Monday, January 26, 2015

Jumping in

I wanted to say a quick Thank You to every one who has reached out and offered your love and support and encouragement as I begin this therapy journey I'm on now.

I thought periodically I'd check in to let everyone know how it's going. I had my second session last Friday, so that's two under my belt now.

If you remember, the day after my first session was really good. My mood was up, I was feeling hopeful, and I was very proud of myself for taking that first step.

Then the following day my mood took a plunge. I guess I had gotten myself overwhelmed and flooded with all kinds of anxiety. I was irritable, edgy, wanted to be left alone, and really withdrew into myself. Not a good place to be. But Brad and a few friends were there for me and the day after that, I was back to my old self again.

Now that I've had the second session, I seem to have weathered the weekend pretty well. Saturday was a great day and maybe all the snow we got really helped. It was a really fast-moving and mild storm (only got 3 or 4 inches of snow), but I had a ball getting out to use my brand new snow shovel for the first time this season! It's such great exercise and really brings out the kid in me!

I also enjoyed walking up and down the street helping the neighbors shovel, and that was a lot of fun because of the social nature of it. Loved talking and laughing with everyone.

I'm writing this on Sunday and my mood today is still really good. I was a little nervous about the second session because of what happened to my mood after the first one, but I think I'm getting a better understanding of how this works, so maybe that's helping me feel a little more certain of things.

I have to tell you the therapeutic relationship is a strange thing. Like I said last week, you walk in the office, sit down, and within 5 minutes there you are pouring your heart out about extremely personal things to a complete stranger! It was weird that first session, but the person I'm seeing helped make me comfortable and was very open in answering my questions and explaining how this all works.

So the second session felt easier in one way. I already had a sense of the counselor and I seemed to open up a lot easier. He had already told me in the first session that being honest and open is important, but if I ever didn't want to discuss something, to tell him that and we'd slow down and talk about why it might be difficult. So that made it a lot easier, and I ended up going a little deeper into things. I actually felt proud of myself for that.

One thing that came to me about halfway into the session was this awareness that I really wanted the counselor to like me. I'm not exactly sure if that's the best way to describe it, but I wanted him to see me as insightful and as a likable person. AND, I even went so far as to share that with him, which he said was helpful to him. He said it sounded like it was important for me to feel a connection to him. And that rang true so we discussed that for a bit. It actually was a pretty cool discussion and I think it helped me settle a little more into the session.

On my way home, I made this commitment to myself. In order for this to work, I needed to be as honest as I can and bring up anything -- anything -- the good, the bad, the ugly -- that goes on in my mind, regardless of how it makes me look. Otherwise none of this is going to work and I'm just wasting my time and won't get anywhere. 

He also pointed out that my ADHD might play a factor in my "treatment." He explained (and it made a lot of sense) that my brain has a hard time processing things, especially if very strong emotions are involved. And counseling for trauma also means processing things that have very strong emotions involved. He works in the same office as the doctor who prescribes my ADHD medication, and I had given both of them permission to talk to each other, so that contributes to making me feel like I'm in good hands.

Right now I'm seeing this as some kind of adventure, which is my positive spin on things. In order for me to stay in this process, I have to see it this way. At some point I fully realize I might see it was falling down a dark hole, or like a death row prisoner being led to his fate. Maybe. Maybe not.But I'm trying not to jump ahead and just keep myself grounded in the present. 

And for right now I feel positive. It feels right. It feels like an adventure.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Unlearning and Relearning

Hi every one! It's Sunday again and time for Sam-I-Am to check in with every one!

So, here I am. Sam-I-Am!

I am starting off writing this thinking it is probably going to have to be a short one for today, but you never know. I mean, now that I have started coming out of my shell more and more (and some times it feels like I am doing this SO slow), I seem to have so much to say! LOL.

But there is some kind of snow storm coming in on Saturday (I am writing this Friday afternoon), and you may remember I work for this landscaping company and snow storms are big business for some landscaping companies, especially during the winter months. We have a bunch of trucks with snow plows and we have some customers who pay us to plow their driveways and clear their sidewalks.

So they have asked me to come in on Saturday morning to make sure the equipment is in good shape and to help load the salt and sand and all other kinds of things you have to do to get ready for snow. Right now the weather people are not 100% sure exactly sure how it is going to play out, but it looks like we are definitely getting some kind of mixture of rain, sleet, and snow. So that means it is going to probably be the heavy stuff.

But the good thing about this is it means I get overtime because I will probably be assigned to help with the sidewalk snow removal, or maybe even driving one of the small pickup trucks with the plow.

The bad thing about this? Well, if you remember from my post last Sunday, RICK (you know, my BOYFRIEND) and I were suppose to go on a double date with the girl I ran into at the mall. This is the girl named Amy that I went to high school with and is the first person from my past I have ever come out to. She's the one who told me she has a boyfriend and asked me if I had a girlfriend, and I told her No, but I did have a BOYFRIEND! And she was totally cool with that!

So we made plans for the four of us (Me, RICK, Amy, and Joe: her boyfriend) to go on a double date Saturday night. So by the time you are reading this, Saturday night will have already come and gone. But I am not exactly sure right now whether I will be able to go because of how I am going to be working the snow storm. It all depends on the time line for the storm. It looks like the snow will start very early in the morning on Saturday and be messy all day and won't stop until early Sunday morning.

So the four of us may still be able to do some thing, or we will have to scale it back, or might even have to postpone it. WOW! Sorry I went on and on giving you all those details but I swear it seems like I can not keep my self from talking so much! HA! Like I said earlier, maybe I have been holding every thing in for so long, that now I have a chance to express my self, well, it all comes spilling out! HA! But that is not necessarily a bad thing, I guess. But I probably could have explained every thing I just did in fewer words, BUT I sorta like going on and on.

