Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
I've come to talk with you again.
Things are getting moldy around here. It seems crazy to me that my last post was right before Halloween and now it's a new year. Well, maybe it's not that crazy. I do that sometimes. In any case, I'm back at it and feeling motivated to keep things rolling, but I sure didn't feel that way for the past couple months.
November was rough, y'all. I think it's typically a difficult time as things get gloomy and cold, back pain and sinus infections return and I just tend to feel yucky. Depression had a pretty good hold on me for the majority of the month, and I also learned that my dad has cancer again. So I was feeling pretty low and was pretty much high the whole month just to get through but, hey, I got through. Plus, there were some gems in there.
At the end of November, I made the trek to Vancouver to see King Diamond! I still can't believe that night was real. It was easily one of the greatest concert experiences I've ever had. The show was absolutely incredible and the King was at the top of his game.
I had a wonderful time on the journey to Vancouver with my good friend Michael and catching up with my pal, Rory, who lives over there. The three of us had a blast at the hotel, in restaurants and bars, at the concert and wandering around the big city the next day. We even hit up Vancouver's Christmas Market, which was super fun and whimsical as all hell. It was an exciting time, made even more so when Rory mentioned that one of his stories was recently featured on the podcast Nocturnal Transmissions! Here's a link so you guys can check it out--it's a fantastic story. Heaven Unearthed by Rory Say. Also, I may have mentioned this before, but Michael is a super talented musician. You guys should check out his music. Paths and Teeth of the Wolf are both incredible. I've got some talented, creative, brilliant friends and I'm gong to make a point of sharing their projects more often. That means YOUR projects. Keep sharing your shit with the world, people. I'm more than happy to pass it on so others can be inspired and enjoy.
Last month was a December to dismember, but I did my best to be grounded and avoid spinning out. I think it worked part of the time, but I can't remember because I was too high for most of it. One thing that lifted me up was a phone call I had with my former therapist. She coached me through some difficult things and asked me to slow down and go easy on myself. I've been really hard on myself this year, during a time when I needed care and compassion more than ever. I never set out to be like that, but it tends to happen when I find myself out of balance. During our conversation, she reminded me of the importance of being still. That's something I struggle with and I'm determined to work on giving in to a period of rest. I have a tendency, as many do, to turn away when things get tough or scary and find ways to busy myself. People often act like being busy is great and even something to brag about, but it can be fairly detrimental to your health, especially when grieving.
2018/2019 presented me with some of the biggest challenges I've ever experienced, including the greatest sorrow I've ever felt with the death of a dear friend. I don't think I've even begun to process what happened, honestly, and I'm suffering as a result. I still find myself checking his social media accounts as though I expect to see something new, and I continue to scroll through old text messages that I can't bring myself to delete.
A couple weeks ago I had a dream that Ben was still alive, but not in a good way. I thought he was dead but everyone else knew he wasn't. He'd been in the hospital this whole time, dying. For almost a fucking year! Because I didn't know, I hadn't been up to visit him and was warned that he had been getting worse with each passing day. I was scared to see him, though I knew I should probably visit. In reality, I know that feeling. I had a lot of anxiety each time I went up to the hospital and while visiting him at home, and often times I was even scared to see him. I never knew what he was going to be like or look like, and I was afraid that he would detect that fear and feel even worse than he already did. Sometimes I would feel so overwhelmed that I couldn't bring myself to visit at all. So I guess there's a lot of guilt there. Guilt, shame and regret. There's a lot I need to unpack and I've been avoiding that for some time.
As the anniversary of Ben's death approaches, I find myself in disbelief. I can't believe he's not here, because I feel his presence constantly. Every walk through the neighbourhood, I still wonder if I'll run into him and hear his friendly hellOOOOOO! Recently while shopping, Gowan's "Strange Animal" started playing in the store. I immediately thought of Ben because he and I shared a weird obsession with Gowan. One night after a few drinks, we binged Gowan videos and sang along, and it was so much fun. I laughed so hard that night that I was in tears. I miss him. I want so badly to accept what happened and move forward, but I feel stuck. I guess I expected to feel differently at this point. There's just no way to know how you're going to feel. I suppose all I can do is work on being kind and allow myself to sit with those uncomfortable feelings, even when I really don't want to. I guess that means cutting back on the green, hey? I've been wanting to anyway, since it's pretty much killing my motivation and fucking with my mood as of late.
What better opportunity to turn things around than the start of a new year, right? I typically hate all that shit about resolutions and whatnot, but I think it's good to consider the changes you want to make in order to bring peace and joy into your life, no matter what time of year. For me, I want to work on accepting what is and allow sorrow to be sorrow, but I also want to find ways to bring more light in during these dark times.
Another thing I want to work on is cultivating the practice of simply being alive, without adding anything extra into the mix. For a while, at least. It's what my therapist recommended and I know it's what I need. In time I will find ways to access my pain and allow space to grieve so I can eventually move forward and focus on creating the life I want. One step at a time, though.
Speaking of steps, on December 31st, during a storm, I decided to go for a long walk. I don't do that often in crazy weather unless necessary, but it felt necessary. I hadn't left the house at all for the previous two days (which was awesome, btw) and it felt great to get some fresh air and exercise even though I was soaked to the bone. It was good to get out there on the last day of the year and conquer something, no matter how small. Plus, I came across some wonder along the way. I watched some ducks play in a pond, was greeted by a family of deer, and discovered these two party animals living it up in celebration of a new year.
Cheers, friends! Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope that you're able to find peace and contentment this year. Until next time, I leave you with the one and only Gowan, and I will reflect on the wonderful strange animal I knew called Ben. Wherever you are, buddy, this video's for you!
I'm finally doing it--pulling my insides out and splattering them around for all to see. Here we go!