Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gravity

Another layer of who I am and what I am about, relates to a story that started in May of 1990.  I was in attendance at a little soiree at a friend's house.  The occasion?  The class ahead of me in junior college was graduating, and many of them were friends of mine.  There was a pretty good turnout, and a great deal of fun was had by all who attended.  As I arrived, I surveyed the scene and saw many friendly faces, and I was excited to see what the night would bring. 

I still remember the events of that night vividly. I was having a great time, talking with friends, meeting some people I had not really had a chance to talk to at school.  At one point in the evening, fairly early on I believe, I headed out to my car for a minute to grab something. As I was walking back up the driveway, I had a beverage in a large cup in my right hand, and my left hand was empty.  For some reason, my palm was out and facing straight ahead of me  I was talking to someone off in the distance, looking away from the direction I was walking in. 

BOOM!  It was right then that I felt it.  I had run right into someone........................

Who was it??!?  What happened next?!?!?  Well, I'll get to that.  But, before I go on with more details of this story, you need to know some background.  While I was in junior college, I spent a good deal of time in either the game room with the pool table and the foosball table, or the tv room directly across the hall where there were tables, some chairs, a tv and some couches.  When standing in the game room, you could see out into the hallway and across into the tv room.  I remember the first time I saw her sitting at a table, eating a snickers I believe and drinking a pepsi.  This girl had to be an angel!!  Long brown hair, beautiful blue eyes, a smile that absolutely lit up the room - she was absolutely beautiful.  Was this what love felt like?  Maybe to a young 18 year old boy it did.  At any rate, throughout that school year, I would see this girl in the tv room and sneak looks at her across the hall whenever I could.  But I was shy then, and couldn't get myself to summon the courage to talk to her.  I didn't even know what her name was.  That entire school year I noticed her and would see her coming and going, wishing I could think of a way to talk to her and get to know her.  But the courage never came, and I never did meet her or talk to her. 

Now, back to the party.  Where was I?  If you'll remember, I was walking one way, and looking another, and had just run into someone.  When I turned around and looked up, I noticed several things.  First, of all the people in all the places that I had to run into in such an embarrassing way, it had to be her.  The girl from the tv room at SCI.  Right there in front of me.  Why me?!?!?  How could this happen?  The second thing I noticed was the look in her eyes.  In a nutshell, loathing and the potential to deck me right then and there were what I saw, along with flames I'm pretty sure.  Oh wait!  It gets better (or much worse, depending on your perspective).   How, you ask?  Well, the third thing I noticed was that my empty left hand had unintentionally landed directly on her chest.  You could say that gravity simply brought us together.  This was, needless to say, not how I'd envisioned our first meeting.  In fact, given that she was going away to school in the Fall, this might have been my one and only chance to meet her.  I had to think of something clever to say to bail me out of this horrible predicament!!  Part of me wanted to turn tail and leave the party and never come back (after removing my hand, of course).  But instead, something just sort of popped out of my mouth.  Without thinking, and with a look of complete astonishment and feigned annoyance on my face, I turned to her and said, 'How dare you put your chest in my hand!!!' (or something to that effect).  I swear those few seconds seemed like hours to me.  I waited.  I was sure she was going to either knock me out, or walk away and tell everyone about the goofy chest-grabbing pervert at the party.  But, by some miracle, I guess she thought it was funny, because a grin broke across her face and we both stood there, laughing.  As the night went on, we talked and laughed and got to know each other better.  Heck, I even remember a group of us ate at Hardees right after the party.  As we were getting ready to leave Hardees, I asked if she had anything to write on.  Neither of us did.  So she told me to give her my number and she would memorize it and call me.  I did, but wasn't feeling too optimistic about the possibility of receiving that phone call.  Until the very next day, when the phone rang, and I heard her voice on the other end.  

