Chilled Beats

Robot Brain

“So why dispute me and waste my time?
Because you really think the price is high for me
I can’t look without being watched, no!
You rang my buy before I made up my mind
Oww!”

“Free Your Mind” En Vogue

I started to write this post Friday/Saturday around 4am. It was going to be a huge rant about some guy I don’t even know and I’m sure doesn’t remember me who I allowed to piss me off. I know I can’t control other people’s actions but this summer I have been working on controlling my reactions. You can see I still need to work on it as I am still trying to rant about it now and it is Monday morning. I am getting really good at it except when someone crosses my boundaries. I am glad I stopped myself because my reaction was out of proportion. He has no idea about my boundaries. I had a 3,000 word post written in my head describing every detail of who, what, where, when and why plus more imagined details about his life so I could get even more pissed. The whole time I knew I should stop and I was trying to stop. I forced myself to lie down and put an hour long relaxation meditation on the television. It calmed me but when it was over I got back up and started again. Fuck it! Another hour long video! I finally fell asleep around six am. (Look at me… I still want to veer off into those 3,000 words!)

It is something that has really been bugging me because I solved the problem when I was 18-20 years old but I can’t remember how. I didn’t like how people could push my buttons and send me through the roof. Some people would do it on purpose for laughs. I had it figured but it became an issue again a few years ago. I just didn’t realize it until now.

My phone alarm went off at quarter to nine (08:45) to remind me of my Zoom meditation. I didn’t set my alarm to quarter to his dumb ass. (22:Dumb Ass) Two months ago I was afraid to download Zoom and when I first heard of meditating with a group online I thought, How the fuck is that supposed to happen? I could not picture myself even trying it and now I’m wishing they did more sessions. It’s not even the meditation. Half the time when they shut off the cameras and mute the microphones I get up and make tea, eat an apple, take a piss, whatever? Sometimes I do the whole meeting. I enjoy it. I like the group (Community Mindfulness Project) because they are science based. But what I like most about it is the people. I think the most I’ve seen at one session was eight. It’s not the same people all the time but there are a few that I see a lot. But what do I have in common with them besides meditation. Like I said, that’s why I am there but not really. I can do that just as well on my own.

What do I have in common with the main coordinator who is a younger woman with a masters in neuroscience. Apparently a lot. Or the retired creative writing teacher who looks like he just rolled out of bed after a drunk? I guess that one makes sense. But what about the older black woman who I think may be homeless? Maybe not but she is always outside in whatever city with her camera on a selfie stick. We’ve had a couple great talks. I guess that one might make sense too. The other day it was just me, the scientist and someone I didn’t think we would get along. When it was done we talked for twenty minutes. I have more in common with them and feel better after than I do with the people in the online addiction meetings. (OMG… I still want to vent about it)

Saturday morning after the meditation I started getting pissed the night before again. Stop! I pulled out a piece of paper I use to write a plan of action when I am ruminating because I know that is a major factor in getting myself all angry. I only have a few and the plan of action is always the same. “Take no action.” But then I thought, there is an action I can take. Work on my reaction. I thought my biggest hurdle would be self acceptance but now acceptance of others has been popping up. I read some about it and the advice was let it go, forget about it, ignore it. I figured that, but how do I do it? It worked when I was younger. I read something helpful which was, “Accepting something doesn’t mean you have to like it” But if I accept it but still don’t like it. Aren’t I allowed to get a little mad? Is it healthy to just squash it? Something I still have to work on.

Then I was like, Fuck this shit! I know what the real problem is now. Back in June when I set my priorities and all the parts of my life I had to attend to in order to keep them straight; making myself go outside as much as possible on every nice day, bicycling or walking or whatever. That was for exercise, fresh air, sunshine and nature to help my mood and mental health; things I do every summer. It was easy because I was manic but somehow it turned into, “I’m going to screw up all my priorities.” I reset my mind on the plan and thought I got back on track but it still wasn’t right. I was still getting out every nice day but I was getting upset because nothing miraculous was happening to suddenly transform my life. What miracle was I expecting? That wasn’t part of the plan. The plan was each day I go out I feel a little better.

A week ago I started getting depressed but bouncing back and forth. I was actually praying for a rainy day so I wouldn’t have to go out and come home depressed. Friday it was finally cloudy and yes, I can stay home! But I still went out for a walk. I don’t know how or why… I remember telling myself to stay inside. I knew it was making me feel worse, I still did it. It was the worst walk of the year. I got back home thinking why did I do that? It’s not helping anymore. Time to change the plan. I’m feeling suicidal. I wanted to get drunk. I didn’t want to get drunk. I just wanted to stop feeling so horrible and slow the fuck down! Luckily I had reset my brain on that subject also. “You think you feel bad now? Imagine how you will feel when you wake up 4 days from now still feeling like this with a hangover on top of it, looking through your devices to see what you did… and flashes of saying crazy shit to people you don’t even know?”

Oh yeah, back to Saturday morning and fuck this shit. My mom texted and said the Red Sox play at 4:20. I know what the problem is. I haven’t taken a day off in months. Take the day off! Watch the game. Nothing! No going outside, no writing 3, 4 hours a day. Watch the game. You know what? Football is on all day tomorrow, take Sunday off too. All summer long I’ve been telling people to relax and cut themselves some slack but I haven’t been taking my own advice.

I know what you are thinking. (Because I can read your minds) A guy on disability has to take a day off? From what? I’m telling you. I was not resting. I remember the past couple weeks, doing shit all day then supposed to chill at night. No, I’m up, I got 14 tabs open on the computer, my tablet propped up against the monitor with whatever shit going on, typing 2,000 word blogs, while I’m writing 4 more posts in my head, I don’t write on the computer, I just type as fast as I can before I forget anything; getting irritated if I have to go back because I skipped something or have to reword it or didn’t correct a misspelling or change the grammar, switching to my offline journal or one of my lists or notes and don’t forget the pen and paper. And why the fuck does my mother keep texting me about baseball!? Okay, I turned the game on hours ago; it’s on mute to my left; they are winning.

(Saturday) My mother was was texting me about baseball because at the beginning of the season I got her into the Red Sox again because I was texting her the play by play. I don’t even care about baseball. I was just doing it to get through my anxiety and then the beginning of my upswing. It just turned out they had a really good team this year and they were exciting because almost every game you never who was going to do something great. All the players are great. She was texting me because they look like they are on the way to another World Series and I just missed them beat the Yankees in a one game do or die to get into the playoffs and I missed them beating Tampa in the first round! It’s not like the end of the world but I do like it. Somehow I cook dinner too.

[Aside] It reminds me of when I first started online dating and I would tell women I was on disability for bipolar. Some would be concerned and play 20 questions, worried if I’m violent some shit. (I’m not) But, so many times a woman’s first concern was, “What do you do all day?” What do I do all day? What do I do all day? What the fuck do you do all day? You are supposed to be doing your job but you have time to cruise dating sites and text me every two seconds. What do I do all day? “Whatever it takes to make it through the day.” I would say. Sometimes that would be the end of the conversation. [But I digress]

I shut down the computer and turned on the television. I couldn’t believe it! For the first time in I don’t know how long I was calm for more than a few hours in a row. I did try to watch Friday nights’ game and they lost. Doesn’t matter, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Saturday they crushed it! Last thing I remember was August and the whole team was in a slump. After holding first place all season they slipped down two spots. Now they look like the team I was telling my mom about months ago. Not only did they win in good fashion, they also pulled another one; the first team to hit two grand slams in one playoff game. Ever…. In 100 and whatever years of baseball. (Okay, so now I’m not so calm, but not too bad.)

[I’m getting worked up again. I’m looking at the clock and trying to type faster like I have a deadline. I don’t even have to finish this today.]

Saturday night I broke the rules and posted a poem. But it was only a copy and paste job. I couldn’t help it! It was all a dream. It meant something at the time.

Okay, I broke the rules Sunday morning too. I didn’t let myself sleep in, I set my alarm for another meditation. My mom texted football at 09:00 because the Dolphins were playing in London. Cool, it really is football all day. Think again! Halfway through I mute the t.v. and put on some music and I’m rifling through my papers trying to find to find the first draft of the first chapter of the book I’m never going to write. That is what I posted yesterday. I called it “Wet Dreams” trying to be funny but I already have a good title; “Adventures in Vagrancy” but I need really good opening line. It might not be the first chapter. Again, it seemed important at the time. I tell a lot of stories but I have never told that one. Like I just found out I only have a couple months left to live or something. I was reminded of it when I wrote the story last week about Joie and I getting let off a big hook by a cop who could have cuffed us and stuffed us! It was the first day I got depressed and I was going to type some really gruesome shit. Luckily that scene popped into my head and I sublimated.

