Happy Birthday Reilly. This was easily the longest year of our life. Last year this time, it felt like your entire world imploded. Then the world closed down because of the danger of coronavirus. Despite that, you also finally got the help you have needed in therapy. That took ten plus years for everything to lineup right. The right combination of medicine, therapy, and groups. This was so effective because you were and are committed to doing the work. You made that happen by not giving up. You gave it one more chance by resisting that call to end your life last year.
You got a new cat. It was really hard to lose my old cat, Flip in December 2019. Like other loved ones I’ve lost, I think about him from time to time. He was a great kitty that lived a long life of 18 years. But, 9 months later, you found Coco (nut). She is amazing in other ways than Flip, and I look forward to having her as my cat in the future.
You got another job, way better than you expected, and did a good job. It’s sad that the product didn’t sell, and it didn’t work out. But hey, that’s life. Thanks to that job, you have had 2 interviews in the past month. Finding work is way easier now compared to a year ago. There are so many job postings. Despite being laid off from your previous job in January 2020, if it wasn’t for your own efforts to be successful, work hard, and achieve your goal of working there for at least a year… You wouldn’t have had unemployment to pay your bills all this time. I don’t remember ever thanking them, so I will now. Thank you Willie’s Reserve for hiring me, and for that 14 month job experience.
You tried several times to find a person to date, and you did. It was a short online relationship of two months. It didn’t last because we weren’t compatible, but she was still my first girlfriend. That was the first time I’ve experienced romance before and it was amazing. I certainly did not think this was possible after that painful friends breakup/crush. Maybe I’ll return to online dating in the future, but for now it’s on pause. The apps are deleted from my phone. I would consider dating someone I met in person. But, that’s after I get the vaccine, and social stuff opens up again.
This would not have happened if I wasn’t committed to self improvement and therapy. Thanks to youtube and the videos I watched, I found helpful advice from relationship coaches such as Susan Winter. I felt like I went through a college level classes in dating and relationship skills.
I know on an intellectual level that I’ve improved in a bunch of areas. But thanks to the weird anti-social world of the pandemic, haven’t had many opportunities to practice them. This past year feels an extended sports offseason.
So, Happy Birthday Reilly. You made it another year. I figure if I’m lucky I have another 40-50 years. Maybe longer. Regardless, I made it another year in the hardest year of my life. Hope is on the way, and I will appreciate all the little things in the world I took for granted before the pandemic.
I feel like this song is a perfect reminder to be tender/patient with yourself and the world right now.
Song of the post: Try a little Tenderness by Otis Redding.
P.S. I’ll be returning to posting once a week on Satuday starting next week. Maybe I can post more often in the future. For now, once a week is the best I can do.
Despite recent posts being “down”, I’m doing alright.
“To learn patience is to rebel against every hardship.”
So, about 2 weeks ago, I quietly returned to the dating pool. Which for the time being, is online dating. Yeah, I have work to do on myself. Yeah, I’m unemployed and looking for work. Yeah I rent from my mom. So what? I don’t like it either, but I’m working on improving these things. I’m worthy, I have good things I can offer too!
I find myself discovering what I want from a future partner by browsing people’s dating profiles. It’s helping me to discover myself and the life I want.
I’m getting better at my worst life skill, dating! Yay!
Social skills aren’t a natural strength for me. (I’m a classic introvert.) That said, the pandemic has tested my limit for being alone. Turns out I do like being around people, and not being a complete hermit. Some is cool.
Lately I’ve been dreaming of the day covid is over because everyone’s vaccinated. For the first time, I want to throw a big party to appreciate everything I took for granted because of the pandemic. I look forward to do activities in person again.
Dreaming of the future
I feel I made a breakthrough on Monday. It feels like a combination of many little things. I’m grateful to achieve this! My hard work in therapy is paying off! Seems a higher dose of buspirone, the anxiety medication I take, and doxepin for sleep was just what I needed. I felt tired and out of it last month because I was recovering from poor sleep for so long. Nothing like waking up rested, and dreaming again.
