Running On Empty

“Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight. You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to. If somebody puts you down or criticizes you, just keep on believing in yourself and turn it into something positive.” – Leah LaBelle

Running On Empty
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Days pass and years go by, then I realize, I’m getting older. This isn’t a brilliant discovery but as I age, the days seem to whisper louder about my mortality and the lack of energy to do what I normally could do is most evident. If I can sense physical fatigue, what about mental fatigue? I struggle with severe mental issues (peruse my blog and you’ll see it plainly) which result in the weird trait of arguing with people who aren’t there. Not arguing with a vision, but rehearsing in my mind what was said and what I should or shouldn’t have said. I spend an hour or so cussing people out and yelling at them when they have long left the building. In the same way, I’ll rehearse an embarrassing or shameful moment over and over in my head years after the fact. These all drain away mental and emotional energy, the ability to take of the here and now. There is a finite amount of emotion and mental convolutions that I’m able to bear. After my resources are exhausted, depression rushes in to fill the void. An apathy and usually a self destructive habit looms in the setting sun of my mind and pulls me out of the thoughts and into another hellish position.

The answer? I stop when I find myself talking to someone who isn’t there, or for that matter, who doesn’t care what I think. I stop thinking about the embarrassing moments and faux pas that crowd my mind. Then I take my antidote and think about the something that doesn’t drain me, but encourages and fills me with hope, things that are wise and spiritual. Not necessarily all holy and Jesus things, but mainly wisdom and advice I’ve gleaned from searching for escapes from the insane asylum in my head. For instance, there are places and I’ll paraphrase, in the bible where God has said, “don’t be afraid of their faces or what they say, and I’ll be with you.” Instead of thinking about an insult said to me, or about how I really screwed up this or that, I think about how my Big Daddy (my affectionate term for God) is going to help me through this and give me a decent life. That’s how I’m learning to walk instead of crawl out of anguish. Peace my friends, it’ll work out for you, don’t stop trying, don’t stop believing.

Obsession

“When you live with voices in your head, you are drawn inextricably to voices outside your head. Very often the voices work to confirm your worst suspicions. Or think of things you could never have imagined! There are only so many hours of the day to hate yourself.” Emma Forrest, Your Voice in My Head
 
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 Obsession, a compulsive often unreasonable idea or emotion. My obsession is a self imposed attack on my body that’s not only pervasive, but changes it’s angle of assault every 4 -6 months. My mind, whether from a comment, a look, a misunderstood text, or a bad day, will berate me about a particular body feature without mercy. After I became completely obsessed with it, even making unreasonable changes, the area of obsession would change. I’d literally drop all thoughts concerning that body feature or action and begin a new regimen of torture around the next perceived “fault”. This led me to believe that the problems weren’t in my body but in my self-perception and what I perceived others thought of me.  Most of the time what I thought they thought about me was wrong. That “look” that they gave was totally unrelated to who or what I am. My egocentricity caused me to believe that I was the topic of every thought process in those around me. The plain truth? Most of the time no one cares enough to think that long and hard about me. To take the offensive against my renegade thoughts, I knew I had to be happy with my body and refuse to interpret what I believed others where thinking (which likely wasn’t true). I recognized the futility of conforming to a constantly changing standard of appearance and found that happiness with who I am, is the greatest compliment to my being. Holding my head high, I’ll be confident and sure, no matter what I think you think about how I look.

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Rescue

“and it was he who some fifteen feet down spotted the body of the young man  floating like uprooted seaweed, upward, a brilliant white in the underwater space, and it was he who grabbed the body under the arms and brought him up, and also he who made the young man vomit all the water he had swallowed.” ― Roberto Bolaño, 2666  

Waves

Wave after wave full of debris. It’s not just the water, it’s the stuff in the water that hurts. I’ve learned through years of playing in these waves, how to hold my breath to wait out the turbulence above. Being beneath the ocean isn’t always a bad thing, but necessary for my survival as I dive into the deep to let the rolling trouble pass. Lately I’m a land dweller and though having never entered the ocean for years, I can still learn from those water bound lessons. It’s not so much the living, the actual breathing and going through the days that brings the danger, but its the stuff that’s in the living that hurts.

