Monday, February 02, 2015

Hey Gang

Well, it's nice to be back. My life has changed to much since my last posts all I have time for is an update. Deep breath.

I gave up the idea of the priesthood around the last time I wrote about it here, maybe a few months before. When I realized five years ago that my son would be starting his freshman year at college, and we'd be paying for half of it at least, splitting costs with his bio-dad, the same year I would start seminary I thought: this just cannot happen. My wife was still underpaid, working as an intern, and I had been the primary breadwinner all the years we've lived together and my son is, well, my son. It is my job to make his life as good as I can. It felt selfish, narcissistic, I am not sure of the word, but I knew I could not pay for both or was not willing to try.

Maybe I should have, maybe I should have, but instead I began re inventing myself in other ways.

First, anyone who actually reads this will be glad to know, my ocd symptoms, so jarring four and five years ago, have been almost absent the last two or three years. I remember thinking, from the time it all brook loose again, that I had some symptoms over a period of two years and two months. I guess that means I've been free of it about two and a half years. It feels like a lifetime since I was stuck in those awful cycles. I never did find a med that helped. I tried an ssri a couple years ago, I think it was celexa, and used xanax to handle the activation, the sense of super caffeination, that hit me in just a few days. But I started having pvc's, not a lot, but some. I can get those from real caffeine or psuedofed, say. or sometimes just for no reason.  There were enough my doc pulled me off. I still take something for sleep most nights, usually hydroxizine or sometimes a little trazodone, 100 mg say. 150 of that stuff feels like a pan hit my brain. It's amazing considering I used to take 300 a night just to sleep during the worst of this four years ago.

I still see a therapist, and you are about to hear why. I still see my shrink, mostly because of current events. But really, my ocd has receded and I live generally symptom free. That is a great thing. It was time, doing conventional feeling based therapy, but also, when I could drag myself to do it, exposure work. I went back and made tape recordings and listened to them while breathing and that, somehow, again, made a huge difference. I should have done it sooner and more aggressively, but I was so knocked sideways when my son left that I did what I could.

After a year at college, just about when I was getting used to him being gone, he came back with a lovely girl he knew in high school. They had started dating, and they came home expecting. For two years my wife and I waited on them, really. We did all the cooking, cleaning, shopping, everything. Perhaps too much. But we have a lovely, lovely grand daughter, almost 3 now, and grand son on the way, and my son and his partner are doing very well. They have a great life and are great parents. It is a wonderful thing to see.

I became more involved at my day job. I joined a central campus committee just because I wanted to do some service, have some connection, after a decade in the mountains and the isolation that led to. But after just a few weeks, my first semester, I stayed after talking to the president at a meeting and was recruited into "leadership." I served as secretary and am not vice-president and am being groomed to run the damned thing. It took me two years, some of that going on during my ocd/anxiety relapse, to get used to the idea of the thing. But I feel pretty used to it now. I binge on West Wing and fantasize. I also got involved just a bit at the state level and have done some direct advocacy over the last few years. There is so much pressure on higher education to conform to governmental fixes these days....faculty have to be active. In short, I found another cause besides the priesthood, one that I was sure would feed my family.

But I am not done. One of the ways I coped during those early months of such great anxiety was to sit down and write poetry. Poems. I had not written a poem in over a decade. Had not tried to be a writer of poems since the time I met my wife, about fifteen years before. And then I realized I needed units for a pay raise at work; that's how teachers are compensated, units based the B.A. or M.A. degree, and a friend of mine who has a few books out said we should apply for an MFA program, a low residency one. I had no idea what that was. But that is what I did. My friend ended up putting off his application and I applied alone and amazing to me, got into a good low-res program in the eastern US. I have one semester to go. One final residency. This is the semester I put together my creative thesis, 40 or so poems.

When I applied I had to have ten poems in my application.. I did not have that many! I had maybe six new ones and the rest were some old ones I dug up, old as in twenty years old. But I got in. They need poets in my program! The funny thing is, and this really was unexpected, is that from the first workshop I was in, my first ever (I had no courses in CW) people admired my poems quite a bit. It took me a while to realize it. And I had lots of amateur mistakes, weak areas, things I did not know about contemporary poetics. But, well, they all think I'm some kind of up and coming deal. The students think that anyway. I hope I am not inflating this. I hope to finish my thesis and get an actual manuscript out shopping. First, of course, I have to start sending work out, publishing. I'm not looking foward to that and keep putting it off.

So this all sounds so good, yes? Symptom free. Not anxious or depressed. I even got over my fear of flying (pretty much) and enjoy the long flights to the east coast. I went to the Ireland and the UK last summer as part of my program, a 30 year dream. My son is doing well. He and his partner finished their first two years of college and are looking at nursing school and other options. They have their own apartment now, they moved out about two years ago. My love, love, love my grand daughter. I'm generally healthy except for my old back injury which is not bothering me much. I was diagnosed  pre-diabetic a few years ago, my grandmother had type 2, and I lost 14 pounds and kept it off for over three years (though I must say, I know I've gained weight in the last two months, the holidays and residency...my scale need batteries so I have not seen the damage). Yes, I'm okay. I'm living out of the mountains and down on the edge of the foothills; I get to work four days a week.

