Living My Life Unpacked.

My last relationship ended before I could even unpack from our trip last weekend to Toronto. My bag lies within feet of my front door and mocks my latest failed attempt. The foam finger peeks out of the zipper and points in my direction as if to say, “I told you so”. The parking ticket I’ve received from parking at her house in order to then drive past my house to travel towards the north country is now the last memory in my possession. This isn’t a roast or a sad story, it’s a final plea. For advice, suggestions, and most importantly positive reinforcement.

This is an ongoing story about my struggle with my unwillingness to involuntarily be left alone in life. I imagine water boarding to be compared to my Sunday nights. My tortured worries and fears fill my mind to the point where it no longer allows any available room for sleep. I’m a natural born loner on my terms, but my soul weeps when I no longer have a say in the matter. It’s human nature to want companionship and I envy it when it’s entangled with compassion and physical emotions. My life would be easy for me if I didn’t desire a whispered “goodnight”, or the unexpected kiss from another. I wonder how simple it would be to no longer care to see a smile that I contributed to. I wish I could be perfectly conceded, sleep nine hours every night and have an empty heart that I could fill with all things selfish. I can not. I will worry and think about it and wonder; what if. Please allow me this opportunity to release these frustrations without any further judgment. I can’t mask this hole with misguided hope and pity. Family, friendships, and pre-occupied activities will never replace my desire to intimately share my life with another that I respect and admire.

Whether it’s four dates, six months or years; grasping possibility and relinquishing it to improbability never gets easier for me. Even if it’s the most brutal circumstance or mutual agreement, I am still hesitant to allow another person to vanish from my life. Each and every time this happens, a piece of my heart has been torn apart and carelessly taped back into its rightful place. At the age of thirty-four, this is becoming more and more difficult to disguise with my cautious optimism and sarcastic smile that represents my belief that this time will be different. I envy those that find love as natural as I do air. I understand that my broken record is one that you’ve never played and my brown grass appears greener than ever from afar. However, this is my heart speaking the truth that I would never represent to you as an outsider. I’m chopping logs, drinking Jameson and spitting hand grown tobacco down my irresponsibly groomed beard on the outside. Mentally, I’m listening to Damien Rice and drowning my sorrows in multiple glasses of red wine. Between pacing and refusing to take sleeping pills, I count down the hours until Sundays turn into Mondays. Where I can forcefully interrupt my worries with tasks that have very little personal meaning to me. This is welcomed as an alternative substitute for an occasional hangover and couch ridden session filled with self sorrows.

Dating has become an interview process to convince someone as quickly as possible that I’m normal and that my erratic intentions are harmless and are often misinterpreted because of my strong desire to share it with someone. My heart pounds. The kind of beat that can leap out of my chest and is often seen before felt. It’s a consistent déjà vu process in trying to convince a complete stranger that I’m quite normal and worthy of their time, regardless of my obvious failures. The more I try, the harder I fall. The nicer I am, the quicker I’m left. Not only is this process and interview but it’s a fucking crap shoot as to how to go about the entire process. If anyone says differently, or I have to listen to “just be yourself” one more time, it’s all bullshit. Call – Don’t call. Be nice – Act like you don’t care. Go slow – Show interest. Want them to call – Doesn’t Matter. Let it come natural – Make an effort. I’m a strong believer in stepping stones and learning from your previous mistakes, but dating is a snowflake. It’s an unpredictable course of action that is judged by another no matter where your intentions lie. It’s something that I can’t accept.

