Happy New Year
I’ve been working as a civil engineer in the daytime and struggling (but not starving) with music in the evenings. Sometimes, I doubt whether I will ever be able to make the transition to being a full time musician what with the solid “plan B” I’ve got going on at this point. It is pretty much “plan A” if I’m honest; most of my waking hours are spent at the office and when I come home, I practice a little music but there are also friendships and relationships to maintain, food to eat, exercises, and of course, more food to eat.
Throwing in the Towel(Again)
Over the last year, I hit a few roadblocks that culminated in what some might call a major episode of depression right around the peak of the holiday season. I used to call my blog close-handed offerings” because I felt that I gave information about myself with a tight fist. Everyone does this to some extent but I couldn’t help feeling that on some level, I was always lying to everyone I knew because I was never being genuine about my actual mood. Instead, I try to portray this version of myself that’s funny, passionate, carefree and more than willing to lend a helping hand.
While I certainly enjoy that aspect of myself, it would be disingenuous of myself to say that my mental state is always happy-go-lucky. There is a more sinister side of me that is devoted to reminding me about every reason why I might not or can not achieve the goals that I want to achieve. At times this voice simply tells me to throw in the towel. For reasons I have not yet understood, I gave that dude a big ole megaphone and soapbox just in case he wasn’t being heard loudly enough.
It started simply really, it always does. On a Friday in December, I woke up late for work. It was 8:30. Most people would simply call in and say they woke up late but that they’d be in by 9:30. And it was that voice that told me that my co-workers would be angry with me for showing up late (again) and that it’d be best if I just disappeared. So I listened and did the unthinkable: I just stopped showing up and stayed in bed. I just stayed in bed. It got so bad that my office began calling my cell and apartment wondering if I was still alive… Why I didn’t pick up the phone and say, “Hello, I’m not dead, just going through some real-ass shit right now and could use some time off” is beyond me. Funny thing about those kind of events is that they tend to snowball.
Miss one day, you’re okay. Miss a couple and people start wondering. Miss about 1 week without checking in and you’re either dead or seem recklessly irresponsible and it gets that much more difficult to rectify any damage your absence may have caused.
It’s not that I didn’t want to, I just couldn’t. I don’t know how to explain the weird mix of obligation, anxiety, lack of willpower, and dread that accompanies this skipping out thing but I will say that it’s a feeling I wish no one I care about would ever have to endure. Without the amazing support network of my family and friends, I would probably be homeless by now. I mean that in all seriousness; while I’m aware I possess a certain je ne sais quois, my supportive network of family and friends is the sole reason I’m ever even able to bounce back from these kind of episodes because they care enough to be with me, listen, and provide the kind of affection that a person slowly shutting in/down needs.
This time, help came in the form of my younger brother, Jason, and my room mate, Oscar. Jason and Oscar came up with the idea to “help” grabbing the comforters and sheets of the bed I had cooped myself in.
Jason mentioned he was going to visit some family friends and suggested I get up, get dressed, take a shower. I initially said no to his proposal and I saw a quick look of disappointment flash across his face but he quickly regained his composure and didn’t fuss me over it. I thought about the fact that my younger brother saw me in need and that now, I was not only shutting down on myself, I was shutting down on him too. I owed it to not only to him but to myself to get out of my comfort zone and venture outside my apartment. I felt exhausted as hell and my bed seemed like a welcome alternative to the stresses I associated with driving 40 minutes out of town and socializing for an evening but I also knew that I couldn’t expect to get better if I kept choosing the path of least resistance. I decided to drive to Conroe that night. Jason and I chatted about life and work and of course, the ladies in our lives. In retrospect, that decision to head up with Jason may have been one of the best choices I’d made that year. Driving with my younger brother was a simple pleasure that I was glad to enjoy.
“Help” is Not Just a Song By The Beatles
That said, I still need to get help. There, I said it and I’m going to seek it out. I realize that getting back on the horse ain’t easy but I’ve heard about a strategy that has helped me immensely:
Imagine what your ideal self would say to you.
They’d probably be forgiving because they’re you; they know exactly how you’re feeling because they’ve not been where you’ve been but they’ve also overcome or moved past it. Learning to forgive myself has been one of the hardest processes I’ve ever tried to learn and even as I write this, I’m still trying to master this concept but I know I’m getting better at it. I might not be easiest on myself right this instant or tomorrow or next month even but that’s okay. I (am gonna) fuck up sometimes and that’s okay.