Tag Archives: fear

Ides of March Ramblings

Warning: profanity ahead.

Here’s the simple, honest truth of where I am as a person: my tolerance for other people’s bullshit is gone.  If I didn’t directly cause the issue that’s got your ass puckered, don’t turn your ire on me because the backlash will be painfully honest, unfiltered, and more than likely profane.  If I did create the issue, I’ll be the first to apologize and make amends for my transgression, but if I didn’t, don’t even think about taking it out on me.  When I was young and insecure and weak, I let too many people walk all over me and take advantage of me and trample my self-esteem, but the great thing about a little stroll through hell is that it reforges your will into something stronger, something more resilient, and at times something a little meaner.

My trip through hell mostly consisted of losing my children and learning to live with that emptiness in my heart.  I was stripped bare to my soul and forced to look at myself void of any facade.  I saw myself pretty clearly: the flaws, the scars, the wounds, and the good.  In those darkest moments, when I truly was alone and had nothing, something quite amazing happened.  I learned to love myself.  I have every excuse in the universe to be a son of a bitch, a user, a junkie, a drunk, or a derelict, but instead of allowing others to rob me of the goodness and decency in my heart, I’ve continued to live by compassion, respect, loyalty, devotion, and enterprise, and no one on this earth will ever dampen my self-esteem again.

I’ve also, quite literally, faced my own mortality three times so far.  At 8, I got a serious blood infection from a tick bite and at the worst weighed 40 pounds.  Obviously, I was too young then to comprehend the gravity of that situation, but as an adult, I get it.  At 16, I endured the shotput accident and learned the fragility of life.  At 38, I thought my body was failing me and had to deal with the prospect of losing my independence and possibly my life before my children were grown.  To a man like me, that’s about as terrifying as it gets, but I’ve endured all three and come through the other side stronger, wiser, and yes, a little harder.

So before you step to me with some self-generated bullshit or something someone else has done to ruffle your feathers, you better take a long, close look in my eyes and make sure you’re prepared for the blow-back because I will not tolerate it, not from you, not even from my sons.  I’ve paid my motherfucking dues and have earned the right to stand up for myself.  And you best believe me when I say if I can live without my kids in my life every day, I damn sure can live without you, no matter who you are.  If you come at me with respect and treat me with dignity, you’ll find a pretty decent man who will offer you courtesy and compassion, tolerance and acceptance, but if you cross my line in the sand, just be forewarned that this hardened piece of hickory has a little sting to it.

Friday Morning Ramblings

Dear sons, one of my hopes for you is that you learn to be self-sufficient.  There’s a freedom to knowing how to do things for yourself that’s invaluable.  Not needing someone else to wash and iron your clothes or tend your yard or patch your roof or cook your meals allows you to stand on your own and not be dependent on anyone.  I hope you learn all of the essential skills and grow into the kinds of men who don’t need a woman to survive and who don’t have to call a contractor every time a faucet starts dripping.  You will be much happier men if you develop these skills.

I’m fortunate that your great-grandfather and papaw taught me how to do the basics of most things.  I’m fortunate that I learned to cook and do laundry while in college.  There aren’t many things I can’t do for myself, and I feel confident that even if I don’t know how to do something, I can figure it out with a little trial and error.  Part of learning self-sufficiency is not fearing making mistakes.  We learn the most when we try something, fail, and then try again.  If you want to grow into strong, independent men, set aside the fear of failure and try to do things for yourselves.

Even though this hasn’t worked out for me yet, I also believe that having self-sufficiency will make you a better partner for whomever you end up with.  When you can help out with the dishes as well as mow the yard, you can share more of the daily chores that make life a grind.  Sharing the load goes a long way to reducing stress in a relationship and makes you more equal as partners.  Also, if you can do for yourself, you are less likely to end up trapped in a bad situation because you have the confidence that you can survive on your own.

So sons, learn as many skills as you can.  As you grow, I’ll try to teach you some of what I’ve learned, but the most important skill I hope you cultivate is to teach yourself how to learn new things.  If you can do this, you’ll learn independence, and with independence comes freedom.  One of my great hopes for both of you is that you never feel dependent on anyone for anything.  I love you, boys, and can’t wait to see you in a couple of months.

Late Night Ramblings

I wrote on here a couple of weeks ago about the neurological issues I’ve been dealing with for the last 8 months or so, and now that I seem to be on the mend, I want to share more details of what I went through.  Back in 1989, I suffered a pretty severe head trauma and have lived with the side effects of post-concussion syndrome ever since.  For the first year, I had a constant headache, and not your run of the mill one either.  To this day, a headache has to pretty severe for me to even notice it.  For about 10 years or so, I would  occasionally lose focus on where I was and what I was doing.  It would sometimes take me a minute or two to come back to full consciousness, but fortunately, that symptom faded with time.  The three that have remained are sensitivity to light, trouble with word recall from time to time, and poor equilibrium.  To me, they are minor nuisances that I’ve grown to accept and live with.

Several years back, I started noticing a random tremor in my left hand.  It was infrequent and rarely lasted for more than a few seconds, so I figured it was just another effect of the injury.  Then, last summer, that hand started giving me lots of issues.  The trembling became nearly constant, and sometimes I would get a severe cramp that would draw my middle fingers together in a painful knot that took several minutes of rubbing to undo.  By mid-September, the trembling had spread to my right hand, though not as severe or constant.

Around this time, I also realized that mundane tasks like walking, especially on stairs, writing, and typing took extreme amounts of concentration.  I could still function, but it took all of my effort to do them.  My muscle strength was fine, but getting my muscles to respond took everything I had.  With each step, I felt like my legs were glued to the floor and didn’t want to lift.  Just holding a pen steady was maddeningly difficult, and while typing, I would constantly miss keys or hit two at once.  I went from being able to easily type 60 words a minute to struggling to complete 30.  Also, I noticed that my handwriting on the board kept getting smaller, especially the longer I wrote.  My arms and legs often felt like they were either very far away from my body or disconnected altogether.  After doing some preliminary research on WebMD and the Mayo Clinic, I was terrified I had either Parkinson’s or MS.

Then, in late September/early October, the muscle spasms started.  They would happen sporadically and without warning at odd places on my body.  Usually, they were in my legs or arms, but a few times, they occurred in my abdomen and once on my upper lip.  They weren’t painful, more just annoying, and they would last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.  I never knew when or where they would hit.

Then, sometime in October, the worst symptom hit.  The only way I can describe it is that I felt like I was dying.  Some days were worse than others, but the sensation never went away.  There were days when just getting out of bed took everything I had, and making it through each day at work required every ounce of energy I could muster.  The feeling was so real and terrifying I actually wrote letters to my sons in case something did happen to me.  I lost count of how many times I broke down crying from the fear.  To further complicate the situation, the doctors had no idea what was going on.  Every single test kept coming back normal, and as I wrote before, my neurologist treated me as if I were imagining the whole thing.  I know I wasn’t imagining that feeling of death.

The whole experience was a nightmare, and I’ve never felt so helpless and alone.  Today, fortunately, I feel like I’m healing.  The death feeling faded within weeks of cutting out gluten, and the muscle spasms have all but ceased.  I still have some trembling in my left hand, and my coordination isn’t 100%, but everyday I feel a little better.  If you are experiencing any unexplained health issues, I urge you to look at gluten as a potential culprit.  The effects of the sensitivity can mimic nearly anything, and it affects everyone in different ways.  The cure is simple, and there’s about a 6 month healing process.  If you are of Scots-Irish heritage, you are highly likely to have the sensitivity, so please, don’t ignore the possibility.