There is much more to the story, but if you hadn't guessed it yet, the girl in the tv room - the one whose first impression of me must have been something like " And just WHY is your hand THERE?!?!?" - that girl was my Leigh.  My bride.  My other half.  My rock.  To know her is to love her.  She has a way about her that is just pure, almost childlike.  In the 22, nearly 23 years since the day I met her, she has opened my eyes to a whole new world of things and a way of looking at the world that wouldn't have been possible without her by my side.  She has seen  me at my absolute best, and loved me and stuck by me through my very worst, and at my lowest.  She takes me as I am, and I can guarantee you that is not always easy to do (hard to believe, right?!?!!?).  She is more beautiful to me today than she was the day I met her.  Is our marriage perfect?  Absolutely not.  We struggle, we disagree, we have our moments.  But in those moments, we both know that neither of us is giving up on the other.  Even when I doubt myself, she refuses to. 

Perhaps gravity brought us together.  More likely is that God did.  I thank God for Leigh every day, and I pray that He will put it on my heart to let her know every day how much I love her. 


Friday, November 9, 2012

Layers

Depression is defined as : a state of feeling sad : dejection : a psychoneurotic or psychotic disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.

Generally speaking, depression is a taboo subject.  It's not something people generally want others to know about.  When someone asks how you are doing, you don't generally answer with 'Well, I'm dealing with some pretty severe depression.'  I'm not sure why that is, but it's my experience that this is how it is. 

Over the past few years, I've had to come to the realization that depression is a part of who I am.  It does not define me, and it doesn't bother me to talk about it.  But there have been times when it was a struggle for me to even get out of bed each day.  It was during those times that it not only impacted me severely, but it also was a big challenge for those around me, especially my wife.  I am not sure if I'd have made it through this without her unconditional love and support.   

So what was it like for me?   Happily married to a beautiful bride, finally a Dad to a wonderful little boy, just moved into a new house, liked my job fairly well - by all accounts, life was good.  From the outside looking in, people probably thought I would be the last person in the world to be struggling with something like depression.  But I was.  I was waking up each morning, wanting to stay in bed.  I wasn't doing the things I loved doing anymore.  It took all of my strength to do even the simplest of tasks.  But there was no reason for me to feel this way.  So I went about my daily life and hoped that the feeling would pass.   It didn't.  I never had thoughts of suicide.  But, I did think at the time that some people's lives would be better if I weren't in them, or that no one would miss me if I were gone.  Which I know isn't true, but that's how my mind was working at the time.   

I decided I would go see a counselor for awhile.  I talked to her to try to figure out what might be bogging me down.  It helped some, but I didn't feel any differently.  The counselor referred me to a psychiatrist.  I hesitated at first.  My initial reaction was, 'Me, go to a psychiatrist?  Surely not.  Only people with serious issues go see psychiatrists.'  Well, this was a serious issue, and it was overtaking my life.  It was beginning to impact my family, my job, and anyone who came into contact with me, even if they didn't know it.  So I broke down and decided I would go.  The psychiatrist did some bloodwork to make sure it wasn't something medical, which it wasn't, and then ended up offering to prescribe an antidepressant.  I still couldn't believe this was happening to me, but  it was time to try whatever it took to deal with it head on.  I was ready.  This was chemical, and I had no control over it without getting help.  If the help was there, I needed to stop being stubborn and prideful and take the help. 

As I sit here and type this, I am still dealing with depression.  But mostly through my rear-view mirror.  The prescription has helped a great deal.  But I've also made some other changes in my life that needed to be made to steer me towards better mental health.  God also reminded me time and time again through friends, family and church family that I have worth.  I am loved.  People care.  I'm not crazy.  No one has to treat me any differently because of this.  This is just a part of who I am and what I've been through.  I'm not ashamed of it.  I feel like this is one of those things that happened to maybe help someone else, or to remind me that God is God and I am not.  Or maybe for some purpose that I don't even know about.  Whatever He can use this for, use me for, my mind and my heart are open to. 

Have you been there?  If so, I urge you to talk to someone about it.  Talk to me about it.  Just don't let it fester.  It's nothing to be ashamed of.  More people than you realize are probably dealing with something similar.  There's a voice that will tell you that you are the only one in the world dealing with it.  Do......not.......listen......to......that......voice!  You are not alone.  Talk to someone.  Get on your knees and talk to God.  See a counselor.  Talk to a friend.  DO SOMETHING.  Because you matter.  You are loved. 





