A Story About Progress

If you want an easy, completely happy story about how life is perfect and everything is filled with kittens and beautiful days, this isn’t a story for you. If you want a real story about how making your life what you want it to be takes hard work and effort and how that can affect your life, then please read all the way to the end of the story. It’s not going to start in a positive place and it may not always be an amusing story to tell, but it gets better and it shows how things work out for the best.

I often struggle with how much of my personal and real life to share with the interwebs or how much of this space should be devoted to topics and concerns not related to the artistic process of writing. But the grand truth of the matter is that I am human and everything in my life contributes to my reading and writing and other artistic endeavors.

Things this past week have been all over the place. I don’t actually remember the last time I slept for more than an hour or so in the last nine or ten days. I suspect that has contributed greatly to some of the insanity in my life recently. It’s hard to focus and not overreact to things when you can’t think straight due to a lack of rest.

So I’ll start at the bottom. Things went really badly on Wednesday. I was faced with a situation that I wasn’t emotionally or mentally prepared for and that situation caused me to break down in a variety of levels, which happened while I was at work. Work is never a good place for things to break down because then you run the risk of damaging your career as well as dealing with the damage to your personal life.

I am not very good at hiding my feelings. I never have been good at pretending to be something I’m not. So I guess it came as something of a surprise to me when it turns out that I guess everyone around me except me figured out that I had stronger feelings than I realized. I had no idea exactly how much trouble I was in with how strong my feelings are until I was told about it from someone else. As it turns out, they’re right. But now I know without a shadow of a doubt what this is and how it feels, which will help me recognize it in the future if I ever encounter this again. It’s powerful and consuming and amazing. It’s a destructive inferno or a source of hope and dreams that makes you believe you can accomplish anything. It can’t be ignored and doing so causes unbearable amounts of internal agony.

So go me, I finally acknowledge exactly how strongly I feel and I admit it to myself. So it’s either too little too late or too much all the time. But either way, the bottom line is that I can’t change how I feel, but I also am an unwanted presence in the life of someone I care about deeply. We can’t be in the same room or building or vehicle. We are done permanently. And the person I care about, all the people I have ever cared about, are better and happier without me in their life. I was worried about how the person I cared about was dealing with everything that happened, but I shouldn’t have been because they are stronger than I could ever be and life is easier for them without me.

But that’s not what I’m going to talk about tonight.

It was hard to admit that my feelings were so strong. It was hard to realize that my feelings are isolated and that the future and the dreams that I wanted are shattered. It was hard to accept that my career isn’t going to go where I wanted or hoped it would. But I have other things that I want from my life. My idea of having a cabin and being able to read and write and hike all day haven’t changed. I can still have that life, I just have to put a little bit more work into my career until I can retire. It’s going to be up to me to have the purpose and motivation to get through these next years. I don’t feel like I have much room for growth and I’m disappointed that things that I have been working for so hard for all these years aren’t likely to happen, but I can still achieve the long-term goals I set up for myself. It just won’t be as satisfying. And that future dream is one where now I will be alone instead of sharing my life.

So after what happened on Wednesday where I had to both acknowledge my own feelings and accept that my feelings are not shared and my life will be alone instead of shared, it put me in a really bad place where I was again consumed by all the thoughts my brain likes to whisper like a slow-drip poison in my mind. Thoughts about how I am incapable of love and that no one could ever possibly love me. That everyone I know is better off without me in their lives. That I am an inferno that consumes everything alive and beautiful surrounding me, leaving only ashes of people and things that were once magnificent. That I will destroy everything I touch. That I am isolated and alone and it’s all my own fault.

I’ve been this low several times in my life, but never to this extent. Everything hurt so much and I couldn’t find solid reasons to stay. It was not an okay place for me to be and as I sat there on the floor crying and trying desperately to fight every single urge for action that my poisoned brain kept whispering at me, I thought about the difference between real life and television shows or movies. If my life was a neatly scripted demonstration of the magic moving picture box, someone would have called me or knocked on my door at just that critical time. I would have felt loved and wanted and everything would turn out okay. But I knew that after everything that has happened in my life that no one was going to save me. I have burned so many bridges and pushed so many people away that there isn’t anyone left except me. If I was going to get up off the floor, it was going to have to be me that saved myself.

So I did. I got up off the floor and I did something I’d never really done before. I asked for help. All I really did was to post a message on my facebook that said that I really needed to talk. I didn’t honestly expect any sort of a reply, so I did the dishes because I hadn’t been and they were piled up in the sink. I knew it was a task that was manual labor, but still something I could actually accomplish. Something that needed to be done that would make my life a better place. Something to keep me active and occupied. After I did the dishes, I made up my mind to erase all the heartbreaking words that sprawled over every inch of space on my whiteboards. All the self-hatred and disparaging thoughts that I plastered over ever surface in my apartment.

But then the completely unexpected happened.

People started replying to my facebook message. I started a number of internet chats with people, some very good friends, some random buddies, some previous coworkers. I talked to everyone and a whole bunch of people, people I would not have anticipated responding, helped me get through a really rough night. I cried and typed and just having people to talk to helped me out immensely. I was honest with two of my close friends and they helped me see things through different perspectives. By the time I was ready to pretend to try to sleep, I felt so much better than I had.

