I have no photographs of myself

So I’ve been noticing on social media that everyone is posting their first photos they posted with their current photos; most go back 10 years or more.  I hate thinking about those days; I am much happier now but I was really a miserable person in 2008.  My mental health had deteriorated to the point where I couldn’t function mentally, emotionally, physically, spirituality.  I was working but my anxiety and stomach problems were so bad; I was just going through the motions.   I leaving in the same house I was growing up; with the memory of my brother’s death and the trauma of living in a chaotic household.  I couldn’t take care of myself; I never bought new clothes or got a haircut; I just looked bad.  I wasn’t communicating with anyone and I spent more of my time just watching movies and going online.  I wasn’t writing or doing anything constructive with my feelings; I was just wallowing in mental illness.  As I write this I feel a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat and anxiety; remembering those days.  And this was a continued pattern since I graduated high school ( 7 years)  It was 7  years of isolating myself from people; staying locked up in my house; not leaving for days at time. I am sure some of my readers are going through those struggles right now and I want to stop for a second and tell you that you are not alone; a lot of us have been through that and I feel that pain; I myself never want to back to it but I  don’t to forget where I came from and the work I did to be the man I am today.  So yeah anyways I also had no concept of God; I had no faith or prayer; maybe I believed in God but I blamed him for all of my misery and refused to go to church or be associated with anyone I knew from there.   It was the darkest period in my life ( aside from my brothers death)  2001-2008.   In the summer of 2008 I moved from the DC area ( the place I had grown up in all my life) to NC and slowly over the years my life has changed for the better.

Just thinking about the past makes me awashed in sadness and it can set my depression off for me days. I felt that way when I saw some of those old photographs of my friends. It hurts seeing some of these photos because it reminds me of all the things I missed from my friends; college days, relationships, weddings, careers, starting a family; I wish I had kept in touch with them; but I haven’t seen some of them since I graduated high school; I am filled with regret but grateful that I  am in touch with them now; it still hurts though.  It also makes me think of all the things that I haven’t achieved; I have never had a long term relationship; I never went to a university; had a career and I don’t have a family of my own. I look at my life and it seems lackluster compared to theirs and it kills me inside.   And in thinking about all that makes me realize that I only have about 1 photograph from about 2001 to about 2016; that is amazing.  It’s a family photo where we are together and I look pretty happy next to my cousin but that’s the only photo I know of myself from that 15 year period that is awfully depressing.  I think I just hated myself so much that I couldn’t bear to be photographed; I  thought I was ugly and I hated the idea of anyone taking my picture. I was in such a depressive state; I couldn’t even smile; my eyes dark and sunken from lack of sleep; my hair too curly; whatever the reason; very few photographs exist of me. And it shows the progress I made since my social media is full of selfies, photos of me with family and friends; I’m smiling and I think I look better than I ever have; I have much more confidence.  I am making up for all that lost time, I guess. So while I can’t produce a photo from 10 years ago; I can share one today;a much happier, healthier Dave; full of life.  One that begs for his photo to be taken so he can share it with the world.  Here’s to progress.

 

Thanks for listening

Dave

 

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A year in review 2018

This has been such a wonderful year for me; a life changing year; really. I can’t even begin to describe or list all of the wonderful blessings I have had in 2018 but I am going to try. I started out the year still working at Sears and starting an internship related to my degree in developmental disabilities; it was actually kind of rough and I had doubts about my ability to work in the disability field; I had a lot of stress and anxiety and felt overworked with both my regular job and internship; I turned to only comfort I knew; prayer and my writing; I just had to go on faith that I’d get through this period in my life. I found myself turning to God more and more and growing in my faith; even if I couldn’t make it to church. And I was blessed to have so many caring and supportive friends on social media; it made such a huge difference; I really appreciated all the comments and messages from people. I felt I became a better writer as well ( and began calling myself one); I wrote blog post after blog post and it really helped me to cope with some of the anxiety I felt. My blog grew like crazy; it went from 300 or so followers to over 1200 followers in less than year; you don’t realize how grateful I am to ALL of my followers; just to know that people can relate to what I am saying; just vindicates all of these feelings I have had for years and I no longer feel as alone; this blog has been my saving grace. This is such a great community and not only did I connect with writers on my blog but my instagram has also grown and I connect with so many writers, mental health advocates, educators; its amazing. My social media feed is full of positive messages and I love interacting with people; it makes my day.

