Weights

I have been sluggish lately.  Those of you who have read my most recent posts have seen that there have been quite a few developments in my life both positive and negative.  Whether or not an incident is positive or negative does not detract from the fact that it is, ultimately, a burden of stress.  Even the happiest of things can leave me emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed.  Still, that’s one reason I have started changing aspects of my life: my diet is different, I am losing weight, I have been working out and being active more frequently, and I have been more social.  These seem like relatively normal things for people to work on after breakups, when the focus moves from the couple to the individual.  It was amazing how much of myself I had ignored when I kept deciding to stay in an abusive relationship.  Once that was gone I started to see a lot of things that I didn’t like about myself, and I moved quickly in order to change them.  It’s been 4 months since I left and I have lost 20 lbs and traveled more and hung out with friends more often than I did during the entirety of that relationship.  It’s good to see progress.

So why do I still feel sluggish and depressed and hopeless, even with all these changes?

Part of the answer to this may lie in the fact that I deal with depression.  I don’t really know whether or not that’s due to a string of terrible relationships (9+ years of unhealthy relationships with different women, with very little break in between) or just something I struggle with normally.  I think it may be in part due to a lack of focus on myself, but we’ll have to see if it changes after being single for a while.  It turns out that putting off your own growth and pouring all your effort into relationships is NOT the right way to go.

The other part of the answer might be mired around something that I think most of you will be able to relate too; my job.  I work nights for an engineering company, on a compressed work week.  I don’t switch my shift on my days off so I live on a night shift schedule for months at a time, switching only in emergencies and for special occasions.  I have been on night shift for the last three years, and it’s only recently that I have been able to see the impact it’s had on my life.  My weight has fluctuated wildly, I’m tired all the time,  I’m forgetful and lethargic most days, my mood is usually low and it’s always a struggle not being able to call people at normal times.  In addition it’s hard to get out and enjoy life when I work most weekend nights and sleep most weekend days.  I wasn’t able to enjoy a single friday night with the last woman I dated because of this (not that it matters post breakup, I’m just using experience to outline an issue).  I can’t imagine it has been fun dealing with me at times, I have literally fallen asleep in seconds when hanging out with friends.  On top of that, I hardly ever enjoy going out for drinks anymore (I dont’ drink very much to begin with) because when I do I essentially ‘day drink’ and then have the rest of the night to sober up.  I get headaches and feel sick, and my health has been an issue since I started working nights.  For three years I have felt like I have been trying to run a marathon with weights attached to my whole body, searching desperately for more energy reserves while I inch forward ever so slowly.  I’m exhausted, and I don’t want to be exhausted anymore.  I have taken steps to change this, both by talking to my manager and submitting applications to other companies for day shift work; time will tell which one of those comes to fruition.

Something my ex-wife said has been popping up in my mind lately.  “I took steps to change as much as I could to see if it would make me happy.  I changed my job, my shift, started taking better care of myself.  After I had changed all those things and I was still depressed I realized that it was the last thing that I hadn’t changed.”  Now, she was talking about our relationship, but the principle remains the same.  You can change all of the things you want to try and fix an issue, but if you don’t spend time to find out what the actual issue is you aren’t ever going to fix the problem.  Now, I do know that sometimes you have to follow a trail of problems before you finally find the root cause of an issue.  I work in engineering, this kind of thing happens all the time.  I don’t know if something else will come out after I address this issue, but I can tell that I am getting closer and closer to the source.  It’s been a long journey, but I’m anxiously awaiting what comes next.  Day shift would be a welcome change, as would being able to take my life back.  For now, I’ll just stay positive and keep moving forward.  Better days ahead, I always say.

Waiting

I am a sensitive man.  It may have something to do with ADHD, as men and women who suffer from it can have poor emotional regulation.  It may also be because that’s who I am, and if you were to ask me I would be inclined to believe that it is a bit of both of those.  There have been many times where I haven’t felt as masculine as I would have liked, and plenty of times in relationships where woman have told me that I wasn’t being as masculine as they would like.  It’s painful, but there isn’t anything that I can do about who I am, nor is there anything I want to do.  My sensitivity has allowed me to connect with people in many unique and wonderful ways, due to a higher than average emotional intelligence and an alarmingly effective sense of empathy.  It can get so overwhelming that I have to compartmentalize everything, which usually looks like stonewalling if I am in a relationship.  That, however, is not the point of this post.

