12/15/2014

It was the Ex’s birthday today. For days, she’s been asking me what she should do to celebrate. My answer has been, repeatedly, “do whatever you want to do! It’s your birthday!”

So finally, this morning, she decided she wanted to get dinner. With kiddo, but also with me.

Okay, whatever. I know trouble when I hear it, and this was going to be trouble.

But we went anyway.

And the whole flipping time she was rude, dramatic, nosy, snarky, and just downright unpleasant.

Of course, she wanted details about Christina. She wanted to know all about her. And she wanted kiddo to spill as many beans as possible. It was awkward for everybody. She was asking her questions like, “how does it feel, that your daddy is dating somebody” and all kinds of other loaded questions. And she had the audacity to say that she was going to wait to date until the divorce papers were signed.

Like that mattered when she moved in with the other guy. The guy she is still living with.

Give me a fucking break. As if she’s taking the high road in all of this.

Delusional. Abso-fucking-lutely delusional.

I just kept my mouth shut.

12/14/2014

I’ve been focusing on shame, vulnerability, and authenticity lately.
I watched a TED Talk by Brene Brown (http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?language=en) in which she laid out her ideas about how shame and vulnerability are often seen as weakness, but in reality it is only when we accept them and embrace them that we make progress. All of her ideas reinforced my thoughts on authenticity – not being afraid to show the world who I am and express myself, my feelings, and my ideas. I followed that up by re-reading sections of Stephen Covey’s book The Third Alternative. Again, the idea that it requires vulnerability (seeing myself) and acceptance of others as human beings (seeing you) to get started on the path to synergy.
I have made some attempts at embracing my vulnerability and being more authentic. Throughout, it has been a challenge to overcome my shame – my fear of appearing weak or stupid – and speak my mind. I have done it at work and with my parents. At work, I finally spoke my mind and told the others in my technology leadership team that I really had no idea what I was doing there. I wasn’t sure what my role was, or what was expected of me. The worst-case scenario did not happen; in fact, quite the opposite. Two others stepped in behind me and made the same admission. Another had a bit of a light bulb moment and was surprised that I felt that way, and indicated that he thought we needed to fix that right away. I hope that my supervisor sees that as a sign of my leadership abilities; specifically, the ability to say what others are only thinking.
While I was at my parents’ house over the weekend, my dad brought up a story that someone had shared at church. It was one of those stories where somebody lost something, only to find it (or something like it) in a place where they never were. And, of course, they make a spiritual connection between losing it and finding it. I spoke up. Which was unusual for me, because I usually just nod and smile at those stories. But this time I spoke up and said that I hated to be a buzzkill, but maybe it was just a coincidence. That kicked off a conversation that lasted for several hours. I unloaded my feelings about church on them, and their feedback was more positive than I had anticipated. I explained to them why I don’t go to church anymore; how I felt that in the depth of my struggles, there was nobody who stepped up and said, “me too” when I needed it. And I questioned the authenticity of people who refuse to allow their struggles to see the light of day. I told them that I would be more comfortable in a room of people who were struggling and would struggle alongside me, being able to share their gains and losses, happiness and sadness. And I think, in some ways, they understood me. It was nice.
It felt good to be authentic. I felt like I was being honest with myself and honest with others when so often I find myself feeling disingenuous by hiding behind a facade of “everything is okay”.
At work, time will tell whether or not my authenticity is welcomed by the organization. Some organizations demand that people always toe the corporate line and keep the smile on their face. If that’s the case, I don’t want to be here very much longer. But, if they welcome my authenticity and I can flex my leadership muscles a bit more by speaking for those who are too afraid to speak up, then I may be able to do some good here.
And with my family, the next step will be telling them about Christina. I’d like to bring her to a family function soon. They may not agree with my choice to date while I’m still only separated, but if they care about me they will understand that I need that connection in my life.

11/25/2014

People can be happy doing just about anything, so long as their actions and beliefs are in alignment.

Action performed and supported by a strong belief, even if that belief has no basis in rationality or fact, makes people feel good.