Every date and relationship is comprised from bullshit and blossoms into toleration and gives way to love. I feel as though I am Red from Shawshank Redemption trying to convince a female parole officer (date) that I am worthy of their time. Their opportunity to give me the chance that I so desperately want and deserve. Allowing the day where my mistakes can be overlooked because walking away is no longer an option. I am still capable of making as many, if not more mistakes as I did when I was the ripe age of sixteen. I need a strong, confident woman that can wipe away my dust and see the potential that I am willing to offer on a permanent basis if given the opportunity. Like Red, every date consists of conversations regarding my likes, hobbies, and intentions. “In four years…Where do I see myself ?” Please. I’m like Bill F’n Murray in Groundhogs Day with these common folk questions. And yes, I always drink to world peace. Dumped. Gives up. Isn’t working. We are better off as friends. In other words – Love Denied.
Love/Opportunity? I have no idea what this means. To me, it’s a made up word(s). Something people that marry their college sweetheart made up while they are living in the house their parents bought for them. It’s the anti-virgin status young ladies desire in order to fit in with their peers. It’s no longer a necessity that our parents needed to financially survive. It’s not compelled from Ryan Gosling and the 365 letters in which he wrote. Love often comes head strong with security and comfort. The risk and love reward our grandparents discovered is long gone. It’s no longer an expression of love as it is a label. Am I sorry for what I did? My failed relationships, my actions that may have lead me to unwillingly lose someone I care for? To want love and not the label. To read the book and dispose of the cover? No. I look back at the way I was at that time. A young passionate kid that made out in fields after football games. Who held someone’s hand and felt as clammy on this outside as the insides. Because that is where my passion is derived from still, to this day. If telling you that I don’t give a shit about love works, then so be it. I’ll lie. I just want the opportunity to prove myself when the opportunity presents itself.

Last week I uncontrollably vomited wrong answers and dug myself a hole in order to bury my true self that will never be discovered by this particular individual. I’m not upset per say that it did not work out, as our personalities differed. What bothers me is that I was so passionate at being given a chance that I began to treat “it” how I wanted to be treated and thus, it quickly pushed it in a direction that I was not particularly familiar with. It was laced with desperation and much needed assurance that getting to know one another would take steps forward and not backwards with awkward pauses. Now, I am perceived as someone I am not because I did not handle this with grace. There was no convincing otherwise and I knew it. It’s a shame that my leniency towards our differences were quickly overlooked by desire to feel that what was expected of me, was for her as well. Chivalry gave way to equality, but does equality even exist while dating? Are you held as accountable as another? These are lessens that I will gladly take with me and stumble over again at the most inappropriate time possible. (my next date).

Physical attraction and similarities are attributes that I am not going to overlook. I fully understand that not everything is meant to be. That someone could be thousands of miles away that is as compatible to me as I am to her and one day, in this life or another, I will understand why this is the path I was given. Being alone is something that I tolerate. Being left alone, rips away at my heart and diminishes what little self esteem I have left. As each day passes, loved ones that do remain in my life are quickly being replaced and relocated. Life’s claw has grasped them and I am left to defend myself in this deafening silence.

Please allow me to separate gratefulness and this pipe dream with a bold black and white line. Understand that letting go of hope and desire is not an option that I will ever be fully committed to. Again, know that I appreciate the opportunity to allow my heart to speak on my behalf. The sunrise will always bring hope where it once was forgotten. My head is being held high. I just want opportunity. Help. Advice. I want to reach out to someone, to find more opportunity. I’m not opposed to starting a Youtube campaign. I refuse to allow myself to drown in wasted days. This is me reaching out to you. A friend, Family member, or complete stranger. How can I over come my heart aches? What can I do to start this first day to the rest of my life with another?

I find myself in a revolving door that may require a different answer. Even one that I do not think is desirable. Perhaps I need to make some changes that will guide me in a different direction and grant me new found hope. If you have any suggestions, I beg for your time. Advice. Comments.

Thank you so much for your support.
Eric’s Heart.

Now, off to grow a beard.

Eric.shanteau@gmail.com

Stranded with only my morning jacket.

I feel entirely too old for concerts, especially weekday concerts in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Months ago, I had purchased tickets to see one of my favorite bands, Band of Horses. A few years back, I had missed their show and just last year, I had to give away my tickets because of a scheduling conflict. Rain was in the forecast and I was very unfamiliar with Oakland University or Meadow Brook Amphitheater but it would not deter me from making the two hour drive on a Tuesday. I was meeting a friend up there and was already running behind. Band of Horses was opening the show for My Morning Jacket and I didn’t want to miss one minute. Perfect weather, great venue, and I was sprawled out in the plush green grass; listening to my favorite band on a cool summer night. What could go wrong?

