Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Baby Tungsten


I feel really whiny and needy today. This post will probably sound just like that. I’m tried and my eyes hurt. I didn’t sleep very well last night. Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of my sons’ death.

I spent some time at the cemetery and remembering his life. It felt very sad and melancholy. I wasn’t able to just feel since I had a number of other things to do, like taking care of the other children, which kept interrupting. I got some grieving in and hopefully that will help. However, I feel really needy today so I guess I need to process my feelings some more.

Grief is a funny thing it feels lonely to me.

I want to just go away today and be invisible. Sometimes, I wish I still had a reliable method of avoiding feeling – of turning off – of getting away.

It’s good to recognize that feeling and accept that is how I feel. I know I won’t die, I will survive this feeling and things will be better. I can make it right now, I can be present. It just seems hard today.

OK thanks for listening. I’ll try to stop whining now.

Friday, November 04, 2005


This time of year is hard for me. It took me by surprise this year though. I don’t know why, it shouldn’t because it happens every year. I was feeling low down, low on energy and interest. I was feeling tired and bored. I didn’t like to put forth the effort to be healthy and I just wanted to be alone.

I didn’t figure it out until I was talking with someone in my group and I realized that I was feeling very depressed. As soon as I thought that I immediately realized why I was depressed. In addition to the usual stresses of life and of recovery this is the time of year when I lost my second son following surgery to correct a heart defect. I hadn’t consciously been thinking about that but my body and my sub-conscious remembered and I was reacting to that feeling.

Isn’t it amazing how interconnected all the components of our selves our? A part of me that I am not aware of can affect my feelings both conscious and physical. Amazing.

Recovery works the same way, the limbic system wants to react to its own feelings and give me feelings and desires that I don’t consciously plan or even want. How important then to remain aware. In my group we often say or hear “think and feel about how you think and feel”. I need to remember this all the time but especially now as I think about my feelings and allow myself to feel them.

Plus it is ok to feel depressed and low on energy. I’m a human, and humans feel that way sometimes. I have a valid loss and I have a real need to allow myself to be me. I am also trying to remember that having a very real feel of loss is a chance to turn to God. I feel a loss and I want to escape – I want to run away, to not feel the pain, to react like a vegetable. This is the limbic response to unpleasant feelings. I can feel that way and then choose to be true to myself anyway and face what I feel and allow myself to feel that and then further choose to do what I know I need to do anyway.

As I have been thinking about this and what I would choose to do to respond to it I thought of two ideas. One I need to write how I feel more. And two I need to make sure I am not forgetting to do what I have learned.

One: I would like to journal more. I have been writing down my 9 emotions as an assignment by my therapist. That is OK but I need to get out more than that. Plus just writing them down doesn’t really help me feel any better. I need to take the one step beyond writing them down and share them with someone else. That is part of what is motivating this blog entry. I am going to make some time to share these feelings with my wife. I am going to write more things down.

One of the frustrations I feel right now is that I have been working on some inner child work, however, I am at a point where I can’t do the next step without a group or therapist to help me. My group has been focused on other things instead of what I wanted to do and I don’t have a therapy appointment for a while yet. So I have been indulging in my frustration instead of finding something to do. I realized as I was thinking that I have another recovery workbook that I can work on. I have decided to spend some time working in there again because that will give me a chance to write feelings and thoughts down and also because it will feel like doing something instead of just waiting and finally because I can quit being grandiose about feeling frustrated and just do something about it.

Two: I need to remember what I have learned and not be complacent about where I am at and what I am doing. To that end I have re-written my PCI template. Printed out six copies and I am going to spend the next six weeks filling it out so I don’t forget what I know.

As an exercise as I was working on that PCI I filled out the last two days for myself. On Wednesday I scored a 37 – above the warning line of 35 – and on Thursday I scored a 19. On Wednesday afternoon I felt really bored and was really triggered by it. I kept trying to find something to do and ways to deal with my feelings but it seemed that no matter what I tried I kept feeling triggered and struggled to keep my thoughts real and free of fantasy or recall. Finally I left work early just to get to my home where I usually feel safe and I always find it easier to be trigger free. On Thursday as a reaction to Wednesday I really focused on trying to surrender and be conscious about asking Heavenly Father for help. Looking back on that PCI chart though I can see that on Wednesday I was neglecting my self by poor sleep and eating habits, that I spent to much time isolated in my office, and that I was to willing to browse instead of finding out what I was feeling. Thursday when I was surrendering I was much more aware of my feelings, I took care of my needs and I made efforts to reach out to others. See I forgot on Wednesday what I knew I needed to do. I plan on filling out my charts for the next six weeks to reinforce my skills and remind myself of what I really want and need.

