MomDay Monday – School Daze

Every school has its issues.

Issues with teachers. Issues with other parents. Miscommunication. Problems with other students.

Every school.

There’s no getting around it. We’re all human. We all have failings. And a school is, after all, made up of us imperfect humans.

But at what point does a school have so many issues it becomes dysfunctional?

Is it when the faculty talks out of turn to your child about their parents’ divorce?

Or perhaps it’s when other parents refuse to accept that their child is the school bully & consistently puts the blame for their child’s behavior on the very kids he’s bullying.

Is it when there are arbitrary punishments meted out at whim? One day a behavior is punishable by making the child sit out of recess. The next day, the same behavior is overlooked. One day, uniform infractions are barely mentioned. The next day, a student loses privileges for wearing the wrong uniform piece.

Perhaps….

But I believe it’s when a school & its principal are so afraid of criticism that they close off lines of communication to keep others from hearing it.

I believe it’s when a principal is more concerned with who saw a comment on the school Facebook page than she is with addressing the issues brought to her attention.

I believe it is when a student receives retaliation for the actions of their parent.

And I believe it is when anti-bullying rallies are held for the students but parents & staff are seemingly the biggest offenders.

The Kids attend a private, Catholic school. They have been there since they were each 3 years old, starting in the youngest Pre-K group. They have known their classmates for most of their lives & we have made good friends with some of the families of these kids. When The Ex & I decided to divorce, we quietly told The Kids’ teachers so they were aware of the situation at home & on the lookout for any kind of behavioral issues that might occur because of it. This school had an opportunity to show The Kids an example of what it means to be a Christian & support my children during a particularly tough time.

They failed.

Within weeks, it seemed as if everyone knew what was happening in our family. The rumor mill was in full force until people I hardly knew & rarely spoke to had an opinion on my divorce & The Kids’ reaction to it. I had been blind to the dysfunction in the past, believing my kids were in the best possible place for the best possible education. There were two things I hoped to keep consistent throughout the divorce as the kids lives were being uprooted. Their school & their house. I was determined to keep them in that school & in the house they had been in for the past 4 years even if it meant having to ask my dad for money. But little by little, my eyes were opened & I saw that there were issues with this school far beyond anything I ever realized. There certainly have been people on the faculty as well as other parents who have been more than supportive & I can’t thank those people enough for the kindness & support they’ve shown, especially to The Kids. But they have unfortunately been too few & too far between. It is school dysfunction at its best. Or worst.

I’ve stopped my insistence that The Kids stay in that school. It’s part of my letting go. And it’s okay. I am aware that any school will have issues, dysfunction, intolerant people & parents who violate the school drop off & pick up rules. At this point, I’m willing to take my chances.

But I’m keeping the house.

Happy and Productive in the Debris Field

The author used to come unglued around chaos. Now it floats past him.

Mood music for this post: “Sons and Daughters” by The Decemberists:

Looking at the week ahead, it’s amazing I’m not hiding in a foxhole right now.

I’m working from home the first part of the week while the kids are on vacation. Call it half a vacation, though I’m tackling a full plate of work each day.

Sean’s birthday is this week, so the house needs a scrubbing before party guests arrive Thursday.

I have a conference in Boston to cover the latter half of the week into the weekend.

And oh yeah — with two vacationing kids comes a lot of clutter.

I’ve always hated clutter. It’s one of the biggest OCD triggers I have. And you can’t have kids around without accepting a certain degree of clutter. There’s no eating without dumping stuff on the floor. There’s no Lego activities without getting Legos everywhere.

But something strange has happened in more recent years. I’ve found that these things don’t rattle me the way they used to.

I chalk it up to all the progress I’ve made managing my OCD and putting down the worst of my addictions.

Now I can peacefully co-exist among the chaos and clutter. If I have work, I can do it  and do it well sitting among the debris, like I did yesterday when Duncan decided to make a blanket/pillow fort right where I was writing a couple CSO articles:

Hell, I even helped him build the thing.