What I want to do by this time next year is to move out. This is something that I’ve wanted to do for years, but life kept getting in the way. Finally it feels like life is turning around. The next step is to get a job, then figure out the long term career problem. One step at a time.
It’s been an up and down emotional week. Life has gotten in the way, and taking extra care of myself has been the first priority. I’ve been doing better since Sunday, but still having trouble writing. Which happens whenever depression or anxiety overwhelm me. I feel I’m entering a new phase in therapy and life and it’s difficult. As change is. So, I hope these infographics from Pinterest helps someone else going through the same stuff. I’m new at forgiveness, especially forgiving myself for bad decisions I’ve made. I’m working on it.
I hit my goal of working for at least a year at one workplace. Despite all the friends I made there, it was time for a change. At the end of the month, the company closed and everyone was laid off. I’m glad I worked there, and grateful for all the friends made there.
February: Where one door Slams shut, others open.
Old friendships end in an awful way. I never did end up apologizing to that person. I wish I said “I’m Sorry, I can’t do this anymore. I won’t enter your house again, or bother you again.” It’s best we went our own ways. “Sometimes it’s best to leave a relationship broken, than picking up the pieces and hurt yourself. I had to face reality and move on.”
I wasn’t alone anymore because the truth set me free. There was no way for me to continue on like none of this happened. That end marked new chapters with new friends.
March: the Pandemic Saga begins
I was pretty useless in March this past year. I was heartbroken from the rejection-breakup. I had to reevaluate my entire life and life choices because of that loss. I was grieving the death of my 18 year old kitty from December 2019, I was grieving being laid off from a job I liked. It was extremely stressful at home as Mom and I adjusted to being around each other all day at home. I had a nervous breakdown on day two of a new job at the end of February and had to quit that job. I felt suicidal… This time I asked for help from Mom and I went to the hospital. Because of this difficult experience, the psychiatrist there pointed me to the right help. At home, I lived on the couch in comfortable pajamas, wrapped in a blanket. I split my time on the phone, or watching relationship and psychology videos on YouTube. I started seeing my current therapist in March, and started doing groups over zoom too. As of the date of this post, 12/31/20, I haven’t met my therapist in person yet. It’s been a weird year for therapy. Oh and I started this blog on 03/27/20!
April: Bargaining & Depression
Looking back in my journal, I was torturing myself with excessive blame and trying to right my sense of sanity. Worse yet I had to deal with all this grief in a pandemic world away from family and friends. Weekday zoom therapy groups became my social life.
May… More of the same
It was still early into my recovery phase. But this month produced two of my personal favorite blog posts this year:
This year, I have focused on self improvement. It’s been my major goal for a long time to be mentally healthy, and I finally was able to break through this year thanks to having a therapist. Thanks to having professional support and guidance. Thanks to the right mix of medications. I’m not perfect, and I have things to work on, and that is okay! Finally my hard work and persistence is paying turning into massive positive change. Finally I’m turning into the person I’ve always dreamed I could be.
Though 2020 has been really hard, I’m healing. I am recovering from my mental illnesses. Those that I can’t escape are managed. Lately I don’t even recognize this person that I’ve become. For a long time, I never thought that I would be enough as I am. That I would like to be around people. I didn’t think that I would like to talk to new people. That I would have so many cool people in my life I can call friends. I’m not alone, and I am comfortable being single, by myself. It would be awesome to have a girlfriend to share my life with. I don’t need anyone to complete me. I am an awesome person by myself. I can be my own friend and help myself. I am a recovering depressed person. I am a recovering Agoraphobic. I am a recovering hermit. I am a recovering Nice guy. I am enough. I am tired of feeling sorry for myself and blaming everything and everyone else. I am responsible for myself and my life. I was watching Avengers: Endgame for the second time, and this quote really resonated:
“I Used To Have Nothing. And Then I Got This – This Job, This Family – And I Was Better Because Of It. Even Though They’re Gone, I’m Still Trying To Be Better.” -Black Widow, Avengers Endgame.