In 2018 I also was able to take a trip back to where I grew up; after not being there for 10 years. I left in 2008; feeling like I never wanted to go back home; too many painful memories. But I decided that I wanted to face the past and see my old friends; it was very emotional leading up to the trip; I was sort of reliving all of those memories and it hurt; and people around me didn’t understand it; so I kept it myself; I only expressed it through writing. I went back to DC in July of this year and stayed with a friend and I think a lot of the memories of the past came flooding back; I was gone for so long that I had forgotten what the area looked like and it was like being a tourist in my own city. But I did have a lot of fun; I saw many of my friends and family. They even had a welcome home party for me; which was crazy because all these people showed up and I just felt loved; to see those faces again was indescribable. I was happy but anxious at the same time; these are people I really care about and they all showed up to welcome me home; I think I was just overwhelmed; and I am already overwhelmed at social events to begin but it turned on out nice. I went back to my old church where I had spent a lot of time and I just broke down crying; thinking of all those memories; the good and the bad. It was painful but healing; I finally let go of all that pain and anger and sadness in a matter of minutes; it’s what I needed. And I feel God was watching over me the whole trip; comforting me. I will never forget that trip and I hope in 2019; I can come back again and hopefully it will be less emotional.

About 3 months; I finally had a Sunday off and I was able to attend church. They were talking about something called the Rainbow Ministry; which serves the needs of the developmental disabled in the community. I was impressed and I asked the pastor about it and he told me that he wanted me to be a part of this ministry. Before I knew it; I met with the leader and her daughter and we talked about volunteer opportunities. I helped with this lunch called “Feast with friends” which is where the young adults; make and serve lunch at the church; the crowd can be up to over 100 people on some days. I helped a young man dry dishes ( we make a great team by the way). I got to know all of the young adults and the volunteers and grew to care about them and I think they feel the same way about me. I started spending a lot of time with Rainbow; I went on a trip to the mountains with them and it was such a wonderful experience; I bonded with a lot of people. Again it helped grow in my faith in God and gave me a purpose; I no long felt as depressed or anxious. We have done activities at church and at the cabin in downtown Matthews; just a lot of fun. It was one of the biggest blessings of this year and it has changed me; I am different person because of this group and I only have God to thank for it. It also has given me more confidence that I can do well in the disability field; with the right guidance.

And lastly I recently just started a new job; my old job was closing it’s store and I had to scramble for a new job quick and by the grace of God; I found one and it has been so much better for me. I have about a 6 dollar raise, I am treated better; have better hours; am more productive and have so much pride in what I do. Yes, there are challenges but it wasn’t like at Sears where I got paid nothing, was treated terribly and it just made my anxiety and depression 10 times worse; I felt antagonized most of the time and I felt stagnant; I prayed for God to get me out of there and he delivered on that promise. I am so much happier in this new job and my confidence has increased; both as a worker and socially. It’s seasonal and I have anxiety about whether they will keep me or not but I leave it leave it God; it’s in his hands at this point. I work hard every day and can only do my best.

So yes, 2018 was a life changing year and sometimes I just sit back and I can’t believe all of the good things that have happened; it feels like a dream to me; like it’s not real. All the wonderful friends and people who have actually come to Charlotte to visit me. I get overwhelmed by the good things sometimes and I tell myself I have to take it a day at a time and learn to accept praise and love and to be easy on myself. I pray that in 2019; my life will continue to be good and I can grow as a person and hopefully help and inspire others; through my words and videos. Thank so much for all the support friends; you guys mean the world to me. Please take care of yourself in the year to come and I hope we continue to connect and support one another

Your friend,

Dave

 

 