My relationships have been varied, each woman displaying MOSTLY different traits with a few reappearing ones that I have been happy to see again.  Lately I have noticed that there is something that has been missing from most of my relationships, and I am starting to realize how big a deficit the lack of this thing creates.  I love romance.  I love being romantic, doing stupid and silly things together, writing poems and songs, making care packages when you are sick, buying flowers for no reason, sneaking out in the mornings and watching the sun come up, everything that might give you those special little butterflies for the one you care about.  I have done these things in relatively few of my relationships, and only two that had any sort of reciprocation.  The first was the abusive relationship.  For all her faults she was really open to everything romantic I did.  She was a writer and believed in romance and cheesiness, at least when it was coming her way.  Occasionally she would do the same for me, although those times were few and far in between.  It may have had a lot to do with how are relationship began, but it was definitely a ‘romantic desert’.  It’s odd when you let someone have that much control over your relational water supply, leaving you with a thirst that never really goes away.  Still, the occasional gesture was lovely, and I ate it all up.  You know what they say, “Even a day old hamburger looks good to a starving person”.  The second relationship that it happened in was the most recent one.  There were two gestures that stood out as things that filled that compartment of my love tank (see The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman): a package highlighting a joke that my late father had made and a random gift after we had spoken about it a few days prior.  These two things wouldn’t have stuck out so much if I had dated more girls who satisfied that aspect of my ideal relationship, but stand out they did.  So after seeing it so clearly now, can I keep my eyes open for it in the future?  This isn’t the only thing that I will look for, but it feels like the last part of a puzzle that has taken a lot of time to finish.

I am tired of waiting for the right woman to come along.  Granted, that’s a cliche thing to say; which of us isn’t tired of waiting for the right person to show up?  I guess I’m tired of letting the wrong women into my life more than anything else (the most recent woman wasn’t wrong per se, we were dating and we found out things in a standard amount of time).  I’m tired of waiting for the woman who is as romantic with me as I am with them.  I’m tired of waiting for someone who compliments me in all the right ways, who challenges me to be better at the same time as she accepts me for who I am.  I am tired of getting into relationships and sitting around waiting for someone to show love they way that I need them to show love.  Life is a game of patience, but some things I don’t plan on waiting for  anymore (at least in certain situations at least).  If I end up in a relationship where I don’t get my needs fulfilled after having a discussion about it I am going to leave.  No more waiting!  Ok, now back to waiting (for the right thing).

BDA

Root Causes

It’s difficult to stay mindful of the present for me.  I addressed this in a previous post, but I want to make sure I reiterate that point.  My mind is a train that almost never feels like it’s going less than full speed ahead.  It leads to a lot of sleepless nights, filled with pointless thoughts about things that didn’t, or won’t ever happen.  I think that a lot of us deal with something like that from time to time, but it’s exhausting feeling like it has controlled you your whole life.  I have ADHD, but I also struggle with depression and anxiety.  The depression and the anxiety come and go, but the ADHD is constant.  ADHD has it’s positives and negatives, but it has been very difficult living with and adapting to it, especially since the research surrounding it is ongoing and new conclusions are found every year.  I’ve tried a lot of things, but the only thing that has worked has been medication.  It’s weird to accept that you will have to be on medication for something for the rest of your life, but at this point I have made peace with it.  It’s a small price to pay for feeling like a sane, complete, and functioning adult.

The depression and the anxiety are a little different.  Too many times I have found myself in a state where the only thing that permeates my thoughts is negative self talk.  If I don’t know what I deserve how can I ever be good enough for it?  As my mind is a talented liar I am exceptionally good at convincing myself of my deflated self worth.  Too often I get stuck in a hole that I cannot climb out of.  Add to that the anxiety from my perception of failure and it isn’t long before I turn to a relationship to validate myself.  If someone else thinks I am good enough than I must be good enough!  Red flags are ignored, gut feelings are ignored, and the mind lies to itself by saying this is what we deserve.  I am not going to be part of this cycle any longer.  That is the root cause, and I am going to address it.

I have been in therapy many times over the years, for many different things.  I’m going back to address these issues so that I might develop healthier relationships.  I know that I can’t blame other people for the situations I stay in, and I want take steps towards forgiving myself for the failures that my head just won’t let go of.  I just want to be in a good place when I find the relationship I deserve.  Even though I have been making progress towards this on my own I still want to make sure that I remain on a healthy path.  Always be on the look out for those better days people!

Thinking Normally

When it comes to what I deserve I will admit to being no expert.  If I knew what I deserved I probably would have been able to avoid some of the more painful moments of my life.  Knowing what I deserve has just as much to do with how I act as it has to do with who I let in and let stay in my life.  While it’s true that there are many regrets about who I kept in my life, I have just as many regrets regarding how I acted during those same time frames.