Then I sat in my half-covered chair and got working. And guess what? I got plenty done.

I feel better about zigzagging from the conference to Haverhill for birthday activities because I’ve already written and posted four stories and two podcasts about things that will be going on at the event.

It’s all good.

One more thing about the clutter, though: If you know someone with OCD that’s not under control, keep them as far away from chaos as possible.

For the chaotic mind, clutter is the worst.

It amplifies the crazy in your head.

That I can now exist in the clutter is pretty wild when I stop to think about it.

Oddly enough, I’ve probably swung a bit too far to the other side of the spectrum.

My wife pointed out to be recently that I’m more of a slob since cleaning up my act.

Sounds weird, doesn’t it?


Windmill Hands

Ever wondered what that weird thing is the author does with his hands? Wonder no more.

Those who know me well have seen it at one time or another, usually when I’m sitting at a desk engaged in a project. My face gets slightly contorted and I start shaking my hands around like they’re on fire.

I call it my Windmill Hand Syndrome.

When I’m doing it, I don’t realize it, though I just noticed myself doing it just now.

It tends to happen when I’m sketching or writing. Sometimes it happens when I’m editing.

Is it a byproduct of OCD? Don’t know.

I’ve been doing it for most of my life, though, so probably not.

It’s a mystery. But no one ever gets hurt, so I’m not fretting over it.

Sure I look like a jack-ass when I do it. But it can’t be any worse than what I already looked like. Hehheh.

Skeptic Slang and Charles Manson: Six Degrees of Separation

Skeptic Slang and a glimpse at mental illness in the making.

Mood music for this post: “My Monkey” by Marylin Manson:

A note about the music: Marilyn Manson put this on his “Portrait of an American Family” album, which was recorded in the Sharon Tate murder house. The title and chorus were taken from a Charles Manson song called “Mechanical Man.” Bits of Manson interviews are sprinkled throughout.

It just seemed appropriate for some reason…

Today was a good day with some strange memories thrown into the mix. Call it Skeptic Slang day.

I put the kids in the car (Erin was at a writing and editing conference) and drove to the Salem, Mass. home of my former Skeptic Slang guitarist, Chris Casey, his wife Nancy and their two sweet kids, Melissa and Mark.

I was there for a few reasons: to help Nancy set up a blog for her own writings, which I suggest you follow, and to look at photos she had of our old band. Most of all, I just wanted to see a couple old friends. I’ve known Nancy for 20 years and their marriage is a point of pride for me because I introduced them way back in the day.

So I looked at the Skeptic Slang pictures and noticed something I initially found funny. But later, back in the car, it occurred to me that the images were a bit jarring. They reminded me of something I had forgotten about myself back then.

I’m wearing a Charles Manson shirt. And with the long hair and beard, I sort of resemble the creep:

But looking back, it was an awful shirt to be wearing.
The other thing I noticed in the pictures was that I had angry eyes.
In another picture I have my hand over my face. I remember now that I was agitated as hell during that photo shoot because it was taking a long time and the thought of me being photographed made me sick.
Indeed, that was a very angry time for me. A family member was suffering from severe depression and suicidal thoughts. I was in full rage against my mother and step-mother. More than one Skeptic Slang song was about wishing my mother dead. In fact, one song was called “You’re Dead,” as in dead in my mind.
I was still pissed as all hell about my brother’s death eight years before.
The mess in my skull that would ultimately blossom into full-blown mental disorder was starting to swirl. The bitter roots had taken hold.
Fortunately, the band itself was an excellent release valve at the time. I couldn’t really sing, but it didn’t matter. We played aggressively, and that allowed the rage in me to pour out like sweat that I could then wash off.
God has always had a funny way of giving me the things I needed to lurch forward.
And while the band is long gone, I got some lifelong friends out of it.
The fact that we can now hang out and watch our kids hang out with each other is just freakin’ awesome.

Human Tourniquets and the Freaks Who Love ‘em

The author on a man who took a lot of abuse at the hands of his not-so-sane friend.

