Always Keep the Future in Mind

When I think about the family, I get a very dark, foreboding feeling. I am not the most intuitive person. So this might be big.

My brother Bob has a diagnosis of cirrhosis. He is already starting to have hepatic dementia. When you start to have symptoms, that means it is “decompensated” cirrhosis. The liver isn’t doing much of anything. The median life expectancy for such persons is 2 years. Median is not average. Outliers mess up averages. Median means half live longer and half live shorter than that.

Bob comes into Michigan and looks at our oldest brother Dave and says, “Bro, you don’t look good. That ain’t fat. Your liver has stopped working.” Bob is referring to Dave’s distended abdomen. The technical term is “ascites.” The liver is no longer filtering abdominal fluid and so it accumulates. It is a very late-stage manifestation of cirrhosis. Bob has stopped drinking and looks astonishingly fit, better than I have ever seen him look. Dave is finally out of denial and says that he may as well continue to drink because it is too late. When someone who is terminally ill tells you that you don’t look good, that can have an impact.

Then you have Ma’s behavior. She demanded an apology from me this past week. She needs to correct her behavior now. This minute.

As my brothers continue to die from alcoholism, they will be hospitalized at various points. And Ma will want me to go with her to visit them. Not. Gonna. Happen. Not unless she starts treating me a whole lot better than she has of late. Theoretically, Dad could go with her, but he has limited sympathy for my party-animal asshole brothers. They made their choices and it is time to pay the piper. Actions have consequences.

Worse than all of this is the fact that, in a few years, Dave and Bob will likely be dead. I will be her only living child at that point. She will want a relationship with me. I will have a list of non-negotiable demands that she will have to fulfill before I even contemplate having a relationship with her. Even then, the answer will probably be no. Right now, abandoning her the way she has abandoned me is extremely appealing. Sounds like fun, even. This is why I might not be the best choice to go on a hospital run with her.

Ma is angry and only looking at how hurt and angry she is right now. She is stranded in the “eternal now” and has no concept of the future. That is part of what makes her so painfully immature. She is lashing out at me. What she does not comprehend is that her behavior today has an impact on my behavior in the future. The best indication of future behavior is relevant past behavior. That is a Dr. Phil-istic truth.

Linear time is real. All learning and growth occur in linear time: past, present, and future. Trauma and extreme youth trap people in the eternal now. Babies have no past and do not possess the neurological hardware to conceptualize a future. Action, time lag…and consequence are how the real world work. The “eternal now” is New Agey-garbage that prevents learning and growth. If everything is fresh and new, you are not likely to realize that the situation you are in is exactly like the previous 285 situations you have been in. You somehow keep putting yourself in the same stupid situation and keep getting the exact same stupid result. This is the kind of stuff that has conservative Christians rightfully laughing their asses off at those “stupid New Agers.” I say this as an ex-Christian.

Maybe it was Einstein that said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. We all do it. I believe all humans make mistakes, but if you continue to make the same ones, people will start to distance themselves from you. Why? Because, for some reason, you are not learning. Did your momma drink while she was pregnant with you? People start seriously looking for an explanation of why the old brain cells just don’t seem to be firing.

If Ma wants to lash out at me, she does so at the expense of me ever wanting a relationship with her again. Period.

Given my family’s lack of communication, my gut feeling of doom has no immediate factual basis. My knowledge is limited. I just have the feeling that this is going to be one cold, dark, gloomy winter, regardless of the weather.

About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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