Actions that go against those core beliefs lead to guilt and sadness, even when those beliefs no longer make any sense. Especially when those beliefs were instilled by someone we respect or seek approval from, like a parent.

So maybe the question I should be asking isn’t “what should I do with my life?” It’s “what do I believe?”

I believe in treating other people kindly, without needing anything in return.
I believe in being open-minded, listening, and trying to understand other perspectives.
I believe in having a long-term plan.
I believe in being honest.
I believe in that which I can observe and measure.
I believe in self-control and discipline.
I believe in moderation.
I believe in being humble.
I believe in respecting personal space.
I believe in being loyal and true.
I believe in being in 100%, or not at all.
I believe in being imperfect, and accepting imperfections in others.
I believe in authenticity.
I believe in forgiveness.
I believe in learning from mistakes.
I believe in walking a mile in other people’s shoes.
I believe in speaking with conviction.
I believe in leaving things better than I found them.
I believe in saying I’m sorry.
I believe in giving more than I take.
I believe in a firm handshake.
I believe in giving myself time to recharge.
I believe in efficiency.
I believe in trust being like a bank account, you have to make more deposits than withdrawals.

If I think of anything else I’ll add it to the list.

11/23/2014 Part 2

I was in a bad place last night/this morning. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, at my wit’s end. I didn’t sleep much. Kiddo woke up coughing a couple times, overall it wasn’t too bad but I was sad. Neither of us was going to get to do what we wanted to do this week.

She slept until 10:30 a.m., which was great. She needed it badly. And when she got out of bed she didn’t have a bad coughing fit. We spent the morning relaxing, watching TV, and snacking on dry stuff so her stomach wouldn’t get upset. All things considered, she did well.

Around 1 p.m. I figured we’d give her a test, so we got dressed and took my car for an oil change. I figured going outside might cause her to start coughing. But she did well.

We’ve been home all afternoon and she’s had plenty to eat. For the first time in a while she’s kept everything down. She’s only had a couple of coughing fits, but they haven’t been as bad as before and she hasn’t thrown up a single time today. It’s progress. Whether or not it’s enough progress to go on her trip has yet to be seen. I’m really hoping that she’ll be able to.

I think she’ll spend the night with me again – her grandma’s house has animals that cause her allergies to act up, and that made things worse last night. So she’ll be with me, and then some time in the morning her grandma will come down and pick her up to go to the airport. She’ll get another dose of antibiotics before that and I’ll load her up on nasal spray and cough suppressant. Maybe – just maybe – she’ll get to take her trip after all. And I’ll get that break I’ve been longing for.

I’m scheduled to work tomorrow, but I have the rest of the week off. I am very much looking forward to a break. It just depends how kiddo’s doing tonight and tomorrow morning. Any setbacks, and she’s going to be spending Thanksgiving at home this year. That wouldn’t be bad, I will enjoy having her here, but it’s not what we planned for. It’s not what we wanted.

11/23/2014

I’m totally devastated right now.

Kiddo’s grandmother had worked out a big trip for the two of them to go on. They were going to leave early Monday, catch a flight to Las Vegas, and then drive out to California for the week. They wouldn’t get back in town until Friday or Saturday after Thanksgiving.

At the risk of sounding like an absolute jerk, I was really looking forward to it.

The last month has been torture. Kiddo has been ill the entire time. Her cough started out dry, then became productive, and then she started coughing so hard that she would throw up. And then she started wheezing, getting little asthma attacks periodically throughout the day and night. So it’s been a constant battle. She’s been sent home from school twice, kept home once, and missed out on a ton of activities. Two doctor visits later we’re told it’s bronchitis in her right lung, and yesterday she was prescribed antibiotics.

Just in time, I had hoped for her to get better and go on this great trip.

Life had other plans, apparently.

I dropped her off with her grandma this afternoon and within minutes she was coughing and throwing up. A harbinger of things to come, I guess. But we decided to push through it, so kiddo and her grandma drove off and I went home. Feeling anxious, but hopeful that things would go well. The antibiotics seemed like they had some small effect today.

