Sabbatical from My Sabbatical

I'm not gonna lie to y'all, 2016 has been some rough going so far. And not just because of Donald Trump and all of the celebrity deaths. (Jesus Christ, the "In Memoriam" portion of the Oscars will be a tearjerker next year.)

You guys, I'm stuck. All of it, just stuck. My life is sucking a giant fat one right now, and I'm have a pity party. A large part of this comes from the fact that I feel like a fucking deer in the headlights when it comes to figuring out what I'm doing with my life. I'm sitting in quicksand, unable to make any sort of moves. And I know that, at least in the interim, I need to be out hustling for some freelance work, and I have utterly zero desire to do so, even though I can see daily how my lack of financial contributions to the household are digging us into a deeper hole.

Me, emotionally and motivationally.

And then another large part of it is that The Wife and I are fucking struggling right now. I need to respect her privacy, so I can't be super open about what's going on, but we're in some deep shit right now and, honestly, for the first time since we got married, I'm not sure we'll make it out. I mean, I love her, but what I love right now is the idea of our past. I'm clinging to the idea that we have a future because I know how good we were in the past. I've seen how well we work together when it's good. But it's not good right now.

However, I made a decision for myself that has me feeling hopeful. I've decided to take a mini-retreat for a couple of weeks and disappear. I'm headed to a friend's cabin near Tahoe, where there is no Facebook, no internet, no Netflix, no news, no booze, no drugs, no friends, and no wife. Essentially, I'm removing myself from all of the distractions that I've felt unable to overcome to achieve the shit I'd like to achieve. For whatever reason, I feel like I need to break out of my current environment to figure out how I'm going to manage my loosely regulated life in a better way.

Me. Every damn day. 

Look, I'm well aware of what my shortcomings are right now. I'm leading a completely unstructured life, which sounds glorious, I know. But I'm not doing very well with it. I lack any sort of self-discipline so "I need to look for some freelance work today" becomes "I'll just take a break and watch Season 6 of Nurse Jackie and smoke this bowl." I feel in my bones how much I've failed to take advantage of this opportunity I've been given to figure out my life. And, of course, then I spend useless time beating myself up for that as well. Add it to the fucking list, man.

My shrink diagnosed me with ADHD, which I haven't really talked about here yet, mainly because it seems a little silly to be an adult finally being told there's been a reason for my spastic-ness all these years. But she had me take a couple of the standard tests for it, and she even had my mom and The Wife take questionnaires about me and my habits. I scored off the charts. Like in the 99.7 percentile. So it's not that I don't believe that my brain works differently, but so far, the knowledge hasn't helped me deal with it any better. I'm on Ritalin now, and mostly all I can tell is that, yes, it helps me focus. It helps me really, really focus on watching those Nurse Jackie episodes or surfing Facebook for hours now.

I'm pretty sure The Wife has this thought about me on the reg. 

As much as an old ex-cokehead like myself is enjoying the legal speed I've been given, in the long run, it's probably not the best idea for me and my addictive personality. And then throw some antidepressants on top of that, plus the weed I smoke for my foot pain, and right now I'm just feeling a little polluted. And distracted.

So I'm going away. I have a number of projects I've started and want to complete. I want to take some time and really think about what my goals for this blog and my podcast are. I want to write some articles and try to get them published to see if I can make a living as a writer. I want to polish a stand-up routine and get myself to a place where I can imagine standing up on a stage in front of strangers and deliver this monologue and expect people to laugh at it. I want to establish some inroads for future job assignments so I can bring in real money. And, yes, I want to spend some time away from The Wife so that I miss her again, so that I can appreciate her for the amazing person she is again. And I want to spend some time away from Ritalin and weed and booze and eat healthier so I can get my body as unpolluted as I hope to get my mind. I'm looking at the whole opportunity as a giant RESET button for my body and mind.

The Wife isn't crazy about this plan, obviously. Given the struggles we're having, she's having a hard time not seeing it as a "trial separation" from which I will return and announce that I'm leaving her. I can't blame her; I probably would see it that way too. She's frustrated that she's given me this time away from work, and I haven't used it all that well. "What will you accomplish in a cabin in the woods that you haven't been able to accomplish in the last nine months of not having a job here?" is sort of her (fair) question. I get it. And I get her hurt at my feelings of needing time away from her. I would be smarting over that if the situation were reversed.