Finally, I was thinking just this morning of sharing my book with my wife. I have been writing a book of LDS based daily affirmations for men in recovery. I have written quite a bit in long hand but lately I have been starting to transcribe what I have written onto my computer. I haven’t really shared any of this with anyone. I am going to send what I have typed to my wife. I don’t know what she will think of it – maybe that it’s a complete waste of my time – but I have just been sitting on that and holding it back and that behavior is not good for me so I’m going to do something different. Wish me luck, it is a bit scary to do because this project has been important to me and I’m afraid that if someone else looks at it they will think it’s a bad idea or that I’m stupid for even trying to do something so big. Anyway, I couldn’t ask for a better person to share it with than my wife, I’m sure my fears, however real they feel to me, are groundless.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Well I liked this movie. I have to agree with many critics that the acting, for the most part was lackluster but I did enjoy the preformances by Ian McDermid and Ewan McGregor. The rest of the acting was somewhat leaden and un-interesting.

I felt more emotion in viewing the film than in episodes 1 and 2. I particularly liked the scene (without spoiling) where Obi-Wan walks away from Anikin near the end of the show. There were a few other moments that stand out to me as well, overall the film left me with a sense of sadness for the plight of most of the characters. The theme of choice and accountability were strongly presented as Anikin is forced to confront Padme with the results of his own choices and the position it placed her in.

Visually the movie was STUNNING. Wonderful space battle at the begining. Many shots of coursicant. Great lightsaber and force battles. Lucas is a master of visual arts and it shows. I wish he was as good at dialog and storytelling as he is visually.

Only one beastie really jumped out at me and said "HI-I'm-Made-For-The-Toy-Market".

I wish there were more loveable scoundrels but I guess Han stands alone in that department with Lucas.

Overall I rate the movie pretty highly in my ranking of Star Wars movies. I'm torn between ranking it 2nd behind Empire or 3rd behind A New Hope. I've only seen the show twice so I may have to check it out one more time.

Monday, April 25, 2005


So I didn’t go on my trip. I’m pretty disappointed to miss out on it. Someone said things to me to give me cause to think it wasn’t a good idea. I listened. I thought about what was said. I agreed with the advice. I asked for a reality check from another advisor who also agreed. Crap.

It’s not fun to be disappointed. It’s not fun to be faced with the fact that I don’t always get “my way” all the time. I suppose that is just life. In fact one advisor told me that it’s good to practice being disappointed. It’s OK to feel it since it’s a normal part of life. The trick is how we respond to it.

So I tried to respond healthily. I planned other activities for my weekend. I got a lot accomplished. And when I went to my planned reward, a local AAA baseball game it started raining. Seriously, it was a beautiful day until I drove to the game, then it started to sprinkle. I got to the ball park around 5:30 for a 6:30 start. I bought a brat and a large drink and found my seat. It was a gentle sprinkle falling; the sky looked cloudy but unthreatening. Then it started raining harder, I took shelter under the stands, the sky got darker. The game was delayed once, then again. The rain slowed. The ground crew came out, I retook my seat. They painted the chalk lines on the first and third base lines. The ground crew covered the field back up. I waited. The announcer said they were tracking a storm on radar just south of the stadium. It started raining harder. At 7:46 the announcer said the game was rained out. Crap. Disappointed. Again. Crap.

In fact, it seems, right now, that life is full of disappointments. I experienced one last night. I’m anticipating one on Saturday. Things don’t go the way I hope or want and, bam, disappointment. The question I have is what to do about it. Well part of me wants to just run away and pretend the hurt isn’t there. Part of me wants to get angry and rail and complain (can you tell I’m complaining a bit in this post?) Part of me wants to just go back to bed, another escape.

