Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Happy 50th Birthday to Me

“I’ve gone through life white-knuckled
In the moments that left me behind
Refusing to heed the yield
I penetrate the force fields in the blind
They say I'll adjust
God knows I must
But I'm not sure how
This natural selection picked me out to be
A dark horse running in a fantasy…”

—The Killers, Flesh and Bone


Like a ship on fire in the vacuum of space, I burned helplessly mute. In space, fire is unpredictable and tenacious, burning for longer periods of time, even when it seems to be out. In space, there is literally no sound, at least none heard like we can on planet earth.

So there I was, spiraling out of control and burning blue, when finally earth's gravity wound me back in and down to crash landing after crash landing. I escaped the fiery wreckage each and every time, but not before sustaining a recurring emotional concussion, one that made me feel insignificant and unworthy. One that left me wanting to run sobbing into the unknown horizon, to the point of know return.

I was 17 years old when my anxiety and crippling panic attacks started. Mostly from the inordinate pressure I put on myself to be liked, to succeed, to not be the skinny and shy asthmatic kid I used to be. Yes, I'd survived growing up in domestic violence and sexual abuse, but I never wore those chains like radioactive bling for all to see. In fact, I didn't really connect the past to the present anxiety until therapy in my 20's.

My memories weren't repressed, just more like emotional missives written but never sent to the ones who cared for me the most, the ones who misunderstood me. My interstellar trauma trips continued throughout my life, but thankfully decreased dramatically over the past two decades.

When I was in college I used to imagine what my world would be like in the year 2000, the year I'd turn 35. Envisioning that future-scape included visions of grandeur and popularity, of complete self-awareness and impulse control, of being anxiety free, of being smoke-free and healthy, of saving children from violence and abuse, of being loved by the love of my life, of being a good husband and father, of having the peaceful popularity of being the next Lee and Kerouac and Faulkner and Hemingway and writing my own great American neo-hipster novel. All before running out of time.

Back then I would've said you were as crazy as a loon if you thought I'd someday be comfortable in my own skin, mostly impenetrable from the extreme temperatures of the ever-expanding universe and the very fabric of relative time.

Now, in 2015, you weren't so crazy after all. Although I'm nobody's hero, I am a survivor who finally learned how to cope and manage the rhythm of my own overreactions and who's navigated life's booms and busts fairly well with a sometimes witty, self-deprecating grace. Sometimes...

And although I didn't write that novel yet, I have found a modicum of success and I did find the love of my life -- and two little lovely girls later, the fatherhood I never had as a child. I've learned that you don't ever run out of time, you just learn how to run alongside it and make it a partner for life for whatever duration that ends up being.

In space, no one can hear you burn. Welcome to planet earth, Kevin. And welcome home.

Happy 50th birthday to me.

2 comments:

  1. You are one of my heroes, Kevin. Keep on pushing through...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No heroes here, but thank you nonetheless.

      Delete