Sunday, December 31, 2006

One Man Guy

I'm really turning things around in my life lately. The second thing that's immediately noticeable is the amount of weight I've lost recently. When I first started getting depressed, the day before Thanksgiving, I stopped being able to eat. I had to force down every bite of food I ate for a week--or was it two?

At any rate, I decided that as long as I wasn't eating very much anyway, perhaps I should start cutting back on eating the things I know are bad for me, and have more of the good. I quit with the sugar and the fried foods, replaced them with veggies and such. It's not a strict diet, it's more of a more moderate--and yet more permanent--lifestyle change. As a result, I lost 25 pounds from Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Day. This was without any change at all to how much I exercise (which is none).

Now that I'm feeling better emotionally, I've noticed my eating habits are starting to slip back to what they were. I have to get a little more discipline, is all. If I can engage in some type of regular physical activity, something to get me sweaty and raise my heart rate for at least a half hour a few times a week, that should make most of the difference. Maybe I'll even make it back to my high school weight if I keep it up; just another 40 pounds to go.

Not hard at all, right?

The other new thing I've done lately is to start hanging out more with all types of peoples. Went out to the bar last week, over to a friend's place for a party last night, and all kinds of other various social things in-between. Some time ago, people stopped asking me to go out and do things because I wouldn't ever show up. I started getting a little upset about this, thinking I wasn't desirable company, and the cycle fed itself. Now that I am going out, it's heartwarming to see how happy everyone is to see me in a social setting. It's most definitely the kind of thing I'm going to make time for more often, provided I don't go over budget.

A couple of months ago, just after the break-up, a dear friend of mine asked me over lunch what it feels like to be single. I hadn't yet started feeling the gravity of the situation, so I had no idea how bad it was going to get. Nonetheless, I did have the foresight then to tell him that I didn't know, because I wasn't single yet. I was recovering from a relationship, which is just as far away from being single as actually being IN a relationship. Now, I'm 99% recovered, enough so that I truly feel single for the first time in my adult life.

When I was 14 years old, I got into my first relationship. I've now had six of them, but with virtually no time between each to be by myself. Each time a relationship ended, I would brood over it until I became smitten with someone else, and then I'd chase her until I was in a relationship again. I'd say that the total time spent NOT in a relationship since I was 14 is about four months, if one was to add it all up, and as I said, during those months I was either brooding or chasing. Now, I'm over the pain and the problems of my last relationship's end, and there's no one currently in my life that I'm chasing. For the first time since I was 14--half a lifetime ago--I'm single.

And may I say being single at a party with attractive members of the opposite sex present is FAR more fun when I'm 28 than when I was 14.


P.S. The subject of this blog is also the title of one of my favorite songs. Bonus points to anyone who can correctly identify the artist.

Monday, December 25, 2006

It's Done.

For the last few weeks, I was preparing myself to move on and get over the heartache I've been feeling. Strange, but there was something I was going to do that would be the last--I can't call it an effort, because there's nothing I expected to gain other than my own piece of mind. We'll call it an action.

This action took place on Monday, just before work. Okay, so it was just before I bought a two liter bottle of whiskey and THEN went to work, but still. The point is I did the last thing my heart said I needed to do before getting on with myself. My friends all told me I shouldn't do it, that it would only cause more problems than it solved. But this was something I needed to do for myself, for my own piece of mind. I had so much emotion burning in my heart and I had to let it vent. If I continued to carry it with me, I would be consumed by it. Doing this thing was to let the emotions out, and to let it out was to let it go. I shed the skin of that relationship and began to move forward.

What's odd is how well this seems to have worked. Since then, it's amazing to me how well I seem to have recovered. It sounds cheesy, but I now control my emotions instead of letting them control me. I can work, I can read, watch a movie, hang out with friends, and at (virtually) no time do I sink back into myself and brood.

Of course, I also attribute my newfound peace to the silver lining I mentioned last week. Two weeks ago, on Saturday morning, standing in the chill outside the airport waiting for my ride, I started thinking about whether or not I'd be going to Moscow.

When I first started questioning whether or not I'd be going, I got lots of advice from my friends about why I should go, especially now. I heard lots of reasons, but one rang more loudly than all the others. If I were in a committed relationship, sure I could question leaving for the sake of making the relationship work out. But I didn't have a relationship anymore--all I had was hope. And the hope I had was too weak, too thin of a reason to give up the most grand opportunity of my life. How could I justify giving that up now that the one and only thing that was truly holding me back wasn't holding me back anymore? An excellent point, and I thank the person who first introduced that concept to me, as well as everyone in my life who came after that to tell me the same.

