Feeling the Regrets

It’s been a bit since I last wrote. I’m working from home. My state has a stay-at-home order, so I’m not going out except to the grocery store or the pharmacy. I do go out for some exercise by speed walking a few days a week. That feels good. There are lots of people on the trail where I hardly ever see anyone. I suppose they’re all wanting some time outdoors, too.

I’m sure all this has something to do with these very strange times we’re all living through, but I’m really feeling a lot of regrets from some choices I made in the past. I’m feeling the weight of those choices. I have fantasies about how things might have been had I made other decisions.

I once met a man who was the hiring authority for a school district. I made a favorable impression on him, and I could have become a teacher. I chose not to.

I was good friends with a man who was in a relationship that ended. That man and I started spending a lot of time together, and I could have become his boyfriend. I don’t remember my reasoning at the time, but I can see now that pairing up with a man who’d just broken up with another man would not have been a wise move, but I still regret it right now.

I chose to leave disability and take the present job I have. I had good benefits, and I was building a solid, very small life. I am positive that had I continued on that path and in today’s political climate, I would have been kicked off disability. I would have lost all my benefits. In the small town I was living in, that would have been devastating.

I am a better man for having left disability. I have greater self-confidence, I am more self-assured, and I have much higher self-worth as a result of choosing to take this job and move to a larger city. Most importantly, I believe that I have recovered. I take medication for bipolar disorder, and I will continue to do so for the rest of my life, but that disorder has little effect on my day-to-day life now.

If you live on disability, do not let my circumstances make you feel anything negative about your circumstances. I have a very good friend who lives on disability, and he is doing very well that way. He needs that life. It allows him to live as symptom-free as possible. Working would devastate his equilibrium.

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to date a man. I let him get away. I regret it.

As long-time readers know, I broke up with a man last year. I have very mixed feelings about that. My head knows it was definitely for the best. He was mean to me. I don’t want a reunion with him, but I still have regrets.

Before all this craziness in the world, I started seeing a new man that I’ve known socially for a few years. He’s a remarkably cheerful man, and he’s very intelligent, which I value highly. We’ve continued to communicate by text and occasional phone calls during this time of social distancing. Things are going well, but I can’t help but wish for face-to-face meetings. Nothing romantic has happened. It’s still too early, but I’m wishing for that. Missing it.

I will talk about all this with my therapist at my weekly appointment tomorrow. (The appointment is done remotely.) I will be fine. Writing in this blog is part of the way I process all these feelings. It’s a bit like writing in a journal. That’s a good exercise for people who are dealing with heavy things.

If you have recently tried meditation, I congratulate you. Keep trying. The most important thing to remember is that having thoughts during meditation is not a sign of failure. Thinking is exactly what our minds are supposed to do. Count your breaths. That’s a good way to concentrate on breathing as a beginner. Or do guided meditation like I still do. I still go to My Happy Place. You can create your own happy place. Meditation can be just about anything you want it to be.

Meditation: sit, relax, and breathe. Think about your breathing. When your mind wanders, gently return your thoughts to your breathing. Gently. When your mind wanders again, again gently return your thoughts to your breathing. Gently. A wandering mind is not a failure.

Wherever you are on the globe, I wish you all the best during this stressful time. Stay healthy.

I Have Decided

I have decided that I feel better.

Nothing has changed in my reality. I have simply decided that I’m feeling better. The decision makes me feel just a bit lighter. I’m grateful for that.

Last night, I went to an online AA meeting that was really good. I was able to say what was hurting me. I listened to other people talk about how they were coping with the crisis. The whole thing helped.

I had an unsettling dream this morning. I was in my father’s business, and it was empty. I’m relieved to say my dad wasn’t there like he has been in my nightmares. I went into the back of the place in the dream where a Japanese girl asked me for directions. I speak Japanese, so I answered her fluently impressing her. I tried to look for the place she was searching for on a map, but the map was of another location and not where we were in the dream. I woke with a feeling of emptiness.

I’ve decided I’m not empty. I’m light and feel good.

I have therapy today. That will be very helpful. I have quite a long list of things to talk to him about. I’m going to ask about even more frequent sessions.

I’m not at my best right now, and that’s OK. The negativity will pass.

Or as they say, this too shall pass.

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.

Staying Sane in a Pandemic

Everyone is aware that we are in a time of a pandemic due to a novel coronavirus (COVID-19). I have had anxiety related to the illness. For the most part, I’m remaining calm. I attribute this to my morning meditation. It’s only twenty minutes every morning, but its effects last throughout the day. The best part is that I can do a short meditation any time during the day to renew the effect.

If you want to try meditation, please set aside your preconceived notions first. It’s not as hard as we imagine it to be.

  1. Sit in a good chair with a comfortable seat that has a straight back.
  2. Relax. Do this in any way that works for you.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Take three deep breaths exhaling long and completely each time.
  5. Breathe normally, and concentrate on the feeling you get in your nose from the breath. You may feel the breath right where the air enters your nostrils, or you may feel it higher up in the nasal channel.
  6. Your mind is going to wander. Don’t get upset. This is your mind’s job. Simply recognize that your mind is wandering, and gently return your concentration to that feeling of the air entering your nose.
  7. Your mind is going to wander again. Once more, don’t get upset. This is completely normal. Once more, return your concentration to the feeling of the air in your nose.
  8. Do this over and over again for an amount of time that you decide is right for you. My meditations are about twenty minutes long.