Life has not been without it’s lessons.  With the most recent relationship I was able to apply some of those lessons, even as I fell victim to some of them.  I can talk about a lot of things regarding this relationship, as it seems like we lived more in the two months we saw each other than I did in my abusive relationship.  I miss certain things about the most recent girl: she was very into fitness but didn’t pass those expectations onto her partner, she was spontaneous and caring, she was funny, she like to get out and explore and be active, she knew how to savor each experience and enjoy it for what it was, she and I lined up on expectations for life.  If I look at the person that I was before I might stick on these things and, slowly but surely, letting events change in my mind to support the idea that things were great and I lost something amazing and I should go through so much more grief than I need to.  Now, I have a different eye for these things, and throughout the relationship (as brief as it was) I was able to stay more present and in control.  She was negative about everything leaving me to act as a node of positivity, she was non communicative, she would often run herself ragged trying to do everything in a day before spending time with me making our time an exercise in exhaustion, she struggled with anorexia bad enough to cause heart problems lending me to constant worry, and the sex was…meh.  Please note, any of those things could change at any moment, and things might have been different, but the idea is that this is how things WERE, not how things COULD HAVE been.  Could Have Been are the words that kept me in an abusive relationship for a year longer than I should have been in it, and they are very dangerous words to see and use.  They trap us in hope that can do nothing but destroy us as we wait for what could have been.  Truth be told, the grief from our breakup is all from what could have been, as I was already talking about breaking up with her with my friends.  It’s an important step in my growth, as this is someone I liked well enough to consider telling them I loved them.  Ordinarily I would have blurted something like that out as soon as I felt what I perceived love for that person to be, but I remained in control and focused on finding out what kind of character she had.  I think about it I have to ask myself; are the feelings that I had just feelings for the idea of someone, other than the actual person before me?  Unfortunately I think the answer is yes.

Being able to say these things makes the sadness feel empty.  I’m sad because a woman I liked being around is gone, but I’m happy that it’s over without feeling like it went on too long or too many things were said and we are in too deep.  Please note, while there are criticisms here she was a wonderful woman, and I would never want to see her as anything but happy.  I’m just ok admitting that there were things there I didn’t like or agree with and that I didn’t try and look passed them in order to force a relationship.  For the first time in my life I feel like I am thinking normally, and critically when it comes to this stuff.  You see what I meant about better days?

I have done this a few times and it has never worked out, but I’ll try a third time as well.  I have a 50 dollar e-gift card for Banana Republic that I got for awesome safety conduct.  I don’t shop at Banana Republic, and neither do my sisters or friends.  I would like to know if anyone would like to take this and use it as I cannot convert it back into points to use for something else.  If no one takes it then it will probably just sit here.  If you are interested send me an email at jlgedeon@gmail.com, and I’ll get your details so I can mail it to you.

A long while

It’s been awhile.  Things have come and gone, and I have struggled through.  I got into an abusive relationship for a while, and I have first hand knowledge on how much havoc those can wreck on your life.  It’s over and done with now, and I can carry the new lessons with me, as well as a new batch of scars.  I have also managed to do a bit of light dating, the most recent of which lasted two months and ended only recently.  In short, life seems to be continuing on as normal.

The most recent relationship was difficult for me.  I was a mess after coming out of the last relationship, and I had a suite of new insecurities to deal with.  I know that some of that bled into the next relationship, and I will always wonder if that’s one of the reasons that the relationship ended.  It is just as likely that we weren’t right for each other, but I have to keep telling myself that in order to believe it.  One of the things that I REALLY struggle with is living in the present.  I spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the future, which wastes the time that I have in the present.  I have been doing this as long as I can remember as a way to avoid dealing with what is happening in the present.  The problem with this is that I let things get bad enough that my life requires restructuring in big ways.  This is a common problem for men and women with ADHD, so getting back on medication may solve the issue, but that remains to be seen.  All I can say is that I will be spending some time talking with my counselor about what I can do to avoid this in the future.

