One cannot just throw in the towel

When all else fails, just keep doing, keep trying, and keep moving forward. This is what having Cerebral Palsy has taught me, but that wasn’t always the case.

In my late teens and early twenties, I gave up. I stagnated. Before then, I was a happy, carefree, determined young man. I tried everything so called, “Normal” kids did. I wasn’t always the first kid chosen, but I participated. I never really gave it much thought then, but I tried everything at least once, and lots of time I had to do things differently from the other kids; I had to do things my way (I just couldn’t do something’s the way the other kids did them. It was physically impossible for me to do these things normally). But I participated. I had a lot of confidence back then, but in my late teens and early twenties, I lost that confidence. I fell into a deep depression.

I stagnated. I couldn’t move forward, and like everyone else in this linear existence of a world, I couldn’t go back. This depression went on for quite a while until I hit rock bottom.

Eventually, I got help counselling, job training, job searching and employment. I was happier for a few years, but then I quit work and went back to school. I disliked my latter year of high school the first time around (I was just present and I was really participating. Well, all except music. Music kept me going). I did extremely well when I first returned first college and then to high school to obtain my Grade 13/OAC credits. I didn’t do so well in university, but I picked the wrong major (hindsight is twenty/twenty vision). Oh well…

Somewhere along these school years, I got my confidence back. I never looked back (I removed, but I haven’t looked back). It’s become one of my axioms: Keep moving forward and never look back (The others, in case you are wondering are: Believe in yourself – have confidence, and one more; nobody is perfect – we’re all human and everyone makes mistakes, so be easy on yourself).

That’s where I am in life. I am moving onward. My life isn’t perfect, but it isn’t bad either. I having reached all my goals, but I keep trying. I have made some misjudgments, but nothing too serious. I keep trying. I try plan A, then plan B, and plan C if I need to or Plan D after that. I have lots of plans to help me to my destination – all leading to the same goal.

That’s the trick – keep going and keep trying. You’ll find the journey is what life is really all about. (Gees, how did I get this wise? It must be because I am getting old. LOL)
—Robert Confiant 10 July 2018

 

 

Laughing through trying and difficult times

I just completed Lindsay Wincherauk (“Seed”) “Driving in Reverse – the life I almost missed.” What a compelling read; it’s witty, sarcastic, and very funny. The style of writing is different than I am usually used to – very back and forth-y; a unique style of writing – very much characteristic of its writer.

Driving in Reverse - TLIAM

If you cannot laugh at trouble, there is something wrong. My laughing during very difficult times is what aided me through them. I know, it seems strange to make jokes and laugh during very trying and difficult times in life but laughing certainly helps one get through them. I cannot not explain it, but it does help one to cope and to keep one’s sanity intact.

Like the author mentioned above, I have experienced many trying and difficult times. I have cerebral palsy a dis-ablility (sic) which affects mainly my legs and which I cannot hide. I stood out from the crowd. As a kid, this made things difficult at times. I wasn’t always accepted. I didn’t always fit in. Luckily, I lived in the projects. The kids there did not care. It was the other kids at school that made things more difficult. As I aged, I was teased by children – they made fun of the way I walked or pestered me on why I walk so funny. I usually just ignored them but sometime the teasing stung – I was hurt; even until today, the kid teasing can still hurt; I guess some scars just run too deep.

When I hit my teens and it became time to decide which areas of high school course I wished to pursue for my career path some teachers stirred me on the easier path because they believed I could only do so much. These “professionals” only wanted me to be more realistic about my career path, looking back on it now. I see that they had my best interest at heart and at the time, I did follow their advice. When I returned to school seven years later to upgrade for university. I proved to myself that I could do it. Although, my success at university wasn’t that great; I should have pursued a writing or social science field instead.

I did continue with my education taking computer programming which allowed a six and a half years stint in the IT field before the bubble burst and I could not get a job if my life depended on in (which it did).
I am a survivor and I am not ashamed to start over, or at the bottom. I landed a secure government job. It was nothing fancy, but it was stable, and it allowed lots of free time to resume my writing. The re-introduction to writing saved me. Writing made my life joyous. I found my passion. I found my goal. If one must do something in life, one should find one’s passion; discovering one’s passion makes all the difference.

