If you were to go back to me when I was at my worst or if you were to find me, way back when, on the ground, crawling around on the floor and chasing the cocaine demons or, like say, if you were to see me in the holding cells or waiting in the bullpens beneath the courthouse before I was about to see the judge, or maybe if you were to find me when I was older, living better but still depressed and anxious and facing bankruptcy, feeling loveless and empty and looking for a way out but every turn was a dead end, and if you would have come to me in the depths of my anxiety or found me when my insomnia refused to leave like an unwanted guest, when all I could do is lay in bed and toss or turn and then watch the red numbers on my alarm clock, glaring at me in the dark like an insult to injury, or, if you would have found me in the times when I contemplated “The End,” and told me, someday, this is where I’d be —the truth is, I would have sworn, “You’re out of your mind.”
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.
Above all the things I needed to get away from, I needed to get away from my guilt and my regret. More than anything else, I needed to be free from the ideas of shame. I knew there were secrets which I never dared to talk about. But at this point, feeling better was the only thing that mattered to me.
Therapy is a great idea but the connection between therapist and client is as crucial as the air we breathe and the food we eat. I never found a therapist that I connected with.
Medication helps as well, but my experience with mood stabilizing medication was unsuccessful. I didn’t like the side effects. I didn’t like the fact that I felt neither good nor bad—but just an unenthused, in-between sense of nothingness. Not happy, not sad, not anything, just existing.
There were times when I wondered what my life would have been like if I were different or grew up in a different neighborhood. I wondered what would have happened if turned right instead of left that on last Sunday night in August, 1989.
Where would I have been or how would I have grown if I chose not to return a phone call one morning before a terrible decision? Or, what would have happened if I said “No” to a car ride the first time I saw a crack pipe?
I used to wonder what my life would have turned into if I had stood up for me or stayed true to myself—because instead of being true to me, I just rehearsed the things I wished I could say.
When I was a little boy, somewhere around the age of six or seven, The Old Man bundled me up in a bunch of warm clothes, took me out into his big blue bronco truck, which I remember in my mind’s eye and can see this clearly.
I remember the way the bench seat looked and how the motor rumbled. I remember the long black handle for the stick shift. I remember the coldness of the morning, but more importantly, I remember the reason for this trip. This was the time we began the yearly tradition on New Year’s Day.
This was our day to be Father and son. Nothing ever stopped this day between us. No matter how badly things turned, we always held our New Year’s tradition.
Back on the farm, the time was beginning to move a little differently. I was still not sure if I believed in anything differently from before.
I wasn’t buying into their ideas of a totally abstinent drug free life nor was I buying into their religious outlook.
I had always believed in God to some degree. Yet, at the same time, there were other times when I reached out to God, personally, and found that my prayers were unanswered. I did not like religion, let alone my religion. My background and culture was different from the popular norm.
That Thanksgiving on the farm with Mom and The Old Man was nice. There was something to the occasion that made the day more than just another holiday.
We were happy. The Old Man was happy with me and so was Mom. For the first time in a long time, my parents were proud.
There was no trouble. No one was looking for me. There was no reason to excuse myself from the table, to hide something, or to leave the house. This was a reward to me; however, this is where the battle of depressive thinking comes in to disrupt the victory. These are the thoughts that would discount the reward and downplay my achievements.