Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Source of Sadness

A veritable font of ferociousness. Born a bastard in Boston, I'm still a son of a bitch in Seattle. It doesn't help to run out of anti-depressants and then figure I can wait a week to refill the prescription. Psycho-babble and headaches soon to follow. I hurt -- yes, I hurt deeply -- but somehow, in over fifty years (yes, I count those toddler tantrums) I have never figured out how to avoid hurting those closest to me. I take all of my stress and angst and shove it down my esophagus, and then wander about as if I'm Mr. Calm. The reality is that I'm very fragile inside and I can feel the pieces of sanity breaking free and falling to the bottom of my being.

My nine-year-old son has been with us since the last day of third grade. It's a lot more work being a parent every day, rather than just on the weekends, but he's worth the work. He could teach me a thing or two, and often does. Daddy, you should just be happy to be alive every day. That kind of advice is welcome to my failing ears. I try my best, honestly I do. If my best was good enough, I wouldn't need to supplement it with things such as Celexa and Wellbutrin.

Even the fact that I now realize that I'll be on anti-depressants for decades to come is in itself depressing, and yes, angering. I believe a lot of my anger comes from the inability of my parents to get to know me on a personal level. The last time I visited my folks, my dad said to my wife, "Yeah. M___ and I just never clicked."

There was a time when my father had taken a fall, and was on heavy painkillers. My old man is one of those New England puritans that has never smoked or cursed, although he might have a cold beer on a hot summer day, after painting the house all day. But on this particular day he was flying high on Vicodin. This altered state of mind brought out this statement: "I wish I'd spent more time with you M___." I replied, "Well, I'm only here for a few weeks, dad." I was visiting from Maine at the time. "No." my dad responded. "I mean I wish I had spent more time with you over the years."  It took Vicodin to bring out that raw honesty, never to be heard again.

I think we all just want to be known and loved for who we are, foibles and all. The idea of day to day happiness is a delusion. When someone is threatening to sue you for back debts, medical custody of your son, and you can't even afford a pair of new shoes, the forecast can seem to be heavy depression with seasons of sadness to follow.

My will has never been anything to brag about. I quit piano lessons (Oh come on. We've all done that!) I'm on my third marriage and I seem to punch holes in that at every turn, even though I love my partner dearly. I alienate family and friends and then bemoan my loneliness. Something tells me that someday I'll be full of Vicodin and I'll start revealing regrets to my loved ones. How do I avoid that?

My parents are both still alive. My birth mother is still alive, and for all I know my birth father is still kicking somewhere out in this crazy world too. Four sets of parents. A wife and two ex-wives. And yet, I still feel like an orphan in some Dickens tome. I'm still that shy kid at cub scout camp, trying my damnedest to pass the swimming test, so that I didn't have to stay in the cordoned off section of the lake with the few other losers, the water lapping at my shins. I struggled to come back to the surface of the lake, until finally I grabbed the pole and let them pull me onto the dock. "He gave it a good try," someone adult-like said.

I look back and I think my failure during my swimming test and other vital tests in this life of mine is that I have often tried too hard. I find myself throwing my arms and legs out, trying to find purchase when I really just need to let go and trust my instincts. I have a good head on my shoulders, and my heart, well...let's not mess with my heart right now. It's pumping blood, and keeping me going, so I'll leave it at that.

Now it's time to find clean clothes for my son, so that we can get some lunch. He's already asking me to take him to the park, forgetting that I told him I have to work at two o'clock. Ah, to be on summer vacation again.

1 comment:

Judith van Praag said...

HayDuke! That's a lot of information in a short piece. To find words for feelings isn't easy for many, especially men, good on you for capturing your thoughts and pinning them down on paper or the screen. I hope you get to take your son to the park often this summer. Maybe you can write together. Exquisite Corpse is a great way to create a poem or story with one or more.