Things in my life seem to be slipping away. Things that were at the core of my identity, things I could look to and say “this is who I am,” are becoming lost to me over the years. I had creative life goals to work for; now making it through the day is the only goal I hope to achieve. I was a nice guy for so long that it was evident; these days even saying “I’m a nice guy” rings false to my ears. I feel bitter and empty, and it’s showing more and more. I’ve been on a slow downward spiral for close to a decade, even with some financial stability I feel lost. Even though I’ve hit bottom, every time I start to climb out of it, falling back makes the hole deeper.

What’s hardest is I’ve shut a lot of people out. I don’t talk to anyone on the phone anymore, except my parents. Facebook comments to friends are common, but not always updating my status is not so much and vague.Trying to bridge that gap is a major challenge for me. I’ve abandonned them, but I’ve twisted it in my head so they’ve abandonned me. Since reaching out has never been my strongest point, I wind up stuck and alone.

My blog posts are non-existent as of late, I know that. I barely write anymore. I have so much unfinished work at various stages and they are laying dormant. And much like reaching out, it’s not that I’ve lost a gift as that I’ve abandonned those gifts. Instead of the passion I felt to start writing a project, I feel ashamed to try and start where I left off.

Things are a jumble in my hear. It’s all an endless void of suck. Thoughts and emotions get mixed up and I’m lost. I feel bad not that I’m letting myself down, but that I’m letting everyone else down. I always put myself last, so it’s okay, even though it’s not. I’m not in complete despair but, I can recognize the look and details of it as it appears closer. I knew it before sometime ago so I know what it looks like. A blog post won’t flip everything around, but it’s something.

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Better Focus

February 5, 2016

Not sure how I’m doing lately, but it’s kind of a good thing. I’m not sure how to explain it except while things aren’t clearer, they are less fuzzy.

Funny thing happened. A few weeks back, I was talking about trying to get more organized this year, but specifically January would be a month to figure out where things stood and try to see what needs to be dealt with. I was thinking about it but not doing anything about it, when I remembered this happened to me awhile back. A friend of mine was able to knock some sense into me both when I was at my low point in job hunting, money problems, and Sophia’s mom—that perfect storm battering me to further ruin; and soon after Sophia’s mom died and I had to become a full-time father on a part time income overnight. One of the things she did was help me get my organizer into working shape and use it as a tool to get throught he day, the week, and once in a while minute by minute. I thought she gave me a custome organizing sheet to use. I thought I had it on my computer somewhere among various backups, so I went looking for it among the files. What I came across was everything else I’ve written and done over the years. Some of the things I hadn’t read in years, and some still held up. It was interesting to read things I didn’t so much leave behind as they got lost in the shuffle. One of these was my favorite unfinished piece of work” a web series that only had two episodes filmed, even though three scripts were writen. I forgot how well it worked, but also how well it was received by peers that I truly admired. And it is still unfinished. That might be my next project. Other things gave me hope as well. I’m not nor ever was ahead of my time in my writing, but I am a solid writer (still); it holds together well. That in itself gave me hope.

After the writings, and unable to find the sheet I was originally looking for, I found the organizer I used at the time. While it is mainly used for storage now, it was a daily reminder for everything back in the day—2011 to be exact. So much has in a short tme and I kind of forgot the chronology of it. Some people suggested I concentrate on what I was feeling during that time, but all I felt at that time was fear and anxiety. It kept coming in endless waves and a constant throbbing in my head. Looking at what happened when, helped me focus. I read these events as dates on a calendar and I can feel neural pathways open in my brain. That whole time was a jumble for survival. You forget everything you are for a way to keep going the next step. It’s frightening and the only way to deal with that fear is to become so myopic that you ignore the fear—which you can’t do, but you live in denial to take one more step forward. The time was a blur, but seeing what I did made some things a little clearer. Knowing the chronology of certain events put the jumble into order, especially at a time of chaos.

To me it’s amazing how much you have to abandon when you are in survival mode, but you don’t realize it until it’s all over. Even a sense of time, linear events and planning erode from fear of the weight of the current situation and what might lie ahead. It’s a horrible way to live and I can’t believe I was in that reptilian mindset for so long. Moreso I can’t belibe I made it out, scarred but together. Things are less out of focus than they have been lately and it’s possible to remember some of that time without panic. Knocking on wood, it will stay that way for a while.