Because I asked for help. Not from the same people who have been helping to carry me this whole time, but from everyone. People have surprised me a lot in the last month or so and I started feeling like maybe I really can do this. Here’s something I wrote that I thought was exactly right about the whole situation: “You know what happens when you try to fight a war by yourself? You lose. You know what happens when you ask for help? You burn everyone out. Solution: Build a bigger Army.” And that’s exactly what I did. I reached out to anyone who was willing to help and people were. It made me unbelievably thankful for all the people in my life and the huge impact even someone you feel you don’t know very well can have to make things better.

I recognized that I needed help and I asked for it. I’m not very good at asking for help so that was a huge milestone for me. Even better, it worked and helped.

Thursday was a long and tiring day at work and then I was almost too late to a really important event for last night. But I made it there, even after doing several U-Turns, and had another really amazing night. I even ran. Not for very far, granted, but I did it and it didn’t hurt! Then, when I got to where I was going, I was finally able to shut down that part of my heart that still remembers what being in love feels like. I was able to be helpful and supportive and fun and everything that I really am and my emotions didn’t interfere with the situation. I came home last night and felt like I was absolutely on top of the world. I guess finally accepting that my life will never be the way I would wish and then allowing myself to go back to working on my long-term, achievable goals for a quiet life helped me come to terms with accepting that the relationship I wanted will never happen because I am unwanted in the life of someone I love.

Today was then a great and fantastic day. A group of us went bowling and then I sat on the tailgate of my truck and took my shoes off and read a book. It was the perfect temperature outside and the wind blew through the trees, sounding just like the river we used to go camping on when I was a kid. It was so amazing to just enjoy the day.

Things went a little weird when a transportation issue complicated things. I thought that the arrangements that had been made were completely accomplishable on a professional level – that I could ride in a vehicle for two hours with someone who can’t stand me and wants nothing to do with me. I have been in longer trips with people who flat out hated me and whom I certainly didn’t like very much. I was willing to do whatever it took to take care of someone but it just wasn’t a good idea. But, again, I was able to control my emotions and listen to other suggestions as to how to fix the transportation issue. A solution presented itself, and though not ideal, it should work just fine.

Here’s where this story starts to show bigger signs of change. I don’t blame myself for the transportation issues, and I don’t blame the other person involved. I don’t feel guilty or badly about what happened. It frustrated me for a while that the person we were trying to help might have been a little disappointed, but I’m not blaming anyone and I’m not feeling any negative emotions about what happened. We tried some other venues and some other options, but they didn’t pan out. And the other person involved was strong enough to stand by their own beliefs and judgment. I didn’t let my emotions control me and I was mostly able to keep tight control over the things I said. That hasn’t really ever happened. I tried really hard to be okay with everything and everything worked out. Maybe not the ideal way, but it still worked out.

I have even been able to start making a dent in the way I think. Usually, multiple times during the day, I’ll think about something from the past and my brain will fill in what happened and then add in self-hatred for fun. As I am an interactive person, I tend to then talk to myself and say out loud that I hate me. Or what I did wrong this time. Or that no one could ever possibly love or want me.

And now, every single time I even remotely start to think about how much I suck, my brain automatically kicks in with how much that’s a bunch of lies. So now I tell myself out loud, “No. No more hate. No more hate in my life.” And I find myself talking out loud about how thankful I am. I’ll be thankful for the weather, for the trees, for the wind, for the people in my life, for the specific things I love about all the people I love, for where I live, for everything. I don’t blame myself anymore for what happened. I don’t blame the person I love, either. It’s been a hard time for both of us, and I suspect it’s going to be hard for a while. I don’t know that we’ll ever be on speaking terms again, let alone friends on any level. And that’s okay. If this makes life better for them, I’ll support it wholeheartedly. I’ll be fine on my own. I’ve survived this long and now that I’m finding more things to be thankful for and having a better control of my emotions, things are getting easier and better for me, too.

I really am awesome. And fantastic and amazing and wonderful. I’m loyal and dedicated. I have good ethics and morals and I stand up for what I believe is right. A lot of the time, I’m fun, energetic, adventurous, and joyful. I’m super caring and generous. I’m thoughtful. I’m artistic and pretty good with words. I’m smart, intelligent, and well-educated. I have a fun sense of humor and I am not afraid to like things that I like.

Sometimes, things just go wrong. And that’s okay. Sometimes, things go right, too. The last few months have been arduous and stressful, but I’ve learned a lot. I know what being in love feels like and that’s pretty awesome, since I didn’t know what that felt like before and there are so many people who go through their entire lives without feeling that kind of passion. I am thankful for all the amazing memories I have of that time but the past is gone and finished. I can’t cling to hope and dreams that are one-sided. I refuse to stop loving and someday, maybe I will learn how to be loved. But if that never happens, I know I’ll be just fine on my own because I’m not really alone. There are people out there who care about me and would miss me if something ever happened to me. I asked for help, and I received tons of replies and help.

Now it’s time to keep moving forward and to see what I can be now that I have returned to a state of mind where I will go out and adventure and see the world and be thankful for everything and everyone in my life. Retirement will come eventually and until then, I will continue to build my dreams.

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About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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