Good to be home – and figuring out next steps

That feeling of being all alone in the crowd... is shared by many
That feeling of being all alone in the crowd… is shared by many

It’s been a good week.

A challenging week.

But still a good week.

Sometimes you just need to step away to get some clarity on your priorities in life, what you want to do with yourself, how you want to do it… and perhaps most importantly, how badly you want to do it. There are some things that I’ve been meaning to spend more time on — projects that actually do look like they have good potential to widen my employment prospects, as well as bring in some money on the side.  And it’s given me more motivation to really work on them.

It’s also important to figure out what you don’t want to do, and this trip made that abundantly clear. It was a pain in the neck, dealing with all the prejudice and pressure — the prejudice that came out when people started drinking and stopped being on their best behavior, the stifling biases against women and gay people, the “jokes” about so-and-so having romantic relations with someone of their own sex, when they’re not even gay – har-har-har (not funny for gay or straight people)… as well as the constant pressure from my boss to stay up late with everyone and party, even though they know I don’t drink… and them joking about getting me drunk (I wouldn’t put it past them), which is not only stupid, it’s dangerous.

I don’t know which would be worse for me – to lose too much sleep, or to get drunk. In both cases, I can fall, which could be catastrophic. In both cases, I can get in trouble with other people, including the police. And it’s not the sort of trouble that I can just get out of easily.

When I get in trouble — I get in trouble. As in, get combative towards law enforcement and other authority figures. And at the conference, I was not shielded by local folks knowing who I am.

I was also not shielded from sensory overload — all the crowds, the noise, the lights, the big open expo hall where I was working, and the constant movement and hustle. I felt like a zombie, much of the time, and it was miserable at moments, but then I got to step away to the restroom, or to get something to eat, or walk to a quieter part of the expo hall. There was music pumping, lights flashing, constant streams of people walking by who I had to engage and hopefully bring into our booth, and it was cold in that hall. I felt like I was going to lose it, a couple of times, but I regrouped and chilled myself out by focusing on something specific – like checking my email on my smartphone.

The area that the conference was in, was crazy, too — all the lights and motion and crowds and music everywhere. It’s perfect for sensation-seeking people, but for me it was just too much. At the concert they had on the last night, I thought I was going to flip out and hit someone. I was pressed up against the very front of the cordoned-off area, with people pushing in close behind me, whistling and clapping right beside my ears, and all of them wearing some sort of perfume. I’m not terribly sensitive to scents, but when I’m tired and overwhelmed, I get that way — and yeah, I got that way. I had to leave early, when I realized that I was on the verge of punching someone — anyone. That wouldn’t have been good. Plus, there were security guards about 10 feet away from me.

So, I skipped out and got in bed by 9:30 that night. Pretty good, I have to say. Considering that I had to fly out, first thing in the morning, it was ideal.

The main thing is, I managed to make it through the week without A) drinking, B) losing too much sleep, or C) getting in trouble. I held my tongue and didn’t respond, when intoxicated people were running their mouths about stupid things. They probably don’t remember saying it, anyway. I also didn’t let it get to me personally too much. All the “frat boy” shenanigans, which I have never related to, anyway, didn’t throw me. Mercifully, “frat boy” types have usually ignored me, instead of singling me out and beating me up. So, I just kept clear of the grown-up versions of “nuggie”-giving football players, and stuck with a few other like-minded folks.

Most important of all, I made it home in one piece.

And that’s a huge accomplishment for me. Not only did I navigate all the alcohol-soaked dinners and social events without so much as a sip of booze, but I also got in bed by 9:00 p.m. on two nights… at 10:00 on one night… and not long after 11:00 on another night. All in all, I think I lost maybe four or five hours of sleep over the whole five days, which is pretty amazing, considering that my boss was telling me I had to stay out with the team till 3 a.m., and then stumble back to get a few hours rest before morning.

Yeah, it was amazing that I got out of all that B.S. in one piece.

I just wish it didn’t have to be so amazing.

Overall, though, I’m feeling pretty good about my progress and everything I accomplished. Unlike other similar conferences in the past, this time I did not freak out, I did not lose it back in my hotel room, I did not space out or check out. In other years, at these big user conferences, I was fried by the end of the first day, and I was isolated and alienated for the rest of the trips. But this time, I was all there, I was just “riding” the situation, and I got some good things out of it, as well.