It’s difficult, but I’m so excited that life has gone back to normal.  Sure, things can get a little lonely, but I am stronger than I have ever been when it comes to matters of the heart, even if I still occasionally find weak points.  The better days are here everyone, and things are even brighter than I imagined 😀

My Mother

Sometimes I take for granted how hard it is to be a parent.  I have no children of my own, a fact I am quite relieved is true after two divorces, so I have no comparison.  I often do not see the pain that parents have to endure in what they choose to do selflessly.  My mother has recently lost her husband of 30 years, leaving her alone to bear the worry and the anxiety and the love that comes with raising children.  There is little I can do to help with the pain of losing the man who protected and provided for her, who loved her and held her, who shared strength and courage with her for three decades.  I can’t imagine the whole in her heart that is left in his passing.  She has struggled, and we have all called and visited but none of us has ever thought it was enough.  I doubt that thought would ever cross our minds.  She took it upon herself to send us all something for Christmas this year.  She took some of my fathers old shirts and turned them into pillow covers, giving each of us a personalized memory from our father.  When I opened my care package I lost it, this has been an especially tough year for me and I have an endless list of things for me to work on.  While I started this year moving uphill I feel as though ended farther below that start line.  Dare I subscribe to the tired cliche “Next year will surely be better”?  How much pain did my mom go through having those made, kissing each and every shirt that got sent off to a son and daughter?  How often does she feel like she can’t climb out of the hole she is in?  Pain: we all see it, we all feel it.  We all fight invisible battles against it, often alone and unassisted.  Even with a good support system we can be overwhelmed by it.  I am going to call my mom tomorrow, and speak with her a bit.  I don’t call her enough, which is a damn shame.  She is amazing, and she has just as much wisdom and good stories to dish out as my father did.  She supports me in the same way my father did.  I love my mom, and I always will, thank you for such a thoughtful and heartwarming gift this Christmas.  I miss you so much, I will see you when I can.

Familiar

The day was winding down.  I was leaving the factory with a friend and all I could think of was the incoming weekend.  As I was removing my gloves and my hairnet I looked to my left and I paused.  Walking down the hallway was the man my ex wife had been unfaithful with.  It’s been almost a year since I have seen or heard from him, and I certainly didn’t expect to see him on a day shift (he moved to a front end nights position last time I heard).   I smiled and waved, and greeted him warmly.  He did the same, and we passed by each other.  It’s so odd, to think that he, at one point, caused me so much grief.  Well, to be fair, he AND my ex wife.  I often get caught in thinking that he was the culprit but I can usually stop and remember that it takes two people to make those decisions.  Despite this, I actually don’t think about him very often.  He pops into my head perhaps once a month, and that is only if something reminds me of him.  To top it all off, I harbor no ill will towards him either.  His appearance at this time is very odd, given what I am going through.  It is uncanny that I could make such similar mistakes so soon after I had seen the consequences of them.  The familiar feeling of anxiety had crept back inside me, convincing me that I still have a long way to go in dealing with things like this.  I don’t think I will ever be at a point where I can deal with these situations perfectly, but I get a little better each time.  And, some of life’s most recent lessons have done a good job in pushing me harder than I have ever been pushed before.  While I have endured some heavy losses in regards to the people in my life, I have learned some of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned as well.

I made it home, thoughts swirling around in my head.  My life is in a state where it could go in several different directions,  and by all accounts I should be FREAKING out right now.  I remain calm, collected, and prepared as I wait for life to give me a nudge in the right direction.  As pleased as I am with how I feel, I know that there will be things ahead that will still shake me.  There are better days ahead, for each and every one of us.

Promotion

Guys.  Guys, guys, GUYS.  My manager swung by and started chatting with me the other day.  He mentioned that there might be some big changes for me at the company, namely in the form of a promotion to a higher role.  He listed some details about the job, as well as some ballparks for salary, just to give me an idea of how things would be.  I was ecstatic.  It would be a project lead position, the salary would be comparable to wait I make now as an hourly guy with a shift differential (this is a big deal), and it would take me off of nights and put me on a day shift.  The only problem is that I wouldn’t be able to travel to Europe for training in the new year.  A small price to pay for what is essentially my dream job (or one of them anyway).  It’s just a discussion that they were having, and I am convinced that I won’t get the position for various reasons (experience, better candidates, etc.) but it was nice to hear that they were considering me.  It’s nice to know that I have made enough of an impact at this company that my name would stand out for two out of the three managers that are over me.  I will hope for the best and I will obviously take an offer if they extend one, but I will still plan to stay in the same position and be European for brief moment in time next year.  Life has a funny way of showing you bright spots in dull times.  Even if I don’t get it, I was considered for something far beyond what I do now.  That means that my dreams of moving up might come true sooner than I think.  Wish me luck everyone, either as a tourist or project lead!

