that’s (me)ntal [pt. 2]: writing the wrongs

People change.

You know, but some people never do.

You know, when people change

They gain a peace, but they lose one too.

Future Islands. “Seasons (Waiting On You).” Singles, 4AD, 2014, Spotify, open.spotify.com/track/41X9To0bQ4fpoSRri4NHiI.

 

I’ve changed. And so have you. We all change. Better; worse; we change nevertheless. Therefore, on its own, declaring that I’ve changed is hardly profound. How I’ve changed, and what things I can or cannot change is what’s notable. Indeed, as Future Islands argue above, “some people never do,” but how–i.e., of which quality–have they remained unchanged? As surely they’ve changed in one capacity or another.

I have many flaws: if you know me; you know them well. If you don’t, you may gain insight by simply gleaning some of my confessions via this blog. In other words, you (likely) know (some of) my wrongs, of which I have my fair share. No one particularly enjoys speaking on these blemishes, as we wish to show off our best selves, not our worst. But insofar as personal growth is concerned, it’s necessary.  Perhaps not in public, but at the very least in private, within the confidence of those closest to us. Today, I shall endeavor to do the former—not because I wish to paint myself in a poor light (I mean, I am still human), but instead because, firstly, it’s the second part of my “that’s (me)ntal” (self-)exploration “series,” and secondly, because transparency is required if we’re to have healthy discourse over such topics of vulnerability.

Prior to further exploration, I would like to thank everyone who reached out with comments, support, questions, and–you know–for reading the first part of this series. I was overwhelmed, and certainly didn’t expect it. Additionally, I’d like to apologize for taking so long to write in its regard, again. Frankly, I should be apologizing to myself, since I enjoy this. With so many thoughts constantly swirling around in my head I should rush to codify them. I will improve in that capacity; both for you and me. Furthermore, I didn’t really know which direction to go after “[pt. 1].” It was more like directions (plural). Until now…

Very recently, someone close to me remarked that I’m moody, temperamental, and ‘express anger [in certain ways].’ I trust this person, and hold their opinion in esteem, so I must take what they said to heart. So, let’s talk about it.

As I cited in “[pt. 1]”:

I had a terrible temper from kindergarten through high school. And when I speak of this in the past tense I don’t mean it’s gone; I mean I didn’t yet possess the awareness or ability to control it.

My temper has never been gone; I merely work hard to control it. I’m sure the rolling years might soften me a bit (as they already have), but our chemical make-up is the essence of who we are. Note: this isn’t an excuse for who we are, but instead a piece of valuable knowledge which we may wield against those things which afflict us. In the words of G.I. Joe, “knowing is half the battle.” Knowledge is truly power when it comes to working through our personal issues. I wouldn’t be where I am today–mentally, and perhaps even physically–if not for such knowledge. Possessing an awareness of our worst self allows us to be our best self; monitor, improve, and shore up the weaknesses, while honing the strengths. No one is ever a “finished product,” and if they declare they are then they’re untrustworthy. We will continue to work on ourselves until they day we “peace out.” And so I continue to persevere, but even I fail from time to time, and so do you, but it’s imperative that we continue to drag ourselves up and push on. If I’ve been moody, temperamental, and ‘express[ed] anger,’ I must take a look under the hood.

Alas, unlike a car, we can’t pull ourselves into a garage and cease using ourselves until we’re repaired. We don’t live in a vacuum (and if you do, that’s gross, and you’re probably really dirty); we have to deal with things on the fly. However, what we can do is search for the source of the stressor(s) that compelled us to such (in)action, assess it, and consider how we might remove or augment it. Granted, there are certain stressors which we can’t simply remove–e.g., children, work, money, etc.–but there are many others with which we can. What’s more, even those stressors that aren’t going away can be improved, and much of it is entirely within ourselves.

Consequently, I must consider what might have lead me to come across in such a negative way to my close friend, and address it. The hardest part of this process is hearing that I’ve behaved this way in the first place. Ironically, that is the knowledge–I now possess the weapon with which to slay such detrimental behavior (and, yes, I just used slay as a metaphor, but I like the fantasy realm, so deal with it). It’s now incumbent upon me to use it.

Three months ago, I was asked to leave the region of a company I’ve called home for the past seventeen years. Seventeen years ago I couldn’t legally drink, and seventeen years from now I can legally get a senior discount at Denny’s. To say it was a long time is a massive understatement. I grew up, and became a man. Now, I both love the company, and everyone I’ve crossed paths with, so if you’re hoping to find some sort of diatribe regarding what might’ve occurred you’ve come to the wrong place. Contrarily, losing a job–especially one of such tenure–is one of the most stressful life events, and I’d be remiss to not consider such a major incident when assessing my stress level.