Back to Sunday. The Patriots lost to the Cowboys but it was worth it. Friggin’ game was nuts! Even Romo who was calling the game and used to play quarterback for the Cowboys and is their biggest fan was getting excited about the Patriots. He didn’t care who won, he didn’t want the game to end. Maybe I didn’t take the weekend off. I was having some serious euphoric recall. After typing the story in the morning and the game in late afternoon, I caught myself and did a half hour breathing video. I could still catch the second half of the game and it was the best. There was still another game to go after that but I don’t like either team so I shut it down. I ate some good food and cooked and ate dinner late and went to my bedroom. Made it through the weekend!

Now I’m back at work! I’m slowing myself down now. Up early but made myself stay in bed. Started with another breathing. I haven’t had coffee for a while. I didn’t want to make my own so I went to the store. I was wondering why the Green Mountain in the dispenser looked so watery and noticed they had 6 new carafes. Labels, Pumpkin Spice, etc… “Eye Opener?” I must investigate. It had a long description but all I saw was, “A sinfully dark coffee with…” Sold! On the walk home I wrote the poem I posted earlier. (Guess who is on my mind) I texted my daughter before school. I stayed away from trying to give her a life lesson. Sometimes she just likes to know I’m there. My mom woke up just in time. She liked the coffee story.

I did have a good one for my daughter. I said, It’s not even Halloween and people are already creaming their jeans over xmas. She thought that was funny so I told her, I remember you were 8 and went on a huge rant when we drove by some xmas trees before thanksgiving. You had my mom and I cracking up!

Now here I am. I think I’m doing pretty good. This is coming from a man whose sanity check is, “Can I care for a cat?” Food, water and de-shitted the litter box all summer… So what do you think? I think I stressed him out. He is tired of taking care of me. He had been acting weird the past few nights, keeping me half awake walking circles around my head and over my chest and talking all night. When he does sleep, he crams himself behind the coffee maker and doesn’t look very comfortable. He never gets on the counter when I am awake so I don’t know. I’ve been pretty quiet and calm and giving him extra attention when he is awake. He has done this a few times in his 8 years.

When I started this blog I used to check my stats like crazy, then I had to take a break last winter/spring and when I came back I rarely looked. I used to be afraid to post more than twice a week but when I got back into it I posted almost every day. I noticed I would pick up followers faster so started checking my stats more. I rarely go back and read my own posts. If one gets more likes than usual or an interesting comment I will be interested in why or what I wrote. Also if someone like a post from a long time ago I’ll go back and wonder why or even how they found it. It’s been happening more often lately. I’m only mentioning because I thought it was strange this one got a like and a few views in the past 24 hours. I have never seen that on any of my posts before. It’s from September 21st at 02:00 and I am telling myself to take a fucking day off! Curiouser and curiouser

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

Robot Brain

“Waking up but I get to sleep
Cause I’ll be rocking this party eight days a week”

“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” Beastie Boys

When I opened my eyes Monday morning everything had changed. I was depressed. Finally, I guess? Again? I don’t know.

Soon after someone I know well did something unnecessarily hurtful and I think intentional. I was hurt and angry and almost lashed out. Luckily I caught myself, said wait a minute, I can only control things in my circle. I can’t control other people’s actions. I can only control my actions and reactions. Right? But aren’t allowed to feel hurt and angry? But I don’t want to make things worse. It was texting so I had time to think and I finished the conversation.

Later I was still ruminating so I tried something I learned recently which is write down a plan to take action. Again, the plan was to take no action. There was nothing to do to make the situation better, I could only make it worse. No action taken. It’s funny because earlier in the morning my negative inner talk and trashing myself had come back hard and I remember thinking, these coping skills work great when you don’t really need them. Even though over the weekend I had searched, “positive self talk step by step.” I was surprised the first site I found was not trying to sell me anything. No books, therapy, nothing. It just said 7 steps for positive self talk. Surprise. I already do most of them. I typed notes and printed. My favorite which I didn’t know I was doing consciously is “present tense thinking.” What can I do right now? If I can do something right now, do it. That was what I was doing. Look at me using coping skills.

I haven’t been drinking but my memory of this week is spotty. I was at Panera again. That was obvious because another sunny warm day. Two fucked up things happened. The first one, I almost did something stupid. I was smiling for some reason looking across towards the windows but out of focus. I movement caught my attention and my eyes focused. It was a woman at the opposite end waving and smiling at me. Did she think I was smiling at her? No way, there has to be someone behind me. I turned my head and there was a wall. No other person. I looked back and she had looked back down at her table. Okay, I’m imagining shit, right? Am I supposed to do something? What? I don’t know. If she looks up and smiles again I will know. She did! But not at me. She was smiling at her husband walking to her table and sitting down. Where was he when I looked behind me? I don’t know. Good thing I just sat there. I’m still depressed, I just want to eat this pizza and go home. I don’t even know how I got here. That was the almost stupid thing. If he didn’t walk over there I was thinking of walking over there.

Next, I’m the only person in there looking down at my food. This big titted blonde comes bouncing by in a tight pink track suit, I look up, she is smiling huge smile directly at me from 2 feet away. I almost smiled back but No! This girl is in her teens! I look back down at my pizza thinking that was weird, but couple seconds, whatever. This fucking pizza is never ending. I’m not even hungry. I can feel it and I turn my head to the right. The girl in pink is sitting sideways in her chair, facing me, big smile. This time I know we are the only 2 people in the place who don’t work there. I don’t know what the fuck her problem is, I’m eating my pizza and getting the fuck out of here. Still not hungry, I’ll just leave now. I turn to stand up, she is bouncing by again to get her food smiling at me. Now it’s only my peripheral vision but still true. Dump my shit in the trash and went home. I didn’t remember this until today.

Later Monday, I googled, “coping with major life changes” and surprise, I’m doing all of them except the ones I can’t drive and therapy. But way back in June, I made an emphatic request for a therapist to my Case Manager partly because I knew I would have major changes coming. Some of them I have been doing for years, like eating healthy, exercising and meditating. One I started in June which was keeping a regular schedule. Suddenly I was going to bed at 11 and waking up at 6 every day. Not anymore but that is how I started. Even though I was starting to get manic already.

I wanted to get out of the house but there is nowhere to go in my town. Okay, exercise. I don’t want coffee, I don’t care, I’ll walk all the way down to Starbucks. I check. They close at 3pm. What? Okay, I’ll go to Dunkins, it’s closer, yep, they are open. On the way there at 7pm the only places with lights on were 3 bars and they were packed. I got to dunkin’s and the lights were on but empty. I walked there, I’m getting coffee. I try to open the door. Locked. Drive thru only, Covid. Walk back home.

Tuesday was my meltdown in Panera. Still not sure why 2 people came up to me. I was crying but I had my hand on my forehead looking down at my phone. I wasn’t sobbing, or wailing or making any noises. I guess I’m glad they did. I remember seeing myself in the bathroom mirror and looking a mess. I’ve been shaving regularly and looking in the mirror so how did I not notice. I decided I was going to get my hair cut on Wednesday if it was nice out. I didn’t check the weather forecast. That night I had a dream I hooked up with the woman who cut my hair.

Don’t worry, I knew it wouldn’t come true. Wednesday I woke up, Fuck! It’s sunny. I’m just begging for a rainy day so I can get a break. Okay, probably should get a haircut. Do my morning thing and plan on it get my stuff, not sure if I still have to check in online. I will look. I didn’t look. I was halfway there no, I think they let you do walk ins. I got there and they were closed! And it didn’t matter because they reinstated the mask requirement. I didn’t have one. What the fuck! I can’t get coffee or a haircut but I can walk into any bar and sit with 50 other maskless people and get shitfaced? I’m looking around, Hobby Lobby? Dick’s Sporting Goods? Walmart? Panera again? I’m embarrassed to go in there. Fuck it! Go home.