It feels a little weird that I am opening up like this but I can blame it on all of  YOU because you leave me comments that say you like what I have to say! HA HA! Maybe I am looking for attention or some thing, but RICK says that is not such a bad thing. He says he likes to hear me talk and he is always asking me questions about what I say and gets me talking.

Anyway, this is a LONG way to say this: My post today might have to be short because of the snow storm coming.

Now I ask you. Hadn't you rather hear the long explanation than that little short sentence? HA HA.

Well, I wanted to post some thing instead of just skipping a week because I LOVE writing out here what I am doing and thinking about. And RICK made me promise to include a paragraph but I told him he had to write it out so I would get his words right. So here is what he made me promise to include:

"Everything you have to say is worthwhile. Silly, serious, big, small, important, trivial. It's all important because you matter, and what you say is how everyone gets to see YOU."

I'm crying right now because every time I read that I can't help but cry. It's hard to describe, but it's happy tears. I would normally just take some thing like that and say (to my self) that it applies to every one else, but I already know RICK and trust him completely. I remember one time he told me some thing really sweet, and I sort of brushed it aside because it use to be hard for me to believe some one could really care about me.

And man! I felt so bad when I brushed it aside because when I looked at him, his eyes were teary. And that just about killed me. From that point on I try really, really hard to listen to what he says and just take my time to let it soak in me.

I guess that sign up there from The Lion King kind of sums things up. Even though the main lesson I learned from my past was: "You don't matter," I am trying really hard not to run from my past, but to learn from it. It's hard to change that lesson I learned from my past. So now I am trying my best to take things like what RICK said and see if I can unlearn what I learned from the past.

Okay, gotta run for now. Hope every one has a nice day and a nice week ahead!

Love and HUGS, Sam

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Matty's sweet tight end

Time: Tuesday morning, 7:00 a.m.

Occasion: First day of new semester.

Place: Matt & Brad's home.

Brad is in the living room.
Matt is still in the bedroom.

Brad: Matty? Are you ready? We need to leave.

Matt: Where's my book bag? I can't find my book bag!

Brad: It's right here. I have it. We need to leave. We're going to be late.

Matt: Now I can't find my keys. Where'd I put my keys?

Brad: I have your keys. I have everything. Come on. We're running late. We need to leave!

Matt: Oh my God!

Brad: What? What's the matter?

Matt: My pants have shrunk!

Brad: What? Your pants are okay. Please come on. We need to leave!

Matt: I can't walk right. These pants have shrunk. Or something. Come look. Please? You over dried them. I can't walk right. What'd you do to them?

Brad: I didn't do anything to them. 

[walking to the bedroom to see] They look fine. They fit like they're suppose to. Come on! We need to leave!

Matt: I can't walk right. Something's wrong. Look! [paces back and forth]

Brad: They look fine to me. But why are you walking funny?

Matt: There's something wrong with these pants. They feel too tight. They shrunk or something.

Brad: Just try walking normal.

Matt: I am walking normal! This is how I always walk, except... it's too tight! Why is is too tight? I just want to walk normal!

Brad: Where does it feel tight? [anxiously aware of needing to leave for school]

Matt: Right here! All around here! Look! [running both hands -- a tad bit seductively I must say -- across his butt and crotch area. Me smiling at his gestures because he really is cute and I'm trying not to get turned on since we were running late and need to leave] My butt is too tight! It's tight in the front, too! What's wrong? What's happening?

Brad: It really looks fine, Matt. Just try walking normal. [suppressing a smile]

Matt: It won't let me walk normal. Something's wrong. 

Brad: What kind of underwear are you wearing? Are you even wearing underwear?

Matt: I'm wearing those new boxer briefs. Maybe they shrunk in the dryer. Let me see. [unfastens/unzips and pants fall to the floor -- Me thinking, "Why does it always look seductive when he does that?"]

Brad: [snickers] You're so cute.

Matt: Oh my God! My underwear is on backwards! [steps out of underwear and turns it around and puts them back on]

Brad: [trying not to get distracted because... just because...] Feel better? Can you walk normal?

Matt: Let me see. [paces] There. That's better.

Brad: What is it with that new underwear? It looks different.

Matt: It has some kind of extra lift in the back.

BradExtra lift in the back?

Matt: I don't know. It's suppose to show off your butt or something. 

Brad:  But you don't need anything to show off your butt.

Matt: I just wanted to try something different.

BradOkay. Well, come on. You're walking normal now and we need to leave!

Matt: Where's my book bag and keys?

Brad: [Grabs him by the arm and pulls toward the front door]

Matt: Okay. You're always rushing me. I'm coming.

Brad: I'm glad you can walk normal now.

Matt: Me, too. Are you making fun of me?

Brad: Moi? Never. You're adorable.

Matt: So what are we waiting for? We're going to be late. Let's go.

Brad: I'll follow you. I'm right behind you. I like looking at your sweet tight end.

Matt: [smiling and laughing now] You're always slowing me down. Come on. Let's go. We're going to be late.

Brad: Right behind you. Lead and way. [enjoying the scenery]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

My first step

First of all, I wanted to say Thank You for all your support and encouragement in response to my post on Monday. I had written it on Sunday afternoon when I was feeling so many mixed feelings. 

Mainly anxiety about whether I had done the right thing about seeing a counselor. Knowing on the one hand that it was the right decision, but then second guessing myself because I know it's going to be hard work. I was so moody and irritable and edgy almost all day Sunday because there's a part of me that doesn't want to rip open my wounds. "Maybe I can just keep things stuffed inside and hope for the best," I was thinking. But also thinking, "I can't pretend this was just an everyday incident. This is affecting almost every part of my life and I need help with it."

So Thank You for all the words of encouragement you offered. And especially for helping me have a long-term perspective that things could get better, but it might be rough going for a while.

And I also learned something from your comments I hadn't even thought about before. Something really valuable and important. In addition to the extremely helpful insight and support and encouragement everyone offered, I LOVED reading the humor interspersed in the comments. Maybe you guys know me better than I thought. Or maybe a better way to say that is, maybe you guys saw I needed a balance of  the serious and the humorous.

