I need to blog more … or write more. I know it’s a part of what God has called me to do, but lately I’ve been battling some nasty writer’s block as a result of my anxiety. In an attempt to overcome this creative drought, I am going to force myself to write a blog post about something, something stupid.
Last Monday I made a trip back to Illinois to see my grandma and a good friend from high school. Nervous to see this friend for the first time in over six years, I wanted to make sure I looked my best. I gave myself a haircut (along with my wife’s help) right before leaving. Unfortunately, this pushed my start time back, and I found myself driving late into the night.
At approximately 9pm, after being on the road for three hours and having heard Kesha’s “Timber” at least 72 times, I reached back to rub my neck. That’s when I noticed it: a small patch of fuzz. While shaving my neck, I had missed a spot. It was barely noticeable, but…
I have OCD.
I don’t have the type of OCD that makes me freak out about germs or lock the door repeatedly. I have the kind that makes small imperfections into big, hairy monsters … quite literally in this case.
I tried to stop thinking about it … but I couldn’t. It was just there. I looked good. I was near Timberlake-ish … except for this one glaring imperfection.
This one small patch of fuzz.
Of course, I could wait until I got to my grandma’s house, but that was two hours away. What if a cute girl passed by and saw my neck or what if somehow, someway this ended up on Instagram? It would be the end of me. My mind knew there was a problem and would not rest until there was a solution. I knew I had to act.
But it wasn’t a big deal. My duffle bag was on the seat next to me. My razor was near the top. It was simple… I take it out, put a little water on it from my water bottle, and barely touch my neck. Boom. Problem solved. I’m back to perfect.
I proceeded with the plan. And right at the moment of execution, right as the razor approached my neck… Bump. Huge bump. Razor hits my neck and takes off the top half of a mole. Bleeding. Lots of bleeding.
Four soaked napkins later, I realized that I’m going to have to stop. I was somewhere in the vast wasteland that is I-70 between Columbia and St. Louis. There was nowhere to stop … nowhere but a semi-sketchy truck stop off of the next exit.
I walked in, holding a napkin against the back of my neck like I had just been shot. They had one box of band-aids. I’m pretty sure it was manufactured sometime just after World War II. The band-aids themselves were manufactured from the cheapest plastic ever approved by the FDA. I paid for them and headed to the restroom, which was conveniently full of truckers, all with beards older than me.
They looked at me with confusion as I awkwardly attempted to apply a bandage to the back of my own neck. I sat on the edge of the counter like a small child. I twisted around as much as I could to see the wound. With a paper towel in one hand and the beige-colored strip in the other, I managed to contain the flow of blood. I walked out of the restroom knowing I had done what was required to save my life … but embarrassed beyond words.
Four band-aids later, I arrived at my grandma’s house and went straight to bed. The next morning, I awoke to discover that the bandage had been specifically designed to bond with human flesh, making it nearly impossible to remove. In a process known in the medical field as “ripping off the top layer of skin” I was able to take it off and apply a much more subtle, round band-aid. (CORRECTION: It would have been subtle if the entire surrounding area of my neck was not bright red.)
I got to spend time with my grandma and my good friend. Neither of them mentioned my neck, but I knew. I spent the entire day in pain … both on a physiological and psychological level. My ego, as much as my neck, had been nicked the night before. Every time my shirt rubbed against the wound, I was reminded that I was the idiot who tried to shave while driving.
I guess this is what happens when you have OCD at 80 miles an hour.
This past year I learned a valuable lesson: the internet allows us to connect with just about anyone, anywhere … and that isn’t always a good thing.
As many of you know, I am going through a lot of transition. I am between jobs — figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life — and wrestling with a good deal of anxiety. As a result, I have had a hard time focusing. Even though I have a lot of free time, I have been spending that time doing less-than-productive things. I have been using the internet as an escape.
This week, I decided it was time to do something about it.
I realized there were some people I had met online that shouldn’t be in my life. Not that these are bad people. Not at all! But they were people that were not helping me move forward, not helping me become a better me. In fact, I often found myself taking on their burdens and trying to help them to the point that it was hurting me and my family. I decided it was time to walk away from these relationships.
I realized there were some sites I had been visiting that also shouldn’t be in my life. Not that these are necessarily bad sites. They just aren’t sites that deserve my time right now. So I decided to close some of my accounts and step away from the places that were stealing my attention. I logged on, said goodbye to some people, and clicked delete.
Honestly, it was a freeing experience.
I love the internet. I love connecting with people. But it had gotten out of hand. I realized I needed to simplify things. I need to create an environment — online and in person — that allows me to focus on the things that matter. That is what I am working to do.
I will still be on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram. I will still blog on here. (In fact, I am hoping to blog more often.) But I am going to make sure that the things I am doing on these networks are productive things.* I am going to make sure the relationships I am developing are healthy relationships. Simply put, I am going to make better use of my time.
Ultimately, I want to be a better husband, a better dad, a better me. This week has taught me that if something gets in the way, I have to click delete and walk away.
Changes to this blog…
As I mentioned above, I am going to begin to blog more often. However, instead of just providing periodic updates on what is happening my life, I am going to use this as a place to share my thoughts on current events and other issues. I am going to do more storytelling. This past year has been a defining year for Sally and me. Our marriage has faced and conquered many challenges … and I hope that by sharing these challenges, we might be able to help others find hope. I will also post more pictures of kittens.**
As always, thanks for reading my ramblings. I promise they will get more interesting (and caffeinated) in the near future!
