I can see clearly now

48 years 7 months 13 days

If anyone is reading this, sorry for the delay. Also, can we talk about how cheesy the title of this entry is? Lets not.

I was born with cataracts. They’re called Posterior Polar Cataracts, and are most likely from some kind of antibiotic or anti-nausea medication that my mom was given during pregnancy. I found out I had them in my late twenties, but I figured I didn’t need to do anything about them. I mean, I could see pretty well — 20/20 for most of my life.

I avoided glasses until I hit my thirties, and even then just needed a light prescription. By the end of 2017, I noticed that in bright light, I couldn’t really see anything. If you have never had one of these cataracts, it is as if you’re looking through a ball of yarn. In fact, in school, all of my diagrams from looking through a microscope looked like a scribble of a tangled ball of string. I thought that’s just what it looked like! I also had a hard time reading because I’d lose track of which line I was reading, because I was looking at a white, reflective page with black letters. The cataracts were, later in life, affecting my work as well, because, as a Software Developer/Computer person, I couldn’t see the monitors well, being lit from behind. Dark mode was my friend (and it still is, just because it’s cool).

I feel like I’m not being clear. In bright light situations, my pupil would contract, as normal, but then my field of vision would be constricted to looking through this…thing. It was like someone standing in front of me, and I tried to look around them, but they kept moving.

By 2017, and after cancelling the surgery once, I rescheduled. My dad was still around at the time, so he drove me to the surgery. I was by far the youngest patient, and he was by far the oldest person there to drive someone home. I had never had surgery before, so I was a little nervous, and I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that the staff was super nice and laughed at my jokes. That put me at ease.

It was all a blur, no pun intended. The waiting felt like forever, the surgery felt like about 3 minutes. Apparently I was the only patient who said, “Oh my god, I can see” as soon as they sat me up. I think it was the right eye that was fixed first, and I’d return in a couple of weeks to get the left eye done, but I couldn’t believe what had happened to me. My whole life, even those times that I thought I could see, I really couldn’t see. I would walk around the neighborhood (with the glaucoma sunglasses they gave me to wear) and be fascinated by leaves. Before the surgery, leaves were just clumps of greenish-brownish stuff on trees. Now, I could count individual leaves, see them move – and it moved me to tears a couple of times.

This entry is short, and banal, I feel, and cliché in that the above made me think what other things am I looking through, metaphorically of course. This was really the impetus of me burning everything to the ground.

Get thee to a therapist, and the moment that changed everything

48 years 3 months 15 days

I had anger issues. I think. It’s hard to know, because I felt like I was in a really strange situation where I was so disliked. As I understand it, the only real negative emotion is fear, and fear stems out to all the other negative emotions (anger, sadness). My move to go to a therapist was for no one else but me. I realized at that point in my life that I had no idea what was real and what wasn’t, meaning what was the truth and what was being told to me — and some things that were told to me over the years were pretty brutal. We’ll get to that.

Finding a therapist is difficult, especially therapists who take insurance, but I finally found someone. We talked a lot, as you do with a therapist, and I broke down a lot, which felt surprisingly good. We dealt with the passing of my mother a few years prior, the relationship with my siblings, my father, and my wife. We talked a lot about where I was working and how I was being shafted on the regular by a megalomaniacal narcissist of a CEO. There was also a lot of breaking down of ideas that I had about myself and what I deserved out of life. This did NOTHING for my marriage at all.

I dismissed the way I felt about how I didn’t belong in my own house, which I blamed on myself and my feelings of depression. I mentioned how there were almost no pictures of me, but a lot of pictures of my wife with her brothers and her friends. I dismissed the constant clutter that gave me anxiety as being my problem. Without taking sides, my therapist assured me that was not my problem alone, and that people with depression are affected that way by their surroundings. It also touched on disrespect at how I was being gaslighted at home about how it was my issue. (I need to interject something: I have done my fair share of gaslighting. There are no heroes, and there are no villains. Except for the aforementioned CEO and my ex-father-in-law).