Mood music for this post: “Tourniquet” by Marilyn Manson:

You know the type. They hang  out with people who act more like abusive spouses than friends. They are human tourniquets. They absorb the pain of their tormentor daily and without complaint.

This is the story of the man who used to be my tourniquet.

I met Aaron Lewis in 1985, my freshman year of high school. He was the kid with really bad acne. But nothing ever seemed to bother him. I’m sure a lot of things bothered him, but he was very good at hiding his feelings.

That made him the perfect target for a creep like me.

Don’t get me wrong. He was a true friend. One of my best friends. We shared a love of heavy metal. We both got picked on, though unlike me, he didn’t take it out on other, weaker classmates.

We hung out constantly. He practically lived in my Revere basement at times. I let him borrow my car regularly. And if I drank, that was OK, because he almost never drank. He could be the driver.

Except for the time I encouraged him to drink a bottle of vodka. He had just eaten a bag of McDonald’s and I told him I was sick of him trying to get buzzed off of wine coolers. This night, I told him, he was going to do it right.

He got smashed, and proceeded to puke all over my basement — on the bed, the carpets, the couch, the dresser. That was some strange vomit. It looked like brown confetti.

I sat on the floor, drunk myself, writing in my journal. I wrote about how drunk Aaron was and prayed to God that he wouldn’t die. He was never in danger of that, but I freaked all the same.

Man, would I love to find that journal. That entry would be a hoot.

We saw a lot of movies together. We watched a lot of MTV.

He was the perfect counterweight to Sean Marley. Marley was essentially my older brother and I spent a lot of time trying to earn his approval. I didn’t have to do that with Aaron. He didn’t criticize. He didn’t judge. He just took all my mood swings on the chin.

I would sling verbal bombs at him and he’d take it.

I would slap him on the back of the neck and he’d take it.

Man, I was such a jerk. And he took it.

That’s a true friend.

Times have changed.

Aaron got married, moved to California and has a growing family. He’s doing some wonderful things with his life.

I cleaned up from my compulsive binge eating, found my Faith and untangled the coarse, jagged wiring in my brain that eventually became an OCD diagnosis.

If he’s reading this, I apologize for all the times I was an asshole. I hope somewhere in there, I was a good friend, too.

Bad Behavior, Easily Defined

The author turns to his musical hero for some easy-to-remember descriptions of depression and addictive behavior.

Mood music for this post: “Pray for me” by Sixx A.M.:

Many times by now, I’ve mentioned that one of my inspirations for this blog is Nikki Sixx, bassist and lyricist for Motley Crue. That’s because he gave the world a naked view of his madness at the hands of addiction in his book, “The Heroin Diaries.”

I’m itching to share the first couple pages of the book, where he presents his definitions of depression and addictive behavior. In turn, I’ll offer my own version.

Note: Since Sixx’s addictions were different from mine, I’m going to add in some of my own terms to fit the binge eating.

In we go:

 

ADDICTION

Sixx: When you can give up something anytime, as long as it’s next Tuesday.

Me: When you devour $35 worth of drive-thru junk between the office and the house, walk through the door feeling complete exhaustion, shame and self-loathing, and promise God you’ll never do it again. Then you do it all over again the next day, starting with the drive into work, even though you know it’ll kill you someday.

 

ALCOHOLISM

Sixx: A habit that helps you to see the iguanas in your eyeballs.

Me: Not exactly about downing a bottle of alcohol each day. More about REALLY, REALLY needing a couple (or a few) glasses of wine at the end of the day so I DON’T turn to the food.

 

COCAINE

Sixx: Peruvian Marching Powder–a stimulant that has the extraordinary effect that the more you do, the more you laugh out of context.

Me: I never did coke, but mixing the food with alcohol had the same effect.

 

DEPRESSION

Sixx: When everything you laugh at is miserable and you can’t seem to stop.

Me: What he said, with the added symptom where you lock yourself away and sleep for days, verbally assassinate anyone in your path and binge eat until fatty sweat oozes from your pores.