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My mountain Trip

Well I just got back from a 3 day fall retreat to the mountains with the disability ministry  that serves those with special needs.  I was taken aback when the leader asked me to go on this trip since I’d only been there a few weeks. I guess she could see how well I interacted with the young adults and how much they liked me.  I was concerned about some of my physical issues but I learned to manage them because I was determined to make this trip a success and not let it get in the way of being there for the young adults we were helping.  And by the way; in the short time that I have known them; I have really grown to care about them and I hope the feeling is mutual.   I get along with them great and I have stated earlier but they all are so kind and gentle; with the biggest hearts of anyone you’ll ever going to meet.  It was touching to see how happy they were and how much they cared for one another; when others were down they made such an effort to cheer them up; at one point praying over someone; I was amazed.

This trip was also good for me because it has been a stressful and painful few weeks with a lot going in my life; I needed a break and this trip kept me so busy that I forgot my troubles for a short while and focused on being a part of this ministry instead.  And we were really busy; we did all sorts of things like cooking meals, bible study; hot dog roast, apple picking, out to dinner and exploring the mountain city; it was busy busy busy but they really seemed to enjoy themselves; they were very excited everywhere we went. One of the more frustrating parts of the trip was that a few times I noticed people giving us funny looks and that made me sad. These young adults are so cool and funny and sweet and yet the rest of the world doesn’t see it that way. But you obviously can’t react so you  talk to the person next to you and continue eating your chicken fingers; pretending not to notice the people staring at us. But for the most part; people were accepting of them and that made me smile.

When I joined this group I was also looking forward to getting to know some of volunteers and I felt that I was able to connect with most of the people there; really well.  Oh and I have always managed to get to know some of the parents of the young adults and I can tell some of them really like me; I really try to get to know them and hopefully they can realize how much I care. Anyways while I get along with a lot of the people; .  I am exhausted and I finally have a day off; so I am taking this day ( how did i get Saturday off?) off to rest and recover from this positive yet emotionally draining trip.

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A mountain poem

The mountains so beautiful before me; air crisp and cool; a crow provides the soundtrack as i enjoy this time of peace with God; alone in my thoughts; bright blue fall sky as I rock in this chair; smoke billowing from a nearby kitchen where we cooked breakfast; reflecting on the days events as i prepare to go back; back to the routine, but for now i am peace with the cold wind blowing at me. This is time I need ; time to reflect; gather my thoughts. Nature inspires me to write out my inner thoughts to no one and everyone at the same time. A good trip this was; just what i needed.

 

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Jim Morrison

Atari music on my turntable; screeching guitars, a gateway from one decade to another; something fresh from a different world; the sound of upcoming excess; trade in the bell bottoms for the bell of the stock exchange; gone are the leisure suits; replaced with tight jeans and polo shirts; a new era has emerged;  priced 8.95  from Sam Goody ( the sticker still attached); this LP has been recorded digitally; touts the label;  ; who bought and what did they think of this when they first heard it the beginning of the decade?  Did they understand it or was it tossed out the window; the vinyl record smashed into a million pieces by someone who had no idea of what he was listening to. Or did they play the record over and over until the record was so worn by surface noise that it was unlistenable?. Or maybe it was played every so often by someone not so nearly obsessive about music as me.  I have no idea since I wasn’t even born yet. So why am I writing this about an album and a song you’ve never heard of? No idea. Anyone? Help me out here?

Catching the sunset

 

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As night approaches; I see a glimpse of the sky and it’s on fire; a bright orange sunset before me. I must capture this moment for posterity, but I can’t stop my car in the middle of the road; I feel the pains of frustration; I decide to catch this sunset before darkness encases the sky; robbing me of this wonder of nature. I pull to a safe place but the sunset is obscured the trees; leaving me only the tiniest crumbs from the fire in the sky. As I drive I try several times to capture the sunset but to no avail; I’m running of time as I see the sky getting darker and darker. I pull into a bank parking lot and walk up to the adjacent sidewalk and feel my foot sink into a puddle of mud; my shoe completely soaked; i finally took a photo of the sky on a busy street full of traffic with the lights of the cars flying past me; this was the Pulitzer prize winning photo; the sunset I so desperately tried to capture. I shrugged my shoulders and thought to myself; I did the best I could and there’s always tomorrow’s sunset; if you miss one; they”ll be plenty more to capture that’s for sure.