Among the things we talked about was my lack of focus, at times. My therapist asked me if I would consider getting a neuropsychological evaluation because I may have had a case of Attention Deficit Disorder (although, I’m not sure people realize this, but signs of ADD are comorbid with those who have depression – sometimes attending to the depression will help with the ADD). I really had no reservations at all about taking a neuropsych eval, but I guess some do. I feel that the more I know about myself, the more I know about myself. Then there’s less I don’t know. Does that make sense? A neuropsychological evaluation has to be administered by a PhD, as I understand it (more info here), therefore one was recommended, and an appointment was scheduled. I was “psyched”. Get it? I’ll see myself out…

A neuropsychological evaluation is a series of tests to see how well your brain works when remembering, learning, etc. There are some tests that revolve around motor skills, but that was not the sort of test I was taking. If I did have ADD, it was not the ADHD kind, as I wasn’t hyperactive and did have control over my movements, just my attention and thoughts. I don’t write that to be funny, to be honest. Being me, and if you know me, I feel like I need to make that clear. I won’t go into too much detail on the extent of the testing, but I will say that the person who administered it was super nice, and we just had some really great conversations around psychological things, as well as music. Which seems to follow me (I would be referred to a Psychologist and one point who was a huge music fan and we spent a lot of our time talking about the new Tool album). Some of the test was on paper, some on the computer, some out of a book. It wasn’t stressful, it was matter of fact and, dare I say, fun. I left feeling excited about what insight I might glean about my inner workings, but nothing would have prepared me for the results.

It took a couple of weeks to put together the results, at which time I headed back to the same office. We talked about the test, what it was for, what each part tested for. This guy was so cool that he showed me his answers and we figured some things out together. It was more a conversation than anything else, which put me at ease. One thing he said to me I had forgotten until just now, recounting the experience. He told me, “I have never met anyone with such a psychological mind, and someone who was so self-aware.” I was blown away. Having no formal education to speak of has always left me feeling like less of a person than anyone else, and my in-laws jumped on this like a pack of hyenas. So, for a professional to say this to me meant a lot. Later on, someone else would tell me that he thought I had a law degree, because I spoke better than most lawyers he spoke with, and this person was also a lawyer. Ain’t that a fuckin’ pisser?

The results: ADHD, inattentive type. No big surprise. Again, the “inattentive” indicated that I had focus issues and not the hyperactivity (I know I wrote ADD above, but apparently everything is classified as ADHD, and then a sub-category is specified). I was prepared for all of this, because at a young age I could not pay attention in school. I was bored. I couldn’t start projects easily, and then I couldn’t finish them. “Jason doesn’t apply himself.” Jason was applying himself the best he could. The real surprise came next.

The doc confessed to me that his test wasn’t the typical neuropsychological evaluation, but a hybrid test with some intelligent quotient (IQ) elements. “Your IQ is much higher than average.” Excuse me? MY IQ? That can’t be right. In fifth grade they told me I wasn’t good at math, my high-school counselor told me I would never get into a four year school. I didn’t APPLY MYSELF. Sitting there in this doctor’s office, the mirror I held up to myself for the better part of 25 or more years, shattered. I thanked the doctor and his receptionist, left the building, got into my car, and cried. It started out as a sad cry, a cry for Jason from school aged until the present who was given a raw deal and for all the adults who made him question his belief in himself, his worth. I grieved for that kid. But the tears turned into tears of joy, of excitement. Surely, someone with a higher than average IQ can do…well, anything he wanted to! The mind that I thought was limiting me, wasn’t. It was just caked over with negativity and false information that had been lavished on me. Things were different now.

And things were about to get even more different.

Before we get to the event, some backstory

48 years 3 months 4 days

I have to apologize, I didn’t mean to do a bait and switch. I just realized that in order to tell the story, there’s so much on which I need to catch you up. I also feel it’s important to emphasize something: I am not the hero in this story. There are none. There are no villains either. There are only people being people and doing the best they can with what they have. And with that, we take you to Montreal, Quebec, Canada on the second day of September in the year 2000: the night after my wedding.

