17 July 2017
As I sit on the porch of the magic yellow brick house in Lemont, sipping my coffee, this morning is seemingly no different than the countless other mornings of doing the same. Cars drive by. Neighbors are jogging, walking their dogs and smiling as they pass. The sun is peaking through the canopy of the tall Oaks and Pines as the evening mist slowly lifts to reveal the blue sky above. I Love this place. I love the quiet of it. I love that a local band shares this duplex. They help me crawl out of my shell, even if only to stand by and write while they play. I love the fly fishing neighbors across the street. Their passions inspire me to try harder to pursue mine. I love that there is a café on the corner less than a 2 minute walk away, full of people that are full of ideas. I love the opportunity that was given to me 8 months ago at my current job, at a time when I am fairly certain many people, including myself had written me off because of my inability to be and succeed in the manner others thought I should. My business was falling apart and I couldn’t seem to make myself do anything about it. Losing time with big blank sections of the day that I just could not account for. I felt confused as the turmoil of guilt from failures compounded. I thought everything would be better, but it just seemed to be falling apart. Unknowingly, the same business that was supposed to free me from money troubles and make my life better was amplifying my already fragile mental and emotional health. It was crushing me and I could no longer tell who or what was real.
Then I received a phone call from one of my accounts. He called to offer me a position at a time when I needed it most but in a business I wanted no part of. As is turns out it was a blessing. At this point I desperately needed a job and was trying to work in the outdoor industry in some capacity. Applying to several local spots, but for one reason or another nothing seemed to work out. I took this personally assuming it was because I was crazy. Truthfully, that is exactly how I felt. Completely confused as to why nothing I wanted was working, I finally agreed to meet with him several times for multiple interviews. To this day, I am still confused as to why he hired me. There is no way he could not have seen the mess I was inside. How could anyone have given me another chance in this small town where everyone thinks they know everyone else? On top of all the confusion, desperation, and turmoil, I was now taking what I thought to be a gigantic step away from the path I longed for. At the same time I made the decision to completely stop repairing wheels. I often told people it was only for the money and that it killed me emotionally inside doing it, but I had no idea how it was truly affecting me. I was afraid I was losing my mind and I was insane, not knowing that the chemicals I was using were sending me even further down.
After moving to State College a year prior to expand this old business from another life, I began to meet more and more people within the community, forcing myself to open up, forcing myself to socialize, forcing myself to give everyone a chance. Trying not to push them away and keep everyone at arms length, so as not to disturb the bull in my china cabinet of a mind that seemed to be getting stronger by the day. Everything should have been great. However, what was going on inside my mind was not so great and all I could see was the probability of failure, how I was letting down an old friend, and how I was not good enough instead of the possibilities of me. The doors that seemed to be ajar for ideas and creativity never swung open and I began to blame others for why I was not able to live my passion. I felt abandoned by some, pushed away by others, and misunderstood and ostracized by the rest. I pulled back and introverted almost completely.
It is not safe to be me. I had relented to believing that my goals were merely dreams, I was unimportant, my ideas were shit, and my passion to help others through climbing was pointless and misguided. All I wanted was to be seen for who I am, not for what I wasn’t.
Around the same time I received the phone call from my current boss, I was also contacted by an entity that has been the bane of my existence for 9 years. I now had to deal with this thing that scared me to death. I had never had a positive experience with them. The only thing that mattered was the money, and right and wrong never once was a part of the equation. I did not have the money they wanted. I could not get the money they wanted. As I sat at my hearing physically shaking from the fear of being in this place, this place that had a huge part in destroying my previous life, something completely unexpected happened. Everyone there listened. For the first time in 9 years, the entity that cared only about money was suddenly listening and viewing me as a person. They began to take into account the changed circumstances and what the affects had been. They acknowledged for the first time that I truly needed their help and was not just another piece of shit “dad”. They made the decision to give me some breathing room, which in reality gave me the space to feel like there was a chance…a chance that I might not be crazy, that maybe I can make it through this and live life.