 

HEROIN

Sixx: A drug that helps you to escape reality, while making it much harder to cope when you are recaptured.

Me: Food had the same effect on me, specifically massive quantities of items with flour and sugar in them. Mix together a large enough dose of flour and sugar and the impact is the same as any drug you use to escape.

 

PSYCHOSIS

Sixx: When everybody turns into tiny dolls and they have needles in their mouths and they hate you and you don’t care because you have THE KNIFE! AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Me: When the flour and sugar mix with a dose of OCD hyperactivity, leaving you with the feeling that you or someone close to you will die at any moment, be it from an accident or affliction. Then trying to mask those emotions by losing yourself in work, which you don’t do very well because you’re just too fucked up.

I’ll end by telling you a major truth I’ve only recently come to realize:

Without the above in my life, I’m a better husband and dad, which is more important to me than anything else. I’m also much more creative, which turns work from a stress into a joy.

I’ll tell you something else: The day I slip and fall back into my chief addiction is the day all those things fall apart.

Just thinking about what I could lose after gaining so much is enough to keep me from doing that.

Meet My Demon

Why the author treats his demon like an imaginary friend, and how it helps.

It won’t give up

It wants me dead

God damn that noise inside my head

From today’s mood music, “The Becoming,” by Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails:

At last night’s OA meeting, I saw quite a few people with heavy weights pressing on their minds. I won’t share details, because these meetings are all about anonymity. But it got me thinking…

You see, for all our awful behavior, there’s one thing we addicts do exceptionally well: self-criticize. If you want to meet people who are good at focusing on their own vulnerabilities and venting shame, we are the best there is.

It doesn’t really help us, mind you. It just makes us feel worse and, in response, lose ourselves in our chosen addiction. In OA, the addiction is compulsive overeating. But it’s the same with booze and narcotics.

We often describe it as our inner demon. The demon comes to you when you are feeling low and taps on your shoulder. Then he suggests you sooth your anxieties with a pile of junk.

Many of those who suffer from mental illnesses — mine is OCD, which fuels my addictive behavior — tend to give their demon a persona.

Winston Churchill called it his Black Dog.

I call my demon The Asshole. That’s what he is, after all. He’s my dysfunctional imaginary friend.

I got the idea of making my demon an imaginary friend from my kids, both of whom have imaginary friends. I believe Sean used to call his “Rexally.” Rexally was a sperm whale, by the way.

So let me tell you about The Asshole.

He’s like one of those overbearing relatives who will constantly push food on you when you drop by for dinner.

The Asshole: “Try that slice of pizza. It’s wonderful.”

Me: “No thanks. I’m full.”

The Asshole: “Come on, try it. It’s really good.”

If I’m not in recovery, I shove the slice of pizza down my throat, followed by another 10 slices. When it comes to binge eating, I can’t have just five of something, whether it’s pizza or potato chips. I have to have them all, and when they’re gone I’ll keep pushing other things in my mouth, no matter how vile and shameful I feel two hours later.

When I am in recovery, which, thank God, I am now, I tell The Asshole: “Piss off. I’m full and got things to do.”

Facing The Asshole used to fill me with fear and anxiety. I was the weakest person in the room when he was around.

But in the years since I entered therapy for the OCD, found my Faith and started taking medication, the relationship has changed.

Now The Asshole is more like an annoying cousin; someone I keep at arm’s length. I don’t shut him out of my life completely — I can’t, really — but one day I stopped fearing him, and that made a world of difference.

He still taps my shoulder just about every day. But with the fear gone, I’m able to go about my business.

Another thing that’s changed: What he has to offer just can’t compare with the other parts of my life: My wife and kids. My writing. A good book.

But I’m not stupid. I know he’s never going to go away. He’ll always be there, lying in wait. He’s like a terrorist, that old Asshole. He may lose most days, but he keeps trying, knowing that one of these days he might just pull off the attack.

And, truth be told, I’m never more than a few minutes away from the relapse. It’s that way with anyone in recovery.

And so I must be careful.