There are many ways I’ve held my breath to get under the trouble. Substances, relationships, danger seeking (i.e. adrenaline junkie), have all held me below. With all this avoidance and struggle its nice when I see a boat. That’s how God intervened in my life. He sailed through the storm and found me gurgling and diving just to survive the day. With loving hands he picked me up, asking nothing from me. I never made promises to Big Daddy (that’s my affectionate name for God), saying “I’ll do this or that if you save me”, I was just a panic ridden, scared to death young man who needed the rescuing power of God which He was happy to provide.

You may not appreciate this power to rescue but believe me, when trouble comes and your life ebbs, you’ll grab any hand. Though not just anyone could save me because I have this tendency to jump right back into the frothy waters, that’s all I knew how to do. His hand not only rescued me but gently held me in the boat long enough to help me expel the water I swallowed and show me that I can ride the waves for exhilaration. That’s the wonder and love I have for Big Daddy, he teaches me a better way. So here I go, pushing ahead to the other side fully aware that though I feel like the waters will swallow me, I’ll still be saved.
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First published in Opinions Of Eye

Born Again – Recovery from Traumatic Brain Injury

 “Recovery is hard. End of story…
I spend hours a week doing homework that isn’t for school, but for rehabilitative purposes. I am regularly pushed to my limits cognitively, emotionally, and physically…
I am always tired, I have never been more aware of my difficulties in the past two years than I am now. I work a lot with figuring out strategies to manage the results of my brain injury in a way where it makes life more manageable…
I want the frustration to stop…

Despite all of the I wants, or the I wishes, I have never been so motivated in my life to succeed. I may have difficulties, but i refuse to let it define me. I will keep trying, and keep pushing. I will never be the person I was before, I may never be a conventional normal person. But I will succeed in life. Disability or not…” – Alwaygrowing
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Born again, no, not in the religious sense. There’s a new birth forced on us from several of tumultuous life changing events. Take for example, a Traumatic Brain Injury, which hadn’t received much press until many of our veterans came back from war. Their are many hard things to process and I’ll relay them to you in a greatly condensed version. As a survivor of TBI, I’ve experienced a change in habits, personality, quirks, desires, and many things I took for granted. I’ve noticed a marked decrease in patience and strong increase in violent outbursts. It took a good long while before I was able to walk without dizziness and still feel my actions are clumsy compared to the me I knew before. Writing, speaking, events that I had great control over before (I was a public speaker and very eloquent with words and phrases) seemed out of my grasp. I struggled to actually say what I wanted to, entirely different words or ideas would come out instead. People would repeat what I just said and I responded with amazement at having said something I’d never say, and that with no recollection. Writing through the vehicle of typing was another terrific challenge, my coordination and muscle memory was out of whack and I had to learn all over.
No one explained that these things could happen and most people just walked away wagging their heads, not understanding that this wasn’t me, I was born again. Like my natural birth, I had no choice in the matter, it was given to me by fate and circumstance. I reeled for years trying to find my way back to the me I knew, and still endure hardship and misunderstanding as I struggle to learn again. This is a curse and a blessing. A curse because there are bad things that resulted from the injury (violence, clumsy, forgetful, impatience) but a blessing because now, unlike growing up, I can understand that I’m forming my new self and look at my actions with the guidance of hindsight and understanding given from self education and spiritual pursuit. Born Again, hallelujah yes, but not to a spiritual reunion with God, but to a soulful reunion with who I want to be.
If you need more information on TBI here are some links:

Dreamweaver – Nightmares of Abuse

“My father was one of those men who sit in a room and you can feel it: the simmer, the sense of some unpredictable force that might, at any moment, break loose, and do something terrible.
[Burnside, p. 27]”
John Burnside, A Lie About My Father: A Memoir 

The following is an excerpt from the hopeforhealing.org.,  poetry by survivors of sexual or domestic violence.

 

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Come, beckons the night,
Let us dance together, and chase the dream weaver
I am not laughing at you
It is only the laughter of the past
Rushing through your brain
 
I am harmless, why do you resist me so?
Pearls of wisdom are here within my walls
And peace offerings as well
Yet you quake at the sight of me
My power has not alluded you
 
Need I remind you?
You cannot resist me forever!
I am that necessary evil
Which recreates evil past
My nourishment lies in your screams
So, foolish one, scream on!
 
No one is listening, no one hears
Wake them; tell them of your sad tales
I will recapture them before your voice silences
But they will not find your persecutor
And will think you mad
 
Reach for the sun, it is hours ’til its’ dawn
As I am your punisher, it is your reward
However, for now I am your companion
Let us dance together, and chase the dreamweaver
Come, I beckon you
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