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Anonyst Man

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Journal: 01/21/17

After the kind of sleep that I haven’t had in a long time, negotiating temperature and the tangle of limbs that comes with sharing a bed, we woke up and spent what was probably a couple hours just talking and working up the motivation to get out of bed while I got right back to smothering her with kisses.

The night had been as innocent as we had both agreed to and I was mostly thankful for that, but there was still a part of me that wasn’t fully satisfied that was easy to quiet down.

I wasn’t really paying attention to the time, and our conversation covered what I think was such a variety of topics and just flirting that almost all of the details are lost to me.

Eventually we did get up after getting close several times and failing. I was not really in any hurry since I had nothing to do so I did not make it easier. She did tell me that she would kick me out if she wanted or needed and I fully believed her.

When we did get up we took our sweet time to dig through her food and throw together a breakfast of a smoothie and some eggs. The smoothie was frozen fruit and shavings from a gigantic 12lb. chocolate bar that she had as a gift that was probably super old. All the while in the kitchen I kept touching and kissing her in between and during preparation steps.

I think it was after our ~5pm”breakfast” that she pointed out the pumpkin she still had from halloween that was still fresh since it had never been  carved. She said she’d been thinking about carving it now and baking the pumpkin seeds. When she asked if I would want to do that I said we should do it immediately.

Once we scraped out the inside and collected the seeds, I carved the deathly hollows into it by hand and was pretty satisfied with the result.

We seasoned the pumpkin seeds in three groups with paprika, garlic salt, and himalayan salt. While those were baking we took showers and started looking for her credit card which had gone missing since the night before.

That girl can’t keep track of anything. Every time she needed her phone was an easter egg hunt, and we never did find the basketball game ticket that had the only record of what her wifi password was on it. I was confused and amazed at how much of a contradiction she is. She’d owned a house at like 20 years old and was a very capable person who had done and seen a lot of the world, but you definitely wouldn’t say that she was particularly organized or had everything figured out. I can’t help but feel like there’s a lot for me to learn from that.

While we were making and eating the pumpkin seeds, she was trying to figure out whether she was going out for the plans she had previously made for the night and was no longer wanting to go to because she didn’t feel great from the late night before. When her friend was also said she wasn’t really wanting to go either, she decided not to go and we laughed at the fact that I would probably be staying the night again. It was probably close to 9pm around this point.

We spent the rest of the night sharing stories and photos of the little kids in our lives and listening to a little bit of music until we were hungry again and decided to make some spaghetti. I think by the time we were done with dinner it was about 10:30 which blew us away and we said we guessed we should start heading to bed then since she had brunch plans and didn’t want to get up so late again.

So we did get settled in bed again and laughed at how I was going to have spent almost 48 hours with her. However, instead of going to sleep, we got into another long discussion about our lives and values and thoughts. It was kind of strange by this time to have heard her say a handful of thoughts and perspectives that I have said to other people. Her thoughts on things from money, children & adoption, clothes & makeup, helping others, food, and more I’m sure.

We asked each other a bit about our past relationship(s) also. She had more questions for me since there’s a lot to my one big relationship and how I’ve been recovering from it. We discussed what a rebound is and isn’t and how I have been working hard not to have one because I don’t want to define any new relationships based on the end of my last one but to do the real work on myself. She also shared some of her past relationships and another way that she is similar to me in how she puts honesty and transparency as most important, that it doesn’t matter what the nature of a relationship is as long as both parties are honest and upfront about it.

She also asked me about my school and career plans now. When I told her that I feel comfortable with the direction of protecting and caring for the oppressed and/or defenseless she shared a really good idea with me about something that doesn’t exist but should which I can’t stop thinking how of a good and beneficial idea it could be that I might ask her thoughts on maybe actually trying to make it happen.

We eventually decided it was time to actually get to sleep since it was probably much later than we’d intended even though neither of us checked the time, and we went to sleep.

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Journal:01/13/17

Friday ended up being a bigger adventure than I expected.

I almost missed therapy again. I think I set my alarm early enough that the mom was still getting ready to go to work and I didn’t want to get in her way so I must have turned my alarm off or something.  I woke up a while later to the sound of another alarm outside my bedroom door. Pretty embarrassing to say but since she knew I missed therapy the day before, she set an extra alarm for me. Very nice and thoughtful, but it sounds pretty pathetic and is not the easiest to admit, but I’m really trying to work on not holding back even in the little ways that are really easy to just omit and own everything that is real.

