Archive | February 2022

The Only Way to Help

I broke my wrist good. On Feb 2, when we got 13 inches of snow in one day, I fell on my ass and broke my fall by landing on my right hand.

I really assumed I had only sprained my wrist. I was soooooo wrong. As the swelling subsided, it just did not look right or, rather, like my left wrist. So, on Saturday the 19th, I went to an urgent care place. I just was not sure it was healing quite right. After the x-ray, the doc came in and asked how I had been coping with the pain for so long and told me how shocked everyone there was at how serious the fracture was. He then invited me to look at the x-ray for myself. Wow. All the way across. Impacted right radial fracture is the name. I jammed the bones of my wrist together. I am having surgery tomorrow.

I am dealing with fury. I am furious at how long I ignored it. I feel a little stupid for not taking the fall more seriously. I feel incompetent as an adult trying to care for myself.

But where would I have learned self-care? My brothers are dying of cirrhosis. My parents were injured in the same accident I was in and lacked the sense to seek proper medical care. My family does not know crap about taking care of themselves. I come by my lack of self-care honestly. They could not teach that which they did not know.

I am counting on my longest friend to help me. She has known me for over thirty (!) years. We went to the same high school but she was in the grade ahead of me. I really hate relying on anyone, but she is trustworthy and heaven knows my family is not capable of being so.

Here is part of what is annoying me: one of my best friends, that has been my rock during all of this, is way worse off than I am. This other friend had a subdural hematoma, a brain bleed. She had brain surgery, was in the neuro-ICU, and is just now somewhat able to take care of herself and be left alone. I have been helping her with her cat, petting Shyla to the feline’s satisfaction. My friend has probably monumental hospital bills. I cannot even imagine. Meanwhile, I am panicking a little about the cost of my surgery, and I likely have better insurance than she does. She keeps telling me to make lists and just take things one thing at a time. My brain-damaged friend is the adult in this relationship right now! How wrong is that?

Then there is the friend that I don’t really know what to say to right now. I feel like she is living in a fantasy world. She has lots of sympathy for me, but I cannot rely on her because I don’t think she is living in reality.

The only way to actually help people is to deal with your own issues and learn from them. Then you have something to offer. My brain bleed friend is in the midst of the fire. She is living in reality and dealing with life forthrightly. My longest friend had wrist surgery years ago and basically told me what would have to be done, which the doctor then echoed almost word for word.

I think about my family and am so glad to be out. The life lessons they taught me were all wrong and dysfunctional. They taught me how not to take care of myself. They were, at best, bad examples. Their lives are cautionary tales. Be careful or you might end up like them. That’s the lesson.

How do you know if someone is in denial? That is easy. If there are almost no safe topics of conversation, then the denial is pretty thick. Everything is connected to everything else, so one topic leads to another…If you have to tip-toe in conversation, run away and do not look back.

So tomorrow the doctor has to slice open my wrist, re-elongate the proper bones, put a plate in there to stabilize it, and close me up. I honestly hope I have not healed too much in the wrong position. I am scared. I am vulnerable and totally dependent on others. I hate this so much.

But thank God I have trustworthy people in my life now.

I Need to Write a Book

People have bee n telling me for a long time that I need to write a book. Don’t get me wrong. I have often thought it myself. But about what? My interests are bizarrely varied. Shopping at a normal bookstore puts me all over the map: physics, psychology, recovery, self-help, social sciences, poetry, biographies, etc.

Many years ago, when I was a new Protestant, I “discovered” Protestant bookstores. I was thrilled. I was not raised with a religion. I did not know such things existed. My thrill did not last long. Many of the books were, frankly, terrible. Bad punctuation, poor spelling, atrocious grammar. Even just going to the local community college, my thought was, “Damn. These Christian publishers can’t afford proofreaders?! I can write better than this.” The quality was so low that it was no mystery why they could not convert educated people. And, back then, I was devout. I was a true believer.

