I am what you might call, “old school”. Men don’t cry. Suck it up, buttercup. You know, the whole deal. Prayer doesn’t change things, hard work does. Etc.
But, as I noted yesterday, I am now dealing with some inner turmoil and anxiety which has got me all out of whack. Not to mention the blood sugar related issues. So, I’m hot. I’m cold. I feel like I’m going to pass out sometimes, which is generally a result of hypoglycemia. So of course that has me mixed up, because my sugar is high, not low. Basically, in terms of a brief summary, I feel like shit.
Falling asleep at an hour even remotely close to the schedule I must readjust to in order to return to work is proving difficult. I will have to pick up some sort of sleep aid this afternoon, and hope that it works. But yesterday my biggest concern was this inexplicable anxiety I have been feeling lately. As it happens, right in the middle of writing about it, I got a phone call from the only person I have known since High School that I still talk to. Who also happens to be getting her PhD in psychology and works as a counselor. So… not a bad sounding board at the moment.
We spent about an hour discussing the issue.
Having walked away from Christianity a number of years ago, I have had a tendency to disregard anything that sounded even remotely like hocus-pocus. I have smirked and mocked people who talk about being, “mindful”. I put no stock in meditation, in just the same way I put no stock in prayer. But when you find yourself at the end of your rope, you also find yourself willing to consider new things.
My friend recommended to me that I concentrate on controlling my breathing and counting. This, she said, was the essence of meditation. She also advised me to try to remain focused on the moment in which I found myself. Rather than my normal method which involves worrying myself sick about every possibility and permutation of the hours, days, weeks, and months ahead. So, what the hell…I gave it a shot, and it worked.
I have spent a very long time with a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel of my life. I have plotted and planned. I have set goals for myself and then achieved those goals, only to find that there was no fulfillment in doing so. I have scratched and clawed my way up the ladder, only to find that I did not like the view.
My friend refers to my state of mind as, “existential angst”. I say, call it what you will. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.
She advised me to think. To remind myself at any given moment that I am wherever I am and that’s what I should focus on. So I did.
Last night when I went to bed I laid there breathing in and out through my nose and counting. It’s funny that something so simple can have such a profound effect, but it most certainly did. I did not find myself dealing with the anxiety issue, or at least nowhere near to the same extent. I still wasn’t able to fall asleep when I wanted to and I’m not sure why, but it wasn’t anxiety keeping me awake.
I used to be afraid of change. I like things to be nice, neat, and orderly. I wanted to do the same things at the same time. I wanted to map out a plan, say for something like paying off bills, and then have that plan executed. I want to know that I was coming home to the same place, and the same people. I wanted to go to work and do my job, and come home. But, it seems like change is the new normal for me.
If this last six months has taught me anything it is that nothing stays the same. No matter how hard I plot and plan, unexpected things happen. Like going to bed one night feeling fine and waking up the next morning in so much pain that you can’t go to work for three months. Or having the surgery to fix that original pain only to have it move to somewhere else. Then, just when you think you are done with all the medical issues, a new problem pops up.
It is to some degree this lack of predictability, and my inability to control what is happening to my own body that is causing this angst. The feeling that I am not in control has always been scary to me. It’s the reason I don’t understand people who take drugs. I never want to be, “out of it”. I never want to be, “high”. I want to be grounded, rational, and in control. Right now I’m not. I think that, combined with the effects of various medications, and the feeling of being weak and vulnerable, is the source of my anxiety. In fact I sincerely hope that’s the case, because I don’t like some of the alternatives.
Thaeda believes that this whole process I’m going through will result in some marvelous transformation. Normally I would scoff at such a notion. Now, I’m not so sure. We talked for a while about how I have been able to deal with issues and overcome adversities in my life. I described it as myself being a rock in the middle of the river. I simply let the river flow around me and thereby got through whatever the problem was. But now the rock‘s problem is not the river, it’s the rock.
So I’m going to keep my mind open. I’m going to try, as hard as I know it will be, to embrace change. If this period has taught me anything it is that the people in my life are the most important part. So I’m going to try to open up. I’m going to try to be more caring and kind. Especially to my wife, who has been steadfast by my side through this whole ordeal. I cannot imagine where I’d be right now without her.
Lastly, I’m going to get serious about unburdening my family from these financial obligations. In order for real change to happen I need to create an avenue whereby it can happen. Right now that road is closed, but I’m gonna see what I can do about that.
I know that nothing that is wrong with me is life threatening. At least not in the near term. Obviously, diabetes can kill you if left unchecked. But I don’t plan to leave it unchecked. But all these ailments and illnesses, pains and pills, hours and days of doing nothing, have given me time to think. I have thought about where I am, and I have thought about where I want to be. I do not know yet specifically what I want to do. I only know that I want to make the hours count. I want to feel like I’m not wasting my life, like what I’m doing matters. Even if the only person that it matters to is me.
Therein lies the key, and the first step towards change. To come to the realization that I do not need to do something for recognition, a big paycheck, or renown. I only need to do something that leaves me feeling like I did something. Life lived, not merely endured. Hours spent, not wasted.
So there remain goals and objectives, and things I will try to control. But for right now I’m just going to try to control my breathing and count to six…