Breathe…

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…breathe in the air.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrojrDCI02k

Another nod to the great Pink Floyd.

It’s a beautiful day outside, as it was yesterday. And what could be more beautiful than laughing at myself? The last couple of months have been vicious in their lobbing of bombshell’s into my yard. I suppose the shrapnel zips and zings far and wide, too. But that’s okay, because today really is just a breeze.

It occurred to me that not only do I have to count the wheels on virtually every semi that I see… and pretty much everything else on the road that’s not a bicycle… I have to count from the rear to the front. I tried counting front to back, and I am incapable. Truly… I can’t do it. My brain starts fucking with me, shouting “Seven!” over and over again so I can’t just go from 1 on up without tripping up over seven. I get bewildered, like a frozen caveman thawed out and handed a cell phone.

Oh, about not having to count the wheels on bicycles? I’m not stupid… I know there are two wheels there. I still count them, but I think that’s just double checking.

I don’t know, nor do I care beyond mere curiosity, whether or not I have OCD. Most of the titled, licensed professionals I have spent fifty minutes with here and there have said that “Yes, you do have OCD”. One told me that I displayed OCD-like “tendencies”. I had to count to ten before I allowed myself to respond to that. Probably because I didn’t like her.

Again, I don’t care what it’s called… obsessive-compulsive disorder… only that I have this “thing” and that it drives me “crazy”. I would like someone to make it “better”. As far as checking yesterday to make sure my backpack was zipped up twelve times between the moment I left the checkout line at the grocery store and the second I hit the sidewalk across the parking lot, well… I don’t mind that, because if I didn’t do that, all my stuff might fall out. It may be important to point out that I sat on a bench further on down the road, and took off and put back on that same backpack three more times to make absolutely sure. My head thought of it, so it had to be a possibility that I lost a Snickers or milk or something from an open pocket… one of only two. I was sitting down though, so it was more of just a rest that I was taking.

That’s funny. It’s a pain in the ass, and sometimes it brings me close to tears, but it’s funny. It’s funny because I find humans such ridiculous creatures. I didn’t make that backpack in my fourth grade classroom for my mother on Mother’s Day… I know those zippers work.

Thank God, I don’t deal with a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. As with all mental illnesses, this one comes in all levels of strength. Mine rests uncomfortably where it always has… between comforting and menacing.

The upside? My daughter finds it endlessly funny. Not in a cruel way, but with the innocence of an eleven-year old who can’t understand why her father starts getting all wound up whenever there are buttons on the clothing that people are wearing on television… because I have to count them. She’ll ask me “how many” before I even begin the twitch that gets worse as I scramble to not only count how many buttons there are, but how I can group them into groups of even or odd. It’s only recently that I’ve identified that even-or-odd thing, but it’s always been there. That’s not uncommon for these things… they’ll be there forever, but we can’t identify them for what they are until later in life.

This is all good, because it allows me to explain a mental illness to our little girl without having to delve into my heavier problems like depression and the rest. The way my OCD manifests itself isn’t scary to her. Daddy counts… big deal. She understands that it is a problem, and that it causes frustration, but the act itself isn’t one a child cannot understand. I don’t feel as though I have to protect her from it… I can talk to her about it person to person, I don’t have to use “age appropriate” tact. Talking to her about this in the way that I do will hopefully make her a more caring and educated person as she grows up… and the world a better place for it.

Eleven-year old children already have a keen sense for how hopeless adults are, so this is great. Dad prefers news to music on the radio, mom enjoys naps, grandma calls the housecleaner a bad name, and Uncle Dean knows how many strings the various guitars downstairs equal, but he still has to count them before he can get off the couch to run to the bathroom… it doesn’t matter that he has diarrhea.

It is hard to explain to my daughter what is going on when I’m not feeling well… depressed, on the verge of an anxiety attack, whatever. Not only is it difficult trying to be delicate in how I talk to her about a complicated, confusing, and troubling issue, but even more so… it breaks my heart. However, this child will not grow up in the dark if I can help it.

So, when my daughter and I spent the evening together laughing at the television lastnight… what, with all of the buttons and eyes and neckties that can be found tallied onscreen… that was a pretty good gig. A big part of why today is pretty good.

Now… I’m going to go count my lucky stars, and smoke a cigarette.

Dean Moberly

Numbers Runner

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Ticking away…

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…the moments that make a dull day.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2015/01/12/376438311/why-ocd-is-miserable-a-science-reporters-obsession-with-contracting-hiv

The link above is to an interview on NPR with David Adams. He has just written ‘The Man Who Couldn’t Stop’, about his obsession with contracting HIV. For no good reason. The irrationality of OCD is jaw dropping… or in my case… jaw breaking. When I count, I grind my jaw, and my TMJ is at the point at which I’m having problems eating.