Pieces of Mind

This happens every time I have a week of travel.

By the time Sunday rolls around, I reach a point in the afternoon where I sit in the chair by the living room window as my brain cracks into pieces. I feel a buzz, even though I’m sober. I feel some bloat, even though my eating has been clean.

Mood music: “Ace of Spades” by Motorhead:

I feel like a wheel that’s spinning so fast that it looks like it’s completely still.

I feel the need to go into hyper-active mode, even though that’s the last thing I should be doing today.

It’s been a good day. Good Mass this morning, a fun Lego run with the kids this afternoon, and the weather is spectacular.

But I’m preoccupied.

I’ve gotten to do a lot of writing the last two weeks and now I’m looking at a week where there will be a lot more editing than writing. Deadline for the May print edition of CSO Magazine is coming up soon and I got a week behind while I was in California. There are guest columns to edit and post, and a book proposal to tweak.

During the RSA security conference, an editor for a security book publisher approached me about writing a book. But my idea veers too far from their normal content, and I’m doing some tweaking to fuse my idea with some of what they’re looking for.

If it doesn’t come together, so be it. But until then, I’m going to preoccupy myself with ways to come up with something they can sell.

One way or another, the book is going to get written. It’s in my head and will scrape the inside of my skull until I let it out.

Then there’s Source Boston, one of my favorite annual security conferences, which is coming up the week after next.

My want is to work the conference hard each day and write a lot of articles from it, but that aint happening because Sean and Duncan are on school vacation that week. It’s also Sean’s birthday and there will be a kid’s party to help pull off somewhere in there.

It’ll all work out fine. It always does. But planning how to balance the work thing with family has always been a challenge for me.

In the end, Sean’s birthday will win out. It’s more important than the other thing. Wife and kids come first.

All these things are examples of me obsessing about things beyond my mortal ability to control.

I manage that instinct a hell of a lot better than I used to, but it never fully disappears.

The fear-anxiety part did disappear, and that’s made each day a gift.

But lying around care-free? Not gonna happen unless I fall asleep.

Ah, the life of a control freak.

As long as I keep it from becoming a control freak-out, it’s all good.

Welcome to my world.

Sticking it to Kids Who Are Different

The author on why the school sports mentality is leaving kids who are “different” in the dust.

Mood music for this post: “Mandocello” by Cheap Trick:

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how schools tend to deal with kids who are different. Kids like the one I used to be.

The school we send our kids to, a private Parochial school, is wonderful on many levels. My favorite thing about it is the other families who send their kids there. Many people who have become dear friends. Most importantly, the kids are getting a daily dose of God there, which is something Erin and I care deeply about.

But I see something there that bothers me. But it’s something that’s a problem in a lot of schools.

It’s the sports mentality. The idea that the ONLY way to measure a kid’s potential is by how he or she does in sports.

My children are not much into sports. Both are more focused on art, science (especially Sean) and music (Duncan’s passion).

Some might call that different. And because sports is such a huge deal in their school, I don’t think their talents are being put to the test as they should be.

There’s practically no music program to speak of. Sure, someone comes in to teach the kids songs and put on a musical performance each spring (though that teacher was cut loose for this year because of budget woes), but there’s nothing more than that. This is where Duncan misses out.

Last year, Erin pitched the idea of a “Mad Scientist” program for kids who love science. The program would cost the school nothing and the principal expressed interest. But then it went nowhere. Kids like Sean lose out on this one.

But the sports. Oh, how the school is passionate about its sports. The teams win big. And that is encouraged at all costs, even if it means only a quarter of the kids on a team get to play while those who “aren’t good enough” spend all their time on the bench.

The goal is to win. If you’re not good enough to make that happen, you take a seat. Not the best way to challenge kids to reach their full potential, even if their potential doesn’t look like much to judgmental, competitive eyes.

This isn’t just a problem where my kids go to school. Everywhere you look, it’s all about the sports. The football team. The softball team. The hockey team. The basketball team.

Sure, sports are important. Sports bring out the best in many children, and can be as important an outlet for troubled kids as music was and still is for me.

