Assholes that are functional – This is advice that may not necessarily be pretty (advice I may not have wanted to hear at the time) but it is functional and eventually led to a greater moment of thinking.
You need to get away from her – It was a really hard realization for me when this advice turned out to be true. Like any addict when the drug is right in front of you there will never be a moment that you don’t want it or need it. Over the course of the six months we lived together after she told me about him I sat there with her on most nights, I could smell her, I would talk to her, we would laugh together, and there were many nights where we cried together. In the end, it was still going to end. She was still leaving and being around her wasn’t doing me any good, in fact quite the opposite, it damaged me more than the fact that she was leaving me.
Addicts will often, when faced with jail time or rehab time approaching, ingest as much of the drug as possible prior to entering the establishment where they will be presented with withdrawals. That is what I was doing; I knew she was leaving, I may not have known when but I knew she was going. So the time she was with me I wanted to try to soak up as much of her as I could, hoping and praying that it would hold me over, until death, I met someone, or as the addict would say, I relapse and she comes back. Me wanting this time with her and wanting to continuously act as a family only made her avoid wanting to be around any of us. She only wanted to be with him, when we were together she would be texting him, she would talk about him (*sigh*to her husband), and she would change herself for him. Watching this daily meant I had no break from the tar pits my life was slowly sinking into. It was a slow descent each day sinking inch by inch until it was only my face above the surface gasping for air. It made my mind scramble for answers that she couldn’t or wouldn’t provide which only made me try harder to find those answers. As a couple, we rarely fought, now we were fighting fairly regularly. To outside parties this could be viewed as common, why wouldn’t a couple that had just split up have emotion get the better of them and argue? For me though, I was trying to figure out why we were fighting because before it WAS so uncommon. It wasn’t sinking in that her being around, for the both of us, was just ridiculously unhealthy. It was a realization that I didn’t want to acknowledge.
The first time I remember hearing this advice, that I needed to get away from her, my reaction internally was that of defiance. It was the last thing I wanted was to be apart from her. I was in love with her. I wanted her to stay. I didn’t want her to go out on her date nights with her new boyfriend, or go away on weekends with him, or even talk to him. But she was and she did and I was witness to all of it. It was like I was standing in front of a speeding train, that I know it is going to hit me, I have plenty of time to get out of the way but I didn’t, I wouldn’t, or I couldn’t. Instead I just stood there watching the locomotive barreling down the tracks, whistles blowing like mad in an effort to get me to move from the tracks but I was frozen. Crowds start gathering screaming at me to move, they aren’t able to look away because they are trying to figure out why I won’t just step away from this quickly approaching train. Someone runs onto the tracks to me physically trying to get me to move but in the last seconds, much to their frustration, they have to run off to save him or herself. And then it hit me. I stood there, staring at this train, it was moving so fast, but I couldn’t move. I was hoping that train would stop. My head got so wrapped up in how I even ended up on these tracks to begin with that the train only seemed ancillary. I was just consumed in thought all of the time trying to make sense of what was happening that I wouldn’t remember things my boss told me, right after she told them to me, I had little to no patience for people, and I had no desire….for just about anything. I just wanted the train to hit me so I could get this over with and I could stop thinking about why this train just wouldn’t stop or why it had to start rolling to begin with.
I went to stay with a friend for a while. I lived in his basement on an air mattress for about a month. It was cold, damp, quiet (at times), lonely, and to some, pathetic. For me though, it was amazing. It was the moment that I realized how much pain I was actually in and how being away from her was the best thing for me and finally it was easier to breath. This was something I needed to realize on my own though, sadly for all of those that offered me the advice; it wasn’t something anyone else could tell me. Addicts need to find the place in their minds where they see that this drug is fucking up their lives but it is really hard to see that while you are still feeling the high from that drug. I wish I could apologize to all of them and let them know how hard it is to realize that the person that I trusted more than anyone, the one I chose to spend the rest of my life with, and the one that I grew more in love with every day I was with her, was the exact person I could not be around. Like the junkie, this basement, with its spiders, cold floors, and funny smell was my sober living. I just recently got my 12-month button and while there are still weak moments where I can feel the addiction tempting me, I can stand before those around me and say that I am sober but will always be recovering.
