Trying to find my sparkle again

Two weeks ago I shared a post on social media about how I had noticed in some of the photos of myself recently, the sparkle in my eyes was gone. It has taken me two full weeks to be brave enough to sit down and go into a bit more detail. Not in the emotionally-driven-tell-all-hurt-and-sad-Daniel way I have made the mistake of being in the past. That’s unfair to people in and around my life and comes from some deep dark traumas and pain.

I wanted to share about it more because I think I’ve been avoiding putting reality into words, because that makes it all a little more real.

2024 has certainly not been the year I was expecting. I read a quote recently that said that you can be a masterpiece and a work in progress at the same time. That kind of stuck with me, because it’s been the dichotomy of my life for almost six months.

Professionally, I’ve never been more successful.

Personally, if I’m being honest, I’ve never felt so overwhelmed.

While juggling the intensities of an ongoing cancer scare that has offered no relief from it both mentally and physically, my therapist Ingrid has reminded me that facing the “big-ness” of mortality has a way of shaking things loose. In my opinion, it has also helped me understand what is and has always been important to me. That part still remains to be seen I like to believe.

Add the extra layers of the end of my marriage & a newly found sobriety, and you’ve created a situation that would be extremely difficult even for the strongest person you know.

Avoidance and isolation are really bad habits that I have yet to break and am trying to work through. I’ve been avoiding you reading this, and for that I’m really sorry. Writing has always been my first inclination and best form of expression. It has been my ultimate catharsis and my art for as long as I can remember.

Every time I sat down to write something over the last few months, it felt like a stranger was sitting at my computer. A person who had lost too many things simultaneously and consecutively, and who didn’t want to be headed in this direction. A person who felt that if he didn’t write at all, maybe this all wouldn’t be real. Siting in a limbo of never ending work pilling onto his shoulders while he quietly avoided the subject, my silence became my prison.

As a 40 year old man, admitting that makes me feel very silly and embarrassed, but that’s how I’ve been feeling. I didn’t want to be the person who got the pity look as a soon to be divorcĂ©. I didn’t want to have to keep hearing “how strong” and “how well ” I have been doing because I’m really tired of situations and consequences that don’t ask for but demand strength.

I want to make it clear that I am responsible for a lot of the things in my life in equal part to, if not more than, important people in it (past and present). I am an adult who has made a lot of mistakes and will probably make a lot more. But I like to believe that being uncomfortably honest allows for others who have experienced something similar or who will one day to feel less alone.

I know loneliness and depression very well. I have faced them both with an open heart, ready to learn from them and be better. I am not using unhealthy mechanisms of escape anymore and I’m addressing some really big things that I have lived and not ever talked about.

I’ve had to suddenly cancel work with almost no notice a few times in the past few months.

I’ve ignored deadlines and friends and haven’t been reaching out at all.

I’m still playing catch up on work while trying to not freak out on a monthly basis about finances, taxes, and trying to save enough to get back to Toronto before the end of the year, though that is looking less likely with each new day.

That’s a loaded topic in and of itself, because it’ll be on my own and I’ve never lived on my own like that before.

My biggest concern is I may be subconsciously punishing myself for failing. Ingrid is trying to remind me that I cannot change the past, but I that I can learn from it. In very challenging moments I have turned to physical fitness and new mental health exercises instead of substances again, and for that I’m really proud.

So I guess to add to the masterpiece and work in progress sentiment, I have been both happy and sad at the same time. I am acknowledging that I am not the person I was in February when my whole life fell apart. I am having to live in the stickiness of life right now, and I’ve shared before the unknown of that is always very destabilizing for me.

Is the sparkle back yet? No.

Is my hope for my life and what it will one day become gone? No.

If nothing else I can only keep being authentically myself. As scary as that process of self-revelation, understanding, and forgiveness can be.

So where does that leave you and I now? Not that it matters, but it leaves me 50 lbs lighter, 4 months and 17 days sober, actively working on my mental health with my practitioners, medicated for my depression, ongoing in this explanation of this pain in hopes its not cancer, and just trying my best.

And that’s all I can do today.

I’ve missed you and I’m glad to be back here writing these words for you and I.