My big discovery at this event is that I am actually really, really good at engaging with strangers and getting them to open up to me. I have a ton of experience and a lot of “war stories”, and when I share them with others, they open up about their own experiences.

It’s funny, because I never really thought of myself as that kind of person – outgoing and engaging – because I am such an introvert. But even introverts can be engaging and outgoing, when we are in the right situations. And in fact, I was interacting with a lot of introverts, myself — one of whom was pretty drunk at 11:30 in the morning on the last day of the conference… probably completely overwhelmed like I was, and using the mini-bar in their room to ease the pain.

Yeah, it was overwhelming. But I made it through.

I realized some new (and important) things about myself and the kind of work I want to do. I also realized the kinds of things I can do, that I never thought I was good at, before.

So, that’s helpful. Despite the challenges, I still got a lot out of the experience.

So, that’s something.

Boy, oh boy, is it good to be home!

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Two more days… then home!

Today we rest at my parents’ home, then we are driving home tomorrow… missing the worst of the Thanksgiving traffic.

I’m going to pause now for a Christian moment, since I have been surrounded by very religious Christians for the past 5 days… Praise God Almighty! Praise Blessed Jesus!

I only have another 30 hours to go (give or take) till I am back in my car and headed HOME to my own space, my own diet, my own schedule, my own life.

This really has been a very challenging time for me. The most challenging thing, by far, has been dealing with people’s prejudices and judgments. My spouse has been having some difficulties, being off their schedule — as have I. They’ve been tired and irritable and have not been thinking clearly or as mobile as one would expect. And both sides of the family do not handle that well. So, they are hard on my spouse, which is hard for me to watch. My in-laws, especially, are pretty judgmental, and they put all kinds of pressure on my spouse to DO SOMETHING about their condition.

Get up earlier each day.

Get regular exercise.

Get a hip replacement.

Go out into the world and do all the things that people without noise and light and scent sensitivities can do.

Of course, they know nothing about the strokes, seizures, cognitive impairment, and I’m not about to tell them that, because they are exquisitely attuned to finding the worst in everything, and trying to overcome it. They will pick out the worst piece of information (e.g., if the power steering fluid had spilled all over the exhaust system, our van could have caught fire) and then they dwell on that. That will become their mantra — Something Terrible Could Happen — and they will proceed to make every thought center around that.

Which is a really draining way to live.

And now that we are away from them, I can breathe. My side of the family is overwhelming in other ways – we’re about to start the day’s social overwhelm drama – so there’s not a ton of respite. But at least it’s not that constant dark cloud of risk management and imagined damage control. At least I’m out from under that.

So, what have I learned from all of this? It’s going to take some time to figure that all out, but one thing I’ve gathered, is that I have a very unique ability to see people for what they are and accept them for what they are… regardless of their perceived disability and limitations. I can see the goodness and strength in everyone, and I can see the hidden abilities they have, which are usually eclipsed by their challenges or shortcomings. I’ve known a lot of functionally limited people over the course of my life, and none of them have actually seemed as damaged or as strange as others said they were.

I have always been this way, perhaps because it’s what I needed most from others — but never got it. When I was younger, it got me in trouble because I was taken advantage of by people with ill intentions. It’s taken me years to learn how to discern and steer clear of the trouble-makers.

What I’d like to do now, is find some volunteer opportunities to use that to help others.

I have several free days my employer gives me to use for volunteer work, so for the holiday season, I think I’ll look for a chance to do that.

Everything can be used — especially the difficulties.

Onward.

 

 

Or… I could have fun with it

roller-coasterWhat a roller coaster. One day, we’re up. The next we’re down.

Sigh.

I started out yesterday feeling pretty great. Then came the speed bump.

My employer announced its quarterly numbers about a week ago, and they just missed their projected numbers by a smidge. But they still missed.

So, yesterday we found out that our bonuses will be affected by the shortfall, and there are a lot of unhappy campers walking around. The holidays are coming, and there’s going to be a little less Christmas cheer for some.

The crazy thing is, I’d bet good money that none of the people actually responsible for running the company will have their personal financial situation affected. A lot of them have a ton of money, already, so even if they do share in the bonus payout reduction, they won’t feel even a 10% drop — whereas the rest of us “on the ground” have a very different story to tell.