I found my concerns were taken seriously and I was also subtly reminded to find the balance between the heavy stuff and the humorous. That balance was exactly what I needed and I found myself feeling more and more grounded as the day went on. By the end of the day I was convinced I had taken the right step with the counseling and I felt reassured that all of you would be here for me when I needed your support. 

For a long time in my life I had a lot of shame about my ADHD. Felt like my brain was broken. Now? I don't feel any of that. I was telling someone the other day I now actually like the way my brain works. I sometimes post humorous things here and on Facebook about my ADHD, and by highlighting the humor I can sort of celebrate some of the unique quirkiness it in, which then helps me feel settled about it.

I don't know what role humor will play in my upcoming counseling. Maybe it won't play a role at all. I just don't know. But I really liked the counselor I saw last week. He even responded positively to some of my humor in the first session, which I saw as a good sign. He explained that technically the "trauma disorders" are grouped under "Anxiety Disorders," which explains why I get so nervous (anxious) when I'm in large crowds or there are loud, unexpected noises. And when I sometimes have really bad nightmares, or when I'm so vigilant about my surroundings. All of this is anxiety-based.

So the counselor smiled when I told him I had only agreed to come to three sessions. That's what I agreed to when my doctor pushed me to see someone. The counselor asked me why, and I said talking and thinking about all this is very hard. 

"Makes you anxious, right?" So that made me smile and I said, "Yeah. Very anxious." And he said, "Every single person who has some kind of major trauma feels the same way. Remember? This is in the Anxiety category." So I smiled back and said, "Well, looks like this might take longer than three sessions, right?" He said, "Three sessions just gets us started." 

So I gave him a little smile and told him, "Then let's do this right. I need to get through this." It was through this humor that I committed myself to take however long it takes to do this right.

So basically he said he likes to work in a collaborative way. I really liked him explaining that even though he might be an expert on psychological issues, I'm the expect in my life. And he respects that. If I didn't want to talk about something, or go down a particular path, he'd respect that. That together we needed to find the right pace for me. 

He said he'd be asking questions and sometimes pushing me, but that if I didn't want to answer something, to tell him that. He'd respect it. He might ask why I didn't want to go down a particular path, but he'd always respect my pace. He said he might bring it up later and asked if that was okay. Well, it all sounded good to me -- gave me a sense of control --and I agreed to it all.

I just need to remember to balance how serious this is with my need for a break from it all when I need it. To remember how important humor and play is to me. When to work hard, and when to play hard.

So, this was a HUGE step for me. We'll see how it goes, but so far, so good.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

It's that time again

After a month-long break from school, we start back today. 

Matty has something special scheduled for tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Up and down

Just a brief update. Yeah, I showed up for my first counseling appointment on Friday. I was so keyed up with all kinds of anxiety before going in, but I guess I deserve points for not cancelling the appointment. The thought went through my mind, though. But I survived.

I really like the counselor. He's got something of a laid back personality and I appreciated him making me feel comfortable for the first session. He seems like a genuinely caring person and even responded with a little humor when I used some with him, so that's good.

I get the impression he's a straight-shooter (which I like -- a lot), but he's also not the type to press his own agenda and push me faster or harder than I'm ready for. At least that's my initial impression.

So Friday after the appointment I was utterly drained. 

Saturday, I was in an extremely good mood. I felt like I had a HUGE burden lifted and was feeling quite hopeful that this is going to work.

Sunday? Well, I'm writing this on Sunday afternoon and right now I'm not feeling so good. To be honest, I feel highly anxious and on edge. Irritable. Moody. Keep thinking about some of the details of the attack and finding it hard to turn the whole thing off. 

He said we'd be talking about some grounding exercises to help me get through any memories, and he was impressed that I already have a regular meditation practice, in addition to practicing Tai Chi and deep breathing, so I'm trying to stay grounded today.

I'm also second-guessing myself about the timing of starting the counseling. After a one month break from school, we start back on Tuesday, and I hope I can manage my studies, work, and any emotions that might get unleashed. We'll see.

Anyway, I'm trying to just relax today. It's so nice to have Brad here by my side. He's baking some goodies, just put on a fresh pot of coffee, and the house smells wonderful. And since it's a rainy day outside, we're looking forward to just enjoying each other's company.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Another hurdle

Hi every one! It's Sam-I-Am! We interrupt this blog to announce some earth shattering news! Yours truly (that's me!! HA), actually came out to a friend this past week! I say this is earth shattering news because for me it felt like the earth shook when I told her. Or maybe that was just me shaking all over because I was SO nervous, BUT I DID IT!!! Another hurdle I jumped over!

Before I tell you what exactly happened, I'd love to share with you how RICK and I came out to each other. I wrote about it a long while back but now that there are millions and millions of new readers (HAHAHA), I thought it would be nice to share with you just a tiny portion of what happened, and then I'll tell you about my new coming out to this girl.

Since I first met RICK (my BOYFRIEND), I have only been in situations where I didn't have to actually say the actual words. And you may remember I never even said those actual words to RICK when we came out to each other! For those of you who may not remember, I had just met RICK and he took me over to his Dad's auto parts shop to get a new battery and while we were there this girl started sort of flirting with him (grrrrrrrrr!). I sort of figured he might be gay but neither one of us knew for absolute sure because we had just met.