Luckily Wednesday has 2 zoom meditation meetings with the only group I like. When I first heard of it, I thought, Yeah, I can really see myself doing this. Not. I was completely against putting Zoom on any of my devices. Now I look forward to every Wednesday because a couple of my favorite people are there. I missed my “just rolled out of bed guy in the morning.” But he was there at night. 7pm. I realized something weird last night. I’ve been doing these for a few weeks and I usually log in a few minutes early because I am forgetful. They have several different facilitator and you never know which one will be there. But when I log on they are on camera so I turn on my camera and I start talking whatever fucked up shit is on my mind. Usually not what I type here but… The facilitators like me and they don’t think I’m too fucked up but I’ll realize I’ve been talking for a long time and suddenly 3 other people will pop up on video and I realize they have been lurking and listening to me. Not just last night! That is just when I realized. Each time, I shut up and apologize for dominating the conversation. But they all know who I am and don’t seem to mind. They engage with me in a positive way. Last night my buddy who usually looks like her rolled out of bed was there and I know he likes me. I said, K—, I missed you this morning! He said, “You caught me, I had a late night last night and I’m in California right now so noon there is 9am here. I knew I liked this guy! That got me through the night. It’s not face to face but I can see their faces and they are all positive people. At least for the hour as I am. They tried explaining to me about the org. But I told them I already know and that is why I like them. It is the kind of meditation I like because it’s science based and they are legit, not trying to sell me anything. Some meetings they say they are funded through donations and if you want you can go to the website and other donors will match dollar for dollar. But there is no pressure and half the meetings they don’t even mention donating. I don’t have much money but I feel like I want to give something. I feel much better after. I’m listening to a SMART meeting on the side right now and it is fucking depressing me! But that is another post.

This morning, Thursday, I woke up, Fuck! Sunny again. Perfect temperature. This is not at all typical where I live. We are 10 degrees above average for October! I don’t care! I don’t have to do anything. I can get my hair cut tomorrow, next week, whenever!

I texted my mom and told her about needing a therapist because of changes in my life. She thought I already had one. I wasn’t going to but I told her the story of firing my therapist last January and all the fucked up shit that happened after. It was a long story and I was afraid my mom would think I was crazy cuz she kept saying, right, okay and I kept texting. Halfway through, she said, “Wow! Is there anything I can do to help?” I kept texting and at the end she said, “AWESOME, I am so happy you did that!” I said, not good still no therapist for a normal person problem of major life change and I figured out the feelings of grief I was having came from feeling I am losing my family again. Not completely, I see my daughter but less often and for less time and I don’t see her family anymore.

The short story is I shitcanned my therapist because I found out she was lying to me about something important and she treated me like I was delusional when I called her on it. Maybe I was delusional, (I wasn’t) but let’s just say I was. I can end my relationship with a therapist for any reason, right? Maybe I don’t like the smell of her perfume? My case manager and Doctor were pushing me to take her back and treating me like I was being irrational. In March they didn’t ask me, they told me she was going to be my therapist again. I didn’t like it but I thought I had no choice. I said okay and they said she will call you next week. I was seeing my case manager face to face weekly and speaking to my doctor on the phone monthly. I never missed an appointment and always picked up the phone on at most the 3rd ring. Each week my case manager would say, did A– call? No, she didn’t. She would say, “That’s weird, she should call next week.” After about 6 weeks I started thinking, Yes, it is weird, why are they asking me? They all work as a team, why don’t they ask her? Is she telling them she is calling me?

In May I got a letter from my former therapist saying she was going to close my account at the Mental Health Center because I didn’t return her calls. I called her immediately and she said, “that’s not what I wrote.” Like I’m delusional, I was holding the letter in my hand. Then she said, its’s a form on the computer a mistake, I aske did the computer writer the letter stick it in an envelope and mail it to me? whatever.

I showed my Case Manager the letter and she was surprised and no, I’m not crazy. That is what the letter said. But she told me, “Don’t worry, she can’t close your case, that is my job, I am the ‘Case Manager’.” Okay. I let it go but kept thinking if it is not her job, why did she write the letter and not tell my Case Manager who is technically her boss.

They kept pushing her on me and saying I’m being irrational. Like what the fuck? After my Doctor put the mind fuck on me by telling me my medications are making me worse but he wants me to double the dose, I said, I really want a therapist. My case manager asked if A– was okay! I told her if she had called me when they said she was going to call me I would have and appointment this Friday, but after the letter, no way.

I didn’t know what to do. I got out of bed at 3am, went to the Board of Mental Health website. Followed their instructions. I made a copy of the letter, Wrote a shorter version of what I just wrote here, included my Case Manager and Doctor’s names and phone numbers as witnesses and walked it over to the mailbox. Apparently, the board did not think I was delusional because within a week I got a response saying they are investigating and my former therapist has 30 days to reply in writing. Nothing will happen to her but since that day there has been no more talk of a therapist (I still want one), no more talk of me being irrational. I still see my case manager weekly. I have talked to my doctor 3 times. Twice he said I sound “great” and the third time he said, “really great, instead of two weeks would you like to talk again in 1 month or 2 months?” I said 2, he said great call my office. (Sorry, this was going to be another blog post but I really want a therapist and my case manager is coming tomorrow and I am afraid to ask for one because I don’t know if they are pissed. She has known me for 8 years so there is no way I am faking, being “better”)

Back to the haircut. Today they were open and I walked in to see the last girl who cut my hair. I have never had the same person cut my hair twice and I’ve been going there for a long time. They just have a lot of turnover. Don’t worry, this doesn’t get too weird. She is very nice but there is no physical attraction. I told her it was funny, the last time I got my haircut was 3 months ago when my daughter got her license and I remember telling you. She looked confused and I said don’t worry, I don’t expect you to remember, I’m just saying I usually never go that long without a cut. She was still nice and we talked about a lot but she works for tips so who knows. I’ll talk to anyone. And my mom worked for tips when I was a kid so I always overtip. You have to do something horrible to get a bad tip from me.

When I first sat down, I noticed in the mirror a good looking woman getting up pulling her hair back and telling how happy she was with it. I thought of course she was leaving when I get there but what would possibly happen anyway so that was a ridiculous thought.

She got to the end of cutting my hair doing the touch up and asked if I would like it square or rounded in the back? “Square please.” She said, “Okay, but only cause you asked nicely.”… “I’m always polite.”….”Are you sure about that?” (ahhhhhh) “Only in public.”…. “Oh, you like to cause trouble?” Good thing I was wearing a mask because I was biting my tongue to keep myself from saying, “Why? Are you trouble?” Stupid, I know but if I had said it I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this right now. It was easy not to say it. I had no interest, that is just where my mind goes. I don’t really want to hook up with someone I’m not attracted to in the only place I can get my hair cut. I just gave a little chuckle and she got professional again and we were done.

Shit! I almost forgot the point of the story. I paid, (gave a good tip) walked out the door, one foot about to step off the curb and from my left I heard, “Wow! You look great! Much better than before! I turned my head and tried to stop motion but momentum was too great. It was the woman in the mirror. “Thank you so much! I feel great!”, Catching my balance as I hit the street. She opened the door and went back inside.

What the fuck just happened? Why did she come back 30 minutes later? Does she also work there? So many questions… I’m so confused. I’m slowly walking into the parking lot but nothing is out there. I got my hair cut, I gotta go home right? That’s been my frustration this whole time is there is nowhere else to go. I’m still thinking, was that real? I looked back and the same woman was back outside walking towards a Mercedes convertible. Okay, that’s better. I’m sure I’m the guy she is looking for, on disability for schizophrenia.

It felt good. Why am I looking for validation from others? Isn’t everyone? (over generalization) That’s why people give compliments. To make other people feel good about themselves. Family, friends, loved ones? But random strangers on the street? Why not?

Soxtober

Robot Brain

The Red Sox beat the Yankees in a one game play-off. I’m not sure if that has ever happened. I was surprised my mom stayed up until midnight to watch it. She usually doesn’t make it that long. I fell asleep shortly after. I woke up again at 2:20. I’m not sure what I did after that. There is nothing on television, I think I pretended it was a regular day. Cooked some lentils, had an apple and orange. I had to do everything in the mirror since I sliced my thumb this weekend. The only thing I can’t do backwards is scissors and my thumb won’t fit through the whole with the bandage on it. I use scissors all day.

I think I added to my gratitude list Is started about a month ago. It’s something I always thought would be a waste of time; I can remember what makes me happy. But I think everything is a waste of time. But it does help a lot to see it typed out. A few times I read it and I don’t believe it but not often. I realized I hadn’t written anything on it for 7 days. I added a good one. At the beginning of the summer I was trying to counter my automatic negative thoughts. I was trying to do that in my head also. It wasn’t working so well. This morning I wanted it to be absolutely believable. I had 7 or 8 items. I thought it was a pretty good start.

