Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: THE DAILY SHOW: AN ORAL HISTORY

I discovered The Daily Show late in the game, during the 2012 election campaign, by which time Jon Stewart was a national icon. And I usually watched the monologues and some of the highlights that next morning until Stewart left the show two years ago, and I have to say that his take on matters I almost always agreed with. This book is a running, more or less chronological commentary from almost anyone associated with the show about its history and future, and it is fascinating, especially when their memories don't jibe. There are also references to many classic moments and skits, and reinforce the central premise of what made the show tick: politics matters because political decisions affect all of us, and if it takes public pointing out and exposure to ridicule of the hypocrisy in some of the decision-making in order to effect changes and to push office-holders to adhere to a moral compass, than that's what it takes. Stewart never backed off, and became the most trusted voice in the nation. He even managed to get his most usual targets on board with some of his causes before he was done. And he is missed.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: HIS FINAL BATTLE

Joseph Lelyveld's His Final Battle is about our greatest modern President--FDR--and his struggle to stay alive and healthy enough to win a fourth term in 1944 and his attempts to secure a lasting framework for peace as World War II was closing. FDR knew he was not well, and much of the book is devoted to the question of how much his doctors knew about how serious his illnesses were. But it was also clear that FDR believed he could not let go of the wheel, not in 1944, and that it was also clear that he knew not making it to 1948 was likely, hence his efforts to get Henry Wallace out of the Vice-President's office. The details of the Tehran and Yalta conferences are important but ultimately a little dull, but underscore that FDR understood that massaging and trying to keep Stalin in the alliance till war's end was the most important key to a manageable post-war world. The details of his personal life seemed incidental, but I suppose had a bearing on his end and how it came about, too.
FDR is, Republican/wealthy revisionism notwithstanding, either the greatest or second-greatest President we ever had. And this book clearly demonstrates why. Roosevelt on two cylinders was better than most men on six, and even now, his vision and ability stand in stark contrast to the smallminded, petty, vindictive, and selfish motivations of those that opposed him. And in today's fever-driven, ideologically dominated world, what stands out about Roosevelt, even when he was clearly failing, was his pragmatism and lack of rigidity; he had core beliefs, but he never let his ideology skew his views of reality, but would adjust his views and actions to what he actually saw, heard, and felt. And while he had a substantial ego--anyone who was ever anyone has to--and was extremely manipulative, he also did so in such a way that it was hard to see his hand at work, and often the results were so that what was necessary got done, not for the benefit or revenge or personal agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
FDR remains our only physically disabled President that came into office that way. And the author makes a convincing case that his having to deal with polio and its effects softened him, made him humble in a way few politicians are, made him sensitive to the needs and desires of others in a way he never would have understood if he had not been dependent on others for even the most basic, taken-for-granted things like standing up and moving from place to place. I've thought often about that in the last few days, watching the Washington circus unfold and the pettiness of local politics draw inexorably nearer to me. And it makes me wonder, not for the first time, how fortunate this country really was to have had him available at the time he was needed most, with his specific skill set and a powerful identification with the great majority of the people he led. And how unfortunate we are now, in an age where the cult of the individual, of blame, of omerta, of materialism, and of callous regard for others is embedded like a tumor. Trump is the anti-FDR even more than Bush was; there is nothing but self-interest involved in Trump's politics, nothing at all, and the contrast to the man who brought us the New Deal could not be more stark. Or more poignant at this time.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Odds And Ends, Early May 2017

1) So the House Republicans delivered on their Obamacare repeal. And almost anybody that has anything to do with actually treating sick people, including the insurance industry, says it is an awful piece of legislation, going to doom lots of people to sickness and (no hyperbole) death, and provide a windfall tax break for the few thousand of megawealthy people in this country that don't need the money.
This country is now closer to the Zimbabwe of Mugabe than it is to an actual democracy. In just one generation, dating from the election of 1980, we have turned from a flawed society that was still genuinely devoted to providing the best possible outcomes to most of its citizens to one that is governed almost exclusively for the benefit of the wealthy, and designed to both repress and marginalize most of the other people in the country. And I have been convinced, and only become more so with every passing week, that the only way true change will happen is by revolution, violent revolution. And since functional democracies almost never result from revolutions, the Great American Experiment is in its death throes.
2) And so I find small pleasures in large passions, to keep from driving myself to impotent rage. And one of my passions is the Rangers, who won easily again last night to tie their series against Ottawa at two apiece. There's a nagging voice inside my head that tells me the series should be over already, and that it is not a good thing that Tanner Glass has more points in the playoffs than Kreider, Hayes, Miller, and Vesey, all forwards on the first and second lines that have played all ten games, do. On the other hand, the path forward is there; Ottawa certainly can be beaten, the Penguins await sans Crosby and playing Fleury (who for some reason has problems with the Rangers in the playoffs) in goal, and there's nobody left in the West that's scary. But there's a part of me that doesn't want to win the Cup, too; it would make it next to impossible to cashier Alain Vigneault, whose decision-making grows more incomprehensible by the week.
There are some parallels here to my favorite Ranger team of all-time: the 1978-79 overachievers that lost in the finals, then imploded shockingly fast for such a young team. The two biggest ones are that there is no one on this team that is consistently offensively effective (yet somehow they get the pucks in the net anyway), and the expansion draft looms over this team like an sword hanging from the ceiling. They're not going to lose four players, and they're unlikely to move five more for one player, which more than anything killed the 1979-80 and beyond teams; half the team was gone by the next November. But changes are coming, and it's hard to imagine that Vigneault and nominal GM Jeff Gorton are going to get this right. So enjoy it while you can.
3) I've discovered the joys of aux cords and playing music from my phone in the car. It didn't make the final cut of my favorite songs I counted down a few years ago, but there is one song out there that gets covered by more or less everybody, including the guy who wrote it and first performed it, and with rare exceptions, everybody does it really well. The song is All Along The Watchtower, and there have to be a hundred, if not more, different versions by almost as many performers, on You Tube, including a bunch by Bob Dylan himself. One of the many things that I have loved about Dylan over the years is his ability to rework and reinvent his own songs into something completely different as time passes, and another is that he will absolutely give credit when it is due. Both of these traits come into play with this song. Dylan's original version, released in 1967, was acoustic and haunting, effective in its own way, even spooky. But then Jimi Hendrix covered it and made it an absolute rock anthem, and much of what is out there is inspired by Hendrix' cover.
Including Dylan's. Dylan has been quoted as saying that Hendrix "got it right" with Watchtower, and most of his own versions over the years that have made their way into his concerts are closer to Hendrix' versions than his own. But he continues to tinker with it, and the buffet of cover versions on You Tube begins with the variety of Dylan performances. The three I am very enamored of are the House of Blues performance from 1996, the live "rare" performance put up by someone named Elston Gunn, and the joint performance with Bruce Springsteen. The Gunn video, in particular, really shows off Dylan's creativity at reworking it, the performance is driven by a drumbeat so heavy that it sounds like a relic of the Studio 54 era. But it works.
Neil Young has made the song a staple of live performances of his own for years, and there are at least four out there are completely golden. No one but no one enjoys playing guitar like Neil Young, and he lets it fly on this song without exception. Many of the usual suspects have covers on You Tube, and there are some that you wouldn't expect. Dave Matthews Band has one, and while I really don't like it, it is a different take and if you are a DMB, it might work for you. And the most surprising great cover out there is John flipping Mayer, of all people. Mayer's cover version is essentially a cover of Hendrix' version, and Mayer is good enough with a guitar that he pulls it off, repeatedly. Simply amazing for someone whose original work I really don't care for.
4) Project Keep Busy continues this weekend. I am taking my neighbor to work in a few minutes, and meeting with a sponsee at 10, going to see my brother and going to a celebration. Tomorrow I having breakfast with Right Said Fred, a good friend I haven't sat down with in a long time, and going to a different type of celebration tomorrow night. I have to shop, I have to clean, I have yardwork to do if the weather permits, and before you know it, it will be Sunday and I will be complaining about going to work again  after a too-short weekend. But it beats sitting around thinking too much, and it beats a whole other bunch of alternatives I can think of.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Elephant In The Room

