Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Extra Drinks

The Nail

In the last year of his life, someone was asked "Do you have any regrets?";  to which he responded:   "I regret the extra drinks".  Said he and his deeply troubled liver..............

I hate alcohol.  Today anyway.   I hate it.  I drink it now and then, but I can't stand what it does to people I love.  And by extension, what it does to me.  So screw it - I just hate the stuff.  If there were a Temperance League out there today, I'd probably be a card-carrying member.
As a friend says:  "There you have it".  Truth be told.

Since I will get an "F" in Alanon today, I should apologize or moderate the statements, or talk about detachment, or it's a disease, or there's a genetic predisposition, or they each find their own way to sobriety (or not), or we need to support them, or how to set boundaries while still loving them, or I tend to overreact, or leave room for the exceptions to the rule  -  all that annoying, mature, compassionate crap.  But not today;  today I just hate alcohol.   We all have moments when we simply don't feel like being politically correct or thoughtful or moderate or even knowledgeable.  But now, sometimes, it seems the SCA survival gives me permission to give in to those days - to go ahead and have a little old rant like this one.   In other words - screw it.  I don't feel like being sensible or gentle or mature - I just hate the stuff.

In my early days in Alanon, an experienced friend was talking with a very distraught newcomer.  The newbie was worrying herself sick over future romantic possibilities after she divorced her active alcoholic husband. She said: "I am so worried I will fall for another one - how will I be able to tell if a man is an alcoholic?"
And my friend responded:
"Oh, that is very, very easy for me.  If I am in any way attracted to him, he is an alcoholic."

So there you have it.  Even I get tired of myself from time to time.  So I know how you feel.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fight v. Flight

We probably each tend one way or the other when faced with life's threats and frightening moments;  I think I lean towards fight - Irish heritage and all that. I've been told that after the Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA), I fought off an oxygen mask and then attempted to argue with the cardiologist as he described my heart's suddenly stopping, three shocks with the paddles, all that.  NO - not me: no heart disease, no family history, nonsmoker, good BP, perfect cholesterol, lots of exercise, admittedly a weight issue.  What did I think - perhaps he had strolled into the wrong hospital room?  Or maybe that I could talk him out of it??

I surely fight for relationships - all of them, probably to an absurd degree.  After all, reconciling with the ex-husband roughly 142 times was probably excessive.  But I'll fight for relationships with lovers, friends, family, siblings, dogs --- stubborn.   Maybe even more since the SCA.   And I admit, with a nod to the Irish, I believe there may be more honor in fight than in flight.

But I must also acknolwedge that there may be more brains in flight. (And I have flown - to be sure. 118 feet down in Belize's Blue Hole when the scuba equipment failed - I was in full flight).  But in relationships, do the flee-ers have it right?  Why bang away and bang away when a relationship hits bumps in the road or when a situation is futile?  Well, we fighters would say that we can't tell the difference between a bump that can be addressed and a brick wall.

So we fight and they flee.   This may be one of those genuine impasses:  I see honor to the fight; they think it is idiotic not  to face the reality of inevitable failure.  Who am I to judge?  I wasted a decade or more on a doomed marriage.... flight out of that would have been the far smarter choice.

I think this may be yet another skill for me to practice - throwing in a towel.  The idea of giving up without a fight is just not comfortable; it seems I'd rather be an idiot than a person who flees.  Perhaps the answer is slowly walking away.
Yup, more skill development on the horizon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Reality v. Potential - A Very Slow Learner

Sigh.  The smarter girls learned long ago to see the reality in situations and people, not the wondrous potential.  To invest emotionally in what actually stands before us  --- and not to invest in our fantasized version of what one day may  be.  May, might, possibly, perchance, conceivably, perhaps, in your dreams.....
I never have been one of those smarter girls.
I hope to learn this trick before I croak.  Or croak again, as the case may be.  Or even after.  But I hope to learn this one.