It was still early and I was still hungry. I googled breakfast places near me. Fucking Panera? There is nowhere within walking distance. Okay, what do I eat at Panera. They had a few good looking sandwiches on their menu. Except for the Avacado and eggwhite. I took a walk. I’m an old man. I’ll fit right in.

I walked in and it was me and the girl who worked there. She was about ten feet away from me fucking with a loaf of bread and just staring at me. I”m like, is she allowed to talk to customers? She made it over to the register and asked what I wanted. I said, a coffee and whatever you think is the best breakfast sandwich. She told me she doesn’t eat breakfast. Fucking troll… I was only being friendly. I even would have eaten the egg white if that is what she said. Waste of time. I ate, went home and eventually fell asleep.

I woke up confused but figured out it was time for a meditation with the Community Meditation Project. The subject was “gratitude”, another coincidence. People told their stories, big things, little things. I even said I was very excited to have water coming out of a tap in my kitchen. We wasted an hour.

I can’t remember what I did all afternoon. I was getting discouraged. Looking for a book that would help me but not be a “self-help” book if that makes any sense. It didn’t work. I decided to narrow down my positive list to 5 items because 2 didn’t really fit on there. Then I just didn’t believe any of them. I had a qualifier for every statement. Now I remember! I went for another walk to Panera and got a coffee. Only $3. I can’t afford to buy lunch everytime. Still a waste. I threw half my coffee in the trash.

I just wanted to give up on everything. I had no will to do anything. I went on youtube and searched motivation meditation. Maybe turn my head around. A couple rotted. But one sounded okay. But I guessed wrong. The woman was telling me to focus on my worst memory but in some kind of meditation way. Now I”m really fucking depressed but it won’t last much longer and I think she is going wrap it up with something uplifting. Something about Self Care and Self Compassion. Two things I don’t have right now. I looked it up and it made sense. I just couldn’t fathom it.

I still wanted to give up. There was another CMP meditation at 7 but I didn’t want to be crying when I logged on. I cleaned myself up. This one was focused on “Emotions”. WTF? I couldn’t do it at all. My emotions were, I started this summer losing fucking everyone I knew but I still had a good attitude and thought I had a good plan to create something new in the outside world. Then I really stepped in a huge pile of shit. Now winter is less than a month away and I’m going to be stuck inside still living my life online. I thought I panicked on August 1st, now it’s fucking October.

I was enthusiastic this morning. Now I want to go to bed and not wake up. The few other people online had a quick little talk about how good they felt after the meditation. I said, I don’t want to bring everyone down but that sucked for me. But then everyone started talking to me. I don’t go to them for their meditations. I go because they are the only people who are friendly. The org. is professional but a lot of the time is spent talking. I guess it’s what I”m doing because my friggin’ health center still won’t give me a therapist. They were trying to tell me meditation isn’t about solving your problems. I know that. I do it on my own and I usually get something out of it. It was just the whole fucking day. Even if it could solve my problems, it wouldn’t, I couldn’t even begin doing it. I almost bailed early.

Now what do I do? It’s 9:30. I don’t care about the Dodgers. I’m still in a shitty mood. Writing is still my best outlet. Do you all want me to keep going on for 3 more hours? I don’t.

Just Want to Start This Over

Robot Brain

“I hear trouble coming
I hear trouble coming
I hear trouble coming
Over and over again”

“Trouble’s Coming” Royal Blood

Saturday I woke up severely depressed. My whole summer was based on magical thinking. There was nothing special happening. I was only seeing connections because they were already on my mind; I was looking for them.

I was going over and over it in my mind, disillusioning myself; and it happened again! N— texted me after I hadn’t heard from her for a few days and all she did was ask if I was going to watch a certain movie that night? ( I don’t want to name it because it is silly) I told her I had less than one percent interest and also I don’t have that channel. She texted a picture of her login and password. I still said I would pass. She said it was supposed to be really dark but also good.

I thought to myself, What the hell, I’m, just sitting here all depressed anyway. I’m in front of my computer, I will see if I can watch it. I have a 19″ screen. The first couple scenes didn’t do much for me but 20 minutes later I’m checking to see how much time is left; I don’t want it to end! (Last night I asked her if she watched it and all she said was “No”, I didn’t ask why.

Mania was kicking back in and it was fueling the depression. It was delusional in June when I asked myself why I can’t have a positive thought immediately followed by a negative thought. I started searching it and found I was doing a lot of the right things. But Saturday… “What about this? What about that?” I’ve written about it a hundred times this summer.

[Background] Way back last Wednesday, I was still doing the online meetings, trying to find which ones worked for me. I had an important topic but I explained to the guy what I had been doing for the past couple hours. “I printed out the first two sheets you are supposed to do if you feel like drinking but I’m not filling them out. Not because I am afraid they will not help; because I am afraid they ‘will’ help. He laughed and wrote, “I don’t wanna…” I basically just told him I am planning a relapse. Nobody had a good answer.

One guy said it helps to pause and give yourself time to think about it. I said, I did pause for two hours and then logged in here and will spend another hour and a half.

I ended up pausing for 4 whole days. My problem is I can drink for days without sleeping. I don’t remember much of it. I did some fucked up shit but nothing dangerous.

Yesterday I was depressed again. I got a nice comment. Negative self talk, but just had to make it through the day and night to feel normal again. (ha, normal) I only slept for 2 hours and when I woke up again, I jumped up to google, “How do I stop bashing myself?” Before I could do that I saw another blog about “Positive self talk.” That is how the summer started! How is someone up at 3am posting the same thing I was searching for?

I know my problem at the beginning of the summer was I trying to change all my thought process and also my entire life at the same time. I got discouraged. I also could not make myself believe the positive. I wrote down, I am a good person; which is true. Sometimes I do evil shit, but I am still a good person. I wrote down 5 more realistic things about myself and one negative. Drinking which makes everything worse. Which led to another positive. I keep working on it.

Dearly Beloved

Robot Brain

“I sat with my anger long enough until she told me her real name was grief.” C.S. Lewis

The other night when they were setting the topics I wasn’t going to say anything but the first two topics were basic “Read The Fucking Manual” questions. I thought seriously? We are going to spend an hour talking about how to fill out a worksheet about the pros and cons of using? So I spoke up and they added recurring grief to the list. I don’t think it was out of line. What do people do after a funeral? They go to somebody’s house and get shitfaced and cry.

They spent most of the meeting on it but nobody hit the nail on the head. All I can remember now is the one guy who had to chime in with, “You have to learn to deal with your emotions sometimes, ‘Life on Life’s Terms.” Thanks genius. How ’bout I come over there and slap the dick out of your mouth? I don’t have to come to meetings anymore. Your slogan solved all my problems. Can I put that on a bumper sticker? Or did you fucking copyright it?

I hate that shit. That’s why I don’t go to these meetings. They make huge assumptions and project their life onto mine. Oh, this guy is older and he’s new here. He must have just crawled out of the bottle after 30 years of drinking and has no idea how to live life.

If the fucking guy had paid attention, he would have heard that I had dealt with it for years and thought I was over it and I haven’t been suppressing it, that’s why I didn’t understand why the pain came back just as strong after more than 5 years.

But luckily yesterday, it happened again. “Right place at the right time.” I was in a great mood until I left the stove on high and burnt the lentils. Fuck! Whatever. Perfect opportunity to walk over to the store and get a big greasy breakfast sandwich. Awesome! Sausage, egg and cheese on a raisin bagel. Decision made. Eggs florentine? That’s new. (Spinach again? weird) Looks like I’m getting two. Do I want a coffee? Sure, why not? I got to the register and I’ve seen woman a few times but I don’t usually go there in the morning. “How are you doing?” Great! How are you? “Fantastic! Coffee is on me today” Thank you. Crisis averted.

I don’t know why I wake up so early in the morning there is never anything to do. Do I really want to listen to another one of those meetings? It would kill an hour and a half. The worst thing is I don’t like it and log off. I looked up the schedule and one had started 20 minutes earlier. There is no law about logging in late. “Click”

What is the topic? Grief! Who is about to start talking? Regular Joe Sixpack looking guy. But I start laughing my ass off when he opens his mouth and the stereotypical hollywood gay guy voice comes out. Oh my god! He’s queer as a three dollar bill. I didn’t even notice the rainbow scarf around his neck. I’m not gay bashing, it was just the incongruity. He was my favorite person at the meeting. He spoke to my problem directly like he knew I was coming. He talked about grieving over the loss of a relationship and it’s cyclical and he’s working with his therapist and all that is normal. Exactly what I was going through.