It’s not just the counting that triggers the facial ticks… it’s the ticks alone. I have, ever since I was a small child, blinked my eyes… hard and repeatedly. I crunch my cheeks up, and grind my jaw. It can extend to the rest of my body, too. Think of a migraine headache. Now, imagine the tentacles of that migraine slithering down from the top of your head, down to your jaw, into your shoulders, and to the tip of your toes. All because I can’t stop tensing and clenching my joints. Hard.

I’ve gone for months, twisting up my face… I can only imagine what people think when I engage in a conversation with them, all the while looking like I’m about thirty seconds into a stroke.

I find it endlessly fascinating how OCD manifests itself in so many different ways. I count and rearrange furniture so often that my couch is getting sick and tired of being the new kid in school.

I have a dear friend who engages in the classic hand washing ritual, and her poor hands are red and raw all of the time. Lather, scrub, rinse, dry. All of the time.

What really gets to me, is that occasionally, someone will take my facial dance as tweek behavior… “tweek” being the rapid twitchy movements of somebody high on speed. I’m not high on speed… I’m just trying to get my eyebrows to my nose.

I had a psychiatrist write up a report about me for the state once… for job assistance. She went on quite an extensive tirade about how the subject… me… was high on speedy drugs. Fuck her… she was awful. That education… your supposed qualifications… don’t make up for the fact that you are completely lacking in bedside manner. As a matter of fact, I would like to leave something rather unmannerly by your bedside. Maybe something of an excremental nature. She’s not the only one who has made that way off assumption.

My daughter catches me counting. She thinks it’s somewhat ridiculous, and somewhat entertaining. She waits eagerly for my quiet “One-two-three-four… ” when characters on the television have buttons somewhere on their attire. She knows I can’t turn down the opportunity to get all wound up about getting an accurate count of how many buttons are on the screen. She’s a funny kid, and if anything I do as part of my neurosis and mental batshittery gives her a giggle, that’s wonderful. Let’s face it… humans are absurd, and laughing like the monks at our silly, silly selves is essential… at least for my survival it is.

Our daughter is going to grow up witness to some odd behavior… she’s already been exposed to my goofiness. If she can just accept it as part of who her father is, and see it as part of his charm, great. As a father, I must allow my child to understand how I operate. Children want… need… to know who these people who take care of them are. Living in the dark, peeking through the closet door for answers… that’s scary.

Hey… it’s a beautiful day outside, and I’m going to suck it up like a raccoon sucks a grape out of it’s skin.

Slainte’!

Dean Moberly

Census Bureau

The “Dual” in diagnosis…

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Hi… my name’s Dean, and I’m an alcoholic.

The story is complicated, as is the story of every addict. It complicates everything in life… it seeps into the crevices of life that would seemingly require no trouble at all. Let’s just say this… I have consumed more alcohol in the shower and in bed than most people do on a New Years bender. What I’m saying, is that if I am actively in my addiction, I can’t function… I can’t answer the phone… without alcohol. Or drugs.

I had my first drink at ten. It has been pointed out that when I was ten, the sexual abuse stopped. Something to ponder, but I was headed in that direction regardless. If nothing else, I am biologically programmed to be addicted to anything that will get me high. That’s par for the course for the men in my family. All but a few have escaped. If it’s not drugs and alcohol, it’s gambling or sex and whatever else I’m still unaware of. Things come out in bits and pieces. Where I should be completely unmoved, I find myself blown away that people I have known since childhood are hiding secrets… big ones.

Here is the rub… I wanted to be an addict. When I was young, I knew I would eventually do cocaine, and I knew how it would feel. I was right. I knew I would eventually be confronted with the needle. Lo and behold… I got there.

This isn’t about drug porn… war stories or some sense of danger that might make me feel “edgy”. The last time I shoved a needle in my arm was in March of 1997. That was scary. Cocaine and heroin in one blast… speedballs. How I survived is beyond me. Here is a story my parents don’t need to know about…

Sometime around 1996 or ’97, I was drinking and playing guitar in an empty house. My friend in danger… who is still a friend since we were thirteen… shot me up with heroin. I overdosed, ran out of the house, and knocked myself out by clotheslining a tree with my face. The cure? A crazy ride across town in a stolen car to get a bag of coke. Ever see ‘Pulp Fiction’? Think of the giant needle in Uma Thurman’s chest to revive her heart. Well, all that was available was cocaine. He shot me up with cocaine, I was back on the tracks, and the night went on.

That story scares me. I often try and imagine these things didn’t happen, but then the other parties confirm my adventures.

I first got sober on April 17th, 2004. It was a gift from The Goddess… The Universe. I was saved. The night before, I was ready for death. One can only overdose or end up in the hospital fighting for life so many times before they lose that fight.