I think it would be much more fair for the people in charge of the big decisions to take the hit, rather than passing it along to us. It just feels like a sort of punishment. And that on top of the ongoing negotiations about the company being acquired… It’s all very exciting.

And my back and hips are killing me, because the chair they gave me is for sh*t… and I have been sitting too much. I used to have a self-constructed standup desk at my old office.  Four cases of seltzer water with a shelf on top. I think I’ll reconstruct that. I have the room in my new cubicle, and it’s the exact right height for me. We’ll see. I do have a shelf that’s the right height, as well, so maybe I don’t need to reconstruct it.  Bottom line is, I need to be standing, not sitting. Sitting is bringing the pain.

So, my bonus is messed up, I have no idea if I’ll have this job in another 6-8 months, and people around me are getting tweaked… emotionally needy… upset… And it’s just the beginning. The acquisition/merger won’t be done for some months, yet, so we’ve got a ways to go. There are a number of acquisitions and mergers going on in the tech world, right now. Some of them have epic proportions. All these people being moved around and nudged/pushed out of their comfort zones…. It’s like the whole world is in flux.

But at least I’m not in the dire straits that people in the Middle East and Africa are. All those people being displaced… Holy crap, it’s just crazy.

In the midst of it all, I can count my blessings, which is fortunate. And I am actually in a really good space. I have a line of work that I love so much, I do it in my spare time. I just love it, and it really is a natural progression of my skills, abilities, and interests. Compared to where I was, just a year ago, my situation is much more stable — and this, in spite of being on the verge of possible displacement.

The thing that’s more stable is my prospects of employment. I have a killer skillset, with the right kind of experience at the right kinds of companies (home-grown global corporate success stories that everybody in the region knows about and respects). And my skills are portable across a number of different industries, so that bodes well for my ongoing employment. I’m less concerned about working for only one company for the long term. That’s never actually been my ideal. I’m much more concerned about staying viable — especially as I’m getting older in a field where employers favor people who are 20 years younger than myself. And the happy fact is that my skills and abilities are still very much in-demand, and they meet a lot of needs very neatly.

No need to “shoehorn” myself into a position – I’m flexible enough to fit in a lot of places, which has really been my goal all along. While I do love the work I do for a living, and I do it on my own time as well, I still have a lot of other interests that I need to pursue without financial pressure. I have research to do and writing to do. I have blog posts to write. And I need to do that all without having to worry about where my next meal is coming from. That kind of stress is a killer.

So, I’m looking on the bright side and just having fun with things. I had a dark time on Sunday, when all the excitement of the past week caught up with me, and I started to sink into that dismal place where I didn’t feel like going on. At all. Of course, I had to, because I had things I needed to take care of, but I just didn’t feel like it. And that, after feeling so strong and clear for many days…. depressing.

But I took it easy, got some rest, and yesterday looked very different to me. Today looks different, as well. I’m getting back on track, having fun with things, and really digging into my work. I have no idea what they will be doing with me or anyone else on my team, in the future, so I’m just “doing my thing” and doing the work that’s meaningful to me — and also valuable in the market. I’m doing my research via online job boards, to see who’s paying the most — and for what types of work/skills/interests.

I know I’m supposed to follow my bliss, but it’s a lot easier to be blissful, if you have a roof over your head and a belly full of nutritious food and a healthy body… not to mention hope for the future.

I do have all of the above, and I plan to keep it that way. It hasn’t been easy, and if I didn’t work at it, I could easily be in very different straits. But I don’t feel like struggling and hassling with basic survival things, so I’m laser-focused on finding where I can improve… and doing just that. It’s all trial-and-error-and-success. And some days I have huge setbacks.

Today, I can see how all my setbacks can set me up for a better future.

Every piece of info I get about how I screwed up is valuable. It gives me more info about how to move forward in a different way. Story of my life. My mistakes are my own — and they can be the most valuable possessions I have. When I realize that, it frees me up to do more things.

And have fun with it all, as best I can.

Onward.

If you never stop, you never fail

It actually comes in handy

So, I’ve had a lot to think about, the past week. The job is weird, the projects I’m working on are taking turns in unexpected directions, and every time I turn around, there’s something else to do and get done. My to-do list is a many-headed hydra. No sooner do I check off one thing, than a bunch of other things pop up that need to be tended to.

