Hard things in life…

Much of what I do is purposeful. Writing this blog. Sleeping. Eating. Exercising. Painting. Avoiding this. Doing that. Giving myself this message. Repeating these words. Listening to this song. It is hard for me to write this… talking about the things that keep me alive. Deep in that is faith… my faith and the act of praying,

So sometime after the initial pain and shock of my son’s death came the realization that I still had to live. I still had to go to work every day. I still had to bathe and brush my teeth, and sleep and eat and exercise. I still had to drive. I still had to interact with people… and all of this needed to be normal and usual. And that never has been easy for me.

My son had taken his own life. And this self inflicted end had been a product, I believe of his incredible mind… caught in a downward spiral of self doubt and eventually self loathing… of depression, and isolation, and declining social interactions, and of insomnia and of rapid, out of control thoughts. It became for him, an unbearable dissonance that he needed to end… to resolve.

And the reason I believe this is because at times in my life, I have seen the beginnings of this same spiral. And maybe I’m projecting my own fragilities on him, but I think in many ways he was his father’s son and that we were cut from the same cloth.

If I would live, I would have to deal with those issues of mind… with periodic insomnia. With racing thoughts. With depression. If I am to live, I can’t let that spiral of self doubt and self loathing turn to self destruction. And much of my life would have to be lived with intention. Keep busy. Take care of the machine- exercise, eat right, sleep. Stay positive.

I always had trouble sleeping. I always had racing thoughts. Restlessness and unease… dissonance- that I thought was due to the chaos in my house. When I was young I used to want to run away. I thought that would somehow fix things… to escape… to keep moving. I also used to talk constantly… this nearly endless flow of words spilling from my mouth. I used to fidget. And I tried to keep busy… sketching or doodling. Reading. Band or swimming or classes… anything so that I wasn’t sitting alone in my thoughts. And every change in my life had me change those patterns… the social interactions, the schedules and activities.

As the youngest of seven siblings… those patterns changed constantly. And every time one of us moved out, I had to adjust. And growing up in a poor neighborhood meant that friends were always moving away and I had to adjust to that. Everything was hard and dissonant… and in high school, I found a faith that helped. I read my bible. I prayed. I found my way to church and into the fellowship of believers… and it did largely seem to fix things.

And then came college… where there were long stretches of time that I was left alone with my thoughts… with no one really to talk to or work it out. And where the old activities no longer worked. I remember walking for hours at night… trying to get tired enough to sleep and then going through the next day, having not slept at all. I was never still. I worked several jobs, maintained a full class load, volunteered at a youth group, kept active in church, and played in a rock band.

Before I even finished college, I got married. Upon graduation, I started teaching. And for the first couple of decades, I took on odd jobs, second jobs. I played music, stayed active in church and we started a family. Patterns changed. I kept busy. I kept moving.

I learned to sleep. I learned to keep from talking too much. I learned to fidget less. And my life with family, and job, and church seemed to work okay. Until Ethan died…

Life fell apart and in putting it back together, there was this intention to make it healthy… to keep away from the edge of that spiral… to be busy, and sleep well and control that endless inner conversation- steer it to the positive. This blog is part of that. Painting is part of that. Going to work. Exercise. Eating right. Praying. Choosing to live a real and rich life.

And that is it. That is where I am at. There isn’t some great conclusion to this… no wrap up that gives a cool message. No resolve. It is ongoing. Adjusting.

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