So after I bought the battery and we were back in his car and he was taking me home, (well, let me just copy what I wrote in that post to bring you up to date:)
"Was that girl a friend of yours?" Then I freaked because that was probably not a good question because it was prying and I was being nosey and didn't even know Rick (or RICKY, as she called him!) all that well.
He kind of made a snorting sound and smiled and said, "I've known her for a while and I think she wants to be my girlfriend." I just said, "Oh" and got quiet. Neither of us said a thing for a while and then, completely out of the blue, he said, "She's not really my type." And I said, "Oh, what's your type?" (Then I freaked again because that was too personal and bold!!)
We were stopped at a traffic light and he turned to look at me and smiled and I literally froze. "Well, let me just say, I like girls. As friends. Know what I'm saying?" I said, "I think so." Then we got a green light and he turned his eyes back to the road. I didn't say any thing for a short while because I was trying to think about what to say next. But he beat me to it. He asked me, "So. Do you have a girlfriend?" I kept looking ahead thinking about whether I wanted to come out to him. Remember not many people know I'm gay. And even though I was pretty sure he was gay and pretty sure he knew I was, too, it is hard as hell to just say the word "gay" out loud to another person.
So I came up with an answer I was comfortable with. I said, "No. I like girls, too. As friends. Know what I mean?" It was the exact same thing he had said to me!! lol. Well, all the tension that was building in the air exploded big time! He burst out in a HUGE laugh and so did I!! We couldn't stop laughing for the longest time. You would have to be there to really appreciate what was happening but we both just came out to each other and we were both kind of enjoying how we did it.
Wasn't the way we did it so cool? I was so nervous but I just had to know if he was gay or if that girl flirting with him (grrrrrrrr!) was some thing I needed to know before I got my feelings too involved.

And then all the people now who know I am gay are people I didn't actually have to say, "Hey, I'm gay." After RICK came out to his family, the next time I went over there with him, he just introduced me, "Mom and Dad, this is Sam" and they knew I was his BOYFRIEND because he had already told them he had a BOYFRIEND named Sam. And then when I met all the rest of his family, they also already knew who I was: RICK's BOYFRIEND, so I did not have to actually say the specific words to them either. They already knew.

And you know that counseling program I go to? Well, every body there is gay, or lesbian or bi or trans, so just the fact that I show up means that I am gay. I never had to come out to any body because it is a program just for LGBT people.

So now here's the scoop on my very first coming out to some body where I had to actually say the very words. There is this girl I went to high school with (her name is Amy) and the two of us sort of hung around together some. I was extremely shy all through school and she was also very shy, and she seemed like a nice person where I didn't have to interact a whole lot with because back then I was so with drawn and didn't say much to any body. And she was kind of in the same boat.

But we did say Hi to each other and always tried to sit together during lunch. And a little over time we started opening up some and I guess she was the closest friends I had in high school. I still talk to her occasionally and I have run into her some when we are out in public and I am always glad to see her because she already knows I'm kind of shy (less so now, thank goodness) and I already know she is kind of shy.

So I ran into her last week when I was at the mall returning some thing I got for Christmas and when I was out near the food court I saw her sitting at a table eating some lunch. Well, our eyes caught and she smiled and I smiled and I waved and she waved back. So I walked over to her table to say hello and she said to sit down and we chatted just a little bit.

One of the things that came up was her telling me she is seeing this boy and she was smiling when she told me, so I asked if he was her boyfriend or just some one she hung around with. She said he was her boyfriend, and I said "That's great. What's he like?" So she told me some things and then she asked me if I had a girlfriend. Well, for some reason I was not expecting that so I had to very quickly decide how to handle this.

So I think I probably turned red with blushing and she saw it and pointed it out. She said, "You do, don't you?" Well, here's the moment of truth. Was I ready to come out to her? Or was I going to sort of deflect things and keep it on safe ground. Want to know what I did? Okay, here goes:

I looked up at her and said, and this came out really awkward because I was so nervous, "Well, funny you should ask." She said "Why?" And I said, and here the earth started shaking really bad, "Well, I have a. . . well, I have a boyfriend." And the earth then started shaking even more, like a bad earthquake or some thing.

She didn't say any thing for a short time (if felt like an hour, but was probably just about 15 or 20 seconds), and then I looked up at her and she was smiling!!! All she said was, "Cool." Then she quickly added, probably because I had asked about her boyfriend, "What's he like?" Just like that!!! "Cool. . . . . What's he like?"

I asked her, "Before I tell you, are you surprised about what I just told you?" She said, "A little. Just because I didn't know. But it's really cool."

So then I told her about RICK and she asked questions about him like I had asked questions about her boyfriend. And OMG it was just like a normal conversation! And before I knew it, the earth quit shaking because I guess the earthquake had stopped, and then I said, "Hey. Mind if I get a soda and we can talk some more?" And she said, "Cool. Hurry back so we can talk some more."

So I got a soda and came back and we sat and talked for another 30 minutes. She guess what is going to happen next weekend? Give up? Me and my BOYFRIEND and Amy and her boyfriend are going out together!!! Can you believe it??? OMG, I just right this minute felt the earthquake again because I am so excited!!! And RICK is really looking forward to meeting Amy!!

WOW, this is gigantic to me. This is my very first "coming out" in this way. I mean, it makes me so happy I decided to do this on the spur of the moment. I guess that means I have come a LONG way in feeling comfortable with my self. It does not mean I am going to announce this to the world. Yet!!! HA HA! But it is a very gigantic first step and I am so proud of my self, and RICK is proud of me, and Brad and Matty are proud of me, so I guess I did good, huh? I haven't had the chance to tell my counseling group yet, but this week I plan to do that and I know they will all probably applaud for me!! LOL

Any way, that is my BIG earth shattering news for this week!! There is no turning back for me now. I am moving ahead in my life and no body is going to stop me! Another hurdle overcome! OMG, wonder what's next? Well, just one step at a time is my motto.

See ya next Sunday! Have a great week, every one!

Love and Hugs from Sam-I-Am-Unstoppable. :)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Love and fear

Well, I was almost going to say: First the good news, then the bad. But then I realized both things I want to share today are actually good. 

It's just that one item feels hard and scary, but that doesn't necessarily make it "bad."

Anyway, the first news is that Wednesday, the day I spent with my mom, went great! I don't get to spend much one-on-one time with my mom, so when she asked me out I was really excited to get all the Mom Love she wanted to give me.