I've become a lot more responsible in recent years about what I write about. And even though I do write about my personal life in this space more often than many are comfortable with, I have been really striving to keep what I disclose about me and my feelings and effects on me. I have become acutely aware that 1) my audience is bigger than I want to believe it is, and 2) there is another person involved, and what I write and say may have a substantial effect on the course of her life, too. So as matters have fallen apart in the last six weeks or so, I've tried to stay as positive as I can about the entire situation, and have stayed away from details, especially if they might be perceived as damning or finger-pointing. I have not met this lofty standard a hundred percent of the time, but I have tried to, and for the most part succeeded.
And it has become clear in the last week or two that much, much more is in play than the state of my household or my heart. It is literally a matter of life and death, a struggle that has almost been lost twice in recent weeks. It is a battle that ultimately I am irrelevant to--I cannot restore anyone to sanity, and the fight ahead is not so much to keep it down as it is to find something that will fill a soul that is mostly empty (and what is there is filled with pain and values that are not healthy). I have had to let go, and I have realized that my part in this was not what I believed what it was. I have accepted that, and I have also moved from being upset and angry over specific details to the ability to pray for and be genuinely concerned for the long-term well-being for someone who is, whatever the outside may look like, a lost soul.
You would have to be a real dick to want to add to the misery of a lost soul because you didn't like how your part of the story ended. I'm not a dick.
She is in a safe place now, and still at liberty, and hopefully the process of healing and recovery is beginning. The last thing I said to her, right before she entered, was that after being spared jail and having survived several brushes with death in the last couple of years, I hoped that she was coming to believe that God, whom she has a lot trouble believing in, has other plans for her than an early death, and that perhaps she would be able to stop what she's doing--all of it, not just the using--and find a way closer to what He has in mind. And I meant that. It's not going to involve me; in fact, my personal belief is that she would have a better chance of the seed of recovery taking root if she goes to a rehab center away from here, and in any event, it isn't like we're even really talking. I've maintained a distance for my own sanity and well-being, and I have closed a door that was open for three years to get healthy for myself.
And it is closed. I am not going to tell you that I never think about her, or what has happened, but I can tell you that it is in the past as surely as my high school graduation. And with every passing day, especially when there is no way that she and what she is doing can force itself back into my consciousness, it gets a little easier to completely accept, to move further in my own journey, and to start to see the world through different lenses than I have been wearing for years. And honestly, I like the view, and I'm, if not deliriously happy, at least pleasant most of the time, and able to focus on and take care everything going on in a busy life without looking back. That is a gift I am grateful for, and one that I am taking more and more to heart every day.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Jails, Institutions, Death

"We are people in the grip of a continuing and progressive illness whose ends are always the same: jails, institutions, and death."
We lost one to death over the weekend. She was a woman who had been here for many years before moving to Rochester, seemingly finding recovery at times, at other times not. I knew her as an addict, and then I got to know her better as the perplexed mother of a youth that crossed my path professionally. She spoke often of a deep faith in Jesus as her Lord and savior, and I hope for her sake, wherever her soul may be, she is finding solace and comfort in that faith now.
There was another that nearly lost their life last night, and will likely be experiencing jails again before the day is out. I cannot write dispassionately about this at this time. I found out just how deep the disease of addiction in some people can go. I am not only coming to terms with the near-loss, but the reality of just what was over the last couple of years versus what I wished it was. I am not going to tell you that I feel nothing. I need to to really get with my own Higher Power today and try to find compassion for someone I'm not really feeling much of it for at the moment.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Enjoying What It Is