I’ve done it all. Well… I haven’t licked those frogs in South America that Sting and Trudy probably enjoy. But, other than that, you name it. All of it, all methods of… insertion. Hey, I have shoved pills up my ass. What the hell? I’ve got a mouth.

I love getting high. I really do. There are drugs I still play with that don’t haunt me or put me in dangerous situations. I’ve been known to smoke weed like a Rastafarian. I don’t make any bones about that, nor do I endorse it. I don’t drink now. I don’t put thing in my nose. I have been in the same space with another as they overdose and die. I didn’t hang around that night. I know too many people who are damaged or dead by stroke… methamphetamines and cocaine are killers.

Basically, I like to travel. I don’t have a moral problem with it. I will not deny the fact that some things that might raise eyebrows are fun. I don’t live the lie of the “Drug War”.

But, for the rest of my life, I will have to be on constant, high alert. Always. Fortunately, I have friends that support me with love and courtesy. People don’t drink around me. Many of them help me celebrate my current state of… not drunk. That my family has stood by me through all of this is a true miracle… and a good picture of the love we have. I am blessed beyond words.

I am blessed, but like all addicts, there is a scary monster outside. I have a “No Soliciting” sign on my door, but the super creep waits patiently. I have been in many an AA meeting during which someone was celebrating twenty-five or more years of sobriety. Still, almost every day, they think about using. It doesn’t go away. You may think it does… but that’s not real. You can battle and succeed, but the term “Mexican Standoff” comes to mind. “Draw, motherfucker”! Who shoots first wins. Free will comes with a price, and life gets weird.

So, whenever I sweet the floor and use the dust pan, the lines of dust and lint drive me over the edge. Lines of anything make me think of cocaine… the junior menace that likes to hang out in alcohols guest house. I like the fast stuff. Now that I think about it, I like the slow stuff, too. I’ve had to come clean a couple of times in the last couple of years. I have stolen opiates from my fathers private space, and that’s scary. It’s not so much the drugs themselves, it’s the violation of a loved ones sacred spots… draws and cabinets in their bedroom. I don’t mind the high… I hate the invasion of peoples safe places. It makes them not safe. Once again, I am sorry dad.

I could go on and on about the disrespect I have shown towards people who I care about. I could talk forever about misadventure and really, really bad behavior. I am not a quiet addict… I explode and throw whatever inhibitions I might have right out the window. I’m sure things will seep out, but to sit down and recall the entire story… that’s an epic. I was constantly wasted from ten to thirty four. That’s a lost weekend, for sure. I have missed out on family and normalcy. Now, I am beginning to find comfort in a much quieter life, but it’s odd. The man who fell to Earth.

Why do I fight this? Why am I not drinking? I don’t know. The birth of my daughter did not help. The constant fear of death didn’t make me sit up and take notice. No… it was a blessing, a miracle, and while I do play a huge part in that, a lot of it is just an indescribable gift. I don’t look it in the mouth.

Dual diagnosis is not uncommon among the mentally ill community. I can see now that self-medication plays a huge role in mental illness. In and of itself, addiction is mental illness. Whereas I used to think of my using as part of my personality… being big, tripping the light fantastic. Now I know that it also helps me hide… numb out. However, the cure is the curse. Getting loaded is the answer to getting loaded. An addicts life is a twenty-four-seven endeavor. One of the main reasons alcohol is the big one, is that it is almost constantly available. I don’t have to deal with “The Man”. Hey! It’s legal. I can walk into Albertsons at exactly seven in the morning, and there you go… alcohol. All I need is a little money, and I’m good. The things I do to get that money are degrading. Seeing the clerk at the counter look at me with sadness can only be  wiped out by those first few swallows of alcohol in the store’s bathroom. All of the sudden, all is well! How can I knock that?

It’s sad, seeing someone in so much pain, that the medical community and those around them cannot provide enough comfort to get through. It’s just as sad to know that getting loaded is looked at as a personality flaw. Often, it’s just the struggle to keep the monsters at bay. Invite them in, and they’ll stop knocking on the door. Who wouldn’t seek solace? Cutting is the same thing. It sounds ridiculous, but it works. Whatever gets you through the night.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNNxeovdN5U

So, maybe what I always thought of as fun… a key to a world that only exists in most peoples imagination. I’ve done and seen some impressive stuff thanks to getting loaded. A lot of fun… payments with lifelong interest that makes my student loans look like gladly paying you next Tuesday for a cheeseburger today. Addiction always involves “I’ll deal with the consequences later”. Always. Somehow, I was always able to replace the hundreds of dollars I used to steal… yes, I was a thief… for cocaine. Addicts are very industrious. I’ve heard over the years… many, many times in rehab… that if an addict could channel his or her energy into something good, there’d be a much different list on ‘Forbes’ most rich and powerful list. Hundreds of dollars a day. Always replaced, and I don’t know how. Thievery. Shame.

