Another Strange Holiday The virus, the close downs, lockdowns, physical and social isolation, travel impossibilities, and general fear and enforced proximity are resulting in a lot of folks beginning to lose it. Yes, I know, “losing it” isn’t exactly a professional diagnosis, but we all know what it means. A local woman made national news when she flipped out over being confronted for not wearing a mask in Trader Joe's grocery. Screaming that she had a medical condition that exempted her from wearing a mask was pretty well voided since if she could scream at folks she could breathe through a mask. Besides, if she was that fragile what was she doing out shopping? And she wasn’t physically fragile. So…
A Common Struggle: “I am reaching out because I am struggling. I have ten months sober and I am not in trouble with drinking however I have decided to leave 12 step communities. I have encountered numerous abusive and dangerous people in that community. The only problem is I have this mode of thinking ingrained in my brain and am having a lot of difficulties believing that I am safe in life and from drinking without it. I feel stuck between going and being furthered victimized by AA and the danger of being alone. Any suggestions?” Once again, an email spurs me to point out one of the many fundamental problems with AA. Even if you find it helpful in stopping drinking, by the time this happens, you are so brainwashed that you are terrified to leave. Why does this happen?
Yoyo-ing? These days I find myself feeling like a poorly managed yoyo - careening all over the place physically, emotionally, and medically. These conditions are related, of course, as my knee underwent its 4th reconstruction and I find my left leg encased in a cast from toes to hip for 12 weeks. If I thought a bad knee and Covid19 lockdown were tough - well, I had no idea.
Post-Op Scribblings This past week the surgeons made a fourth attempt to reconstruct my left knee. It’ll be August before the results are in and another 9 months of PT assuming they are successful this time – not exactly a safe assumption after four failed attempts. On the bright side, so far I still have my leg. The point? Difficulties abound both generally and personally. Currently we have Covid19, protests, riots, looting, and unemployment affecting all of us. Each of us probably has some personal issues that parallel my knee. I know that while my knee has been a problem for “only” seven years, that at ever point in my life I have had troubles which matched or surpassed it. I’m sure you have too.
You’re right – AA is not the answer. He Quit Drinking So Why Don't I Have My Husband Back? This complaint which we more commonly hear from wives is equally applicable from husbands and I trust you can reverse the pronouns as they apply. It's a common, if quiet, complaint heard over lunch, or at breaks in meetings, at the Chamber of Commerce mixer, or the League of Women Voters retreat. "My husband finally quit drinking, attends AA, and life is certainly calmer, but…" The "buts" are varied, but essentially come down to the fact that while one's spouse is no longer actively drinking little else has changed.
Fifty Years Ago… Half a century ago, I lived 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the Inupik whaling village of Pt. Hope, Alaska – the northwestern most point on the North American continent. It was a different sort of lockdown, voluntary on my part for one thing, but there were similarities in regard to combating isolation. Boredom was certainly a big problem, as was drinking for many.
How Long do You Wait? Inertia, the tendency to maintain whatever our existing circumstances, activities, behaviors, habits, etc. are, exists in all of our lives. We don’t, in other words, make changes until we absolutely have to regardless of what we know. I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure I will again, and I usually use the term “contemplation hell.” In what’s referred to as The Stages of Change model, we all go through a predictable set of stages including: awareness, contemplation, action, maintenance.
Now what? While we currently seem to be in a lull in the Covid19 crisis, the general consensus is that there will soon be a new surge just as there was with the Spanish Influenza. Individually, the best we can do is to continue to protect ourselves and others while we begin to recognize a “new normal.” Does that sound familiar?
Generalizing From Ourselves If there is one error that almost 100% of us make, it’s generalizing from ourselves. Stated as succinctly as I can, this means that we assume that others make decisions, are motivated by, have the same values, goals, and beliefs, and care about the same things we do. And if they don’t, they should. Further, it makes no difference what those beliefs, values, goals, etc., are, the projection of these onto others infects us all. And when our expectations are thwarted? Anger, frustration, anxiety and depression may not be far behind.
Once again, a reader and former client has written and saved me from staring at a blank Word doc: “I read your newsletters weekly and have thought about responding forever!! Ed - your postings of your writing made me want to share something I wrote recently. I hope this resonates with you both. I am more okay than not; stronger all the time; operate with more confidence and clarity and always looking to learn from my experiences and grow from them.