Everything about my life was either forced or coerced. Nothing was ever natural to me. For some reason, I gave into the inaccurate ideas that there was something wrong with me. I was a slave to myself. I was a slave to my thinking and my belief system. I was trapped somehow, like a prisoner in a cage, like an inmate in the most uncomfortable form of solitary confinement there could be. I was trapped in myself. I was trapped in my life and trapped in the habitual patterns which I could not seem to break.
I sobered up after my arrest. I stayed clean, in name only, and I was dry of all mind-altering substances, including alcohol. Yet, there was no difference in the way I saw me or the way I viewed other people in my life.
I went on this way for years, always seeking, always trying to be someone I wasn’t, and always looking for a place where I felt as if I belonged.
I suppose I gave in too much to my fears. Above all, I was afraid that I would never find my place in this world, which is why I always tried to force myself into the equation—to belong or to be included; however, the only thing I learned about always including myself is I never learned about the compliment of being invited. I gave too much of my attention to people that did not deserve my time—this was me, historically and systematically trying to find my place in the circle. I never realized my worth or my value—which is why I settled, which is why I compromised, which is why I found myself depressed and often resentful because by compromising my desires, I never received the warmth I was seeking. My needs were never met and my wants were left wanting. This is depression.
Up until the point of my journals and up until the day I wholeheartedly decided to take an honest look at myself, and once I decided to dispel the myths of my thinking, I found out two painful truths. The first truth is yes, I lived my entire life as a prisoner to depression. The second truth is the only person that could set me free from this prison is me.
Medication helps. So does therapy, but I needed more. It was suggested to me that instead of looking at life with the ideas of right or wrong—I should see things in one of three ways, which are good, better, and best.
I learned that my blame system was a key piece to my depression. This fed my fears and fueled the motor that spun the thought machine. I had to learn how to stop feeding the thoughts that took me away from better ideas and my best possible potential. It was me that limited me. It was me that gave into the ideas that I was less than, or simply not enough.
My anxiety was self-driven by triggered thoughts that connected fears, from one to the next, which led to the jumping of conclusions and the assumption of my next best catastrophe.
There is a thought I wrote down in my journals that expressed my need to feel free and find my way towards that freedom, by any means necessary.
“Here I go, out the door and yesterday doesn’t matter because I don’t live there anymore. Last night I came to a bridge and now, it seems as if I’m on the other side. This morning I woke up, climbed out of bed and this is it. I’m not going to live this way anymore.
There I go, down the street to see different faces on different avenues, new blocks, new buildings, new town, and a new me.
That’s it. I’m gone
No more laying back, looking at the ceiling and listening to the seconds click before the alarm goes off. No more looking out the window, watching puddles catch raindrops, and wishing I was someplace else. No more thinking that you or anyone else is better than me just because you say so
No more because I’m finished with this. I’m done.
I’m through and more than anything, I’m gone
Here I go, wishing for spring in the winter months. There I go, thinking about fall when the summer runs too hot.
Here I go, wishing I left every time I rehearsed this and there you go, laughing because you knew I didn’t have the guts to pull it off.
How many times will I give in before I wake up and realize this is not the place for me?
But that’s it this time.
I’m done. I’m out the door and I’m gone.
So go ahead; tell me again how I’ll never make it without you.
Tell me I’ll be back before the sun goes down.
Tell me why you’ll laugh and keep my seat warm.
More than anything; tell me how many times I’ll practice this speech in the mirror before I finally have the courage to stand up without saying anything and simply walk away.
I suppose the real question is when is it my turn?
When is it my turn to have the life I want instead of the life I have?
The only answer I can come up with is this:
My turn will come as soon as I give myself permission to take it.
And what does this mean?
It means the dress rehearsal is over
(as soon as I decide it is.)”
There were so many different occasions in my life where I practiced speeches like the one above. I used to wish for the strength to walk away but the fears of being alone outweighed the discomforts of my surrounding.
In fact, I didn’t come to the idea of change until the discomfort of my surroundings outweighed the discomfort of my fears.
Otherwise, I would have just stayed the same.
I had to make a decision. Do I want the life I have, or, do I dare myself to break the chains of my beliefs? Do I surpass my expectations of myself by giving me the permission to take the chance to be me without any further distractions.