When the suns shines

 

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When I’m walking alone in the woods during the day; nothing is more beautiful than the sun shining through the trees; it’s almost magical; giving me warmth and illuminating all the nature around me; shimmering light that dances on a nearby pond; hidden creatures running for cover under for darkness; as not to be seen by predators from above; a long reflection of my own shadow and I glance down towards the ground; I’m mesmerized by this. Sunlight means to freedom from the cold; to play freely without restraints and to enjoy mother nature at it’s finest. And of course this was written on a cloudy rain day; with my shoes and socks soaked from the flood I had to walk through to get to my car. Trying to shake off the rain; great I’m finally back inside; nice and dry; just dreaming of when the sun can come out again.

Dave

 

What is your favorite song about rain? Leave it in the comments below.

Beautiful balloon

I see you there beautiful balloon; stuck on the ground; I’m glad I found you before you flew into the air and I don’t mean to stare but I had to admire you since you caught my eye and I wonder what you’ll see when you rise up to the sky; where will you fly to places  that exist only in a dream; I seem to be lost in my own thoughts and wishing I had bought a ticket for a ride in your balloon but I blinked my eyes and you were gone too soon.

 

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Childhood photographs: Changes

I found all these photo albums of pictures my dad had taken from the time I was born up to my teenage years; I hadn’t seen these photos in years and it really took me back.   I was able to see a happy childhood photos with my grandparents, my brother ( both have long since passed) and various friends ( including the one I mentioned in my previous post) throughout my life; it brings up so many memories; some good and some very painful. It was not easy growing up and I struggled so much with dealing with my family; relating to my peers; mental health; it was just a struggle. I wanted to be accepted so bad and I just didn’t have the social skills to do that; I was withdrawn and depressed which in turn made me extremely lonely; I needed constant validation ( which is still an issue today). I think of the death of my brother and how when I see the photos before he died; I see a happier kid; I’m smiling, acting a fool; playing it up for the camera.  In the photos after he died; I have a sullen look on my face; a face of someone’s who soul has been destroyed by this tragic death; I was devastated and smiling and being a normal kid was impossible from that point on; that really hurts to see.  It always hurts to see a kid that never looked his best; I had big curly hair, and a zoned out look on my face, I just looked awkward, you know. And I realize all teenagers look awkward but my awkwardness seemed more pronounced; which is all the more reason why I was blessed to have friends who accepted me regardless of how withdrawn I was and they made efforts to reach out me; even at times I pushed them away; they never gave up on me.  I wish I could go back in time and hug that kid and tell him I love him; tell him to accept the kindness of his friends and not to give up in himself; because people loved him and really were his friends; it’s wasn’t self-pity but real friendship. So yeah those picture stir up a lot of emotions that I have been holding in for a long time.

But I want to put a positive spin and say that I look at those photos and see myself now and I am so proud of the man I have become today.  I am much more approachable person today; less withdrawn; open about my feelings; more social. Hell I couldn’t even look people in the eye back then.  I handle situations that would have seemed impossible back then; I am in college, I have a job, I communicate with my friends, have a blog that I think is pretty successful so far; I can talk to women ( at the time it was difficult; and I take better care of my mental health (which takes a lot of work). I don’t like to sound egotistical but I like photos of myself now; I look a lot better; more attractive; more with it; smiling and confident. I never liked pictures of myself but I know I do.   So I look at those photos and gauge who I was then and who I am now; it’s bittersweet. When I went back home to visit; a lot of people told me how much better I looked and how much I had changed for the better; it felt incredible.  It warms my heart that they can see the changes and that I have grown.  For the longest time I was scared of those friends because I felt inferior to them ( mental health issues) and the memories that seeing their faces would bring up ( the death of my brother and the aftermath) I could have never guessed back then I would be writing about my experiences but here I am.   How things have changed..

Thanks for listening

Dave