• David Sales

Life in Boxes

I admit being quiet and withdrawn lately.

Life is a room of boxes which contain the various segments of the human experience, and perhaps we are constantly attempting to find the perfect balance between them. Like any other search for perfection, it is likely unattainable.

I think subconsciously, to maintain my sobriety and to not drift into some depressing abyss, I have attempted to keep the various segments of my life in their separate boxes. I have kept some of those boxes closed, as the thought of looking inside would require more emotional strength than I have at the current time. I am not proud of my current lack of inner strength, but I have learned my limits and know when to say when. Protecting myself from that I part of me that seeks to magnify the negative, is how I have stayed relatively safe for the last 14 months.

I have focused my time and energy on the areas of my life where I see some positives. Frankly, I need to see, feel, and experience some good things happening in my life - we all do. I have, for at least most of adult life, allowed the bad things, the perceived failures, and my own shortcomings to dominate my thoughts. It doesn't take much for me to beat myself up, which does me no good in the long run. It's one thing to take responsibility for mistakes, but it is a whole other thing to turn an honest mistake into an offence requiring punishment by an internal firing squad.

At my suicidal worst, I came to believe that I had nothing of value to offer the world. I believed I was, by my mere existence, a negative influence on everyone in my life. So strong was this belief that I needed to lock myself away from everyone to protect them from me. The constant feeling of being unworthy and unwanted filled my heart with such emptiness. Carrying around this thought that it was better for everyone to drift into the shadows, fostered a deep darkness that finally got the best of me. I gave up. I don't want to go back there. I guess that is why I have taken a step back and tried to focus on other things.

Outside of my casual social network, my personal life remains very solitary. I hope that changes one day, but lately I have had to close this box up again having tried and failed to keep it open for a while.

This box, where my inter-personal relationships hide, is one that seems impossible to open for very long. It seems, when I feel strong enough to even try, I have this amazing ability to always say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, and validate my core belief that I remain incapable of meeting the expectations of others. I still, after all the work I have done and my desire to be kind and positive to others, don't seem to communicate effectively. I have to take responsibility for this because I know I often speak or write in code... assuming that people can read between the lines. If I analyze this habit, it is likely that communicating this way allowed me wiggle room and some fluidity in conversations I am nervous about. This is a shitty way to interact and something I need to change, and that is going to require some more courage on my part.

Will I find such courage? Perhaps I will, as I do not want to hide away from life, believing that I have to perfect to be worthy of meaningful connections. While this area of my life, this little box of inter-personal relationships, remains a challenge to look at, I can rationally see that there are other boxes that now contain some good things and I can give myself permission to feel good about them. Maybe that is the reason to practice gratitude... it forces us to find the positive when it is easy to dwell on the negative.

Every day I have engaged in inner pep talks, keeping myself motivated to keep going, keep hoping, and to keep faith that while I have much work to do in my human shortcomings, I am on the right track. I am sober. I am healing physically, and I am alive. 14 months ago, none of that was true.

For today, I wish to express my appreciation to some of you who have noticed the absence of my little blog and have sent me messages of support and reminding me that you enjoy reading my ramblings. It means a lot to me, and it encourages me to keep going.