Do I miss alcohol and cocaine? No. I really don’t. I don’t ever see myself ever shooting, smoking, or snorting hard narcotics again. But that isn’t any guarantee I won’t go back to other things. Alcohol is a constant. It’s there… like my mother’s cookies hidden in a plastic bag in the cupboard in the kitchen. They are there. I could eat them… God knows I want to… but I don’t. Usually. It’s there… what I do about it is all my responsibility. Once the ball starts rolling, it gets bigger, faster, and out of control. It’s hardwired into my very being.

There is a prize in all of this. I have found that I am still funny, eccentric, and a great person without it. It’s frightening to think that I am not really “Dean” without it. Turns out, I am… I am more me, and the people around me love it. The comfort is in that I don’t need to be loaded to deal with people… situations. It may be hard, but it’s harder waking up every morning wondering what the hell happened the night before. I am a blackout drunk, and that sets the stage for many an unpleasant surprise. A beach covered with eggshells that I have to tiptoe through to get to the truth of the sea.

There is a beauty in getting through all of this. On April 17th of 2004… the most important date of my life… I shed so much ugliness. Addicts lie. Addicts carry resentments. Addicts hide from themselves. Confronting the person that has been hiding inside… the essence… is terrifying. One wonders whether or not if they are nothing but their addiction. Taking off the mask… the armor… feels like peeling off your skin and rubbing salt all that is underneath.

I lost most of my resentments. I became honest… about who I am, and who I was. I now accept my actions. I am apologetic where I once was accusatory and angry. It’s all still a work in progress, but the payoff is wonderful. Raw, vulnerable, but wonderful. People actually accept me for the person who held on inside… hoping against hope to escape and join life.

Someone once asked me if I was an honest person. Basically, I am… I hide a lot, but I also come out a lot more. Anyhow, this friend posed the question, and I had to come up with an honest answer. Addicts lie. They will protect their addiction at all costs. Well, I was using from wake to sleep… so I was basically lying around the clock. That’s a realization that really moves a person who does have a sense of honor. Love for others. It’s like stabbing oneself in the heart every day. It’s denying loved ones the pure self that they love. Life becomes surreal… like a Jackson Pollock made of blood.

I have become compassionate towards those with troubles… my roaring judgements have turned into empathy and understanding. My self-esteem looks like the stage after a Who concert. Blown up and fractured. But, I am terribly proud to have come out as a better person… a man with his own sense of honor.

Would I change anything? No. All roads lead to my daughter… and an opportunity to start life at forty-four years old. I have some much time to make up for, but if I did something differently on a Wednesday twenty years ago, things would be different… maybe in a good way, but I wouldn’t take the chance if it presented itself. This is despite pain that has barely begun to scab over. But, I shouldn’t be alive… and I am. I still have the qualities and talents that were always there… hiding under a blanket.

I have learned things that nobody could experience without going through hell. I wish I could be here without the memories and the monster lurking… but that’s a parlor game… wishing for things to be different. I’m haunted, but what can I do? It is what it is.

Oddly, I have very few regrets. They exist, but one would think that I had nothing but regrets. I am going to tell a little story that involves deep regret. I will go to the grave with it.

I was introduced to methamphetamines in a rehab clinic in St Helens, Oregon. Funny that. I fell into a small group who lived that life to the hilt.

A few months after my release from treatment, I traveled to Tillamook to stay with some girls I met there. Bad idea. The house was full of adults… and a few very young children. The snorting and smoking went on in full view of these young ones. And I was right in the middle of it. Feeling ugly and out of control. Meth does that. A little meth means you need more. The joke is this… what do people on cocaine do? More cocaine. I’ve never heard it put any better than that.

Well, this situation was already a horror show. These children watching their parents and a bunch of strangers suck the thick white smoke out of glass pipes.

The second and last night I spent there on the couch… nowhere close to asleep… the horror show became… I don’t know.

As I was laying in the dark, the youngest daughter… maybe six-years old… climbed under the covers with me. I spent what seemed like hours pushing her out. I figured I’d be fighting this until the dawn. Then things became unbearable… terrifying. This poor little child jumped on top of me and began fighting to get her tongue in my mouth. I did not wait for the dawn… I jumped up, and went out to the bay and watched the moon set… trying to get an answer from the universe.

It is my absolute belief, that this little girl was acting out something that had been going on under that roof. She was small. She was sweet. And she was strong. This little body was pinning me down. I can kick a six-year old’s ass. But I was at an absolute loss. I was also scared. How does that look? An adult wrestling a child on a couch in the dark? The possibilities are beyond words.

