Fred is one of our most prolific sharers in the community. If you haven't seen his amazing photography and the corresponding post, please go take a gander.
I always enjoy his emails about the various adventures he finds living in Portugal, how he realized that an iphone camera was a perfectly obstacle-less way to appreciate photography, and being happy with less. Less shit, less financial burden, and less worry.
After a recent post I made about worrying less - or maybe it was about accepting fears as comforts - he wrote to me with a more complete tale of his trauma journey. And what a journey it's been.
Jess my friend you are firmly on the path.
I have lived through my worst fears. Which were: ending up broke, broken, sick and unloved.
I joked for years about ending up living in a refrigerator carton in a decrepit New English mill town - but to me it was no joke the fear was very real. I would somehow lose my marriage and with it I would lose my barn and shop (personal creative space + economic engine) and the house I had built, I would get sick from stress become unable to work and end up totally wiped out.
Well, it happened. All of It.
My marriage was excruciating and I didn't leave until way to late. I hung on because I did not want to give up my house and shop (aka - stuff) or put my daughter through a divorce and it nearly killed me or more accurately I nearly killed me because I didn't know what else to do. (2002)
The trauma and stress had taken their toll. I got sicker and weaker as time went on and was finally was diagnosed with RA. By this time I had a winter job in Florida and a summer job in New England and had bought and fixed up a place in Florida to live in 1/2 the year and later retire to. (2008) I could have survived being horribly sick or global financial collapse but not both at the same time. I was completely wiped out and declared bankruptcy. (2011) Somehow I managed to hang on to a shard of my career, a place to live and maintain a raging dope habit (morphine, oxy, diladid, etc. etc.). I also have had a long running addiction to junkie nurses. After losing a woman I cared for deeply to fentanyl at the same time I was in another dark twisted drug and trauma death spiral of a relationship with yet another nurse - I kicked dope. (2015) Easier said than done. By this time I was completely traumatized and insane. I could barely take care of myself and only left my apartment to hunt, gather and go to therapy. I was paranoid, delusional, rageful and absolutely joyless. These and many other withdrawl problems persisted for well over a year. (Physically getting off narcotics was nothing compared to dealing with secondary withdrawl.)
One amusing after effect I had was continued hallucinations of mice in my apartment, (what a pain in the ass they are...) the least amusing was raging suicidal ideation and a failed attempt. I was selling possessions to pay bills and stealing food and heating oil to survive. I had done a lot of trauma and therapy work over the years, but was still out of my mind being activly re-traumatized and triggered in my work, social situations and relationships which were primarily toxic and traumatizing (particularly that with my family which I had reconnected with due to my mother's declining health). If I was to live it all had to go.
My insanity did not go unnoticed. I was declared fully and permanently disabled (2017 - PTSD + Fibromyalgia) after a freakout being searched going into the Federal Building to apply for SS, then a slightly manic psych evaluation - neither could have been better timed. So there I was broke and broken, physically and emotionally sick, unable to provide for myself and moments away from being homeless. The things I feared the most had all happened and I was still alive. I got my first SSDI check plus a big retroactive payment and some money from my late mother all the same week.
Shortly after that I moved to Portugal with just a suitcase where I live and thrive to this day. My life today is quiet, small and manageable and I am gradually healing and getting stronger. I heard a 101 year old guy speak on maturing emotionally. After his speech during the Q&A he was asked if there was one thing he wished he had done that would have improved his life. "Yes!" he said, "Worry less."
Fuck yeah! Worry less.
Thanks again, Fred, for your generous contribution to the group. I can't express my gratitude for your willingness to share and write!
There's so much to learn from the treks we've all navigated - or the ones we just started mapping out. Let's hear yours.
And, don't worry so much. The worst has already happened, or it's about to; either way, you'll figure out where you belong.