: "You're not as good as your sibs nor are you what we want or understand. You don't deserve to live. Kill yourself before your wife and friends leave pitiful you."

Mom and Dad, fuck you. Fuck you and the goddamn horses you rode in on. And of you rode in on the train, a car or a bicycle, then fuck that, too. Both of you. All the way with a rusty farm implement. Dad, up yours with all that macho "strength in isolation" bilious spew. Mom, stuff your "What would the neighbors think?" up your lily-white puckered ass.

I someways wish both of you were frying in Hell. I think I could set out a lawn chair and watch that and eat some popcorn.

I also know you both had incredibly fucked-up parents if that's the message you got from them. Grandpma and Grandpa? All four of you? Stick your faces into this wood chipper, okay? Thanks everso.

I'll likely return reasoned and compassionate again soon, take back what I said, perhaps. But for now I'm going to wallow in my anger, my rage, let it seep into my bones and make me feel warm and alive for one of the few times in my life when I don't feel like a 'droid.

I'm serious about this hole thing. I think what's happening is with the stress of this new diet, the stress of my poor cardiac health forcing me to confront my imminent mortality, the stress of realizing suicide is a fantasy--a bullshit answer for my life, the stress of trying to be a good step-parent to a step-son who wishes I weren't around and mostly treats me like furniture, the stress of trying to throw off all the bullshit I was taught or presumed as a child, the stress of getting back into an exercise program, the stress of trying to be an adult instead of the far more comfortable role of being 40+ yr old and dreadfully self-centered and immature....

Perhaps I'm finally coming awake.

Perhaps the hole is the pit where I kept my bullshit, or at least one of the pits.

Either way, this feels scary. I'm terrified I'll do what I always do and slough off, fall back into my unawareness and complacency and false beliefs and distorted perspective.

Know what's scarier, though?

That I won't.