I used to write when I was in my mid-teens but gave it up at twenty-two. I suffered from depression, and as a result, my writings were very dark. Unfortunately, I no longer have these writings – unfortunate because it would have been interesting to go back now that I do not suffer with depression as much and I can handle going back to review the writings without getting depressed again. Oh well, I guess losing these writings was meant to be. I rediscovered writing about ten years ago. At first, a lot of my writings were amateurish. Am I there yet? Not likely, but I have improved immensely over the years – every year I see improvement.

Look, most of us have it hard in life. No one ever said that life would be easy. Like Seed said (and I am paraphrasing here), “If you can survive difficult times in life with the person you are (the “ME” as I say) intact, if you can be happy, if you can find that which makes you happy, if you can love yourself, then that is everything you’ll ever need.” I concur. I have had my share of difficulties. I may not be a perfect person, but I think I am a good man – I try to treat others as I would like to be treated. I found that which makes me happy. My life is good. What more can one ask for?
—Robert Confiant 2 June 2018

The demons in our lives

We all have demons in our lives. We all have our peak points and our low drops.

Driving in Reverse - TLIAM

I am currently reading: Lindsay Wincherauk “Driving in Reverse: The life I almost missed.” It is a fascinating story. In the story, the author discusses “Vices.” We all have them. My biggest is drinking. Most of the time, I am a happy drunk, but alcohol (beer specifically) magnifies my mood. If I am in a good mood, then l feel better, if sad then I get more depressed, and so forth…

The “demons of our lives,” I have made poor choices; I have hurt people (never intentionally, but I have). I act on my emotions (sometimes I still do, although I have curved this as I have aged). My emotions betrayed me leading me to make poor decisions. I am better at this today.

My drinking has led me to act poorly toward others, but mainly I have hurt myself (physically, by falling down a lot – cerebral palsy and drinking don’t mix well). As I said, other than lower my inhibitions and acting on my feelings, the harm that results is usually self-inflicted. Although, once it a while I have unintentionally cause hurt in others. My actions cannot be undone. I could only ask forgiveness and move onward in life.

I know all about the highs and lows in life. I suffered from depression earlier in life. For the most part I am over it, although one never fully recovers from depression. It occasionally rears its ugly head – I have had bouts of depression, but I have learnt methods of dealing with them when I eventually realize I am experiencing a bout of it – it takes about a week to come to this realization and I just do the opposite of what I am feeling. For example, I get up instead of sleeping in; I go out instead of shutting in, etc. I curve my drinking, “Hello coffee shops.”

I have recently curved my drinking. I do so only if I go out. Usually, once every other week, or so, I feel better for it. I cut back because I am hoping to get healthier and the medicine I take to help me walk better is hard on the liver – I didn’t want to add to it.

We all have our demons. I have spent most of my life in reining them in. I have had some success. I also do not let guilt overwhelm me.
—Robert Confiant 30 May 2018

 

I took a tumble yesterday

Yesterday I took a tumble and I fell. It was the first time I have fallen for almost six months my right foot hit the filing cabinet as I was turning the corner. I was walking too fast when I hit it.

falling

I did what I always do after I fell; I picked myself up declaring I was fine then sat at my desk. I also brushed it off with a joke that I have fallen so many times in my life; I know how to fall without hurting myself seriously. On one such fall, I even managed to do a complete summersault without getting a scratch on me.

To say. “I have fallen a lot,” is probably an under statement on my part. I have fallen and a lot of those times I have scratched the shit out of my hands and/or elbows. I usually fall on the pavement since a lot of the times the pavement can be uneven.

My cerebral palsy affects mainly my right foot. When I was younger, my right foot turned in 45 degrees and I used to drag it a bit, so that caused me to fall a lot on the sidewalk. This was especially true if I was speeding, or tired. or just didn’t pick up my feet, or any combination of all the above. At eighteen, I had my final corrective surgery at Sick Kids. The doctors broke the foot just above the ankle and turned the foot thirty degrees the other way and locked it in a cast. It partially worked. The hope was that the foot, once the cast was removed, would be straight. it really didn’t. It turned a bit leftward instead of turning rightward (like it did before the surgery. The funny thing with surgery is that for the most part, it corrects somethings and creates other complications, which at first are not always apparent.

