Afraid of the Dark
At the moment I’m feeling a bit gloomy. My wife’s back in the emergency room. Last week she spent five days here before being released for two days with thoughts that things were on their way to being normal. Now she’s back with the same problem as before, which went largely undiagnosed. I won’t go into details, HIPAA laws and whatnot. Suffice to say we’re alarmed and a little scared. Sure, they’ve done the major tests and those came back negative, so that’s good. The reason for her problems is still uncertain though, which is not so good.
All of this got me thinking about past times and troubles. Times when there’s been too much drama and harassment in my life. Times when things seemed bleak or destined to spiral into a very bad place. Every one of those times I made it through (as evidenced by this post). Some were my fault, such as ending my competitive powerlifting career by pushing myself too hard and ripping my pectoral muscle completely free of my arm (not to worry, surgery reattached it but it’s never going to live up to the original design specs). Others were not so much my fault, like when the job market in Michigan forced plant closures that sent me across the country in search of employment and caused me to let my house go to the bank. I finally closed that chapter just a couple of weeks ago but it was at the cost of our retirement savings.
The message each time is not that bad things happen whether we deserve it or not, but that these things aren’t the end. For example, in my earlier injury I can be appreciative of the fact that I had a job and insurance to help me recover and not leave me with a lame wing flopping in the breeze. In the latter example I’m glad we had the retirement money stashed aside to make it possible to avoid legal action and / or wage garnishments (or worse). We have to build it back up and we’re not getting any younger, but that’s what hard work is all about.
At other times I’m just thankful that I’m too damn stubborn to accept defeat, depression, or misery. As a kid who hadn’t reached double digits in age I accepted that I was afraid of the dark – I’ve always had a vivid imagination and there’s no telling what monsters await when you can’t see them. So how did I deal with it? Well acceptance doesn’t mean taking what’s dealt to me and saying that’s good enough. Not for me. It meant I accepted that I had that problem and that, once I understood it, I could find a way to overcome it. I did too, by shutting myself in the basement and turning all the lights off, then forcing myself to sit there for a while (it felt like days!). Finally, when I could breathe normally and my heart rate slowed to something normal yet no vampires, werewolves, ghosts, or other monsters had eaten me, I stumbled through the dark and up the stairs to the light above. Problem solved. Screw you dark, I won!
It’s a damn shame modern problems aren’t quite so easy to resolve. But as the complexity of a problem increases, so does the solution. Sometimes it requires waiting on others (e.g. doctors), and at other times it requires marching out to the nurse’s desk and reminding them that we’re feeling forgotten.
Just like I’m writing this blog post as a tool to help me wrap my head and feelings around a stressful time, my writing also serves as a release from day to day stresses. I can escape in a medicinally safe manner and let my mind work on my concerns in the background while the foreground tackles thoughts of how Katy is going to deal with her dual fear and hatred of her father even though she’s being forced to face him by the one person in her life she can’t bear the thought of disappointing. Or maybe I’m plotting out the means with which Logan fights the curse that turns him into a monster while he searches for a cure to his condition.
Just like my writing helps me escape from the day to day stresses of work and baffling medical conditions, it also helps me to deal with them. It decompresses my brain and gives me some new angles and perspectives to deal with those problems. I’ve found that reading does much the same for me – it allows me to escape for a brief time and give myself some out of the box objectivity that can help me deal with things. Best of all, it’s cheaper than a prescription and doesn’t leave me with cotton mouth and the urge to go and devour a bag of Doritos!
So the next time you’re feeling at your wits end don’t run from the problems or cover them in a blanket of denial. Seek a second opinion, one that comes from a new character you’ve never heard of before. One who’s dealing with a host of their own problems in a way that can inspire you to deal with your own. Yes, it’s that simple: read a book and open up a world of opportunities you didn’t realize existed.
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