A regret. Why did I no call child services? This was not a situation that was going to be fixed with parenting classes… this was a full blown emergency. And I did nothing. I left… with nothing but confusion and revulsion. In hindsight, I didn’t save this little person. She was already on the abuse train, going full steam. Children don’t do that unless they are being molested. That is my only conclusion.

The memory only gets worse. Where is she now? Is she damaged goods? My fear actually grows when I think of what could have happened. This situation could have turned into a story about some guy in the dark with a child attacking him? I know what I would think if I walked in on that and only saw the implications.

So, I split. My girlfriend came and got me, then we went to her vacation home just down the road. We were both still using… less, but still using. She took her madness back over to the house of horrors with a butcher knife in her hand. I don’t know what happened there, and I don’t want to know.

That is where drugs can take you. You can find yourself in peril that you never imagined. And you find that you put yourself there over and over.

A mandatory reporter would have a heyday with this. It has come very close to that, but mostly I mourn my lack of action. Considering my past, why I didn’t kills me… especially since I didn’t do anything. Drugs didn’t have anything to do with my inaction… a total lack of experience in that kind of situation rendered me useless. And that’s a regret.

Children are such innocent victims in all of this.

Another horror story. Another guy I met in rehab introduced me to the deep, underground of meth. He was involved in production… on a large scale. He carried a gun, he was printing money, he was driving around with ounces in his car. Speaking of which, he would buy a new car with cash every few weeks. His paranoia made it so he was living on the run… which he was.

Well, one day, he picked me up… along with his scarcely dressed and thoroughly malnourished, live in sex toy. Her little daughter was in the car as well. She was cute, intelligent, funny, and seemingly unaware that her diaper needed changing, and that she was in the company of three adults who were smoking meth like it was oxygen.

We went out to his farmhouse, and sat at the kitchen table for probably twelve hours… smoking, smoking, smoking. As all of this was going on, this little girl was running around… watching us, and behaving as though this was what life was. That’s the scary part.

I did this. I sat at that table, with a child in the room, smoking crystal methamphetamine. The whole time… every second… my thoughts were with this girl. I chose to sit there and to that. I wanted to go home so badly, and the only thing that kept me from doing so, was the need… the constant need to smoke more. Two minutes of bliss and shame, followed by thirty seconds of waiting for that glass to come back around so I could get back to that bliss. Bliss with shame. Oh, I forgot to mention that her mother was sitting in the corner the whole time watching hardcore pornography.

I did that. I am a father, and I am a human. But, I did that. It wasn’t me as a witness or a fly on the wall. I did that.

My time with meth was relatively brief… several months. Even so, it took me months to recover from the damage. Twenty-four-plus years of drinking didn’t do near the psychic damage as that short dalliance with what I consider the most evil drug out there. That I came out the other side… I don’t know. Luck. Again, it’s easier to drink than it is to wait on the man and skirt danger at every turn. Not that alcohol hasn’t put me in some situations that would turn anyone gray.

Story after story could be told. Many of them hilarious. Many frightening. That’s not my focus here. I will present some of the loonier, somewhat less harmful tales as things roll along. Although there are many of them, there are far more I don’t remember at all. For fear of getting the details wrong, I will avoid them, unless I have an accurate reporter to let me in on how exactly I wound up naked in a parking lot one night in my wife’s car… with about seven little kittens. They finally made it back home, but I never did find my clothes. That’s kind of a running theme in my life… even now. As my daughter used to say… “Naked and free”!

I love that little girl.

“Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son” – Dean Wermer (‘Animal House’… awesome movie!)

RIP John Belushi.

Dean Moberly

Toastmaster

Burn after reading…

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There are three hefty folders sitting at my feet. They’re all of the notes and observations made by a handful of gifted therapists… and one with the seeming life experience of a toddler… over a three year span at Pacific University… outside of Portland for anyone reading this in a far away land.

I can’t wait to finish my cranberry juice and dig in. Nothing could please me more than reading about myself… I find myself endlessly fascinating. There really should be a few books about the subject by now. That being said, my last therapist at Pacific cautioned me that it could bite me. Keep in mind that she had to use a small handtruck and packing boxes in order to dump this load on me. This on our last day, so I didn’t have her to help me go through it and process what all of these words meant to the people who wrote them. I’ve skimmed through a small number of pages by each different one of them, being that I’m curious beyond words as to how different professionals are going to have different impressions about the same person. Purely an intellectual curiosity. My absolute adoration for the topic… myself… is a whole different part of my investment in the subject.

Diving deeply and with brutal honestly into therapy is possibly what is going to save my life now that I’ve reached that place where the stars align and I can’t hide from myself anymore. I’m sick of dying inside… but it’s Friday, and I’m not dying inside today. Be that as it may, all the meds in the world can’t help me reconcile with myself and live like I was meant to. That’s all inside, floating around, in desperate need of understanding and acceptance… my own acceptance of myself. I’m not so concerned about how others coexist with me… they either do or they don’t. I’m the one who has to be alone with myself in the wee hours… that’s where there be monsters. I need that help.

