A Failure to Thrive

Trying to find new outcomes
If I can’t have you I’d just be wasting all my pennies in a wishing well.
Caroline Spence “Wishing Well”

The flu. The damn flu of 2017 was the harbinger of my seclusion and my failure to thrive.

Mid December I got the flu. God Damn petri dish Tribeca children. I know I’m being dramatic. I got the flu somewhere. I’m neurotic as hell about washing my hands pre post subway, gym, and anytime I leave the my apartment so blaming the children of Tribeca is accurate and appropriate. Besides these children have healthcare, education, money, and SUV’s which in turn make them entitled to try and kill me so their parents can buy my loft after my death. Some clear logic here to my failure to thrive.

It was only the flu. Got a Rx for Augmentin, drank tea, stayed in, and hated my life. Just the flu. Knowing the truth of being a guy and how dramatic we can be with our hypochondria I hunkered down and said bye to everyone. I only spoke to myself in the hushed tones of those sitting in the dark under the covers.

‘Mark you’ll be fine.’
‘You know what this it is the flu’
‘What if it was something else? An MI, stroke, or who the fuck knows.’
‘Do I want to face something serious alone? Do I want to burden family and friends with my illness.’
‘I know I cared for Donna without a second thought and would do it again and for others. I am a caregiver. It is in my DNA.

‘I don’t want to be a care receiver.’

Those are my internal ramblings that set in motion my current state of mind.

After the flu, which seems to have no real after, you just stop feeling like an old sock in the gutter yet never really feel refreshed and ready. I didn’t want to see anyone or do anything over Christmas. It felt as if my life was becoming a series ellipsis highlighting my omissions.

This abandonment of the world is not me. I enjoy family and friends for dinner during the holidays. Though it takes a lot of energy but that energy converts to joy. Not this year. It was more pulling my horns in and keeping distance from others. I added to my volunteer schedule to escape the apartment and stayed home when I wasn’t volunteering. I still got presents for friends and family. No Christmas cards were mailed this year, which was a first and something Donna loved doing. Not a great place to be on many levels.

I could feel discomfort in my decision to hide. Not a raw gnawing within me but a pebble in my shoe. A small one that’s not uncomfortable enough to make me stop. unlace my boot, lift it, and drop the pebble on the ground. I would live with the pebble and limp for now. Besides it was bitter cold and the loft heaters needed to have some compressors replaced. The cold was the pebble impeded my thriving. Or not.

I went to volunteer at the hospice. Went to volunteer at the museum. Did my time. Came home and tried to grocery shop so I could cook meals. Gnawing. Gnawing.

Me and My Shadow

I began to see an elongated shadow of death, my death by me for me. This is not new. Self annihilation rides with me. It is my little friend. Always a shadow at noon. Short and barely visible. Just there. Now the shadow was obvious as if cast by the 5pm sun, long and animated. It took every step I took and would not disappear even when the sun set.

I looked about me to find meaning. I saw nothing. I looked in the mirror and saw nothing. There is nothing other than this shadow.

So there I am giving up. Wanting to join Donna if she would have me. I look at the frail and the elderly and see myself. I see the couples walking and holding hands and get wistful. There is no anger toward them just my surrender to what is and will not be again. Just to hold Donna’s hand once more. The flywheel on the stationary bike spins as I do in repetitive circles mimicking Sisyphus in my thoughts.

Feeling vs. Thinking

“The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it.” Stanley Kubrick

Thoughts are driving my feelings and hindering my thriving.

I think I’m alone I don’t really feel alone.
I think I’m old I don’t feel old.
I think there is nothing for me yet my curiosity drives me.
I think I am angry at everyone else’s happiness I don’t care enough to be angry.

I think I want to kill myself today I don’t feel like it. I am too angry at me.

Volunteering at a local hospice I see the dying. Their sunken faces, loose dentures, gnarled fingers of sleeping skeletons reinforces the discontent in me. That is what I think. What I feel is the need to care and help to share my journey with those who can listen and their families. I don’t want to share my shadow as it exists today. I want to share me, yet that begs the question is me enough for them? Is it enough for me? Should I push my shadow down into me and reside in a shadowless world?

I need to redefine thrive. My failure to thrive is a standard from another place and time. That previous standard is not producing the outcomes I expect because they as Donna liked to say “There is a reason they call it history. It happened then.” Old standards and outcomes are not applicable to me today.

It Happened Then

“Do not let anything that happens in life be important enough that you’re willing to close your heart over it.”
Michael A. Singer

Yes I miss Donna. Yes I hurt over her death. Yes I miss the life I had with her and rue the one I have today. These are the active thoughts coursing through me. If I stop and feel and not think I feel there nothing quite like missing her in the present. Feeling what she brought to me and helped me discover about me makes me want to be who she loved. I feel her not her death.

 I take small steps playing small ball. Doing small acts of kindness that help others and hopefully help me. Today these outcomes have the feel of something. I will accept feelings now over nothing. Feelings over think. I have to surrender to feelings and transfer those to designing new outcomes. I have to accept that these lower/lesser/minor outcomes are not what I think they are. They are outcomes of me and what I create daily.
Her death in and of itself was not important. Everything dies. Donna was important. What we had and what we were was important. How she made me feel about me was important. How I cared for her was important. How I loved her was important. I will never close my heart over Donna. I will close my heart to her death. Death doesn’t matter. I will not close my heart to her, us, we, the world, and life. With an open heart I seek small outcomes that I value.

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