Adulthood sucks at times, it truly does.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


HOPE - Simple four letter word.  It can be powerfully heartening or an equally powerful self-destructive choice.  Definitions: Hope is the belief in a positive outcome; false hope refers to hope based entirely on a fantasy or an extremely unlikely outcome.
We all want the optimist, the hopeful, the positive outlook, the half-full glass.  Then there is the destructive potential of "false hope".  This is the stubborn, ill-advised, ill-informed, ostrich-like belief in life's Hail Mary passes.
But what turns hope destructive is just not whether the object of it is high or low probability.  It is not destructive to hope that our lottery ticket is a winner; it is not destructive for the family of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) survivor to hope for a healthy heart and brain - low probability to be sure, but not inherently dangerous.
I think it is how much we choose to invest of ourselves in the low probability outcomes that can turn hope into self-destruction.  The ruin of dashed dreams that never should have been dreamt.  It is when we count on it, bank on it, base decisions on it.  With that lottery ticket - hoping it is a winner is one thing, planning a vacation with the winnings starts to look foolhardy, buying the first-class plane tickets in anticipation of it is the self-destructive leap.
In our relationships, the line can be hard to see; love muddies and fogs the boundary.  Can we tell when hope is a positive power and when is it bound to crash, crush, disappoint and destroy?  With our loved ones, if there is financial distress, we hope there are prudent choices; if there is addiction, we hope there is a turn towards sobriety.  But we need to watch our toes on that fuzzy, foggy line --- buying the emotional equivalent of the first-class tickets is a wickedly dangerous choice.      

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Car Stick-People Magnets

(This post was updated 12/14/11 when I got this photo from a Virginia friend)
OK, I am having a day.  Actually, I  have gotten a few pieces of good news so far today, so I am not sure why I am having a day, but I am.  This is the type of thing that is not supposed to happen after the  Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) - you know, just becoming irritable and unreasonable without any kind of basis.  (In my 12 step group, there is talk about "becoming irritable and unreasonable without knowing it".  My great sign of progress is that I know  I am being unreasonably irritable.) I feel like because I am a member of the 2% SCA survival club, and specifically a member of the infinitesimal club of survivors with no-heart-damage and no-brain-damage ---- I am really not supposed to be this way.  Ever.  It feels so ungrateful.  However....

Here goes --- those magnets in the back window of cars signifying their perfect family.  Mom, dad, 2.3 children, 1.5 pets.  When did this crap start?  They annoy me.  They bug me on good days, but on days like today, they seriously bug me.    And are they really all on minivans and SUV's or does it simply seem that way?

Here is the magnet family I want to see today :
Dad and his mistress.
Mom and her boy-toy pool boy.
Perhaps the sibling no one is speaking to anymore.
And the doctor prescribing Prozac or Zoloft for some or all of them.
Children with their youth parole officers.
The dog would still be OK, but no cats. Ever.

There, I feel better.  Thank you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Courage Can Be Optional

Courage is a big word; cowardice is a big word – we normally think of them in terms of grand, public, physical and/or moral acts.  But for me – I am not a soldier, not a fireman – my courage and cowardice play out in the small private choices of my life.  
Courage, cowardice, recklessness  - how we choose to respond to the inevitable fears in life.  Fear can be helpful; it keeps me from ever seriously considering bungee jumping or playing with a snake.  
The choices are personal - to bungee jump seems reckless - the risk of harm outweighed the benefit.  But I love scuba diving – an activity others might call reckless. Each of us finds our faint and fuzzy lines among the three choices - but, there are some acts in our relationships where the choices are clear.  Women remember Carrie Bradshaw  - someone broke up with her on a post-it.  No question – cowardly.  There is no scenario where the post-it-wielding guy is not a coward.
We all act bravely at times and cowardly at others, and probably all try to avoid whatever we define as reckless.  It seems some people tend more towards cowardice, I think because they cannot bear the feeling of being afraid, they cannot bear to be uncomfortable – they will avoid it at almost any cost.  They will run for cover.  They might be bungee-jumpers, but in moral choices – they run for the hills. 
Most of us admire courage.  We respect courage. We seek to emulate courage.  As an adult, in my range of relationships, I don’t think I have often been a coward.  But sometimes playing with one who leans towards cowardice can be an act of great recklessness.   Very very risky.  Right up there with bungee jumping.