Sunday, 8 January 2017

A Bad Night.

I sat on my bed this morning, putting on my compression socks. The right foot went on, no problem. The left foot, always the left, gave me some trouble. So I pulled extra hard at the folds in my compression sock to get it over the heel. That's when it happened. My fingers let go of the sock, snapping back at me. I managed to punch myself in the balls, and then, having lost my balance, I fell over backwards on my bed. My life is a Three Stooges skit.

Actually it was the perfect denouement for what had been a very rough night, a rough night starting about an hour before I went to bed. It was then that I saw some lovely pictures my daughter had posted on Facebook, pictures of my children and their children all gathered for a photo shoot to celebrate my ex-wife's 60th birthday. It broke my heart. Why was there no special gathering of children for my 60th birthday? I know why. It costs too much for them to come to Calgary.

There I was, looking at these beautiful pictures with happy children, grandchildren and ex-wife. It was then I started to ask myself why I was being punished and she was being rewarded. Had I done something so wrong, to leave her after so many years of unhappiness? Then it really started, the self-doubt, the self-recriminations. I began to look at my choices financially, personally, socially. I wonder if I've done the right thing, if I've made the right decisions.

That's part of the problem with living with ALS. I used to say there were no decisions in life which you could not fix if you made a mistake, except suicide. I still think this is true, but I have reached a point with ALS where fixing bad decisions is pretty much impossible. I simply don't have the time to change course, to correct. My days are numbered. Each day is becoming shorter, with less and less ability on my part to do much within these shortened days.

I spiraled down from there. I began to tear myself up inside, regretting what I have left behind, what I lost along the way, feeling anger that I got this deal, that it is such a terrible way to live and die. Even within this context I chastised myself for these feelings. I'm being self-indulgent, that with this disease I still have a pretty good life. I shouldn't complain. Self-pity is for losers. Here I am though, struggling with ever deepening sadness over what could have been, what I was supposed to have, what I should have done.

This is the saddest part of my existence, the eternal self-doubt, that perpetual feeling that other people would have made smarter decisions, that someone else would have made better choices. I can't shake the feeling that I am doing this wrong, that every day I wake up and make more mistakes, more bad decisions.

Of course at the root of all of this is my internal assumption, something that I cannot seem to shake, that I got ALS because of something, because of something I did. Intellectually I realize this is not true; emotionally I have to make some sort of causation. I feel like somehow I have done this to myself, or perhaps God has done this to me, as some sort of punishment for sin, some form of payback for bad choices.

I know this is silly. If there is a God, he or she doesn't work this way as far as I can see. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Good things happen to bad people all the time. There is no rhyme nor reason. I know there is no reason I got ALS and someone else didn't. I know this is just bad luck. Still, I cannot get rid of the feeling that somehow this is my fault, that somehow I am a failure, that this is happening to me just for that reason, that failure as a person. I just can't seem to let go of this self-condemnation.

I didn't sleep well last night. These thoughts haunted me, both in my waking and in my sleeping. My dreams simply amplified my waking thoughts. Morning came. The sadness had left me. So I decided to start my day by punching myself in the balls. After all, one good turn deserves another.

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