I ended up going home and relaxing…watched a couple movies, ate some junk food. Kiddo sent me pictures from where they were, they were having a good time. I was glad. Very glad. She needed this. I needed this.

Christina got home from her trip today. We haven’t seen each other in about three weeks. So she invited me down to her house. I left just after midnight and arrived around 12:30…looking forward to some company, and some relaxation away from home. 12:50…my phone was in my coat…I figured I’d check and make sure the volume was up so I’d hear it ring. You know, just in case. I checked it. Volume was up. Good.

I turned around and not five seconds later my phone was ringing. It was kiddo’s grandma…she was too sick to stay the night. She was bringing kiddo home.

I apologized and ran out the door. Drove like the wind to get home before kiddo and her grandma.

And now she’s here again. Trashcan by her bed. Back in the routine that we came up with so that when she wakes up wheezing and coughing and throws up, she doesn’t even have to get out of bed. I know it’s coming. I’m conditioned to it now. I’ll go to bed soon, but every time that kid coughs I’ll be awake and alert. I’ll lie in bed feeling sorry for her, and feeling sorry for myself. Her trip is off, barring some miraculous recovery. There’s no way she can go across the country in this condition.

She needs to get better soon, and I’ve tried everything. If these antibiotics don’t work, I really don’t know what else there is to do. Go back to the doctor, I guess.

But I needed this break. I was counting on this break. I felt bad, complaining about kiddo having to come home. But Christina said she understood. She said I sounded like a single dad doing everything on his own, and she’s right. When kiddo couldn’t stay at her grandma’s, I was it. She can’t go to her mom’s house. Her mom isn’t reliable. Her mom hasn’t watched her once during this whole ordeal. I’ve been the one cleaning up the vomit, taking off work so that she can go to doctor appointments and recuperate, waking up all hours of the night to worry about whether or not my child can breathe. And I know that I’m doing the right thing, and I take a lot of pride in being a good dad.

But God, I needed this break so badly.

11/20/2014

Not much to report, really. Kiddo is still sick. She coughs and coughs until she gags and pukes. I’ve cleaned up more barf over the last two weeks than in the past, I don’t know, six years? Maybe longer. And even then, she might have barfed more as a baby but in terms of quantity she’s breaking records every day. It’s just crazy. The school nurse called me today and suggested that I check out this particular type of asthma, she’s seen it in a couple kids recently and they are being treated with albuterol inhalers. I’m ready to try anything.

Christina gets home this weekend. Kiddo is hopefully going out of town this weekend, so I’m hoping to spend some time with Christina. Go out and do something fun, not need to worry about kiddo for a while.

Work has been frustrating. I finally found the words to express my frustration, mainly over a lack of clarity about exactly what I’m responsible for there. I told my boss and the other three department leaders that most of us just aren’t sure what is expected of us. One of them was surprised, the other two agreed with me. Our boss says we’re going to fix that. I hope that means that he listens to us when we tell him that the one department head is not a team player…we just have to find a diplomatic way of saying that. More meetings will ensue, I’m sure.

P invited a bunch of us out to the theatre for a trivia night. I’m going to skip it. I don’t feel like seeing her…or going out of my way to see her.

*sigh*

11/18/2014

I had a session with my counselor this morning. I came out of it feeling quite a bit better about things. At our last session we broke new ground, finding that I may have mild-to-moderate depression. Since then I found out the meaning of “existential crisis” but haven’t had much time to think about things, taking care of a sick kid for two weeks. Kiddo still isn’t feeling well, but my session today provided some time to dig into my angst.