Though this quote is about loss, I feel it really describes what the world currently feels like. Only interacting with friends, family, and people online isn’t the same. We are connected, but not. I really miss pre pandemic life. I took it for granted. Even before this, I was touch starved. Thankfully I’ve had kitties fill this void.
It’s not like I wasn’t like I wasn’t hugged or had caring touch from family. I simply crave affection. The need for touch, intimacy, tenderness, and affection is a human need. Missing out on romance sucks too. It’s tough for me to admit this.
More on touch starvation:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has meant increased isolation for a lot of people. Even with lockdowns no longer as stringent as they were in March, many people are still working from home, minimizing their social outings, and avoiding intimate contact with people they don’t live with. The truth is, hand-holding, hugging, or kissing outside of your pod will probably feel risky until there’s a coronavirus vaccine. And for people who are super strict about avoiding that risk, that lack of contact can have a serious psychological impact, causing something called touch starvation.
Psychotherapist Alisa Ruby Bash, Psy.D., L.M.F.T., tells Bustle that contact with peoples’s bodies, whether it’s the hug of a friend or interactions with hairdressers, massage therapists, ornail techs, can be a key part of our self-care — and when we’re deprived of it, we experience higher levels of stress. “This has had devastating impacts on the mental health of most of the population,” she says, pointing to the fact that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have found higher rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts across the U.S. since the pandemic began. “Even one long genuine platonic hug from someone we trust may be enough to help our mental and physical health.”
Don’t look now, but 2020 is almost over. Too bad the world will have a long hangover into next year thanks to selfish assholes who won’t wear masks or physically distance.
I found out what the title of this post meant in therapy this year.
“The Healing Journey is the Hero’s Journey: Joseph Campbell, the most well-known mythologist, presented us with the idea of The Hero’s Journey. He studied the ancient mythology from all cultures and found profound, cross-cultural parallels between the hero of those myths. The Hero, he realized, was an archetype so integral to the human psyche and the human experience that it arose in each culture. While mythology paints the Hero as a special or supernatural, the myth serves to reveal the hero in each of us. When we align our healing process with The Hero’s Journey archetype, we perceive our life with a greater sense of empowerment. We gain wisdom about what challenges and support we can expect, and why the experience is vital to our soul.” From https://empoweredsustenance.com/the-healing-journey/
I first found out about this in the end of a rejection message earlier this year. I took it as a polite veiled way to fuck off for the rest of my life. I already was leaning towards ending that relationship, and was trying one last time to see if there was romantic interest. (Which is a red flag I ignored then) So I broke up because I was done. It’s one thing to be rejected, another to completely destroy a persons confidence. That along with other surprises in the message forced me to reevaluate everything about that relationship. I really thought we were close friends. My letter was cringy and full of red flags, so I get why she responded over text. So I ghosted her. This was immature of me, and not right for anyone to do, but it happened. I made further mistakes by blogging about it while grieving the relationship. I regret everything. It was a no win situation for anyone involved. So the best thing for me to do is learn from it and change. I forgive her. That chapter of my life is over. It’s time to move on.
I’m an average dude, and that’s okay.
This step is big for me, because I have been depressed, have self esteem issues, and caught in a negative feedback loop due to not getting the right help for my problems.
That’s not to say I’m not unique. I’m as human as anyone else. I have strengths and weakness like anyone else.
I am a work in progress. I am enough and I have things to work on.
Is this is what change feels like? Well, positive change I guess since change happens anyway.
My biggest goal in life since I started this long ass journey to self enlightenment, this healing journey, is to be mentally healthy. To be accountable for myself- To not die as an addict like my Dad or my Aunt– To be the Father I feel I never had. Neither my Dad or Aunt really fixed their problems. I started as soon as I was aware 12 years ago. I knew it would take a while, but honestly I wouldn’t have tried if I knew it would take twelve years and counting. It’s like I’ve had multiple broken bones now healed incorrectly, and now I have to do further work to be healthy again. Except there is no timeline for healing. Ugh. I’m tired of dealing with mental illness. I’m worried I might have them for the rest of my life.
