My Absence

I’d love to say I haven’t blogged here in a long time because I was busy or I was writing the great American novel or nonfiction book or essay collection… sadly, there was no good reason. There were reasons – they just weren’t good. More than that the whole time my problems were self-made.

I don’t know that I can even enumerate all the mistakes I made. I don’t remember half of them. Basically, I was misbehaving. Some was due to PTSD, anxiety and/or depression. Some was due to the abuse of alcohol. Some was due to just plain selfishness.

I did a lot of damage to myself physically. I was hospitalized I think 8, 9, maybe 10 times in one year. When the hospital staff knows you by sight without having to look at your wristband or chart (even being wheeled around the hallway or in an elevator), it’s a bad sign. Trust me. I’ve developed some pretty serious medical complications – some that are irreversible. In between hospitalizations I have had more medical appointments in one year than I’ve probably had in the last 10 years.

I also did much damage to my heart and soul. Obviously, the depression worsened with each failure. Well, it did whenever I got around to realize all I’d done. Of course, that just made me want to do something to stop the thoughts and feelings of guilt and shame. They are evil twins. I guess guilt is necessary to keep you conscientious, to point out that you probably messed up somewhere, someway. The shame, though, that’s toxic. It eats at you and, in a way, controls you. My thoughts became obsessive about all my fuck-ups. That led to hopelessness and sometimes increased panic, anxiety. There’s no way out; I can never change; I’ll never get better; I didn’t just make a mistake – I am a mistake, a failure, a fuck-up, a loser, a lost cause.

The worst part, however, is all the people I hurt. My actions were not on an island. They hit close and far. They hit hard. Many, many people were not only disappointed, they were personally hurt either directly, indirectly or both. Sometimes I was snappy. Often, I bailed on promises and responsibilities. I chose isolation. I neglected bills, emails, texts and phone calls. I guess “ignored” those things may be a better, stronger way to put it. I chose to hole up in my house, order Instacart and ignore life altogether except the bare minimum I needed to do for my dog despite knowing it was damaging to others, people I love.

And I am definitely ashamed for this next admission and all that I did: I treated my wife the same way and sometimes worse. I certainly wasn’t a wife or a functional partner in our relationship. Beyond that, I would pick fights and/or sulk and/or ignore her (texts, phone calls and sometimes even in person). I don’t remember some things. I can only assume I was too far gone too remember. She had to see me in some really bad ways. On top of all that horribleness, there were times she had to care for me, get me to the emergency department, continue through a pandemic to try and communicate with my physicians on my behalf by phone… and on and on it went. She sacrificed a lot, and I hurt her deeply. And, I kept doing it over and over again. Even though I knew she was suffering, our relationship was suffering – I still continued every few weeks making poor decisions, and 75% of the time I required hospitalization. I’m grateful she still cares, talks to me and is involved in my life at all. There’s no amount of regret or shame or guilt or being sorry for what I did that will make up for how I hurt her or that will undo or fix or change what has happened. I love her greatly. I haven’t shown it – not really – in a very, very long while. One day I hope to have many days and nights of long-lasting/permanent change to appropriate behavior that she can see and feel that love again, that we can become better friends, that we can be around each other again comfortably.

I am now sitting in awareness. It is my hope to stay there.

Author: T D Dixon

Raised in the Deep South, T Dixon went on to medical school and then to the United States Army and is a combat veteran of the Iraq War. She has had a varied life working as everything from a tutor to a trash collector to a waitress in addition to her work in medicine and surgery. Currently, Dixon is focusing on her writing and public speaking and on applying her skills to help various nonprofit organizations, volunteering with Mission Continues, Wounded Warrior Project, Team RWB, Habitat for Humanity and Team Rubicon - most recently helping with Southern California wildfire cleanup. An avid traveler and explorer she enjoys a wide variety of activities from kayaking, hiking and obstacle course racing to theater shows, museums and quilt making. Dixon and her faithful service dog, Pax, make their home in Los Angeles, CA.