I had a pretty good weekend. I got a lot done, did a few things I wanted to do, spent some time with people I like and people I want to get know better, and went to a few softball games of Sabrina's. And I'm going to need all of this accumulated pleasantness going forward, because this is the way you work through the downs, the feelings that you get at times when you think your life stinks and/or you don't get what you want, or you dwell on how shabby you've been treated by other people or by your job or strangers.
Distraction is a well-known parenting technique with babies and toddlers, and I have found that the same principle still works on adults. When there are major disruptions in your life, when you are going through emotional changes and emotionally-charged situations, it is necessary to do two things: maintain routines as much as possible, and find ways to stay busy. And this week was like a buffet of ways to do that:
1) I made every meeting I normally make, and went to two I haven't been going to recently, either. One still sucks; one ended up being very good.
2) I met with my sponsor and the sponsee I've been regularly meeting with, and resumed with my long-term sponsee and made a commitment to communicate daily and meet regularly.
3) I made almost all of Sabrina's games, at least in part.
4) I tried to visit with my brother as much as I could.
5) I've connected with a few people I knew but really didn't know this week, and found them worthy of spending more time around. I really enjoyed going out to the Chinese buffet with someone yesterday afternoon, instead of Taco Bell or McDonald's or some hideously overpriced sit-down restaurant. One of the men in the rooms that I've known for a long time but kind of just tolerated, I went to his house yesterday, and was surprised by how different he is there. The woman that's lived around the corner from me for a year continues to be a revelation. I'm talking to more people than ever on social media, trying to expand my horizons and my circle. And it's working.
6) I worked hard at my job to get my billable hours in. And don't intend to take any more personal time or wayward-woman time off for some time. My budget is busted; there's no more leeway (although in a development that can only be described as God-sent karma, I am getting MOTY's tax return because of back child support. It's not here yet, but it's coming).
7) Even stuff that didn't happen, I was willing to do. Someone offered to take me fishing yesterday, someone with (ahem) manageability and reliability issues, and it didn't happen. But I was willing to try it.
8) Today, we are going to try to start off with our "Sober Softball" games. I doubt we'll get a huge turnout, but build it and they will come. And my waistline can use all the exercise it can get.
9) I'm making a commitment to start walking the dog further again. He's getting fat and bored, too.
10) The Rangers are still playing, and I watch as much of their games as I can. Although yesterday was ulcer-inducing, and the season may only last two more games.
But this is the way of depression-induced obsessions. And the planting of seeds that might bear good fruit in the future. I'm not chasing the next relationship, and I'm not pining for the last lost one. But I'm not in a monastery, either, and I am finding that enjoying someone's company for an hour or three at a time is enough to be happy right now. I don't need massive commitments of time and emotion right now.
There are also unpleasant aspects of keeping busy--and one of them is working on Sundays. But it's time to get ready.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Not The Post I Thought I'd Write

I had several things planned to do yesterday--meet with my sponsor, meet with my sponsee, lunch with my other sponsee, oversee my ex's coming to get her things out of here, some yard work, Sabrina's game, and then a meeting where my friend was picking up a 20-year medallion. Everything went according to plan, except one. Do you really need two guesses as to which it was?
She did get some of her stuff out. And I'm not quite as uptight about getting the rest of it out as I was earlier in the week. Someone gained a greater appreciation for people who were always dependable and kept their word the hard way. As I listened to the tale of woe unfold, I managed to refrain from saying much of what I was thinking, largely because I had just spent the morning surrounded by recovering people and immersing myself in discussions of spiritual principle. And it had a positive effect. We had a very civil conversation in the afternoon, and she surprised me by initiating one last night. I'm not backsliding, but a few things were discussed, and I ended up saying to her, "If you had done those kind of things while we were together, and been that considerate and compromising, you'd still be here."
But she didn't, and she isn't, and I've been loping along the way to moving on. But one thing that has been bothering me has been my certitude that she is doomed to return to institutions or even to pass on, considering what is happening in this city right now. Regardless of my reaching the point of walking away, I really would like to feel that some day, she might get it together. For the first time yesterday, I saw some reason to hope, some flicker of the lights possibly going on. In the past, I would have used that as a reason to come back for more. That's not the case now. It's more a sigh of relief that it's OK to go on my way, that maybe the disaster doesn't have to and won't happen.
But that belongs to the future, and I'm starting to reorient my life from its former focal points. I have a few chores this morning--going to see my brother, grocery shopping. I made tentative plans to go fishing--yes, you read that right--because I'm 54 years old, a whole bunch of my friends swear that it is a fun and relaxing activity, and I've never fished as an adult (my only experience was my father taking me when I was about 6, and him getting fed up and leaving after less than 30 minutes. I often tell my friends that I am a thoroughly urban child; while most people's fathers around here took them hunting and fishing, mine took me to racetracks and pool halls). And since it is a month with a fifth Saturday, I will be eating Chinese for dinner tonight, and another friend highly recommends a place I haven't been to before--so we're going to check that out.
It's not all better, it's not all fun and games, and it's not necessarily an ideal life. But it is a pretty decent one, and there's too much out there for me to stay stuck in what-might-have-been or to let resentment build up. Especially since this city saw its fourth shooting in a month (and third murder) and twentieth drug overdose death of the year in the last few days. Most of the people I know do not remember the New York City that my parents fled from. But I do. And this place, although much smaller, is starting to resemble it in very uncomfortable fashion.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review: THE WRONG SIDE OF GOODBYE