When he finished talking I didn’t want to go on microphone so I texted in the chat. “Thank you so much, J—, I asked this question in a meeting a few nights ago but you gave me the perfect answer today.” He answered, “I’m so glad, ‘heart emoji'”, I said, “heart emoji.” But then they put up that fucking quote. How have I never heard that quote before? I know C.S. Lewis. Apparently it’s very popular. But, What the fuck?

How did I deal with my grief yesterday, Mr. AA Guru? Did I get drunk? No. I had myself a good cry and texted N—, “Good morning, powerful person” and I didn’t bring it up with her because she’s got her own shit going on and I’m not her responsibility anymore. The hardest part, the pure pain, was over a couple days ago, so there was just a little more crying. Then I moved on to another issue I’ve been working on which is changing my reactions to assholes like you. Why am I still pissed off 3 days later? You don’t remember it. You don’t know you’re a fucking moron. I’m making it my problem and stressing myself out.

What emotion am I dealing with today? Anger. How am dealing with it? By getting fucked up? No. I’m writing about it like I have done my whole life. I’m sick of these people thinking I suddenly came to some realization. I’ve been dealing with this shit my entire life. I’ve been reading about it since I learned to read. I had no idea why. Back then it was, “manic-depressive”, I saw it written a million times. Didn’t know what it meant.

Oh yeah, grief. I got sent to a LADC once. That dude was a freak. I don’t remember how it came up but I told him it was the anniversary of my mother-in-law’s death and I had asked my ex-wife how she was doing. He got pissed off and yelled at me, “STOP PLAYING GOD! You’re not responsible for her feelings! If she is still grieving after so long she belongs in therapy” (Umm… Yeah, she is in therapy, thank you. so am I, asshole.) Then he went on for the rest of the hour while I sat there wondering what I could say not to set him off next time.

I’m serious, Tuesday mornings I would spend an hour with my real therapist trying to come up with strategies to deal with the crazy LADC guy I had to meet in the afternoon. The first meeting I had with him he lied to me and said I was committed to him for the full 20 weeks because I had made an appointment and showed up. What? I called the people in charge of the program and they said, “I don’t know why he would say that.” (He lied)

He was a big Tea Party guy and almost every week he would say something about “Big Government.” I’m thinking, dude, I’m on disability, big government is paying you to sit here and bitch to me about big government. The only reason you are rich (besides being born into it) is your whole practice is based on referrals from the court system. Big Government. This guy would not stand for any disagreement. I found that when he argued about my diagnosis. He was wrong but I let him go. Big fucking copy of the DSM sitting there on the table, look it up.

I didn’t bring it up but for some reason he spent the whole second meeting talking about the 2nd amendment and the right to bear arms, blah blah, he ended, “are we to the point where they are kicking down doors and taking our guns?…. Not yet.” Fucking guy knows I’m schizo and the reason I’m in his office is indirectly related to a suicide attempt. Why is he trying to convince me I need a gun? I’m at home looking online to see how much they cost and shit and my girlfriend had to talk me down. That’s another thing. He would make racist comments. Good thing I didn’t mention my girlfriend is black. I was stressed, I had know idea what was safe to say around this guy.

One meeting he spent the hour talking about god. He started out about AA and higher power and telling me it doesn’t have to be god, it could be, “Group Of Drunks” or, “Good Orderly Direction”, I’m thinking, why does it have to be the acronym G.O.D.? Then he went on to tell me how to pray, when to pray, how many times a day to pray… The whole fucking hour. I just sat there. The most he ever talked about alcohol or drugs was about half our meetings he would start by asking what the speaker had to say at the AA meeting Friday night. I would start to tell him and he would interrupt after a few sentences and tell me how long the speaker had been sober, why they asked him to speak, he probably relapsed a lot…. (Like he was at the meeting right next to me. Whatever, I’ll let him tell it ) then onto whatever was on his mind that week. I knew how much he saved each month by refinancing his house. He spent an hour bitching about calling tech support. Dismissing the whole country of India. Like, when was the last time he learned a 2nd language just to get a job? Any of this was better than him trying to focus on mental illness because he had some bizarre ideas.

Finally I had my case manager go in with me to ask him to stick to substance abuse issues and leave the mental health to my doctor and therapist. I was going to do the talking but at the last minute I changed my mind. Good thing I did because she didn’t even finish the first sentence before he flipped out and yelled at us to get out of his office and on and on and good luck finding another LADC to accept me. (I had one the next week) we were walking out and he’s still yelling. “God has held my hand for 14 years!…” I did the math and figured out he spent 12 years treating people for alcohol abuse while he was a practicing alcoholic. Nice.

I asked the next LADC not to tell me god could cure my mental illness. She asked me why I said it and I told her about him. She said that was certainly unprofessional.

I wrote a complaint the board of mental health. I called first and the woman said I would have to write to the board of LADC if I wanted to make a separate complaint. I told her I didn’t care about that I just didn’t think he should be practicing mental health treatment on my cat, never mind a person.

My case manager and therapist had to go testify and then a few months later I had to go testify. I was in a room with about 8 other people and they said one of them was the head of the department in charge of LADC’s. Things were getting pretty serious. I was told specifically I had to write a separate letter of complaint to get her involved, I did not write a separate letter. I was nervous because they put a recording device on the table and started asking me questions. But first they told me they were very impressed with my writing skills. They went through the letter with me and asked if there was anything else. I started talking and remembering a ton of stuff I didn’t even write about. The letter I sent them was 3 fucking pages!

A while ago I googled to see if this asshole was still in business. I saw his obituary! He died young at 60. No cause of death listed. I was thinking probably liver cancer but secretly I hoped he had a heart attack because I caused him to lose his license.

See. I have to learn to let things go. I’m working on it.

Yesterday the woman from the meditation group texted me through whatsapp to make sure I knew the schedule of their meetings. I logged on last night and figured it out. There were three meditation groups based on this particular yoga practice and they all had a big framed picture of the same woman and they would show a clip of her speaking. They talked a little about who she was and she started the practice in 1974, blah, blah…. OMG! This is a cult! They are trying to indoctrinate me! They worship her. I’m serious, they started the meditation, “Mother, Please forgive us…” The woman in the picture is who they called Mother. I bailed out of there!

A little while later she texted me saying, I hope our talk didn’t disturb you. I said, No, it wasn’t you. I have another issue. She said something. I was going to just leave it but I was bored and so much strange shit has been happening, I had to push it. I eased into it but of course I knew she would be into synchronicity. I told her a little and she said, You’re spirit is guiding you! But when I told her the coincidence wasn’t her meditation group but that she was a LADC. She lost interest and ghosted me. I told her directly I wasn’t trying to use her as a counselor. I just thought the whole thing was weird. Meditation practices go back thousands of years. How did all these people started worshiping a woman from 1974? I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid.

My new meditation buddies have another meeting at noon today. I really hope I get the see that guy roll out of bed. He is my new role model. I’m trying to get back in time. I have to leave hear at 11 but maybe a few minutes earlier.

You Get Me Closer to God

“You can have my isolation
You can have the hate that it brings
You can have my absence of faith
You can have my everything”

“Closer” Nine Inch Nails

What a long couple of fucking days! It feels like forever since I saw my daughter and that was noon yesterday (Saturday). She is fabulous. She finally realized Panera sucks too. She wanted to go but said it was like she remembered before the shutdown.

I’m not sure if I’m happy about downloading Zoom. I can’t handle the rejection. I don’t mean dating site rejection or I was hitting on someone. I mean being rejected as a human. I’ve been putting pressure on myself feeling winter coming on and I can’t go too far anyway. I’m going to be spending a lot more time indoors. They have an inordinate amount of online meditation groups on meetup .com. I think they are pigeon holing me now that I attended one because that is all that shows in my searches. I did a couple yesterday and the people were nice. I didn’t tell them I thought it was kinda fucking weird how all these WASP’s from New England became devout Buddhists. I kept myself to a minimum talking. Said I’ve been doing meditation on my own and I’m just trying new things to see what works for me. I didn’t follow the whole way through but when she asked how I liked it I said good, thanks.

