The Notion of Giving Up

I’m in a bit of a crisis, so I’m going to write from my heart. I don’t really know where this will take me, if only to let me vent some of my fears, and find some peace. I recently came to a conclusion about important aspects of my life, and a need to make significant changes. We sometimes are forced to make those decisions only because we have to go on with trying to become who we are meant to be.

I struggle with depression, I have all my life. In different periods I used self destructive measures to deal with my anxiety and the fears that came along with not feeling good about myself. My self confidence has always suffered, and there have been rare times when I could look in a mirror and be happy with what I might see. I find that to be part of the human condition that we all carry around with us. It is ironic, because I know people that will clearly say to me, I don’t understand depression because I have never experienced it, and I find myself walking away, feeling envious. I have to believe though it is true, and they are part of a fortunate lot.

In my life, I have been vulnerable to my own insecurities. There are things that bring me happiness, probably the greatest one I can reveal here, safely enough is the birth of my children. They are truly the most beautiful gift in my life, and I am blessed. My wife has been the caregiver throughout our marriage, and together we raised our children to be wonderful contributors to our society. I am proud of them and feel fortunate that we have been given this miracle of a healthy disposition in our family.

It wasn’t always like that. My own struggles with addiction have weighed heavily on the fabric of my marriage, my relationship with my children and my colleagues and friends. I have been lucky to find a supportive environment that helps me discover stability, but I have to admit, I sometimes need that 24/7 and when a significant moment occurs in my life, I become shaky and wish for negative outcomes, only those that would apply to me, no one else, I would pray would be impacted by my own faults.

This leads me to speak to this current crisis I am experiencing. I have found that my validation that I grew comfortable with for a period in and around nearly two decades has become a bit of a false pretense. I have no regrets, I just believe I have to move forward, and rather than smile at the fear I have when I am around people, I must find peace within my own mind. I think that is a difficult process when fighting with anxiety and depression. I think we tend to connect with those people that understand our moods, our emotions, our challenges. I think those people are important in our lives, and they sometimes come from unique avenues in our world that we choose to live in. I think our fear of losing that can really shake a person up.

I’ve wanted to give up so many times in the last 50 years, it actually has become a rather comical curse for me to carry around. I’m not suggesting humor necessarily as much as I am speaking to the circle of deceit I have left myself living in, rather than foraging forward to find a solution to my fears. I have had occasion where I really did want to check out, and I looked for ways that might be possible. Ironically today, the first thing I thought about when I was experiencing self-defeating ideas is my two children, my son in particular – his vulnerability seems a bit more apparent having suffered through the loss of people he has been close to in his life. I thought of my own impact being parallel to what he has already struggled through and the message that would leave him with being horrific.

Tonight, I read on my twitter feed a person who has pledged 22 days of doing 22 daily pushups to represent support for our military who live in a constant struggle with their own lives. The 22 represents the number of military personnel that take their lives every day. I thought about that and applied it to myself. I have not been in the military, I have not suffered to the degree that so many people around me have. I have only struggled with my own addictions and self-loathing but it really is nothing when placed side by side with someone that has had to endure far more challenge than myself.

So tonight, I am reflecting. I have been forced to move forward. I will not let depression continue to enjoy a stranglehold on my well-being. I experienced something this evening that literally tore me apart and left me feeling sick to my stomach. I will practice humility and grace as I move forward beyond my own self-aggrandizing behavior. I have a responsibility towards a world outside my own rollercoaster of emotion, and I might well jump on board and own myself.

I hope you have been listening, and for those of you that made it this far, I appreciate you. Thanks for coming along on the ride.


© Thom Amundsen 2019

 

When A Child Dreams

I would dream summers

running through hemlock

brush scratches naked calves

the moment, lost in its mystique

 

When we were kids

we were ushered out of the house

play until you drop

play until you drop

 

We didn’t mind

being ushered out

we were in our element

children of summer

 

When I was a child

I didn’t imagine barriers

there wasn’t a risk of

seeing a friend bloodied

 

We didn’t walk around

waiting for our parents

who were never to be found,

unless of their own volition.