I love Michael Connelly. He's written about two dozen books now, all of them featuring either Harry Bosch or Mickey Haller or both, in a long, decades long arc that serves as fictional but true-to-life biographies of a cop and a lawyer who are perhaps the most finely developed characters I have read of in any genre of literature. And the fact that Connelly spins first-rate detective/suspense stories while featuring these characters always seems like a bonus at times. Connelly's work is by far the best series of suspense/thriller out there, and there's enough of it that it will keep a reader busy for two years reading every day. And I will be very, very sorry when Bosch finally hangs it up or dies; he's become almost like a distant but real presence in my life.
The Wrong Side of Goodbye is the latest installment, following Bosch into his uneasy retirement as a PIand part-time gig as part of a small-town PD. He quickly gets enmeshed in a billionaire's quest for a heir, along with trying to solve a case involving a serial rapist. Bosch finds a heir rather quickly, only to have the client die suddenly, and then the rapist case takes a very personal turn for him, as well. I really would love to give more details, but this is a very intricate and well-constructed plot, with the interactions between characters forming a big part of the story (per usual in a Connelly book, and notable by its absence in nearly every other entry in the genre). The climax of the investigations is not quite the end of the story, and the last few pages are as dynamite as the rest of the book. Connelly doesn't always hit a home run with every book, but this is his best effort, in a series with no lame entries, in a few years.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

My Friday

So far (knock on wood) this is going to be the final day of the work week. I've already up over 34 hours, and I have quite a bit of paper to push this morning and a short session with my two favorite kids on my caseload after they're done with school at 2. And that will be it until Sunday. I'm really looking forward not so much to Friday off, because Friday is going to be busy as hell, if all breaks right (sponsor, sponsee, lunch with my newly promoted friend, then hopefully the ex coming with a truck and friends to get all her stuff out of here, maybe a home-cooked dinner in someone else's home, and then the meeting at night because a good friend is celebrating twenty years clean).
It's Saturday I am looking forward to. May 1 is the traditional start of the gardening year around here, and my garden and yard need a lot of attention. The garden box rebuilding project that I started last year needs to be completed. The soil needs to be turned and composted. The lawn, much as I think it is overrated to do so, needs to be cut. The lilac tree that fell to the ground in the winter needs to be disposed of. The dog latrine needs to be cleaned up. And then, early next week, it is time to buy seeds and plants, and get them in the ground. The bounty that fills my Instagram and Facebook pages, and mine and some friends' kitchens, in July and August doesn't just appear by magic, and this is when it starts.
I have other wish lists for the house and property, too. I really want to take down the rest of the fence on Bob's side this year, especially with the lilac tree in that corner also a casualty of age and gravity. Those being gone, and the fence being gone, almost make up for the beech tree in the neighbor's yard that keeps growing skyward and pretty much throwing my yard into shade anytime after 2 PM. Time and money permitting, I would also like to level out the corner where the blueberries are. And I remain engaged in the perpetual quest here to make the yard as bee-friendly as possible, although I am not quite so brave as to actually purchase a hive. But I have a pretty good idea, after a decade of this, what plants and flowers bring what kind of bees, and I have slowly been adding perennials to the front and sides for years. It's working, but there's always more to do, and I have a feeling that it's going to become more critical than ever very soon. Of all the animals that human beings have stupidly endangered, bees are the at the top of the list.
This house has always been a no pesticide zone, but their are way too many tight-assed retired people on this block that still use ChemLawn and those kind of places. I am resisting temptation to really flame these people right now, but for God's sake, there are bigger priorities in the world than having a patch of 40x30 ground looking like a carpet. But I suppose if you've got to 70+ years old without giving a shit about the world around you, you're not going to change now...but I'm not going to follow suit. My lawn will be cut when it needs to be cut, which will be about five times a year. And I'll consider the effect it might have on "property values" when I see a For Sale in front of your house. Not before.
Anyway, I really hope I get to spend a few hours in the yard Saturday. It's that time of year.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Reflections on a Horrible Incident

Monday night, I drove down Main Street on my way to the meeting, and saw the parking lot of Tom's blocked off with crime scene tape. My assumption was that perhaps someone had gotten shot in the apartment house next to the parking lot, but I didn't really find out any details until yesterday, when a particularly grisly tale came to light. A woman, whom had gotten arrested and RORed the previous week for drug possession, apparently was high again while driving, jumped the sidewalk, ran over a guy and dragged him a hundred feet or so before stopping, killing (and, if the more lurid rumors are true, hideously maiming) him.
Of course, there is the usual froth among the troll types on social media and the comments on the news sites. But this one has hit a bit of a nerve in just about everyone. When I found out the details, it was kind of chilling to me, because of the totally random nature of it. The man that got hit and died was only a few years younger than me, and by all accounts he was just minding his own business, walking down the sidewalk, when the Grim Reaper came calling. I walk on sidewalks every day; I've walked on that particular stretch of sidewalk hundreds of times in my life. I don't think I have ever thought "Jeez, I better pay attention every time I hear a car, because it might jump the curb and hit me." But I bet I will know, at least part of the time.
And it was another reminder of something Aldo and I used to talk about all the time: you can plan for every variable you can think of, and then life smirks and throws out something you could never anticipate that changes the game forever and shreds your plans into tiny pieces. That's not to say that planning and preparedness shouldn't be done; taking care of responsibilities is never a bad thing. But you're a fool if you think you can figure it all out, that you have every possible contingency and twist and turn covered. You don't. Period.
And I thought some more last night, about how my brother's medical issues were one of these kind of events for all of my family--mine to a degree, much more so for he and my mother. He is one of those people that tried to be super-prepared for everything, lived very cautiously, tried to control every variable--and he gets some kind of weird-ass infection that eats his spine and almost kills him. I have a friend whose life was turned upside down by a motorcycle crash last summer, and how much it has changed his life. And I thought that I've been comparatively lucky, that for all the storm that has happened in my life, I've been fortunate that the possible troubles and consequences haven't been that hard to see coming, and in some ways I prepared for them, and in the ways I didn't, relatively easy solutions are at hand.
But I also have noticed that I need to start doing some of those things again. My cushion got hit pretty good, and I need to start putting back in. I've started putting my house back in order again, but it's not a completed job. For someone who has spewed thousands of words about the need to make and fulfill commitments, I realized yesterday I had been less than committed to a complete break, and it was becoming an emotional manageability issue--so I did something I should have done some time ago. One action can only be temporary, alas, but at least I know that for today and much of tomorrow, my phone will not be blowing up with inflammatory BS and drama. And it might be possible to enjoy social media again.
Life is a gift that can be taken at any time. And while that has its positive aspects, too, it also means that when it is time to let go, then it is time to let go. I tend to take my time making decisions, but in the past, I've done very well for myself by committing myself to make a decision work once it has been made. It's been taking a while to get to that point, but I'm much closer to it than I was even 24 hours ago, and in a much better position to emotionally. I've got too much good in my life that I haven't been paying enough attention to, and one way to be able to pay more attention is to make sure that other influences aren't able to distract me.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cashing It Outside

