Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Unpleasant Surprises

Well I will keep calling you to see
If you're sleepin' are you dreamin' and
If you're dreamin' are you dreamin' of me
I cant believe
You actually picked...me

From the song "Calling You" by Blue October

It's been said that Napoleon Bonaparte only read his mail once a month. By doing so, he found that the problems contained in the letters had usually resolved themselves by the time he read about them. Although it's a luxury I cannot afford, I sometimes wonder if I would do well to follow his example.

I had a huge pile of mail waiting for me when I got home from work last night. I went through my usual process of dividing it into 3 piles: garbage I can throw directly away, garbage I need to shred first, and things I actually need to read. Smug that I had once again defeated the evil bulk mailers, I set myself about reviewing the items that merited my attention.

The first thing I opened was a speeding ticket. It included beautiful glossy photos of the vehicle in my (estranged) wife's possession, merrily zipping along at 36 in a 25 mph zone. Now logically, what do I care if she's out there speeding? Why would this upset me? There are several reasons.

First, I read my mail after a long day at work and I was already mentally and emotionally fatigued. In that state of mind, all problems are exaggerated. Nevertheless, it's representative of larger more annoying facts, not the least of which is that she still has not done her part to take responsibility. As they say, "Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me."

I calmly put the ticket aside to give my attention to the next envelope. This one was a rare treat tantamount to winning the lottery in reverse. It was a bill from an orthodontist in Utah in the amount of $565 for services performed while my son was in my ex-wife's custody - a year ago.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, the same ex-wife who now owes me more than $3,200 in back child support, the very same who in 13 years of divorce has never paid for a single airplane ticket, the same person who said such vile things to her own daughter I put her in therapy to cope, the very same lady who would not even work with me to settle on dates for the kids to visit this summer, even though I paid the entire amount of both tickets. This is the person who brought us such memorable events as filing for bankruptcy twice, and even divorcing her current husband in an elaborate scheme to commit bankruptcy fraud, but then hastily remarrying him once it became clear it wouldn't work. I won't expect her to step up and accept responsibility anytime soon. That means one thing, and one thing only. Somebody is about to get boned on that bill, and that somebody is yours truly.

I can't help but wonder what's next, but I'm afraid to ask. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Dew Drop

Last Friday, I woke up early with no alarm. I went out on my balcony, and had a lazy morning cigarette while I sipped my first cup of coffee and pondered my existence. (Side note: the easiest way to quit smoking is not to start in the first place - starting smoking 21 years ago is one of the few things in my life I truly regret and would change if I could.)

From the balcony off my bedroom, I have a clear view of a stand of trees that the environmentalists forced the developers to leave in order to preserve indigenous plant and animal life. I frequently see all manner of creatures roaming through the dense foliage, and I often find it soothing to sit and observe in the early morning.

I felt like writing, but frankly, I've grown quite tired of always writing about my present situation. So I resolved myself to write about the first thing that came to my mind... to just sit down and go with whatever I thought of first. The first thing that came to my mind was "I am but a drop of dew..." so that's how I started.

When I was finished, I'd written a short poem/essay/story about the life of - you guessed it - a drop of dew. I patted myself on the back for having briefly escaped the incessant painful prose that my writing has become. Then I showed it to a few people.

I noticed a couple of interesting things. Each person who read it seemed to take something different from it, but those who know me and my situation well all insisted that I had once again indirectly written of myself. I decided to get a professional opinion.

Saturday morning I had a scheduled therapy session. Ostensibly, the purpose of this visit was for my son (he's doing much better, by the way) but I have private sessions with the same counselor for myself. I showed him what I had written, and he read it. Here's the composition:

The Dew Drop

I am but a drop of dew, rolling gently down the waxy surface of a dark green leaf in the early morning. Rays of sunshine beam in golden lines as they fight to penetrate the forest canopy. Eventually, the sun will break through the trees, and I'll be gone. For now, I observe.

Around me, birds begin their morning songs. I don't understand the details, but the message is clear. They call to their mates. They call to their friends. They call to their foes. They call so the world will notice them.

Below me, on the forest floor, a single mouse forages for food. I hear the gentle rustling of plants around him. He doesn't seem to realize that he himself may end up as breakfast for another creature. Because he doesn't know, he isn't tormented by it. He nuzzles a stone over, and then moves on, blissfully unaware of the dangers that surround him. He is the lucky one.

In the distance, I can hear the gentle gurgling of a small stream. In the rich waters of the stream, I'm am certain life abounds. Small fish will soon be warming themselves in the sunlight that dances off the water's surface. The mossy shore of the brook comprises the edge of their universe. They are not aware of the world beyond, and they too are lucky.

My time is short now. I notice that sunlight has broken through the treetops and is illuminating the ground in beautiful random patterns. But in the chaos, there is order.

I spot a caterpillar wiggling his way down a branch. He is driven by a single purpose: to gorge himself on the sweet green leaves and store the energy for the amazing metamorphosis that awaits him. Does he know what is in store for him? In a short while he'll shelter himself within the safety of his cocoon. When he emerges, he'll be a different creature, and the boundaries of his world will have expanded tremendously. If he makes it, this will be a second chance for him. He is unwittingly the luckiest of all.

Sunlight strikes me, and my edges seem to retreat from the leaf as it dries. For me, it is over, but I have no regrets. My life is a short one, and this is my destiny. It is the natural order of things. I watch the caterpillar munching on a leaf, and for a brief moment ponder whether or not he observes the same things I do. Then I am gone.

When he was finished reading, he gave me a strange and steady look, then bluntly asked if I was suicidal. We talked for a bit, and he scheduled another private appointment with me for Tuesday ahead of the appointment I already had for Thursday. I'll be going twice a week rather than once for the next little while.

The frustrating thing for me is that I was really trying to do something different, but I seem to be a one-trick pony for the time being. Still, I'm really interested to see any comments or feedback about this. You can either post them here, or email me at watchmeheal@gmail.com.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Walk Alone

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But its home to me and I walk alone
My shadows the only one that walks beside me
My shallow hearts the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there would find me
Till then I'll walk alone...

Excerpted from "Boulevard of broken dreams" by Green Day

I have to respect the explorers of the old world. When they set out, they had no idea how long their journey would take, nor if it would even bear fruit. I find myself in much the same situation.

I've been keeping a private journal. While I have to admit that I love writing for an audience, I was finding that even though this is anonymous, I was unable to be as candid as necessary because I knew other people would read it. That said, I didn't want to lose the therapeutic value proffered by writing my thoughts and feelings, so I began recording them privately.

Ultimately, I may post excerpts of those writings here. Then again, I may not. (Which is worse: ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care.) I would like to periodically update you on my journey, though. For the record: it continues.

I've been going to counseling each and every week, and I'm really applying myself. For me, this has become as much an intimate journey of discovering myself as a healing process. I'm striving to learn who I am, and to improve myself.

During the course of my soul-searching, I noticed a very distinct pattern in my past relationships. I'm coming to understand it, and trying to break it. Most recently, that meant being honest and realistic, and ending a relatively new relationship. (We've agreed that we still care for one another, and we will remain friends.)

I've always known that I hated being alone, and now I'm trying to figure out why. Sure, a lot of people don't like being alone. But I really loathe it. For example, I've been known to skip meals rather than eat them by myself. It's one of the things I'm working on.

I guess at the end of the day, nobody is perfect.