She had made reservations for lunch at the Prudential Tower (52nd floor), and the view was spectacular! And it was just so nice to sit and talk with her and catch up on lots of different things.

She was so incredibly proud of me for acing the Independent Study course I took. I loved how she wanted to know all about the details. When people start asking questions about things that are important to me, it always feels like they're genuinely interested. And she even shared a few ideas of her own about the project that I hadn't even thought about, so that was exciting.

I brought her up to date about things with me and Brad including some ideas we have about a vacation later this year. And I shared with her some things Brad and I are thinking about in terms of our future. And it was so nice to hear her talking so personally about when she met my dad and how she knew she loved him and what it was like when she felt ready for marriage and kids.

And then she took me to this store where she had already picked out a couple of items she wanted to buy me, sort of as a celebration for acing the course. Most people who know me are very aware that I hate shopping where you have to look at everything on the shelves, try things on, select different items, try more things on, etc. 

But she selected this really beautiful (and classy, if I do say so myself) multi-colored pullover sweater with the most beautiful blues and greens. Oh, and a really nice wool scarf that's a mixture of gray, blue, and a little black.

And then later in the afternoon we went to this really nice coffeehouse and enjoyed some coffee and exotic desserts and talked and laughed some more.

And now the the other item I want to share. The one I originally thought was the "bad news," but is really good news -- just a little scary.

I mentioned in the past that the doctor who follows me for my ADHD medication has always checked in with me about the repercussions of the time in high school when I was ambushed and attacked by a group of other kids who called me all kinds of slurs about being gay. And how I was physically and violently assaulted and had to deal with all kinds of medical issues, internal injuries as well as the damage you could see on the outside.

He's been trying to get me to see a counselor for years now because I continue to have nightmares about the attack. I'm always on guard when I'm out in public because sometimes it feels unsafe, especially if I'm in a crowd. I tend sometimes to have knee-jerk reactions along the line of fight or flight when I'm startled or there are loud noises. 

And then there's this issue about friends. I love the fact that almost every single one of my friends had my back after the assault. They reached out to me... checked on me... got me to open up and talk about my feelings... helped me deal with my anger in the right way... were there for me when I would sink into a bad depression... or would kind of force me to leave my house and hang out with them when I just wanted to stay barricaded in my room. 

But then I found out a couple of who I thought were very close friends didn't come through for me. Backed away from me. Almost like they didn't want to have anything to do with me. I felt really let down and hurt. And it felt like I had been deceived all along about their friendship. When I tried to talk to them about it, they didn't seem interested. That hurt. A lot.

Even though it was just a few so-called "friends," it still hurt. And I find now in my life I still sometimes have serious trust issues with certain people who claim to be "friends" but don't act like it. Drives me crazy. And it's not easy to just let it go. Ought to be, but it's not. And it always reminds me of what happened after the attack when those few "friends" essentially turned their back on me. It gets really confusing to figure out why. So I know this trust issue is probably one of the aftermaths of the attack.

So, when I saw my doctor the last time, I (reluctantly) agreed to schedule an appointment with a counselor in his office who specializes in helping people who've been through a variety of traumas like this. At first I told my doctor I'd agree to one appointment. He smiled because he knows me well enough to know that this was my fear or nervousness talking. He pressed me to agree to at least schedule three sessions and then decide whether I wanted to extend it further. So that's what I agreed to do.

My first appointment is today, Friday. It's called an intake evaluation where supposedly he's going to get some background and explain what's involved in the counseling. I won't lie. I'm extremely nervous about doing this because it feels like I've spent so much time and effort over the years stuffing things inside and it worries me that everything is going to come rushing to the surface and it'll just make things worse. Just being honest. But I guess that's probably a normal feeling to the unknown.

I almost cancelled the appointment, but I did talk to my mom about this on Wednesday and she gave me all kinds of reassurance and support and reminded me that it takes a lot of courage to do this work. And knowing she's proud of me means a lot.

Plus I've gotten unconditional support from Brad and a few select friends I totally trust and they've all reassured me that I'm doing the right thing. That it may be hard in the beginning, but I need to understand what's happening better and get this taken care of -- in spite of my fear and anxiety.

The meaning of that sign up there (Love! Overcoming fear.) just means I'm trusting the love of people who care about me to help me manage or overcome the fear as I move forward. I want to care about myself and do what's best for me, trusting that the love and concern and care will be there for me when I need it.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on all this as it progresses. Thanks to all of you for your care and support. It truly means a lot to me. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A painful past - a hopeful future

You know that photo album my dad gave me for Christmas? The one packed with pictures he had taken of me when I was a little kid? The pictures I had never seen before?

I poured my heart out in a post several years ago about all the pain I was feeling inside when I was sixteen years old. The day I felt like I couldn't take all the pain anymore. 

Nobody else was home at the time and I and went to bathroom, opened an almost full bottle of Tylenol, and came very close to taking them so I could die.

I can't remember all the details of what happened next, but somewhere I got this very tiny feeling inside that maybe I should open up and talk to my sister because I trusted her with my life -- literally. All I remember next was putting the bottle down, dropping to the bathroom floor, and starting to cry so hard I doubled over.

My sister is the only person at the time I opened up to about this. I didn't want to tell my mom because after talking to Sharon I felt enough hope and no longer wanted to die. She stayed up almost all night talking to me and somewhere around 3:00 a.m. we even ended up laughing together because she got me to remember some of the crazy trouble she and I would get ourselves into when we were kids. And she made me promise to come talk to her if I ever started to think about hurting myself again.

So back to the photo album my dad gave me for Christmas. A few weeks ago I finally worked my way up to some pictures he took of me when I was fifteen or sixteen years old. I was so shocked at what I saw I literally froze for about ten seconds. Then all of a sudden my heart started racing and my anxiety spiked and I started to go into one of my panic attacks. I had trouble breathing but somehow managed to start crying. 

