Ritual

When I got home from work last night, my negative self-talk exploded without all the distractions of work related tasks. I simply couldn’t stop all the dark thoughts. I was in a lot of pain. I was reciting the positive things I have in my life, but it just wasn’t enough.

My best friend had what turned out to be a lifesaving idea: write them down and burn them. I got a sheet of paper and filled it front and back with all the stuff that my mind was lying to me about. I put down the darkest, most horrific thoughts that my mind was filled with.

I loosely wadded it up and put it in an old can and lit it on fire. I took a picture of it burning and texted it to my friend. It honestly felt good, and while it was burning, I got a great idea to do the same thing with all the beautiful things I could say about myself.

I did that. I filled the front and back of a sheet of paper with love about myself, with the names of people I know who love me, and with good things in my life. It felt good just to write them down. I did the same thing with this list. I burned it. I released the good energy, and I felt wonderful!

I am so grateful to have a friend who thinks so imaginatively. It was a little ritual that honestly rescued me.

xoxo

Negative Self-Talk

I had a really good session with my therapist yesterday. We were able to work through my anger I was feeling toward him. I was also able to talk more about this enormous loss. Finally, we went through the really interesting dream I had. It had a lot of hope in it.

I’m struggling this morning. My negative self-talk is really loud. I’m combating it by first coming to work. Keeping busy will give my mind less time to wander.

I’m also using a technique I learned: Catch it. Check it. Change it. The first thing to do is catch the negative thoughts. Then check their veracity, and finally to change the thoughts.

With the kind of loss I’ve suffered, my mind is telling me lies about many things. I’ve got a list of ways to counter those thoughts. I’m having to repeat those things a lot, and it’s tiring.

Recovery is tiring. I’m going to keep doing it just for today. I’ll let tomorrow worry about itself.

I Finally Cried

It happened this morning.

I went to bed early last night feeling quite depressed. I slept well much to my surprise, and I had a vivid dream about living in a big house with electric blinds and then flying while transporting a pregnant woman. It was a dream to remember. I wrote it down in my notebook I keep in my phone. Yes, I have a dream journal in my 21st century phone.

I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror this morning. I went down and made a cup of tea and started my routine. When it came time for meditation, I settled on my stool and closed my eyes. I managed about fifteen minutes of breathing amid wandering thoughts, returning to breathing and reciting a mantra I’ve learned from a correspondence course. Yes, I’m receiving instructions on meditation through the mail in the 21st century.

My thoughts wandered, and I opened my eyes. I moved to the couch, and I started to fiddle with my tarot cards. I sat there realizing all the joy I’ve felt over the past few months is completely gone – all of it – and I started to cry. It came slowly. Just a trickle. Then it came on strong, and I just cried.

I don’t really know how long it lasted. It wasn’t terribly long, but I felt utterly drained afterward.

I have therapy tonight. I have much to talk about including my anger at my therapist.

As I review what I’ve written here, my dream gives me hope. I’m pregnant with something. The flying was an escape. It doesn’t take a great deal to decipher.

How Long Does Grieving Take?

I had two therapy sessions last week. I was reeling from the realization that my parents don’t love me and needed the time with my psychologist.

When I entered the second time, he said, “You’re giving your father a lot of power.” I stewed about that all weekend and decided I didn’t like it. I’m grieving, and that takes time.

Since my anger started, I really got myself worked up about it. I got good and upset. Then I had a chance to hear some other perspectives from people on the internet whom I respect. They said he’s probably just trying to remind me that I’m stronger than I think I am. One person responded that I’m freaking out thinking it’s an emergency, but the therapist is telling me to calm down and “you’ve got this.” That’s a great illustration. I really have been panicking, but I don’t have to. My life will continue without my parents. I still have very good people who love me exactly like I am.

So now I’m wondering how long grief takes. One person with a similar experience told me that residual pain never really goes away, but you learn to live with the change. I think I understand that. I’ve had moments when I was really hurting, but at the same time, I would know that I’m going to be OK. Different, but OK.

And for the record, my anger at my therapist is just transference. I was feeling the anger at him that would more rightly be directed at my father. Realizing that kind of stuff helps me understand what’s going on.

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.

My Parents Disowned Me

When I was a teenager, my father threatened to kick me out of the house if I was gay. This trauma forced me deeper into the closet for many years and greatly affected my alcoholism when that happened.

When I got sober twenty years ago, I came out to my mother. She was not supportive. I always assumed she told my dad. In these past twenty years, I haven’t really done anything to hide my sexual orientation from my parents, but I live 5000 miles away from them. When I talked to them on the phone, I never talked about men in order to keep the peace. It never occurred to me that my dad didn’t know.

Yesterday morning, my phone rang. It was my dad. He quickly got to the point. He said he’d discovered that I am gay, and therefore, he and my mother never wanted to hear from me again.

During the call, my heart was pounding. I was shaking. I felt like I was being physically attacked.

I said nothing to try to change the outcome. My dad asked if he’d made himself clear. I simply said yes and hung up.

I spent the day in shock yesterday. I told my children, a sister, some close friends. I texted my therapist. He responded helpfully. I texted my psychiatrist to alert him, and he acknowledged the news.

Everyone was helpful except for one friend who wrongly thought it would be helpful for me to try to see it from my parents’ point of view. Everyone else was very supportive. My children have been a source of great love.

The next thing I knew I would need was to go to an AA meeting. I did that in the evening. It wasn’t a great meeting, but it helped me. I wrote an email to a good friend who has been sober a very long time. I spoke to him this morning. He is a gem. So kind. I had to cut that call short to get to another AA meeting, and this one was really good. I’m so glad I went. I met a man there I’ve met under other circumstances, and he and I are going to meet at the big LGBT meeting Monday night. I’m looking forward to it.

I am hurting. A lot.

My greatest fear is that this will trigger a mood episode. Specifically depression. I’ve been having depressed thoughts all day. I’m using the medication the doctor gave me as prescribed to try to prevent a depressive relapse.

I am using my recovery tools to stay stable. Only time will tell if this will work.

One thing is very clear. I feel like I’m officially gay now.

The Teens

In 2010, I was living on disability. My life was a mess. I was unable to cope with most things that life threw at me. I had a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a case manager.

I got some medications that worked well, which I changed in 2013 to different medications that work better.

I learned to meditate, and that has proven strikingly valuable. I now meditate between 10 to 30 minutes every morning, and I can’t imagine starting my day without it.

I have been going to therapy regularly through thick and through thin. It has given me a safe place to go and talk about all the things that weren’t working for me and to come away with ideas to try that might work better.

I got on a regular sleep schedule that has helped.

I have been exercising by walking most of the time. I’ve had periods when I stopped, but I’ve been fairly consistent in the ten years.

I changed my diet. I now eat a mostly vegetarian diet. I try to eat as much fresh food as possible. It’s not easy, but I feel so much better.

I was accepted into a training program in 2013, and today I administer that very program. I work full time.

With the skills I learned this decade, I now live a fulfilling life. I have my own place and a car that’s paid for. I pay all my bills every month. I cope with all the stress of living a modern life. I am an out and proud gay man. I have friends.

I am excited to see what this new decade brings.