BoH was perfect, as I sang along with every song. I was loving life. I intended on possibly just staying for the opener, but as short as the setlist was (1 hr), I decided that I would give MMJ a chance and listen to a few songs, take off and be home by 11. Perfect night with a splash of responsibility. I am a true believer in moderation, and everything in the long run will be better when you keep that in mind. My Morning Jacket was incredible live and although I didn’t really give them a chance going into the show, I became an instant fan. I decided that I had had enough as it was nearing 9pm. I was in the 10% that came to see Band of Horses and I was in the 2% that was leaving well before the show was over.

As I said my goodbyes, I felt around my jean pockets for my keys and I could not find them. It wasn’t a complete surprise because I am known for misplacing things as my pockets are usually overfilled. I quickly looked around the grass and decided to check by my truck in the parking lot. Nothing. This is the point where my heart started to sink. I had left my truck unlocked and was still fairly certain that my keys were probably under the seat or misplaced upon the floor. Nope. I had that what do I do feeling. It wasn’t as though I was thousands of miles away from home but it was still a very helpless experience. Especially knowing that nothing could help the situation except for finding my keys. I have to give credit to the staff at Meadow Brook. I had cops, cops with flashlights, cleaning crews, and ushers searching and kicking throughout the parking lot field of grass. Before I knew it, the entire show was over.

I walked back into the venue (I was previously told I could not re-enter, but everyone knew me as the Toledo kid that lost his keys by now) and searched every area I had walked, sat or laid down in. If only I could have started my truck with empty bottles of whiskey, I would have been set. I had to resort to plan B. Cab home, taxi to a hotel, tow, or use a screwdriver to get it started. I resorted to calling a taxi and staying in a cheap motel for the night in hopes that someone could bring me my keys in the morning. I had thought about sleeping inside the truck but my phone was slowly dying. Work just wasn’t happening at this point. Responsibility was also lost somewhere with my keys and may I please make note that I only had one drink (and intended on that).

I grabbed any and all sweatshirts from the inside of my truck (in case I needed to walk or wait) and I closed the door to my truck. The light didn’t go off. Unbelievable. I locked the doors and left the dome light on. I’m a strong believer in faith so I took another stroll through the venue, hoping for some sort of miracle. I walked back to my truck one last time to find that someone wrote duh on my window with their finger in the now dewy cold night that it had become. Well done and deserved. I was picked up by a staff member and given a lost and found number as I was lead to the main entrance to wait for a cab. It was now nearing midnight and the cab company had told me that it would be a 30-40 minute wait. As I sat on the curb alone, I saw waives and heard faint shouts of good luck as cars passed by. I was the last person to leave the venue last night. I even saw the porta potty/groundskeeper pass me by. It was nearing 1am the following day.

I glanced over to the now entirely empty field to see a black truck by itself, with the light on. I shook my head. Repeatedly. I was picked up by the cab driver and I told him that I needed a cash machine and a cheap hotel. During the brief trip, we discussed life as he was unprovoked in recommending all the adult entertainment spots in and around Auburn Hills, Michigan. As we pulled into a local bank, it took me fifteen minutes to get my atm card to swipe in those damn “put in, pull out” machines. (Send me a new one already). I was dropped off at a Red Roof Inn. I walked in and the lady said I was “in luck”. She had just a few rooms left and they were a hundred dollars because of the concert and near capacity. It didn’t matter at this point. Nothing really did but getting my wet shoes and socks off my feet. I looked behind me and ask the lady if that McDonalds was open because I had not had the chance to eat the entire night. She said it’s open all night, well, ..the drive through and I needed a car. Ironically. I walked towards my room and proceeded to pull out a five dollar bill from with my pocket for a vending machine that only took dollar bills. I glanced at the Cheez-Its and walked away in utter disappointment as I collapsed on my bed fully clothed and fell asleep to a Spanish infomercial.