So, all of this talking and confronting those monsters can be done by opening my talky hole without fear of what is going to come out. Without any fear of the other persons response. Talking with someone who is there specifically to listen to all of my scary business. Plus, I had a psychiatrist hit on me in a grand fashion once… maybe I’ll get a back rub out of the deal.

Back to the stack of paper documenting my treatment every week during that recent period with Pacific. I have no idea how it will all add up when I’m done reading it all. Obviously, it’s just a single piece of straw in a whole big pile of messiness.

I did go immediately to the reports covering the last couple of meetings I had with one of the best people I have ever seen… given a longer period of time, she could have cracked my head open for me… crack the code, so to speak. As much as one can, given the lifetime of questions that nobody will ever get around to answering completely. I get that… not everything is possible to address. That’s one of life’s pills without a coating… the one’s that get stuck in the back of your mouth and start up trouble. I’m talking to you, Lamictal.

Those last two sessions, however, ended what was so gratifying on a note that I still can’t tolerate. We were talking about my relationship with women. Without any warning, out came her question as to how I felt about her… asking if I found her attractive. In no way was she trying to get me to marry her right before I shipped off to war, right then and there at the end moment when we had to say our goodbyes. I really don’t know how it is that our conversation slammed right into that wall. Her interest appeared purely clinical, accept for the fact that it didn’t. This was a person who called me at the hospital almost every day when I had to go save myself from myself. We enjoyed the work we were doing together… along with each others company. At least, that was my feeling. It all felt genuine. During our first meeting, I told her that I wanted her to call me on any bullshit, to be ugly honest with me… and she absolutely did those things, so I didn’t sense I was getting smoke up my ass. So, when I say her questions seemed on one hand very clinical, I don’t mean cold. She seemed genuinely interested in how I felt about something bigger than the weather. It was straightforward questioning, just like we had both always practiced.

There is the possibility that it would have all slipped by with little more than a raised eyebrow… except I did find her painfully attractive. So, sticking with my rule of nothing but the truth in therapy, I was stuck on the couch being forced to explain something that was always very much on my mind. Yes… I found her distractingly attractive. So what? I am able to separate those feelings from the task at hand. She could have been sitting across from me with nothing on but a bow tie every week, and I would still be there to work on myself. My thoughts about her fetching nature had nothing to do with how I did what I was there to do. So, yeah… she is a beautiful woman who I tell all of my fears and weirdness… how couldn’t I feel some sort of intimacy with her when she responded with compassion and seeming interest? I’ve been to plenty of shrinks, so I can read them to a pretty good degree… she was too young to have had the idealism beaten out of her, and she was beyond good at what she did. Bye the way, I find Lois Griffin attractive, and she’s a cartoon character, so make of that what you will.

I didn’t feel violated or manipulated… I felt anger. We talked it out, and there was no real discomfort on my side, but having that egg hatch with only one session left together… that’s a swift kick to the trousers. Given time, I could have made it very clear that any little flutter she could get out of me had nothing to do with anything… I wasn’t thinking about her in the shower when I was in that room with her. A part of me likes to believe that it was just a big slip on her part… maybe she was being a human. I don’t know, and I never will. I just wish I could make myself clear to her that she was a blessing in my life when I needed one, and it was simply because she helped me tremendously… not because she wore great shoes and was endlessly charming.

Oh well. Bad enough, but her explanation that many patients become attracted to their therapist was clumsy.

I’m going to give her a pass. I’m now in good hands, and she had a tremendous role in getting me to this point and onto the couch of my new psychiatrist, Sonya. Interesting, though… that was the first, and so far only, part of all this information that I have in my hands that I have chosen to pay much attention to up until now.

Well… I’m diving in, and I will be curious to see if I like the main character when I finish the last page. I’ll certainly have something to say about it… maybe in a year or a day. I don’t operate on a schedule… there’s just too many variables that make it impossible to predict what a year or a day might bring.

A good Friday to you all!

Dean Moberly
Mayor – Atlantis

Eighteen wheels and a pile of jeans…Okay

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Trousers sail through the available airspace in my bedroom, and it looks very similar to those day-after the storm pictures on the television… Anderson Cooper wading through twister backwash somewhere in Arkansas. FEMA would be impressed.

There may be a connection between my weird wardrobe problem and all of the counting I do… the inability to leave the room until I’ve tried on twelve different shirts in any number of combinations with who knows how many pairs of pants… most of them jeans, most of them swiped from various women friends… long, tall, Sally. Anyhow, it feels just like it… the desperate race to get it just right, lest I have a breakdown. Last night, I was able to dive into the piles of clothing like a child would a giant mound of bright fall leaves. And I did.