This is all meditation is. It’s so simple. I promise that it gets easier over time. In the beginning, I struggled not getting upset that my mind wandered. It really is not a problem that your mind is wandering. Recognize it, and return your thoughts to your breath.

Give it a try. It works.

Off Kilter

I’m sad today. It’s not an unreasonable response to events in my life over the past few months.

It could devolve into panic, so to allay that, I’ve taken some medicine to help me stay calm. It’s working.

I had a good meditation this morning, but my mind is not quiet right now. It’s restless. I think that’s the best way to describe it.

I’m not having negative thoughts exactly, so there’s no reason to use the STFU tool my therapist and I came up with. However,  I like that tool. I’m thinking of expanding its use.

Ugh. I just want to shout, “Ugh!”

I know this will pass. Something will come along to cheer me up.

I went out and got some exercise this morning, even though I really didn’t feel like it. That’s two days in a row. Yay me!

This post is rambling like my thoughts.

Again, I know this will pass. I just wish it would hurry up and do it.

My Flaw

Despite my best efforts, I have a flaw that lies inside me liking a gaping, open wound. My parents don’t love me, and it’s likely they have never really loved me. The undeniable evidence is that they disowned me because I’m gay.

I have felt this lack of love my entire life. I have sought out ways to fill that lack. I filled it with being busy when I was still in high school and college by being in lots of clubs. I filled it with being busy as a working adult by choosing jobs where I had to clean up messes other people made. I had one job with a large Japanese corporation where I basically went around the world closing ill-conceived subsidiaries. That really wasn’t good for my sense of self-worth.

I fill the lack of love from my parents through an anxious attachment style. To explain it simply, I attach to possible partners quickly and overwhelm them with my good intentions. I’m doing it now even after having talked about it in therapy.

The only good thing is that I’m doing it in the privacy of my home without telling the other man that I’m wanting to overwhelm him.

I had a coffee date with a man recently that went very well. We talked about what to do for a second date, and that’s always a good sign. I went home and began to obsess about being with this new man. To my credit, I must say that I effectively resisted texting him a lot and bombarding him with my well wishes. However, in my own little home, I invented scenarios of us together in the future.

I wasn’t able to get together with this new man this past weekend, and by the end of the day Sunday, I was morose. I was sure that he’d forgotten all about me and was moving on to other possible dates.

This depression came after one date! Sigh.

I stayed in that sadness all evening, but then I got an idea. I decided to call an elder in AA I’ve met at several meetings I have been to recently. I picked up the phone and called her. I didn’t tell her I was sad. We talked about the weekend and meetings and a mutual friend. It was a completely delightful call, and by the end, I felt a million times better. I hung up the phone feeling so much better. I was so surprised. All I needed was a little human connection.

I reached out, and it worked. I will do it again.

And then at bedtime, I looked at my phone, and there waiting for me was a text from the man I was languishing over. He’d taken a long nap. There was a perfectly reasonable explanation. I went to sleep feeling fine and had a good night’s sleep.

Shallow Heaviness

I wrote about feeling heavy a few weeks ago. It’s never really lifted, and I feel just a kind of lassitude. I don’t know how to describe it otherwise. I’m just not cheerful. At the same time, it doesn’t feel tremendously awful. This feeling has a bottom.

I know what it feels like at the bottom of the pit of despair. I was there many, many years ago. I haven’t been there in a very long time, over a decade, and I hope to never return. Still, I feel low.

I have good reason to feel low. There’s the parental thing. There are enormous changes at my job directly causing me pain. I’m single, and I don’t want to be.

Here’s the thing I’ve never written about. My finances are a mess. I’m so ashamed of it. I’m going to talk about it in therapy tomorrow. I’ve talked about it there before. It’s not credit card debt thankfully.

I had a plan – an actual budgeted, written plan – to get myself out of this mess, and then the changes at work happened putting everything in turmoil. My salary is going to be decreased, and I honestly don’t know how I’m going to make it.

[I am editing this post after having written it. I want to add that difficulty with finances and overspending is an honest symptom of bipolar disorder. It’s written in the DSM-V. It’s right there in black and white. This is a real diagnosable thing. Did I mention that in this post when I originally wrote it? No. That’s how deep my shame is about my finances. I have a real illness that causes me difficulty, but because it’s a mental illness and there is stigma attached to it, I feel shame. I still think this is completely my fault. Did I spend the money? Yes. Do I have to pay my bills? Yes. Do I need to feel shame about it? No.]

I’ve written all this to say that I have good reason to feel low. This is not unreasonable.

I also know this low is shallow, because I’m at work, and I’m functioning. I’m getting stuff done. My mood is down, but it’s not desperately low. If this were despair like I’ve experienced in the distant past, I would not get out of bed.

Writing about all this helps. I know this for a fact: speaking my pain out loud makes it lose some of its power. That’s one of the reasons therapy is so powerful. It’s a time to go and talk about all the crap in my life to a person who is not personally involved in all the mess. It’s validating to hear him simply tell me that yes, indeed, I have a lot going on.

I know I’m going to make it through all this mire. I know this will end, and I will feel better. I just wish it would hurry up.