About 10:30pm last night I got an email from the head of the group saying it was nice to meet me, something getting the rooms back or Idk? Then she said they are having a meeting on WhatsApp and if I wanted to join she could send me an invite. I thought it was weird, I hadn’t heard of meetings on WhatsApp and I don’t have it. I looked to put it on my iPad and it’s not available. Only for phones. I searched why and saw something about going over cell data limit and thought I don’t want that. I was busy trying to do 3 things at once and mailed her back, nice meeting you too, not sure about whatsapp… something, something. Then I realized, duh! People use WhatsApp cause it is free over wifi. I wrote back, Sorry, I was confused. I’d like to join. Still haven’t heard back. What was she doing up at 11pm on Saturday? Was she asking for my number? Am I an idiot?

One of the things I was busy doing was listening to an Online SMART meeting. I’m not sure how wise that was with how Zoom handles your data. But I am well documented as an alcoholic so who cares, I guess. The reason I was doing that was because all day while I was looking for anything to do online, it kept popping into my head to go join one of these groups at a bar. I wasn’t going to do it but I saw one group for hiking, canoeing and kayaking which I’m not running out the door to do but the meeting they announced was, “Happy Hour! at (whatever bar). WTF? All weekend I’m seeking out people I assume aren’t drinking. Why do I keep thinking I want to drink?

I don’t have anyone I trust to talk about it and I know a tiny bit about smart. I looked up their schedule clicked to join a meeting. Oh no. You have to register first. No personal info but it was a lot and the site is super uptight. It took me 4 tries. First my passwords didn’t match, I typed lemon but it was actually a picture of an Orange? I didn’t check the box to agree to terms. That happened twice but no because I was very careful to check the 2nd time. No big deal they say hit the back button to correct it. Oh no. You go back and all your info is gone and you have to start over. I’m really going to get drunk now. I got it done.

I start listening and thinking, fuck, this is just like AA. They have there special sayings and acronyms. They swear theirs is the only program that works. They even did the same thing. One guy is talking and says, “unlike another program with 2 letters that I won’t mention by name.” You just spelled it out asshole! Who cares how someone does it? If it works for them and they aren’t drinking, leave them the fuck alone. Listening to people’s horror stories makes me want to drink. But I did like when people went on about their past, the facilitators would let them do it but quickly change the subject to what they are doing right now to change and what they can do in the future. That was a bonus. It last an hour and a half. I stayed but I was doing other shit on the computer.

One good thing I saw was a graphic set up like a flow chart, Are you happy?>Yes>Then keep doing whatever you are doing… >No?>Do you want to be happy?>Yes>Change something… >No>Then keep doing whatever you are doing.

I didn’t sleep and Saturday night is not a good night to stay awake. Nothing for me to do. Maybe a little. Finally morning comes and I look to find another online meditation. Really? They are all fucking whacked. I don’t do it because I think it’s going to raise vibration. I can listen to almost any meditation on YouTube. Most of the time I don’t pay attention to what they are saying. It’s all about staying still and regulating my breath. The only reason I’m trying to find all this shit online is because I do it all day anyway, I might as well find other people who like to do it. Which is funny because when I joined the site I was trying to get offline.

The whole day was a mess. I got depressed and the more I tried the worse I got. I had already put a couple things on my gratitude list. I haven’t been going overboard with it. I only repeat something if there is specifically something different about it. Usually, I can read through it real quick and I actually have a lot to be happy about. Today I went to it and I couldn’t make myself believe any of it. This is wrong. Still nothing online. Fuck it there was another meeting. It was better in the morning. One of the guys had a lot of good answers for people who were struggling. The best thing I heard was when people started talking about treating that voice in your head that tells you to use like the enemy. A young guy said he had a problem with that. He said, that voice telling me to drink is my voice. I have to show it some compassion. Otherwise I’m just hating myself. So that was worth it. I’m always trashing myself when my brain makes a quick plan on how to drink. But that’s my brain. That’s me. I’m the one that wants to drink. I can’t bash myself all day, it will just make me feel worse and want to drink more.

Finally football but I also set my alarm for another meditation group in the afternoon. I didn’t think I would like it because it was about bathing yourself in a golden light. But same thing. If it’s working for them, I don’t care what they say. Good thing I did it. I was surprised because I usually have to wait for the group to begin but as soon as I logged on I saw the woman on video. She looked the part, older with grey hair to her shoulders, (not sure why she looked the part?) and she didn’t notice I was on so I didn’t know if I should say anything. She saw me and it was just the 2 of us. She asked me where I was from and why I was there. I told her I’ve been meditating on my own and I am just looking around for something that works for me. I think 7 people showed up. One woman had been doing it for 5 years.

Before she started she asked everyone to intro and why they were there. I said why and added I had to meditate before I started the meeting because my mind is flying, that is how much I need to meditate. My favorite person was this guy my age, Sitting on the dock on Alton Bay in NH. My state. He said, he does it because it is the only thing that gets him out of his head. I wanted to say, fuckin right, that’s me! Her favorite was a woman originally from Nepal of course. Which was funny because when the woman asked if we had any questions the woman from Nepal asked, why is it a golden light and not some other color? She stumped her! Ha ha. she started rambling. I did get a little pissed because there was a woman, probably 80, lying on her side in bed and I could tell immediately she was very depressed. She said she was there to calm down her mind and she had to pray to get closer to god. That’s not why I got pissed. The woman told her she couldn’t lie down and meditate. Sit upright, spine straight, etc… That’s bullshit! I’ve listened to meditations say, sit in a chair, lie on a flat surface, whatever, I don’t listen to them. I just do the meditation wherever I am comfortable. You can stand on your head if you want. It still helps. How does she know the poor old woman was capable of sitting up? Whatever. I will probably do that one again because it was the only one you got to know a little about the other people there. That’s the whole point of Meetup, right?

Believe it or not, I did another one! Only because it was called breathwork. I thought finally just normal meditation. Oh no. It was 2 women from Australia and me. I think I was the first new person but it was audio only. It was weird. 2 quick bursts of breath into your belly and let it out quick. 4 minutes of that and then hold your breath for a full minute. 20 minutes! I didn’t think I could do it but I did. I’m not sure what it was supposed to do. She made a lot of claims on her page. It did keep me from thinking of anything else for 20 minutes.

What do you know? Football, music and writing and I made it to 9:30.

Swipe Left Face, Swipe Right Personality

Robot Brain

I know I’ve been talking about spending too much time in the virtual world and trying to find ways introduce myself to reality. But I really hate winter. I know it is not close to winter but I can feel it approaching quickly. Last year I was lucky and we had great weather through the end of October. I was still out riding my bike in shorts and t-shirt. I even pushed it an extra week by wearing a hoodie. It was not out of necessity. I had money in my Uber account and only had to pay the tip out of pocket.

Yesterday (Friday) it was cold and rainy which ended my streak of leaving the house for walks almost everyday for the past two weeks. The difference yesterday was I stayed home voluntarily. I still wanted some kind of interaction with another human but didn’t know what to do besides text and I do most of that in the morning. I don’t want to bother people all day and I have never been much of a texter anyway.

My reptile brain was making plans on how to get me drunk. Not really what I wanted to do. Luckily, I had another synchronicity Thursday. It was another in a series. Since I started a couple months ago trying to figure out how to stop the automatic negative thoughts I would think of a new thing I need to work on. Most times I googled, “How do I deal with [whatever], I would find I am already doing most of the right things already. Many of the techniques were had commonality and were logical so they were no surprise. Since I discovered I had no idea I had the criteria of perfectionists and that tied into why I drink, I’ve been hitting on some pretty lucky discoveries in the right place at the right time. [I got distracted] Last week found a webpage that helped me and it mentioned a book. I didn’t think I would be interested but on impulse I checked my app and put a hold on it.

Thursday morning I read another interesting article about perfectionism and fear of failure and learned it is very common among alcoholics. The book I put on hold was supposed to take 2 weeks but when I opened my tablet to text I had a notification the book was ready. I started listening to it and it wasn’t my thing but I still listened to the first chapter and it was about fears in general and ways to combat them. I’ve been working on that for a while and my anxiety has dropped to almost negligible levels. In the book she gave specific instructions to pay attention to the fears you have that day and decide if they are real. I did that and no, they are not. Yes, I have fears but they are created by my mind. It helped Friday to remind myself when drinking popped into my head to remember it is based on fear. It helped. It only took a couple seconds.