Dating for Misanthropes

October 31, 2015

I’m torn about dating. I think I’m of three minds about things. First, I know I’m in no financial, mental or emotional state to go on a date with anyone; I know this so I have sworn off dating for a while. Whether that’s until I’m more stable or when Sophia is off at college I haven’t figured out. The second part thinks maybe it would help my mental state to meet someone new, or at least see what is out there that is possible for me. Human connections are helpful and are needed for those that are isolated. So maybe trying to meet someone—with no preconceived expectiations—might help out. The third part of me really wants to get laid. If human connection is helpful but a long-term commitment is doubtful (and/or detrimental to others), there’s always splitting the difference with sex. Studes have proven sexual activity (with a partner) can do wonders staving off depression and anxiety. The downside is the whole meeting people thing. Craigslist is an invitation to death and other sites are filled with spambots, catfishers and shut ins.

And as usual I only have my blog to complain about it on. Yeah I could post a dating profile somewhere, but not sure how the brutal honesty would go over.

“46 year old single Latino father, part-time delivery driver, history of mental illness seeking partner/girlfriend/significant other/fuck buddy/other (please circle one). Likes movies/TV/movies on TV, cooking, writing, free-form philosophical arguments, good animation, Star Trek, and light bondage (not a deal breaker). Must be willing to take T as I have no car. Not sure if this will work, but I figure I’d be an optimist and give it a shot.”

I’m not sure whether to post this on Christian Mingle or Tinder. Which one is more misanthropic?

I don’t know why I feel so out of it these days. I know I have goog daya snd bad days with my own particular depressive/anxiety problems, but do the lows always have to feel so sould crushing? It’s not like I can be depressed AND go to the gym or write or whatever; I have to be so depressed that I don’t wan tto go anywhere, except to work when I have to. I also haven’t written in a few weeks. It’s not even that I’m stuck in a story; I can’t muster the will needed to pick up a pen. I know what I have is a problem of chemistry, not about laziness. Mental illness is a biologic disorder, at the very least a medical one. I just feel more lost than usual.

Why is trying to take care of yourself and your own needs such a struggle? I know I need to carve out time to write, exercize and rest so I can be functional; but why, when faced with the other priorities of the day—work, shopping, cleaning, picking up Sophia, etc.—why do I always put my needs last? Or better yet, why do I see it as an all or nothing proposition? If I take care of myself, I forsake everyone and everything else; or if I want to help Sophia, everything personal gets throuwn out the window. It shouldn’t be an eithter/or situation but my head keeps turning it into one. Why? I have no clue.

What’s funny is I can’t completely blame it on mental illness. It’s a huge component of it, but putting me last is something ingrained in me since childhood. Yes it’s a learned trait that can be unlearned, but how easy had that ever been? I’m still fighting fights with myself that should have died long ago. Just add this to the list. Meanwhile I’ll petition to get a 28 hour day—that’ll be easier.

Summer of Discontent

August 13, 2015

You know your writer’s block is bad when you can’t figure out what to say in a blog posting. It could be worse; I couldn’tt be able to write a tweet. Of course with me it’s never as much that I don’t have things to write, 1) I have too many things I want to write; 2) each idea has too many directions it can go; and 3) I don’t know where to start.

I’m this close to putting a short story collection for sale online, but I need to getthe next step. Of course I have a short story and a novella I still need to finish, but other things are wanting to be written as well. Plus I’m wondering if I want to keep plugging ahead with the short I have half finished now. I hate having to abandon stuff when I haven’t finished them, but I’m not feeling this story so much as I once was. I may jump to the writing the ending as I want it to go and then come back to bridge the part I left off with.

Seems like this is how some of my writers block goes. It sucks because I have some good ideas that don’t get executed well because I can’t break through. Something I need to work on for sure.

