It’s been a year… (pt 2)

Continued from yesterday’s post

~~~~~~~~~~

July 2008

July 2008Between January and May, I pretty much shut down emotionally.

Completely.

I put up agood front, but each night I would just sit in the dark and mope and simply forget the entire world around me.  Phone calls…bills…friends…mail…I didn’t care about any of it.  I was wasting money on nothing and not paying my bills.  If any friends DID call I wouldn’t have known…I only answered the phone for my parents and my daughter, putting on a brave front as much as possible.

In July I lost it.

I had just come back from a week-long vacation with The Rugrat, who had come down to visit.  We camped in a tent and had an amazing bonding experience that week.  When she left that Sunday, my world seemed to crash around me.  I realized that my only friend in the world was my daughter…and she was gone.

I didn’t think, emotionally, that I could sink any deeper.

Then on Monday I was in a training session.  It wasn’t a particularly weird one or hard one…but I was in rare form.  I was rude and sarcastic and defiant.  When our FREE CATERED LUNCH arrived I complained about the tomatoes on the subs.  Loudly and without justification.  I then went on a rant about something or other…I don’t remember anymore. All I know is that at the end of the day I had felt a lot better for getting things off of my chest, but I really didn’t have a clue just how bad my co-workers had been made to feel.  I acted like a total jerk for no reason whatsoever and was oblivious to it.

A week later, my world crashed around me and I pretty much hit rock bottom.

I was called into a small room and there sat my supervisor with HIS supervisor sitting next to him.  They explained to me that my job was in jeopardy. My work was A+ and wasn’t in question.  My attitude, however, was the issue.  My boss’s boss proceeded to tell me of the complaints  he had received about my anger issues and how I was making people around me feel uncomfortable.  He said people were under the impression that I was a Jeckly & Hyde personality…perfectly fun one minute but super angry the next.

This all hit me like a ton of bricks.  This job is the only one I’ve ever really liked since graduating from university.  This job is one I could potentially see as a career.  My supervisor looked like I had kicked him in the stomach.  His boss actually interviewed me for the job a year prior and you could tell that I wasn’t living up to his expectations.

But to know that I was making those around me uncomfortable…well that just really hit me.  Hard.

I was asked to sign a document that pretty much said “you have been warned” and then told I could go home if I wanted to.  I didn’t…I stayed and immediately enrolled in the company’s Employee Assistance Program.   That night I had absolutely hit rock bottom…both emotionally and also financially, as months and months of simply ignoring mail and phone calls and bills had caught up to me.

Looking back, it probably was a good 1-2 punch for me.  It woke me up and helped me realize what I needed to do in order to get back on my feet.  At that point, there was nowhere to go but up, right?

July 2009

July 2009The online psychologist helped me work through a LOT of issues at the time.  It was soon after that I changed my entire outlook on life. That may sound a bit cliche, but it’s 100% true.  I can’t tell you how much my personality has changed for the better in the past year.  It’s literally a night-and-day situation.  The CBG you know from this blog is the CBG that I’ve always wanted to be my entire life, but never could be due to repressed emotions.

I don’t think I would have ever married The Ex if I was the person I am today (not to mention I wouldn’t have The Ankle Biter in my life), so it’s not like I’ve got any regrets about my life.  I’m perfectly content with the mistakes I’ve made as an adult and totally happy with who I am as a person right now…which I’ve never been before.

I’m a good person.  I’m a good father.  I’m a good boyfriend.  I’ll be a good husband.

It feels good to be able to write this story down. I remember having dinner with Sunshine awhile back and telling her the details.  It was hard for me because it meant re-visiting the person that I used to be…the person I can’t believe I was.

But after doing it, I felt free of the chains that my past life had wrapped around me.  That’s one of the wonderful things that Sunshine brings into my life…an ear and an open mind.

I’m in such a better place now.  I look in the mirror and actually like what what I see, which is a huge step-up from the self-hatred and self-loathing that used to engulf me whenever I saw myself.

Life, my friends, is good.  It could always be better…but I’m definitely okay with where things are.

It’s been a year… (pt 1)

calendarSo I was emailing a good friend of mine in Ontario recently and hadn’t talked to her in months.  She has been a great friend to me over the years and was especially last year, when I needed support the most.

I knew she’d want an update on how I was doing now emotionally.  As I was writing, I began the “self-analysis” that has become a staple in my life as a way to help battle my inner demons and such (yikes…so dramatic).

So this inward journey I’ve taken since July of ’08…it’s been really strange, actually, and probably will be a little hard to describe in just a few words.  Basically, I guess I had a “moment of clarity” when I was confronted a year ago and it’s been a healing process ever since…one that has rewarded me with more happiness than I could have ever imagined.