I guess the rest of me thinks like this: I’m still OK even though things don’t go how I want. I think I can survive being disappointed. I think I can find something to enjoy even when larger things go wrong. I think I can care for myself still. I think I can choose not to pout (very much). I think I can make the best of my situation.

The final line makes a lot of sense to me. I can make the best of this situation. I have always been optimistic, even overly so, but I do believe in trying to find what I can in any situation and be grateful for that little happiness even if the overall situation is not ideal or even desirable. I can make the best of disappointment.

I missed my MLB game; I’m going to another one later. I missed my AAA game; they will exchange my ticket stub for another game. I was disappointed the other night; I can hope for the future. I anticipate being disappointed on Saturday; I know that what is happening is right and I can be glad to be there to share in the joy.

Now, if you will excuse me. I'm going to go get a cheeseburger.

Monday, April 11, 2005


The best all time comic strip is still Order of the Stick but I'm still waiting for the book I ordered way back in January. I pre-pre ordered my book as you will recall. I've been anxiously awaiting the arrival of it. The expectations were set that it would arrive at the end of march or beginning of april. I really really hoped to get it for my Birthday on april 8th. No such luck, not even an e-mail indication that it has shipped.

From the indications I can pick up on the OOtS site and message boards, there were some complications with shipping lables and boxes. I really really hope to get it soon. It would be a blast to have it for my trip since my current thinking is that I want to be really relaxed and it would be a super fun book to relax with.


I'm planning a trip up to see the Rockies play baseball in two weeks. I'm pretty excited about going. I enjoy baseball just as a sport, I like the pitcher / batter duel, I like the pace of the game and I enjoy the statistics that are tracked for all parts of the game.

But going to a MLB game is something else entirely. I get all the parts of baseball that I like plus a relaxed major sporting crowd. I've found that I can almost always find someone around me in the stands who has been to every game since 19long time ago and enjoys telling stories about the team and players. In the stands I find dogs with 'kraut taste better. I buy a scorecard and fill it out. I get there early to watch the batting practice and the ground crew.

I'm pretty pumped about going. YAY!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


*Sigh* I'm a sucker for online quizes. Here is the latest one:

I am nerdier than 85% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


What does accountability look like. Does it look like this?

I feel like I have been honest in admitting my mistakes and sins. I feel like I have honestly strived to do what the Bishop has asked me to do. I go to my group meetings, I work the 12 steps, I try to be the kind of person I want to be around every day. I make mistakes and I admit them and try to move on. I have changed my life to provide daily activities to remind me of these things. I accept my weakness and work on surrendering what I can't control. I have tried to be open and vulnerable with my wife. I have worked on my communication skills. I attempt to be real. I still have a long way to go, I'll be an addict all the time but I am also a recovering addict. I can see the whirlwind of destruction in my life and in the pain in my wifes voice. I have expressed my sorrow for the hurt I caused her many times. I have tried to support her and do what small things I can to help her in her healing and her life and her interests. Maybe that is all I'll ever have is the wreckage of what is left but I hope for a better day. I don't know, only God does. I can't figure out why things aren't better but I do know that I can do the things He has helped me to learn. I trust that He can help me do what is right. I trust that when I feel that something is right to do I can do it, and that feeling has often lead me to apologize to my wife or to my children. I pray for my wife and my children and myself for what we need and to be able to help each other. I can't erase the past.

Is this accountability? Or am I just crazy on this too?

Friday, February 11, 2005


I found a really really fun toy yesterday. I noticed early in the day that internet connections to many of the servers we frequently use were very slow. Further research showed ping times to the servers to be averaging around 600 ms. The usual ping times to these servers was around 100 ms previously. In addition ping times across the VPN to our other office were around 400 ms up from around 90 ms.

Clearly something was up. Traceroute information showed me that the congestion began at the first internet hop on the other side of our T1. Prior to that all hops were very responsive, however, since each of those devices is on a 100 MB switched network I concluded that someone internal to our network was overloading the 1.5 MB T1 connection.