I want to just quit. I want to get in my car and start driving. I could go to Canada. Or I could go to Mexico. My passport is up to date. Hell, I could even go to the airport and find a standby flight to get me out of here. I don’t have a lot of money, but I’m sure I could figure something out. Even if I just go away for a weekend… Actually, that’s an idea. My spouse is going away next weekend on a business trip, so I could coordinate that and take 3 days to myself, somewhere else.

I wouldn’t even need to fly. I could drive. Of course, then there’s the gas… but anyway, I’m sure I could figure something out.

Not that this is going to happen. Next weekend are my three days to do some project work that involves a lot of drilling and hammering and painting. If I skip town, I lose three extremely valuable days of time that’s 100% uninterrupted by someone who is sensitive to noise, dust, and the smell of paint. It’s a window of opportunity that I’m really looking forward to. So no, I won’t be driving to Canada. Or Mexico. Or flying to London for the weekend.

I’m staying home and doing smart things, taking steps, one at a time, to get where I’m going.

I’m going to keep going.

I’m not going to quit. I’m not going to flee from things — I’m going to flee TO them. Rather than bagging it and ditching the whole lot of people who are either not supporting me or getting in my way, I’m going to hang tough and stay steady and find other and new ways to move forward the way I see fit.

I’ve had a lot of opportunity to contemplate this, this past week. I had big plans for one of my projects, and by this time, things were supposed to be crazy-busy, with money and other support rolling in, and my phone ringing off the hook. That’s what happened a number of years back, when I announced another one of my projects — the response was so crazy and overwhelming, I was swamped by the feedback and I kind of lost it (that was within a year after my last TBI, before I realized what was going on with me and how badly I’d been hurt). I was a victim of my own success, and I was fully expecting something similar to happen this time.

This new project is a lot more interesting (and fun) than that prior one was, so I had every expectation that this would make waves. My current announcements to friends, family, and the press (aka marketing push) were supposed to make a big splash and get people all excited about what I’m doing. But it just didn’t work out that way. Not in the least. Everybody looked at what I announced and said, “Cool!” and went back to what they were doing before. So much for that big idea.

In a certain light, you could certainly say that the Big Announcement was a failure. It did not produce the results I was hoping for – not even close. It has gotten some attention, here and there, but not on the scale I expected. And in the back of my mind, I’ve had this big neon FAIL! sign blinking in bright colors that light up the night sky. Seriously, it’s been waking me up at 2 a.m. in a cold sweat, and I’ve felt like a blithering idiot for thinking this could work. I want to don a disguise with a beard and glasses and head for the border, incognito.

But let’s not be silly here. This is but one step in a direction I am going, and the things I’m learning now are going to be incredibly useful later on. Plus, my whole existence doesn’t hinge on the success of this one announcement. If anything, my existence (and the success of this project) actually hinges on DOING, not discussing. People want to know when the project is done, not when I’ve started it. They want to know when I’ve got something final for them to get. Not what fantastic ideas I have about how to make that happen. And frankly, I don’t blame them. I’m the same way, myself. I need to see something concrete and finalized, not a work in progress. I’m a busy person, and like so many others, I have my own concerns and projects to think about.

In retrospect from a certain angle, I could have predicted this — my project is a work in progress, and the people I made the announcement to are mainly interested in finished projects.  But at least I tried. At least I put it out there. ‘Cause there’s always a chance that I’m wrong about my suppositions. And it could have just as easily have gone “my way” — if I’d never put it out there, I never would have found out.

The bright neon blinking FAIL sign has gotten progressively dimmer over the past days, almost to the point where it’s gone away. The important thing is that I’ve tried. I’ve given it my best shot, and I put it out there. And the things I’m learning from this are really going to pay off in the future.

And when I think about it, I realize that if I just keep going, there can be no failure. Ever. It’s all just experience. It’s all just lessons to learn, and I’ll be able to use each and every thing I learn in the future. Learning hard lessons is the toughest thing about succeeding. You sometimes have to go through so much to get where you’re going, and not everyone can keep going under those circumstances.The only thing that’s happened, is my attempt didn’t have the results I was expecting. I didn’t “fail” — I tried something and found out my expectations were not met, and I realized there were some things I overlooked. There’s no crime in that. The real crime would be not even trying at all.