I married into a large Ukrainian community, but a small Ukrainian family. I found the community overwhelming at first. It was nothing I had ever seen or been a part of, and it was just so large and boisterous that it was just…too much at times. The worst part is that I was thrust into it alone. At the dances and wedding that would gather 300+ people, my significant other would often just leave me alone. I actually stopped and thought about that statement. The word “alone” sticks out because that’s exactly how I felt. Like I was moving through this sea of people alone. If I were alone, I wouldn’t have been there. I wouldn’t have moved to Montreal, where I couldn’t find work because I didn’t speak French, I wouldn’t have subjected myself to my brother-in-laws phone calls where he would be silent on the other end of the phone because it was a new negotiation technique: “why don’t you want to work?”. I do want to work, asshole. I should have said that. I told my spouse about this incident, and it later came up in therapy. “He was just being protective.” He was just being a cunt. I’m getting way ahead of myself. The incident in question was the night after my wedding.

In the end, the community treated me as one of their own (in fact, my Best Man was one of my spouse’s dearest friends whom I became very good friends with as well), however the family did not. After all I had no degree (I still don’t), and I wasn’t Ukrainian (I’m still not) — you know, a real shit bag. However, the Big Fat Ukrainian wedding proceeded as planned, and when you have a BFUW, there is traditionally a party the next day, called “Popravyny”. I have little memory of the majority of that day, since the marriage is over, who fucking cares, really (I’ve been editing too much, I need to get back to more stream of consciousness and vulgarity).

I have a small family, similar to my ex-wife’s. But I have a smaller community: zero. But our wedding still had 300+ people. Now, the tradition of Montreal Ukrainian weddings is for the families to split the cost. My family was in no way involved in the planning, and it was fucking opulent. (Side note: my ex and I got married in Bermuda a few months prior, but her family made us do it again in Montreal. I guess it didn’t count. What was funny to me is that we wanted the wedding to be outside, but according to my father-in-law (I will come up with a derogatory name for him at some point), God doesn’t live outside. Only in the church — let that sink in a bit). So, 300+ people and 14 of them were mine. I had, like, two friends, and the rest were family.

Just to make sure you’re with me: opulent wedding, my family not involved, 300+ people, 14 were mine. The night of the Popravyny, my drunk father-in-law (fart-in-law? I’ll keep working it) wants us to help pay for the wedding out of our gifts. And, I actually think that’s not a bad idea. After all, he footed the bill (of course his wife and daughter went haywire, although I did help pick the place because if you’re going to make me do this bullshit again and make me GET CONFIRMED IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, then it’s going to be a nice place). The solution: we take the total cost of the wedding, band, church, all of it, divide by the number of people and multiply by 14 (the number of my guests). Makes sense, right? He didn’t think it was enough, so we gave him some more cash, like he’s was whore. Because, well, he was acting like one, and not in a good way.

Here’s where the shit hits the fan. He tells me he wants to talk to me on the back deck. My mother-in-law and wife looked at each other and followed me out. It was there that he said this to me, and my spouse: “You [spouse] always have a place here. You can always come home. Because he isn’t going to amount to anything! He can’t even get his own Best Man!” It was at this point his wife threw a drink in his face. When he said the line about the Best Man, I laughed. Because it was funny. The two ladies were yelling at him, asking what was wrong with him. I walked inside, where he got in my face. He quickly got out of my face, because I’m much taller and I was about 30 years younger. It may have also been when I said, “If you do not get out of my face, I will fucking drop you.” Who knows.

The reason this story is relevant is because interactions like this happened a few times over the years (I once slapped him across the face when he came at me. I’m not proud but I wouldn’t take it back). The last time was the summer of 2018, right before the event that changed my life.

I don’t even remember what he said, but I got in his face, “If you ever talk to me like that again, I will fucking end you! Do you understand?” It was different this time. I meant it. He was afraid and it felt good to me because I had been afraid, anxious. I wanted to turn it all around on him. My spouse and her mom were yelling at me. Calm down! Me calm down? This is all YOUR fault! None of you ever backed me up! You’re scaring your daughter! Fuck.

I turned around and there was my 8 year old, standing on the other side of the screen door crying. I rushed and gathered her up in my arms and brought her to the bedroom.

