Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rough times and loss lessons

I've been through rough times in my life, just like anyone has. My childhood on the dark farm, butchering animals or dealing with idiot hunters, wasn't by any means an easy one. With 10 siblings, middle child syndrome would have seemed like a picnic. Then my "awkward stage" lasted the better part of a decade. My adult life and coming out as a gay man in a Mormon world were equally uncomfortable, although puberty finally set in. Thank God.

I've dealt with loss, just like anyone has. Friendships have ended and I've felt the pain of exclusion from an entire social circle. In college, my dad almost died and was only saved because someone else wasn't as lucky, but was selfless enough to donate their liver. Friends have passed on from cancer and suicide. A year ago, I lost a relationship I truly believed would last my lifetime. You'll notice I equate loss with loved ones and not stuff. I can buy a new couch or house, loved ones... not so much.

My tendency is to analyze the deeper meaning in these situations. My brain is this way for a reason and it doesn't work for me to just "go with the flow."  I don't just go with the flow; I want to know why the flow is. More importantly, why I was placed in the flow to begin with and what I'm supposed to do once in it. Just keep being because that's all we can do is a bullshit answer to me. Something is to be learned and I want to know what that is so I can feel my time here was worth it. Also, I apologize if the word flow is conjuring images of periods. I couldn't think of another phrase. Sicko.

Right now is a rough time in my life, and I'm dealing with loss. Work stress, financial struggles, isolation from moving to a new place, and the gross world of dating are what make it rough. The loss I'm feeling, and the impetus of this blog, is my dog Geneva. I've said to myself these last few rough months, "I've always got my family I can call on, and Geneva to love when I get home." Losing her so suddenly, on top of all the rough stuff, is almost unbearable. She was a truly remarkable being and I'm lucky to have been her dad. She made me a better person and (hopefully one day) a better dad to my kids.

So what's to be learned from all the rough stuff I'm dealing with? In other rough times, the lesson has been to believe not all times are rough.  This may sound like going with the flow, but it takes more responsibility. Going with the flow implies a passive existence in the negative and positive. In the universe of possibilities, positive and negative outcomes are equally likely. Why not actively work towards the positive one? If one falls in a river, it's a good idea to call for help, reach for passing branches, etc. rather than laying there and seeing what happens (or worse, purposely giving in). Unless you're a jerk. Maybe you should lay there and see what happens.

Finally, what is to be learned from the loss? With all the other loss I've experienced thus far, the first lesson seems to be "love until it hurts, because it's going to hurt anyway." At one point, we are all going to have to miss each other. Whether it's distance or death, everyone is missed and others will miss us. That hurt is inevitable, loving in the mean time is the optional (and enjoyable) part.

But that answer applies to all loss and doesn't satisfy right now. I want to know why Geneva in particular had to go at this particular moment. What's the lesson in adding loss to rough times? Maybe her passing means I'm ready for another part of life to begin. My years with her were some of the most uncertain, scary, and sad. When I was terrified no one could accept me as a gay man, she was my constant. Now I know who I am and ready to start my family. Maybe the lesson is that moving past the rough times means saying goodbye and being grateful for what got you through it in the first place. Geneva was one of the greats, and I'm going to believe in the positive possibility that's the lesson she was here to teach.


  1. Lovely J-so wonderful to read your thoughts. Feel your feelings my friend. It is the only way to get through. Sending love.