I reluctantly went to the VA to talk to yet another therapist. I was still on the defensive, unoptimistic about having to explain all over again what happened only to be met with wide eyes an agape mouth. This is what happens every single time I have to share what transpired and what is going on in my head. They sit in disbelief or completely confused as to how they can help. Then comes the prescriptions I do not want and do not need. I just need you to listen. I just need you to see. I just need to be better. As I sat once again, crying as I relayed the memories, frustrated and angry that I was smashing my head against an unchanging brick wall of deaf ears, I looked up through the tears to see a man quietly sitting and intently listening. What was going on? He doesn’t look confused. He isn’t reaching for his prescription pad. He is listening. As the months passed and I continued to open up more, he continually listened and never once discounted anything I told him as either untrue, improbable, or unthinkable. Instead, he helped me confront what would send me reeling. He helped me to realize that even though I felt like giving up every day that I was still fighting and I was stronger than I realized. That fact that you are here speaks volumes David. Hmm. This is now 3 separate entities that are beginning to see me. At this point I made the decision that Something or Someone in the cosmos had intervened on my behalf and I wasn’t going to sit idle and watch this chance pass me by. So I lunged at it and determined that if these opportunities failed it would not be because of the damaged me.
As I strived to embrace my job, and the help I was receiving I decided to take a step back from the majority of the people around me. I stepped back from decisions I made while in the whirlwind of confusion. I stepped back and took a long look at myself, who I had become, why I cared so much what others thought of me, and most importantly to me-whether or not I had the ability to let someone Love me. I did not like much of what I saw. I have allowed guilt and embarrassment to keep me from talking to people of paramount importance in my life. Ashamed that I could not be what I needed to be, the way they wanted or perhaps the way I thought I should be because of them. I also came to the conclusion that since I was unable to trust anyone with the Love I had inside I would focus on the only thing that gave me solace, climbing. I would continue to try and help people to ‘not’ be like me. I would give the Love I had to a place in hopes of changing someone else’s life, someone else’s path.
Then, six months ago I met a really cool person. Someone inspiring. Someone full of life. Someone Amazing. Someone that I could be friends with and not have to worry about becoming attached. She was involved in a relationship and I had just decided that I would never be available in that way again. Our friendship grew. I could be me around her. I wasn’t judged. She considered my feeling and was thoughtful when we spoke. It was nice to be able to be seen for what was inside. I started singing in the morning. I began laughing and smiling nearly all the time. I danced like an idiot. As our friendship grew and we shared more and more of our past and stories, she inspired me to be the “Me” I locked up and hid from the world. This woman that had been through so much was still chasing after her passions, dreams, confronting fears, challenging herself and giving back to those that helped her. Taking action in confidence even when she was unsure of the outcome. I was inspired to start drawing again after 20 years. I was inspired to relinquish my decision that my dreams were just that, merely dreams. I began to allow my passion and vision of an area to guide my decisions. I began to be me again. As time passed so did the relationship she was in. There never seemed to be enough time in the day for our talks. We high fived more. Hello friend hugs lasted longer. We stopped looking away when our eyes met. And then one day our hug became an embrace and all of what we thought of each other manifested itself in a kiss. I sit here shaking my head and tearing up because of the overwhelming Love I have for this woman. In that moment, every fear I had of dedicating myself to someone, every fear of being left behind, every fear of having another family taken away, every fear of not being good enough disintegrated. My heart exploded and the Love I had been hiding from the world broke every lock and dismantled every wall I had built to protect it.
As I sit on the porch of the magic yellow brick house in Lemont typing this, I can’t help but laugh at everything “I thought I knew”. I knew the courts wouldn’t listen. I knew another therapist couldn’t help. I knew I was destined to be alone. I knew I could not allow anyone to Love me. Yet here I sit on the porch, next to a woman I Love with everything I am and she Loves me back. She Loves me for who I am, not for what I or anyone else sees or thinks of me. I am dumbfounded by this and humbled that this Amazing person thinks that I am the bees knees.
So what is the point of this? What does one guys struggle mean to some stranger who may end up reading this? The point is we don’t know shit! Just when you are absolutely positive you are at your end in one way or another and you just can’t deal with another thing, something amazing is just around the corner. All you have to do is continue believing that your dreams are visions of reality waiting for you to bring them to fruition. The people and the part of you that tells you, “You are not good enough. Your crazy ideas and passions are impossible. Your life has only one direction”, are all full of shit. It is all just fear. Both theirs and yours, holding back the AMAZING thing that you are. Be the Amazing. Be you! Don’t be afraid of your passions being misunderstood as manic actions. Passion is manic! When someone says you are crazy, thank them. Help them find their passion if you can. Trust me when I tell you that a life lived stifling your dreams, stifling your passions, stifling your true self is the one sure way to end up with a life full of regrets.