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Anonyst Man

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Journal: 01/29/17-02/01/17

Wow. REALLY let the last month get away from me. Not for no reason, but I’ll have to figure out how to stay on top of journaling when I’m back in the craziness of school.

Sun, 29th – I left her place relatively early for us. It took some resolve not to initiate anything physical again that would end up keeping me there for longer than she needed. Getting home early in the afternoon I did some stretching, listen to podcasts, and spent several hours that evening and night writing my posts about the weekend and completing a longer 1-off post about a big conversation that had happened weeks ago but I hadn’t been emotionally ready to relive until then.

At home, Carly also sent me a song on Spotify that was about the singer asking if there was another man. As I listened to it, it said a lot of things that I had been feeling and actually included lines that were almost identical to the ones I’d written in songs. She told me she would only listen to it in her car for a week or two feeling sad and guilty because she wouldn’t listen around New Guy. Although I do care about her and want to remain, there is a small voice that pops up and asks why I am choosing to stay in touch with someone who made a plan and left me for someone else, even though she says she didn’t leave me for him because she didn’t think he’d follow through.

Knowing that I would be visiting Chicago over the coming weekend, I was curious and asked Rori how she is expecting me to operate on the occasion that I meet someone that I am attracted to and want to get close to. Her response was that we aren’t in a relationship and to do whatever I was comfortable with as long as I wouldn’t feel any need to lie to her about it. That confused me since I’ve always been in a relationship where the line of what is appropriate is always clear ahead of time. I started thinking out loud about how we aren’t nothing, and realized maybe the best way to put it was that I am dating and that she is someone I’ve gone on dates with and that’s really all the expectation there is. In that moment my mind kind of exploded and expanded to understanding a whole new bigger world of reality that everyone else had known, but I’d manage to avoid really understanding.

It was like learning Santa isn’t real: beforehand, you kind of know but aren’t sure what the alternative means, then the whole world looks different and makes more sense with this new information, and there is simultaneously a kind of loss of innocence that tends to come with the steps of growing up.

Mon, 30th – I spent the majority of the day around the house, communicating and thinking about plans for my birthday celebrations in Cincinnati and Columbus.

Tues, 31st  – Mostly I continued to confirm people and plans for my Cincinnati birthday and my upcoming visit to Chicago. In the evening I had accidentally started preheating the oven with the pans that end up getting stored there still inside. I decided that I’d find a new place for them soon, which I knew could mean rearranging other storage areas to make room for them.

Wed, Feb 1st – In the morning I decided to move some of the items I decided to bring back to Chicago that I’d left in the living room down to the basement. Doing that reminded me that I’d meant to rearrange the pots in the kitchen. As I suspected, in order to make useful room for the pans and cooking skeets in the oven, I ended up going through all of the cabinets that held other kitchen ware, pots, tupperware, and appliances. I guessed what could be thrown out and re-organized things along with other items they’d likely be used with. As I was going through the kitchen, I found seasonal serving bowls and other items that made more sense in the basement with other seldom-used items. After bringing those things down and putting them in the best place I could think, I kept finding other areas to straighten up. The laundry area had a heap or two of trash rags and items that needed to be thrown out. Since I was there, I also re-arranged and organized the shelving and other laundry items. Next to the laundry is the “utility closet” kind of area that contained a heap of paint cans and home improvement and car supplies. I moved and organized all the paint cans out of the way and organized the separate car, home improvement, and yard care items. I headed back to the kitchen where I’d left a bunch of plastic travel cups to find a place for. I realized the closet where the reusable/lunch bags are would be a good place for them. As I went through the closet to make room I started finding stashes of candles that I started gathering on the table to bring into the basement later. As I had worked my way through the basement and closet, I also kept finding stashes of papers that had indiscriminately held onto in case they ended up being necessary. As I collected these, I realized the spare room closet might be the best and biggest place to keep all theses things together and close enough to sort through easily. Making room for all those papers meant clearing room out of the spare closet and it seemed the upstairs hall closet would be a better place for a lot of the clothing. By the time I had fully done all the reorganizing and straightening-up, I checked the time and realized that I had been working for over ten hours nonstop. The sense of accomplishment felt really satisfying, but part of me wondered if this was a symptom of a pattern where I feel compelled immersed in completing a task I’m focused on to the best and fullest of my ability. I decided I would bring this up with my therapist to see if this should raise any flags about bipolar or something not diagnosed yet.

At the end of the day, I got to help my technologically challenged Momma set up her own bitmoji that she’d been wanting for a while.

 

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Dear Self: Define Success

As a child, I knew that my father’s artistic career goals and ambitions were not going as well as he had hoped, and somehow sensed that it was coming at the expense of our whole family. At that age, I thought about how I was going to somehow avenge my father and my family’s struggle against the world by succeeding, either where he failed, or in whatever I went on to do.

When I was a little older as an adolescent, I recognized how our limited financial resources kept me from trying new activities that I was interested in and could have been a great bonding experience with my family or given me a positive outlet to learn discipline and grow as a person.

In my teens I went through a phase of rejecting worldly ambition, preferring to help other students by inviting them into the supportive family that I had obtained in a Youth Ministry community. I did well in school but made minimal effort and planned on making a career in the organization that I found a family in.

Graduating college I had left my plans for a career in ministry and while struggling to get my foot in the door and start a career, I thought about my future family and how I wanted to provide them with the all opportunities that my family couldn’t provide: able to afford trying any new activity as a possible lifelong rewarding activity and a family bonding experience, to travel and see different parts of the world, to have the best education possible.

My need to be prepared to give my future family what I wanted to be able to took me over in many ways. I remained radically frugal. Even as my career progressed and I began to make more money than my family ever had, I continued to live about the same as I did in college with the only exceptions being that I starting giving better gifts. I felt I couldn’t afford to let myself enjoy the present because I had to save everything to afford the future that I wanted for my family.

This line of thinking is part of what kept my attention in the future and distracted me from being present to cope with mounting stresses when life got very hard. All I could see was losing the future I had been working so hard and sacrificing so much for.

While I’ve had time to reflect on what is really important to me and in life, I have been seeing the error in my ways and have been reshaping my definition of what it means to provide for a family. On multiple conversations with family and friends recently, I’ve learned that regardless of the financial situation, relationship is really what they felt deprived of as a child. Amid financial trouble, they would have been happy to accept a modest lifestyle if it meant their family would have been all together more instead of spending all their time working for extra money. Those who had been very well provided for financially felt that their parent(s) worked so much in the name of providing for them, but had never asked what it was that they really wanted, which was more time together.

These conversations really shifted my perspective on what successful parenting is, and the few days that I just spent with my friend and his family have been an inspirational example of really living the values of putting your family first in the decisions you make about career and time and money.

It’s always been easy to play the comparison game and try to “keep up with the Joneses,” but it’s also gotten more difficult to provide the same level of comfort for a family without having a dual income family. My friend Andrew has felt called to the meaningful profession of teaching, and even though it’s not lucrative, he and his wife have committed to only having one of them work full time. That means more financial management and gymnastics, more do-it-yourself, and not being able to put up the appearances or do everything that wealthier families can. It also means that their children are given more of the attention required to be better understood by their parents, supported and encouraged emotionally, in an environment that feels stable and safe for them to be themselves, to take risks, to learn, and to have a surplus of love to be able to pour out onto others and have a meaningful and rewarding life.

Watching Andrew with his kids, I was able to see the fun and the love, but now also to see beyond it, to how valuable it will be to his children’s own success and happiness more than any financial resources would be able to and I thought “These kids have it all.”

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