Back to the airport. I began to think, what if my life had gone the way I had planned? Suppose the relationship was all nice and happy, we said our tearful good-byes at the airport, and then I got onto the plane. Once I got to Moscow and the jetlag wore off, I don't suppose it would have taken long before I started to realize just how important she was to me, that I wouldn't want to be there without her in my heart and and in my life. Then I wouldn't have been able to concentrate, I would have started my homesickness and heartbreak then as I felt it a month ago, and believe you me, I would have been on the first plane back home. Of course I can't say these things for certain, but they aren't too impossible to consider.

Now that things have gone the way they have, I can prepare for Moscow with more conviction than I ever had before. Now, with six months to prepare, I can go to Moscow without leaving a significant piece of my heart behind, and I can make the fullest use out of this chance to study at one of the greatest theatres in the world, without the imminent catastrophic distraction I would have faced otherwise.

Of course, this is just another plan, like the one I made when I first got back, and we all know how infrequently a plan is executed in the same fashion it was conceived.

A month ago, I couldn't have imagined how much better I would feel by today. But then, I suppose six months ago I wouldn't have imagined I'd be in the position I'm in now, anyway. Not to mention a year ago, or the year before that . . . .

Sunday, December 17, 2006


So last week started off kind of crappy again. Odd, since I started posting a regular blog, because I usually feel much better after a posting. Last week, it didn't work, and I can't say exactly why. Okay, yes I can, but it's a detail that doesn't matter so much anymore.

That's because at some point on Wednesday afternoon, I started feeling MUCH better. I finally got nearly everything into my new apartment (save a few pieces of furniture), and got almost completely unpacked in the course of about a day.

The last two places I lived were shared space, and nothing much of mine got put up. Both times, the initial move-in was done without me, and by the time I got there, everything had its place, and there was no place for most of what I wanted. For the first time in two years, I have a room that's all mine. Going through boxes, I found pictures I had forgotten I had, most importantly one of my siblings and I when we were all kids. The furniture is where I want it, no compromise. The things on my walls and shelves all belong to me, and are the way I want them. Everything I have that I want to see is somewhere I can see it. The place won't be mine for long, but for now it is well and truly mine. To use a Superman reference, it's my own Fortress of Solitude, if you will, just without all the crystals.

I like it.

This, and I started writing in my private journal more often this week. In it, I voiced a revelation I had last week that gives the first silver lining to the clouds that have oppressed my mood the last several months. Of course, I wish things hadn't turned out the way they had, but I have been told many times lately that everything happens for a reason. With this situation, I've come to understand once again that God isn't going to write me a personal letter telling me exactly what that reason is--it's up to me to discover (or to create) that reason for myself. One week ago yesterday, waiting to be picked up at the airport, that realization came into my mind. The other day, in my journal, I explored that reason, and things began to click into place. It's not time to voice this revelation here, because I have one last thing to do before I can say I'm really moving on; but I am feeling much better. Maybe God sent me a little note after all, told me that it's time to stop bleeding and start healing. Whatever the inspiration, it's working.

Since then, many people at work have expressed to me that I'm finally beginning to act like myself again. It's funny--once upon a time, someone told me how much of an effect my frame of mind has on those around me. I forget who said it, but it was said that I'm usually such a happy, positive guy that when I'm moping around all depressed, it's like there's something wrong with the whole world. If Mark can't find a reason to be happy, what chance do the rest of us have? Well, I can't say I'm well and and truly happy, not just yet, but I'm beginning to see the path to inner peace. I'm laughing and goofing around again. I'm going out drinking and karaoke-ing with my friends, and reconstituting my love of whiskey. I'm losing weight to the point that other people are noticing it.

And most importantly--I have my eye on the future more often than the past.

Here's to the future.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Step upward, step onward

Before I begin, I want to say my most sincere thank you to everyone who not only reads, but comments on these words of mine. I don't mean only here, but to those of you who have sent e-mails or phone calls or any other form of support. My time and internet capabilities have been extraordinarily limited lately, and I haven't yet responded to most of you who've sent advice, encouragement, or just let me know you were listening. But it's important to me that all of you know just how much I appreciate everything you've done or said. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now for the latest.

Depression, I have learned, comes and goes like the tide. Sometimes it's overwhelming, drowning everything in sight. My feet can find no purchase and my arms flail uselessly as the water savagely disorients me, wave after wave knocking me in different directions. When the tide loosens and my feet hit the sand again, I can move once more. Stained and stinking, weakened in flesh and spirit, my bearings come again. I find myself moving on, trying to get further down the shore, searching for some shelter against the next onslaught.

Enough metaphor.