Desperation ramps up, and if I’m tight under the clock for time, I’ll get progressively more unable to pick a Goddamn sweater and whatever else, and get the fuck on with it. Not a month goes by where I don’t have a few nights of this frenzy that sucks time like a shop vacuum.

Don’t think there isn’t an element of fun that can be found in my closet… last night I dressed up like a sheriff from ‘Bonanza’ or some other cowboy gig. Just because… it just happened. That’s not a bad way to spend a few hours. But, usually it gets my jaw to grinding and my anxiety rolling. It has the same feeling as my counting does… just like gambling and cocaine share a lot of similarities… which, all things considered, is interesting.

Okay, I wrote of my compulsion to count wheels on trucks… rolls of toilet paper are another object of my one-two-three desires. I’ll count toilet paper over and over late at night  when I get manic. That’s funny… it’s toilet paper.

The behavior that finally made me notice that I count, was my magazine game. I tried to explain this to Sonya, my therapist, the other day, but I didn’t have time… she wasn’t getting what I was trying to express. 

I don’t have the energy to go into the whole routine of explaining it today, but it involves counting pictures in magazines or art books. The longer I go at it, the higher my anxiety gets.

As I mentioned, it just dinged in my head one day as I sat in a sad room with the blinds down and thirty or so magazines around me. Chewing on how I had been at it for hours and hours with no letting up, I figured that I might be getting a touch intense.

The longest marathon went for fifteen hours one day… but most of the days surrounding that special landmark aren’t far behind in the wasting time department. Counting, counting, counting… grinding my jaw, squeezing my eyes until I’ve got a facial migraine… it’s not joyous like window shopping on a nice evening down on 23rd in the northwest part of town. It’s a fucking suction cup that gets a hold of my brain and seals off everything else.

So… I count. And I count. And then I count some more.

Ask me about video games sometime… I can’t play them. Not because I’m inept, but because the grip is very much like crack cocaine. Which I’ve done. It’s one of those more-more-more-now-now-now drugs. Like a Playstation.

So, like someone I know who washes her hands all day, all day long, my brain is scrubbed red by the spinning in my brain. All of those wheels on the highway, and all of those rolls of toilet paper I have to count fifteen times before I’m okay with the fact that it might be okay to accept that there are indeed seven rolls. Sitting here at this moment, the visual I come up with is the national debt ticker in New York City… tick-tick-tick-tick-tick… and the brakes don’t work. Gotta meet that quota.

Hey, it’s really beautiful outside, and I’m going to close my eyes and face the sun. And, if I’m lucky, I get to hang out with my sister this afternoon, so life isn’t all bad. Not by a long shot.

As for all the time I know I’ve lost during the last week or so by counting, all I can do is enjoy the little moments that aren’t occupied by giant flocks of birds flying overhead. You have no idea what that does to my head… scrambling to count countless geese or crows, desperate to get an accurate census before they are gone. The dance I do for that particular annoyance is ridiculous. 

Hey… have a great day. If you have to lock the door fifty-seven times before you leave the house, trust me… it’s done. Oh, and if you have to avoid the cracks in the pavement so that you don’t fall into the Earth and die… I get it.

Bing!

Dean Moberly

Head Organizer – Ladybug Picnic

OCD…

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It’s easy as 1, 2, 3… 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ho7796-au8U

What a motherfucking pain in the ass. Samuel L. Jackson “motherfucking”.

I count. A lot. A lot, a lot. It rarely stops, but I can only go so long before I see an eighteen wheeler on the road and the launch sequence initiates. I know that there are eighteen wheels on those trucks. They are called eighteen wheelers. And that’s just for starters. There’s going to be another one tucked under there somewhere in case of the need for a spare. This is just the base-model, low-grade game I play with myself every single day, whether I know it or not.

Okay, so I can agree for all of mankind that eighteen-wheelers are just that… probably more. If I catch site of one traveling in the opposite direction on the other side of the highway, I have to count each and every one of them, or else I can’t be absolutely certain. Actually, I can’t be anything close. Then I start breathing a little faster, and the gears start grinding harder. I can’t not… I have to.

Sometimes it’s alright. Sometimes it’s actually a gas, if not at least comforting. The truck thing is just one rendition. Throw in all of the service-vans and multi-trailer vehicles, and I get busy. One final thing on the trucks… and by no means the final word… the industry has pulled one big fast one on me over the last couple of years. The duel wheels on the trailers are oftentimes one big fat wheel now. I don’t know when the transition began to take place, but in the cosmic, big picture way of looking at things, I will never be able to catch up, or even know what number I’m looking for. Seriously.

