for D, who I hope can get clean

snowflakes on your body
not melting on your frigid skin
protecting you in a layer of perfection
a quiet peace you’ve never known

crystals in your hair and in your veins
the warmth has left your pallid face
unblinking eyes went cold long before
pale blue windows on a broken soul

snowflakes falling, drifting, blown
lying in an alley, all alone

lingering grief

The Invisible Scar website had an article about the grief suffered by people who were emotionally abused as a child. She writes that people grieve things such as the loss of childhood, loss of the people who the abusers should have been, loss of future happiness, or the losses felt by their younger selves. The article includes the idea that those sorrows must be processed in the same way as those for a death in the family or a traumatic event, because for some people childhood was a very long traumatic event from which the grief was delayed for many years.

I know my experiences from childhood were not severe compared to those of other people, but I was deeply affected by what happened to me. My entire life has been clouded by what I learned as a child: shame, guilt, spite, anger, mistrust, isolation, social anxiety, and a lack of self-esteem.

I lost so many things during childhood, but it was not until I escaped from the situation did I begin to realize what I had lost and what it had cost me. I became very angry as a young man because despite my new freedom, I still felt like I deserved to feel pain and hurt from childhood. “You sabotage yourself,” someone told me, and they were right; I kept returning to that mental state of being a victim, and the memory of my losses fueled my anger.

Over the years that anger settled into my psyche as a deep and lingering depression from which I was powerless to escape. It took me many years before I admitted to myself I needed help dealing with the Beast within my soul, and to get rid of the boxes of stuff in the mental attic which I was afraid to open. I tried therapy for a couple of years, and I think it helped, but I was scared to continue because the feelings were too raw. I tried to bottle it up again, but of course that was unsuccessful.

It has been only recently that I have been able to let go of some of these memories and no longer allow them to have power over my life. I still struggle with depression, but it is more due to the bipolar than the memory of the abuse. I still have problems with social anxiety, but I have been able to fool most of the people most of the time, and avoid situations where I know I would fail. I still isolate and compartmentalize, and I have discarded all connections to my past life except for those buried in my memory.

Looking through the lens of time and distance, I still feel sad for the losses I felt as a child. I wish for him that I had been in a different place where I had felt like I belonged, and like I deserved to feel good about myself. I wish for him that I had been able to gain confidence to succeed in life, and that I learned healthy social skills to be better able to relate to people without damaging myself in the process. I wish he had received unconditional love from people whose problems did not cause them to be abusers. I wish he didn’t have to hide alone to feel safe, a feeling that still exists to this day.

I still feel damaged, and I still feel for little Rob and the shit he had to go through, and I still have anger issues. However, I see myself with more empathy and compassion now than ever before, and I suppose that is a healthier place.

black flowers

Cheery thoughts on an early summer morning…


black flowers, leaves of grey
fading away like love’s desire
a cold dying fire

black flowers’ deathly bloom
saving no room for warmth and light
losing the will to fight

black flower’s frozen heart
missing the part that cares and loves
shunning the life from above

black flowers, frozen in death
refusing the breath of the goddess
lost in the darkness


I’m headed downhill again, for several reasons. The trees, the man-child, the lack of intimacy, the hating of the job, the hating of the new bed, the feeling of being overwhelmed, the recent bad luck, the girl, the bleeding of money, the house, the new cat, the van, the unfulfilled desire to run away … always that desire.

The realization that I don’t like my job has hit me pretty hard this week. The work is challenging, high-level engineering that I am capable of doing. I just hate it. Maybe it is the depression talking, but I no longer have any interest in doing my job.

I have a history of not staying in a job for very long, and at 4 and 1/2 years I have been in this role longer than any other since graduating college. The restless part is telling me I need to do something else, that I will feel better with something new and interesting.

I would be crazy to leave my current job. It is a stable job, nearly immune to the whims of the economy. The pay and the benefits are far above what I could earn in the consulting world, since I do not have a PE license. The financial cost of changing jobs would be significant, and Mrs. Fish would freak out. Just when we are paying off all our debts from the meltdown 6 years ago, and paying for Nicole to try going to college, finding a lower paying job would be stupid.

But I hate what I’m doing. I don’t like going to work. I get no satisfaction at all from being there. I dread seeing my manager walk toward me. I fear talking on the phone and asking for things and leaving voice mail messages. Despite being asked to work overtime, I refuse because I can’t stand the thought of being there a minute longer than necessary.

Then I get home, and I realize I don’t really want to be here either. I look up at airplanes and wish I was going somewhere. I think about comfy hotel beds and exploring new places. I feel so out of place here.

[ whine whine whine, complain complain … I hear you all saying “quit your bitching, you have it pretty goddamn easy” … and you are right, so I’ll shut up now. ]

a close call

I posted the poem about thunderstorms and tornadoes, then suddenly we had one a little too close for my liking.

Thursday night a storm was approaching, and on radar it looked like a good one. When the first wind gust hit, we decided to go downstairs. While we were in the basement, I heard a big thud that sounded like bad news. After the wind subsided and the storm moved on, we found two trees had been knocked down, but thankfully none near the house. The trees were blocking the driveway, so I couldn’t go to work Friday. Instead of drawing lines in Autocad, I spent the day cutting and sawing wood and repairing chain saws. Thankfully the neighbor’s grandson helped me, and he loaned me a saw when mine was not working.