A rite of spring occurred yesterday evening; my home group met for the first time this year outside. And while it remains an NA meeting, it does change the flavor of it somewhat. For one, no one has to leave the room to go smoke; you can sit right at your table and do so if you are so inclined. And with such a large meeting area, the side conversations/crosstalk/whatever aren't so noticeable, and aren't as distracting. And except for the times when the trains are going by, the sharing is a bit more personal and meaningful.
And as I almost always do, I left there feeling better than I did when I arrived. After a quiet few days and a civil text exchange in the afternoon, the ex suddenly went MOTY circa 2001 on me. It was more depressing than anything else; the inevitable day of reckoning for her is drawing nearer and nearer, as the stubborn, dogged refusal to change becomes more apparent. And as the meeting unfolded, I could have used the forum, and taken advantage of the credibility I have, to air the grievances.
But I didn't. For one, it's uncomfortable to hear whenever anyone does it. But more importantly, in spite of the differences now between us, in spite of feelings I am carrying that I believe are justified, 1) I am not entitled to use the people in the fellowship as a jury, because 2) whatever my views on her motives and actions, for the moment at least, she is also another person in the rooms, and it's not my place to make the already difficult-in-any-circumstances road of early recovery even more so. For better or worse, wax and wane, I have been a part of the fellowship here for nearly two decades, and ego aside, I have some credibility and respect among many of my peers. I am not going to use it up for personal and vindictive reasons. One of the watershed moments of my recovery process was (largely, not completely) standing by in the aftermath of the breakup with MOTY seventeen years ago, enduring the torrents of her verbal abuse that followed for months in the rooms without (often)  responding, and letting people make up their own minds about what the true deal was. It ended up being one of the catapults to my spiritual growth that has allowed me to live and enjoy a new way of life. And it would be a repudiation of just about everything I've ever learned and practiced to throw that aside now and engage in vituperative character assassination of someone who, however frustrating she is to deal with, doesn't know better, that is just at the beginning of her journey--and who is going to need a great deal of help, should she actually choose to recover, from her peers. It's not my place to cause any complications or cast any shade on the possibility of that happening. I have a support network, and most of them are aware of how I feel, and my views on what has happened, but I am not going to share them in meetings or with people I don't know well. That would cross the line between "needing to talk about how I feel" and "trying to manipulate the situation and the environment." I"m not totally sure where the line is, but I do know blasting her in a meeting that is attended by a dozen women she will soon be living with in a residential program would be over it.
It is a Twelve-Step Program, the final step of which speaks of "carrying the message." Mess with age becomes message, and I've been around long enough that to know the difference and to practice it. I managed to talk coherently and positively last night without having to refer to that situation in any way other than to acknowledge that it is a struggle at times, and that even with the amount of clean time I have, ending a relationship that you were deeply emotionally attached to is never easy and never without feeling. You don't get a pass on things happening that you don't want to experience with clean time and with the steps.
You just learn how to deal with them in a responsible and effective manner, and how to apply spiritual principles to your decision-making when your emotions are straining to take over the cockpit. That's what makes for a better life, and that's what helps put drug addiction behind you. Because the decision to use drugs, especially after a period of abstinence, is always emotion-based, not rational and certainly not spiritually based. And the thing that people in early recovery need to see and hear the most from the experienced members is examples of keeping emotions in check and not allowing them to take over our lives. If a guy with 18 years clean is ranting and raving in a meeting, calling down the curses of the Almighty on someone he has just spent months extolling as the love of his life--well, people notice that shit, and not in a good way.
Well, there was nothing to notice like that last night, coming from me. In fact, hopefully I was able to reach some people with examples of another way to go.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Restoring Order