I use a Netscreen firewall at the border and brief research showed me that the software running on it was woefully unable to show me who was using our bandwidth. I configured the switch to deliver a copy of all packets to the firewall to our old firewall, a system running LINUX. I found a program called NTop. After compiling and installing the program I ran it. Within ten minutes I was able to identify the workstation hogging all our bandwidth. The firewall was by far the largest user of all our bandwidth, that makes since since all traffic goes through it. The next highest workstation had nearly 75% of all traffic originating from it. NTop indicated that the workstation in question was running file sharing software.

I contacted the user who sheepishly admitted to running a file sharing program. He was politely informed that he was hosing everyone else and it was in violation of company policy to use company resources as he was. He turned the software off and promised to never do it again at work.

Since then I’ve run NTop all night and through out the day. I keep checking on it from time to time to see how it’s working. It has managed to resolve almost all the workstation names by sniffing the traffic to and from the internet. I’m very impressed by the program. I don’t think I’ll run it all the time but it was definitely useful yesterday and I can imagine it continuing to be so in the future.


Filter: 7
PCI: 28

What would an ideal day be like?

Wake up close to someone. I like physical touch and I dislike waking up alone. Ideally I could start my day by being physically close to someone.

I like time to myself and mornings are a good time for it. It would ideally I wake up in time to avoid having to rush right off to work. I take some time to study and be alone. Ten minutes with the newspaper. Ten minutes to eat something (ideally something easy to prepare or prepared by someone else.) I would like someone to have prepared a lunch for me to take to work.

I dislike having to think about what to wear and what to make and what needs to be done today. I prefer to take care of those chores the night before so that the mornings are more peaceful and contemplative.

I like to get to work before most others do. I find that time of the day to be highly productive for me and I can accomplish many of my daily goals in the morning. I like my job to be challenging and interesting but not stressful. I do well in work crises by responding calmly but my internal stresses go up. Ideally, work challenges would be evenly paced and have reasonable deadlines. Ideally, the people I work with would understand the reasons why I balance jobs the way I do and not complain that their particular job is not given enough priority. In an ideal work day I would have moments of relaxation between jobs. I think a brief moment to read a web comic or check out the headlines before turning back to work is refreshing.

I like to leave work at 5. I don’t like to think about work when I’m not there.

I like to see my boys and play with them. Ideally I would be able to see them every day and spend some time on the floor playing with them and finding out about their days. I like to hear about what they have done and what they want to do and what they thought about things.

I would like to be welcomed home. I would like a wife that appreciated my hard work to provide for the family and that liked to be around me. I would like to be touched when I get home. I would like to share the challenges of my day with someone interested in them. I would like a wife that shared her day with me.

I enjoy just being at home. After work I would like 15 more minutes with a newspaper. I would like to help with homework. I like the house to be orderly and I would help by straightening rooms, doing dishes or other chores that I thought would help. I like reading stories to the kids. I would like them to settle down when it’s time for lights off.

As the house settles down I would like to sit on the couch next to my wife and watch a TV show or movie. I would like to be able to talk about our days calmly but with genuine feeling. I would like to be touched and not feel isolated.

Before I get to tired I would like to prepare for the next day by setting out anything I need to take to work. I would like to take a few moments to read something in bed as my body and mind relaxes.

I would like to go to bed with my wife, not before and not after but together. I would like to be cuddled or cuddle and feel close and not pushed away. I would like both of us to feel free to propose further intimacy and for either to accept or postpone it freely.

Bah, this seems a bit silly since life rarely is so orderly but there is a glimpse into how an ideal day might go. I’ll have to work up some ideal weeks, moths and years too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Filter: 9
PCI: 25

Negative Mission Statement:

I will be sent away, left alone and abandoned by people that should love me. I must be lectured and coerced into doing the right thing. I am used by others for what services and goods I can provide; I have no intrinsic value to others. Things I love and cherish will be taken away from me. The only person who consistently cares for me is myself. The things I enjoy are wrong and bad.

Positive Mission Statement:

I am loved and accepted and people like to be around me. I can make the right choices. I am kind to others but I don’t allow myself to be taken advantage of. I am intrinsically valuable. I will keep the things I love and cherish. I care for myself and allow others to help. I enjoy many good things.