So far the summer has been okay. The delivery work has been up and down as it always is. It’s good money when the hours come in, but the last couple of weeks has been a slow period. A client built in a busy week once a month or so and I know some money comes in then; I’m juts worried about the savings I have. I have a cushion from what I made at the last temp job and tax refunds which I am stretching out pretty far, but it only holds up if the money going out comes back in—which is sort of trickling in and gushing out. I budgeted for some of the things coming up, but the worry is starting. This last week I haven’t worked at all and not happy abou that. It sort of worked out in that Sophia has this summer cold that is dropping all my other friends so she’s been fine to stay home this week. Yesterday it was fun when there was a Phineas and Ferb all day marathon on Disney, but today they’re doing Lab Rats (ugh…); and I can only take so much of Season 7 American Ninja Warrior reruns before I go nuts. This hasn’t helped with jitters about not working.

Everything seems to be more of a work in progress than usual. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but the fact that Im restless about it is bad.

The new job I got that was supposed to be temp-to-perm turned out to be more temporary than permanent. Shy a week after my 60-day review, the company let me go. I never heard why. They called my temp agency letting me go and my temp agency emailed me the bad news. From what I gather, it was a bad fit departmentally. I thought I fit into the job well, but I guess numbers said otherwise, so no harm done letting me go. Sort of.

Soon after the email, I texted my old boss at Via Lago—the restaurant I drove catering for—to ask for my old job back. In my book, part-time work beats unemployment. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, I had to wait until Tuesday to hear anything. The thing is I wasn’t as panicked as I would normally be. Not to say that I wasn’t panicked at all (Friday night was especially rough) but not as bad as I have in the past. This was the first time I’ve been let go from a job when I had a surplus of money on hand. My income increased but not all of my expenses did over the two months (plus my tax refund) which helped. I wasn’t going to be making more money but I didn’t need to decrease my spending drastically. I’m floating, not drowning so it worked out.

Tuesday morning I heard from my old boss that she could put me back in rotation no problem. They’ve always been good to me as a company and people and I appreciate that. It’s also good to feel wanted immediately after made to feel like a failure. The temp agency said nothing about why I was let go, but they let me know about offers that fit my skill sets coming in the future. Right now I’m taking my mom’s advice and enjoy the time I have with my daughter now. She’s doing the STEM summer program for grade school kids at MIT so she’ll be busy. I’m not in a hurry to look for second shift work while she’s doing that so I’m thinking about the next steps I want to take work wise. And as I said it feels better to work short and (somewhat) stable hours than not work at all.

There’s an article that’s been making the rounds on Facebook the last couple of days about a wife who came to realize that she was unknowingly abusing her husband. It was an interesting read about how a woman came to see how her remarks to her husband were belittling rather than helpful because, as she pointed out, she argued from a point her way being the correct way and vehemently made her stand; so much so that the husband often sidestepped simple issues to avoid one of her outbursts. I saw a lot of my past relationships in the article but didn’t give it too much thought. The next day, two friends of mine reposted the same article, and with varying degrees of impact, I got triggered back to some of those relationships again. I can’t even say that it was trolls that did it to me, as while one or two comments were very pro-she-did-nothing-wrong, most were supportive and saying both partners need to be aware of the impact of their actions. I think that’s when I lost it.

When I was at a week-long young adult con, there was one night where they had a dance (not the official ball—that was later in the week). I had asked a number of women to dance, all of which said no; a few of them went to dance with someone else after I passed by. I had to step out and cry, feeling miserable. When I came back in, one woman noticed my appearance and asked me if I was okay. I muttered I was fine, but then she said “No matter what’s going on, you know we love you.” I stepped outside again to cry even harder than before. Dostoyefsky defined Hell—through his Father Zosima character in Brothers Karamazov—as “the suffering of [or for] the inability to love.” I definitely relate to that.

It wasn’t just a few people saying “yeah men can be abused in a relationship too” that got to me. Some of the article sent me right back to the things that I experienced with two different, psychologically abusive women. I don’t think I fully processed and realized the sense of hopelessness I felt. A friend told me that I was in an abusive relationship with Sophia’s mom and my first adult relationship, and I can acknowledge that truthfully, but I don’t think I really faced up to what all that was or meant emotionally; and feeling that anger and dismay and guilt now is painful, and only makes me want to run into a state of denial again (with food mostly). I can’t do that but I still have a hard time facing those feelings. It’s a strange midway state to be in and it sucks. It’s also not a wound that scars over easily. With kind of PTSD-type situation, there are a number of things that can trigger you back to those abusive times. Since the article re-circulated to my newsfeed, I’ve been a raw nerve overacting to any stimuli. It’s not a good place to be.