 

When I was a younger boy,

I could run for hours,

feeling the heat of summer

knowing the thrill of joy

 

In my wildest dreams

I was never sought, ushered,

told to stop my scream

for justice beyond my dream.

 

Today, the children of summer

are everywhere and far away

from the beauty of love

the compassion of a tender tear.

 

Today, I do recall freedom in my childhood,

I weep alone for the children of summer.

Lest We Forget, Again

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For we do that,

oh so often, we do

decide upon a beautiful sunset,

perhaps the rising moon,

a sweet snowfall,

even the rain of a heated summer day,

lets our mind return to the numbing

nature of a human condition

built upon,

the product of denial.

 

But we cannot,

simply look alive people,

please don’t shut your eyes,

there’s a movement,

and this time,

it is your children,

let their voices be heard.

 

Imagine telling a child

you may not skip class to protest

the death of your peer

by senseless gunfire,

imagine telling your children,

I don’t love you enough

to give a crap

about your well being.

Imagine telling a child

when you leave

I’m not going to imagine

a terrible outcome.

 

If we demand our children

stick to the implementation

of a day of lessons

designed in minutia

and instead

forget the very reason,

we brought our child

into this world,

then we have suggested

the concept of love is a fallacy.

 

We are at war,

and the eyes of a child,

certainly contain the heroic passions

of our every tomorrow.

name and faces

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I walked into my classroom today,

and the kids were being themselves,

I was thinking about their welfare,

wondering how many wondered themselves.

When I glanced into their faces,

I’d seen them already,

splashed across the television screen

hanging in the living room of everyone’s home.

I wonder if it’s possible

to tell each other the same

that Billy & Frieda and Jennifer, well

all could be the victims of this,

insane response to

letting go,

allowing the human condition

a reason to justify

letting go.

We are told to be cognizant,

responsible for the well-being

of all of those involved,

being the students, the elders,

the parents, the faculty,

the community members,

school board and administration,

we’re always wondering who’s in charge.

Proven again last night,

on Valentines Day,

a new massacre for the ages,

a new realization that everyone

is vulnerable.

I looked at the pictures of the victims,

tomorrow when I walk into school,

I will watch them all walk the halls

tenfold in their similarity, their

human capacity, as living as is the dead,

we’re all faces in a crowd.

I wonder about the similarity

if we could recognize we’ll know each

other in another life,

if then

could we protect each other,

with basic compassion

and knowledge beyond

sensationalization.

the faces in the crowd,

are the same that make us proud.

In My Comfort Zone

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It is where I am every day,

my comfort zone,

I give a glimpse into the world

I see,

every hour of my day,

until the sun does set,

hues change, sky becomes a darkness outside

I cannot see as readily.

 

Until the morning comes,

then in rain or sunshine, the view the same,

I always see the leaves in summer,

in winter the naked branch, the neighbor’s home,

I see this every day,

it is in my comfort zone …

 

Where no bombs exist,

shattered windows, glass explodes,

the screams of children barely two,

barely recognizing a reason to fear,

yet they endure,

a daily barrage of human agony,

a tragic reality leaves a shell now,

where a window frame once gave a shield

to the weather, the mortars, the terror, the wind …

carries evil’s wares inside the shadows.

 

It is where I am every day,

my comfort zone,

I give a glimpse into the world,

I see …

 

Finding Voice

I walked outside and screamed at the bottom of my driveway,

only because I knew no one would notice,

well, they did, and their doors shut,

I stood in my neighborhood and felt completely alone.

 

The manicured lawns,

similarly styled rose gardens,

the roof repair and invisible fences,

street signs that suggested we all slow down.

 

I glanced around and decided to scream outloud again,

more doors shut,

the street seemed to empty in a silence

more apparent than I’d noticed before my unravel.

 

I stood there for a long time

watched kids on their bicycles take the corner before

having to coast past the man at the end of the driveway,

I realized for the first time I might have been noticed.

 

I walked back up to my garage,

played some music while drilling some wood,

the sweat on my brow, I wiped with my forearm,

I glanced at the street, a squad rode by … I waved.