STEPPING BACK: LOOKING THROUGH THE LINGERING FOG OF TRAUMA/CANTO #3

STEPPING BACK: LOOKING THROUGH THE LINGERING FOG OF TRAUMA/CANTO #3

“Deceiver chased away, a long time coming”- TOOL/ “Fear Inoculum”

Life has been coming at us at the speed of “shit, slow down or we’re going to crash into that fucking mountain!” lately and while we’re used to stacking up our big changes like a Jenga tower it HAS been a little dizzying.

That’s just how we operate though, we try to FIX shit in our life instead of just staying in a bad spot, and sometimes that calls for big changes all at once. Process a miscarriage, refinance our house, pay off our debt, quit my job, build a business, raise two kids, FINALLY make fitness a priority again instead of just that thing other people seem to have such a better grasp on- and that’s all since fucking NOVEMBER. Yeah, we might be subconscious masochists but like I said- it’s kinda how we roll.

I couldn’t have started CBD at a better time.

Truth.

Anywho, I got smacked upside the head with some pretty seismic stuff yesterday when I was running, and this morning when I walked our daughter to school, and I feel like some big mental things are starting to finally make sense to me. I love running, but ask a handful of runners and they’ll all tell you the same thing- there’s a lot of mentally distracting yourself from the fact that you’re running going on and (for me) it’s super meditative too. Suffice it to say, lots of thinking gets done.

It really started to crystalize for me this morning when I dropped my little girl off at school though. Most parents who aren’t sociopaths know what it feels like sometimes when you watch your kid wave goodbye and start walking into school. It makes you want to fucking cry, and sometimes you fucking well DO. My kids can push my anxiety-riddled ass into some extreme frustration, they can do annoying shit for days at a time, but that doesn’t change the fact that I love those two more than anything in the world that isn’t my wife. Every time I drop my daughter off and she blends into the sea of other kids, she turns around to wave at me a few times and she looks so LITTLE.

I’m fucking getting choked up just writing this, I hope you’re happy.

I stand there until she stops waving, until she’s gone inside the building, cause I remember what it felt like to walk to school alone. More specifically, I remember what it was like to walk to school in fear. Not “I didn’t study for that French test!” fear- real, visceral fear. The kind of fear that shaped everything about how I grew up, who I was, and who I am today. So I stand there, because I never want her to turn around to wave and not see me standing there.

I walked to school in fear because I was bullied, bad. I wrote an extremely long and cathartic piece last year about it but when all of our old posts got deleted it was one of the victims, and I’m 100% not gonna dig that shit up to write it again but here’s the Cliff’s Notes: I was raised by my mother after my father left BECAUSE I was born, I was a sensitive, asthmatic kid who didn’t fit in, I got the shit beaten out of me frequently when I was a kid on the playground and it got worse once I started playing guitar and dyeing my hair, I was beaten for being gay (I’m not), I was beaten for being different, and I was mercilessly abused, mocked, and pushed around for most of my formative years. When I made friends they were usually laughing behind my back, I struggled with suicidal thoughts for the bulk of my teen years, and I even dabbled in cutting for a little while which was little more than a bleeding cry for someone to open their arms and save me from the hell I was living in. I internalized so much that even my internal dialogue was toxic and frequently still is.

This stuff somehow never gets easier to write about.

There, there’s your flash of backstory. Like i said, I probably won’t be able to finish writing this if I keep going down that road, and I’m not LOVING the fact that I’m fighting back tears at 9:17 AM but dammit there’s a reason for it! So, this morning when I dropped her off she only turned around to wave once and then kept walking. As she was getting closer to the school a couple of the buses let the kids off and some of them were bigger than her. I wondered if she might get scared. I wondered if one of the bigger kids might have seen her get hugs and kisses from me and make fun of her, cause bigger kids can do shit like that. She turned around at one point and smiled at the moon and said “bye, Moon!”, and I wondered if someone would make fun of her for that even though it’s the cutest thing in the whole world. I wondered if maybe she was just anxious cause of all the kids that were streaming out around her. My head filled up with these thoughts but she just kept walking. And I stayed right fucking there, because I was overwhelmed by the thought that if she DID feel any of those things, and she turned around and I was gone, she’d feel alone. I stayed there until all those kids were gone because that thought felt like a bullet plowing straight through my heart. I just can’t deal with the thought of either of my kids hurting, or BEING hurt by anyone, and I worry about that stuff a lot.

The past couple days are the first times in my adult life that I’m finally starting to realize why that is. It started to take shape on that run yesterday, and all the stuff this morning solidified it. My brain doesn’t look at life or process it from a place of peace, it looks at life and processes it from a place of trauma. I’ve known about my anxiety and all that stuff for a long time, but for some reason I’ve just never been able to fully sort out why the fuck I THINK the way I do. Why am I stressed out all the time? Why is a normal thing like walking my daughter to school such an emotional event for me? Why the fuck does my brain look at EVERYTHING like the apocalypse is right around the corner all the time?

