After over a Year away…

A lot has happened over this last year…
From moving to a different state, and multiple places of residences, to weight loss and setting myself up to be on the receiving end of a heartbreak a few times… It’s alright. I’m sure I’ll survive.
One of the things I’ve had to realize is, I didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t figure out why I was so dissatisfied and always in a constant depression.

Then it hit me.
I was living by other people’s standards of what “being happy” meant.
Going through the motions, because I thought that was what it took for people to like me.
So much over this past year has taught me who I am.
I’m not perfect. I’m going to mess up. I will disappoint. Things will not go according to plan.
You know what? I also learned this year, that all of that is ok.
The pressure of being you becomes conflicted and develops into a volatile emotion when you start to measure yourself up alongside those you think you want to be.
We all have our own stars to follow, and our own paths to walk. That’s why we are all so different. Can you imagine if we were all the same? Life would be boring.
Be the best “you” that you can be! Don’t let anyone else tell you what that means, because the beautiful part about being you is that you’re the only one that knows how to do that.

Remember, be who you truly are, and not who they told you to be.
Keep smiling. Things get better. I promise.
-Vs3

Below the Line: Day 3

Day 3: Stopping to think… An entire year’s pay at this rate is less than the cost of my tablet when I bought it, brand new… It’s humbling and sobering…
The fact that this is the standard of living for so many people is still so difficult to believe. I’ve had to resort to leaving my debit and credit cards stashed somewhere so I wasn’t tempted to use them. I feel vulnerable, I feel inadequate. What if something goes wrong with my vehicle? What if something unforeseen happens and I NEED money to get out of a jam?
Well, that’s the point of this exercise isn’t it? Living without the bells and whistles… Why can’t I just be content with living? Why do I need excess to feel alive?
I’m finding out day by day. Learning that what I have… What I have, is enough.
May 3, 2013
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Below the Line: Day 2

Day 2:
It’s funny… Seeing things that I used to think we’re a deal, are now more than I can afford to spend for one meal. “99 cents for a burger” “$1.99 for a ‘value sandwich'” “$2.99 for coffee” these are individual prices for individual items… I’m sure you’re familiar with the prices.
It’s different. It’s only day 2 and I’m already doubting my resolve.
How do people do this?! How do people live like this? More importantly, why do I make what I make at my job, and still envy how much more the people interviewed on the documentaries enjoyed life? Those prices I referenced earlier, they were for individual items meant for one person to consume…
It hit me hard when I thought back to the documentaries… These people had families…
That thought revealed a whole new dynamic to the challenge… It just became even more impossible. How do these people live day to day, providing for more than just themselves… On this budget?
Wow. I feel even lower than previously mentioned on Day 1
May 2, 2013
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Below the Line

I was up late watching documentaries on the web, and it surprised me to see how many people live, day to day, all over the world with the equivalent of $1.50 USD a day… And here I was just the other day embarrassed about not having a full $10 bill to pay the barista for my ridiculously overpriced Frappuccino with the excessive shots of espresso that I felt I “needed”. I sheepishly handed over the wad of crinkled $1 bills and stood there wondering what he must be thinking about why I was paying the way I did… Inner turmoil, of course. He probably wasn’t even judging me… But I was judging me… Because I thought I was better than, I was above… “paying with $1 bills”
How stupid of me…
I laid in bed and felt guilty. No, I felt disgusted with myself, for all my years of nonchalant spending…
Watching a documentary with people who work harder than I do, for a fraction of a percentage of what I would consider an insult of a paycheck… Watching them be thankful for it, and carry on.
I watched them use pots and pans that I wouldn’t kick dirt into, to prepare meager family meals. I watched them wear clothes that a thrift shop would turn away. I watched them sleep on floors in houses that I wouldn’t keep my dog in.
I watched them on my ipad that I “had to have” the day Apple released it. I watched them as I snacked on a bag of something that cost more than three times their daily cost of living. I watched in the comfort of fresh, clean clothes that I just pulled from the dryer. I watched on a bed with fresh clean linen. A bed that I had often cursed for being too lumpy, or for not being a California King size.

I have decided to take the $1.50 a day challenge and try to live like the people I watched in the documentaries… Spending no more than $1.50/day. I should probably assess the monthly household income and plan from there.

Please do not feel like I am trying to guilt trip readers into feeling bad about their own status. Everyone works hard for what they have, I understand that. Please don’t be offended. This is not a guilt trip or a crusade on any class of wealth. This is my own personal journey, a path I have CHOSEN. Nobody is forcing me. I’m not in search of laud, compliments, or “atta boy”s. This is my decision to add more discipline to my life.
More importantly, my goal is to be more appreciative of what I already have… Money has been my focus for too long.
1 month is my goal.

