I have a friend whose behavior is driving me nuts and, frankly, scaring me. My basic issue with her is that she does not seem to be learning. I have tried to warn her about consequences of her actions for years in person, on the phone, and even through email. She is not learning. She possesses no insight. Now she is not sleeping due to, in my opinion, a guilty conscience. I cannot help her.
The issue of not learning is extraordinarily complicated. The brain’s health is related to diet and sleep, in addition to a gazillion other possibilities. Learning is related to consciousness. There are different, including altered, states of consciousness. There is the whole “what gets rewarded, gets repeated” aspect. There is also the concept of addiction, which puts a grinding halt to learning and maturing as a whole. One definition of addiction that I like is that of creating a fantasy world and then trying to live there. That about sums it up.
I spent thirty years helping Barry to be straight and sober. No alcohol on the premises. Taking him to meeting when he stopped being able to drive. Celebrating sobriety anniversaries. That kind of thing.
I have spent most of my life wrapped around these issues in one form or another. It started out with reading about addiction and codependence in the late 80s and early 90s. That got me into the concept of “automatic pilot” and how similar it is to altered states of consciousness. I also got into brain wave frequencies (gamma, beta, alpha, theta, and delta). All of this, to some degree, is nutrition-dependent. Then there is the whole social aspect. Here is all the systems theory anyone ever needs to know: what gets rewarded, gets repeated. People do what has worked for them in the past on some level. If they are no longer getting the reward (prestige, money, high, their way), their behavior can become extinct in moments (not days, weeks, months, or years). None of this even touches the various ways people learn or the forms of ADD, Aspergers, etc.
I have spent close to thirty years reading on subjects that are not in the same section of the bookstore. Addiction. Buddhism (meditation and mindfulness). Religion of every kind. Quantum physics. The autism spectrum. Child rearing (every human should read Alice Miller). Organizational psychology.
I am to a point where I feel I should write a book. Seriously. I have connected dots that I don’t think others have.
And then my friend makes me want to tear my hair out. She is getting older but not wiser. She is aging but not maturing. And since she is not sleeping, the downward spiral has commenced. How long will it take to hit bottom? Will she, can she, learn anything from this? This is tripping all my issues. Every time I have had someone in my life that has done one of these downward spirals, I have tried to warn them. I have been ignored. Eventually, I lose the relationship entirely because I refuse to go down the road they are on. That has included my family. Their life crumbles and I get accused of being a bad whatever. I feel that when you see a train that is going to run over a loved one, there is a certain moral obligation to give fair warning. But I cannot and will not try to convince anyone of anything anymore. I have had my lifetime fill of that. Once I warn you, you are on your own. The next step is for me to get my ass off the tracks.
I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I am sure that it won’t be pretty.
So much has been happening lately.
I was drinking my coffee the morning of the fifth. I get a call from the career services lady of my alma mater, DU. She says there is a woman who has data entry to do through the end of April. Would I be interested? I call the woman instantly. Suddenly, I have a job through the end of the month, or at least the end of this week. I have gotten more done than she imagined I could in a short time.
This is the deal with her. She is of Chinese descent, but her citizenship is Swiss and she grew up in mid-Michigan. She resigned from a company that has something to do with crypto-currencies. She has been traveling and lecturing years all over the world and needs someone to sort receipts and enter them into spreadsheets. That would be me. Anything she cannot document with receipts, she cannot be reimbursed for by the Swiss company she resigned from. She does not get paid for anything that cannot be documented. We are talking January 2017 through March 2018. One the one hand, she is really picky and there is no way to make her happy. On the other hand, I am saving her butt. There is an old saying that applies: a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. I do the very best I can. I am in this for the good reference. But her stress level is purely self-induced. She did this to herself. Period. I have been the reliable worker from the beginning. Others help when they can, but I have done the bulk of the work myself.
I feel like I am being pulled from the future.
And I am trying to honor Barry. The memorial at the AA club is in a few weeks. I have very few pictures of him. My entire life, I have struggled with depression and not particularly wanting to live. I have been very thorough at making sure that there are almost no visual reminders of my existence. Whenever I have seen a camera, I have made every effort to get behind it, not in front of it. It worked. Almost no one has pictures of me from the past few decades of my life. So now, after years of refusing to take pictures of anything, I have few pictures of Barry to put on poster board for his memorial.
I feel like the next phase of my life is starting. I would be fine free-lancing in the occupational world. I have health insurance and a pension, thanks to Barry. Working is not urgent. But I love being useful and there will always be work out there I can do that needs to be done. But I need to honor my past with Barry, all thirty years of it. We were married for 29. I married at 21 and am now 50 and single.
It is hard letting go of the past, but the future is so much brighter than the past ever was. I miss Barry, a lot sometimes. But there are so many parts of our past I cannot imagine missing. I am slowly recovering.
Who the hell am I?
I have never been this lost.
I have been trying to get a part-time job, without much luck so far. It would be the first post-Barry employment.
But I ache for Barry. I took a nap today, which I seldom do. I had a dream with Barry. He was driving the car and I had my head on his shoulder. It felt so good. I’ve been having dreams with him. The numbness has worn off. I miss him. Not the Barry that died the God-awful, horrific, advertisement-for-euthanasia, death. No. The Barry that I married.
So I put my wedding band back on. And it feels right. I’m not married, but I didn’t get divorced, either.
Winter won’t end. The weather just continues to suck. Snow and rain. Upper 30s. Yuck. Technically, it is spring, but that doesn’t seem meaningful.
I am neither married nor single. I’m not working, but I did tutor a little today and I don’t need to work at the moment.
I am between identities. I do not want to hurry and take the first job offered. I want to do something meaningful. I may never tell strangers that I am technically single. I want to embrace the in-between-ness.