I started to think about all of the things I’ve done in my life leading up to leaving the “9 to 5” world and FINALLY carving my own path. All the awful bosses, the yelling, the tyrants, the struggle, the worry, the dehumanization. I wondered why, even now after putting it all behind me, do I still spend every day feeling like someone is breathing down my neck? It’s fucking simple, it’s because even now (at 40 years old) more of my life has been spend enduring other people’s shit than living my own.

I’m going to repeat that because I feel like it’s astronomically important- more of my life has been spent enduring other people’s shit than living my own.

Maybe a therapist could have gotten me to that conclusion sooner, but I’m stubborn about that shit (not anti-therapy, do what works) and I’ve been deliberate about wanting to come to revelations like this on my own. Yeah, yeah- I know that’s probably on the dumber side of stupid but whatever, I’ll own it. Either way, that sentence hit me and it hit me less like a ton of bricks and more like an Amtrak full of Joe Bidens careening straight towards my face at supersonic speeds.

The man likes to take the train, leave him alone about it. Also, humor is my shield.

I’m stressed out sitting here in my own house, working on my own terms, because I spent so much of my life working for people that didn’t give a shit about me. They didn’t treat me like a person, like an equal- just “human capital”. Nevermind that brief flash in the music industry, most of my working life was shitty soul-sucking office jobs, temp gigs, back-breaking shit, spirit-breaking shit. My last job was a constant hamster wheel of “land big client, lose big client, spend next year starting over” and NONE of it had anything to do with me. I was good AT it, but it wasn’t entirely good TO me. 7 fucking years of it, 7 years of that shit when I should have been more present for my wife and my kids. 7 years I should have been getting out of my fucking head and learning to process all this stuff without looking through the lenses of trauma. 7 years of purgatory, feeling like a failure, stressed to the point of physical symptoms. FUCK.

Speaking of my wife, I’m lucky she’s even still fucking here after dealing with all the shit my fucking brain has caused over the years. The insecurity was off the charts when we got together- I’ve been cheated on, a LOT, and BRAZENLY on more than a couple occasions, so yeah- meeting the most amazing woman I’d ever met was awesome, but it was also fucking terrifying. My body image issues, my lack of trust for anyone or anything, my fear of abandonment, my confusion and fear of the future- you’d forgive just about anyone for saying “fuck THIS!” but I’m happy to report that she’s still here. Well, right now she’s at work, but you know what I meant.

Seriously, if I don’t pepper this shit with jokes I’ll just end up an ugly-crying mess.

She’s my best friend, my favorite human in the whole world besides the ones we created, and she’s my business partner too. The past few years I’ve really been trying to dial into all this shit and figure out why my brain works the way it does, and she’s been a huge part of that. There’s always been a piece of the puzzle missing though, and maybe it’s because I just hadn’t found the fucking words yet.

More of my life has been spent enduring other people’s shit than living my own.

How did I not form that thought until now? How have I lived so long stuck inside my fucking head and not managed to boil it down to this? I wish I could tell you but the truth is, I have no fucking idea. But that sentence up there, those 14 words- that’s a big deal. It’s a big deal cause now it’s real, now it’s a “thing”, now I understand myself a little more than I did a few days ago and it’s more profound than you might realize.

See, now it’s about the work. Now it’s about listening to that internal dialogue and telling it to passionately go fuck itself. It’s LYING to me. Those thoughts, those fears, those stresses? Those are remnants, crackling radio signals from a past I burned down a long time ago. Transmissions from a life I’m not stuck in anymore, telling me I’m not good enough, telling me I’ll surely die alone, telling me that I’ll never truly succeed at anything. The part of my brain that “talks to me” is a liar, and a thief of joy, and now I have a weapon against it. I’m not fucking enduring anyone else’s shit anymore, I’m not anyone’s victim anymore, and I can allow myself to heal from it all and learn to rewire my thoughts to fit THIS life, this beautiful, crazy, better than a million fairy tales life that I’ve made with someone who loves me. And she must REALLY love me.

I don’t know if it’s been made readily apparent, but I could be called “a lot to deal with”.

The other good news here is that my kids aren’t processing ANYTHING through the eyes of trauma, not yet anyway and I hope they never do. My daughter isn’t thinking the same shit that I am as she walks into school, I’m thinking it because of MY experiences and the pain from MY past. One of my deepest hopes is that my kids never lose that “say goodbye to the Moon” sweetness, especially not cause some asshole kid wants to be a dick. My little girl is tough as nails, don’t get me wrong, but her and my son are SO sweet. That’s part of it too, it breaks my heart sometimes that I brought these two beautiful, innocent little humans into a world that actively tries to kill that sweetness in all of us. I look around at society and I see so much sadness, I see so much fear, and so many people that are just hopelessly lost. The fucking REALLY sick thing about it all is that it seems like we’re REVELLING in the emptiness, you can see it everywhere and it’s easy to get sucked into the void of despair if you let it in.