* When I say productive, I don’t mean in a strictly work-related sense. I will still joke around and be … well, a dork. That is who I am. Nothing will change that. I just don’t want to waste time doing things that aren’t making me better … or watching cat videos.
** This is a lie.
Some of you follow me because you enjoy the random, sometimes-witty, often-embarrassing things I post on Twitter and Facebook. Some of you follow me because you saw me speak at an event or preach at a church service. Some of you follow me because you know me or are related to me or maybe even consider me a friend. And, of course, some of you follow me because I look like a sexy beast in my profile picture.* For whatever reason, there are a lot of people who follow me. Because of this, and the fact that I update like nine times an hour, I am considered to be a very social person.
But that is not completely true.
Phone calls freak me out. Emails and instant messages catch me off guard. Someone randomly walking up to me and asking me a question makes my heart … well, just about beat out of my chest! Although I do a good job hiding it, I struggle with social anxiety.
People scare me. Or maybe I get scared of disappointing people. I am not exactly sure which one it is. All I know is that being around people is hard for me … a lot harder than most people ever realize.
I have this expectation of who I am supposed to be, and I assume that everyone else has that same expectation. Chris Miller? Oh, he’s the funny one. He will always make you laugh. He always has something creative to add. Or something like that. It is like I have created this image that I feel I must live up to. So when someone wants to talk or chat or interact in any way, I have to make sure that I am at my prime in order to not let them down.**
This means that if I am not “in my zone,” I don’t pick up the phone or reply to the email. If I am not feeling 100%, I try to end the conversation as soon as I can. The longer it goes on, the more of a chance I have of saying the wrong thing. I might not live up to my image!
Yeah, I like to share my life online. And I love to speak to crowds and congregations. These things are easy for me. They are scripted, at least to some degree. I am a good actor. (High school youth group drama leader, baby!) When needed, I can “play the part.” It is the raw, real-life connections that I struggle with.
My mind is … weird. Have you ever seen the show Psych? The main character fakes being a psychic. He can do this because he notices everything — every little detail — and he can develop conclusions based on these details. In a lot of ways, I do the same thing. When I walk into a room, I pick up on things that no one else does. I can read people … every facial expression, every eye roll, all of it. When I am speaking or preaching, this is a huge advantage, but when I am at a party, it causes paranoia. I assume that everyone is judging me. And that makes it impossible to let go and be myself.
In response, I avoid people unless I feel I am “stage ready.” I only put myself out there if I am feeling “good enough” to do it without disappointing anyone. When I tweet, I have stressed to make sure every word is right. When I present, I have rehearsed to make sure every line is on cue. The same goes for phone calls and emails. Even this blog post… I have spent the last 90 minutes trying to perfect it.
I want to let go. I want to be me. I want to just talk to people. I want to blog about whatever is on my mind without fear of judgement. I want to act and interact without fear of what others might think. I want to be the person I know I was created to be. But I am scared. I am anxious.
I know I need help. I know there are several issues in my past that have caused this … and I know I need to work through these issues. But due to my current health care situation, I cannot afford therapy at the moment.*** Until I can, I guess I just need people to remind me that I am okay, even when I am not perfect.
I will write more about this in the near future. I am done rambling for the day. Thanks for reading.
* There is exactly one person who follows me for this reason.
** I know this isn’t true. There is a part of me that is very logical and realizes that no one really has these expectations. But there is another part of me that hasn’t been convinced of this. It is hard to explain.
*** Hopefully soon. Because I am currently between jobs, I am on an individual insurance plan. It is horrible.
This post is going to be a bit vague, but I am having a rough day. I need a place to vent and maybe get some advice. I usually write when feel like I have something worth sharing, but today I am hoping someone else has something worth sharing with me. Feel free to comment or send a message. I would really appreciate it.
I recently really hurt someone that I care about, someone I love. I said things and did things that really cut deep. I didn’t intentionally do these things, but I made some really bad decisions. (And, yes, I know I have said the word really about nine times now.)
I want to make it right. I would do anything to make it right. In fact, there is no amount of money I wouldn’t spend or effort I wouldn’t make to try to make up for what I did.
Unfortunately, they aren’t interested in reconciliation. It appears that the relationship is beyond repair. There is a very thick wall of bitterness and anger that prevents any real dialogue from taking place. I have screamed, “I’m sorry!” at the top of my lungs, but it hasn’t been heard. Honestly, I have screamed it so much I am losing my voice.
Maybe it is time to walk away, but I hate that idea. This person means a lot to me, and I hate thinking that I did something so hurtful that redemption isn’t possible. I hate ending a relationship knowing that I failed that bad. Yet what other option is there? It is at the point that I feel like this individual would be happier if no longer existed. But I do exist. And yet there is nothing I can do.
I wish I could just sit down and buy them a cup of coffee or tea. I wish I could look them in the eyes and share my heart. I feel like then — and only then — could they see that I am truly sorry. But that isn’t an option. So I am stuck here surrounded by my own shortcomings knowing that I ruined something special. It is eating away at me and triggering my depression.
Has anyone else ever felt like this? Been in this situation? What did you do? How did you handle it? Advice appreciated.
I am still in Kenya. It is amazing and beautiful here. I am learning so much. My internet connection is limited and very slow. I will update as soon as I get home!