School break is done with, and with it, the disruption that this causes in countless lives around the world fades into memory. That's a bit of facetious sarcasm, but it's also true that school breaks are often anything but breaks for parents, and often the children as well. 
The break had one big advantage for me this year, and it was job specific: it was much easier to get in the billable hours this week because the kids on the caseload were home instead of school, and I didn't have to wait until school was over to meet with the kids. It was an advantage that was negated, from annoying to major degrees, on four of the five days of the week by the narcissism of the ex, but it still was a relatively easy week. But I barely saw Sabrina, I didn't get a chance to get much done around the house, and it just seemed a bit off all the time. And the week in my case was made more off by not having to work last Sunday; it's amazing how quickly that became normal, too. And then with my brother in the hospital... well, routines are shifting and changes are necessary, and it's also a bit chaotic in any event. 
It's tough to find an anchor in the midst of chaos. One thing I did do right last week was make three meetings. I could have and maybe should have made as many as six, but honestly, I am not in a space where I can hear a message without reservations in any circumstances some days. I did go to the night meeting last night for the first time in months, but left before it was over because, frankly, there was just a lot of noise there and I wasn't getting anything out of it. Tonight is one of my two home groups, and it will be a different story, especially if we meet outside. The ex may be there, but that doesn't really affect me like it might have at some other points, and it isn't like she's going to participate anyway (not venom, just that she hardly ever speaks at the meetings she does attend). I do not want to get or feel isolated at this time, and I do think going to more meetings is the best way to avoid that. So I will have to open my mind up some and go some places I have been avoiding for differing reasons. 
But I've started changing things at home, too. The belongings of the ex have been packed away and await her promised retrieving them. Last night, I cleaned and rearranged the bedroom. It will be the bathroom's turn today or tomorrow, and the kitchen later in the week; one reason I could tell that she was headed for trouble after a couple weeks home was that she, a compulsive cleaner when in the right mind, suddenly lost interest in the state of her surroundings. Meals, too, are another thing that changed to a more haphazard and less regular thing; I am going to try to re-establish some regularity to that. The refrigerator and freezer have been purged of the items that I will never eat, and that also makes room for more stuff that I will eat. As for Sabrina--the kid seems to survive on macaroni and cheese, and her schedule is so irregular that I really don't have to cook for her now. 
The bottom line is that life goes on, and in large part, the quality of it is what you make of it. I'm not in great space all of the time, but one good way to not get triggered into anger or melancholy or wistful remembrance is to change the surroundings to eliminate things that inevitably trigger memories. And in the process, I end up with a living space that reflects what I like and that what I am comfortable with, where I know where everything is. 
It's a start. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Bearable Void

After having a full house for nearly two months, it's been a bit empty around here the last couple of weeks. Sabrina has been dog-sitting a friend's dogs while the friend is out of town for break, and is in the middle of softball season besides; I honestly have not seen her for more than an hour at a time in a week. And the erstwhile significant other is out of here (although her belongings, sadly, are still packed away in the basement, awaiting removal hopefully within a few days). I can't really say I miss her; the narcissism and the chaos it caused are certainly pleasantly notable by their absence. But not having someone around that was a daily, large presence for a while does leave a bit of a void.
Which isn't the worst thing in the world, to be sure. As I mentioned, I do not miss all the nonsense. I've gotten a bit of time to process events, and I am convinced that 1) I needed to have this happen because 2) I wasn't going to be able to let go until I was thoroughly sure that there was just no way this could work. And I am nothing if not that now. There will be other things, and maybe someday another person, that will fill the sudden, current void. I am likely to become more involved in the fellowship again, and the incessant time conflicts and scrambling that her crap seemed to always cause with my job have vanished, which is nice because I am going to be assigned two very time-consuming cases. The dog will no doubt be happier, too, especially when Sabrina's obligation is done and she's around more. With hockey playoff season upon us, and the Rangers somewhat surprisingly in the second round now, I can watch games without static.  And my budget is already returning to health.
Am I walking around with a shit-eating grin all the time? No. Regardless of the outcome, my emotional commitment was genuine, and it's unrealistic to be happy when a long-term effort like the one I put in turns out to be in vain. But it also isn't this gaping, painful wound that it might have been at other times. There are worse things than this kind of void; it's like a recuperation from surgery, in that soon enough it will be filled, back to "normal," more or less.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Welcome Break

Other than Easter Sunday, I've worked every day for the last couple of weeks, and so I am a little punchy. I've been grateful to be that busy, because of the other stuff that's been going on, too, but it will be nice to manage my own time a little today, and hopefully not drop into the recliner exhausted by 9 PM. I am going to meet with a sponsee, have coffee with an old friend, visit with my brother at some point, go grocery shopping, remove one point of contention with the ex, go to the library, clean at least one room of the house, take the dog on a long walk, watch the hockey game tonight, maybe catch the evening meeting, and in general take a break from the stresses that have been messing with my serenity. 
I've started paying attention to the outside world a little bit more in recent days and weeks, and in a strange sort of way, it's helping me to confirm that my judgment and reasoning ability hasn't completely corroded away. I knew that people in the country would tire quickly of The Donald, and they have. I knew he would be disastrous as President, and he has. While I do not want to see the bullshit ideas become the way government works for 4 years, I also think that 4 years of this shite will be enough to overcome the rigging of the system to get both him and his party out of power. On a local front, it took several months, but the former County Executive was finally arrested and charged with a crime for using municipal credit cards for personal use, the issue that likely cost her the election six months ago. Sometimes the wheels of justice turn slowly, but sometimes--sometimes--they do work. 
On more positive notes: my brother has been moved to another hospital, where the rehab from back surgery can begin in earnest; it's going to be a long haul, but at least the worst is over. My good friend has been named acting DSS commissioner, effective April 30; I have no doubts that he will be up to the job, and I really hope that he is considered for the permanent post. I've learned, as I always do when a relationship ends, that I have a lot of people that care about me and wish the best for me. Fred, Mark, Aldo, Donna, Britany, Harley, April, Don, Dave, Patty, Tonia--you've all helped me more than you know in the last few days, gave me a sense of perspective that is on-point, confirmed that my feelings and views are not completely self-serving, and reminded me that I have much to be thankful regardless of what is happening. The Rangers are, knock on wood, possibly ready to advance in the playoffs, and there is nothing I like more than watching playoff hockey in May with my team on the TV.  My daughter is having an excellent softball season, even as her team is struggling mightily to find its feet in its state championship defense. 
My life ain't all it could be right now, and there are things, peoples, and feelings I would rather not deal with and feel. But it's manageable,because there is so much more than surface things to my life, and those things are a big part of what gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment that money and material things never will. And I intend for today, at least, to be a celebration of that fact. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Bye, Felicia