Often times, since I am better at seeing the little things I’m ashamed of instead of the little things that I should be proud of, I know my honesty is probably giving myself and others a lopsided view of more of my bad than my good. I think I’m going to try to revive and change the format of my posts about what I love about myself to be a single running list that I timestamp any time I add to it.

Therapy itself was a lot of updating Leah on my conversations with Carly since we last met. I also told her that I was a little frustrated how much time and energy dealing with all the emotional stuff made me feel like I wasn’t making more progress on practical accomplishments and life-management.

We also talked about how I reacted to some of the conversation with Carly. How I have almost a need to coax her to admit all the worst and hardest thing about myself and our relationship so that I can take as much credit for the bad as possible to make sure that 1) I’m thoroughly beating the lesson into or out of me, I’m not sure which way and 2) I think I have this self punishment complex where it’s only right and just that if I found out I’ve done anyone wrong that I have to learn my lesson in a painful way as some form of payment or penance of fairness.

Leah said that wasn’t really healthy. I wasn’t surprised.

She went on to point that out as a very extreme type of oversimplified black-and-white thinking to always assume and put all the worst on myself and all the best on others. I get that, but I also see others often excusing themselves for things that they played a role in being responsible for and I don’t want to be a person who makes excuses and doesn’t learn from my mistakes and continues to hurt people. In that way I guess it does come back to my deep and powerful core value to “never hurt anyone”, which is impossible but I believe worth trying to minimize and I am very harsh and unforgiving of myself when I fail.

One counter to my assumption that I was the only one who had done anything wrong was talking with Leah about the strange little relief to know that Carly had been holding back a whole lot from me about who she really was and what she really needed. The more that sinks in the more it feels like being constantly lied to.  It isn’t about laying any blame, but was a relief to know I wasn’t the ONLY person who had done ANYTHING wrong  like I had been telling myself. In comparison to that, the fact that she was consciously in contact with someone else on a daily basis and developing feelings for them while we were still together doesn’t feel like nearly as big of a betrayal as the foundational lying it turns out she had been doing to both of us for so long. Don’t worry, I’m not using this as ANY kind of excuse for myself, I still take plenty of the blame for wrongdoing still, it has just been important for me to really see past some of my black-and-white thinking that EVERYTHING was ALWAYS ALL my fault.

I think the topic of being so harsh on myself is what reminded me and shifted us to talking about my realizations about how for a long time my extreme pressure, and expectations, and withholding, and harshness with myself was in a way abusing myself. She told me about someone she knew or heard about who put a childhood photo on their bathroom mirror and reminded to love themselves and and treat themselves and talk to themselves the way they would to the little little version of them self that was in the photo. That is something I might try doing since my realization was essentially that I was abusing that person inside me.

I told her about some of the frustration and impatience I was having, feeling like I was spending so much time and making most of my progress in this emotional space that I wasn’t getting to see as much practical improvement as I wanted (even thought there definitely has been a fair amount considering how low I was to begin with). She essentially told me that I was making good progress, that the last thing I needed was something else to beat myself up about, and to be patient with myself.

After therapy, I knew that I would be heading to Columbus for happy hour that afternoon so I got through my daily prep and gym time fast and early and was fussing to customize my computer set up customized when it was time to go.

I headed straight to the bar I was meeting the girls at and Mike D. also decided to come hang out even though he didn’t know anyone else. I got to catch up with Jim Christy who Julie now works with. Mike and everyone got introduced, and talked a little bit about work stuff, then also about dogs, I found out that someone I had worked with used to be a Hooters waitress which I was so happy to know, then a bowling lane opened up and I talked to Paige about what she’s thinking about her career. We all took a picture to share with Kaitlin and Stacy who didn’t end up making it out.