~~~~~~~~~~

December 31st, 2007

HappyNewYearI had no idea how I was acting at the time…I didn’t realize that I was going through a major grieving process.

I was still going through the pain of my separation from March of that year, the occasional visits from (and subsequent goodbyes to) my daughter, my mother’s brain tumor diagnosis, my cousin’s tongue-cancer diagnosis, my grandmother’s hospitalization, then the New Year’s Eve horror-fest where I had to call 911 for my mom while trying to take care of my dad (who was a blathering mess), the pets (2 cats and a dog…had to move ’em before the ambulance arrived), plus my little brother AND my visiting daughter (both of whom were in the basement playing and oblivious to the medical issues upstairs).

I had to stand there and watch my mom being carried out on a stretcher while trying to get my father to be strong enough to follow the ambulance in a snowstorm to the hospital.  It’s not something I’d wish upon my worst enemy.

It was far and away the worst night of my life.

To cap it all off, my daughter was flying back home the next day.  Yeesh.   DEFINITELY not how I wanted her visit to end.

March 2008

March 2008Then my mom’s hospitalization and subsequent muscle failure (she couldn’t stand…her muscles had all atrophied while she was in the hospital), my father’s kidney issues (being rushed to the hospital once or twice a week for two months +), my grandmother’s passing, my cousin’s passing…all the while putting on a show that I was strong and was dealing with it all.

But I wasn’t.

I was holding everything in.  Everything. I didn’t talk to anybody about my feelings…primarily because I didn’t really have anybody.  Most of my friends from the marriage had either quietly “defected” to The Ex or just stopped talking to me altogether (or maybe I stopped talking to them…it’s still pretty foggy).  My friends from high school still lived 40 minutes away and I just didn’t feel like talking to them on the phone or driving to discuss my emotional issues.  I was never that good at opening up.  The one time I did and told my best friends about my marriage ending, they both got mad at me for “not trying hard enough”.  I guess I’ve never really forgiven them since.

All told, it was definitely affecting me at work.  I had no idea how bad it was, either.  I would blow up one minute over nothing…absolutely NOTHING…and then be perfectly calm the next.  I was a Jeckyl & Hyde…and totally oblivious to how that was affecting those around me.

Then came my depression.

Over a year after the separation I told myself that I was ready to date again…so I looked at online dating.  Yeesh…Plenty of Fish was a nice free website but the women who were responding to me weren’t exactly what I was looking for.

So at the end of the day, online dating only made me more depressed.  I’ve only since realized (which most people realize on a daily basis) that I can’t allow myself to love somebody else until I can actually LIKE myself first. And it took me until recently before finally reaching that point.  I’m finally there now…for the first time in a very long time, if ever.

Self-loathing takes many forms and has been a burden I’ve carried for many a year.  Thankfully, that dark cloud no longer hangs over me.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Hump-day update

Hey gang (so much for Wordless Wednesday…).

After finishing the next two-part post (yeesh) that will be going up tomorrow and Friday, I realized that things were starting to appear kinda bleak-ish for good ol’ CBG.

I guess I just wanted to let everybody know that this week has been a “purge” week of sorts…and that I’m actually doing awesome!

So while the next two days were REALLY heavy for me to write (it’s taken a year to be able to adequately put everything into words), know that it’s been a great experience to get some of these burdens off of my chest and out into the open.

I guess I should update you on what is actually taking place with me this week:

  • Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy
    Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy

    I’m preparing for an awesome extended weekend with Sunshine.  I’m leaving after work on Friday and heading straight out to see her.  She’s purchased herself a hot little dress and is taking ME out to a dinner date…so needless to say I’m really excited about that (among other things).  Then either Saturday morning or Sunday morning (depending on the weather) we’re going to get up at 5am and drive to the local waterfront park to watch the sunrise.  Then she’s actually coming back home with me on Sunday and staying until Tuesday morning!!  So yeah…it’s looking like a GREAT weekend ahead!!

