Sunday, 24 May 2015

Losing My Religion

I never thought I could act this way
And I've got to say that I just don't get it.
I don't know where we went wrong
But the feelings gone and I just can't get it back.

~ Gordon Lightfoot from If You Could Read My Mind
~ ~ ~
I'm a connector.
Events change us. Sometimes they chew us up and spit us out and sometimes we eat them up. Either way, there is consumption and a change in composition of the Self.
I was once told by someone I respected that I was the best person they had ever seen at reinventing themselves. I suppose in some curious, grotesque way that makes me a shape shifting chameleon of sorts. I've also been called resilient by another friend. These are people who see me from the outside. People who see the result.
Of course, I don't see myself as resilient or a chameleon. I see myself as... well... me. I'm just a guy negotiating the hurdles, pitfalls and cesspools of life while making my way toward the sunlit grassy meadow at the top of the mountain. What I have learned along the way is this... there is plenty to enjoy while I'm making my way up the jungle path. I see other people negotiating their path and intrinsically know they are making their way as best they can with what they know.
Sometimes that path is negotiated alone.
I've been alone before. This isn't new. It is, actually, my fallback position. Years ago after the break-ups of each of my long term relationships, I went into a self-imposed, catatonic haze, found a cave in which to conceal myself and avoided amour at all cost. I was licking my wounds. I was hiding out in the shadows. I was stumbling around in the dark looking for any crutch to hold me up. Eventually, I came back out into the light and started connecting again... usually after several years.
I am a connector, after all is said and done.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Been down one time
Been down two times
I'm never going back again
Feetwood Mac from Never Going Back Again
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
So, what is different this time?
There came a time in my life, whether by victory over my own ego-created monsters or by the vagaries of growing older (or both), when my Self said to me, “I really don't care”. It matters not what my vocation may be. It matters not what car I drive. It matters not where I live. It matters not whether I have HBO or not. It matters not if people come to me or I go to them. It matters not whether I am alone or not.
My preference at this moment is to be alone, which wholly disregards my erstwhile religion of Connecting at all Cost. Yes, intimate connection was my religion. I would alter myself to kneel at the altar of alteration. (That would be the chameleon part.)
Let me make this point before slipping the noose around my neck. No-one did this to me. No-one pushed me off the windswept cliff. Not one previous partner drove me to some crackbrained state of anti-social worthlessness. No-one drove ole Dixie down. Anything that may have happened was me allowing it to happen. It was not some sundress clad, sword wielding anti-heroine cutting me off at the knees. Each and every one of those women I was fortunate enough to have as a partner are beautiful, strong and big-hearted. Every... single... one. End of story.
I have zero inclination to be with anyone.
I have every inclination to be.
This is by no means a reflection of what has come before and I have become much more confident in myself during my time alone. In fact, I owe those partners who have come before a debt of gratitude for showing me I am capable of anything (short of becoming pregnant which science is working on for some absurd reason). Because of their belief, I have come to believe it myself. I owe them thanks, not retaliation.
Alone doesn't mean lonely.
I have come to the realization that being alone (without partner) is not a curse. It can be a blessing. It's a place to heal. It's a place to view the self and determine what is important (to me). The difference this time, for me, is I am not in a cave. I'm not hiding in the shadows.
I have given up my religion of someone else making me whole. I have given up my religion of someone else making me happy. I have given up my religion of someone else saving me. I will do it (whatever “it” may be) alone. Will I fail? Maybe. And I will once again rise from the ashes as the Pheonix. (That would be the resilient part.) The only religion anyone ever needs is belief in themselves. The rest is fodder for academic discussion.
My religious need to be with a partner is gone...
And I just can't get it back...
And I feel no need to seek it out.


Monday, 11 May 2015

No Pain, No Gain?

I limped home.
I'm no stranger to injury. During my stint in the trades, injury was part of the game. Further, I'm forever trying things I probably shouldn't. It's the male psyche pretending I'm not aging and some primordial, reptilian brain centre screaming “I'M STILL EIGHTEEN! I CAN DO ANYTHING!” Then I look in a mirror and silently wonder where that new line on my face came from. Is that a laugh line or a frown line? Hmm... Laugh line. Definitely a laugh line.
After a tumble I took on ice this past February, I've had a few musculature issues cropping up occasionally. By occasionally, I mean every morning, half way through the day and every evening. Since the job I do is a physical one, my choices are; crawl back into bed and suffer, piss and whine about it to whomever is within earshot, or be a Nike commercial and Just Do It. I generally choose the latter.
Medication helps.
The problem with medication is it hides the fact there is underlying pain and a root cause. Pain, though often misconstrued otherwise, is your friend. It tells you not to put your hand on a hot stove. It tells you it might not be the smartest idea to jump off a three story building. It tells you to look both ways before crossing the street. It tells you pretending to be Evil Knievel is a tremendously erroneous thought process. (He bailed at Snake River... remember? Not so evil after all.) The memory of pain is a reminder to “not do that shit again”. Of course, being a guy, I sometimes do that shit again thinking I have it figured out this time. It seldom goes well.
Not my point.
By masking the pain, in this case my back, there is a relatively good chance I will re-injure myself or, as fate would have it, continue to suffer the consequences of not paying attention in the first place. Rather than dealing with the underlying issue which is causing the pain, I medicate. The medication takes the edge off and I can carry on.
If I'm hiding the underlying injury by medicating and not having it treated, then the issue becomes chronic and never really goes away. In addition, if this becomes a ritual, then medicating becomes the new norm in my life and I become dependent on it. Without the medication, I believe I cannot function. Even farther along that line of thinking, even when the pain is gone, I begin to medicate for any reason simply to make myself feel better. (For example, relieve every little ache that comes along.) By not dealing with the issue, I live my life with an undercurrent of physical issues which tend to grow as I compensate.
For short term pain, medication is likely the answer. For long term pain, the underlying issue must be addressed.
It's like that emotionally. For the men of our society in particular, we are told stuff our emotions. Stuffed emotional injuries seldom stay where they are hidden away. They rear their ugly heads in places and situations we would never have thought possible. In order to deal with these issues, we are told to medicate. Worse, those of us who don't see a professional to deal with the underlying issues find our own ways to self medicate. We hide our pain behind socially acceptable or non-socially acceptable mind numbing “treatments”.
And when stuff starts to bubble to the surface, we'll make any excuse to find a way to “get through.” Often those issues were so long ago we don't even have a name to put to them any longer. It's just stuff.
After a while, the medication loses it's effectiveness and we need more... and more... and more.
Issues have to be dealt with or we have to be content to suffer endlessly. Those are the alternatives. Either face the fear of dealing with it and work on repairing or suffer without knowing why we are suffering and why we react the way we do.
Why do I wince when I turn this way?
The only difference between physical pain and emotional pain is you can see one of them. They both hurt. They both leave scars. Neither heals without attention. Hiding away from the pain under a mask of medication doesn't help the underlying issue. Hiding under a mask only makes it worse in the long run.
Before I close, I understand there are chronic injuries which will never be resolved. There are some in my circle who I know haven't a choice. And, they have sought professional expertise before coming to that conclusion. 
I'm beginning to get a hint of what that is all about.
Anyway, I limped home.