Just do the things you like to do – Finding joy for me during this time was difficult at best. I worried that if I did the things I enjoyed I would then relate this time of my life and those hobbies together negatively. I was worried that it may bring back the feelings of despair, sending me spiraling back down again. I so badly wanted to find progress in something and maintain it that slipping wasn’t something I was comfortable with. It is with this mindset that I avoided all of the things I enjoyed for quite a while. I didn’t touch my camera, pick up a guitar, or write cohesive sentences. While I did write, quite a bit actually, in the form of poetry and lyrics, frustrations grew in not being able to keep a linear thought progressing, my mind would just take me, mid-thought, down a completely different rabbit hole. I would head out with my camera for hours without finding anything that drew my eye. I would pick up my guitar but the only thing that was gently weeping turned out to be me. So I let it all go for months. How did I use this time that was suddenly free? Quite simple actually, drinking and smoking (the healthy alternative to creativity and mental healing. I recommend it for anyone especially if you are under the age of 9 and are looking for an outlet. Put those crayons away, pick up a pack and a bottle. I am pretty sure that is how Jim Morrison got his start and it turned out fine for him). I sat, in a lawn chair, smoked a pack and a half a day and drank wine at a rate that would make the French blush. Do I seriously recommend this, NOPE (especially those of you reading this under that age of 9 because your hands get all shaky and then there is no staying within the lines at that point), but it is what I did, right or wrong. I just wanted to stop my brain from the constant searching for answers it craved but wasn’t able to get, oh, and I wanted to stop my lungs from ingesting good clean country air apparently too.
Once that realization hit me that rock bottom had been or is close to being found and your ass had better start working your way back up, regained a bit of focus. My focus became my boys to start with, then my hobbies, and lastly myself (there was a lot of guilt that I needed to work through before I could consider myself worthy of self-importance). I hadn’t focused on what made me happy in a long time and now I had to do that. I didn’t have a choice. I had to realize that there was no one else around anymore to make me happy, it was all on me (Yes I realize the effects of placing your happiness in the hands of another now. It was more that I got so much joy out of making her happy, or trying, that I lost sight of how to make myself happy). It made me look at everything so I started exploring if I was happy with every aspect of my life. I had a list and it had checkmarks. I knew the boys made me happy, so check, I have a few (a perfect handful) of friends, check, I knew I liked writing (having a lot of time for it in that basement), I knew I loved playing guitar, and photography. All of these checks were lining the right side of the list I had made, until a certain point (as this is about things that I like to do I will avoid this topic and the eventual rant that would ensue). First thing I did was go and buy a new notebook and a pack of nice pens (Composition note book for the classic look and to me there is nothing better than a nice pen). I started writing more and more to weed through the mess that was stuck in my head, eventually finding my voice again. I carried a notebook and pen with me everywhere I went, they litter my house, and car. There are many pages of gobbledygook (just an awesome word right there!!!) that will never see the light of day, but I needed to get that shit out, flush it down the toilet and start with a clean bowl (I fully realize I compared my brain to a toilet bowl but everyone needs a brain dump once in a while). Finally one day it was my camera’s turn. I packed up my car with cigarettes, music, and food and went for an 8-hour drive determined to photograph a sunset. My mind had been set on capturing something beautiful but Mother Nature had another plan that day and what I got was so much more meaningful (more to come on that). And then there was music.