Anxiety and depression seem to be connected to spending too much time thinking about the future or the past. And being an INFP, a deep thinker, it’s pretty easy to become paralyzed by over-thinking things that have happened or might happen. All the “what ifs”. My counselor said I should try to live in the present more often…maintain a good balance of being here and now versus being in the past or future. We did some exercises…thought of times that I felt depressed…times I thought I would never get out of a bind. And then we discussed how it all worked out in the end. I got out of my bad relationship. I got out of financial distress. I got out of a bad apartment. Things are generally good now. We went on a vacation where everything went right. I have some extra money in the bank. I have a good job. I have good friends. Kiddo is becoming more stable, I hope. All of those good things, regardless of how they fit into the larger existential discussion, should be “anchors” for me to remember when I get sad.

So today I am feeling okay. It feels tenuous…one bad thing and I’ll probably be down in the dumps again. Kiddo has her art class tonight. That means I’ll have a nice quiet hour to myself. We’ll watch Supernatural after that. Hopefully her cough starts to improve soon. I mean, I’m sure that at some point it will improve. It can’t linger forever. She’s on allergy meds and nasal spray and cough syrup and all kinds of stuff. We’ll try a humidifier tonight as well. My crisis won’t last forever either. Eventually I will come out of it better off than I was before. I have reason to be optimistic.

ptQVXWn

11/11/2014

Great news: I can finally attach a word to how I am feeling.

I am experiencing an existential crisis.

I was reading some posts on the subreddit r/infp and one of them was about INFPs and existentialism. I really wasn’t sure what existentialism meant, so I clicked the link and then clicked a couple more links and suddenly I was neck deep in articles about existential crisis. If you’re not familiar with the idea of an existential crisis, here are some details:

In existentialist philosophy, the term ‘existential crisis’ specifically relates to the crisis of the individual when they realize that they must always define their own lives through the choices they make. The existential crisis occurs when one recognizes that even the decision to either refrain from action or withhold assent to a particular choice is, in itself, a choice. In other words, humankind is “condemned” to freedom.

I also read that an existential crisis is often caused by:

Major depressive disorder
Dissatisfaction with one’s life
Major psychological trauma
The sense of being alone and isolated in the world;
A new-found grasp or appreciation of one’s mortality;
Believing that one’s life has no purpose or external meaning;
Searching for the meaning of life;
Shattering of one’s sense of reality, or how the world is;
Awareness of one’s freedom and the consequences of accepting or rejecting that freedom;
An extremely pleasurable or hurtful experience that leaves one seeking meaning

Well…that pretty much sums up how I’ve been feeling lately.

Now I just need to figure out how to get through it. According to an article about existential depression, it seems that things like understanding, human touch, reading, and building our own personal philosophy of beliefs and values can be helpful. I have sought out friends who understand me. I would like to get more hugs. I have been reading more. And when it comes to building my own philosophy of beliefs and values, I was thinking about what I find to be truly meaningful in life and I recalled the “Unsung Hero” video that I saw earlier this year. The theme of the video was “What is it that you desire most?” The answer to that question, which played out in the video, was thus:

Receive emotions
Witness happiness
Reach a deeper understanding
Feel the love
Receive what money cannot buy
Make the world more beautiful

I think that focusing my time and efforts on those activities will help me to get out of this funk that I am in.

11/10/2014

Adventures in single parenting:

I decided to take kiddo out for dinner yesterday evening. She’s had this weird cough for about two weeks now; it’s not bad enough to keep her home, and she’s starting to clear things out, so I felt like we were safe. Boy was I wrong.

We hadn’t been in the restaurant ten seconds when I heard her start to cough. I look over at kiddo just in time to see her puke.

There was a waitress about ten feet away. I tried to get her attention…all I could get out was, “she threw up!” and then I was pushing kiddo out the door before she could hurl again.

She did puke again outside. A family had just been leaving the restaurant, so someone inside must have asked them where the barf came from and I got them to tell the staff member that it was my daughter.

We walked back to the car. I had kiddo swish some water in her mouth and spit it out. She threw up because she coughed up some phlegm and it grossed her out. She asked if we could go back in…I said, “no, I don’t think we’ll be showing our faces in there for a while.” She knew I wasn’t mad. We just picked a different restaurant to go to.

Adventures in single parenting, indeed.