I’m not sure what I can do other than what I am. I’m in therapy, I take medication as directed, and I write blogs entries like this. I don’t want to be numb but I’m tired of being on a permanent crying jag. Sometimes I wish it could pass by quicker.

Transition Year(s)

December 27, 2014

I was talking to a friend about how things were going lately, and after listening to the status report said it sounds like this is a year of transition. I told him I feel like I’ve been in transition for the last couple of years. Although to be honest aboutthis, I’ve been in transition since 2009 when I left WGBH.

It was a downward spiral of losss of work, money, identity, safety that’s been going on since the big management trap and the fallout since then. The death of Sophia’s mom made it worse, as at the height of depression I had to be the sole responsible parent to a 10 year old. I still feel like I’m in transition from that and it’s been 18 months. What’s stupid is I somehow feel like there is a timetable for all this. Like if I’m not over any of this by a specific time you lost the race or game or whatever.

Fact is there is no timetable for grief or loss. You don’t just get over it. There’s a lot to deal with and for some the process takes longer. It really shouldn’t matter but every once in a while I hear the chorus of one two many past echoes—and actual present voices—of you need to get over it. Unfortunately, once in a while I listen to them. I’m better at ignoring them some days, but there’s always that survivor’s guilt of not being able to get past emotionally traumatic events. I can also say I need to get over those voices saying to get over it, but I guess it’s all of a process however long it takes.

Some days I’d like to hurry it along but I can’t. I guess I have to deal with that too. Add it to the list of things to deal with.

Stir of Echos

August 29, 2014

As a writer, I constantly have voices in my head. Voices of characters and dialogue, scene descriptions, events unfolding in surround sound—all these I hear before and during the writing process. Not every writer hears things, but that seems to be my primary sensory focus when inspiration strikes or during the writing itself. At its best, it can be like dictation—simply writing what you hear going on in your head. However there’s another reason I occasionally hear voices: depression. Now I’m not talking serious auditory hallucinations telling me to kill my neighbors with a fork (though that would make an interesting short story); I’m talking about a lot of negative voices I’ve heard in the past that get louder and drown out normal emotional perceptions. I thought about it this last week because of that email exchange with a former FB friend where he brought up something I wrote in his yearbook when we were in high school (see my previous blog entry Reason to be Grateful). He threw that quote at me and it set the anger sensory overload in motion—I get so I’m hyperaware of what’s being said and some of those words get stuck in my head. I used to call it a “tape loop”—recorded phrases of damnation hurled at me that I kept in storage and would automatically play when I’m at my most nervous. The thing is I’m not sure it is or ever was a tape; it’s like echos. You hear these things over and over again being said at you, and seeing that my primary sensory intake is sound, these sounds reverberate in my head. When I was younger, the repetitions were clear and loud. Now that I have some distance and age, they’re there but fainter. Incidents like this past week bring some of those echos back up, but I need to remember they’re only echos: things I’ve heard in the past that bounced around my brain for too long, that may not even mean anything or be true anymore. These echos can damage when they’re always present and loud, but when they soften and far in between, it’s less painful.

Sometimes those echos hinder the writing process. One voice every writer has is the inner critic. Its a voice that doesn’t seem to shut up either and gets in the way of writing. The thing is the inner critic voice gets crossed with and boosted by those harmful echos—even when they’re faint. This makes the writing harder which only worsens the depression which makes the whole thing sustain itself. To make matters stranger, like any writer I use things in my life in my writing, including things I’ve heard. Sometimes it’s therapeutic to process those feelings in my writing; other times it’s like creating a sustained flashback. The thing is I need the helpful voices in my head when I write, but not the ones that hinder me. This is a very subtle battle: the need to differentiate which are the echos of the past and which are conversations I want to use. Not easy but I’m trying to process all the voices in my head.