A man walks into a guitar shop just to look around and waste some time. He looks through the used gear to the left of the store, then walks over to the right of the store and slowly walks his way back to the center of the store. He sees a bunch of beautiful guitars that he would be lucky to own. As he hits the Gibson section of the store he looks up. Light, clearly from the heavens is beaming down on this guitar. The guitar he has dreamed of from the first time he heard The Doors through the fandom he has for The Tedeschi Trucks Band and his new man crush (as a guitar player) Derek Trucks. A Gibson SG (if you didn’t read that and have angels singing in the background or some sort of orgasmic experience please read it again and try harder). This magnificent creature is red in color, but not too dark, so you can still see the wood grain beneath it, mother of pearl inlays on the neck, and a raised bridge. It has to be out of his price range right? Wait, the price tag reads “clearance”? Maybe he should just try it; it wouldn’t hurt to try it right, I mean he doesn’t have to buy it, just trying it, maybe play a few notes or something. So in his infinite wisdom he decides that he will take another guitar in there too, a cheaper, lesser guitar, not as much flash, no heavenly light, but if it sounds pretty close he won’t feel guilty about not getting the guitar he has had guitargasms over for his entire life. Oh, did he mention this was the only one left in the store and it looked so lonely and cold all by its lonesome? So they enter the room’s glass door, it is soundproofed (so those outside cannot hear his squeals of joy as he holds the guitar in his hand), with both guitars and a bevy of amplifiers he sits on the throne and breaths deeply. He tries the cheaper one first, plugs it into the most expensive amp in the room, it sounds pretty good, not bad the action is pretty good, it isn’t to heavy, alright off to a good start. Then he picks up the SG, slowly inserting in the plug on the guitar chord into the jack (to set the scene, yes his mouth is in open and his eyes are rolling into the back of his head as he slides it in. When the plug clicks into place he shudders from his toes all the way up to the top of his head), then he flips the switch on the amplifier and plucks a single string, then another, he forms the D chord, strum, turns the guitar up a bit for some overdrive, and slams on a power chord. Oooooohhhhhh shit! In less than five minutes he writes a new song on this guitar. He peers back over his shoulder, looking at the other guitar he just used like the ugly friend of a pretty girl you want to get to know, gives a wink and with a smirk says “That’ll be all for you today”. After filling out financing paperwork he learns that this guitar will only be $35 per month. He stops, thinks about it rationally. Should he be buying this guitar? Is this just an emotional purchase at a time when he is looking to fill a void in his broken heart? HELL YEAH IT IS!!!!! He convinces himself that it would be just stupid NOT to buy it, fate had essentially brought him to this guitar (even though he planned the trip) so he walks out with his new guitar, cradling it (securely in the case of course) like a baby. That my friend is how I started playing guitar again, with the love and support of a new Gibson SG!
Overall it did take quite a while to rediscover the things I loved to do. When you are in a relationship for 20 years you have your hobbies but your time with them is limited. Not that I wouldn’t have traded my discoveries back to keep my marriage going but that was not my choice. Now I was doing them because I wanted to do them, for myself. It was a different mindset, which is hard for me to explain. Before they were my release from everyday stresses. Now they are my joy, period. They are what I choose to do. With that I have found more creativity than I ever knew I had.
You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable – This may have been the best advice given to me during this time. I am not sure the person that said this to me understood the impact that it would have on me as it was said as part of a larger point. I need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That is so spot on because there will be so few experiences in my life from here on out that will be comfortable and I need to get comfortable with that. The experience of dating for the first time, ever, my kids being away from me for a week at a time, my kids being around another man, my being alone with my mind, and well, being intimate with someone other than my wife. This idea of discomfort raised a lot of questions for me, questions that cannot be answered until these experiences happen. For me the idea of there being unanswered questions is also uncomfortable leading my mind to seize control of my life while trying to plan for these uncomfortable moments prior to them happening. There is no planning, I just need to do it and recognize the level of discomfort I have at the moment and work on how I should handle them in the moment.
Dating – This was and is the scariest thing that I feel I am facing. Not being overly or at all confident around women makes it even worse. I don’t know when or if I should make the first move, shit even prior to that I don’t know how to even walk up to a woman and ask her out. Remember, with my wife I just had no control, I was going over there whether I liked it or not. At this time I am not looking to get back into a serious relationship so now I am looking for short-term relationships to practice? That sounds fucked up to me. I am also not really into the whole one night stand thing, now if that happens to happen then okay I guess but that would weird me out too (I think?). So where do I begin? Well I guess I would have to begin with being able to just walk up and speak to a stranger. The fear of that alone, walking up to a woman I don’t know but find attractive is enough to put me into convulsions. What happens if I get over there and she has the voice of someone that has just sucked helium for hours? Or says the word “like” every 7 seconds? That would irritate the shit out of me and how do I walk away without hurting her feelings, how do I resist laughing? These are the dumbshit scenarios I go over in my head. Would a voice be a big enough turn off that I would run away? I would like to say no to avoid being seen as shallow but I think it would. I would never want her to talk and that sucks because I find intelligent conversations to be the biggest turn on outside of physical attractions. What if her voice is fine but she is dumb as a brick? What if I ask her what her favorite Beatles album is and she replies, “Who are the Beatles?” Am I too picky? Should I just enjoy the moment and introduce someone to the Beatles? Should I have to introduce someone to The Beatles? The possibilities are endless, maybe this is why I just stay in my house listening to records writing a blog 7 people read?