I awoke this morning with very little sleep if any at all and my phone at 10%. I walked to the McDonalds for a cup of coffee. It was rather warm this morning compared to yesterday as most of the patrons were wearing shorts and shirts. I had on two sweatshirts, jeans, and my socks were still slightly soaked. I checked my arms and legs for bed bugs as I sipped on my coffee and strolled around outside. I had no idea where I was exactly. Thankfully, my sister drove my spare key up to me from Toledo and by around 1pm the following day, I was finally heading home. I have to thank my family, Jodi and Drew for their concern and help. If I learned anything, it’s to not lose my keys, but what I really took with me, is that the gesture of help/concern is priceless. I would have never, ever wanted anyone to drive up that late, but just a text showing concern made a huge difference. I can’t even tell you how many people knew, and never even responded. In fact, I’m sure work was pissed at me and still wondered if I was going to make it in later. I absolutely hate my job. I’m going to say it. Beating a horse with a whip isn’t going to make it run any faster on its own. Being busy and expecting to go above and beyond at your job doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be miserable to go to. That doesn’t have to go hand in hand. Unhappiness, yelling, anger…it’s hard to deal with this on an almost daily basis. I’d pick up horse manure if the environment was enjoyable.

How do you measure friendships or kindness? The willingness to help someone move? Knowing their birthday and acknowledging it? Being in their wedding? Getting a helping hand when in need? A text? I know how I measure genuineness. This is what I’ve learned.

I live my life trying to be genuine. I seldom say no. In fact, I try to go out of my way as much as possible to exceed the expectations of those around me, including co-workers. If someone needs something, asks for something, I try to make it happen. On my lunch, stay late at work, or during my personal time. I’ve asked for something at work that would take five minutes to do. (four times). Nothing. It bothers me immensely as you can see. It boggles my mind that people are only concerned about themselves. Like my keys, kindness and generosity has been lost and I may never find them where I am. Although, from what I’ve lost, I have gained the determination to make a change. This is what I truly wish to find..

No Religious Preference.

Believing in hope for unexplainable, yet inevitable actions is exactly why we wake up each and every morning. Without explanations and optimistic proven results, we surrender our souls to relinquish any or all promise of self worth to the fate of our last gasp of air and ultimately to the mystery that follows thereafter. I grew up without religion. In fact, I knew of church as a place I’d sit with my grandmother for an hour until we could go out for breakfast. In between sitting, singing, and standing, I knew of prayer as I time I’d tell a loved one that had passed that I loved and missed them. I stand firm with my ideals of believing in something and that is the extent of my religion. I’m not baptized and my knowledge of any religion is thin. I believe in good will, love, compassion, kindness, and making the world a better place when you leave it. I believe that if my intentions are strong and my heart is heavy, I will accept any fate that is brought down upon me. There are far too many religions to throw out the concept of solely being the best individual you can be to humanity and for the future existence of the human race; to disregard another’s religious preference.

Other than believing in strictly being well behaved, I do believe in Jesus and God, and the after life. Often, I believe life in this world is hell, and regardless of good or bad actions, each of our times will come when we may be fortunate to enter heaven when we finally realize our intentions and capabilities for good faith . I imagine our next adventure to be entirely full of love and understanding. Worries, hatred, and prejudice are no longer an issue. Our senses derive from the center of our soul and that can and will not pass judgment. In this life, our eyes blind our hearts and lead us to temptations that test our judgments. Every day we are faced with decisions; right or left, right or wrong. Every morning in which we awake, we are given an opportunity that allows us to learn from our mistakes as opposed to being punished for them. It’s with growth and the knowledge we gain from our past that allows us to correct our actions in order to become a better human being.