Day 1- after assessment, for a month, this leaves me with $45-$46.50 to live on this month… Sounds impossible, feels impossible, especially with all the bills everyday, but apparently millions of people around the world find ways to survive with this equivalent in US Currency. I’ve spent more than this entire monthly budget on Sushi for 1.
This will be an intense test on discipline. This isn’t a diet… There are no “cheat days” in Life.
May 1, 2013
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Dealing with Demons

I write poetry. Writing is my therapy. Writing poetry is how I deal with things in my life. It allows me to get things out so they don’t eat away at me from the inside. My pen Name is “Verse3”.
This is the beginning of a set of poems. This particular set is me dealing with issues that I have buried for so long. It’s long overdue. Issues of past relationships and allowing myself to move on.

DISCLAIMER: Know this, I am not depressed. I am not trying to depress you. This being the first layer, is probably the most tame of the set. Thank you for reading.
#MindOfANiceGuy

Buried High

There’s a place in my mind that I go to when I think the world’s not listening/
There’s no Future in the Gifts of my Past, my Past Presents don’t survive Destiny/
Yet here I am again, at the point of my breaking, Pain floods my mind and Memories fall in tears./
In the basement of my mind, just above the bleeding- to the left of the scars, and just above my fears,/
There’s a notebook. Full of skeletons and remnants, scribbled Ghosts and Demon’s teeth/
Memories held on to for memory’s sake, memories forgotten, memories faked, just bones, no meat./
I retreat to this book, this book is the I that nobody knows, see? Nobody cares and nobody’s nosey./
It’s me with no mask, reflections with no glass. The mystery of the man, the holes in my personality./
Page one, these lines cut and ground up finely, cut under the razored pieces of a broken heart/
Just put your head down and follow your nose, each ending in more pain than each line at the start/
Lean back, try to breathe, choke back tears and a nose bleed, pinch it off and think of better times/
It’s all a blur, like sugar in a mixed drink, sweet with the bitter. A cocktail chilled in poison rhymes./
For a time the smile on the clown has returned, more memories extracted, and readily burned-/
Easier still is returning to this shelf, where I create, package and sell myself my own brand of Hell./
The problem with burying the past is I always know exactly where I let it lie…/
And at the first sign of moving on I retreat to the grave site, dig up the past, and let Demons fly/
Taking each vial of poisoned memories, pulling the plunger back and searching frantically for a vein/
Needle in my mouth, heart racing from anxiety- beating, wildly in my chest. “I need pain, I need pain-“/
Miserable, Mumbling wreck, thumbing the crook in my elbow. “where is it?”, my wrist. “WHERE is it?”/
My knuckles. “WHERE is IT!?” My neck. Between my toes. My shin. My eye… “WHERE IS IT!”-/
Finally, blood poisoned again with my hate and my pain from you. Each Taxing habit, my shame, a dangerous cocktail too/
Irreparable Damage, each time it kills me, like I never want to go thru it again, but reality hits… I haven’t even got to Page Two./
In the basement of my mind, just above the bleeding- to the left of the scars, and just above my fears,
There’s a notebook./
I already know what’s in it… Problem is, I’m never afraid to look./

Verse3

What cage?

I was posed with a question a few weeks ago… “Do you ever feel caged?”
The simple answer… Yes.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the things that we haven’t done and haven’t accomplished or failed at. It’s real easy to remember these short comings because its our human nature to grade ourselves not by what we’ve accomplished, but by the things that we were unable to conquer.

The “cage” we often find ourselves in is one of our own making. Each bar is intently forged out of our own failures. Hammered round by the different scenarios that we constantly run in our minds of how we should’ve handled the failed feat. I should’ve done this differently, or that differently…
Each bar is set into place in our crevices in our personalities that we allowed the “failure” to eat away at. Each cross section bound by the iron clasps that we convince ourselves as inevitable failure. We teach ourselves that no matter how many times we attempted it, we would’ve failed anyway… We solidify the failure in our minds and bind ourselves more securely to the ground and keep ourselves down.
We often try to find fulfillment by calming the rage we feel from being caged in others. We change our scenery, and find others who we feel defuse our proverbial time bomb of an attitude. It’s easy to feel that others make us better, and calm us from snapping out on the world. We put our faith in other people who have no clue how to fix you. It feels like a fix, and is almost narcotic… But it’s temporary, and the next time, just like narcotics, the fix needs to be stronger. When We put our faith in other people, the inevitable let down destroys us even more.
It’s a myth, believing that some other person completes us. Being happy is a choice. That choice comes from within you. Only you can change who you are. Only you can accept your own limitations. If you can’t do that, then you’ll constantly be looking for someone else to fulfill you. If you can’t accept your own limitations, then you’ll never be able to get past it.
Here’s the truth, if you constantly look for others to fix you, then you will lead a very lonely life, because people will always let you down in a variant of capacities… And when they do, you will always find a way to blame them for your inevitable explosion of emotion and meltdown.
Break your own cage, because you already know what holds you and how to get out. Face your demons and destroy them. They have no place in your life. Sorrow is bad company and makes Happiness feel like an unwelcome guest.

