Posted on 22 December 2017 by Michael Dahl

A long string of sadness.

I’ve experienced considerable sadness on likely more than half of the days since Franco died.

Of course a good deal of sadness comes with the territory of loosing a cherished pet. More sadness comes attached to that when loosing him was partially the result of me dropping his leash, allowing him to run into the street and get hit by a car.

I try not to blame myself too much. But it’s hard.

While that sadness by itself has contributed to my current state, I’ve been sad about a number of other things: the news/politics/destruction of government programs that help poor folks as well as a small batch of personal issues. In any case, the loss of Franco, destructive politics, personal issues have compounded, overwhelming the shallow coping systems I currently have when it comes to mental health.

Prone to hope: we have a new puppy, Luca. That’s great. But as some people know, that’s brought it’s own set of challenges … primarily emanating from him suffering from separation anxiety. We’re dealing with it — very directly and potentially successfully — but it’s been hard.

Prone to hope: destructive politics. As an advocate/organizer I know it’s my job to help people feel a sense of possibility when surrounded by the bile that has come from Washington, DC. And I do have a long view with respect to politics. I do have hope in people rising up to create a new and better system. But I also feel incredible pain as I see programs get whittled down or in some cases destroyed. And these programs, I know, are lifelines for those living in poverty.

Tears have just started pouring out of my eyes. Real people. Struggling people. Poor people are going to suffer for quite some time until the environment in Washington DC changes when more people rise up.

Prone to hope. While I know there’s a lot of anger over politics, and I know that anger has to get expressed, I also believe we need to convert that anger into something better. We must resist. But we must also build. We must build what we want. We need to build and hope, build and hope, build and hope for a better future. And that better future needs to include some of the people who don’t currently view the world anywhere near the way we do. I’m not talking about banding together with bad people (e.g. racists, misogynists, etc.). I am talking about, for example, finding common ground with enough poor folks in rural America who see the destruction of their communities happen and with it their livelihoods.

And then there are the personal issues, which today this transparent guy does not want to write about too much. Let me just say that the personal issues have led to a bunch of negative self-talk on my part. I berate myself as a failure; I figuratively treat myself as small and incapable. And while this kills me inside, it also impacts my ability to forgive myself about the loss of Franco and my ability to project the sense of hope I deeply have to believe in for our future politics.

Yes, I’ve had a string of sad days. But in the Prone to Hope mode, I must give a shout out to my spouse for being the amazing person she is. Each day she coaches me on how to be a better and more capable person as I deal with these layered areas of pain.

Prone to Hope: I need to know and feel that accidents happen, and Franco in certain situations was an uncontrollable dog.

Prone to Hope: Our destructive politics is stripped bear. Politics in DC has resulted in tearing $1.5 trillion out of what our government can do to play a positive role in elevating communities. So when we hear politicians say there’s not enough money, we’ll know exactly who to blame and where to direct our anger … and then channel that to a hope of the system we are trying to build.

Prone to Hope: Hopefully, I can make myself believe in what I typed in the above two paragraphs, so that my current brush with hopelessness doesn’t build upon itself, turning me even more into a person who berates himself (unjustifiably) nearly everyday for many things.

Prone to Hope: I need to visit with my therapist.

Prone to Hope: As I work through this muck, I know I can get to a better place.

Prone to Hope: I have people who love me and will help me through this state of despair. (In fact, Rebecca just helped me as articulated in despair with a blubbering voice of pain how I am feeling right now.)

Prone to Hope.