Plateaus in the valley

It’s almost been two months since my last therapy session. I ended therapy on a good note, even though it was an abrupt ending. I went as far as I could. The progress that I made was long and the beginning dissolved in the far horizon just ahead of where I think I started. I went in thinking that I needed to learn how to enter into a relationship with a woman. I came out learning how much I have lost in my early years – even now I still do the grief work of the lost childhood and acknowledging how I made myself invisible. I came out learning exponentially more about myself.

When the weather started getting colder in mid-November, I found myself sinking back into a depressive state. Although it wasn’t as bad as it used to be, it was a familiar feeling. I didn’t know what triggered the descent. Maybe it was a biological response or an unclear memory tied to this time of the year. It was a like an unexpected dip while driving in the fog. I think now that the fog will always be part of the climate of my mind and soul. It will come and go. Sometimes it will stick around and endure even an autumn sun or an ocean breeze. It easy to think that a stint in therapy (or any kind of treatment) will take you beyond the gravity of depression. It’s paradoxical that the ones who truly understand how to defeat their depression are the ones who recognize the bond they have with it. Like the bond that the moon has with the earth, we can experience depression in its weakness when it’s at its apogee, and in its terror when it’s close orbit. During this time, I try to remember to care for myself and immerse myself with things and activities I love.

I’m still working on connecting with people when I feel like this – sad for no apparent reason. I’d like to absorb a sense of their happiness through the residue of conversation or a funny joke. It’s like walking against the wind, though. Do I reach to people when I feel like this? Will they think that I only need them when I’m sad? Maybe the good friends won’t mind. I wonder if they’ll mind the long pauses in dialogue and when I stare off.

For now, the fog isn’t so bad. I can breathe it in when I’m standing still. Maybe I’ll bump into somebody.

Going back to go forward

I gave my last week’s notice to my temp agency this week. I found a job at the company where I got laid off back in December 2013. On my second “tour” of this job (2012), I didn’t have any grand purpose in life. I just wanted to work and go home, listen to music, and maybe watch a movie every once in a while. I was doing nothing. I felt like nothing. Most importantly, I felt lost spiritually and I had lost my love of playing the guitar. I just consumed and consumed and produced very little. I remember talking to a close friend during this time of my life and she said that I was spiritually, emotionally, and mentally constipated. She was right. Fortunately, I can say that I’m more regular these days.

When I start this new job at an old company, it will be in a different context. I’ve recently discovered an interest in web development and I’ve been doing initial research on what it takes to do it, who does it, and what they’re doing now. I feel some hope that I can actually change the trajectory of my career path towards something with more meaning connected to a dormant creative force within me. This job is not a vehicle to get me to do nothing. It will be platform in which I can support myself as I explore a possible new passion and pursuit. There’s something comfortable about going into something unknown in a gradual way, like walking into morning fog.

This idea of going back to something familiar while being different emerged during a recent therapy session. We discussed how my return to living with my parents (when I got laid off in 2013) was my way of trying to figure out the problems that have been with me since childhood. I had to go home so I can learn to leave in a way that made sense and reflected a true sense of progression. I’ve left home before to live on my own but I still brought with me my past – with my parents, problems, and pressures. I resonated with this idea when I first heard it because it’s so true. If I really wanted to, I could’ve stayed with a friend for a few months or maybe even live in my car (which is getting harder to do in Orange County). Instead, I found myself at home with familiar smells while living with people that I really didn’t know and who really didn’t know me (even though they think they do). Even though so many of my peers live on their own, I don’t think that they have experienced the expansion of self-knowledge and insight that I have been through in 2014. Suffering seems to produce a wisdom that never leaves you even when you get everything you want.

Write your wrongs

It’s been about 6 months since I first became unemployed. At this point, I have gone through the full spectrum of emotions that one would have while searching for a job. The spectrum is even wider as I’ve searched for purpose and desire for what I want to do.  There are days that I doubt my accomplishments and there are more days where I regret going to grad school. The burden of debt that will get heavier with time has become a given for me and I no longer worry about its existence.  There are days, too, where I relish the freedom that goes along with the search for purpose. I face the day with no expectation.

This freedom is makes me afraid because there is no hiding.  I can’t hide behind people’s expectations, cultural obligations, or external circumstances.  I am responsible for what I do for the day.  In the past few months, I’ve started to write more regularly. I hope that this writing will extract something – a desires or a direction. Music has also been a more regular part of my life. I practice on a semi-daily basis and my skill level has brought me to a new place of possibility and a new appreciation for the intricacy of music.  The freedom of artistic development has also brought anxiety to an already rigid mind.  I find myself regularly worried about the future: money, relationships, actually being an adult. Of course, I regularly doubt my talent despite the gracious compliments from friends and strangers.  I don’t know how this will end. I think I just have to accept it and maybe through its acceptance it will paradoxically vanish.

I think I still have hope that things will work out or that I will come to a place in my head and heart where I accept the hardships of life that seem to characterize adult life in post-9/11, post-economic-decline, life.