Things get better… You just have to decide to take control and not depend on others to fix you.

The Masks We Wear…

“No one cared who I was, until I put on the mask…” -Bane

Just 12 words… Loaded.

I was watching the latest installment of the “Batman: Dark Knight” movie franchise, and this quote really lingered with me… So much so that I couldn’t enjoy the rest of the movie because of my thought processes over it.
This phrase spoke volumes of humanity, but especially, the Nice Guy in all of us.

We all become someone else for the sake of someone else at the expense of losing ourselves. Society being what it is, is constantly telling us that we are not good enough.
We are constantly told to be ourselves, and then in the very next breath they bombard us with sales pitches for useless baubles that we don’t need, and somehow, they convince us that “this” is what we can buy to become “good enough”. These “masks” we purchase at the risk of losing our true selves, the person we were born to be, make us complacent and shield us from the responsibility of our own actions.

The problem with masks and the nice guy, is we know we use them, and it kills us a little bit inside, every time we use it. We become use to the power of being whoever you need us to be. It’s intoxicating, because we (the nice guys) have been made to believe that you wouldn’t care for us otherwise. Your actions prove that. Our services are only good when we don the mask necessary for your purpose.

When you need a friend to just be there and listen, we put on the mask that has no mouth.
When you need a friend to just be there, we put on the stalwart mask, one void of emotion. This mask is without eyes, so we are blinded to what’s really going on, it has no mouth, so no judgement can be passed and has only one ear where the forehead would be, symbolizing that we are only listening to you. We refuse the ability to listen to others laying rumors about you and your true intention of using us.
When you need someone to hurt with you… The mask we wear, is a reflective surface, it reflects your agony and shows it to you, we absorb your pain and a section of our souls that we have allowed to care for you is destroyed just like we were going through the pain with you… Because we are. The emotion is real. Our heart cries with you, we can’t help it, it’s what the nice guys do.

I could go on for days about the different masks, but there is no need, because you know what I’m talking about… And if you say you don’t, you’re lying to yourself, and that’s not healthy.

We are not like other people who hide behind scar tissue and buried emotion. People who don’t know how to deal with emotion. Every nice guy has mastered at least one emotion, and from that, spans a certain control over other emotions. “How?” you ask? We are better equipped for handling our emotions because for as long as we remember, all we’ve been dealing with, is OTHER people’s emotion. We analyze it, we feel it, we put our minds through your hell, because we think that in order to be able to help you, and to keep this warped definition of friendship intact (because that’s the only time you talk to us) “I have to”.

The thing about masks is, when you keep having to wear one for the company you keep, you become accustomed to wearing it. Wearing a mask hides who you really are… that’s why they exist, but when you don’t even recognize yourself… That’s a problem.
You become engrossed in your own “legend” so to speak. You become intoxicated with the drug of power in helping people cope emotionally, that instead of just wearing the mask, you begin fitting your personality to it.

Being who people need you to be is a detriment to who you really are. If who you really are is not good enough for the people that you choose to associate with, then it is time to make new associations.

Trust me, I know that it’s hard to let go of the ties that you have, especially when you have emotionally connected with them. You’ve hurt for them, you’ve helped them through hard times and you feel that they are your real friends, But let me ask you something.
Be honest… How many of those same “real” friends would answer your phone calls or texts at all hours of the night and morning when they got to be at work in 2 hours? How many of them would sacrifice the same things you’ve sacrificed for them, in order to help you through something that you’ve been struggling with? I know the answer you want to believe, But I also know the truth, and so do you… Trust me, I get it. That’s the Mind of a Nice Guy.

We all wear masks, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not, because at one point, we all believed that No one cared about us until we put it on.
Life is hard enough being yourself, dealing with your own problems and keeping your own emotions in check… Losing yourself in other people’s problems and emotional strains, is not worth it when they wouldn’t do the same.
I’m not saying don’t be there for those you care about… I’m saying be there for them as you were meant to be. Be there as You. No mask.
Life is balance. Find yours.

-Vs3