I had to find something to do other than sit inside doing nothing. I relented and went online. Again the groups I found were based around drinking and my brain would think, that sounds like a good idea. (Habitual thinking) There are a lot of groups held online but I’ve had a fear of Zoom and they handle privacy worse than Facebook. I’ve never used it. But I thought what would someone find out from my iPad? I text my family a lot? I finally downloaded it. The most popular Zoom group is a speed dating site based in Boston. That did not sound like a good idea to me. I’m not ugly but I’m not going to win many votes in a beauty contest. Then I saw they give you one on one with a person for two minutes at a time. I could just imagine, my face on a video screen trying to answer conventional dating questions as quickly as possible. How many times do I want to get rejected in an hour? I’m not even looking for a relationship, especially online with someone who lives an hour away. Then I saw it was for professionals. And it cost $25. Not going to happen.

I thought there has to be something. I saw something about, social skills and communication. Like an hour long lesson but I thought that sounds like it could be good for me. I’m good with conversation but with some people or certain situations I feel awkward and fall silent. Then I saw it was based on the teachings of Scientology. Okay, maybe I won’t do that. Still nothing else coming up on 7pm and boredom is another factor for me. I figured how much different could it be than any other lesson? Aren’t they basic skills you need to practice to get good at them? Would I dismiss it if it just because it was put on by a Catholic? I joined through Zoom and the first thing the guy started was talking about how much of a genius L. Ron Hubbard is and everything he says is true, etc… (Ugh) Then I noticed, this guy is not very good at communicating. The group started with 35 people and they were dropping out left and right.

I decided to see what happened. I don’t know what kind of genius this was supposed to be. He kept putting up a picture of a triangle and the three points were labeled, Affinity, Reality and Communication. He was explaining it like people had never heard the words before and repeating and he only got to the first two points and it was halfway through the hour. Basically, if you like someone and you share a common reality, such as you both agree the sky is blue, you will have an easier time communicating. Well, thank you very much! I put on the Red Sox, they lost and I went to bed. But my brain had stopped telling me it would be a great idea to take an Uber to a bar in Nashua. I guess it wasn’t a waste of time.

This morning I was up early and I had already seen there were online meditation groups. I didn’t think I would like it but I clicked “attend” on two of them. One was in Portland, ME with 7 people. I hit the link and it was on Google meet. Another app I don’t have. I might as well go all in. I downloaded that. It’s not costing me anything. I had no idea what Sahaja Yoga was and I was the first one there and the guy started asking me a few questions. I think I was the first new person to the group for a long time. It had to do with Chakras and I’m not really into it but what else am I going to do at 8am? He wasn’t doing a great job of explaining it and then showed a video of a woman with a dot on her head giving a speech. They were losing me and then totally lost me when the meditation was silent. I already do that when I’m alone. At least I lasted 45 minutes.

I started typing this post until the next one started at 9am. It was Sahaja Yoga too! They had the same chart on the wall with the Chakras but they only spent a minute on it and got into a normal guided meditation. This time my camera wasn’t on so I kept typing but it was nice to have the voice in the background. Then they started playing the same video as the last group! They lost me and I kept typing this until I heard my name… What? The woman was asking if it was my first time there and did I like it. I kept tapping to unmute the microphone but it wouldn’t and they almost gave up but I finally answered, Oh, yeah, yeah, it was great, thank you. (At least I made it all the way through the hour)

Oh well, it got me through the morning and my daughter will be picking me up soon. Maybe I will be spending more time online. I forgot all about winter. There are other groups they show me are pretty out there. One was about psychics talking to the dead and wanted $150? No thanks! Zoom is all across the world. I’m sure I can find something I am interested in.

The woman I told I couldn’t make it earlier this month in person sent me an email which surprised me. I didn’t think I would hear from her she said they also do an online empath support group. I had no idea so many empaths were struggling. I don’t believe in much mysticism and she believes in everything. Maybe I will watch. I never studied synchronicity but I know a little about it and I do have a lot of strong coincidences when I feel like I am on the right path. Maybe we will have that in common. I want to believe! Ha Ha.

It’s the Little Things

Robot Brain

I am in a mood today, dude. I sleep a couple hours but I can’t get out of bed at 3 and start drinking coffee. Can I? I don’t know… The tinnitus was going but I’m used to that now. I don’t worry about it much. Sometimes it is so low I don’t know it’s there. The music thing was back and the tempo was too fast so my thoughts were too fast. That comes and goes. Is it going to last forever? I fucking destroyed my back. That hurts but, it will go away?

I think I might have fallen asleep or time just passed. I got out of bed. It was around 5. Close enough. The usual, coffee etc… The internet was dead. Am I the only one who can’t sleep in on the weekends? Fuck the t.v.

I looked at that gratitude page again. It didn’t sound so fantastic today. I typed in, “what to do about triggers to drink…” and Google auto-filled water as the top choice. Seriously…. I had to type alcohol fully. Nobody has searched this before? A couple rehab ads showed up, I went down and clicked the first real article. I started about evaluating your relationship with alcohol, then said, Maybe you don’t need to cut out alcohol completely and argued I should keep drinking, just not as much as before. Yeah, that should work out great for me. I’ve done the “I’m only going to have a couple…”

Click… The next article I forget how it started but it switched to referencing the Moderation Movement, and again maybe you don’t need to quit completely. I’m like didn’t that broad kill someone in a drunk driving accident? These were both health related websites.

Click… The next article I forget how it started but it switched to referencing the Moderation Movement, and again maybe you don’t need to quit completely. I’m like didn’t that broad kill someone in a drunk driving accident? These were both health related websites. Click… “Coping with triggers…”, this time substance abuse did come up but like 10th on the list. Getting closer.

This website said the way to deal with triggers is to avoid them. Then listed about 40 triggers in 3 categories. I guess I am supposed to stay home 24/7, not talk to friends on the phone or use the internet and only unlock the door for food deliveries. Isolation and loneliness were also on the list. I don’t know how you reconcile that. Those were the two I was trying to deal with all summer which led to hopelessness; which was not on the list of triggers. ???

My biggest trigger is losing my daughter. Last night it popped into my head she hadn’t texted me back since I texted her in the morning. Obviously that means she doesn’t love me anymore, right? That is half the Cognitive Distortions right there. My mind starts running in circles with reasons and arguments and counter arguments and counter reasons, over and over. I know what I’m doing… I know I should stop… I know there is nothing to worry about… I can’t stop. Now I feel like drinking to stop all these emotions I have worked up. I think, What are you stupid? (Oops! Another distortion. “Labeling” yourself.) She “usually” texts right back but plenty of times she doesn’t.

I just learned a trick that works for me. Write down the thought that is bothering you. Write down the faulty reasonings, then write down the logical reasons. For some reason putting pen to paper and writing down what I’m already repeating in my head, stops the rumination. Would not do it. Told myself it would not work this time.

Then I figured it out. I’m trying to give myself a reason or excuse to drink. I gotta put a stop to that shit. Somehow realizing that did put a stop to it. I went so long not thinking about drinking. Last week broke the dam and now I have to patch it again. It’s hard because all summer I was cruising along thinking everything is great not realizing half my thoughts weren’t grounded in reality. Then I got so depressed so quickly.

Whatever. Back to gratitude. One of the ideas on the list was keep a gratitude journal. I thought, Are you kidding me? I would feel like such an ass. I’m not one of those happy fucking people. I hate them. But that is what half my blog post was yesterday and I felt better after. I write a lot anyway and it said think of only a few things and don’t do it everyday because it will become rote and won’t mean anything. What the hell, I have to do something.

I opened a document and stared at the blank page. I couldn’t think of anything. I cheated and used one from yesterday. Then it was easy to think of two more.

(Ha! She just texted, I love you and is taking me out to lunch after school tomorrow. I’m such a freak show)

It’s not like I’m struggling materially. I have more than I need. I never had much. Even when I was making a lot of money. I blew it all on experiences. Maybe that is what I am lacking now.

I know it’s weird that I text my daughter but when she was a kid her mom would hand her the phone and every time it was, “Hi daddy, I love you daddy, Bye daddy” and she would hang up the phone. I would have to call back to finish talking to her mom. She can be a chatterbox in person.

I knew I was trying to set myself up last night. Good thing it was easy to stop. But plenty of times I have fallen for less. One of the triggers I knew I did but didn’t know I would see on the list was, “Planning to drink.” I was doing it for a while. I was doing it consciously and subconsciously. I made lots of plans. I kept stopping them but kept making more. How am I supposed to “avoid” that one?