And then one year ago all shit came loose in my marriage. I am not sure how much I want to write about that here. This is the open web although very few people knew the real me behind the blog. But there is the tragic truth: my wife told me almost a year ago, suffering from the empty nest herself and gosh we needed to do some couples therapy and I wish we had then, but she told me she had to be alone, was not sure she could stay married. I waited it out. And waited, living separately in the house, like roommates, that was very hard, and then she moved out in October. That was very hard also. The holidays this year, so special to our family for eighteen years, were hell.  We see a couples therapist once a month, all she is willing to do, and I go in every time thinking: this could be the time she asks for a divorce. So far she has not asked for that. She feels she wants that, but she is waiting to see if those feelings pass. She is depressed. She is truly hurting. And she says there is nothing I can do or change or stop doing. She says it is all her.

Just writing that makes me sick to my stomach. I am ALL ABOUT my family, the family my wife and I built, coming out of dysfunctional and broken homes as we did. For almost eighteen years she was a good wife, loyal, steadfast, clearly in love with me. That has not been true for the last year and more now. I have so many memories with her I continue to wait, continue to give her time, but my mood swings from optimistic to pessimistic about the future of my marriage depending on the day. I am taking care of myself pretty well, embracing work, school, exercise, whatever other self care I can, but each day I skate over a lake of grief. It is getting easier, I admit, but it is still not easy. This is her mid life crisis, and it is a doozy. She has a lot to heal and process and I'm not sure how much she is even processing, engaging in that work. I can't say. We almost never talk and I only see her at the therapy sessions once every four or five weeks.

My faith, something I wrote about up here, is in a pretty interstitial space. The problem of biological suffering, unanswerable in theism in my view (that does not mean theism is wrong, but I just don't get the Christian who feels they can argue their faith decisively) remains very great for me. So do the power of my experience in the church, even if none of them are recent. When we moved we changed parishes and it never did fit. I want to go back to the old, little mountain church where we spent a decade. They are smaller even than before, have a new part time priest, but there are good friends there. I need to go back. I went Christmas Eve and it was great. But then came an MFA residency, and I brought back a cold that became a mild bronchitis. I get wicked bronchitis if I"m not careful with those kinds of infections. I've been taking it easy, sleeping in, just going to work. Missing church is my point. Next week, though. It would be good for me to drag my agnostic ass in there.

I cannot even begin to detail my doubts right now. They are too many. I have not been doing anything with them, not processing them. I've been dealing with my marriage breakdown (which had not helped my faith) and work and school and the rest of it. But I will have to look at all of this when I can, all that relates to my faith and my doubts. I still cling to Plato, often, to a transcendent mathematics and geometry especially, to a transcendent ethic (I hear that, so clearly, in Cormac McCarthy...the fire that has to be carried....good guys don't eat kids.) Ah, it is getting late. My nyquil, wonderful stuff, is making me sleepy so my lungs can rest up for tomorrow.

That's all I have for right now. I am moving into more public positions at work, doing some actual politics, and right now enjoying it now that I realize my work there will never make everyone happy. I'm putting together some decent poems and hoping for a break that direction, a book some day if I am very lucky. And, while I know I would not have a hard time finding a date, everyone reminds me of this, if I end up single, I still love my wife and feel for her suffering and want us to reconcile. She knows I want that. I know I can't do it alone. Almost a year now since I have held a woman in any capacity. Think on that, grasshopper.

Okay, to bed. I write to a close few guys on facebook in private IM and there I POUR out my fears and suffering and describe detail on detail of it. Here, I can't do that. But damn, it's nice to be able to write in full paragraphs! To actually WRITE about my life, and not live by the FB comment box. FB, so much bullshit, none of the real stuff in my life is up there. No mention of the separation and how close it feels to ending. Ah, I hope not. My wife still wants to be friends...I'm not sure she knows what she wants. I told her a year ago I'd quite the MFA and bail on the politics, it does take its toll on me, or it did, but she said no, it's not that, don't do that. So I didn't. Now I embrace work because staying busy and around people is staying sane.

I'll end with this one thing. Back when I was reading the gospels with that guy who was force-feeding me, I know I wrote about that time up here years ago, he asked me once to make some deal with God. He said something like, pick something for God for you to do for you so he can reveal himself. And I thought about it, and I had been dating my wife a couple years by that time and we had some hard conflicts sometimes, and so I said, okay, I want to know by the first of the year whether or not this thing is going to blow up badly like my first marriage (Estella's story is up here also). And my wife and I were fighting something extra leading up to the new year but then we had a really nice new year, things felt settled in our dating, and I thought, huh, well, maybe God had something to do with this. Maybe he does exist.

You see where this is heading. Now, almost twenty years later, to have it blow up in my face. I get what I've just shared is no high theology, but it was my deal with God. I guess it's not over over yet for wife and I, but she is far, far gone. I think of the line, gone baby gone. Gone, far. Emotionally very remote. Detached from me completely. Yeah. We moved into the beautiful house on the side of a hill (where I still live) and got a sports car convertible and I have decent clothes and a good job and am weathering mid life now well and am re inventing myself halfway through my career at my community college and then, wham, pow, boom, she and we are laid out like straw, man.

Enough for now. I go to school with people who are writing professional memoirs. I certainly have the material, boy do I, but I am not putting the time into  learning that craft. Poems only for now. So this is blog, not memoir, not narrative, not art, just a web log, as dated and uncool as those must be now. I still don't know how to put pics up here.

But my love to all.  Signing off for tonight. Tomorrow is a work day and that distraction is goof for me. My best.