I have to remember to practice more self compassion, so I’m in it, working on the problems. And that is enough.
It wasn’t until I did a few months of therapy and read this article that my mind changed about even trying to date while having depression:
Esther Perel, a psychotherapist with over 20 years of clinical experience, and a well-known advisor on sex and relationships, says, “We don’t just learn to love ourselves by ourselves. It’s a classic chicken or the egg scenario: in order to love another, we must love ourselves. In order to love ourselves, we must allow ourselves to be loved by others.”
And, more importantly, “Self-love is less about the ability to withstand loneliness or establish independence and more about awareness and acceptance of our incompleteness. It’s about letting others love us even when we feel unlovable because their version of us is often kinder than our own.”
The idea we fail to see when we talk about needing to love ourselves first is that two people can help each other out while together. The other person can help you find that self-love, and vice-versa.”
These three videos by casually explained accurately describe most of my dating experiences:
Even though I officially rejoined the online dating pool, I am worried that I’ll be dismissed by admitting I have depression. Tinder is brutal for men. I did match with some users most which were bots, but one real person already fizzled out. I’m still chatting with one person. So I am grateful for this!
Online dating feels like trying to get a job where the requirements are fuzzy, and you need college level skills. But there are no colleges to go learn things from. I’m not even sure if dating or romantic relationships are even worth the suffering. Must be nice at times like this to have religion or faith. I’m tired of being patient. ( I wish that I was able to go out with the second person I asked out this year. But bad timing is unfortunate, but you have to move on. There are plenty of available partners in the world. I already made the mistake of waiting for someone to be single before, and I’m not doing that again.)
I am so ready to be done with this journey. It’s frustrating because I feel limited by only having online contact with people. Like I feel I haven’t really been able to tackle being on the autism spectrum because the weird culture of the pandemic makes it easy right now. I’m either in comfort zones like doing therapy right out of home, and I can take my time with interactions. On the other hand, this is absolute hell for my internet addiction because everything is online and it’s a real problem for me. Imagine if AA groups had to meet in a bar. While I am working on it in therapy, like all bad habits and addictions, it takes a long time to change. And that is frustrating because I’ve wanted to change all these bad habits about myself for so many years.
Well, at least I have support now. So that is progress. One step at a time.
The healing journey continues…
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I need to let go of some things from earlier this year. It was wrong of me to blog about the friendship fallout online. So, I am deleting all the related posts. (It is possible to do harm with a bad apology.) What served me in the past, is not who I want to be in the future. Our present becomes our future selves. Keeping those posts online is only keeping the past alive.
“In the Tao Te Ching it says: By letting go, it all gets done” This is how the meditation below begins. Since I found this meditation on Spotify, I’ve began to use to sleep every night since July.
Therefore I must change. To begin by removing and editing the posts that talk about this relationship. From now on I’ll keep these things private. I don’t want to be that person anymore. I chose to break up. I said that I would keep my word and move on, and I haven’t. It was cruel and immature for me to vent about this online. I regret doing this, and am ashamed that I did this. It’s time to move on. I hate how things ended. This is reality. It ended how it did, and I can’t change that. It’s in the past and will always be a small part of me like every other experience I’ve had. I don’t know what she wanted of me, but I don’t need to know. I didn’t want to end it. All I know is that for my own health, for my own future, it was time to move on. You give yourself closure. No relationship lasts forever. No one is entitled to a friendship with you. We weren’t compatible for any future relationship. That chapter of life is over. I did her a favor.
In order to step forward in life, I need to stop shooting myself in the foot every time I make a mistake.
“Apparently, the Buddhists say that any time we suffer misfortune, two arrows fly our way. The first arrow is the actual bad event, which can can, indeed, cause pain. The second arrow is the suffering. That’s actually optional. The second arrow represents our reaction to the bad event. It’s the manner in which we chose to respond emotionally.”
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