So, I fell a lot when I was younger, and I continued to fall a lot as I aged. I still learnt to fall without serious injury to myself (Except, as I mentioned above, my hands and/or my elbows, and my ego it embarrasses the shit out of me every time people would make a big deal out of it. It still does). Once I sat down for a little bit, the same co-worker came over and asked, “Seriously, are you okay?” I assured him I was even though, at the time, I did ache slightly (I am fine, it’s been hours and I feel nothing unusual, so I am good. I just want to put that out there).

The point of this post is about the actual fall. Before this fall, I started a pill (Dantrolene) I have been taking for about a year now its been; before this fall, I would have fallen hard. “Like a ton of bricks,” as the saying goes. This was like my falls used to be like.

I used to fall hard and getting up was like lifting dead weight. Not yesterday’s fall, I didn’t fall that hard. There was a lighter aspect to it. I don’t know how else to put it in words. Plus, it was easier to pick myself up. It didn’t seem as if it was “dead weight.” I cannot put it into better terms.

Suffice to say, “Yesterday’s fall felt, and was, different than all the previous falls in the past.”

I believe the medicine made all the difference.
—Robert Confiant 23 May 2018

 

Keep moving

Keep moving

A little over two years ago, when I was experiencing a lot of pain in my legs, I went to visit Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia to discuss the topic: Aging and Cerebral Palsy (there wasn’t a lot of information about growing old with CP, and there wasn’t a lot of research on the topic). I figured CPABC would probably be a good place to start.

While there, I spoke with a woman who once was mobile like myself, but who now found herself wheelchair bound (she must have been about ten years younger than myself). She gave me some advice, “Keep moving,” she said, “Always keep moving.”
At the time, I said, “I take transit; I have no other options than to ‘keep moving.’”

What I said was true to a point, but it was not the complete truth. Because of the pain I was experiencing, and because I was falling down a lot, I only walked as much as I needed to in my everyday life activities. I stopped moving regularly. I stopped working out at the gym, I stopped walking (I would hop on the bus just to go a few stops). I wasn’t moving.

This winter was no exception. I pretty much hibernated this winter. I rarely went outside other than to work and back. I never pushed myself to move more. I used the weather as an excuse to not go out. I was pathetic (and this is the truth). As a result, I gained all the weight back, which I had previously lost). It wasn’t until I got disgusted with myself that I finally acted on it.

I gave up drinking beer at home, and I am cutting down on junk food at work (and somewhat at home, if I am truly being honest). I have also started to walk more. This isn’t easy. I am terribly out of shape and I require to stop half-way to my destination just to catch my breath. It’s pathetic really, but it is a start, and this is what I need to focus on that it’s a clean start. I am not walking fast, so when friends asked to walk with me; I turn them down, because I either can’t keep pace, or I need to rest.

My goal this week, I plan on walking home from the Skytrain. I told my other half that I would be home later than usual because I plan to walk from the station. I won’t be doing my “Toronto walk.” If I did that, then the walk would kill me; New Westminster has a lot of hills and from the station most of the trip is uphill, or on a rising slant, so I will be taking things nice and easy.

It’s a new plan. It’s about change, and I am all about changing if I improve myself: Never stop learning, and never stop self-improvement.
—Robert Confiant 6 May 2018 Continue reading “Keep moving”

I gained my weight back and I’m pissed off at myself

I gained my weight back and I’m pissed off at myself; that’s okay, piss off is good. It helps get me motivated for change.

I never started gaining weight until I was sixteen. By my early twenties, I started to realize I was putting on pounds – I still did nothing about it (I should have done something then I guess, but hindsight is twenty-twenty vision).

By my early forties, I stated the “diet thing.” My weight went down, then slowly back up. For ten years, I played the “diet game.”

dieting

It happened again, I gained the weight. It been a difficult last three years, or so. My Cerebral Palsy, aging and premature aging in the form of: tiredness, aches, osteoarthritis; plus, my lack of drive and energy. My work environment became a huge issue as well.

Due to circumstances, which were unexpected, we have been short-handed at work. A lot of it fell on my shoulders (I don’t handle stress well. Especially, when the stress is over a long period of time). I drank and ate a lot to compensate my emotional state.