So, rather than feeling down on myself for things not turning out like I had planned and hoped, I’m feeling pretty good that I put myself out there and went through the steps of making the announcement. I’m learning a whole lot as I go, and it’s all going to be fodder for me later on. That knowledge is going to be priceless. And it’s well worth a little disappointment and surprise along the way.

Heck, if I want to get in my car and drive far, far away, I can take the long way to the hardware store.

Halfway there…

I normally don’t mark the passing of time in terms of weeks and half weeks, but this is one of those weeks when everything feels intense and heavy and like a LOT of work. It IS a lot of work, I know. And when I’m in a groove, I don’t feel the burn so intensely. But still. It’s a LOT of work.

I’m coordinating a couple of big projects with a bunch of people – about 15 of them, in all. There are different parts of the projects that each person handles, and I’m at the center of it all, keeping things running. Me, of all people. It’s pretty funny to think of it — just a few short years ago, I was convinced that I was useless in this respect. That’s all changed, of course, but when I’m not up to my eyeballs in work-work-work, the panic sets in… I talk myself down… I get some food and/or some rest… and I go back into the midst of it.

So it goes. On good days, I feel strong and resolute and I feel like everything is coming together. In the tougher moments, waves of anxiety roll over me, and I am tired… so tired. But I know that it’s just the fatigue, as well as all the demons chasing around in my head, and those messages I’ve heard so often over the years that I have to just plain ignore, because they are not going away.

The one thing that saves me is remembering, this is all just a bunch of experiences – it’s lessons I need to learn along the way, and what I don’t know now, I will learn for tomorrow. It’s a process, it takes time. And it takes effort and application. It’s not going away.

See, here’s the thing — I need to learn… an awful lot, as it turns out. And learning for me is not always easy. I can be hard-headed and stubborn, set in my ways, and thin-skinned. I am quick to tell myself that I’m damaged, broken, incapable, a loser. It’s just habit. And breaking old bad habits is not always easy. But this is all learning, it’s all moving from where I am to where I’m going, and if that means I learn that it’s better to get to bed early and start fresh in the morning, instead of pushing myself till 1 a.m. (like I did last night), then that’s how it is. I have my limits, and I need to respect them. When I don’t, unfortunate things happen (like me feeling like shite all day today).

It’s all lessons. It’s all learning. It’s all experiences. Nothing more. I can make of them what I will, and I can decide for myself what it all means. I can choose to go easy and be my own best friend and advocate, or I can choose to ride myself as I’ve done for so many years in the past, and make myself miserable in the process.

Tonight, I’m choosing something that makes sense for me — common sense. I’m calling it a night early and getting some danged sleep. In the morning I will be better. But right now, I’m a little worse for wear.

So, off to bed I go. The folks I need to contact will still be there in the morning.

I’m sure they’d rather hear from me when I’m coherent 😉

 

 

 

 

 

Push hard, then let it go

Yeah – push it

I’ve come to realize that, in the course of my life, I’ve acquired habits of mind and action that have really worked against me, time and time again. Most of us have. I’m not alone in that. And I’ve also come to realize that those poor habits have always seemed to work for me because I was fairly functional and I didn’t have a lot to lose. The stakes weren’t particularly high, and I didn’t have much motivation or reason to change the way I thought about and did things.

Prime Example: My old plodding “slow and steady wins the race” approach, which saw me spending years upon years moving steadily towards a distant goal, only to give up at a certain point… for some reason or another. My intention all along was to keep things at an even keel, to not let things get out of hand and not to feel out of control, and to move forward slowly, putting one foot carefully in front of the other. The problem was, when I did that, I didn’t develop any tolerance for stresses and strains, and I became more susceptible than ever to the ups and downs of life. If things went “too fast”, I would freak out. If things didn’t go according to plan, I would lose it. I was in a perpetual state of anxiety, because I feared with all my heart those ups and downs that are in fact a normal part of life. And with nearly every major undertaking of my life, where I had a dream I wanted to realize with all my heart, I gave up when the going got “out of control”. I just let things drop, because the anxiety was too intense for me.

It’s become painfully clear to me in the past couple of years that if I continue to follow those habits of mind and action, I’m really not going to get anywhere. I’m going to stay stuck in that same-old-same-old world and I’m not going to live the life of my dreams — I’m going to just keep dreaming about the life of my dreams. I need to be more resilient. I need to be less fragile. I need my life to be less dependent on things be exactly as I envision them. I need to learn to handle those ups and downs a whole lot better. I need to actually welcome the unexpected and see where it will take me.

