I Don’t Feel Good

I woke in a panic attack yesterday at 4AM. As usual with these things for the past two months or so, I was having a nightmare about my dad. It set the mood for the whole day. I was on edge all day long.

I realized yesterday that since my parents disowned me, I’ve become much darker in many of my thoughts. Some of my actions are not well thought-out. They border on being self-destructive. I’m going to talk about this realization to my therapist tomorrow. I’m also going to ask him if there’s any way to have more appointments in a week. I don’t feel stable.

I’m still doing the things that I’ve done for years to stay well. I take the medication my psychiatrist gives me as prescribed. I’m meditating daily and often more than once a day, but I’ve noticed it’s really hard to concentrate and get calm during some sessions. It was that way this morning. I’m talking to my therapist weekly. We’re meeting by video for the time being during this current health crisis. I’m getting good sleep, and I’m eating healthy food. The one thing I’m not doing is exercising, and I refuse to beat myself up about it.

The current world-wide health crisis makes all this worse. I don’t mind working from home, but the news is scary. I don’t watch news on television. I read it online. I prefer to get my news from a source that I read, because it’s less sensational. There’s less a sense of entertainment to how it’s presented. It feels calmer to me.

Here’s what scares me most: I have a sense that my behavior is self-destructive. I’m worried that could play itself out to become truly so, and I could drink. I’ve been sober twenty years, ten months, and 28 days as of this writing. I do not want to drink for any reason. My drinking days were horrific. I do not want to go back there. I’m grateful that I can go to AA meetings online. I will certainly get to a meeting today.

All this makes me feel bad. I feel damaged. I was describing myself to a friend like an old dented car. I’ve done a lot of work and healed a lot of my pain, but the dents are still there. I’ve only painted over them. I just don’t feel good.

Reason for Hope

I feel good even if it is Monday.

I got a letter from my dad last Friday that said I’ve dishonored the family name and I need to repent. When I read the letter, I felt nothing. I knew that was not really the best response. By that evening, I was angry, which seemed more appropriate. The next morning in meditation, the grief came. That also seemed like an appropriate response.

I’m happy to say it faded. I’m completely over it. I will take that letter with me to my next therapy appointment, and I won’t read future letters from him.

I had a second date with a man last night. We went out for coffee for our first date, and we’ve been regularly texting since. This one feels different. He feels different. He doesn’t feel like he needs any fixing. He feels whole. He’s whip smart and has a very singular sense of humor. We had a good conversation about many of his ways of looking at life.

I honestly feel like I’m approaching this budding relationship in a different way. Regular readers know that I can rush things. I’m really not doing that with this man. At least, I’m not doing it and then acting on it. I have had some fantasies of being with him long term and what that might look like, but I’m not telling him about those fantasies. I’m allowing the fantasies to have their space, and then I let them fade. The result is that I’m allowing this relationship to develop organically.

I met him at a monthly gay professionals group that I’ve been going to for some years, so I’ve known this man for a while. That’s also a good thing. One of the points that makes me the most hopeful about this relationship is that he asked me for my number. That’s only the second time in my recent life that’s happened. It’s always me asking the other man for his number. This man asked for my number, and then he followed through and texted first.

So I survived an abusive letter from my dad, and I had a good second date. I have reason to feel good this morning.

The Voice

How do I write when the inside of my head is so dark? How do I tell readers that my head is screaming at me using awful words?

I have a lifetime of hearing disparaging things about homosexuals. I’ve heard it from family. I’ve heard it from people around me. I’ve heard it from people claiming to be my friends. I’ve heard it from authority figures, especially the ones claiming to talk for god. I have been demeaned and bullied as a child, an adolescent, and an adult.

I refuse to grow a “thick skin.” Being open and vulnerable requires more strength of character than having a thick skin ever will.

I have tried dating. He was abusive. And I want to text him right now.

Today, the voice is very loud. It’s unkind. It’s abusive language.

I have no defense.

I have therapy this afternoon. It couldn’t come at a better time.

