In Their Words…Charlie
We have come to learn just how much men appreciate reading/listening to the stories of other men who have dealt with depression, anxiety, and the challenges that go along with these conditions. I have reached out to the 140 men who attend our support groups and asked them if they would be willing to share a story that was important to them that relates to the struggles they have had. I have made no edits to the content of what they wrote and the words that follow are those of the man who wrote them. Today I am sharing a story by Charlie, who attends a Face It Men’s group
This morning I made coffee. After it was brewed I poured myself a cup. I sat down at my kitchen table. I didn’t have my phone on me. I didn’t have my watch on me. I just sat there and was enjoying my coffee and I would close my eyes for a little bit of time and I was “mostly” relaxed. It takes concentration on my part to keep “relaxed” which is a topic in and of itself.
I have learned that my mistakes are mine. I can wallow in them, but it doesn’t do me any good. I could be sitting in that chair thinking about many things. My failed marriage, Not being really close with my sisters, My dad’s recovery from surgery, my work situation and the struggles there, the time I drank too much and sprayed a beer on another guy and almost got into a fight, or I drank too much and got friends kicked out of there hotel room that night, or I think of myself as this horrible dad, how bad of a husband I was and that I deserved what happened to me during the marriage, many things would go through my mind.
These thoughts were NOT helpful. They lacked a key ingredient that I never really knew. I am a person and a human being. I make mistakes, I don’t always do the right thing (whatever that means), there are times when I fail. Before I started working on thinking this way I lived a very different life. I lived with an inner stress and intensity. My body was in the fight or flight mode. When was I going to make another bad decision? When was someone else going to make a bad decision. So, I was always in this state of high awareness. ALWAYS. It was so tiring to be there. Why was I spending so much energy and time on these thought processes? Why was my body tense? Even as I am writing this I am concentrating on my body and mind.
Keeping them as calm as I can to get these words out. Why not spend that energy being suspended in this highly tense state and try to transform those feelings into something else? What else? How about if I start with just accepting who I am? How about taking that energy that I was using to bash myself and use it to focus on making better decisions in the future. How about if I start to use that energy to accept that I let this situation get away from me and focus on making it better in the future. I like the word better. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Like with my kid. I am trying to move that bar and focusing on just moving it. Not worrying how far I move it or if its good enough just using my energy to move it instead of spending that energy bashing myself on how it went.
This is a work in progress, but I try not to let these negative not-helping thoughts control actions. I didn’t create this intensity and unrealistic expectations overnight and I probably won’t ever solve it. However, I can work towards being better. moving that bar. Spending my daily energy more efficiently. Maybe its fifty-fifty now on I am an asshole, or I am a good guy. Hopefully tomorrow it will be 51-49. Move that bar. Face-it has helped to move that bar. It has helped me to better understand what it is to be a guy and all our quirks. I have learned I want to spend that energy and personal capital on being better. Communicating, being vulnerable, accepting what I have done, understanding that I have other people in my life but also being able to share my needs and wants and giving them an opportunity to know this and being able to give that back and forth.
Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or thoughts and I will pass them along to Charlie.