“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”
– William Shakespeare
I ran across this blog post of mine from a defunct blog, written in January of 2013. Although more than four years have passed, the post is still valid. Some points of it were sad then, and are sad still. I was in a relationship then, and that is the major element of change in my life. I miss the relationship, though I no longer miss the individual. I also miss a certain autonomy. I am in some ways more independent now, since I am not in a day-to-day live-in relationship with a partner. Perhaps less so because I now live back in my childhood home with my father.
My health is worse by far. I am in much more pain, and my sleep has become even worse. My focus and concentration are poor, and like then, I am not writing much these days. As far as appealing the judgment on Disability, I was decline and have not yet reapplied. I now have documented medical records of my situation now that I didn’t have back then, including physical and mental issues (such as PTSD and depression). Now all I need to do is overcome my fear of reapplying and the feelings of shame that the last round gave me.
All in all, however, I am the same person as I was then, both good and bad. I am not overly proud that except for a few small areas I have remained pretty much stagnant. On the bright side, I have been taking care of my health as best I can. I am being seen and am on some kind of track, even if there is little help for my pain and other issues. Documentation is the first step. Reapplying for Disability is the second step. Writing fills the cracks like so much mortar and keeps me sane–when I am able to write. The good news is that I am still hopeful for the future. I am still undaunted in my desire to overcome my obstacles.
I am reposting the blog post as originally written. Let me know what you think.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 22, 2013
A friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote a blog today. I was inspired to write one too. Unfortunately, I read his blog during my DJ show, and didn’t get a chance to write until much, much later. And now, as I write, I am trying to remember what it was I wanted to say, and what it was that inspired me. Yes, I read through his blog again, but it is 5:30 am and I am tired. The dollar store version of 5-hour energy wore off about two hours ago, and my eyes have unfocused a few times in the last sentence. I had thought to be brilliant, and when I first had the idea (or inspiration) to write, I know there were some particularly witty ideas bouncing around in this melon of mine. Now, I think it is more like marshmallows sloshing around in not-quite solidified jello.
What I wish to share today is the topic of identity. Identity.
noun ( pl. identities )
1 the fact of being who or what a person or thing is: he knows the identity of the bombers | she believes she is the victim of mistaken identity.
Who am I?
This is indeed a good question, and one I believe should be asked of oneself every so often.
Who am I?
24601 – Jean Valjean
Sara and I recently saw the movie Les Miserables. I loved the Broadway production, and the motion picture was a very different sort of entertainment, much more intimate. Cropped, to be sure, but the essential elements were there. I was left, at the end, with a heavy heart and tears flowing from my eyes. Not simply because of the sadness of the ending, but because of the way I connected to Valjean. I identified with his persecution, being labeled and assigned an identity, struggling to change it, to make things right. To live a life worth living. Every few years, that old and tarnished identity catches up. And it is remarkable how much of an impact it has. Old feelings thought long forgotten are brought back, raw and festering. Anger, sorrow, frustration, grief, loss… they all rush up, and I have to deal with them all over again. Certainly it is easier – not easy, but easier – to handle things the third or sixth time around. The recovery time is shorter, at least. But the sins of my past, like Valjean’s, were not sins, but merely the way others assigned blame and scorn to what they perceived were sins. I think, like Javert, they may not be able to see past themselves. They will never see the truth, for they don’t want to look outside their box (however enlightened they may think they are, or however they believe their box to be).
Who am I?
My Mother’s Son
As you may know, I lost my mother last July. Mom was my best friend for years and years. We would go see shows together, and seeing Les Mis brought back a lot of memories of years gone by – watching shows at Music Circus with mom. She was my companion and confidante, and I would share my loneliness and woes over women with her. She was always there with positive encouragement. I miss her. I have many regrets regarding my mother, things I should have done before she passed, visit her more in her declining years. But the thing I regret most is that she never read a word of my writing. She was an avid reader, and I know she would have loved whatever I’d given her. But I wanted to have finished the story before I let her read it. I am sorry mom. I know you would never say so, but I feel in at least this way, I let you down. It is too late now, for you to read my work. I still don’t have a finished novel, but four long, unfinished ones.
Who am I?
Writers write. I have heard that more times than I care. In fact, I have not really written much for over a year. I make excuses. I don’t feel up to it. Things get in the way.
I know that I have been truly ill this last year. Stress is a huge part of it. I have been fighting to get disability, and have been denied twice now. I am on my last appeal, and sometimes it seems my last nerve.
The fact is… I make a choice. I choose to let things take precedence. I chose to let pain and fatigue keep me from writing. I choose to write gaming material (or the occasional blog) over finishing my novel. I don’t have writer’s block. I never have. When I put ass to chair and fingers to keyboard with the choice and intent to work on my novel, I work on my novel. I just don’t do it much.