But write about what? It seemed that every time I thought about a subject, I would find the perfect book already written. There is truly nothing new under the sun.

But, over the years, I learned that that is not the point. When I started business school, everyone was assigned to do a presentation on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. There is nothing new in that book. What is phenomenal about it is its simplicity and accessibility. There are the three internal habits, the three external habits, and “sharpening the saw”, another term for self-care. It has great examples and is not written at too high of a grade level. It is not the content that is remarkable; it is the presentation. Any idiot can take a simple topic and attempt to make it look falsely complex. True genius can take a complex topic and make it look simple.

Now I am in my fifties and not a few people are pushing me to write a book. I never had a topic, but I think I do now.

It hit me a few nights ago that the goal of everything is integration. First, everything has to be made conscious. Then, all the different parts need to be informed of what is going on with all the other parts. This is called “healing”. Communication is involved. “Integration”, “communication”, and “healing” are other terms for “love”. I am talking about beginning with the individual level and moving outward on to the societal level. Self-love is the beginning. It is tough to be loving towards others while filled with self-hatred. And who wants to be loved by someone who can’t even stand themselves?

What I am talking about is bigger than a lifetime can address, but brevity is our friend. On page 104 of Jon Kabat-Zin’s Meditation is Not What You Think is the absolute best explanation I have ever seen of how a lack of awareness leads to disease. Every step of the process is shown. It is succinct, brilliant, and scarily obvious. Other authors cannot accomplish in a lifetime of written work what Zin elucidated in one unbelievable paragraph.

I do not know what direction I am headed, but I know this is right because it does not feel like I am making it up. It is more recognition than invention.

You take Gabor Mate, Jon Kabat-Zin, all the Zen masters, Gary Zukav, Pete Walker, the Crappy Childhood Fairy, M. Scott Peck, Melody Beattie, John Bradshaw, John Bowlby, and authors that don’t spring immediately to mind, and you get the idea. They are all experts of their own niches, any of which could take many lifetimes to master.

I have a lot of refining to do, but I know I have to do this.

Endless Reruns

As I get older, I ever more deeply realize that, unless we learn crucial lessons, all anyone ever does is keep repeating the same old mistakes.

Many years ago, I worked for a book bindery. They stopped giving out the perfect attendance bonuses. Then they promoted the alcoholic in my department to manager. The woman who never showed up on Mondays because of her hangovers became my supervisor! When she got promoted, I instantly felt like I was sailing on the Titanic. Just give me an excuse to quit, I thought. A couple months later, they did and I did. I went back to business school. About a year after quitting, a fellow student brought in a newspaper with a two-page spread on this bindery that was going out of business after almost a century in Lansing. My suspicions were validated.

Twenty years later, I am in a similar situation. I was sitting in the break room and the incentives (vouchers for free stuff) were being handed out. I got one and the worst employee in the whole store got two. My respect for the store manager ended at that moment. This employee is never on time, walks away from the cash registers all the time, spends more time than anyone talking, and goes around telling the rest of us how to do our jobs–while not performing his! It was deja vu all over again. I am sailing on the Titanic. The store is only two or three resignations away from closing its doors. One of the cashiers that quit a couple months ago was upset about the unfairness of the way she was being treated. She was correct. Now, all we are doing is training new cashiers so they can work at Burlington or the Meijer next door. Those companies probably love us. People apply there, the background checks have already been done, the applicants already have cashiering experience, and even their low wages are a raise. Everybody wins, except Goodwill.

If the rules don’t apply to everyone, then they apply to no one ever.

What I have learned is that I want to collect unemployment when the Delta store goes belly-up. I don’t need to quit. At this rate, the store won’t survive another couple years anyhow.

Rewarding bad behavior never has a positive outcome. This is Dr. Phil 101. I have read this book before. I know how it ends.

Sometimes, I feel like I am the only person learning. I keep watching others having to learn the same old lessons over and over again. It gets old. Sometimes, this type of stuff makes me feel absolutely ancient.