Family, friends, co-workers, and strangers help guide you in the right direction. We are being pushed and pulled in multiple paths that often seem to be well out of our conscious control. It’s how we overcome these obstacles and who we surround ourselves with on a daily basis that will mold us into the individual we strive to be. It’s extremely difficult to discuss religion, especially for me. I’m sure there are a ton of religious beliefs that I do not agree with. For example, I strongly believe in Christianity, however I really don’t believe (in) Christians. I do not believe in any religion, Christianity or another, that passionately despises another’s faith. If we could all just be happy with what we believe in and not what “they” do, the world would become a much better place. Do not preach something that you can not practice. Stop living your life in sin and think you are saved after walking out of a building late Sunday morning. Your five dollar donation along with your confession isn’t going to justify laying your hands upon a woman or child. Your actions in life behind closed doors are just as recognizable as the time you volunteered in the soup kitchen during the Christmas of 1986.

Forgive me if I have passed my own judgment upon any religion and especially faith in the belief of anything that allows you to take the necessary strides to better yourself and those around you. Beliefs are strong personal opinions that to me, are never intended to become persecuted. However, they have and this has lead to wars and unfortunately death for standing up for what you believe to be true. I live my life to the best of my ability to never intentionally discriminate or hurt another. I do not care what race, religion, sex, sexual preferences you have, just as long as you’re not a Republican. (lighthearted). I just don’t want to be force-fed your reasons as to why believing in anything is wrong. Not believing is what’s wrong with society. It corners us into becoming just like most single-minded Catholics who predominately care about what is seen on the outside and how they are perceived in order to get through the gates of Heaven.

Practicing religion is not a priority to me. It fascinates me to possibly try and understand the views each has without trying to tell them that it’s wrong. Can You or I believe that it’s wrong? Sure. Should you tell them that it’s wrong? No. Get out of here with that hatred. I know I’m opening up a door that can smack me in return, but I’ve seen enough to form my own personal opinions and feel secure enough in making them be known. I am going to the Buddhist Temple on Wednesday because I feel this is something that I can grasp. If I do, or do not, I am content with the simplicity of love and kindness with the proper intentions. Love is the most powerful emotion that you can share and practice. It’s derived from our souls and is unconditionally given to everyone at one time or another. What we choose to do with that is the religion I want to believe in.

Amen.

ADDing up my passions.

It’s a quarter till ten on a Friday evening and I willingly walked by the clumps of my hair that lie upon the bathroom floor. I quickly passed the dirty dishes in the sink and sat down on my living room floor. I opened up my laptop, peering over the top towards an unmade bed that has stayed in my peripheral direction with absolutely no other intentions for change over the past several days. I am far from a slob and in fact, I like to refer to my behavior as controlled clutter that sooner than later is quickly sorted and neatly placed back in an OCD-ish perfection of precise detail and alignment. I’m convinced that I struggle with ADD, but I’m willing to also accept the fact that maybe this is just who or what I have grown to become. I struggle with everyday routines and the ability to concentrate on anything that must get done. I have a very addictive personality and thrive on the gambles of life. I can’t sit at home and concentrate on one specific activity. My dvd player has never been used and I can’t even sit in a chair. I’ve read the first page of every book I own without a glimpse of the next page or chapter. Paying attention to anything that doesn’t have my full attention is like watching Telemundo. I find myself sleeping very little and it’s often unpredictable if I will awake at 3, 4, or 5 am. When I am focused, determined, or passionately challenged, I can make amazing happen. However, that has been few and far between these days. Some of my biggest struggles have been due to depression, including admitting that; especially to myself. The word depression, depresses me. When it was brought to my attention that this could be an issue I need to address, I was in complete denial. Depression to me was a person that wasn’t happy with life or living and was in constant sorrow. This was not me – AT ALL. What was happening to me? What exactly was I becoming..