So lets say I get a date, just a hypothetical date, nice woman, fairly intelligent and attractive. Then what? We eat? We talk? We drink champagne? We dance the night away to the songs of our youth (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Etc, we would make up our own dances)? There if too much to think about with this shit. I would love it if a woman would just approach me, maybe say something nice like “Hey you don’t look like the type of man that would throw me into a pit in his basement and keep me prisoner. Wanna grab a drink?” That would be so much easier, especially now while the pit in my basement really isn’t that deep and someone could easily just step right out (writing has taken up too much of my time to be able to keep digging). I don’t feel it is wrong to want to be the one that is pursued but stereotypes say that I should be the confident man and that women want a confident man to blah, blah, blah, it isn’t me. Maybe that’s why I tried dating websites (more to come on those).
Being intimate for the first time – Now it has been a year and a half since my last experience with my wife maybe a bit more, so this is really terrifying. So lets say I have a successful date or two or three (don’t want to be considered a tramp if I sleep with someone on the first date so I will play hard to get). We get back to my place or hers and we start making out. (This scenario actually woke me up from a cold sleep laughing trying to figure out how I should handle this) So we get up to the bedroom and we are taking off clothing, it is dark because we want a sexy mood, right? Sure. So the hands start moving and…..wait…..what the…, what is that? Does she have an infection or something, did she get hit in the privates with a bat or does she…..yup….*sigh*, she has a penis. Okay, now I am a very open and accepting individual, BUT that’s not really my cup of tea. This person and I have a connection though, especially if I am willing to take it to this level, there is something there. I am sure I find her very nice and the last thing I would want to do is hurt her feelings, really and truly, I don’t want to make her feel bad at all. How do I stop everything and tell her, I am just not that into women who happen to have penises, politely? No seriously how do I do that? I think I would just fake a stroke or something. Or fall off the bed and pretend to hurt myself. I would this the possibility of something like this happening is slim but still my mind has to exhaust all possibilities so that I wont be uncomfo……shit, I am going to really need to work on this being comfortable with the unknown thing.
The other thing that worries me, the business area, what is it supposed to look like? I am not shy about the fact that I have seen pornography, I think many people have. I see how people are or are not styling their junk now, and I feel I am too old to be taking a razor to my downstairs so I can look like one of those guys from the movies. No thank you. What if I cut myself, I shudder at that thought, but what if that is a deal breaker for someone. Friends have told me that I should clean up the down low. But then do I take all body hair off or do I just shave that area and leave it looking like a naked mole rat jumping out of a rug? What ever happened to the Magnum PI hairy chest being sexy thing? Did he shave his balls? Did he have Higgins do it for him? I decided I would just revert to watching classic porn so that I can delay my decision on trimming the skin bag for a while. Maybe it is just that I am just going with the retro look down there and I have nothing to worry about. I am making a fashion statement or starting a new trend towards and old look. When the did pubic hair become so unfashionable anyway and who decided this? Why would anyone want to look like a 12 year old? I mean look if I met the perfect person and she said, “look we are good I just need you to do that one thing”, I would laser the hair off in a heartbeat. I would never ask someone to do that for me though. I don’t care if a woman has pubic hair at all. Then again I did grow up in a time when that was the look. I think there needs to be alerts about this shit, letting us uninformed folks know that our shit is out of date. Like a Twitter page specifically set up for this type of thing. Really quick tweet for us out of touch folks.
“New Trend – Start shaving your pubes NOW. Or no sexy, sexy time”
There now we all know. Then when the trend changes and there should just be little mustaches or beards on our manhood, or just do sideburns, or dreads we would all know. Designing your privates? Is this going to become the next art form? (I just realized how old this probably makes me sound. And cantankerous!)
It is through all of these obnoxious discomforts that I have learned to simply stop worrying about it. If my balls are hairy or not hairy enough, if I fuck up on a date, and if I don’t feel the timing is right being comfortable with being alone and not worrying about it. I have an overly active mind that brings in some weird items for me to contemplate. Some I have a lot of fun thinking about them and recognizing that they can be a bit ridiculous some of them I am even able to discard immediately. While there are still a lot of discomforts and sometimes I push myself into the uncomfortable just to see what I will do, I get to learn what truly makes my skin crawl and what just may be anxiety having its way with me. There have been times that I have shied away from a challenge and other times I have done okay. There have been very few overwhelming victories but I take a win by 1 point the same as a win by 50. Overall, I would say that there is far more comfort in being uncomfortable, even some fun with it as well; as I progress through this new life I have been handed.