Sunday, November 20, 2016

Southernland


It all started about a year and a half ago...when I first put on a VR headset I was in a really challenging place in my life..waking up feeling depressed or anxious most days..and I realized, when I put on the headset, it was the first time in months where I felt transported to a totally different world..where all of my negative thoughts had  melted away...

Pause.

It always amazes me when someone who seems so perfect shares the same afflictions as someone as unremarkable as myself. She's intelligent and talented and stunningly beautiful...she gets to travel the world and make videos for a living...she has a thousand friends and a million followers. What could she be have been depressed about?

It's so easy to believe that everyone else has it easy, but we are only looking at a tiny sliver, a moment, in everyone's lives.

Point taken. But it still doesn't answer my question.

My last heartbreak, which happened as my “adult self” was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. I had been positive that he was “the one,” that we would get married and have kids within the next five years. It’s a hard thing, to lose someone, but to also lose the happy future you imagined together. Coming out of that relationship made me question everything in my life. Despite the tremendous pain I felt after my last breakup, it’s inspired shifts in my life that previous breakups didn’t. I really re-assessed a lot of my choices and what makes me happy, and I think those changes will produce everlasting results. So yeah – hard to believe I’m even saying this, but I think some of the most painful stuff can also produce the most good.

...which explains the world travel and charity work and passion for virtual reality technology. Got it.

Continue.

I've had the privilege of documenting some amazing stories...people like Shirley McClure, who is a 72 year-old who was finally able to see her lifelong dream of driving a professional race car come true. I traveled to Mott's Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, where I got to see how their child care specialists have pioneered the use of VR technology to improve the quality of life for kids with life-threatening illnesses. I've also taken my 360 headset into hospitals and senior homes and homeless shelters... and more recently I've been stopping by the neuroscience lab at universities like USC and UCLA to learn about how VR can positively impact depression, anxiety, PTSD...

Well, don't I feel like an asshole. She's thought of all these amazing, life-changing ways to use virtual reality technology; all I'd use it for is to transport myself into her world.


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When you realize that your life is spiraling out of control, you can do two things: you can end it - or as MFFG often says, you can "choose life*".

*This often refers to being anti-abortion, but in her context it's about finding ways out of the darkness. 

How many times have you seen or heard or read inspirational stories about people who had reached a low point in life and felt lost, hurt, heartbroken? Addicts who chose the path to recovery and worked hard every day to stay clean and sober. Cubicle dwellers who broke free of the rat race and started their own small businesses doing something that inspired and fulfilled them. People with disordered eating habits who changed their diet and adopted a fit, healthy lifestyle that resulted in an improved physical and mental state, compliments from friends and family, and maybe even a new career as a personal trainer or nutritionist.

It happens all the time. Even if you're young and fit and attractive and not ensnared in addiction or a dead-end job... you can still hit rock bottom, and you can still find your way out. And maybe it's easier for them, to latch on to faith or fitness or future tech. Maybe because they have money or connections or a support system that encourages them. Maybe they can take risks in their lives because they don't have a spouse or children who depend on them for stability and that meager paycheck that's somehow enough to keep a roof over their head but not enough to afford a gym membership or a therapist. 


I have come to the conclusion (much too late, it seems) that I am in dire need of such a change. And I have discussed this many times with my wife. But either she doesn't get it or she cant help me, and trying to convey the urgency of my need is futile. I can fight her, but she'll always win. She can say "NO" a million times, and I'll have to back down. What am I going to do, divorce her? Who else would want me? 

And I couldn't possibly afford child support. Plus, I love my girls. I really do. They stress me out sometimes (because I'm already frazzled from work and my physical/mental health is in freefall) but I know that right now, today, I'm a better father to them than my father was to me. Admittedly a very low bar, but still...I have his genes. I could have easily repeated his destructive behaviors. I have a steady job (though it's only part-time), but I've never had ambition or a useful skill set. I am an addict, if not an alcoholic. I have anger issues, and the only reason why I'm able to control them is because I hit a kid with a hockey stick when I was 14 and nearly got arrested. Lesson learned. 