Last week, it hit me that I gained all the weigh I had lost from my Toronto days. I am determined to loss 40 – 50 pounds. I still will be over weight, but I won’t be obese. I am not young, and I don’t believe the BMI is a valid measurement of health and I won’t be doing a diet. They don’t work in the long term. I need to learn new eating habits and to make these changes a life style routine.

I will get there. It will just take time, but I am in no rush, and I will probably fail a few times; however, I am determined to stay the course.
—Robert Confiant 29 April 2018

My Gay Life

I got to watching a documentary on Netflix called, “100 Men.” It about a man who decides to do a documentary of one hundred men he met throughout his life and he interviewed some of them to see how life had changed over the last thirty to forty years: A partner gay history if you will. It got me to thinking about my gay life (Although I am far from the 100 he names).

I first knew I was different around grade one or two. I didn’t know what it was called, but I knew boys interested me more than girls. While most boys started talking about girls, I was checking them out in the gym change room. I knew I was different, and that I had to keep that knowledge to myself.

It was while watching an episode of Archie Bunker (I am dating myself here I’m afraid) that I first learned of the words: “queer,” and “gay.” I remember asking my parents what they meant, and they told me it meant that the man was a “homosexual – a man who like men sexually.” I knew, at that time, that I might be gay. It was during my teens, that I realized I like boys in that way.

In my early teens, I tried asking girls out to dances, but it never felt right. I don’t think I ever asked the same girl out again. By the time I reached sixteen and seventeen, I tried everything to make myself straight. When asked, I often stated I crushes on girls who I knew were either: Not interested, or who were out of my league, or who were already taken; I tried to “pray away the gay.” I finally decided not to do, or act on anything one way or the other.

By my early twenties, I was depressed, and I hit rock bottom. I was disabled and gay, and I had no self-confidence. I tried killing myself (Obviously, not serious to finish myself off, but I think my older brother knew what I tried to do – although, this is merely speculation on my part). I would later run off and then I was confronted by my family to seek help, which I did. I went to counseling for the first time and I got on a vocational rehabilitation program.

It was here that I found a friend whom I later discovered was gay and who liked me. This realization scared me away. I wasn’t ready for it and we went our separate ways. This was my choice and not his (Many years later, I would meet another gay friend, but he wasn’t interested in me that way, so I didn’t feel threatened in any way).

After both my parents passed away, I felt very isolated, angry and hurt. I went to my family doctor who referred me to a psychologist. On my second visit, I revealed that I was gay. That was the very first time I spoke the word allowed. It felt good to be able to express my true self to someone for the first time, but this wasn’t the main issue that I had to deal with. I still felt a lot of anger because of the burden and responsibility of my mother palliative care placed upon my shoulders. After a few more sessions, I realized I had to let the past go and move onward, and so I did. In January 2000, I moved to Vancouver to start a new life (I knew I could never do gay in TO).

When I first moved to Vancouver, I stayed with my BFF. She lived on the West-side of Vancouver. I came out to her after a month of living with her. She commented, and I am paraphrasing here, “You’re such a nice man not to ogle when I leave the bathroom for the bedroom when all I am wearing is a towel around myself.” I chuckled, and I explained that I was gay. Our friendship only bloomed more from that time onward.

I lived with her until I sub-let from a friend of hers. It was the first time I lived in the “Gayhood.” It was a while before I saw Davie Street for the first time, before then I always took the other bus.

I remember the first time I entered my first gay bar. It was a sunny, spring Saturday afternoon. I never looked back. I was officially out, it was liberating. I was wholly myself: A gay, disabled, confident man.
I did the scene then for the next six or seven years. I was like a kid in a candy shop. Everything was new. I was told by some of the friends I met that it was a better scene once – bigger, more spectacular, and more variety; however, for me, what was available was good. I partied a lot back then and met a few men along the way. For the most part, life was good, and I was happy.

Raining Men

A few years ago, I met my partner. He was different from me in that he was more of a loner than I was. I was an extrovert. I enjoyed going out and meeting new people. I knew I found someone who would be a great friend, someone who would never hurt me, or use me. I was ready to settle down. By the time I met him, I had partied myself out. I was ready to try a love relationship. We moved into our own condominium and we were married last year. Life got better.
—Robert Confiant 22 April 2018