Busted Brain Journal: December

I debated using the format where two voices, both in my head, are talking to each other for this post. It’s always pretty much the same. One voice in my Id, my emotional side, the one that cries at movies about loss and transition and emotional evolution like Dead Poets Society (that side also bawls when he watches Field of Dreams but that’s about baseball and baseball has played a prominent role in my life for decades, so it’s understandable.) The other voice is my Superego, the rational voice of self-regulation and balance that has, too often, talked my Id back from the proverbial ledge.

Instead, I decided to go with the Busted Brain narrative where I talk directly to you, dear reader, about my life these days. Judging by the traffic lately on this blog, all 12 of you will find my soliloquy engaging and then about with your day. That’s fine. As Connor said, I do not read the reviews. I am not singing for you.

It’s a textbook Nebraska December Sunday today. The creek just beyond my balcony is frozen and a light snow accumulates on the ground. Not enough to really cause havoc, but dusting off the car while it warms up is in my future. I have a couple busy-work errands to do today but I am in no hurry to do them and that’s okay. Getting a post down and published is plum necessary right now.

I had a very strange dream last night. That I am dreaming at all is something of new trend in my life as for the last 6 years, I rarely progressed beyond restorative sleep when the body does routine maintenance and repairs but rarely slipped into R.E.M. sleep. Last night, though, I slept the sleep where you dream and I’d like to tell you about.

I am in a kitchen in a house I don’t know, but it is indeed “my kitchen.” I am cleaning an overwhelming amount of dishes and general debris. There is a small dishwasher that I must keep loading and when the dishwasher cycle is complete and I open it, there are no dishes in the dishwasher so I just load it up again and run it again.

All my ex-girlfriends, in chronological order, come into the kitchen and help me clean the overwhelming amount of debris that is packed all around the kitchen, but after a few moments helping me rinse the dishes to prep them for the dishwasher, they get frustrated with me for insisting that the kitchen is not clean until all the dishes are clean and put away, they leave the task to me and bolt.

The discussions I have with each ex is spirited and rigorous, but there’s no animosity in them. They seem to be perplexed at my insistence on doing all the dishes until the job is done and every time I turn around, the kitchen has grown and there’s even more soiled dishes that I must clean before the task is complete. I have an ambient awareness that the other sentient beings that have lived with me and the exes (dogs, cats, children) are present and they leave with the women and I stay to continue to work in completing all the dishes. This is a task of Sisyphus as by the end of the dream, the kitchen is huge, the dishwasher is tiny and there’s dirty plates and bowls and glasses and mugs and pots and pans stacked to the ceilings. The image right before I woke was me toiling away as my most recent ex exited stage right, smiling, and I emitted a heavy sigh and continued to work.

I have my opinion about what the dream meant. To wit, I feel alone in the way where you wish you had a significant other to help you shoulder the burden you are carrying but, ultimately, my girlfriends don’t stick around long enough to really contribute. It’s not their fault and I don’t blame them. With 15 years post-Traumatic Brain Injury and 7 in recovery from alcoholism, and no end in sight on either count (I mean recovery from both. I obviously have no choice with the former and the latter, well, as anybody who drove off the cliff yet lived to tell about it, it’s one day at a time) it’s the task of Sisyphus.

And there is never an end. Ever. Some people are just born with the alcoholic gene and once you’ve pickled the cucumber, all that’s left is the pickle and you can’t unpickle the cucumber.

It’s been an emotional 6 months. Men who were once boys who tortured my childhood self have made amends and a couple are even in the Program. I contacted an ex-girlfriend because a band who always makes me think of her came on a playlist (granted I made the playlist myself, so it was bound to happen eventually and who knows, maybe I knew that when I made the playlist in the first place…?) and we’ve been talking to each other via text and a phone call last night and wouldn’t you know it, she came out clean from her own set of grim circumstances and now is doing right by her job, her family and her friends. She is still a bit too much of a softy in my opinion as she has a tendency to qualify her behavior with her loved ones, which is pretty accepting and I think they take advantage of her a lot, but she is also tough as nails and, when push comes to shove, will take exactly zero shit from anybody. When she perceives threats, danger and/or tragedy on the horizon. She has the presence of mind to skedaddle and for that I will always admire her. I mean this is the woman who kicked my ass to the curb when my alcoholic antics had driven her there and, ultimately, led to me going to rehab to get sober. For that, I owe her an eternal debt.

Anyway, back to lonely. It’s hard to articulate what its like in my head because the TBI and the alcoholism lead me to some very strange thought paths that are very much an anomaly to the average bear. I mean, I know that everybody thinks differently and I’m not claiming a monopoly over some special victimhood that sets me apart from the rest of the pack. But let’s call a spade a spade. I just don’t think the way other people do. There’s a commonality shared by others that I simply don’t have access to. So, I feel lonely a lot of the time.

I don’t feel alone. I feel lonely, BIG difference. I know I have friends and family and coworkers that will try and sympathize and empathize with me and for that I can’t thank them enough. Lonely is different. Lonely is late at night when the demons come. Lonely is staving off seasonal affective disorder with a 4 AM run, then meditation before work just to keep your head above water.

Lonely is clinging to driftwood as you bob up and down on tumultuous waves as your friends and family watch from the shore, powerless to help.

To be clear, I don’t want anybody to feel sorry for me. I don’t think emotionally mature people ever want sympathy. What I do want, though, is the courage and the gumption to gird up my loins everyday and muster enough strength of character to ensure my ability to handle that which falls in my path. And, hopefully, I will eventually come across a woman who is patient and emotionally erudite enough to see that sometimes, I will need her help. And sometimes, I most assuredly will not. Oh, and this is where the patience comes in, has intuition enough to know, or at least reads my cues adequately, when one or the other is called for.

Being lonely isn’t so bad. At least, not all the time. I know that people who have significant others and children can’t imagine their lives without them now that they have them and I envy those people immensely. Yet I also know they envy me in the predictable ways. The grass, as they say, is always greener. I don’t think I will ever have children of my own and, as I said, having a woman fit the bill of what I need is a tall ordert. But, I guess, that’s an issue for everyone.

I certainly don’t think I’m special enough to claim the necessity of special treatment. At least, not every day.

I’m hungry now and I have shit to do today. Sorry if you thought I was going to wrap this one up neatly with a bow and send you on your way. Not today my friend. Just me talking. No resolutions, no lessons learned. Sorry.

Please drive through

One thought on “Busted Brain Journal: December

  1. Dear andy,
    I know I don’t respond as much as others but u r a big hero in my life and I tell many people your story that u don’t know..,they r interested and they listen.
    My life mantra is simply “we do the best we can with what life has dealt us” I think I did, I think you have…..simply no one can do more than that!
    Love you lots, jackie
    Merry christmas!


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