  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Masks

Sometimes life leaves me bumfuzzled.  Yes, bumfuzzled is a word, and I did just use it in a sentence.  Quite honestly, I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable.  But back to the point.  There have been many points in my life where I've been left feeling confused, dumbfounded, or just flat out bumfuzzled. Life is hard, and sometimes doesn't make sense. 

I have found that in my daily life, I spend a great deal of time trying to convince everyone around me that life is good, I don't have problems, and the last thing I want to do is to tell anyone about them.  I build walls around me that I think will protect me.  If I convince everyone I'm okay, then maybe I really am okay.  But I don't have to tell you that the mindset I've just described to you is as far from the truth as it could be.  Have you been there?

A mask is something that serves to conceal or disguise.  I am confessing to all of you today that I often wear one.  (No, I don't mean a Halloween mask, smarty pants!).  But why do I put on this mask every day?  I can't say I have a good reason.  Maybe I've convinced myself that it's just easier that way.  Or maybe I'm afraid what people would think if all of the skeletons in my closet were revealed.  Whatever the reason, it's time to take off the mask.  I truly believe that if we can just retrain ourselves to do that, and to open up to each other, we can truly connect with others and build relationships. 

It's time to take this mask off!  Let's do this.  Are you ready?  I hope you are sitting down.  Because what I am about to tell you will come as a shock.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen...................................................


I AM BALD! 

I told you to sit down!!!! 

Once you've recovered from the shock, please read on.


But seriously, in a world where so many are struggling and hurting every day, why can't we break down the walls, tear off the masks, and let others see the real us?  So many times I have had that opportunity, and so many times I have chosen the mask.  But those times that I've been real?  Those are some of the most rewarding conversations and moments in my life.  Some of my biggest struggles in life were made a little more bearable simply by talking about them, and realizing that I'm not the only one who has gone through them.  When we're in the midst of struggle, our tendency is to think we're the only ones going through it.  But once we open up, we find that we're more like everyone else than we realized. 

What mask are you wearing that needs to be taken off and thrown away?
 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bloggers Angst

I have been trying to decide whether or not to blog for quite awhile now.  Do I really want to put myself out there?  Will anyone read it?  What should I call it?  Do I have anything to say?  What if people DO read it and get disappointed because I don't post enough?  Finally, as I sit here today, I decided to go for it.  It will be fun, maybe even therapeutic.  I will talk about me, thoughts that I have, issues I have dealt with or am dealing with, and hopefully something I have to say will connect with those that chose to read it.  Maybe we'll find out we have something in common that draws us together.  Maybe we'll have a good laugh over some of the things I post.  Or a good cry.  Or maybe you won't care, and will just read it once and move onto another blog. 

The real reason I decided to do this is pretty simple.  We go through our lives every day, walking by people having conversations that go something like this. 

"Hi!  How are you?"
"Fine/Good/Okay - how are you?"
"Good."
"Good!"

Does this sound familiar to you?  We all wear masks, trying to convince those around us that we are fine, good, okay (insert other adjective here) and that nothing is wrong.  When the truth is, behind the mask, we are all struggling with something.  We are all hurting.  We have all dealt or continue to deal with some serious issues in our lives.  But we keep it bottled up.  We don't share it.  That would be contradictory to our trying to convince everyone that we are okay. 

So what's the point of all of this rambling, you ask?  By blogging, I am attempting to take off the mask and show you the real me.  Is this self serving?  Maybe a little, but at the same time I am hoping to encourage readers to do the same.  I believe that when we connect with people, that is the key to our lives.  Relationship.  Too often during my day, I take these opportunities for granted, even when they are right there staring me in the face.  So I am hoping that, through this blog, I can connect with some of you.  Or maybe I won't even know you are reading it, but it will be something that adds a little to your day.  Regardless, I hope you enjoy it.  I'm ready to take the leap.  And it starts.........................NOW!