I think I’ve figured out how to do it. This new technique of mine involves treating unexpected things — and a lot of the things I used to fear with all my heart — as welcome challenges, not dreaded threats. It’s about walking straight into situations that normally terrify me, and taking them as they come — as a warrior, not a worrier.

See, here’s the thing… I need to be more resilient. I need to develop more ability to handle anxiety-producing situations. I need more practice dealing with those things in a positive way.

That takes practice. It takes a constant, regular willingness to step up and go into situations where I am not 100% confident of my abilities, but I am 100% confident that I will build up my abilities through this practice. It takes a willingness to look stupid, to look foolish, to possilbly be taken advantage of, and the understanding that I’m not going to be perfect the first time out, but I will get stronger. And better. And smarter, along the way.

Of course, this involves added stress — in moderate doses — followed by ample rest and relaxation. It means I need to push myself a bit, then back off and let myself digest everything. It’s like having a good workout and wearing yourself out, then resting and eating well for days afterwards, giving your body a chance to recover and bounce back — stronger than before.

The hard part in all this for me is the resting period. I’ve never been big into relaxation, and in fact, I’ve only learned to consciously relax in the past couple of years. There has been so much stress in my life, for as long as I can remember, just getting through each day, and the costs of me not being “on” have been high. Nobody likes to be attacked — physically and verbally — and nobody likes to be ridiculed. If I wasn’t paying attention and wasn’t on the defensive, that’s exactly what would happen to me, when I was a kid. And that pattern persisted over the years, in some cases becoming self-fulfilling.

So many times, we get exactly what we expect, and my expectations were very low.

Very low, indeed.

Now, though, it’s just not cutting it for me anymore. I am so sick and tired of the mediocrity around me, and the company I’ve ended up keeping over the years. I am sick and tired of being at the mercy of employers and C-level execs and managers who care more about themselves and their own little empires than the welfare of the whole company. I am sick and tired of being pushed and pulled around and used like a tool by people who have no ethics and certainly no apparent morals. I’m not getting on my high horse. I just get sick and tired of having my life influenced by people without vision and character, whose values bear no resemblance to mine.

And I’ve had enough of working for people who will happily throw me under the bus for their own short-sighted agendas, which cause so much pain and suffering to their employees and direct reports.

They don’t care about me. They don’t care about anything but themselves. Why should I care about them? And why should I keep being stuck with them and their hare-brained schemes? Makes no sense.

So, to pull away from all of that and make my own way in the world, I need to be a lot more resilient and a lot less fragile. I need to see challenges and failures and necessary and important steps along the way to making my life what it should be. I need to stop seeing things in terms of “shortcomings” and “failure”, anyway. They’re all lessons. Plain and simple. Just lessons — and opportunities to grow and learn and be better tomorrow than I am today.

All that being said, I really need to change around my approach to how I do things. Rather than mapping things out, slow and steady, and plodding through them, I need to get some fire into it. I need to push myself hard to get through the challenges, with my attention trained on what’s going on. And then I need to let it go. I waste waaaay too much time worrying about the results of my actions and choices, concerned that they may be harmful to others. It’s good to desire positive relations with others, but not at the expense of doing what you need to do.

I’m way too haunted by the “terrible” things I’ve done. Plenty of people over the years have accused me of hurting them, doing and saying “awful” things that cut them to the quick. Okay, maybe I have been on the rough side at times. I admit that. At the same time, I realize I’ve taken way too much flak from people for their own problems, their own weaknesses, and their own unwillingness to take responsibility for their own B.S.

Seriously, I have had it with people who make me responsible for their pain. I’ve wasted way too much time on people like them, thinking I was going to help them or make things easier for them. Silly. All I did was drag myself down. They weren’t interested in lifting themselves up. They just wanted people to feel sorry for how “down” they were… and then stay stuck in that pitiful state. And the more I tried to help them, the more they turned on me. Because they couldn’t stand the idea of things actually working out for them, and if my example and my words and support threatened what they knew, they would actually turn on me and punish me for trying to help them.

What a waste. I feel really bad for folks like them. But is it worth me holding myself back for them? No. Not at all.