  • Ankle Biter & CBG: 07-25-09
    Ankle Biter: 07-25-09

    Ankle Biter, as you could tell from Sunday’s pictures, is awesome.  Unfortunately, I won’t be seeing him for a week.  Y’see, his babysitter takes two weeks off every year so for the next two weeks The Ex and I are each taking a week off to spend it with him.  As you can guess, next week is The Ex’s week.  She’s going home to her family for the week on vacation (about 90 minutes away) so he’ll be gone until next Friday.  The good news, though, is that I’ve got him from Friday night straight through until the following Friday…and I’m absolutely STOKED.  I’ve got a lot of things planned so it should be a fantastic week.

  • Wait...is she throwing up a gangsta sign or becoming a hippy?  Hmmm...
    Rugrat: 03-05-09

    The Rugrat has called me that past two nights in a row!!  This has been a very exciting turn of events for me.  It’s weird, though…we don’t seem to be able to find a whole lot to talk about.  After the whole “how are you? what are you up to? questions, there doesn’t seem to be much more there at the moment.  I’m hoping it’s just because of the age right now.  In fact, I know it is because when we’re together we have no problem talking…so it’s probably a combination of her age and my inability to really carry a conversation on the phone.  All in all it doesn’t matter…she’s called me twice in two days.  Paint me happy!

So that’s a quick rundown.  Like I said, I really wanted to pop this out quickly (#thatswhatshesaid) because I knew how heavy this week’s posts have been and will continue to be.  I’ll definitely do my best to update everybody from Sunshine’s on how the weekend is going (at least via Twitter if nothing else).

Hope everybody’s ‘Hump Day’ is going well.  The weekend is almost here!

The pros and cons of life at the moment (pt 2)

…continued from yesterday

It’s strange how sometimes life can be going so well in some areas, yet just bash you in the head in others.

Just when I thought I was getting only a couple of things off of my chest, off I went on a tangent and wrote way too much for just one post.  So consider this the follow-up to yesterday’s ramblings.

Again, the last thing I want to do is sound like I’m whining here.  I just feel the need to throw some feelings in the air and see where they land.

Okay…let’s see what else is on my mind:

  • Everything okay?Work.  I love my job…I really do.  I’ve got a position that could turn into a career for me, even if it doesn’t pay the most at the moment.  And while I’m finally in a position that makes me extremely happy, I’m bothered by those around me who get opportunities to do other things within the organization.  I shouldn’t complain, either…I’m on the United Way committee and get to do a LOT of fun things at work while raising money for charity.  I’ve also been asked to MC an employee recognition ceremony that’s taking place in September (I MC’d the ceremony two years ago).  I’m always asked to participate in things that aren’t really work-related.  But I guess there are times where I wish my “fun-loving nature” would turn into “respect at work”.  Pull your own weightI dunno…maybe I’m reading too much into things.  Maybe it shouldn’t matter.  Maybe I need to not worry about moving up and just worry about doing the absolute best I can at what I do. It just bothers me when my boss leaves on vacation for 2 weeks and he asks 3 other people on our team to do various functions and tasks while I got nothing.  Of course, I’m crazy busy so I guess I shouldn’t expect to be given MORE things to do.
  • Rugrat...growing up too fast?
    Rugrat

    My daughter still isn’t calling me as much as I’d like.  We talked just last night and it was amazing, but it’s not nearly as much as I’d like it to be.  Whenever I call, I either get voice mail or her mom telling me that she’s not there.  I don’t think she’s mad at me or anything…she’s just being a 10-year-old and enjoying the summer.  But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve recently wished I never allowed her mom to leave the province.  I mean, she asked me and I said ‘yes’…the potential for them as a family having a better life in Ontario than here was the major issue.  I want the best for my daughter (as would any parent).  I just didn’t think that her mom and step-dad would be able to do that in the area around here that they were living.  So I had to make the choice.  I struggle with that decision every day.  Sure…she might be better off overall in many areas of her life.  But our relationship has certainly been affected.  I wonder if one day she’ll ask me why I just let her go and didn’t fight for her to stay.  I wonder that same question myself.