The problem is that sports isn’t for everyone. And a kid should never be set adrift because sports isn’t their outlet. Yet that’s what happens.

I feel strongly about this because as a troubled child, I was often dismissed by educators as a troublemaker who was on the road to nowhere.

Some wonderful teachers did note my affinity for art and encouraged me on that score. And for a kid going through a lot, that encouragement kept me going.

But in junior and high school, the sports thing kept me in a box. I sucked at every sport out there. I was different. And so I was tossed into the group of so-called C-students, the ones who had a tendency to come up short and some of whom were trouble.

Other talents, like writing, lay dormant until after high school. Giving a kid guidance on writing is never done with the same zeal as encouraging kids with sports.

Now for what really burns me: A lot of children with mental disorders — I was one of them — tend to get dumped into the troublemaker bucket. Talents that can help them build character and find direction are not nurtured. Being good at a sport is really their only hope.

I call that failing kids who are different.

Educators should focus like a laser beam on those differences; not as a problem to complain about, but as something to cherish.

It’s those differences that make each kid special and beautiful, even if it means they have trouble focusing or sitting still in their chair. Or sucks at sports.

That’s one of the things I like about the Montessori concept. I’m going to borrow this description from Wikipedia, because it works in this case:

The Montessori method is an educational approach to children based on the research and experiences of Italian physician and educator Maria Montessoriwhich happened in the process of her experimental observation of young children given freedom in an environment prepared with materials designed for their self-directed learning activity.

The method itself aims to duplicate this experimental observation of children to bring about, sustain and support their true natural way of being. It arose essentially from Dr. Montessori’s discovery of what she referred to as “the child’s true normal nature.”

Applying this method involves the teacher in viewing the child as having an inner natural guidance for his or her own perfect self-directed development. The role of the teacher (sometimes called director, directress, or guide) is therefore to watch over the environment to remove any obstacles that would interfere with this natural development. The teacher’s role of observation sometimes includes experimental interactions with children, commonly referred to as “lessons,” to resolve misbehavior or to show how to use the various self-teaching materials that are provided in the environment for the children’s free use.

I don’t think this is a perfect concept. I think kids also need to be taught boundaries and to play by a certain level of rules, and the Montessori concept unfiltered can be a problem in that regard.

But boy, it sure is good for the kids who are different. Not bad, not even troubled. Just different.

This post will piss some people off. I don’t care.

No education is perfect. No teacher or principal is perfect. Nor should we expect them to be. At my kids’ school there’s an abundance of love for every kid, and I adore many of the teachers there.

Most of them are doing their best with dwindling resources.

But as a kid whose path was littered with minefields, I know that the cookie-cutter approach to education leaves a lot of good kids in the dust.

Sports should never be the be all end all in determining a child’s power to shine.

If the sports is all a school cares about, it will ultimately fail.

God made us all complex and loves us all, even though we don’t fit nice and tidy into perfect little boxes.

We could learn a thing or two from that.

Scenes from the Airport

The author finds airport amusement where he once found hell. Here’s what happens.

Mood music for this post: “Learn to Fly” by Foo Fighters:

I sit here at 6:23 a.m. San Francisco time, sitting at the gate for a flight home in an hour. Considering what I just passed through, I got here pretty quickly and calmly.

Let’s back up.

When I got here, the TSA line was as long as I’ve ever seen. Directly ahead of me in line were 40 or so tweens headed on a trip to Gettysburg and Washington D.C.

Finding MY food was more trouble than I expected, but I found what I needed. I also found some coffee that was made following my friend Ken White’s recipe.

A few minutes later, I found a Peet’s Coffee stand and things immediately started looking up. I tossed the “White” blend in the trash and got my rocket fuel.

All things considered, I’m in a chipper mood. I keep thinking of airport disaster movies and it makes me laugh. I find myself searching Youtube for some Lynard Skynard videos. Some of you might remember that half that band went down in a plane crash. That’s how my gallows humor works.