We moved on to Local Bar when it seemed the larger group was winding down pretty early. I got to practice talking with girls who I didn’t know at all without trying too hard. Luckily I actually had a genuine question to ask one of their group who they all were. When some of her group came back, I got to talk with them too. One of whom was a cute, single blonde who I had noticed earlier. They were very cool and the conversation was pretty fun for me at least, then someone turned it political and the dynamic started to get weird even though I didn’t think anyone said anything offensive. They said they were going to Union for the rest of the night after I told them I was going to meet other friends at Pint House and we went our separate ways. Maybe I should have been more direct and given special attention to the cute blonde instead of just being friendly. I don’t know, that’s just the stuff I wonder about after I meet cute girls that get my attention and try to be a genuinely friendly person and considerate of the friends they’re with.

Grant and Carson were there when I got to Pint House so I got to catch up and have both dumb and some bits of meaningful conversation with them. It’s crazy think about how I used to volunteer and mentor them in a christian organization and now I go out and party with them, but to be honest it’s not weird because at the heart we just have brotherly relationships and really care about each other and want to have fun together. We did have a lot of fun being stupid but we also talked a little bit about the status of things with Carly.

Carson was sad to hear about it because he knew her and we had been an example to him. He also told me that I was the only man that he ever cried in front of and how much that meant to him, how it changed his life, and I think he even said was one of if not THE best day of his life. I remembered the night he was talking about. He had a girlfriend who he cared about and she was upset about something bad that happened to her, and he was upset for her. He shed some tears and I had met his father who was a pretty hard man, and I knew that Carson put a lot of his identity in football and a lot of other things that often encourage the rejection or suppression of certain emotions that are considered weakness. I told him that I loved him. I told him that I didn’t care if he was great or terrible at football. I told him I didn’t think any less of him as a man for crying, but maybe even more. I told him that anything he succeeded at or failed at wouldn’t change the fact that I just loved him like a brother.

That night he thanked me and got out of the car since I was dropping him off at home, but since then there’s been a couple times he has told me a little bit about how much that conversation meant to him.

Then we got back to doing dumb stuff. I met their other friends there and one of them was a girl with a cute face and dark brown eyes named Rachel who I thought if she was nice that I would like to maybe kiss and cuddle with. We all went to Union next and the girls who said they would be there from Local Bar were nowhere to be found. Shame. At Union the only meaningful conversation we had was briefly about how I’ve never had a one night stand. Part of me now wonders if that conversation could have been misleading because I would still go home with, and kiss, and cuddle, and maybe fool around with someone if they were cute and nice enough.

Then we headed to The Standard for a while an on the way in I somehow was roped into a short conversation with some cute girls, but my innocent non-opportunistic mind didn’t think to try to extend the conversation to see if they or anyone they knew were nice, cute, and single. I was looking and hoping to find someone to kiss and cuddle with, but my own unique desires and standards are pretty abnormal which makes it hard to be understood and find what I’m looking for. I like my innocence in this way and I am too stubborn to change to operate how is normal, instead of doing things my way.

We didn’t stay at The Standard for too long before ubering to some other place that they young 22-year-old boys chose. Turns out it was a very clubby place in the middle of campus filled with 18-year-olds grinding on the dance floor. There were a rare couple nice girls in groups that seemed to have class and would be nice to get to know, but again the safe thing to assume about a guy in a place like that is that he just wants to have meaningless and selfish sex with anyone he finds attractive enough. I pretty felt very discouraged and lonely by the truth of that fact, and how much I didn’t really like the environment I was in. I think that’s when I opened my phone and typed this note as a draft in wordpress:

“Good damn I miss her so much”

I missed having someone who I didn’t have to wonder if they were a kind and caring human being, and if they understood or cared about who I was. I missed knowing there was someone like that who I could go to almost whenever I wanted and that they would also want to be with me. I also am so full of intimate memories with her that whenever I imaging getting close with someone in any capacity, my default is to see it with her.

I lost Grant and Carson while I was exploring the club, and it turned out they had already left so I headed out and crashed at Molly’s house to end a pretty eventful day.

 

 

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.”

Journal: 12/26-28/16

26th – Met up with JJ and Brandon in the morning. I didn’t talk too much about how things have been going. I mostly just talked about being on an extended break and going back in March. As much as I tell myself that I just didn’t want to put all the attention on me and start a long conversation that might come up again at lunch, I can feel a part of me that is still afraid that people will think less of me if I tell them what happened.

I should be secure. I will be secure. I will not be afraid to talk about my story. My story may be able to help someone else, so I am not going to shy away from sharing what I’ve learned about mental health and hopefully reduce the stigma of talking about it honestly.

