A look back at darker chapters

Two years ago, I started an anonymous blog; one before this one. It didn’t get very far. I just knew I needed an outlet for the things I was feeling inside without it impacting or reflecting upon my professional life. Today I went back and I read a post from that blog and it nearly brought me to tears.

I share it below because I think it’s a good reminder of how life can get hard sometimes, but that doesn’t mean it always will be. There will be seasons – perhaps even years – that make us feel lonely, exhausted and/or cast adrift. One of my favorite descriptions of life is that it is both heavy and light. This was a heavy time during one of the hardest years of my life thus far. There wasn’t a lot of light to be seen. Still, I looked for it.

I love the girl in the post below very much. Even in her sadness, she was strong; she was hopeful. She couldn’t see the end of a hard road, but she fought for it anyway. Had someone told her that two years later, she would be the happiest she’s been in a very long time, with a phenomenal circle of friends, a godsend of a life partner, a father who is very much alive, a family who loves her dearly and a hand to guide her through the things that need “unlearning,” perhaps she would have run a little faster toward it.

But even without that knowledge, she got up every morning and she faced the weight of her father’s diagnosis, the overwhelming financial strain and uncertainty, the long, long hours of building a business from scratch, and the many losses that arose that year and she pressed on.

That perseverance led her here today. Different, but not broken; not lost. She has grown and I am proud of her. I am proud and I am happy.

And those are two very beautiful feelings.

The Runaway Train – June 17, 2018

“Can you help me remember how to smile;
Make it somehow all seem worthwhile?
How on earth did I get so jaded?
Life’s mystery seems so faded.”

An early 90’s alternative playlist has been playing on a constant loop through my computer’s speakers over the last few weeks. These old yet undeniably familiar tracks carry a bittersweet tune, their notes so vivid that I can close my eyes and leap back in time.

Almost all of those memories involve my dad in some fashion. No surprise there. Any time I think back to my childhood, he was always involved in some way.

Since the beginning, my dad has been an integral part of my life. It was through him my love for music was discovered. One of my earliest memories is of me sitting in his guitar case, its shag interior soft to the touch.

I loved those evenings. I would sit there listening to him coax the blues from the strings of his Gibson. No matter how old I get, I’ll never forget the sound. My dad sings with a rough voice, its growling notes vaguely reminiscent of Tom Waits.

During his jam sessions, he would always throw in the songs he knew I liked, such as The Marvelous Toy, I’m Being Eaten by a Boa Constrictor or Dead Egyptian Blues.

I’m 30 years old, and I still remember those moments perfectly. From the songs he recorded to the setup of that small, upstairs space we called the music room, every detail is tucked away in a safe place.

No matter how thick the dust settles, those memories endure.

Tonight, they bring tears to my eyes. My heart aches in a way I haven’t known in many long years. Maybe it has to do with his recent cancer diagnosis. My father was unexpectedly diagnosed with Primary CNS Lymphoma.

But I think this pain runs much deeper.

My dad is fighting one hell of a battle, but over the months he’s been facing every challenge and beating the odds. His resilient spirit won’t give up—and his test results thus far show it.

If anything, I think his struggle has woken me up.

The truth is that I’m not okay, and in the moments when I’m honest with myself, I acknowledge that I haven’t been for many, many years.

Most of the time my head feels like static; like I’m desperately holding on to a station well out of range. Instead, I fly down the tracks on Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train. Life is speeding onward, and I’m trapped in a brakeless cab while my mind lingers elsewhere.

It’s a realization that has led me here, bundled enchilada-style in my office chair while sipping on Japanese beer and staring at a blinking cursor in search of an old voice. It belonged to a girl I once knew; a girl who couldn’t be defeated.

She created the characters who made my novels popular and paved the way for the career I have today. When she left, I’m not so certain, but I miss her terribly.

These days the world feels bland and colorless. I think of the song by Bryce Avary where he says, “Sitting inside this drab apartment, the walls are blank. It’s like they’re talking to me.”

Where did the color go?

You can call it depression, but that’s only a symptom here. The truth is that somewhere along the path of life, I lost myself and nothing will change until I rediscover the soul sleeping somewhere inside of me.

Until then I’m just a zombie, staring at a screen and listening to static as the days roll on unnoticed.

I won’t give up. Whoever I am, or was, would never tolerate such a choice.

It’s that determination that led me to create this blog in the first place. I needed an outlet where I could be open while still wearing a veil of anonymity that protected my career.

Perhaps here I will find that voice again.

Perhaps here, I can eliminate the static and haze that has led me to become a sleeper.

One can hope.

For hope, I’m certain, was part of the girl I knew.

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