It’s been a great period of growth for me, but if you know me, you know that I like to be busy. I’m a thinker–cough–I mean, an over-thinker. I sincerely enjoy thinking, but left to my own devices it can take me down paths I wish not explore. And such is me without a full-time job. Oh, I’ve worked–I haven’t taught so much tennis in my life, and I’ve begun grad school preparations, and I’m taking continuing education courses, and I’ve run, and run, and run, and run, and run…and run. In fact, I feel like I should be running presently. I seriously considered returning to grad school full time, but–see–I like to make/save money (another of life’s greatest stressors), and that’s a little difficult to do while burying my face in a book forty hours a week.

In a way, I am thankful for getting this opportunity. It’s the longest period I haven’t consistently worked since 1999. More importantly, without such time I very likely wouldn’t be returning to school; I wouldn’t have taken a course I’ve always wanted to take (copywriting); wouldn’t have realized that sitting on my ass for too long stinks; and wouldn’t have a major life event with which to draw experience from. Sadly, I also lament that such a period occurred, as I’ve been aloof, not present, spaced out…and moody, temperamental, and ‘express[ing] anger [in certain ways].’ I’ve hurt someone close to me–indeed, perhaps others as well–and my ability to handle future major life events has been called into question.

I can’t divine the future (I know, you’re shocked–more on that revelation in a future post), but I know that I’ve always drawn upon my experiences, positive and negative, to foster a better tomorrow for both myself, and the people I surround myself with. If you know me well, you know that one of the most difficult journeys of my life began over three years ago. I don’t wish to rehash that now, but it fostered the largest period of growth in my life to date. I’d like to think I handled it pretty well, all things considered. But one such performance doesn’t not portend a future one, and we need not look any further than my recent “jobless” experience.

As stated above, my life doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are family and friends I interact with daily. I’ve been petulant, and it’s had a negative affect on those close to me. I must remove the stressors: the lack of a full time job; (making/saving) money. It is to this end that I return to work for the company I’ve called home for so long. I’ve never been so excited to become really busy, and I don’t wish to endure such a period ever, again. But if I do–or experience another major life event–I plan to ensure I take the knowledge gained from it and do my best to keep my head about me, and to not get lost inside of it; to remember my stress can have a negative impact on others’ lives, especially those closest to me; and to take the most expedient path to the removal of whatever ails me.

Moreover, and perhaps of utmost importance, it’d be folly for me to assume the aforementioned experience of “freedom” is the root of what’s become of my emotions. Not in the least–it’s served to remind me that I must be ever wary of my mental health. To pin my temperament entirely upon this recent spell would be an excuse, and would belie the truth–that I must always be (emotionally) considerate of myself, and those around me. Like yourself, my mental health must be exercised daily; I must not ever enter a period of contentedness. We can see ourselves gaining weight; we can feel ourselves running more slowly; we can feel the aches and pains; but what goes on inside our psyche is ever subtle. Oh, there are signs. We simply need to know what to look for; assess ourselves daily, listen to our feelings, attempt to understand them, and seek to exercise them to peak health.

My job; my schooling: they’ve allowed me to “gain a peace,” though with them comes new stressors, and the “[loss of] one, too.” I will be ready. I’m out of my head now. I’ve written the wrongs, and I aim to get them right.

I’m sorry to any I’ve hurt along my way–especially the one who called me out.

Thank you for reading.

Best,

-j

 

Songs listened to while writing this post (Spotify playlist):

  • Seasons (Waiting On You), Future Islands
  • Imogen, Nick Mulvey
  • Rainmaker, Sleigh Bells
  • Baralku, Emancipator
  • Hearts, Blackbird Blackbird
  • Pain, The War on Drugs
  • Holding On, The War on Drugs
  • Strangest Thing, The War on Drugs
  • Jet, Digitalism
  • Pleader (feat. The Age of L.U.N.A.)[Mr. Jukes Remix], alt-J
  • Deadcrush, alt-J
  • I Don’t Know (feat. Samuel T. Herring), BadBadNotGood
  • Snow (Hey Oh), Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Jungle, Tash Sultana
  • Begin (feat. Wales), Shallou, Wales
  • Taizo, FORQ
  • Like the Moon, Future Islands
  • Fall From Grace, Future Islands
  • Big Jet Plane, Angus & Julia Stone

 

 

 

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