Who am I?
The Sum of My Parts
Sure, I feel down a lot. I feel like a complete failure. I feel like I am letting Sara down because I can’t work and I can’t get disability and I am not writing. I feel… I feel… I feel… who the hell cares? I mean, I figure most of you stopped reading by now. This is drama city. I hate drama. So I feel trapped, and I loathe feeling that way. I hate the feeling of hating the feeling, and it can spiral me into a downright nasty funk.
I know that we can all look at ourselves and pick at our blemishes. I think I have a trophy for it around here somewhere. If I look only at the flaws, I know from experience that I am missing out on seeing the really awesome gems. I know that I have a ton of great qualities. I simply get lost behind the most obvious and irritating ones. And I want to look past the crud to see the gold in me. I do. But I have trained myself. It seems false of me to simply ignore my flaws. They are so blatant, or at least they are to me. What I need to do is work on my filters. Like a sluice box, I need to let the flaws (which are those big clods of dirt and rock – totally worthless) flow on by and pass on down the sluice. I need to harvest those little tiny yet valuable nuggets of goodness, brightness, talent and wholesomeness that are inside me. They may be hard to locate among the detritus, but once found are the true riches of my soul and spirit. They are who I am.
Who am I?
My Secret Identity
There resides in me, and in all of us I think, a secret person. The person we fantasize being. That Superman that our Clark Kent outsides keep hidden. I think our Supermen, or at least MY Superman, is able to leap (proverbial) tall buildings in a single bound. I know for certain that he can bounce bullets off his chest, with all the turmoil I have suffered over the years. My Superman is strong, forged in phoenix fire. Is it fear that keeps him secret still? Is it weakness? Am I wading in kryptonite? I think that it is all a matter of time, and circumstance. I let my super hero out. Sara has seen him/me, at my best. And if there were ever proof to my value anywhere on this earth, I see it in her eyes when she looks at me. That, my friends, is proof indeed.
Who am I?
What Others Think
I don’t need to please everyone in my life. I have tried and tried. “Just please yourself” some say. I think that is selfish. But pleasing others is not good either. A balance is needed. Sara, my very special love, has shown me who I am. I am reflected in her eyes. I am her love. And though I am flawed, she loves me anyway. She loves me despite them. She loves me for them.
I think my identity has changed since she came into my life. External circumstances – money, health, etc – have gotten much worse. But I am the happiest I have ever been. I don’t strive to please her, I mean I do want to please her, but she lets me just be me. She puts no demands or pressure on me. And in return, I get to be a better man. I do it for her, in part. But I also do it because it is the right thing to do. It is a way of life, and a good way of life. Sure, I have a ton of things to work on, but she is patient and we are a team. It feels good being a team. We get to share stuff. Wins as well as losses.
For so many years, I was alone, even when in relationships. I blame myself, but now things are different.
Who am I?
But I am searching. I am evaluating. I am attempting to do so with kindness. Sure, things are frustrating. I am in pain. I don’t sleep. I am afraid. But here I am. I will be 52 soon. The loss of my mother, and my own health issues seem like a kindling fire under me. I don’t want to pass from this world without having made at least a small impact. I fantasize that my fiction, at the least, will be remembered after I am gone. And as they say… “Shit don’t write itself!”
There you have it. My meandering mindset. I tried to have this make sense, even if it is nearly dawn. Contrary to what I have said here, I really do love my life. I like myself. I have issues. Who doesn’t? I have great friends, both locally and in my virtual life. I struggle, sure. But in the end, I really don’t have too many complaints. All in all, the setbacks are on me. I own them. I caused them and I can fix them, if I can figure them out. My health may not be fixable, but there are workarounds. I am a good guy. I love people and I love Sara above all others. I have God in my heart, and that gives me strength too. And other than the unfinished nature of my writing (and to an extent my soul), I am ok. If I were to die (which I sure hope won’t be for a long, long time), I am fairly satisfied that my life has been spent well. I have always had an appetite for learning, and to this day I choose to expand myself. That is pretty lofty, right?
If you are still reading this, thanks. I appreciate your patience.
Who am I?
Me: Mark Adam Thomas
I am just a guy trying to do his best, flawed (maybe more than most), but certainly good. I am in love with Sara, with music, with art, with exploration and learning, with my friends near and far. I am a secret knight (or Superman wannabe), and I know that feeling pain means I am alive. Hurting makes me appreciate love all the more. Despair allows me to better understand hope. I am bigger and more whole for all the flaws and sorrows. I am afraid, and let it get the better of me sometimes, but those dark times are less dark and less severe than they have ever been. Examining my identity has shown me that I am not the man I once was, and that is not such a bad thing. I am three parts worse, seven parts better. Those are numbers I can live with!