Bounty of the County

Robot Brain

(Bear with me, this is actually a positive post) A few months ago it was no epiphany when I realized how negative my thinking has been. It has been that way for years. What was new was I thought, Why? Why can’t I have a positive thought without immediately following it up with a negative one? That is when I googled, Negative thinking and up popped the list of 10 common cognitive distortions. That was not news to me but I was surprised by how much my thinking usually falls into at least several of the categories at once. Especially when I am depressed or have high anxiety and then it turns into a feedback loop where that kind of thinking makes my anxiety and depression worse. Then I got a little pissed because I’ve had several therapists start with the thought distortions and I would say yes, I do all of that but that was the end of it. None of them ever suggested there was a way to combat the negative thinking. And my distorted brain said, oh well, I’m just fucked up and there is nothing I can do about it. To be honest I’ve had more severe issues but there has been plenty of time along the way to pick up on the subject. Anyway, I’m working on it. I’m really trying.

I didn’t sleep last night but I stayed in bed as long as possible. I made coffee pretty early and turned on the World Wide Web. I was surprised to see a lot of people had already put up their blog posts. I like when that happens because I like to read and stimulate my brain while I stimulate my brain. This morning I wasn’t in the mood to add to my own negativity so skimmed through, reading the previews and skipped a bunch. (Sorry if I didn’t give you a like today) I’m sure I get skipped a lot for the same reason.

Two blogs stood out. They were both about gratitude and they were both very short. One was a reminder to be grateful for what you have and the other I thought was really good. It was from someone who usually doesn’t post along that theme. It just said, “Things I am grateful for this week.” And listed off six or seven simple things. It made me happy.

I rant a lot here but I’m not a total Negative Nellie. Since the same realization a few months ago I’ve have been purposely thinking of things that make me happy. That’s where the problem with the automatic negative thoughts comes in. I think of one thing, “BUT”, another thought to detract from it. The more I try to stop it the more forceful it is. I was very aware of it this morning and I wanted to get it right. I started with the obvious, My daughter, my ex-wife, my mom, BUT, I fucked that all up. What kind of dad, husband, son am I? Like come on now. Shit happens in life. We all have great relationships now. Can’t I just be happy with that?

Now it was really starting to bother me and I searched something. It said try to start with something small that was good today. That was easy. I eat fruit everyday. Yesterday I went to the store for food and all the fruit was fresh and perfectly ripe and I got home and every time I looked in the fridge I thought how I couldn’t wait to start eating this in the morning. I thought of that and I was so happy while I was eating it. My favorite apples were back, Oranges so juicy, my mom talked me into buying bananas which I wasn’t sure about but yeah, that was good too. BUT remember last week you got those peaches that looked so good but the next morning they had mold and some fruit flies? What the hell? It wasn’t even a conscious thought. It just popped into my head. It wasn’t a big deal at the time. I threw the peaches in the trash and thought, oh well, I’ll have to find another fruit. I did. Bananas, and they were good. What is wrong with me?

I tried a couple more searches but the pages I found had pop up ads trying to sell you online courses before you could even finish the first sentence. At least I’m not the only one having a problem with this. I thought of one more simple search. “How to practice gratitude.” This was very helpful. www.mindful.org

The site is trying to sell you a lot but the page I found was free, long, well written and step by step. The first step was about are you aware of how you say thank you.. Yes. I always say thank you and mean it. Even to the woman from my doctor’s office who was rude to me yesterday. I said, “thank you for calling me back.” She didn’t have to, it was late on a Friday. Whatever. That’s not what it was about. I picked up my phone and texted my daughter. I already said, I love you, this morning. I typed, “I am so happy I know you.” Then I sent a message to my ex-wife, “Thank you for putting up with me”, my phone beeped right back, “cause I love you”. that made me start to tear up. “Thank you again”. I texted my mom, “Thank you for talking to me every day.”

It worked. I was feeling better. It’s not new for me. I’ve been sending people random positive texts since I started trying to think more positively. I thought I was trying to make them feel better. I didn’t know it was making me feel better. Even the last time I was at my daughter’s house, her and her mom were busting my balls asking if I bought a book of inspirational quotes. I don’t send stuff you would find like that. Just simple messages I think will make them smile or stress less.

The list has some good ideas. Some of them are simple, some of them I couldn’t see myself trying. One was so simple I felt stupid. Use visuals of things that make you happy. I looked around my computer desk and it was covered with crap. I have a lot of pictures of my daughter in my room but none out here. I ran and got one. A school picture. It’s funny. I remember she was so happy when she got glasses and braces. What a weirdo. I think it is because it made her feel unique.

I feel better now. It didn’t solve all my problems but it helped get me through the day.

The Plot Thickens

Robot Brain

Last winter I bought a small pocket calendar to keep track of changes I was making and their effects as well as appointments, etc.. I didn’t think I needed anything big. Just something simple to write a quick note with a pen in 2 seconds instead of opening a device. Then all kinds of crazy shit started happening but I was still trying to fit it all on the few lines provided for each day. God forbid something happened on the weekend because they squeezed Saturday and Sunday into the space of one weekday.

After the important events slowed down, I looked back on it and it barely made sense. I was trying to squeeze much unnecessary information in there as possible alongside what I needed to remember. I would fill the space for one day and draw an arrow to continue in the space of the next day, only to find I needed that space the next day and would relegate myself to the margins. It was a mess. I was driving myself crazy flipping back and forth trying to figure out what happened when and what the hell my abbreviations were supposed to mean.

Luckily I did a good job of writing events as soon as they happened. I opened a word document and transferred only the facts. I was lucky to think of buying the calendar when I did because my sense of time makes no sense at all. I might remember something happened in winter if I happened to be outside standing in a foot of snow at the time. I could never tell you the month. But I did manage filter out the extraneous matters and type out dates and actions that would match dates and actions other people would have written in their notes about me.

Today I had an appointment and I noticed I had something penned in for tomorrow. It was the Seafood Festival at Hampton Beach. It is 3 days but the big day is Saturday. It has been happening for 30 years but I have never been interested in going, I don’t care for seafood. I flipped forward through the calendar and saw I had other places and times written in. I remembered. When I first joined meetup I was genuinely looking for sober activities but they were hard to find. The hiking and biking groups took place too far away but I joined them anyway. I signed up for a ton of groups I had no idea if I would be interested. Like online yoga classes or meditation groups. I’ve never done yoga and I certainly don’t see myself downloading Zoom and meditating with a group of strangers.

I realized what I had written down in my calendar were events from meetup, but groups I couldn’t or didn’t want to join but they were in my area. After last weekend’s festivities I saw what they all had in common. They were places I could go to meet people and drink. The Seafood Festival? Yeah, I don’t like seafood but I do like, “BEER TENTS!” Next week is a women’s group, brunch at Applecrest Orchard. That is 3 miles away from me. I can’t join their group but I can go to the restaurant. What was I going to do? Impress everyone with how many apple cider mimosas I can pound down before my egg’s benedict shows up at my table for one? Volleyball at Jenness Beach didn’t make sense at first. My leg is too weak after my accident to be jumping around in the sand. Then I remembered the site said they “sometimes” like to meet for cocktails at the restaurant bar across the street after the game. Yeah, “sometimes.”

I have no idea where I thought I was going to get the money for all this partying. I don’t exactly have a boatload of expendable income. I had big plans though.

I’m still on the site. I’m still looking for cheap, sober activities. I get notifications from some of the hiking clubs but I can’t get to the mountains 120 miles away. Plus some of them are overnight, bring a tent events. I’m not a fan of freezing my ass off. There are a couple bicycle groups I could reach but they do the “railtrails”, my bike is built for the street and so is my body. They haven’t sent out any notices lately. I even joined a couple book club groups. I enjoy reading but they meet at wine bars. And I do enjoy my wine. I could go and not drink but that may be wishful thinking.

I had one group left. I got the notification last week. It said, “You’re going!” Seacoast Empath Support Group. Well, I guess, I’m going! I looked at the group last night. It had a couple hundred members but only one was going. The creator of the group. She looked nice enough. She had a long ass description about her journey as an empath and she was deeply involved in anything and everything mystical. I just don’t believe in any of that shit. At the end it said she runs two podcasts. “The X-Files” and “I want to believe” Okay. Who knows what could be out there in this infinite universe but The X-files is a fictional television show.

What am I thinking? I still might go. It’s held in the crystal shop which she owns. I don’t know… I just kept thinking of my friend Marnie who said she was an empath. She always saying shit like, oh, I just got a strong feeling from my friend who lives a thousand miles away. Then she would ask me if I was afraid of what she was saying? I wanted to say, no, I’m getting pissed because you say you are an empath but you can’t pick up that I’m getting pissed you won’t shut up about this bullshit and I’m standing right next to you!

Click, “Not Attending”