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3:39 am - Sun 6/18/06
Getting Better

Getting Better

Sat 6/17/06 (7:21 p.m.)

Still thinking a lot about what just happened to me...

I know I’ve said it before, but a lot of what I’ve thought about today is how badly this could have gone--Physically, financially, emotionally, you name it–and how I can hardly imagine it having gone any better than it did.

The surgery seems to have gone very well, the money’s going to work out (I got a notice today from Disability, and it looks like they’ll be paying me on the high-side of what I typically make at the theater), and what was a scary, stressful, difficult situation has now become, essentially, a month’s vacation (Granted, not the vacation I would have chosen for myself–I’d prefer something where I was at least a bit more ambulatory-- but hey, at least it’s a “vacation” I can afford).

I’m still wondering about the “stress component” of what happened. Thinking about whether my ending up in the hospital was my body’s way of saying “Jim, you really need to take a break”, and guessing it probably was (It struck me while at the hospital that I’d started to make bitter comments at work, to the effect that I didn’t know when I’d be able to even take a day off work, let alone have an actual vacation, because of ArcLight not providing any paid personal/vacation days).

I’d been pondering the “stress thing” on my own, and after Gail spoke to me on the phone while I was at the hospital, I pondered it a lot more.

Gail, a friend of mine from Lansing who is now a vet living in Palm Springs (And who recently visited me in LA, taking me out for a belated birthday lunch where I enjoyed myself immensely), is a veteran of some “gut issues” herself.

And from her own experiences with stress affecting her system, and from what she reads of my experiences here in LA and how I’ve been struggling to cope, I think she sees me as a “fellow traveler” in that regard (Yoga and meditation are now two of her ways to keep stress from eating her up inside).

I know I’ve pretty much already written about this, but it’s weighing on me a bit still. If this wasn’t “just something that happened”, and stress got the better of me, it’s really important that it doesn’t “get the better of me” again in another six months, or two years, or whenever.

But how do I do that...?

I think, in general, “caring for myself” is a big part of the puzzle. You can’t be stressed to the gills, be grossly overweight, make drinking water a “sometimes” kind-of-thing, live in filth, and in general just not take very good care of yourself, and be surprised when things eventually start to break down.

And I have so many traps I can fall into when starting to talk about taking care of myself–I can get angry and frustrated with myself for “letting things get this bad”, I can beat myself up for giving in temptation or slacking off once I do start trying to do better, or I can just never be quite doing it right enough, till any impetus I had to “take care of myself” gets lost in in shuffle.

I don’t want this to be another one of those times. I don’t want to get sidetracked by anger and recrimination and perfectionist tendencies that are self-destruction personified.

I want to "get something" from this experience. It's very important to me.

I genuinely want to do better.

To find the place, beyond all the crap in my head, where I love myself, care for myself, and realize that my life is a precious thing, and worth preserving, worth doing my very best with.

I think something that might help was a realization I had recently–just about everything I do in my “leisure time” is an effort to comfort myself. To paper-over the fact that I don't feel good.

I’ve basically fallen into a lifestyle where, in one way or another, I’m constantly “medicating myself”, trying to innoculate myself from my boredom, my loneliness, my fatigue, etc. and so on. What I do, by and large, I pretty much do in order to avoid feeling bad (That goes for things I avoid doing as well).

And I think there has to be a better way to live one’s life, than just constantly “medicating” yourself against whatever pain you’re feeling, or are afraid you're going to feel.

And that “better way”, the difference between going through life simply trying not to feel pain, and actually living your life...well, now that I’m starting to see the difference, I believe I can summon the courage, the strength of will, and the love for myself that it’ll take to start effecting some genuine changes in my life.


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