Better days ahead, I can promise you that 🙂

Pain

We all experience pain.  Some of us are much better at dealing with it than others, able to use the pain to drive progress in other areas of their lives.  This is a skill I have not mastered yet, at least when it comes to emotional pain.  Emotional pain tends to stop me, make me lazy and listless, and make me silent for long periods of time while I handle the turmoil on the inside.  I have never been happy about this, but it has been constant regardless of the circumstance of said pain.  I often use this time to reflect on the reasons for this pain, and what I can do in the future to avoid it.  We can never live a pain free life but we can lesson it’s effects on us with planning and practice.  Take my current pain for example, the pain of losing someone I loved.  I am no stranger to this pain, and have felt it before in varying degrees.  I know that this is a type of pain that is largely unavoidable, regardless of how each of us chooses to live our lives.  Loss is a very real and very intimate part of life that everyone must see and deal with.  The fact of the matter is that this is some of the most difficult type of pain to deal with because of its finality.  Whether it is a death, or a breakup, or a falling out, loss cuts structural emotional ties that many of us come to rely on.  That’s part of what makes this pain so….uh….painful (darn).  In my opinion, it’s also what makes dealing with this pain so gratifying.  In my specific instance I displayed character that pushed someone away.  That person is no longer in my life, despite a very real desire for the opposite.  Though the pain may be great, and the ties that I am cutting be special, intimate, and unique, I know that I will never again exist as that person.  Pain has always been my greatest teacher, an ally in establishing my humanity.  It has also been on the heels of every precious thing that I have lost.  My mother remarked that she and my father had always thought it was weird that I had to learn lessons twice.  Some of the hardest things I have gone through in my life have been done in twos.  Unfortunately, this marks the second time I have dealt with loss in this method, so if history has anything to say about it it’s that it will stick this time.  I find it a little naive of myself to think that I wouldn’t have to deal with these types of pain after my last divorce, or that I wouldn’t struggle in the same way.  I guess it’s all part of the learning process, and the realization that we are human after all 🙂

Better days ahead everyone, no matter what you are going through.  I wish each and every one of you wonderful and enjoyable holidays!  On a final note, my company once again gave me an amazon gift card for christmas. I would like to extend the offer to anyone who needed some help this christmas season that I might purchase something for them that would make the holidays a bit easier.  Just leave a comment or send me an email at jlgedeon@gmail.com and I will get back to you as promptly as I can.

The next Man who Occupies her Heart

My dad published a post before he died detailing what he felt concerning my mom dating again.  It is important to note that she has not done this, and does not plan to do it at all, but we know how life can change.  My dad was realistic, knowing that at someone God might put another perfect person in my mom’s life, and his post reflected on that possibility.  I have been thinking a lot about what has gone on with me and my ex.  Our circumstances aren’t even remotely similar, but I still feel the same way.  I worry about the next man who occupies Annika’s heart, and whether or not he will be the “one”.  I worry that she will find that which is perfect for her, a man who is strong and gentle, a man who takes pride in the truth, a man whom she finds handsome and sexy and shares everything with.  It does me no good to wish to be this man, especially if it is already over.  It would not be healthy for me to dwell on it, and so I must move on as well.  But it won’t stop me from wishing the following for her, and writing the following for the next man to read:

You have met a wonderful woman, and I am envious of you.  You are about to embark on a great adventure with someone who will challenge you in all the right ways.  She is honest and truthful, and she loves what she does with a passion.  Her creativity will leave you in awe, especially when she uses it for you.  You will always know where you stand with her, and she will surprise you with little caring things in the best ways.  She embodies sexiness in a way that only a confident woman can, and to see this from her means that you have earned the trust of one of the most amazing women that I know.  Take good care of her, as you will no doubt hear about me.  You will hear how I failed and how I had the chance to protect this wonderful woman.  You will hear how I was deaf to her cries for help and how I turned away when she needed support from the one she loved.  I will never deny the truth in these things.  I made my mistakes, and I made them in full view of the right choice.  Whether I knew it or not at the time, I choose a life that didn’t include that which I hold most dear to me.  Now I sit and regret my character at a time when character was most important.  I wait with a hope that she will contact me even though I know it will not happen.  You have the opportunity to do better, although at this point that may not be too difficult.  You can choose to be the man that I couldn’t, and take this woman’s heart and nurture it with love and kindness and forgiveness.  You can choose to value her needs just as high or higher than your own.  The best part is that you probably don’t even need me to tell you all of this.  You will do just fine as a better man than me.  Your love story with her will have a much different ending, whether it is happy or sad.  Though I exist as just another one of her “exes” I wish all the happiness in the world for both of you.  And I while I wish that I was the one who occupied her heart, I am content knowing that a better man than me has it.

The more I write about it the better I feel.  I learned this when I was going through my divorce, and I plan to keep putting it into practice for a long time.  I don’t know how long it will take me but I will eventually reach a point where I don’t spend my days feeding of this regret.  Better days ahead, for each and every one of us.