Being Gentle

I woke up after sleeping seven and a half hours in a panic. I was suddenly awake and afraid. I wanted to stay in bed, but it was useless. I was unavoidably awake.

I struggled through my morning routine. I didn’t just sit and breathe for my morning meditation, but I reverted to guided visualization. I needed the steps of walking through the door into My Happy Place and the continued steps to the place of just breathing.

I reached out to the love that I feel when I get to the place of just breathing and felt it soothe me, but I was just not able to stay in that feeling.

There is so much tumult in my life right now.

I ended up having to stay home from work today. I took medicine for anxiety and went back to bed for another two hours.

I called my therapist and was able to see him this morning. That was helpful. I’m using the tools I have that I know have worked in the past: medication, meditation, therapy, etc, and I’m being gentle with myself.

One of the things I’ve learned about myself through 33 years of therapy is that I am not good at handling uncertainty. I have a lot of that in my life right now, so I’m going to be gentle with myself today.

I really wish I could cry. I can’t. Years of forced repression of my emotions and my homosexuality inhibits my ability to show distress.

At least for today, I don’t feel good. I know this will pass, but I’m feeling it today. I’m using the tools that I know work. I will be OK, but for today, I’m going to be gentle with myself and stay home and read.

Long Road to Recovery

I’ve had some bleak days, but I’ve also had periods of calm. If you wonder what has happened, see my last post.

I’ve been using my recovery tools.

I’ve been using the medication my doctor gave me to help with the situation, and I’m grateful to have it. It honestly helps a great deal.

I’ve been meditating. I had a very long one this morning.

I’ve been to therapy, and I have another appointment coming up next week. I’ve also been to some AA meetings. They’ve been helpful. Most importantly, I’ve got some good friends checking on my daily. I cannot adequately express how good that feels.

I have walked some. Not daily, but I have walked. Exercise is a good idea when I’m feeling low.

I’m eating good food. Yesterday, I actually cooked for myself, which is something I rarely do. That’s real self-care. I took the time to wash mushrooms and cook them and eat them over toast. I did it for myself.

I’m making sure I get good, restorative sleep.

Medication, meditation, therapy, exercise, diet, and sleep are the important tools I use to stay stable.

This morning, I’m battling negative self-talk. I know it’s lies, but it’s so loud. Pain in a situation like this comes and goes in waves, and today I’m in a wave. It will pass. Soon, I hope.

Coming Out

I’m gay. That’s not a surprise to regular readers. I came out many years ago.

My story is complicated as most coming out stories are. I grew up in a rabidly fundamentalist household and learned at a young age attending church that God loves everyone except gays. There was no hope of salvation for LGBT people. None.

In fear, I married a woman and fathered children. The fear and dysfunction led me to become an active alcoholic. Finally, I was unable to drink enough to relieve the fear and dysfunction. After some events in late 1998, I told my wife I thought I might be gay.

That started my coming out process. It is indeed a process, and it continues for the rest of our lives. I don’t think most straight people realize that each time a gay person enters a new situation, they have to judge the safety of the people and area and decide whether to be out.

After 21 years out of the closet, I can state with confidence that out is much better than in the closet. I am free. I am authentic. I am me. What’s more, I have wonderful relationships with all my children and also with their mother. I have good friends gay and straight. I live completely out now, and it’s so energizing.

Now, I’m just looking for a man to share my life with… I’m taking applications.

Emotions

Emotions are funny things. They constantly change.

I feel weird today. I’m sad, but I’m not depressed. That’s an odd combination for me. Sadness is always accompanied by the overarching gloom of depression. Today, it’s just simple, genuine sadness.

I know what it’s about. It’s just life stuff. It’s a simple combination of living with a chronic mental illness, being part of a sexual-orientation minority, lots of change in my life in the past four or five months (new bosses at work, dating partners come and gone, new therapist, new thoughts about old wounds, etc.), and being single for a long time. None of that has an easy fix.

At least today, I’m not looking for an easy fix. I’m kind of walking through it. One step at a time.

This will pass. Emotions aren’t permanent. I’ll be fine.