I did not take my first pill until I was twenty-three years old. It was a sleeping pill because I was tired of taking Nyquil to fall asleep when I wasn’t “sick”. I stayed on over the counter and prescription sleeping pills for over the next six years. Every night. This was a small phase in my life that I will raise my hand and admit to having depression tendencies that were very stereotypical to me, at the time. Relationships, as I’ve stated on more occasions than I‘m willing to admit, have been rebuilding challenges for me that have in return tested my ability to handle myself “after the fact“. These signs, among others had their explanations. Today, I find a lot of what I deal with to be puzzling and often unexplainable emotions that have very little rhyme or reason and even less warning. Just over two years ago, I finished my second marathon in the span of one month. I witnessed the transformation from heartbreak to bucket list improbable triumph within a single year. I stayed strong, healthy, and unbelievably devoted to my personal well being. I knew deep down that I had reached the peak of my love for running, by alone achieving every goal I had set out to capture. This was a downfall that I still have a struggle to find a reputable solution for.

Over the past half year, I found myself coming home from work with absolutely no energy. The collapse on the living room floor, struggle to walk, and all disregard for any daily responsibility fatigue. I was happy, healthy, and optimistic. I had a wonderful girlfriend, a brand new house, friends, and a loving and supporting family. Prior to these circumstances, I ran to run. Now, I could barely walk from my car to the door of my own home. Sometimes, I would barely move for an entire weekend. Thyroid issues, blood tests, ekg results; I didn’t care what it was as long as I could get back to being myself. Everything always checked out ok, or came back negative until I was asked the question. “Do you think you could be depressed”? I quickly answered no, well,….no. No way. Well, um, I mean do I think my life is perfect? Do I wish things could be different or can I be sad on occasions? Yes. Listen, I do not think I’m “depressed”, but I think it would also be very careless on my behalf to ignore the possibility. Besides, I just want my legs and energy back. If fatigue is an enormous symptom than by all means lets fix this.

My struggles in life have been publicized on my behalf. Enduring separations from anything that is of importance to me in my life is a small battle in my heart that I often lose control over. Relationships, distance, home sickness, and now unwillingly losing activities I’ve found a passion for. Over the past month, I scrap, sweat, and claw out an occasional three miles a few times a week. My legs feel like concrete pillars. I’m dealing with heel spurs and shin splints. Sometimes, it feels painful to even keep my shoes on. I stood for up to eight hours a day at work for over twelve years, and now it’s a terror to do half of that. Age and the abuse on my body may have backstabbed me and something that I desperately grew to love and cherish. Not having the energy I once knew was attainable, has only made my progression worsen.

Finding substitutes to fill emptiness in life never feels just. They are replacements that have visible scars that forbid you from finding instantaneous contentment for something you are unwilling to admit you need to let go of. I still have a fairly healthy diet and walk when and wherever I can. It’s never going to fill my void and I’m slowly trying to accept this. There is a line in a Ryan Adams song that I love: “I’ve never been to Vegas, but I’ve gambled all my life.” I realized that throughout my entire life, I have been fixated on chance and possibility combined with mild risk taking. This was a recipe that gave me a sense of lazy hope. I would spend my savings on a candy bar I did not like if it gave me a chance to get the golden ticket. This smoke and mirror optimism was actually an addicting and irresponsible habit that will never have any positive attributes. My intentions are always genuine, but actions are often inexcusable. I have accepted responsibility and acknowledge that excuses are never going to become solutions.

Recently discovering photography has been a savior for me. It’s the third amigo to my love for walking and listening to music. It has allowed me to clear my mind and literally see the world in a different light. I can vaguely see a photo before I take it and then envision what I hope it will become in return. I see blades of grass, clouds, sunrays, barns, tree limbs, and shadows that I never have before. My vision has intensified and I can find the beauty in more of the world than I could ever dream imaginable before. I feel grateful that this does not feel like a substitute but has formed a new passion for me to enjoy on life’s little journey. It has healed several painful holes of emptiness and has guaranteed me hope for a better tomorrow. This, to me, has been picture perfect..

Cheers to new found passions and hopes. To never replacing something, but rather moving forward with your head always held high. Accepting your faults with your attributes and giving yourself the chance to succeed.