But the difference I see here, as we wrestle through this situation, is that, for the first time in a long time, we're showing real empathy in the way we're interacting with one another now. Y'all know empathy is a big theme of mine. If there were more empathy in the world, we wouldn't have pollution, hunger, war, hate crimes, political shit-slinging, bullying, etc. Most of the world's biggest problems could be worked through if every side had empathy for the other side and understood where each was coming from.

Relationships are no different. I'm working hard to put myself in her shoes to understand all the emotions that this is throwing at her. And she's doing her best to overcome her feelings of anger, worry, fear, and betrayal to find the courage to say to me: "I just want you to be happy." That response alone makes me realize just how much I truly love this person and how much my happiness means to her. She doesn't understand my depression and why it's so hard for me to be happy because it's always been easy for her to be happy in the moment. But just because she doesn't understand it, doesn't mean she's condemning it, and that is enormously important to me. It makes me want to get my head right so that I can be a better partner to her, so that I can do the same for her when she next needs it. Because I know I did a lousy job of empathizing when she was starting the bar. I was too mired in my own depression and anxiety to care about what she must have been going through, and that must have truly sucked for her. I can see that now. And I want to be better for her during the next challenge that presents itself.

So yeah, there's a lotta shit happening now in the Struggling Buddha household right now. But the weird thing is that I feel really good about taking this trip. I've been so mired in inactivity and indecision for so long that making this decision feels YOOGE. Like I'm finally taking the bull by the horns and doing something proactive. Ugh, how's that for bad business-speak?

But the reality is that couples, mostly unintentionally, establish a dynamic in their relationships pretty early on, and The Wife and I have gotten into a dynamic where there are a lot of shit we don't say to one another because either the conversations will be too hard and painful and will either result in a huge, unproductive fight or will result in one of us getting our feelings hurt. So we don't tell the other what we need. What this means is that there's been a build up of a lot of unsaid shit between us, and that needs to stop. And I guess me standing up and saying "I need this" is something I see as being a first step toward that.

*****

In other news, remember how I told y'all The Wife bought me a Squatty Potty™ for Christmas? Remember how excited I was at the prospect of smooth poopin'? Yeah, well, like so many things in life, it's been a disappointment. I don't really feel like it's adding much to our quality of life, shall we say. I was lured in by the testimonials where people said "wiping is a thing of the past now!" Yeah, it's not. So, near as I can tell, all it's doing is making our bathroom look like an old person's, like we should also be sporting a shower chair to round out the elder-care look.

Elder care is alive and well at Chez Buddha

I've also been getting into cooking again. I went through a phase from about 2008 through 2012 where I was seriously into food and cooking. We had a Guzzling Gourmet club with another couple, and we always invited a third couple and the meal had a theme that everyone had to stick to. Sometimes it was that every ingredient had to come from within a 20-mile radius (locavore dinner); sometimes we picked a certain food and everyone prepared a dish with that ingredient (butternut squash, for example); sometimes we picked a spice, like anise, and everyone's dishes had to include that. And you had to pair a beverage with your dish as well. It was good fun that ended up boozily. We also did Sunday Suppers once a month with our core crew as a way for us all to catch up with each other.

But then life happened. People had kids or moved away, and the pain in my feet started interfering with how long I could stand and cook. And like everything else, I just stopped doing it. But we just watched Michael Pollan's Cooked on Netflix, and it was not only well-done, but it has inspired me again. I was reminded of a time when I didn't see cooking as a chore, but rather as an act of love, something I took pride in. I was cooking good and real food for the people I loved. And it wasn't tedious; it was meditative. Whether it was peeling and mincing 30 cloves of garlic or stirring risotto for an hour, I didn't mind. I was in the moment of it. Since watching that series, I've started to feel like that again. My friend came over and we cooked together, just drinking beer and hanging out in the kitchen. We made a beef stew that was the best I've ever eaten. I don't even really like beef stew, but this shit was good.

Well, I need to wrap this up, speaking of cooking. I'm making some granola for The Wife to feast on while I'm gone. I worry about her just eating a box of Kraft mac and cheese and drinking White Russians for dinner every night, so gotta make sure there are some healthier choices. The Wife, she doesn't do well when I'm gone, so I will worry.

Hope all of you are hanging in there. I know I've been slack-ass about writing here, and I promise, there will be more podcasts. Just tryna get my shit together over here.