It was shocking to see the dazed look on my face. At first I didn't even recognize myself and for a split second I wondered who that guy was. My heart literally ached for him because he looked so alone, so hopeless, so incredibly sad and lonely and lost. 

Matty was in another room when he heard me sobbing. Before I even knew it, he was sitting next to me with his arms around me trying to quiet me down so he could find out what was going on. I showed him the pictures and he just held onto me, rocking me, quieting me.

We talked for a while about that time in my life. I didn't have to say much because I had already told him about what had happened on that day when I just wanted all the pain to stop.

While the two of us were sitting there I suddenly knew what I wanted to do next. I told Matty I wanted to see my dad and tell him the story behind those pictures of that incredibly sad boy he had photographed. Matty helped me think of the pros and cons of doing this, as well as my motivation. Was I wanting to hurt my dad because of all the pain he had caused me? Did I want him to suffer like he had made me suffer? Was this some kind of cruel payback?

Or did I want to fill in some gaps of my life he didn't know anything about? He said we had a lot of catching up to do and he knew some of it was going to be hard work. Should I just keep this part of my life a secret from him? Or was he truly interested in knowing who I am and what I've been through?

I also talked to my counselor about all this a couple of weeks ago. He never tells me what to do, nor does he guide me down the path he thinks is right for me. He helps me lay out all the different paths and then is by my side as I go down each path.

I finally decided to call my dad to let him know I was looking at some of the pictures he took of me when I was a teenager -- and they brought  back a lot of memories -- painful memories -- and I sort of wanted to tell him the story behind those pictures -- if he was interested. There was a long pause on the phone before he finally said, "Are they the ones of you standing alone in the backyard kind of staring off into space?" I told him yes, those were the ones.

He then surprised me when he said, "I always wondered about those. I almost didn't put them in the album because you looked so... sad... lost... and I didn't want to upset you. No pressure, but I was hoping you might tell me what was going on. If you want to. No pressure."

It was at that precise point I knew what I wanted to do -- and what my motivation was. 

When I went over to see him last weekend, I sat down with him, opened the album to the five pictures he had taken of me in the backyard staring off into space and told him the story behind those pictures. Because I wanted him to know that even way back then I loved him -- even behind all the anger and the agony he put me through -- I still loved him and wanted things to be fixed but didn't know what to do.

I also told him I almost gave up all hope once -- that I was staring at a bottle of pills, ready to end the pain -- but I found out I was strong enough somewhere inside to keep going until I found a way to fight for us to be whole. And that I'm glad I didn't give up because where we are now -- and what we're doing now -- is what I've wanted all along.

He started crying when I got all this out. I told him I wasn't trying to hurt him, but was just trying to be honest so we could put to rest some things that needed completion. That we needed to let go of some things in the past to make room for our future. Because I want our future to be real -- and solid -- and based on honesty. Otherwise it's not worth it to me.

Then I started crying when he told me, "I think I put those pictures in there because they've always haunted me. I was terrified to find out the story behind them. Maybe I was hoping -- and not hoping -- you'd tell me. Now I'm glad you did."

I swear this is about the hardest work I've ever done. I second-guess myself a lot, but I'm learning that by trusting the people who care about me -- Matty, my sister, my counselor -- I really can do extremely hard and complicated work. Important work.

I'm very proud of my dad for wanting to do this. And I'm very proud of myself for the courage to see it through.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Spending time with my mom

Brad mentioned last week that I was going to post about something that has me on the proverbial Cloud Nine.

I guess you can tell by the big sign that it has to do with my mom. For some reason I haven't really mentioned a whole lot about my parents. I've made reference to them here and there but haven't really delved into my relationship with them.

But I can tell you right up front they both mean the world to me. I'm actually probably more like my mom than my dad. Oh, I can definitely see my dad in me, but I'm more like my mom in terms of our personality. My dad is pretty laid back overall, but I swear I always kid my mom that I most likely got my ADHD from her. Or at least the "H" part of that acronym. Well, she's technically not hyperactive and she doesn't have any problems with her attention span, but she's so energetic and alive and curious and always on the go and when she gets interested in something, she pours all her heart into it. Plus she has the best sense of humor and we're always trying to outdo each other's wit. She's really a lot of fun to be around.

You might remember that post I did back in October where I was joking around about how much my mom adores Brad. During that visit when my mom and dad stopped by for a visit, Brad passed me on the way to the kitchen and sorta whispered, "She really does like me best." It was really nice to watch the two of them interact and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing both my parents tell Brad some stories about my childhood he had never heard before, including some I had completely forgotten about.

But when I was a kid, there really was some kind of rivalry for mom's attention between me and my two brothers. Probably just typical stuff at that age, but I always remember all the trouble I use to get myself in due to being so hyper at times. 

And my mom was always having to deal with me and help me settle down and explain relationship dynamics that were very confusing to me. I always knew there was something different about me. My brothers never seemed to get into the same level of trouble I did, and I remember feeling like I was "the problem child," even though she never called me that or did anything to make me feel bad about myself. 

But I LOVED those times when I was a kid and my mom would decide to spend some one-on-one time with me. Just the two of us. It might have been her taking me to the park to feed the ducks or taking me out to lunch, but it was always so incredibly special to me.

So, what am I on Cloud Nine about now? Almost immediately after I found out I made an "A" in my Independent Study course, I called her to let her know. And wow, she was SO excited for me! She said all the things you might want to hear from your mom, "I'm so proud of you! I knew you could do it!" And then she started asking me all kinds of questions that made me feel like she wanted to know more. And this got me even more excited about my accomplishment.

So a few days later she contacted me and wanted to know if we could spend the day together -- any day we both were free -- just the two of us!!! She asked me if Wednesday this week was a good time, and I immediately said, "Yes! Wednesday is perfect!" So I made arrangements with my boss and I'm taking all day Wednesday off to SPEND THE DAY WITH MY MOM!!!! This makes me so happy!!!