I'm trying to fit into my latest apartment, and I find myself revisiting the notion I first realized when I moved into the last place I lived. I don't have a home anymore. I just have a place where I'll sleep and keep my clothes for the next few months. I used to move once a year, and even that was frustrating. Now, I've called five places "home" in the last two years. The only space I feel I can truly call mine is my truck, which over the last eight years has seen more of me than any two of my homes in that same time period.

I went out of town this week to visit a close friend. It was most helpful, both for the company and the distraction. She let me bear my emotions about the last few weeks, heard every word I had to say, as others have done. Traditionally, I speak to no one when I'm depressed, but this time--this time, I'm truly learning the value of other people's opinions. It's one way I'm learning from the mistakes of my past, this past year most especially.

I'm also waiting for someone to just slap me and tell me to get over it. The situation has changed, and hurt though it may, I can't go back. I can't fix it and make it the way it was. She has moved on with her life, and my role in it will never again be what it ever was or ever could have been. No matter what I have learned, no matter how I have changed, no matter how different and better I could make things if I only had the opportunity, I have to remember--every moment of every day, lest I forget--that the opportunity I want is gone, away, vanished. I already had my shot, and I blew it. Move on.

As easy as speaking so many words, isn't it?

But I cannot abandon my heart, not just yet. There's a point I need to prove, which is that for all my faults and mistakes, I am adaptable, capable of change. I need to make the case that even though it didn't work, it could have worked. I cannot live with her believing that it never would have been possible, that we were simply incompatible, and that's all. I need her to believe not only that I care, but that I see where I went wrong, and that I know how to fix it, were it not too late.

Is this merely a fool's errand? Perhaps. But in order to move forward, I have to prove that I've learned from my past. Maybe this will make no difference to anyone but me, but I won't feel like such an utter failure if I can get this done. Only then, so my heart tells me, will I stop acting like a child who wants his favorite's heart's desire, screaming and raging against the uncaring wind and stars, my cries vanishing into an eternal void, unheard and unmourned.

And perhaps--just perhaps--I'll get something I really want out of this.

Sunday, December 3, 2006


This past week has been another difficult one. I moved out of the apartment, first of all. A friend of a friend had a roommate back out on her, and I needed--very badly--to get out of the situation I was in. So on Thursday, I started taking the most important stuff for living and moved it over. Fortunately, the person who backed out had already paid for December, and my new roommate knows something about what my living situation was like. I was able to get away from where I was and not have to pay double for the month of December. And January is only half the month at the old place, so paying not-quite-double then will be easier to manage, what with a month to come up with the funds.

It's not as easy as it sounds.

I believe this was the right thing to do, yet still it hurts taking another step that asserts the painful reality of the situation. Maybe I'm in denial, and this is helping to force me to accept the world the way it is and not the way I wish it were. I've been doing too much of that, I think. Whatever. It still hurts.

Perhaps most notably, I lost control of myself at work for the first time, and started crying uncontrollably. I've worked the same job for more than eight years, and the routine is well established and easy for me to maintain. During this time I've suffered through three break-ups before this one, each more painful than the last, and yet I was able to push through and maintain professionalism while in the building. This situation has been so uniquely . . . . what's the word? I went from the happiest, most comfortable relationship I've ever been a part of to--well, this. Whatever the word is for that. My boss called me at 1:30 in the morning to make sure I was all right.

I cut my hair short, too. I let it grow for the last year and a half, and had *just* reached the point I could tie it all back; it was the longest it's ever been. But with so much coming at me I couldn't control, I needed something I could take charge of. Regretful of my mistakes, I needed to see a different face in the mirror. I needed a different habit to help reestablish the differences my life has experienced in the last couple of months. Moreover, with my glasses and earring, I got tired of hearing I look like Penn of Penn and Teller two or three times a day. Not that there's anything wrong with that, of course it could have been worse, but I just got tired of being told I look like somebody else. Now, I look like ME.

And I'm pretty damn cute, if I do say so myself.

I'm working my ass off, too. Lunch shifts at one job and dinners at another means that every day is a 12 hour workday, minimum. It's rough, but at least I'm making money, staying distracted, and I fall asleep easily and stay that way through the night. Besides, if I still go to Moscow, my schedule will be more busy than that for a guaranteed six days a week instead of four. I've cut sugar from my diet, and no longer eat until I'm full; I haven't noticed much difference in my body yet, but I feel better physically, and it's only been a week and a half since I started this.

I sure as Hell picked the wrong week to quit smoking, but I cut back a lot. Now, I only have a cigarette when I need to regain control of my emotions instead of whenever the hell I feel like it. At least I'm not physically self-destructing. I'm drinking more often, but never to excess. Overall, I'm trying to move forward, yet each step is difficult, for it takes me away from the way things were, the way they could have been if I hadn't been a fool.

Such is life.