Well, I’m not sure of the value of that exercise. The negative mission statement comes from my egg. It seems to make sense so far. The positive statement is a reverse mirror of the negative statement. It seems much easier to believe the negative one. In fact the whole affirmation thing is hard to buy into some days. I’m writing a book of LDS affirmations and I’m questioning the value. Irony. I look at the positive statement and I wish that they were consistently true but the fact is that only parts of it have been true so far in my life.

I have lately been falling into the trap of negative self talk. It has been harder to believe in positive outcomes in my life lately. Part of the reason for that is that I got out of the habit of reading my list of personal affirmations during the holidays. I’ve kept up with the ones from the book and converting them into LDS versions but long ago I wrote thirteen or so personal affirmations. I was reading them every morning during my personal time. I was reflecting on that this morning and realizing that this may be part of my negative feelings lately. I’m going to write them down again and put a copy of it with my daily affirmation book so I have them handy to review.

I’ve also been thinking about boundaries because of what the guys in my group were trying to teach me last night. I’m not very good at my boundaries yet. I need to set some more I think. One of them has to do with talking with my wife. Often when we talk lately we fight instead. We go around and around the drama triangle. I need to set a boundary before hand that when I feel that I’m in a triangle I need to say: “Being in the drama triangle isn’t good for me so I need to stop now. I would like to continue our discussion but I can’t do it like this. Let’s take a break and talk about this later.”

This boundary is hard for me since one of my core issues is trying to win approval and affection from my wife and my old brain tells me that when I do something risky like that I’m jeopardizing that goal. My old brain doesn’t understand that I’ve been doing it his way and it hasn’t worked either. It’s time to try a rational approach instead.

Friday, January 14, 2005


PCI: 27
Filter: 7

So I feel lost. I don’t know if I should trust my own feelings or if I should trust what my wife tells me or if I should look for some other reference frame or what.

I argued with my wife the last few days. She found an excel spread sheet with the names of books and their authors that caught my eye at one point in time or other. Some of the books had content that just isn’t good for me. By that I mean that some of the books had elements of sex or bondage or drug use or slavery or other concepts that I have a hard time getting out of my head once they get in there. Basically those are bad for me. Some of the books were completely harmless. Some of the books would some people wouldn’t like and other would. For example murder mysteries or forensic pathology detective work or creepy supernatural horror stories.

The place I’m at is like this. I though I was hearing the message that I can’t like any of those books above and still be a good person.

I don’t believe that. I agree that it would be a mistake to read books with unhealthy content but what about the others? It was a mistake to even list a book that I knew might feed my lustful desires. And I hope that if I came across some of the books I had put on list then that I wouldn’t now.

I believe that it’s not inherently wrong to enjoy the fascinating blend of science and detective work found in a compelling story of forensic pathology, or to enjoy the story of a contest to stop a killer before he kills again. I don’t think it’s wrong to enjoy a story where the hero faces monstrous or frightening supernormal phenomena wondering all along if he can escape the dangers. Or to enjoy a book discussing social and political relationships or structures set in the guise of science fiction.

I know that my wife really doesn’t like the type of stories I just mentioned but I really do and I always have.

Her point, as best I understand it, is that these stories violate her principles of goodness, respect (especially towards women), kindness, reality, purity and nobleness and she doesn’t want them in her life.

My point is that some of them are OK for the occasional use as entertainment and those that aren’t I want to avoid.

My fear here is this: I am afraid that this argument is just a justification for her to believe that I’m some sort of creep and that I’m hopeless and unable to improve. Furthermore, I fear that if I agree that all the stories I like are bad that something else will be next. Maybe sports, or the way I do things around the house or how I interact with the kids, or the kinds of friends I have or the way I dress myself or something else. Perhaps that fear is irrational.

I don’t know. That is the point of my first sentence. I feel lost. I am lost; I have no refuge, no shelter. I feel unsafe. I feel bereft of comfort. I reread her point and my point above and I don’t know if I’m crazy or not.