Even though it's been clear for some time that this little experiment in domestic tranquility had gone off the rails, I had been still been nurturing my better instincts. Aside from the reluctance to accept that so much time and effort had been for naught, there was also a lot of care and concern for the other party, trying to model a better way, trying with increasingly frantic desperation to head off what I know is going to happen. In some ways, I felt like Bruce Willis in the first Die Hard movie, standing out on the runway waving the warning sticks as the plane comes in for a landing with its navigational system tampered with.
But sometimes you just have to accept reality. And as I was talking to my friend last night at the meeting, I realized another truth heard long ago and that had buried in the recesses of my memory.
Another person at the meeting asked me if I felt relief. It isn't the only emotion that I feel, but yes, there is a lot of that coursing through me, too. I had willingly taken on the commitment, but there is always the option, especially when both your input is being ignored and you are being disrespected, to simply say, "Hey, this is not my problem and this is not my life." And that point of surrender was reached yesterday, and suddenly none of it matters anymore. I don't have to engage except on my terms now, and I'm not going to. The time for consideration is past; God knows there wasn't much extended toward me.
You can't polish a turd. End of story.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

O'Reilly Departs

The big headlines today are that after many years as more or less the face of Fox News programming, Bill O'Reilly has apparently sexually harassed one too many women for even Fox and is no longer on the air. I never was irritated by O'Reilly the broadcaster that much, because I never once watched his show, and by Fox standards he didn't seem to be a dingbat like Glenn Beck or truly dangerous like Sean Hannity. But he was the first and primary Asshole on the Air there, and I suppose it does make his departure newsworthy.
And the sordid details of his departure--serial sexual harassment--, which comes on the heels of Roger Ailes departing Fox for the same reason, should make most decent people blanch and vow never to watch Fox News again. Of course, that is not going to happen; it's funny how otherwise morally rigid and judgmental conservatives will make exceptions and twist themselves into absolute contortions to justify the bullshit of their own tribe. And I done listening to "well, both sides are equally guilty." No, they're not. One side isn't completely and totally hypocritical, and what moderate and left-of-center people don't have is a third of the country making excuses for them in public. I don't know a whole lot of people that watch Fox News regularly; after all, they tend to be either assholes or ignoramuses, and I try assiduously to avoid both in my life. But of this small group, one--one--has been revolted by the O'Reilly story, to the point where he said two months ago that he had stopped watching. As opposed to three others that were just fine with O'Reilly's, and Ailes before him, serial sexual harassment--but couldn't understand why, referring to sometimes-reasonable and acceptable facsimile of a human being Shepherd Smith, who came out of the closet in recent years as gay, "that faggot" is still on the air.
The people that watch Fox are the spiritual descendants of the people in the crowd that lined the road to Golgotha and thought it was their duty as Jews to curse, spit on, and throw things at Jesus of Nazareth on his way to his fate. And if that offends some of you that read this column--too fucking bad. Grow a conscience.
And what killed me about the entire O'Reilly experience is that people actually took him seriously in areas he has no expertise whatsoever. How does Bill freaking O'Reilly get two books published about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? Or a book about the killing of Kennedy? (all of them were awful and added nothing to the vast literature on both, by the way). This cult of fame and television exposure in this country has reached nauseating levels. There are millions of people out there trying desperately to get good work published, in any form, and shit shovelers like O'Reilly get millions to peddle nonsense. And O'Reilly is hardly the only one. There was a note in the news yesterday that Andrew Cuomo, who wrote a book a few years ago that has sold, according to publishing industry records, 3200 copies, reported on his income tax return this year that he has made $773,000 off that book. So he got a million dollar payment to write a book that no one bought and probably fewer have read. And you wonder why he is the poster child for "Children of Privilege?"
But Cuomo, odious as I find him much of the time, is still hard to imagine as a sexual creep. I don't imagine Cuomo is easy to work for, but I really can't see him calling female staffers and talking junk while masturbating. And that was apparently O'Reilly's standard deviation, the act that followed the power-tripping that defines harassment. Just one more conservative hypocritical cretin sent off to retirement, after making millions and holding the bozos in the thrall for decades, And one more stain against Fox News, not that that is going to make a difference to the people that actually watch it, who are truly the Lost Generation(s).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

One Giant Leap

I remember sharing in a meeting during my first summer clean about how I had a real problem that I was not going to be able to face for some time yet: the inability to say "No" to Sabrina's mother. That may seem absurd to those of you that have been reading this blog for the last eight years, but trust me, it was once a huge issue, one that caused a great deal of unmanageability at one time in my life.
And while that particular issue certainly resolved itself, it certainly has recurred in other relationships I have been in. While I am quite a bit more secure with who I am and less co-dependent than I was in 1999, 1) I certainly haven't been "cured" of those tendencies completely, and 2) I'm much more aware of my own tendencies to self-interest and control, and there are times when I end up going along with something because I think there's a good chance I'm being willful by not going along.
And trouble saying "no" has certainly been an issue with the last one. And to make a long story short, I refused to co-sign one of her manipulative attempts to alter the consequences of her most recent string of bad decisions. I went out of my way, in fact, to confront her and tell her that, if she followed through with her plans, and she ended up getting discharged, I didn't know where she thought she was going to, but it wasn't going to be this house. And I meant it.
And for whatever reasons, she ended up not being discharged. I've been moving on for some time, sometimes at a snail's pace, but there is also the reality that all her belongings are still here. I honestly would prefer to be able to simply ignore her presence on earth, but that's not realistic until all that stuff is out of here. But yesterday was a really big step for me; I drew a line in the sand and didn't give way. It's been a week since she departed, and while much else has happened, the chaos caused by immature, stupid willfulness that I, for whatever reasons, couldn't say no to has stopped. And I like it, and I'm not stepping backwards.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Going Forward

