Somewhere on one of my countless cold, isolated winter runs I stumbled upon a phrase to describe my interactions with my inner circle (people that are blood family or emotional family). The new phrase, "Genuine Human Interaction" (GHI), struck me like a ton of bricks one day and it's been near impossible to keep off my mind (gotta love the mind of anxiety driven freak). Most people are guarded to one extent or another, otherwise you would spend countless hours opening up all your wounds and trials to complete strangers. This could make trips to Wal-Mart rather awkward! But GHI is much more than just being honest around people, it's about being able to communicate freely. Meaning that you can discuss intense topics like emotions, life, mortality, relationships etc... and share and listen uninhibited. In fact you often find yourself thinking allowed through thoughts, instead of thinking them through your head before they come out.
Working and running alone as much as I have over the winter, has left me a bit isolated from society and some good ole GHI. I have been craving that stimulating feeling I can only get when I am unguarded and free. This is one thing that has been hard for me to admit to myself. I have always been comfortable being alone and taken huge pride in being able to fix and control my own problems. During many of these tough years I have prescribed to the thought of the only real help is self help, meaning you have to want to fix something or it won't get fixed. Through all of my many ups and downs I have always been able to pull myself together and once again get back on track to meeting my life goals.
I have slowly noticed, especially over the last few years, how guarded I have become, even with friends and family. Several times in my life I have had to cope with major tragedies which has caused me to grow up in certain ways a lot sooner than many of my peers. Coping with all of these events, has jaded me deeply. It as cost me countless friendships and relationships. Some of them my fault, others the product of growing up and learning. I have hurt people that I should have trusted and been betrayed by people that I thought were friends. If there is one underlying theme in all of my short coming with friends and family, it is that how people handle tragedy and adversity shows true inner characters. I made a promise to myself during my original fight with Wegener's Granulomatosis, after I got dumped by a girlfriend the night before I was supposed to have the surgery that would eventually allow me to be diagnosed, that I would no longer keep people in my life that cannot stand up to adversity. I have also been guilty of shoving people away that have been there, out of my own stupidity, selfishness, and ignorance. I have been bad about associating certain time periods in life with certain people. In an effort to escape those troubling time periods I have fleeted from friends and hurt some of them in ways that I truly never understood. Now I wish I could say that after all these years that I would have learned how to be a better person, but we never know what the future holds. I've also have still been guilty of thinking some people have more empathy and compassion as human beings than they end up having. But that's the beauty in life, still being able to grow and learn from our mistakes. Whenever we are knocked down by life or people, we dust ourselves off and keep plugging away. To quote Rocky Balboa "Life isn't about who can hit the hardest. It's about who can get hit the hardest and keep getting back up." We can learn from these experiences of being hurt, or doing the hurting and try to grow as people, so that next time we can make better decisions.
This is where I believe GHI can be a powerful tool. If you have friends or family that you can be free and honest with and who can be free and honest with you, then you have a chance to learn in many situations of adversity and daily life. The uniqueness about these kind of relationships is the people's ability to love and care about each other regardless of their faults. Now this may sound like it has to be a significant other, but I have learned that close friends and life partners can come in all different shapes and sizes. There are things that significant others, regardless of how truly connected you are, just aren't going to talk about, so you have to have outlets of the same sex (or possibly opposite sex if you have a same sex partner).
This is one difference I feel like I have had this year as opposed to past years of struggle. I have reconnected, and stronger than ever I might add, with my former teammate and now roommate Chris Moen as well as having a partner to share life with in Ryanna Henderson. Both of these 2 have provided unwavering support and friendship during my roller coaster of a year. They have listened to countless hours of my babble and bullshit as well as provided inspiration for me to become a better person. Moen and I truly have some of the most stimulating intellectual conversations I have ever experienced. He manages to blow my mind at least 2 or 3 times a week with different statements or thoughts. He has taught me this amazing new skill of thinking out loud unadulterated. It allows the mind to process information and learn through discussion. Over the winter in Moen's absence I genuinely missed our discussions, that can pop up out of the most unexpected places. Our discussions couldn't be possible if either of us held back and kept up barriers. I swear some days the 2 of us have discussions that change the world. Moen is right in that you learn a lot by living with someone, and I have truly learned to love his energy that he brings to this world.
My relationship with Ryanna has been full of many tough times, but ultimately what drew us together and keeps us together is how much we care about each other, despite both of our faults. If you know either of us at all, then you know that we both avoided being together or ever wanting to be together. But that's one of the joys in life is finding gems like her where you least expect it. I truly believe our relationship couldn't have started and continued any other way than it has. But through our shit show of lives (and there have been a lot) we both have wanted to be there for the other person to provide whatever they need, be it silence and a hug or just someone to talk to. This was never more evident to me when Ryanna made a point to come down to my last chemotherapy infusion back in May last year. That's not something easy to sit through, yet there she was the whole day and into the day after which was always the worse day. Those 48 hours together though were some of the most raw and human feelings I have ever experienced. Without having someone like her that I could truly be free and genuine with, those times could have been much darker. As someone who likes to fight his personal battles privately, it was a huge step for me to be able to share that day with her. We truly couldn't appreciate each other and our relationship had it not been for both of our previous ones. That's why we never could have been together before both of us were ready to love and let the other into our beautifully dysfunctional lives.
These are just 2 of the examples of some of the biggest impacts on my life over the last year. Of course there are others that aren't mentioned that have extended their selves and allowed each of our lives to be touched in some way or another. I encourage everyone to try and figure out who you can be honest and open with and make those life long connections. Life will unfortunately catch up with all of us at some point and it pays to have family and friends that you can genuinely trust. You never know when those people could help save your life. My hope through this blog in particular is to challenge you to sort through your close friends and family and find people that you can learn from and grow with. I know figuring this out has given way to some truly happy moments in my life.
Till Next Time,
All Hope is Gone
All Hope is Gone