Bitter Pill

July 18, 2014

This is the more nuanced and lengthier blog that I should have written the other day. I wanted to talk about how I’ve been feeling the last few weeks or longer and get some things out onto the page that I couldn’t put into words for a while. But of course I was trying to write and watch TV while playing Bubble Safari at 12:30am when I couldn’t sleep but was dead tired. I finally gave up the piece and wrote “These days it’s not so much the depression that’s seriously gripped me but a lot of bitterness…” on my Facebook page status. That didn’t go as I’d hoped. What I thought would be a way to mildly get stuff out of my head to vent a bit more sounded like a prelude to suicide. My friends chimed in, which was good; my dad saw the post and told me to call him, which is not so good (scaring family I mean). I guess this is a chance to explain things more and better.

As I’ve said over the past few months, I’ve been feeling very out of focus; that’s the best way I can explain it. There are things I need to do and instead of doing them, I procrastinate so I can say I don’t have time to do them. But this makes me more upset and feeds the cycle. I know I have depression and anxiety to deal with (not necessarily bi-polar disorder but both separately), but there is more to it. The anger feeding the depression is also a sense of bitterness. I’ve been really upset thinking about where I was hoping to be at this time of my life with my artistic endeavors and career and where I’m at in reality. I was hoping I’d have a completed film or sold a screenplay by now, but no luck. I know I shouldn’t be comparing my life to others, but I have friends who are in the industry in one form or another and doing well—not famous but certainly able to live the way they want to because of what they’ve done. Meanwhile I’m no closer to what I’ve wanted to do and I’m angry about it. With that anger the bitterness sets in. I can’t live in the past but my head seems to get stuck there a lot.

I got a new laptop recently (and finally) so I’ve been looking at old files on my computer as I transfer them over. A lot of them had to do with issues dealing with Sophia’s mom when she was alive including the court case to lower my child support which I lost. I re-read those emails and letters and I’m suddenly back in that moment again, seething, and unable to do anything about the situation OR my reaction to it. I had the same reaction with a bunch of emails I had from a friend talking about a mutual friend (now no longer a friend) that brought up a lot of feelings about that time, as well as my fight with WGBH about my job. Some of those emails will make good research for a book or movie, but it still is hard to go through those wounds again. I know I made it through, but I look at where I was at the time and I still can’t see the lesson I was supposed to learn or what it was supposed to accomplish. It all makes me feel disgruntled and angry. Some of the emails weren’t even ones I kept but a conversation about a conversation that takes me back to the initial incident, and I’m suddenly in PTSD mode again. It’s tough having this much of a grudge or holding onto the anger, but I don’t know how to let it go.

Of course it’s a part of who I am anyway. I’ve always been jealous of other people who I thought were popular or had more stuff or were happier than I was. I remember being at a film conference and talking to a screenwriter who said she was a finalist for an award that I was trying for as well. When she said it, I was angry that she made the finals and I didn’t and kept asking how she heard about it—thinking maybe I would hear the same but hadn’t yet. Of course any chance of making a contact in the industry died right there. All from being jealous.

Aside from jealousy, I also hold onto grudges I should have let go of a long time ago. It’s like the emails: at some point just mentioning something about something that happened or someone who did something to me and I flashback to that anger at the person. I know I need to be able to let go of stuff and get it out of my system, but two things: one—of course—I don’t know how; two there are so many people and incidents that I remember and can’t forget. It gets trapped in my head and, as a result, it traps me in the past. Richard Nixon said (and I can’t believe I’m quoting him and my mom will hate it) “Never get discouraged. Never be petty. Always remember, others may hate you. But those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself.” And he’s right because he did destroy himself (not to mention nearly the whole country), but that’s exactly what I’m doing to myself. I’m becoming bitter about things. Bitter about where I am and where I’m not, what is and isn’t happening, what I am and am not doing. It’s a cycle I don’t like to be trapped in but I don’t know how to get out of it. It partly feels like it could be a midlife crisis. Made all the worse that I can’t afford a convertible.

So no I’m not going to harm myself anytime soon, let’s be clear on that. I’m just not feeling the way I used to be, which is less miserable. And less brave. I used to be pretty fearless as a kid (under 7), but that got stomped out of me especially lately. Maybe I’m in mourning for the old me.