  • Ankle Biter
    Ankle Biter

    My son.  I don’t know if anything else in the world makes me happier than the smile on my son’s face.  Everything that I didn’t do with the Rugrat…every part of her life that I’ve missed, every birthday or holiday that I wasn’t around…I’m doing my damndest to make-up with my son.  The biggest reason I’m so committed to my relationship with the Ankle Biter is because of something The Ex said to me in the heat of an argument just before we split up.  I don’t remember the conversation, or what caused this particular bit of venom to spit out…but when she told me, “I know you never wanted him.  I know you’ll never love him, either…” well that just killed me (regardless of whether or not she meant it in the heat of an argument…it was pretty harsh and has always stuck with me).  It also helped me focus because now I make the most out of every waking minute I’m with him.  Am I a perfect dad?  No…far from it.  There are certainly times when I should be prying him away from the television in order to go outside or play a game of some sort.  But I’m here for him.  He’ll never grow up wondering where dad is.  He’ll ALWAYS know that he’s got a friend in me (jeez…now I’ve got Toy Story running through my brain).  And if I’ve made any mistakes with the Rugrat, I know I’m going to do whatever I can to learn from those and ensure I don’t do the same things with the Ankle Biter.

Whew!  Okay…I think I’m done now.  Two days worth of venting is now over.

Thank goodness for the Blogosphere.  This time two years ago I would have kept everything inside and let it affect those around me (more on that tomorrow).

Anybody who doesn’t think blogging is an amazing form of self-therapy doesn’t blog…or doesn’t blog correctly.  Heh.

The pros and cons of life at the moment (pt 1)

It’s strange how sometimes life can be going so well in some areas, yet just bash you in the head in others.

One of the things I take great pride in when it comes to my blog is that I try not to whine.  Even when things are stressful from a family health perspective or if I’m breaking the heart of the one I love, I do my best to just put my feelings out there and not sound like I’m complaining or whining or crying about things.  Being a positive person and writing in a positive way is something I know that people appreciate…especially during the times when the Blogosphere can be so gloomy.

Yes, life can sometimes suck.  But you just buy a ticket and get to the back of the line.

So believe me, the last thing I want to do is sound like I’m whining here.  I just feel the need to throw some feelings in the air and see where they land.  But the crazy thing is that I don’t really know what I’m feeling…which can make this whole process a little long-winded (don’t say that you weren’t warned).

Okay…let’s see what’s on my mind:

  • Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy
    Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy

    I’m in love with the most amazing woman I’ve ever known (next to my mom, of course).  Sunshine lights up my life in a way I never knew was possible.  Our relationship couldn’t be any stronger.  Of course I say that now and just wait…I’ll come back from visiting her next weekend and I’ll go on and on about how our relationship grew even more and how I’m more in love with her on Sunday than I was on Friday.  LOL…I’ve got it bad, people.

  • I would be "A".  She would be "B".
    I would be "A". She would be "B".

    The distance we share is a pain. But at this point, I’m still “going with the flow” of things.  Do I wish we lived in the same city?  Of course I do.  But I’d rather be lonely for a couple weeks at a time than be lonely for a lifetime, which is how I feel things would be if we weren’t together.  So yeah…the distance sucks, but it’s manageable at this point.  And it needs to be, really…it’s gonna be awhile before that fact changes.  Luckily, our relationship is strong enough that we can overcome this obstacle for the forseeable future.

  • Mom
    Mom

    My mom.  Wow…where to even begin? Between her cancer and her neck pains and her knee issues…she’s a walking medical disaster at this point.  And what’s worse?  Dad and I both think there might be a touch of Alzheimer’s thrown in there for good measure.  We’re not sure because some of her memory issues could very well be related to the brain tumor, but where it seems to be getting progressively worse while the tumor isn’t growing…the fear is definitely there.  I try to not let those things get to me too badly.  I let mom’s health affect me in a very negative way when she was first diagnosed (more on that later this week) and I certainly don’t want to go down that road again.  Thankfully Sunshine is there for me and that’s been a huge help recently.  Huge.

  • broke 1Finances are a major concern right now. And y’know, this is where I really don’t want to sound like I’m whining because a LOT of people are going through financial issues these days.  I should be thankful, actually.  After the separation and almost declaring bankruptcy, my family helped me out and I’ve been paying them back since.  So I’ve got NO credit card debt, which is tremendous.  Of course, I’ve also got no equity as I had to sell my house to my dad and now I rent it from him.  Here’s the thing: lately my funds haven’t been going completely towards the few bills that I’ve still got (i.e. phone/internet).  broke 2And no, it’s not ALL going to my trips to visit Sunshine so that suggestion should be off the table (You hear that, Sunshine?  It’s NOT because of *us*!).  I just haven’t been making the best financial choices and stretching the few dollars that I do have.  That’s something I need to handle myself and if I have to “bite the bullet” for a couple of months (as it’s looking like right now), then that’s what I’ll have to do.