“Why are you sad, baby?”

“Because you were yelling at my Grandfather.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I know it seems like it came out of no where, but there was a lot that went on that you don’t know about, and I’m very sorry. The only thing you need to understand right now is that I love you and he loves you very much.” I was extremely proud of myself as a father in that moment. I didn’t want her to think this wretched asshole that made my life shitty was a bad person. I might be rationalizing, but I’m going to go with it because it’s my story.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road: I was told I had anger issues by, well, everyone. And the sad thing is, or maybe it’s not such a sad thing, but I agreed. I was miserable. Anger comes from fear and sadness, and although I didn’t care about my relationship with, well, anyone really, I was tired. Just physically tired of being sad and angry. And it was then I decided that I would get myself to a therapist, and this would begin a tornado of change. I say tornado, because it was pretty destructive for a while.

The story thus far

48 years 3 months 3 days – no this isn’t a song from the musical RENT, it’s how old I am.

Lately, I’ve been going through a bunch of old writings and realized I was trying to be some sort of guru and spiritualist, knowing nothing, really. And I see it a lot nowadays. People who have no training, no control over their lives becoming some kind of spiritual healer because it’s a distraction from healing the self. So, I’m not doing that anymore. I’m just going to share what I know, which isn’t a lot, what I’m dealing with, which is a lot (but everything is relative, right?), and if you find some nugget of inspiration to do anything positive, well that’s just lovely. Let me know if you do.

I am currently on the other side of a divorce. And then more recently on the other side of the end of a relationship with the woman whom I had an affair with that helped me get out of that marriage because, if we’re being honest, I didn’t have the courage to do it myself. I also have a tendency, for better or for worse, to “burn my boats”. It has always been this way, but I don’t think it needs to be that way. I’ll add that to the list of things I need to figure out.

I’ve always fancied myself a writer. Most of my writing was silly, weird, sometimes serious…did I mention weird? (Sorry for the ellipsis, I’ll try and keep them to…a minimum). There was a lot of fear around whether it was “good” or not, which is subjective, I know, but try telling ME that. This is a theme that will come up quite often: is it good? Am I good? My now ex-wife, upon finding out the pottermore.com put me in Slytherin said “I knew that when I met you.” How sweet. Avada Ked— aww, never mind. It probably won’t work.

I know we’re calling this thing a “blog”, but it’s really a “bliary” (web diary), because I just want to track my state and doing it with an audience will be fun. A few summers ago (most likely 2019) I was low, like really low. I don’t know if I could have hurt myself, but I thought about it. I was hoping someone would come by while I was out on a run and just beat the shit out of my. I would often get a bought of George Bailey Syndrome: the idea that everyone would be better off if I hadn’t been born (If you’re not familiar, go watch It’s a Wonderful Life).

Tears streamed down my face as I contemplated checking myself into the Emergency Room. I had no one. I was in the middle of a separation, I felt so guilty about being in a relationship with the woman whom I had had the affair with, my dad had just died and left a rift in our family to do money and inheritance — I quite literally had no one except a 9 year old girl that I needed to be whole for. At least I needed to be whole in front of her. In the end, I decided to call my doctor who, because he’s awesome, got on the phone with me right away.

My doctor is very conservative when it comes to medication. He’s more of a get some exercise and eat a damn vegetable sort of guy. When he told me that I’d probably benefit from an anti-depressant, I knew that I had done the right thing. I should have done it years ago. It’s terribly disappointing living with a person who works in the mental health field for 20 years, who never once suggested it. At that moment, there was such relief – just relief that I was getting help that was long overdue, and much needed.

There was an impetus to all of this that had happened several months prior to all of the events that I’ve recounted. It involved a fight, a therapist, and a psychiatrist. And it changed my life forever.

[Note: to my plethora of friends who are writers, grammar enthusiasts, spelling hard-asses — know this: I don’t care. Unless something written is an egregious mistake that could be construed as something else, or I have mis-remembered a fact, keep it to yourself. I’m not editing this, because if I do, then I feel like I won’t tell the story and get lost in the mire of correctness. But thank you, all the same. 🙂 ]