Helpless Wondering

I’m almost ready for spring. The winter isn’t getting on my nerves quite yet. The only thing I miss right now is being able to drive comfortably without a heavy coat on.

I’ve been feeling terribly helpless lately. There are so many things in my life that are out of my control — health, love, money, work — that I’ve actually considered doing a thought record for the first time since I finished therapy. Last week I woke up choking in the middle of the night. Then half way through the day I started developing moderate chest pains. I try not to worry when I’m awake, but at night, in my sleep, everything comes out. Maybe everything is starting to get to me.

I want things to happen quickly. I’m impatient. I want to be proactive, but there’s not much I can do. Verse 42 of the Tao Te Ching has been speaking to me:

Who knows what fate may bring —
  one day your loss may be your fortune
  one day your fortune may be your loss

While I usually crave the flux between constancy and change, I prefer it in one thing at a time. It feels like I’m going through another transition period. Nothing around me is settled.

All I can do is wait to see where I end up.


  1. It may be one of those things you’ve heard a thousand and one times, but from where I stand and from what I do in times like this, all you need is a friend. It doesn’t matter who or what, but someone you can relate and share with on a personal level and let it all out the way you should. In a way, that’s what I always thought therapists are for, that you pay someone to tell you your problems. Me, I’d let someone buy me a drink and have them listen to my problems. Since I can’t do that anymore. Whoever is online at the time is a suitable enough distraction.

    I hate the times when all you can do is wait. It’s not that we don’t have a solution to our problems. It’s that our solution involves waiting for the right moment to tie up the loose ends. It’s why I geek out ever so often. Lose myself in my hunger for the things I want. If there is no friend in sight, this is the closest thing to doing something about it, rather than the long arduous wait.

    • You’re absolutely right on needing a friend. I’ve been away from my friends for a while, as they’ve been busy with other things. It’s worn me down, and I was thinking of writing about it in this post actually. I miss having someone to listen, someone with an ear to whom to share my problems. The only distraction I have right now are my games, and without any social interaction, it leaves me mighty lonely.

      The concept of acting when the time is right is also common in Taoism. There was a passage from verse 8 that I was thinking of using instead:

      When acting, remember — timing is everything
      One who lives in accordance with nature does not go against the way of things
      He moves in harmony with the present moment always knowing the truth of just what to do

      I’m so glad you often read and commiserate with me. Even though I barely know you, it’s like we’re the same person, dealing with a dark past and making the best of what we have now. It helps immeasurably to know that I’m not alone in feeling the way I do.

  2. You can always write me. Although I have my own demons, I hear from people that I often help them considerably. On the other hand, it’s all up to who you feel comfortable with, and no one will replace John, I’m sure.

    • I think it’s people who have their own demons that makes them better listeners. They’re the only ones who can really understand.

      I’m wondering myself if anyone will ever replace John. Even though I doubt it, I’m hoping that it’s possible (though not necessary).

  3. Jeff, I don’t know why I’m so drawn to your site. This is the third time I’ve checked in and I really like it.

    Regarding your post, I think the world is feeling pretty helpless right now. And your quote from the Tao Te Ching is very apt – I was just thinking something similar last night. The beauty in life is never knowing what will happen next. Today you might be grieving a broken relationship, tomorrow you may start falling in love again. Having this intellectual knowledge doesn’t quell the emotional upheaval, however, and I personally have a hard time letting even my close friends into my grief. I tend to “hole up” when I’m sad or emotional and cut off my friends…which only makes the ennui hang on longer I think. It certainly helps me to know I’m not alone in these feelings, so thank you for that.

    • The fact that intellectual knowledge doesn’t quell our emotional upheavals is completely true. I liken it to being saddened by the death of a friend. Even though one may know that death is part of life, and that there’s nothing that can be done about it, that doesn’t make it any easier.

      Maybe there should be an online community for people going through these feelings, for commiseration if not for the schadenfreude.

  4. First thought on chest pains? Getting them anytime is hard to screen out. Getting them during panic attacks, now that’s a trip. For me it’s an overcompensating muscle package. I’m stooping, hunching, holding my back tight until my chest muscles start to Charlie Horse. There are stretches with arm out to the side 90 degree elbow that pull those muscles from cramps.

    May not be the same thing at all. But if it ever is,.. and when in doubt…stretch out.

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