Sometimes when I get sick I get dizzy. When that happens to me I reach out my arm and touch the wall near my bed. Somehow that helps me. Knowing that the wall isn’t moving proves to me somehow that I’m not spinning around either. I need a wall like that now. I’m keeping up with my daily spiritual activities hoping that they help me find that wall and I believe that God loves me and will help me find what I need.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Stick Art Genius

I found a new favorite web comic. It is something to be excited about in my currently dreary life. I’m absolutely in love with “The Order of the Stick”. This is a strip done by Rich Burlew. It’s roughly a D&D comic but the way they consistently break the fourth wall and the insightful humor just kills me. I tried to read the archives in one sitting when I first discovered it but I had to stop. I couldn’t breath I was laughing so hard and I had trouble explaining the tears on my face to my cow-orkers. (I'll give 5 points to the first person to identify that reference!). I finished off the archives the next day after I found the site and I’ve never looked back.

Rich has made plans to publish a book containing the firsts 123 strips plus some bonus stuff. I feel a little embarrassed to admit my level of fan-boyishness. I pre-pre-ordered a copy. I then pre-ordered a copy so that Rich would personally sign my copy of the book. But even worse I was so excited that I did all this early enough that I’m pretty sure I got one of the Elan buttons he is giving to the first 500 orders. Things that make you go w00t. (And another 5 points there.)

Even now I’m resisting the terrible temptation to re-read all the archives before my book comes but I’m resisting so that I can do it all in glossy color with paper in front of me. I love re-reading comics I love and I’m eagerly looking forward to having TOotS as a comic book on my shelf.

I have found myself singing songs like Elan does to improve my skills at something (write, write, write, my existential angst blog!). And laughing at odd moments when a line from a strip bubbles up in my mind like: “If I don’t look it can’t kill my brain.”

Check it out if you haven’t already. It does helps to have some knowledge of D&D but it’s not necessary to be a master of the game. Heck I haven’t played since high school (if you could call what we did role playing) and I love the strip.


Filter: 3
PCI: ?

I need to start tracking my PCI again. I feel a bit out of control, I’m not acting crazy yet but I feel the edge getting closer. The PCI helps me see where I’m getting close to that edge and makes it easy for me to change specific behaviors.

I think the worst think I’m doing right now is living in fantasy. I’m facing a personal crisis in my primary relationship and I just don’t know where to take it. I’m having a hard time staying in the present and instead spend time wondering about what life would be like if I were divorced and what will happen at kids birthdays and what kind of life will I live and how will I feel about it.

I am afraid of that eventuality. I’ve been separated for over a year now and mostly I hate it but there is a secret part of me that loves the independence. I hate being so far from my wonderful kids though, and I worry what affect this will have on them later in their lives.

I don’t feel like I can be me much though. I just finished a really hard exercise with my therapist where I symbolically drew all the shameful and traumatic experiences in my life. It gushed out of me when I went to draw it but I’ve felt stressed since then. Having the symbol of my pain in front of me to look at is both comforting and stressing. In this exercise I discovered that I have a very hard time trusting people, in fact I usually only trust them to betray or hurt me in some way. So I preemptively withdraw to avoid that pain. I also discovered that I have a great tendency to allow myself to be used by others. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by that but there it was in color in front of me.

Since then I’ve noticed a few interactions with people in my life where I felt used. I haven’t felt safe enough to confront either of the people that I felt were doing this to me but I did notice it happening and I could identify the source of my anger. My anger is manifesting as depression and, I suspect, a biting sense of humor.

So what to do? Well, first of all I’m going to start tracking my PCI again so I don’t use my anger as a way to get crazy. Last year my goal was to learn to play stones (a song from the Ultima series of games), and I did manage to learn the right hand part. I feel pretty good about that goal, not a stunning success but nevertheless something I was able to do. This year I think I’d like to loose two inches off my waist. My 34 inch pants don’t fit so well anymore. I’m going to do crunches and leg lifts and eat better portions in addition to the upper back exercises I do.

None of that helps my relationships directly but I guess I’ll feel better about myself and I expect that will have some relevance to my relationships.

I’d like to feel safe with someone though. I wonder what I need to do to be able to trust someone fully. I can’t expect someone to read my mind and do it for me. I am more in touch with my own feelings and I’m getting better at sharing them but there are times when I don’t since I don’t feel safe doing so. That is perhaps a weakness that I should work on, sharing my feelings even when I don’t feel safe. Hmmm, but I have to be careful there since sharing feelings is a chance to build relationships but it also makes me vulnerable to being hurt and that tears down a relationship.

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