There are a few other ways I do the counting thing, but this weekend I was losing my breath, trying to make sure that all sets of anything on ‘Family Guy’ were visibly accountable. That makes no sense, until you get into the high-stakes, high-roller, high-speed game that is countgocountgonownownownow in my head. If Peter, Lois, Stewie, and Brian Griffin are all onscreen, one can reasonably assume that there are eight eyes in the scene. Not if someone is in profile, and I can only see one of their eyes. Then there are only seven eyes. It’s like playing peek-a-boo with a toddler. To make up for that missing eyeball, I have to start scrambling for buttons on clothing to make up for the odd number of visible eyes. Peter Griffin always has four buttons, but sometimes Lois only has three. That works out. But if another character from the show wanders into view with three more buttons, I’m back to searching for different numbers and it’s exhausting. 

I’d go into far more into detail, but my jaw and my eyes and my cheeks ache from the clenching that always accompanies the counting when it gets bad. It makes me dizzy, and it’s kind of screwing with an otherwise okay day, save for the post-holiday come down and the touch of melancholy I always feel the day after my daughter goes back to her other home.

2015 does not suck so far. I haven’t gone on any fifteen-hour magazine counting benders.

Dean Moberly

Mathematician

Maybe I’m too handsome…

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No, that’s not it.

I’ve been seeing a new therapist for the last few months. It’s working out really, really well. We’re getting to know each other slowly, she is sensitive, and she does as I requested… she challenges me. Add to that a thick Russian accent, and I’ve got me a good ol’ fashioned couch ride. Don’t take that the wrong way.

Well, she said something to me last week that actually got under my skin. While she wholeheartedly agrees that I’ve got monkey business and plenty of situational history to work out, she told me that I “don’t present as mentally ill to me”. I like her… I like her a lot.

A good therapist, in my opinion, challenges and pushes when it’s the right time. I crave that… constructive criticism, if you will. How else am I supposed to get a better handle on my life?

This actually bothered me though, and I was instantly thrust into the position of having to figure out why that got under my skin. I wasn’t angry at all towards her, but I wasn’t pleased, either.

All of this is odd, because while I make no secret of the fact that I have a few screws loose, I am also very concerned about the people in my life seeing me as nothing but a walking condition. It frightens me that certain people who I want in my life might keep their distance and assume that all of who I am… my humor, my loves, my inner person… is an unpredictable madman. I am that to a degree, but much more.

So, why is it that all of the sudden I wanted Sonya (one of the few names I will use in my blog… I am one-hundred percent invested in keeping peoples privacy) to see me as a raving lunatic? Is it that I feel like maybe I can hide behind a facade? Ever heard of Vincent Gigante? He was a mob boss who feigned insanity to avoid prosecution. I am not a mob boss.

Sonya said this with a smile… not smug, not dismissive, just challenging my perceptions of myself and how others may see me. I can hold myself in a crowd very well when I’m feeling a little alright or better, which is not uncommon. I can go days without feeling a tinge of mental or emotional discomfort. I clean up well, and I wear jewelry, so at least babies like me… earrings and all of that.

Maybe it’s because I feel that if I didn’t have these hurdles, I wouldn’t be me. At the same time, I want to be seen as more. What’s up with that bit of contradictory nonsense? The bottom line there, is that if I changed anything about my past or my being, I wouldn’t have my daughter… all roads lead to my daughter.

Maybe I felt for a quick second that Sonya was trying to tell me that I didn’t need her help… which could not be further from the truth. I have travelled a long road with therapists and doctors to get to a place where I can settle down and spend some time with someone who can help crack my skull open. Not like the time at The Panorama when I grabbed a disco ball and tried to swing Douglass Fairbanks-style across the dance floor… that was an ambulance ride. No, I want someone to help me spread my history, feelings, fears, and loves all over the coffee table so that we can begin to collage them back into something more coherent.

One way I look at this, is that I have a golden opportunity to learn… to improve. It feels like an indulgence in many ways. Not everyone has the time and the chance to work on themselves with a focus that can only come with having little left to lose. I don’t want anyone questioning my trying to do that.

Mental illness isn’t considered invisible just because it doesn’t show up in an x-ray. Many of us can also be some of the most engaging, intelligent, artistic people you could ever hope to meet. That’s not to say we can’t be assholes, either. Five-year olds can be little jerks, too.

So, if you see me on the street, ask me to do something crazy. I probably won’t. Ask me to discuss mid-period Rolling Stones or the beauty of The Orcas Islands, and you’ll have a new appreciation for ‘Exile On Mainstreet’ and maybe my detail and description of the Puget Sound will fill your nose with the smell of sea air and your minds eys with the sparkle of the sun on the waves.

Hey, if Bill Cosby can be more than just the pudding guy, can’t I be more than just the guy who counts until his teeth fall out and has to go to the hospital sometimes because he’s too scared to breath?

Yeah… I can.

Dean Moberly

Renaissance Man