Jeez…after writing out everything going on in my brain, I’ve realized that it’s simply too much for just one post.  So I guess my stream-of-consciousness will continue tomorrow.  I’m not looking for answers…I’m not looking for comfort.  I just needed to vent.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Another Sunday, another playground…

Thankfully, the sun came out today.  It’s been a week in the making so you better believe I scooped up the Ankle Biter and we head out to take it all in.

Swan Pond - Mount Allison University campus - Sackville, N.B.
Swan Pond - Mount Allison University campus - Sackville, N.B.

I had originally thought about driving to the Mount Allison University campuss and feed bread to the ducks at the Duck Pond, but then saw the gas gage.

Yeesh.

I then thought about going to Centennial Park.  Normally I wouldn’t go near this place because it’s packed with people and I’m not really big on crowds. But where it was only 10:30am and the sun had just come out, I figured it was safe to take a drive and check out the playground.

Once there I was impressed by the fact that there were more than one play area, with each one designed for a different age group.

So the Ankle Biter and I ventured out and tackled the latest playground…

OF COURSE he was on the swings.  It's his favorite playground activity!
OF COURSE he was on the swings. It's his favorite playground activity!
Playground #2 was just a bit intimidating and slightly out of Ankle Biter's league.
Playground #2 was just a bit intimidating and slightly out of Ankle Biter's league.

Super Splash Water ParkAs we made our way to Playground #3 (a really tiny toddler slide/ladder combo thingy), the water off in the distance caught Ankle Biter’s eye.  I have to admit, it caught my eye, too.  This was something new…something I wasn’t familiar with.  It was called the Super Splash Water Park; a free area for kids to run around in cool-water comfort.

Color me impressed.

It’s not like the place was super huge…it was just a small section of the overall playground “complex”.  But the water fountains and buckets and hoses were a lot of fun to watch, and I can only imagine how much fun they’d be for kids to run around in.

Ankle Biter slightly intimidated by the water: 07-26-09
Ankle Biter slightly intimidated by the water: 07-26-09

Where I wasn’t really prepared for water, I didn’t exactly have Ankle Biter in the right outfit.  It’s funny…I had the option of putting on his swim trunks/shorts or the cotton Spiderman outfit this morning and I left the decision to him. He picked out the red/black “heavy when wet” ensemble.  Oh well.  Next time I’ll definitely be prepared.

So Ankle Biter was a little intimidated at first by the water. I took off his t-shirt and just let him wonder around.  He saw other kids playing and such, but wasn’t really sure if he wanted to get wet or not.

It didn’t take long for me to realize just how strong the sun was going to be on this morning, so I quickly grabbed his t-shirt and put it back on him.  I figured if he got wet, he got wet…we’ll just go straight home and get him changed.  I wasn’t about to let that stand in the way of him having fun.

And fun is what he ended up having…

Ankle Biter trying NOT to get wet: 07-26-09
Ankle Biter trying NOT to get wet: 07-26-09
Ankle Biter: tempting his water fate
Ankle Biter: tempting his water fate
Guess who just got soaked?
Guess who just got soaked?
Super Splash Water Park: 07-26-09
Super Splash Water Park: 07-26-09

So yeah…he wasn’t too thrilled with getting soaked like that.  I don’t think he really knew WHAT to do about it, to be honest.  He seemed less than happy, but not quite unhappy.

I continued to encourage him to get wet and join in the fun…and for the most part he did.  He still didn’t really embrace the whole “get wet” concept but enjoyed seeing how far he could go without getting soaked to the bone.

I’ve got more pictures on my Flickr site.

So when he had enough of being wet, we walked back to the car in the hot sunshine.  We made our way to McDonald’s for a frozen yogurt and then home to change into some dry clothes.

No matter what is going on with me, spending a day with my son can bring a smile to my face and a spring to my step.  While there is a LOT going through my head these days (more on that tomorrow), this weekend has been a fantastic one for me.

He just brings so much joy to my life.