I can't move back home. My mom is elderly, and she will have to leave the house I grew up in soon - either due to eminent domain, or because she'll have to enter an elderly care facility. She's losing the ability to walk. Right now, she's able to get around on her own in short bursts. She wanted to go to an HRC rally, or an anti-Trump rally...but she cant stand/walk long enough. We went apple-picking last time I was in CT, and I had to help her up and down the small but steep hill to the orchard. Then, after a few minutes of watching her grandkids pick a hundred apples (we've still got two bushels full) my mom had to sit on the dirty, apple-stained ground because there were no benches.

I'm deathly afraid of getting old. I've never been in any real physical pain, never had a major illness or disease - or even a minor one. I guess you could say I've been lucky, but I know I'm way overdue for bad luck to happen (as in the Bundy Curse), and I tease fate by failing to address my issues. I recognize the warning signs - and dismiss them.

Andso I'm fascinated by the stories of people who can not only make a positive change in their own lives, but in the lives of others. It all seems like fiction to me, but it warms my heart regardless.

I can acknowledge that a certain someone has certain physical features that I find appealing (while tacitly admitting that an "average looking" person with the same qualities might not have found their way onto my radar) but I'm not writing thousands of words about a woman I've never met (and never will) simply because she's slender and sexy. That stuff just opens the door. What she does with those built-in advantages determines whether or not I want to stick around.




I can't afford a VR headset, but I can watch her videos. I can dream. I can transport myself to a totally different world, where all of my negative thoughts melt away... for a few seconds. 

And then... 


Fade to black.



 ~

10 comments:

  1. A compelling read, and I agree it's important to transport yourself to a place where negative thoughts can melt away.

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    1. I probably stay too long in such a place. It's hard to stay grounded in reality sometimes.

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  2. As cliche as it sounds and as much I despise it when people tell me this, we are still young enough that what is life now does not have to be our lives forever.

    I really think you should seriously consider joining some kind of social group, like a men's group at a local church. You are sooooooooooo isolated in your life, and isolation + depression can kill you. You need a real life outlet for your feelings, and you could do with socializing with men outside your family circle. Shop around. Our men's ministry has a whole of lot dudes who don't go to church at all or believe in what the church believes, but they keep coming back to the meetings every week.

    And who knows? You might find a group you really like and end up going to their church and after a while your wife and kids could get involved in that church's other social events. Same as with our men's group, we have women in the church's women's group who never actually go to church, and we have kids that come to our Jesus Freak Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts every Wednesday who never go to church, but they stay involved in these meetings and activities because they like having that supportive circle of people.

    If someone had told me even as recently as 2 years ago that I would one day be playing the bass and singing in the church band every week, I would have told them they needed their head examined. I don't agree with everything my particular church holds up as dogma, but honestly becoming a part of this community saved me from suicidal depression, and continues to help me fight the depression. I found some truly amazing people there and when you're in a tough spot, there is always someone willing to reach out and help in whatever way they can.

    Not trying to convert you or anything. Just offering some friendly advice. You've been in this icky rut for a long time, but there is a way out of it. You just need to find the right road.
    <3

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    1. I'm not against faith, or religion, or social interaction. I dont consider myself atheist- I'm just an inactive Christian.

      So happy to hear that you get so much out of church groups and the like. I know you're struggling with your own depression and it's so good to hear that you've found some things and people that help you through it. I'll find my way there sometime :-)

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  3. "What could she be have been depressed about?" i think that's just the thing about depression. it claims anyone regardless of how happy they should be. i know you know that, but i felt the need to say it anyway.

    i think pain is an essential of life. physical pain? definitely. you don't feel pain. you get hurt and you don't notice. emotional pain? if you don't feel pain, then how are you supposed to be grateful for happiness? if everything's white, how can you know how white or how bright it is if you don't have a chasm of darkness and bleakness to compare it to? that's just the way life is. people feel pain. and that doesn't have to be a curse.

    you don't have to change the world if you don't want to. and it doesn't make you any less or anymore important than you are. honestly, everything good that we do - even just making a stranger smile - has this strange butterfly effect. you wouldn't know how many people you saved just by being nice sometimes.