At lunch with the rest of the Arkeologists, I glossed over the real story as well for the same reasons as above. Hanging out was ok, I didn’t really even get quality time with hardly anyone except maybe Savvy and JJ after most of the parents had left. Getting to help Lepsch announce their pregnancy was an honor, but the reaction was pretty disappointing.

While I was lingering and playing with the kids, Arie asked if I could stay the night there. That made my heart so happy. I talked to my Andrew and Kyria to make sure that wouldn’t be a problem and agreed to stay, although I would be visiting another friend that night before coming back. Before I went out, the kids dressed up and performed a play for me. It was long and chaotic and adorable. Their personalities are almost identical to Rachel and mine so much that it kind of freaks me out.

After the performance was over, I headed to Whitney’s. It was the first time I saw her in 7 months. It was just like every other time we hung out: easy, comfortable, meaningful conversation while she putters around and I watch her while I lounge and talk. The conversation was great, and then I helped her make some new furnishing decisions which was fun, and kind-of relationship-y which I think is what got me thinking. While she was doing some stuff I got the urge to walk up behind her and kiss her on the shoulder. That surprised me but it was a nice feeling. I started thinking about how intimate our friendship is already, how much trust I have in her, and admiring the person that she is. These thoughts made the prospect of being in a relationship again feel real. I knew and know that I’m nowhere near ready or in a place to have any kind of relationship with all the work I still have to get to know and love myself. However, there are parts of my friendship with Whitney that I really like that weren’t there with Carly. That gives me some validation that breaking up was the right thing, and also confused me about my friendship with Whit and if I would ever want to try being in a relationship with her down the line.

27th – Waking up at the Helmlinger’s was a pretty magical thing. Their house is beautiful and getting to hear and see the little ones in the morning is so precious. Little Cullen’s first word in the morning is “Coffee” and is super snuggly. I love it. Seeing Andrew with his kids helped realign my understanding of what’s important to provide for a family. As much as I can say it, being able to see and feel and be part of it brought a connection to that truth that makes me feel more comfortable with pursuing a lower paying career in social impact. Andrew is a teacher and Kyria stays home, but they are able to give their kids much more than any preoccupied businessman could.

After some nerf gun fighting, the kids left while Andrew and I made some barn doors for his closet. It was fun and I got to learn and help. It felt good to make something material since I usually just create musically. I wonder if I would like getting into some kind of craftsmanship like woodworking or leather making at some point since I do really like those materials.

During dinner, Arie told me to “sit up straight” and Kyria got her talking about whether we were going to get married. Arie went on to plan our wedding guests and arrangements. Our cake will be white with blue polka dots. Cullen also decided to call me his boyfriend a couple times.

While the kids were taking their baths, Andrew and I had a conversation about God and what my beliefs are now. I didn’t hold back and hope I didn’t come off condescending. He asked me what I do believe and that was a good and difficult question which I didn’t have a very good answer for. He also asked whether I consider myself a christian and I said that I still see something in it and that I consider myself a extremely minimalist christian, but thinking now I’m not sure if I would really say that or how to know. I’m not sure how important my spiritual beliefs are to my personal values or core identity.

I was able to meet up with Stacy later that night after dinner. The conversation was good, and she actually had some topics on her mind which I wasn’t expecting but enjoyed. We talked about parenting and how she feels like she doesn’t have a choice but to yell at her boys all the time. She asked me how my parents screwed me up and she was able to relate with hers also. I wonder if she’s working through some larger things right now and is evaluating her life in general.

28th – Another beautiful morning with the family. This time we played with the silly string in the yard and played checkers. During the day we went for a walk and jumped on the trampoline. I snuggled with Arie on the couch while we watched Bob the Builder. She made a move on me and put her arm around my shoulder. Being able to give the kids innocent affection was really good for me to be able to do since I haven’t been able to express my affections as a single guy. I also took a nap since I’d been out late and had trouble getting to sleep.

After dinner and getting the kids to bed, I hung out with just Andrew and Kyria for a while and got to ask about Kyria’s interests in functional medicine and what all that means. I see value in it, but I don’t know how much of it to fully buy into. Driving home wasn’t too bad, and I’m looking forward to get working on the practical side of things more now.

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