I have plenty of reasons to be happy. I’m going home to my family, who I miss. Our security conference was a smashing success. And each night here I caught up with many of the cool people I’m connected with on Twitter.

The weather has also been pretty brilliant, though strangely cooler than it was back home this week.

But there are other reasons to feel this way.

For one thing, I stuck to my plan of recovery and kept my strict alcohol-flour-sugar-free eating program intact. I also didn’t feel the edge around people drinking booze that I felt on the last trip.

I wasn’t perfect. I drank A LOT of caffeine, even by my standards, and smoked more cigars than I normally do. Maybe that’s why I didn’t feel the edge around the liquor.

Ah, addictions. You put two of them down and three more pop up.

But when I think of how much I’ve polluted myself on past trips over the years, this is pretty good behavior.

There’s actually an even bigger reason I’m in a good mood: Trips through airports used to terrify me. It was one of the top freak-out items on my OCD-anxiety itinerary. I’d live the weeks leading up to a trip worrying about whether the plane will drop from the sky. Long lines would send my blood pressure soaring until my head was ready to go supernova.

Sitting on the plane for five or more hours was pure hell because closed-in spaces triggered anxiety attacks, the kind where you have trouble breathing and you see spots in your vision.

I would get home and collapse from the exhaustion.

So here we are, years after I started the therapy and found the 12 Steps of recovery. Oh yeah, and Prozac.

The TSA line doesn’t freak me out anymore. I chatted easily with the fellow overseeing the traveling tweens and with a couple of the kids. All the kids were actually very well behaved and polite.

Being on a plane now brings me peace. I look out the window and see how vast and amazing this country is. If the weather is gray, the pilot will fly us above it to a sky of blue.

photo-by-mbshane

Maybe I’ll get some sleep. Maybe I’ll listen to my music or read, or some of each.

Then I’ll land in Boston and get a ride home from a good friend.

Then I’ll see my wife and kids, who I’m eager to see again.

I was talking to a good friend at a meet-up last night — Ed Bellis, chief information security officer for Orbitz — and he asked me if I ever return to the darker feelings of my past.

Sure I do. Managing a mental disorder and its related addictions is hard work and you never stop feeling the ups and downs of life. Nor should you.

I still feel anger and even a little fear sometimes. But instead of those things controlling me, they are now more minor occurrences.

I still get tired. And with addiction, you’re always half a second away from potentially slipping on your darkest habits.

And I definitely go through a day here or week there where depression sets in. That’s normal.

But I told him — truthfully — that there are some things about the old me that will never and can never return.

I can’t see ever having the anxiety attacks and fear I used to have, though I suppose anything is possible.  I’ve seen too many of the things I missed to ever turn back. Even if I lapse back into periods of anxiety (I hope not!) there’s no turning back.

My eyes have been opened to a whole new world and going back to the dark room — which is something I used to crave — is now one of those things I’d dread instead.

Another friend, Jen Leggio (@mediaphyter on Twitter), asked me how I manage to write something new in this blog every day while maintaining the writing load I carry on the work side.

My answer is simple:

Back when fear, anxiety and depression led me to binge eat and spend 80 hours a week working out of fear that I might not please everyone (Man, that was fucking dumb), I was constantly wiped out. I would sleep all the way through my weekends.

As a result, writing was hard and stressful.

Now that I’ve learned to get out of my own way, writing comes easily, whether it’s here or in the security realm. I can write a lot more because I don’t feel the least bit of stress about it. I love it, so I do it.

The other thing I chalk it up to is Faith. As my Faith in God deepens, I realize that the things I used to freak out over are trivial items that I can’t take with me into the next life. So getting worked up about them seems pointless.

I know there’s always the chance I can slip backwards. Indeed, setbacks are a natural part of recovery. I like to call those moments growing pains.

But yeah, in the big picture, I’m one grateful SOB.

Now to board the plane. I’m in the middle of my annual reading of Helter Skelter, so I guess I’ll do that until I happily pass out.

End music: “Times Like These” by Foo Fighters: