Worthy

Beating myself up for not accomplishing what I planned or simply doing a piss-poor job of it is a hobby of mine.

What triggers these episodes varies. Sometimes it’s just a silly little thing like wasting money by forgetting to use food before it goes bad. Other times it’s major mistakes related to family or career. The problem is that the scale of the mistake is not proportional to the self-punishment. And when one of these triggers click, the collapse is fast.

This is not full-on depression, an enemy that Matt Gemmell recently described so well—I battled that foe 15 years ago and am wary of its return. Still, these dark moments are not harmless. They obscure the light and warmth. They make me stumble and slide down a pit of despair where I find more reasons to remain there. They cause me to reject the help of others.

Because I’m not worthy of their affection.

Sometimes I just want to give up on the day or a single task, but other times these dark thoughts thrive. I slide deeper into the darkness where I am blind to the worth of my existence. I see no hope for my future, no reason why anyone would want a loser like me around.

I hide it well—I’ve been practicing this since before the Beatles broke up—and still smile and joke around. My wife, Judy, sees through my facade and suffers more because of it. She knows how to gently remind me of all my blessings and to wait for me to let go of the trigger. I honestly don’t know if I’d be here without her.

The saving grace of my dark thoughts is that they don’t last long—sometimes only hours and rarely more than a day. I’ve also learned to recognize them and try to maintain some perspective.

“You’re doing it again, Hoctor. This is all bullshit that you are using to build a false reality. When it’s over, you’re going to be annoyed that you wasted any time on this crap.”

Unfortunately, knowing that I’m sliding into the pit doesn’t empower me to walk away from this darkness—there first must be punishment. Reality is out of reach and I’m not worthy of happiness just yet. Maybe later.

This all has something to do with records playing in my head that say, “I could have done that better. I’m underachieving and should perform to my potential. Don’t screw up again; you may not get a second chance.”

Countering these negative records is the sound of Judy’s voice saying, “You need to stop beating yourself up! You don’t deserve this kind of pain. You are a good person!” But I’ve tried so often to quiet these demons without success. They are like stains that most of the time I ignore, but when pointed out, I can’t stop staring at them. I look to the positives in my life and see how wonderful they all are, but those damned stains are right there.

I’m ready to let go of this unhealthy behavior. The solution that my brain supplies is wrong and just as messed up as these episodes: Just do everything right, which is an impossible solution. It’s also counter to learning from my mistakes—a method that has worked really well for me.

They say that the sane person questions if he is crazy and the crazy person defends his sanity. I guess I can take comfort in my sanity and just work every day to serve others and stay out of my own head. I need to feel worthy.

Selma

I grew up in the 60s in a suburb of Buffalo, New York. Watching the movie Selma brought back a flood of memories for me.

Western New York wasn’t a hotbed of civil unrest or reform, but it was very ethnically segregated and I was surrounded by bigotry and hate growing up. Color and creed were both points of prejudice in Buffalo.

During the graphic hate scenes in Selma, I couldn’t help but well up with sadness for those who had to sacrifice so much for something as basic as voting rights. But it wasn’t just scenes from 1965 that made me so sad or the flood of emotions that came back from seeing bigotry in my youth, it was the knowledge that we still hold so many prejudices today.

Modern prejudices are more subtle and people have pushed them down below the surface to disguise them. Bigotry today is justified by national security or religious bias, but is no less a cancer that still plagues humanity.

Everyone needs to see this movie. Let it affect you and give you reasons to explore your individual prejudices. I’m auditing my own attitudes to see how much of my upbringing is still lurking in the dark corners of my brain. I’m frightened that I’m not as free of prejudices as I think I am… and that’s probably healthy fear.

The Handoff

I’ve started several companies, but No Thirst Software was special because it was such a personal adventure. I had gone through two years of dramatic change in my life and this company was birthed of that chaos.

Now another change has occurred: No Thirst Software has a new custodian, Kevin LaCoste. After months of making sure the transition would be smooth for our customers, we have now posted the formal announcement.

It’s hard to let go of apps that I have poured my heart and soul into, but I trust Kevin LaCoste with the future of MoneyWell and Debt Quencher. I’m excited to see where he takes them.

I will stay involved in an advisory role, but I won’t be touching day-to-day operations due to my new job.

This feels the same as when I watched my teens go off to college. I know this is the best scenario, but it’s still an emotional time. Maybe they’ll visit on the holidays.

No Guarantees

I’ve lost two friends in one week.

Both men were generous and loving individuals. Both were active members in their respective communities. Both died too young.

I’m no stranger to early deaths. I lost my brother when he was 19 and my dad at 61. I understand that I need to cherish every second of my life, but I forget. It’s easy to get caught up in my minor day-to-day struggles and take what I have for granted. These two rapid-fire deaths are a wakeup call—one that I hope I don’t let fade from my brain soon.

There are no guarantees that I’ll have another chance to hug my wife.
No guarantees that I’ll be able to FaceTime with my kids tomorrow.
No guarantees that there will be time next week to call my best friend from high school.
No guarantees that “later when I have more time” will exist.

Later isn’t guaranteed, so I’ll hug my wife and tell her that I love her, give long-distance hugs and love to my children, and stop procrastinating about talking to or gathering with friends.

Rest well Jordan and Mike.

Welcome to Transitional

Over the past 12 months, so much has changed in my life and I’ve spent a lot of time and energy managing and accepting those changes. Given that change is the only constant in this world, I wanted to have a place to share my thoughts, ideas, failures, and successes.

This is transitional.