About 15 minutes after that first gust, I got a tornado warning on my phone for the adjacent county. A little late for us, I thought. Our damage was likely due to straight line winds, but just over a mile away an F1 tornado was confirmed. I wonder if the weather service was late in getting a warning out, or more likely it developed into a tornado storm so quickly there was little time for warning.

In the meantime, more storms are on the way this week. I really want to sell this house and move to a place with no trees.

waiting for the storm

waiting, watching
a darkening sky

people try to prepare
as they stare at the gathering storm

building, climbing
a cumulus cloud

deafening, loud is the thunder
it’s time to go underground

rumbling sound
wind in a gust

blowing the dust through the air
no one dares to remain exposed

pounding, driving
the rain arrives

run for your lives as the whirlwind nears
all your fears realized

naked, deathly
silence loud as war

search for the battered and torn
what mattered so much is gone

waking up with ohio

2:30 in the am… alarm clock, are you joking? ..
3:20, pulling up at the fish-in-laws to shuttle them to the airport..
4:25, jockeying for position amongst the early fliers in the departure drop-off area..
4:45, chatting with the Denny’s waitress over a chorizo skillet and coffee..
5:15, listening to the obligatory ac/dc song of the hour on the classic rock station..
5:45, feeding the van’s insatiable thirst for more dead dinosaur juice..
5:55, going to work an hour early because I have nothing better to do at 5:55 in the morning..
6:15, good morning boss, yes I am here early, ready for another day of fun! ..
6:18, catch up on a little sleep..

bipolar strong

I have been a little grouchy and irritable lately, and I didn’t want to be at work today. So there I sat, grumbling to myself about something, listening to my typically damaging mental dialog, revisiting failures and insecurities, and thinking that I was not strong enough to make it through the day. For some reason I stopped, and fixated on that one word, “strong”, and suddenly the negativity began to dissipate.

I realize that I am mentally strong. I have been resilient, stubborn, and tenacious. I have had to be strong to overcome the effects of bipolar and work at a high level to provide for my family. With the help of family, doctors, and medication, I have withstood everything that this disease has thrown at me so far. I have been to the breaking point several times, and the view from there was terrifying, but each time I have managed to come back from that precipice.

I have days where I am weak, but I usually push myself to get up every day, even if it hurts me emotionally. I feel the pressure of having to stay employed for income and health insurance and money for college expenses, and sometimes it is a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I will allow myself a little bit of rest, and I am fortunate that I have sick time available to mend my mind a little.

I have no illusion that I have seen the worst of this illness. I know that despite the meds and the recent period of stability, the bipolar can get worse and send me reeling. I know that there may be a time when the pills don’t work, or when my depressions won’t get better. I understand that there is always the possibility of losing what I have worked hard for, and that my family could be further damaged by my illness.

But for now, I will take any positives I can get. Today, it’s okay to feel a little stronger.

beer, bratwurst, and baseball

My sometimes-annual-baseball-trip went just fine. I dodged traffic jams and downpours and road construction and made it safely. I saw a Twins game in Minneapolis (I didn’t care who won) and a Giants game in Milwaukee (Giants win!). I liked the stadium in Minneapolis better, but both parks are really nice.

Target Field
Target Field


In Milwaukee I was in the third row near home plate, basically the best seat I have ever sat in. Of course you have to have beer and bratwurst when is Wisconsin, so I did. They sing “Roll Out The Barrels” during the 7th inning stretch, and they have sausage races during the game.

Batting practice with the Giants
Batting practice with the Giants

While in Milwaukee, I also went to the Miller brewery. I did the math, and their 6 huge kettles can brew about 1.1 millions cans of beer at a time – very impressive. They gave free samples after the tour, then tested your sobriety by determining if you could find your way back to the car.

Beer kettles at the Miller Brewery
Beer kettles at the Miller Brewery

tidbits and morsels

Another blogger noted there is a fine line between discipline and abuse when dealing with kids. I agree, and I will add that when the parent has unresolved issues from childhood, it always seems to come out in anger when the kids are at their worst.

Some of the best photos I have taken are accidental. Photographers with real talent prepare for those accidental moments and make it look easy. Guess what? It’s easy for an amateur to take a million bad pictures before two or three good ones show up.

Remember when everything you needed to know about everything in the world was at your fingertips, if you had the Encyclopedia Britannica? (Kids, ask your parents.) I loved the old set we inherited when I was a kid. I knew lots of stuff up until the mid 1960s… and it was 1984.

I wish people who follow the other blog knew about this blog, but I feel like pimping this blog on the other one would be tacky. Speaking of the other blog, I’m running out of ideas to write about bipolar. I knew I would hit a wall at some point, I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

This weekend I am going on my sometimes-annual baseball road trip, to Minneapolis and Milwaukee. Pictures when I return. Lots of driving and time to think, but no time for writing it all down. I’ll take a notebook, just in case. Trying not to think about possible disaster while I’m traveling. Dread mixed with anticipation, so typical of me.

Are there any people from Wisconsin or Minnesota who read this? If so, I’ll come visit you.

I am firmly convinced I am an atheist, but then again I also believe there are things which cannot be explained by reason or logic.

You know the feeling when you know the ink will smear on what you just wrote, and yet you have to test it anyway? Why not write on scratch paper and test it there? That never occurs to me until it is too late.

There is a little space under the stairs in the basement at my office. I have this nagging feeling that someday I will hide there to cry.