I used to be afraid of being the last one in the crowd to get the joke. But worse than this; I was even more afraid to wake up and realize the joke was on me.
One day, I made the decision to break this chain by walking away from a life that was unacceptable to me. I made a decision that I would never accept anything that was unacceptable to me.
This brings me back to the full circle. I found myself back in my old hometown. I was alone in my small apartment. I felt exiled. Once again, I felt as if there was something terribly wrong with me.
There had to be something wrong with me because no matter where I went or who I was with, there was something always amiss. Something was always forced or contrived. Nothing every came naturally.
It was clear to me that I was most powerless whenever I tried to control things that I had no power over, whatsoever.
I was 33 years old. I lived through the loss of friends. I lost my Aunt who was like a second Mother to me. The Old Man was gone and I could hardly look at his photographs without the feeling of shame.
Everyone was doing their own thing; and same as I felt when I was 8 years-old; same as I felt during the other times when I attempted to end my life —I saw myself as a burden to the world. I was a burden to everyone that knew me.
I was financially unsuccessful. My credit was shot. In my eyes, it was only a matter of time before people realized I was nothing but a fraud. I was just an impostor. I was a joke, a waste, mentally ill, and as I saw it—there was no other way to stop this cycle, except to end this permanently.
And once more, I considered the end like a warm welcome. And sure, I knew this would be painful for some. I knew this would hurt my family—once more, my name would be synonymous with a shameful event but at least other people in my life would be able to heal.
As I saw it, no matter how hard I tried, I would always be stuck in the emotional quicksand of my depression.
Might as well end it—
Might as well stop the ride here because I wanted to get off. And that was it. It’s not that I wanted to die so much or go away. I just wanted the pain to stop. I wanted the anxiety to go away but nothing seemed to stop it, except, of course, the quick temporary fixes.
I gave into these fixes throughout my entire life. I gave myself away too cheaply. I gave myself to sexual promiscuity to prove my manhood, to prove that I was wanted, and to prove that I was desirable; regardless to whomever it was that desired me.
I was a divorced dad and a failure. Who would want me now? Who would possibly see me as anything other than how I saw myself, which was sad and lonely, uncomfortable, and unlovable.
My daughter lived in a big home with every toy in the world. And me, I lived in a small apartment with nothing to offer but me and my sad attention.
I was caught up in the deception of my perception and gave into the trained ideas that I would never be one of those people on the red carpet and inside the velvet ropes.
At the time and in the best of my thoughts, there was no way that I would ever reach my dreams or fulfill my desires.
This was me at my best. This was as good as it gets, and with nothing in my bank accounts; with no one around, nothing to decorate the walls of my small apartment or absorb the echoes of my lonesomeness, no one to talk me down this time or tell me what to do, and with nothing except a little kitten in my home, which I picked up to bribe my 2 year-old child to come over and spend time with me, and with a loaded shotgun in my lap, I was about to finally euthanize myself, one last time, and pull the trigger.
This is when the little kitten jumped on the couch. Her name was Tiki. She was a little gray and white cat. Cute as ever.
She jumped on my lap. I paused because I didn’t want to hurt the kitten.
She started to claw at my chest, asking me to play with her. In my interpretation, she was pawing at me as if to ask, “Who will take care of me if you go?”
That fucking cat saved my life!
I put the gun away and sold it to a gun shop the very next day. In the meantime, I went over to my computer and typed the first words to my journal.
“My redemption has nothing to do with your response.”
I made a decision that if I am not going to die then I have to learn how to live. And this has been my goal since that day —to learn how to live, each day, and be one step better than I was the day before.
So long as I am moving, then I am changing. I am constantly evolving and just like anyone else in this crazy world, I am a work in progress.
The next and final chapter will be the how to and why and what chapter, which, one would think this is the hardest step in overcoming depression. However, I will save you the suspense and tell you the main ingredient to emotional success, which is to endure.
The secret to endurance is to remain consistent and persistent, each day and every day for the rest of your life, from here on out.
For me to be at my best, I have to be like that young man with the blind father on the football field.
I have to say “put me in coach” and I have to play my best, put it all out there without apology, and show them what I am made of.
With all my heart; this is what it means to endure. And so long as I choose to endure, I can accomplish anything!