All I know right now is we're going into Boston to have lunch at a nice restaurant where she's made reservations, and she wants to take me clothes shopping (which she admitted to knowing ahead of time that I always hate clothes shopping and promised to make it brief! LOL), and then she's lining up some other plans for the rest of the day!

All day with my mom!! Just the two of us!! I'm really, really looking forward to this so much. I already know a few things I want to tell her about, and there's a couple of things I want her opinion on, and I'm so looking forward to us joking around and just having a nice time together. 

But the greatest thing about Wednesday? Knowing she's just as excited to spend the day with me as I am to spend it with her! That means the world to me!!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sundays with Sam: Missed you guys!

Hi every body! Remember me? It's Sam-I-Am-Back!!! It feels like forever since I wrote my last post but I decided to take a break just like Brad and Matty did over the holidays because there was so much going on. But I am back now and I will be sharing some of the nice things that have happened.

The very first thing I want to say is THIS WAS THE HAPPIEST CHRISTMAS I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY ENTIRE LIFE! I will be telling you some of the things that happened but really there was so much going on it is going to take me a little while to write it all up.

I also have been so busy doing all kinds of things that make me so happy. And you have to realize that this is extremely different for me and I have to say it is taking some getting use to! Seriously! Before I met RICK (you remember him, don't you? My BOYFRIEND), I would get up every morning, grab some thing to eat, go to work, grab some thing to eat before I got home, decide how I could kill some time so I wouldn't have to go home, or I would go home and head straight to my room and close the door and listen to music or read or watch TV or some thing.

Now I get so excited some mornings that I get out of bed before my alarm goes off because I am ready for the day to begin! I never knew waking up could be so exciting! HA HA! And so I can make my self some breakfast and enjoy just chatting for a little bit with some of my house mates, and then go to work where I put in a good day's work, and then I ACTUALLY LOOK FORWARD TO COMING HOME or going over to RICK's to see him and hang out or go do some thing! I never ever knew life could be like this

So I just want to give a big shout out to RICK for helping me see that life is not all dark and dreary and filled with fear. He told me over the holidays that I was His Prince! Isn't that the most beautiful thing you have ever heard? And get this. He said he "adores" me. And before you think, "Oh, those are things every body says when they are in love," that may be true but if you could see RICK's expression when he says it you would know it is way more than "just words" because I can tell when people are being sincere and when they are just being nice. Well, RICK is sincere! Big time sincere. I catch him a lot of times looking over at me and I can almost tell what he is thinking, cause he has all these different looks and I have learned what each one means!

Just give me a week and I will share with you some of the highlights of what has been happening. I tried to write up some things this week but then I just went on and on and on and ended up sounding like a very young excited kid because I wanted to get every single memory and detail out. And when I went back to see what I had written it had a lot of run-on sentences and I was jumping all around because I was feeling extremely excited and happy. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, but I just want to organize it all and make sure I include all the main points.

So, this Sunday I just wanted to pop in and say how much I missed you guys and let you know my holidays were the absolute happiest I have ever had in my entire life.

And the other thing I wanted to say is I hope all of YOU have a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I know it is almost 2 weeks into the new year, but it's never too late to wish some one a Happy New Year. You guys have meant a lot to me since I've been sharing some things going on in my life, and I just want to make sure you know that. It's so cool that I have learned more about my self from thinking about different comments you guys leave me. And your concern and care and support and encouragement and excitement is some thing I always look forward to each Sunday.

I hope I have helped some of you, too. I really want this to be a 2-way street even if it is just putting a smile on your face each Sunday. And even if I write about some problem I am having, I always try to leave things on a positive note because I know some one might be having a similar problem and it would kill me to know I made some one else sad or upset just because I might be feeling that way. This is a quote one of the counselors at that program I go to shared with us and I try to remember this when I write about the hard things I have shared here:
I have been trying to take all the bad stuff I have been through and look at it as honestly as I can and then decide what I need to get rid of, or how to change it into something positive. That has been extremely hard for me and I don't always succeed, but my counselor said that just means I need to keep doing the work. I know life is not a bed of roses and there are always going to be bad things and there will be things from my past (and all of our past) that will just be there, but I am trying to change what I can and just accept life on life's terms (one of my counselor's favorite sayings).

So, any way, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

BIG HUGS from Sam-I-Am-Back! See ya next Sunday!!

Friday, January 9, 2015

One more happy

Please allow me one more Happy. I guess this is an extension of my bragging complimenting myself from yesterday's post.

For those of you who might have read the post with an acute attention to detail, you might have noticed that I mentioned something I've never mentioned before. It was in this paragraph:

This was probably the absolute hardest academic course I've tackled so far. I was really convinced I had gotten myself in WAY over my head. One of those, What the hell were you thinking when you applied to construct and develop an Independent Study when you know you have ADHD and a variety of nuisance learning disabilities to boot?

I've never mentioned (to my recollection) that in addition to the ADHD, I have "...a variety of nuisance learning disabilities."

Most of the time I don't need any help in overcoming those learning disabilities because I've pretty much mastered my learning style. But sometimes it's quite a challenge when you combine those disabilities with my ADHD and there's a lot of minute detail involved.

It's really hard for me to use various types of electronic devices because it involves typing and for some reason I do a LOT better writing things out long hand. It's hard for me to even use a phone to text or to type using a laptop. It would take too long to explain, but it's the result of a combination of several learning disabilities that really are a major nuisance to me sometimes. Thus, I call them my "nuisance learning disabilities." They have strange names that sound like something from a science fiction story and I really don't want to go into them here.

I also have to have almost complete silence and minimal distractions when I'm studying. I can only sit still for relatively short periods of time (probably my ADHD), and I have to make flow charts with arrows and really, really take my time. Feeling pressure of any kind will shut me down.