So, here’s my new approach — push hard and just do what I need to do. Be clear about what I need to do, both for myself and others. Be totally honest with people and let them know where they stand with me, and let them worry about how they handle it. Quit taking responsibility for things I cannot control (like other people’s state of mine), and take full responsibility for myself. And treat challenges and “threats” as chances to learn important lessons. The harder things are for me, the more necessary the lessons. And the more I walk right into those lessons — face forward, standing tall — the more I have to gain.

I’m going to get knocked down. I know that. I am going to take heat, and I’m going to be threatened by people who seek to undermine me. But if I stay strong in my mind and keep focused on what it is I am doing and how I am going to do it, that can get me through. And if I keep flexible and open to change, and if I get plenty of rest and good sleep, then I can take whatever comes.

That much is clear to me, after I got 5 hours of sleep in my nap yesterday. I had a bunch of things planned, and I had a very busy morning. After my lunch and shower, I lay down “for a little bit”. I didn’t set the alarm. I just let myself sleep. And when I woke, it was 5 hours later. And I felt phenomenal. Really, really good. The best part was, later when it was time for bed, I didn’t stay up. I actually went to bed. And I got some more good sleep. I pushed myself hard, then I rested.

And today I feel like I can handle just about anything. I had my morning workout. I had an idea for a new project that’s about 5 years out (and depends on my current projects going well). And my day does not look as terribly overwhelming and daunting to me, as it often does, when I have just one day left in the weekend and there’s a lot I haven’t accomplished that I intended to.

I have a plan put together for how to handle everything, I know most of what needs to be done, and I’ve learned some incredible lessons in the past couple of weeks that will help me a whole lot later on. I’ve made some expensive mistakes in the past months, but those are not likely to happen again, and that’s worth more to me than all the easy “success” in the world.

I’m just starting out down this new road, and I am very hopeful of the good that will come of it. If nothing else, having this new approach and new attitude will help me feel better along the way, instead if burdening me with all sorts of heavy concerns about things I cannot control and am not responsible for. It’s good. It’s really good. Plus, taking my lumps and learning as I go will only help me across the board, as I move forward.

I just need to give myself ample time to rest. And now that I have that critical piece in place in my life — knowing how to relax, and realizing just how good it feels — I’m one step closer to having that be a reality for me on a regular basis.

It’s all a process of course. I will make progress, then I will lose ground. That’s just how things go. But I will keep moving and I will keep progressing. It’s all good — and it’s just getting better.

 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed…

I’ve been roaming around online for a while, now, and I keep coming across more and more information about TBI, especially as it relates to returning Iraq Operation veterans. There’s a lot of vocal support for folks who came back from Iraq either in this present operation, or the one “way back when”.

The stories are heart-breaking and infuriating… as are other tales of TBI struggles (having to do with car accidents, falls, etc.)

But I’m finding that I can’t really devote a whole lot of time to other people’s stories, or I just get overwhelmed. I think that may be why there’s not a lot of consistent and persistent information from personal accounts online… people just get overwhelmed and literally have to stop all the connecting and research and what-not. Whether you’re a TBI survivor, or you’re a supporter, all that drama and emotion just gets to be too much.

Which is why I’m sticking as close to factual information as possible. The emotional toll that a TBI can take is tremendous, and those of us surviving often don’t have the resources to handle it all really effectively. I prefer to keep my emotional processing in the counseling sessions I attend regularly. I’m just not equipped to be really constructive with others in regards to that aspect of my life. And anyway, my faculties are sufficiently scrambled to keep me from knowing whether or not I’m truly being constructive.

So, I’ll stick with what facts I can… And hope that I’m not getting them turned around.

The fact is: TBI is a traumatic event and condition (hence the name “traumatic brain injury”). It changes you permanently, often in mysterious ways.

The fact is: TBI is survivable. I wouldn’t be as well-off as I am today, if that weren’t true. You can go through hell and back and come out better than before, in some ways. In other ways, you may never “recover,” but those ways are often replaceable or weren’t very healthy to begin with. It takes time, but the mysteries of TBI reveal much about ourselves that we would never otherwise discover. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

TBI forced me to fend for myself. To provide for myself. To communicate with myself. To advocate for myself. TBI forced me to look deep within and find resources I never would have bothered to find, if I’d been able to look to others to meet my needs. TBI turned me into the person I am today, and my dear friends and family members are fine with me, just as I am. It took me from the ordinary to the extra-ordinary. And that can’t be a bad thing.

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