My little girl isn’t thinking about any of that stuff though, and she’s incredibly smart, but she’s still a little kid. I don’t know what the fuck I’ll do the first time someone hurts her in some way, or if someone DOES bully her, but I know that staying in those thoughts will just eat me alive and I’m not gonna do it. I’m going to be grateful for each day she gets to just be a kid going to school, and I’m gonna do the same thing for my son too. I think it’s just different for him cause he’s still in preschool. Ruby’s going to full-on big kid school and for me, that’s where the nightmare started. Those wounds have a startling ability to feel fresh, and this morning- in combination with the realizations from the run yesterday- it just sledgehammered me right in the face.

And not in that funky-ass Peter Gabriel kind of way, like a real fucking sledgehammer.

It’s probably WAY too much for the average Thursday morning, but whatever- I’ll take it. Anything that helps me start peeling the layers of my broken mind to heal is a good thing. We’re lucky to get revelations like this when they come, and it’s up to us to treat them as gifts and fucking USE them to be better. I want to be better, I want to get better everyday- and I feel like I made a big step forward in that regard today. Did it involve a few more tears than I wanted? Yeah. Did it involve digging up a whole bunch of not-so-fun-stuff so I could make sense of it and put it here to share with you lovely humans? Check! It’s OK, cause if even just ONE of you guys gets something out of this then it’s a good day. I share this stuff because I need to get it the fuck out, but I also do it because I want to help people who feel like me feel better.

Do I have any advice? I don’t know how I feel about that word, cause anyone can see I’m flawed just like everyone else and probably more, but I do think there’s something big in those words- more of my life has been spent enduring other people’s shit than living my own. We’re put on this Earth because our parents fucked…just kidding, it’s true, but we’re here to LIVE. We’re born, and someday we die. Every single moment in between those two points is fucking ours. Sure, sometimes we gotta pay our dues, sometimes life is hard, and unfortunately we’re living in a world that puts capitalism above everything up to and including our very lives. That’s all true, and sometimes maybe we ARE stuck in a shit spot for a while- I’m not saying I have the secret to happiness here at all. What I know is this- realizing that I’ve given so much of my happiness away was the reason I’ve made all the big changes I’ve made lately. So, I shouldn’t STILL be fighting those demons off, I should be learning to enjoy life as it is NOW. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t LET yourself be a victim. Don’t LET yourself live more of YOUR life enduring other people’s shit instead of living your own shit. Feeling stuck in a shitty job with a shitty boss? Spend every free moment you have looking for your way out, whatever that might be. In a toxic relationship? Spend whatever time you can taking steps to get the fuck out of it. Afraid of something? Good! That means you’re fucking ALIVE, now take that shit and USE IT. Whatever it is, we can’t always choose what people will do TO us but we can always choose what we do ABOUT it.

Carve your own fucking path, I say that all the time but I’m not sure I fully knew what it meant until now. Carving your own path isn’t dependent on external situations. Carving your own path is, to me, about giving yourself the freedom to walk away from the things that hold you down and not let them TAKE you. I’m still a fucking work in progress, but I can’t fully put to words how grateful I am to have somehow come across the thought process that has led me to understand a little more about myself and opened me up a little kore to healing. Shit’s random sometimes I guess, or maybe I wasn’t supposed to start figuring this shit out til now, who knows? Not me! Fuck an ego, I don’t need to be the architect of all my own victories, if good comes to me I’m humble enough to appreciate it regardless of the source.

I like this, I’ve missed writing and I think I’m gonna try to do it a little more often again. And, there’s a few more of you reading now so it doesn’t feel so much like screaming into the ether, so bonus! I do, however, have other shit to do so this is where we part for now. It would be cheap and gross to end a post like this with a shop promo so I’m not gonna do it, this is enough for the day. I’m gonna leave you with this simple, and maybe a bit cliched statement because it’s something I should have been letting myself do a long time ago- BE KIND TO YOURSELF.

AFH

The Ghost Generation makes rad jewelry for equally rad people. Also, we write stuff occasionally. Est. August 2019.

Etsy.com/shop/TheGhostGeneration

2 thoughts on “STEPPING BACK: LOOKING THROUGH THE LINGERING FOG OF TRAUMA/CANTO #3

  1. I love it all, but most of all I’m drawn to:

    “Don’t LET yourself live more of YOUR life enduring other people’s shit instead of living your own shit. Feeling stuck in a shitty job with a shitty boss? Spend every free moment you have looking for your way out, whatever that might be. “

    Well said. I’ll share a quote that stuck with me—“Life is too short to be living someone else’s dream”

    Keep writing. Thank you for sharing.

    JulieRescuesRetroGames

    1. Thanks so much Julie! It is, it IS too short to be living someone else’s dreams. It’s not always easy to see your way out but it can be done, and happiness is worth doing it for.- AFH

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