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Should All The Quaint Rants Be Forgot...

January 4, 2018

 

I started this blog about 5 months ago. The response was very welcoming and encouraging. They even included some “I just might have some stories for you” comments. But there were also folks who were dubious. “You aren’t a failure,” “This should be a success story,” “Quitting your job is the bravest thing I’ve seen in a long time, not a failure!” and so on.

 

Here’s a funny thing: I wasn’t going to start a blog if not for my therapist. She made me register the domain name right there during one of our sessions, right there in her office. Anything to get me “activated,” since up until that point I’d done very little. That was around February. The domain sat dormant for months until, once again, my therapist had to assign me the task of actually going live with the website. I’d gotten into another rut, you see, and having specific jobs helped get me out of my own head, if for just a while. But once it went live it was an interest for me. Writing was doing some good for me. My therapist saw that and encouraged it.
 


One of the major themes in my therapy sessions is how to combat my self-hatred. My inner voice, that demon who tells me that every single thing I’ve done in life is shit, that voice is pretty powerful. So being able to talk back to the demon is our strategy. It doesn't work to just say “OK, time to stop feeling bad about myself and turn that frown upside down.” It’s more of direct speaking to the demon himself: “Hey ya jerk, I’m working on it, and if you’ll look around I’ve done some pretty good things.” So the assignment of writing for a blog about failure? Well, it’s been a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one edge, any activity that uses my brain and motivates me to do something is good. On the other, however, discussing the topic of failure has its potential problems for a guy with an inner demon who is hyper-focused on his failures.

I’ve tried in many a post to say, “No. This blog isn’t about my own failure. It’s about failure itself, the concept of failure, how we deal with failure, what failure tells us about ourselves. I am NOT obsessed with my own failures. *Believe me*” I thought I was being fairly convincing and even thought-provoking with my writing. But really, the only one I’ve managed to convince is...well no one really.

You see, despite my insistence that I’m not obsessed with failure, it is there EVERY day of my life. And all therapy aside, confronting that inner demon with positive counterpoint is NOT the same as banishing it. It never stops blabbing and NEVER stops being a bastard. I am only reactive, parrying and blocking, occasionally counter-thrusting, but never truly turning the duel to my favor.

 

Some examples in no particular order:

The Good:

 

  1. Temper flares much better controlled (Better living through pharmaceuticals)

  2. Better connection with moody teenage son, probably thanks to #1

  3. Watched daughter (and took partial credit for) getting early acceptance to an Ivy League school

  4. Only stood on one(1) ledge, contemplating jumping (it was early January so, like, it barely counts as 2017)

  5. Played enough Candy Crush to get to level 2086. That’s two THOUSAND, eighty-six.

  6. Wonderful family and friends who love me.

  7. All that other stuff still true: Saved or made better many lives while still a surgeon. Raised two great kids. Showed courage by admitting my life needed a change, blah, blah.


But none of this directly rebuts what my demon says. Allow me to present to you...

The Bad:

 

  1. So many pills every day. So many. Pills to control mood. More pills because the first pills weren’t enough. More pills of a different kind because the high doses of the first pills weren’t enough. More pills because you’ve heard a supplement helps, too. More pills to counter some of the effects of all the pills you’re now taking. (Better living through pharmaceuticals)

  2. Despite better connection to teenage son, he has for a role model a father who quit his job, has not found a new career, and sits around the house all day while his mother works two jobs to sustain the family. Yet the same father hounds him about the value of hard work, perseverance, and dedication.

  3. Daughter’s acceptance to Ivy League school only highlights the complete lack of income generated by my unemployed ass. The tuition looms, a tuition which, had I not quit, would be manageable.

  4. No concrete plans to end life, but not a day goes by without thinking (wishing) for death or calculating own life’s value to this world.

  5. Played enough Candy Crush to get to level 2086. That’s two THOUSAND, eighty-six.

  6. Despite being surrounded by the best friends and family who love me, the feeling of complete isolation lingers.

  7. All that other stuff still true: Ended a busy medical career, throwing away 10 years of training, 9 years of higher education, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition, and countless person-hours wasted by better surgeons training me, all to become…an unsuccessful blogger?


But sure, the positive stuff is nice, right? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy? More like cognitive dissonance, if you ask me.
 


So a few days ago I was on the precipice of the New Year. I happened to get invited to a New Year’s Eve party on the top floor of the tallest building in Seattle. The views were spectacular, the height above the ground quietly but distinctly calling me. But this time I really had no plan (nor urge) to jump. No plan to find the emergency stairs which should have access to the roof (something I’ve done in almost every tall building since this all began). Instead the tremendous gap between the ground and me only served as a reminder of how far I’d fallen this 2017. I was a specialized surgeon, for God’s sake, in a busy practice. Patients depended on me. Peers depended on me. My family depended on me. And now what was I? Unemployed dabbler at writing, art, acting, and any other creative outlet involving mediocrity. The inner voice was strong as I stared out the at the street lights far below.

The party counted down to zero. Fireworks flared. Auld Lang Syne played over the dance floor. The waitstaff passed out Krispe Cream Donuts. Nice touch. People all around, including my wife and I, kissed and wished each other a happy 2018. Resolutions were made. Mine?

 

  • Fuck self pity. Seriously. Enough already. That’s not exactly what my therapist would have me say, but there it is.

  • Don’t be surprised when the demon shits on anything good, and crows about anything remotely bad

  • Get a friggin’ job, you jerk

  • Find a positive message, even if its a positive message about failure

  • Delete Candy Crush off devices

  • Swear less

  • Oh, and stop talking to the voices in your head. That's some crazy shit.

[from inside head] *Ya know you’ll probably break this resolution like you have every year before, right?*

You shut the hell up.

 

🎶I can see clearly now, the crazy's gone...🎶

 

 


Meh, it's a work in progress... Happy 2018.

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