    *raises hand* i'm there with the disorderly eating. and honestly, i'm trying to break out of it. on my own. and i am closer to there every single day. and my eating habits are not so strange that people that are around could've even guessed that i have any problem with eating. honestly, all those people that you mentioned? chances are they struggle with it every day. but they have good days and they have bad days. but they're nowhere near where they were and that's the thing that matters.

    "I have come to the conclusion (much too late, it seems) that I am in dire need of such a change." i think that if you know you need to change, you just change it. i know it seems odd to just say it like that. but honestly, it's true. if you're dwelling on something for too long, chances on you'll keep dwelling on it until it happens.

    nothing can really stand in your way. it's true. i find that people don't change. you change the way you say people because that's one thing you have control over.

    i honestly second Mich on social outlet. hers is her church. mine is the gym (which you said is not an option because of expenses) but honestly, i'm talking any social interaction helps a lot. of any kind. i think you know more what's going to help you with your feelings than anyone else. as for spirituality, i find that for me also praying helps. again, not trying to turn you into a overzealous religious asshole, but i'm just saying that this can help xxx


    -Sam Lupin

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    1. I think that maybe God has spared me the intense physical pain because I've had so much mental/emotional stress in my life. (although my *former* crush has had more than her share of both, and she's as religious as they come)

      I hope your eating habits are as "normal" and controlled as possible. Few things in this world break my heart more than eating disorders. I used to be a lot more aware of my intake, but about a year or two ago I simply gave up. I really should try to eat healthier and quit the caffeinated beverages in 2017 (but I said that in '16, and '15..and probably '14)

      Sometimes I feel like this is my social outlet. Sports cards always brighten my mood, but it doesnt last long. Blogging makes me feel less isolated, less pathetic. It's my therapy in a lot of ways. But I know I should probably meet people 'IRL'.

      Your comments are always helpful, Sam. Thanks so much love :) xo

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  4. Thanks for sharing, Chris. I share a lot of similar traits with you especially about fatherhood. Me just being apart of my kid's lives is an improvement over my biological dad, but part of me thinks there was a reason he wasn't in my life because maybe he knew he was going to be a shitty dad and thought it best to walk away. There are days when I just feel like my kids would be better off without me because I feel like I am a really bad parent. I don't think this is going to help you out much, but I just wanted you to know that there are others out there feeling the same way. I practice the art of gratitude every day to try to change my wiring to be more positive than negative. It helps. I also listen to Fearless Motivation on Spotify when I take walks with the dog. That helps too. I think they are on YouTube as well. Keep fighting the good fight.

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    1. " There are days when I just feel like my kids would be better off without me because I feel like I am a really bad parent." Oh I know that feeling, Mr. Shife. It's not true, though. They need us, and we know it because we know what it's like to grow up without one.

      I really hope to visit your blog more often, it always seems like you post on weekends when I'm super swamped. But I appreciate you, and I'll do my best to "be the stream" ;)

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  5. i can't believe you're still pining over her...!!! :) just catching up on blogs now, i feel out of the loop but happy you somehow know it's me, thanks for the comment, made me smile. anyway, i guess any progress is progress. keep your head up, you're doing fine.

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    1. Who, Taryn? I just started crushing on her this summer. Oh...you mean Joy? Yeah, I dont know what to say. old habits die hard. This is why I hate social media, before it you'd have to go way out of your way to find out about stuff about someone you like. Now it's all in one place, a mouse click away. I'm really done this time though. 2016 was just a trial run, 2017 is the real thing.

      How did I know it was you? I know your style. And your blogger profile has a few similarities ;)

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