Friday, January 31, 2014

The Rubber Meets The Road

I never thought I'd almost be 40 years old and still struggling to figure out who I am.  It seems so simple, to know one's self--to understand the fabric from which one is made. 

But I've never known.

I thought, after reading some books, that perhaps my being lost had to do with the fact that I'm adopted.  The authors of these books say that the initial rejection by the birth mother will emotionally scar a child for life.  And that may well be true, but I've gone through that search as well.  I found my birth mother, and it seemed like an emotional experience for me.  But in retrospect, I was more unsettled by the lack of emotion.  I wasn't angry with her.  And I wasn't suddenly made whole as a person by meeting her.  Mostly I was indifferent.  So much for life changing.

I also used to think that I had a particularly hard childhood emotionally.  I felt like I was teased incessantly growing up, and bullied.  Through a combination of living outside city limits, and relatively strict parents, I was mostly a member of the "out" crowd rather than the "in" crowd.  I had no close friends.  I found some inclusion in church youth group, but even there if I wasn't in attendance, it mattered not--I was a participant by attendance, not a core member.  But looking back, I wonder if I really had it that badly.  Most likely I experienced what every child experiences growing up, and because I was so lost to myself, perhaps I simply didn't handle it very well.

Not knowing who one is is exhausting.  I'm so tired.

It's been diagnosed as clinical depression, and maybe it is.  Maybe that's all depression is, when one is just tired from fighting whatever battle is before us.

I'm on two different anti-depressants, and they helped.  Two "pretty good" drugs as my doctor says.  But she's tired too.  Tired of trying to help me, and so she says if the pretty good drugs don't make my life pretty good, then she's done trying to help, and will instead refer me to a psychiatrist.  And so the lie perpetuates itself.  Of course I'm doing pretty good when she asks, because I don't want to see a psychiatrist.  It was hard enough to admit I was too tired of trying to deal with my life and needed pharmaceutical help, but to admit I need psychiatric care?  I mean, they do things like commit people, and electro-shock people for being tired.  Seeing a psychiatrist makes it difficult to do things like get health insurance, life insurance, important jobs.  Because nobody likes to be around people that have to get electro-shocked.

Christmas Eve was a bad night.  A couple days previous to that, a man threw his 3 year old son off of a high building, and then jumped after.  That story haunted me.  How tired must this father have been?  To destroy something so beautiful as his own (by all accounts,) vivacious son?  To have that much despair?

I put myself in his shoes, and tried to understand how far my mind and heart would have to be pushed to be capable of such an act.  And in that moment, I'm pretty sure I felt his heaviness of soul as he offered his life to the foul-smelling, gaping maw of Death grinning back at him.  In fact I felt Death's hot breath on my neck, stalking me, and realized that despite my best efforts, it would one day discover me and gleefully accept my soul in exchange for silence and stillness. Knowing that I can juke and dodge and dance, but someday it'll catch up and I'll be too tired to resist.

So I laid there in the chill of our extra bedroom, listening to the tinkle of the ceiling fan as the tears flowed down the sides of my face.  Because I don't want things to end early.  All I've ever wanted to is to be happy with myself and who I am.  Happy enough to be happy with the wonderful blessings I've been entrusted with. 

Isn't that all anyone ever truly wants? 

To be able to enjoy their blessings?

It doesn't seem like too much to ask.

Like many times before, I thought I'd found my salvation.  I lost weight.  A lot of weight.  I started running.  I fancied myself a runner.  But even that became empty, because I was no less tired. 

But I persevered, and re-evaluated.  I was honest with myself about my goals, and my abilities.  And I decided that even though I was slow and fat, that I could still be a runner.  This seemed to be affirmed by the recent nationwide rallying of runners around Meg Menzies and her family.  It seemed that all runners are part of a big running family. 

Today I realized as I read through my blog roll, that Meg Menzies was indeed part of the runner family.  Even those that didn't know her, knew she was a fellow runner, and identified with her.  Add to the tragedy of her untimely death the fact that she was training for Boston (and all the tragedy that resonates with runners associated with Boston).  She is a ready made rallying point for all things running.  (Although I suspect that her family would chuck all of that just to have her back.)

And I realized that I'm just not a part of that family.  Again, I'm part of the "out" crowd, standing outside the "in" crowd--a crowd that neither changes, nor notices if I am there or not.  I have no hope of ever qualifying for Boston.  It's not even a realistic head-in-the-clouds goal for me.  It would be a farce to say I one day hoped to qualify. 

My bucket list races are a list of fabulous destination marathons, all recognized by all the in-crowd runners who run them and wear their badge of honor medals. ("I had such a rough day, I didn't think I'd finish, but I managed to drag myself across the finish line in like 3 hours and 2 minutes.")  But the truth is I've only ever run a little over 5 1/2 miles in one run.  20% of a marathon.  And that only after six months of training.

I suspect that's the reason that my comments (save a couple of truly exceptional bloggers) on running blogs go categorically ignored.  I'm a guy who runs, but for whatever reason, I'm still not part of the runner family.  Or maybe I'm the distant cousin that smells of earwax and whose eyeglasses are covered in greasy fingerprints that makes everyone uncomfortable.

I'm pretty sure I'll keep running.  It does make me feel better about myself most days.  If nothing else it quiets my head.  But I'm not going to be attempting to join the runner community anymore, blogging or otherwise.  It's obviously not a good fit, and I think it makes people uncomfortable.

And frankly, trying to fit in just makes me even more weary.