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The Weight of it All

I've lived an interesting life thus far. I've traveled a lot more than most people, have loved and lost, and am even fortunate enough to have found love from decades ago returning to my life. Just once I experienced atonement with the Universe on a road trip across the West. I've been published both academically and professionally and have even been interviewed on CNN and by National Geographic. I have been in the right place at the right time to explore parts of our world and be one of two people to ever see corners of it that remain hidden form all. Spent a career dealing with the unimaginable and yet I have the pleasure of being one of only four people on the planet to have saved a living cave diver. I'm fortunate enough to have graduated from a university (thanks mom). I am grateful that I was born with zero fear of traveling solo and lucky enough to have a silver tongue that lets me talk my way into and out of almost anything. Certainly there have been some joyous and challenging moments, just like there have been for most of the humans who call this spinning ball home, but I have always marched to my own drummer and followed my own ideas and wouldn't change most of it as it has all led me to this very moment.

It is the collection of recent moments that is sitting on me like an elephant who's recently spent too much at the trough. I physically feel the weight of it all for the first time in my life. The weight is having a physical and psychological impact that is almost entirely new to me. Surely there have been some rough moments where I felt sadness and pain, but this, this is different. This omnipresent dull ache is physical and even feels dimensional.

It's been building for a long time I believe. I've never been one to validate, or in many cases even acknowledge PTSD, stress or anxiety as I would often see people were using it as a crutch to get out of something. By no means am I saying that these things are not real as I am very aware that they are. I do, however, believe they are often used to manipulate the system. It is necessary to understand that 911 sees the underbelly of the world and its practitioners, of any discipline, become very, very jaded. It was through this lens that I saw everything. Add to this that I did not know that there was something growing inside of me that altered everything about how I saw and interacted with the world.

Thursday in a "mandatory" meeting the 28 years of my 911 involvement reached an undeniable crescendo and as a result I resigned form being a paramedic. While it is only one small part of my job as a company officer on a firetruck it is an important one, but the system is so bloody broken, so beyond repair, what has been accepted is so beyond the pale, I cannot willing be a part of it any longer. I simply walked up the edge of breaking down and that was the only way back from it. I was so close to absolutely losing it coworkers expressed concern that I might do something in reaction to all of the stress. Thankfully I was also born with an impossibly hardhead and there is no force on the planet that would make taking that doorway an option. No worries there. It is however more likely that I would not find a vent for this pulsating aggression and it would erupt in some cataclysmic event that would have me above the fold on the local paper if not trying to worm my out of nice fitting jacket shall we say.

I was diagnosed with a tumor on my parathyroid. Thankfully it was benign but, for however many years it lived inside of me it pulled calcium from my bones which exposed nerve endings and meant I had physical bone and joint pain 24/7. Honestly before it was caught by a department physical, thanks Vince wherever you are in the world, I just believed that the pain was a byproduct of me being me and my career and leisure choices 😉. Another of the lovely side effects was extreme aggression and agitation. Mix that in with some hot Irish blood and a stubborn streak wider than Orion's Belt and you the perfect recipe for making someone hard to deal with. It's been a few years now since it was removed and I have called and apologized to many of the people that things didn't go so well with as they didn't get the best version of me. To the few remaining ones out there that I have lost total contact with, if by some means the Universe leads you to my little slice of the Internet, reach out as I would love to talk to you.

So it's 0410 and sleep again eludes me. I have not sat down with this experiment of my mine in months and the paragraphs above, save for the tumor, were found in the draft folder. This "meltdown Thursday" mentioned just above was a few years ago now but illuminating this post just felt like the right thing to do. As I sit here typing with some Community Dark and Bold coffee, this stuff is seriously good so if you can find it I do suggest it, I am once again reminded of how therapeutic I find this. Putting thoughts into physical form, whether they are seen or not is irrelevant, seems to work for me.

My brain is almost never off and there are days I can feel it spinning up inside my head and I swear other people can hear the turbines. There are only a handful of places, the main one being cave diving, that I only have a single thought stream. Even at work inside of burning buildings I often have a myriad of thoughts bounding around inside my head, but sitting down at this keyboard in the wee hours of the day I found myself again with a single thought stream. It is incredible.

Stolen from the Internet this morning but was a recent thread of conversation between my dad and I, after I saw the quote of the vet's office, about mindfulness and my desire to be better at it. It is in the quiet moments that I hear my mind the most and it is indeed a fight to become aware of one's self and stay in that place. I work on it almost daily. Perhaps I can combine the two here.

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