So for my Independent Study I was telling you about yesterday I needed a tutor to help me think through everything, kind of help me translate the material in a way I could comprehend, and then to help me organize the material in a very systematic way. But it had to be a tutor who I felt I could connect with in some kind of relational way. And I've found that humor really helps me feel connected to people.

So my doctor filled out some forms and verified my learning disabilities and I got a tutor to help me with the Study. I don't think the tutor fully understood how all these learning disabilities, combined with the ADHD, worked, so I had to teach him what I needed which was difficult because sometimes I don't even know how to explain it.

The tutor I got was ultimately very helpful but I didn't particularly like him at first. He was "all business" and seemed to lack humor and thought my need for taking periodic breaks was maybe just me being lazy. And I think he initially thought my joking with him was me just killing time or bring frivolous or  something.

But we both worked at it and he and I were able to ultimately form a connection and he was tremendously helpful to me. I know I couldn't have done it with out him.

Well, when I got my grade I wrote him an email telling him I aced it and thanked him for being patient and helping me. He wrote me this really nice email back:

Hi Matt. CONGRATULATIONS! That's something to be really proud of. Thanks for letting me know.

I appreciate your kind words, but you deserve credit for taking the course seriously and putting in the work to make this happen. I know it was frustrating so many times when it felt like things weren't falling into place, but man, you did it! An "A," huh? You worked for that and made it happen when others might have cut corners or just given up. I knew you could do it. 

I remember you saying you had gotten in over your head, but this grade proves you wrong. And I mean that in a good way.

So I want to thank you for being so open about what you needed from me, like needing to take those 'walking breaks' when you needed to get rid of that excess energy. You also helped me understand how you were using your sense of humor so we could work as a team.

I know we concentrated on the technical aspects of the course, but I'd love to read your book when it gets published. Please let me know if you don't mind.

Again, CONGRATULATIONS! You completely deserved (and earned) this grade!

Wasn't that nice of him? I'm going to try and see if he might be available for this next semester as I complete the Independent Study. If not, I might have to "break in" another tutor. One way or the other, I will complete this course. It's too important to (as he said) "...cut corners or just give up."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Complimenting myself

I have tons of mixed feelings about complimenting myself ... publicly... because I got criticized a lot when I was a kid for "bragging." I look back now and realize I always seemed to be looking for attention -- good attention -- and I didn't always know the best way to go about getting it. So I guess people often thought I was trying to "one-up" them and nobody likes to be around people who come across like they think they're "better" than you.

I suppose "bragging" is something kids tend to do anyway. I don't know about girls, but when boys would brag it was sometimes a way to establish (or maintain) your place in the pecking order. (My fingers just slipped on the keyboard and I typed out "pecker order" instead of "pecking order." HAHA. Kind of revealing, don't you thing? LOL. Pecker order or Pecking order... maybe one and the same thing!)

So this is a post about me trying -- in the right way -- to "compliment" myself instead of "brag," which has all kinds of negative connotations to me.

I just re-read everything I just wrote and almost deleted it because it sounds like I'm trying to defend what I'm about to compliment myself on. But I'm letting it stand because this is just something my brain does when I get anxious. I over-think things. Or maybe I am trying to defend myself. Or maybe I'm trying to explain things to myself because my brain works overtime trying to process things. Or maybe I'm worried all of you reading this tortured post so far will think I'm shallow, so I have to spell everything out in great detail to convince you I'm not really shallow. GAH!!!!! Enough!

See what just happened in that last paragraph? I feel like my brain is in overdrive and I'm not in the driver's seat. But now that I went into all that tortured and rambling detail, I sorta feel a little clearer, if you can believe that! You may be sitting there scratching your head, re-reading what I've written in an effort to figure out what in hell I'm talking about, thinking, "He needs an editor. Somebody who can take what comes out of his brain, re-work it, re-word it, and translate his thoughts into a nice, clear, concise summary. Something a little shorter than the 400 words he's just used so far to convey a simple thought."

[Side note: I have to confess I'm really sorta enjoying writing out these 400 words -- or 420 words now -- because you know what? This is me. This is my brain in motion and at work, and after all I'm not writing this as a college essay for an academic grade, nor am I writing this to be considered for submission to The Best American Essays of the Century. Ain't I just the cutest little thang? LOL]

Anyway, without further ado, and considering that the 500 words I've now written have helped me get to the main point of my post, I would like to announce that last semester: 
I'm not bragging, mind you, because this is not me trying to get a higher place on the Pecker Order. LOL! This is my way of complimenting myself for a job well done because I was totally convinced I was going to bomb this course.

This was probably the absolute hardest academic course I've tackled so far. I was really convinced I had gotten myself in WAY over my head. One of those, What the hell were you thinking when you applied to construct and develop an Independent Study when you know you have ADHD and a variety of nuisance learning disabilities to boot?

But gosh darn it, I ACED this Mother ******!

Well, I have to confess that I sorta did get in a little bit over my head because I gradually came to realize that I couldn't get everything completed in one semester. It was just too big a project. Soooooooo, I did what any self-respecting and competent student would do: I asked to extend my Study for an additional semester. And believe it or not, I didn't even beat myself up for getting myself in over my head. Well, I did a little bit at first, but I eventually was able to make a competent case for the extension and it was approved.

When I wrote a post about this on September 4th, I explained that "[t]he whole Independent Study format is a little complicated but I will be developing a curriculum and syllabus and using that to create a "business model" for creating this "product," i.e., my book! This will involves researching and doing a "needs assessment" of the market, using a "focus group" to test the "product," developing a marketing plan, etc......... It's a lot more involved than that, but, wow!"

I actually got myself grounded and realized that what I was doing called for more time and it was not a reflection on me being incompetent or incapable.

Well, now that I'm closing in on 1,000 words for this post, I'll just conclude with these few words:

-- I aced my Independent Study.

-- I am competent and capable of completing this project in the second semester.

-- I'm very proud of myself.

-- Hmmmmm, does this mean I might be able to move a notch higher on the Pecker Order? HA HA!