Turning Point

When looking into the potentialities of change, the immediate gratification you seek can make looking at the present difficult. When things are bad, you’ll focus on them, because negativity is infectious. It rewires your mind and turns the world dark.

Things suck because they have to.

Why do things have to suck?

Your attempts at change and reconciliation have gone nowhere.

I want to keep trying. Things were great once, they can be great again.

If there’s no indication of a possibility of improvement, why bother repeating yourself?

Because maybe this time it’ll sink in and progress will be made.

The little things can’t be fixed. How do you expect to change the big issues?

By starting small. If I can have a picture of where I want to end up, I can decipher the smaller steps required to reach that point.

There’s way too much to take on. Think of all the shit you need to tackle just to take your first step.

But I want more.

Do you?


Then what are you waiting for?

First steps are dangerous. This is where your love of baseball comes into play. The all-time greats fail seven out of ten times. They keep stepping into the batter’s box. You can handle setbacks, your life has been littered with them, right? Yeah, that’s true.

Disappointments flood your mind and it’s easy to only focus on the times you’ve faltered. Especially since your most recent history has been nothing but let-downs. It’s easy to lose focus on the accomplishments you’ve made.

You lost two full years to depression. You were worthless and she carried you.

I wasn’t worthless. I was just a little off.

A little?

Okay, a lot. But relationships ebb and flow. Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down. Thankfully, it’s been one of us at a time so we can support each other.

What support did she give you?

I had a place to live, and she let me figure things out, no matter how long it took.

Wouldn’t it have been nice to get a push?

Emotional support is a tricky subject. There’s things you want to hear, and things that you need to hear. When you’re in a committed relationship, you need to hear the difficult things. You need to be reminded of what made you great, and how you’re far from it. That isn’t demeaning or insulting; it’s a jump-start to your reservoir of achievements and positivity.

With enough reflection, that reservoir stops being a stagnant pool of the past. It becomes a flowing river of motivation, trying to get you back to the point of being able to tackle any challenge in front of you.

You sat there for two years and did nothing.

Yeah, but before that I made a career out of web-design, on nothing more than my own will to make it.

You faked it enough to get by. You were never successful at it.

I had clients as big as the NFL and Casio.

You got lucky with contacts in the industry.

That wasn’t luck. That was a testament to the quality work I produced.

So start over. Get to that point again.

When reflecting on what you’ve always wanted to do, you’re reminded of the complacency that manifested itself in the field in which you became passionless. You can do it again, because you did it before. But do you want to do that?

You’ve always wanted to help people. Why not do that?

Because all I’ve got is a decade of mediocre web design work. No one will hire me to work with people.

Your sister got that job with the Center with no experience.

Yeah, but she wants to be a nurse. You’re an out-of-work web guy. Can you imagine doing all the things she does? You can’t even clean up a hairball without retching.

Right, but she sounds so happy. Even through dressing MRSA wounds, and people dying, she still raves about how great it is. There’s got to be something to it.

I can’t help myself, how can I possibly help someone else?

By trying.

Success builds upon itself. You’ve long mocked the PMA (positive mental attitude) sub-culture in hardcore. Yeah, right, like thinking positively is all you need to do. As you put effort into an application, set up an interview three hours later, and visit a house the next day, your anxiety is through the roof.

How can I do well on this interview? I haven’t had an interview in over a year and a half…

You ran your own business, negotiated deals, managed sub-contractors. You can handle an entry-level position in a new field.

But it’s scary. I don’t want to fail and wind up where I was.

You won’t.

Of course, you get the job. Your charisma carries you through the interview, and your quick wit lets you come up with acceptable answers to questions meant to throw you off guard. No one even gives you a funny look about the old-man blazer you bought for your grandmother’s funeral at a discount store in Florida.

You clean up shit for the first time, and get through it. Now, a year later, it’s no different than scooping soggy food out of the strainer in the sink. Remember when you couldn’t do that without a glove and gagging? 

You’ve been promoted, since your work ethic translates across fields. Your experience cross-pollinates, and you regain your full confidence. You’re sassy again. Your sarcasm is piercing. Your humor returns and you find things funny that you mocked bitterly while depressed.  Passions rekindle anew, your recreational hobbies are interesting again, and you’re looking forward to the challenge of learning new skills.

If you’re enjoying helping the people at work, imagine how many lives you could touch if you pursued psychology.

That was just a kid’s dream because you picked up on what your therapist said to you as a preteen.

You absorbed it because it’s awesome. You’re logical, reasoned, and observant. Those are good qualities for a mental-health professional.

I sucked at school, and I’m in my 30’s.

Right. So after you graduate, you’ll still have 30+ years to practice and make people better.

You hem and haw past the point of no-return for the fall semester. The deadline for the following spring approaches, and you decide to procrastinate no longer. You enroll in school, and remember just how much you like the environment. You like sharing your strong opinions, and you revel in the opportunity to have them challenged and changed. You like showing the kids in your class up. You’re smart, say what you think, and absorb the information like you always do.

Why are you okay with being grumpy all the time?

I’m not grumpy all the time.

You sure seem it.

Nah, it’s only at home, but I’m giving her time to work on things.

How much is enough time?

The epiphany cuts like a knife. You talk to your best friend, and he reminds you of being at the point of wanting to end your marriage nearly five years ago.

How much longer does she need?

I needed time, so does she.

Right, but you’ve given her time. You’ve recovered, and this is the last vestige of depravity in your life. It’s the last thing to fix.

You feel guilty, selfish. You think that you’re focusing on yourself too much. What’s the line between selfish, and self-care? How can you live without being happy in all aspects of your life? What needs to change?

You make connections with new people. With someone in particular, you relate on a multitude of topics. Your conversations are salient, and the for the first time in a long time you hear a phrase that cements your thought process.

Keith, you deserve to be happy.

The new and exciting is incredibly enticing. Conversations last for hours, and even at your darkest moments of the day, an ascii smile in its own text brightens your day. It’s the little things you realize that were missing. Appreciation. Gratitude. Encouragement.

The feelings have been missing for so long that you become instantly enamored by this person. You spend waking moments fixating on them and hoping for their happiness. You drift off to sleep thinking about them, and you wake up to their name on your brain.

It’s enticing because it’s new, and we’re only seeing the best we have to offer each other.

Yeah, but what if your connection is so strong that it just brings the best out of each other? It’s worth exploring.

It will be months, maybe years before you find out for sure if it was just the perfect storm of emotional connection that led to these feelings, but you’re patient now. You’ve been through a lot, and the energy you’ve invested in the other parts of your life has returned in spades. There is something here, and you’re willing to wait to find out what it is.

It doesn’t matter as much where any of these paths lead. School, work, dating. You’re in it for the experience. You want to risk again. It’s not scary to fail. It’s a turning point to try harder next time.

You’ll be fine. You have been before, you are now, and you will continue to be.

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I am Keith J. Frank, an overweight, acerbic, narcissistic, and sometimes lovable asshole that was born in June of 1983.

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