Even though I've done this quite a few times over the years, it doesn't get any easier to move forward after radical changes in one's life. But it has to be done. I know that looking backward is not productive, and I also know that life does not stand still and a dozen other things other than the changes that have occurred still have their claim on my life and energy. This is why I am up at 5:30 on a Monday; my job does not stand still because my brother is ill and I am a bachelor again. There's a house to clean, a meeting to go to tonight, a dog that depends on me, a kid in the last few months of high school, family members that need me to pitch in and help in this time of crisis, groceries to buy. There is a tax form to mail, oil that needs to be changed, tires that need to be rotated if not replaced, sponsors and sponsees to meet with, more job-related stuff ahead. Life is a many-sided object, and because the face of one or two sides of that object changes or vanishes does not mean that the other sides can be ignored.
I know all this. And while I can't say it feels good to contemplate, it is good to have much else going on in my life. It keeps me from sitting in the house all day and night, thinking and rethinking and nursing resentments and turning events over and over in my mind. And as my sponsor is fond of saying, this, too, shall pass. It won't even be like a kidney stone; it's happened in stages over the years, and I've been prepared for this particular stage for at least a month now. And I know that a year from now, life will look very different. Whether better or worse is an open question, but it will look different.
And as much as it was in 1998, it will all take place one day at a time. It's the best-known and most-used slogan/cliche of recovery, and there's a reason for that. It's what we are capable to doing. I don't know how my brother's life is going to look like six months from now. I don't know whether there will be another relationship, with who, or when it will happen. I don't know what all the changes being proposed at my job are going to bring. I don't know what it's going to be like around here when Sabrina goes to college. I don't know what my own health is going to be like as I age. I don't know what the country, state, and county environments are going to be like in the future. And it's not productive to project, to be afraid, or to quit. What I can do is take care of what needs to be taken care of today, and in the near future and let the chips fall where they may. That much, I am capable of, and that's what I need to take care of on a daily basis.
It's not going to be easy, at times. But it is the only way to get through troubled times. And it is not productive to take steps backward. It's not helpful to worry about what other people are going to do, or to make their struggles yours. I have more than enough to keep me occupied. And looking backward would be about as productive for me as it was for Lot's wife (in another of those not-coincidental messages that are always present if your mind is open to them, The Big Bang Theory, of all things, drove that home yesterday, when Sheldon listed all the instances in mythology of people who were told to not look back--Orpheus, Perseus, Lot--and then said, "they always look. It never ends well."
Going forward may not end well, either. But it might. And looking backward is a sure way to make sure it isn't going to end well, or at the very least make it harder than it has to be going forward. So that's my goal today--keep it moving forward, and not look back. I'll figure out tomorrow's goal tomorrow.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

(nor)Easter

I stopped practicing any formal religious faith long ago, but that doesn't mean that I cannot find it within me to observe the major Christian holidays. Christmas is ultimately a celebration of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, whose teachings, regardless of the Son of God later generations tacked onto his legacy, are worthy of following, and so I have never thought twice about observing Christmas (even though it is extremely likely that his actual date of birth was not in late December).
This holiday. Easter, is much more problematic for me. For starters, while Christmas commemorates an actual event, whenever it may have occurred, I simply do not believe that any resurrection of anyone dead took place, and so it is a day that "celebrates" something that did not happen. And my basic issue with Christianity, in any form, is that I cannot reconcile either of the two basic assumptions behind it with a loving, caring God. The shedding of blood, whoever's it might be, in a "sacrifice" is not based in anything loving, caring, spiritual, or good. It is atonement theology, in essence eye for an eye, a wrong done to make up for a wrong done. That is, whatever dressing you put on it, barbarism, and has nothing to do with love, forgiveness, charity, good will toward men, or any of the dozens of others actual spiritual principles that are the characteristic of a loving and caring God, or Higher Power, or Supreme Being, or whatever. The second assumption is that by requiring belief in something that did not happen, the religion based around this "event" is grounded in dishonesty, denial, and untruth--and that is hardly compatible, again, with living a life based on spiritual principles. And Easter is inextricably linked to Passover, which is another "holiday" that is based on barbarism, commemorates an event that did not happen, and celebrates the shedding of blood.
In fact, both Easter and Passover are perhaps the ultimate divisive events. At their core, they are "celebrations" of us vs. them, of believers against non-believers, of chosen vs. not-chosen, of some being redeemed while the rest of us can literally go to hell. I realize that far too many people in this world need those kind of assurances to get through their lives, and countless others need the threat of going to hell to keep them even marginally within the bounds of spiritual behavior. But it doesn't mean I have to buy into it, and I certainly don't have to celebrate it.
And of course, like every other "occasion" that marks the calendar in this part of the world, it has become the focus for more materialism and more commercial gain. Again, Christmas takes a lot of deserved crap for its commercial overkill, but at least, the seed, the core, is something that is both real (the St. Nicholas legend has at least a kernel of truth) and based on a good motivation (sharing among our fellow men). The Easter bunny has no comparable antecedent to St. Nicholas, and the commercialism is much more naked and raw, without any corresponding reciprocity.
I am not working today; the agency I work for recognizes this as one of their paid holidays for the year. I am grateful for that much, because I normally work Sundays, but I don't feel festive or happy. Especially this year, when I am still in a bit of shock from almost losing a family member and also coming to terms with the end of a long-term relationship that just might have been the most corrosive to my soul and self-esteem that I've ever been in. There is a lot of ground to cover in the days, weeks, and months ahead, and I'm not looking forward to it. There is only one part of this Easter story that I ever truly identify with--Jesus of Nazareth praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on his last night on earth, hoping to have his cup pass from him and praying for the strength to endure what is coming. It's non-sectarian, it's real, and it's something I have often done myself.
And I'm doing it again. No, I'm not facing capital punishment. But I am facing trials that I would rather not go through. And I know, unlike the Easter legend, that there is no fairy-tale happy ending. But I will get through it, with the help of a loving, caring Higher Power and by applying as many spiritual principles as I can summon to the surface. I'm in the middle of a storm, that perhaps is not the strongest I have ever experienced, but that may well last longer than any that have come before them. And while I know I can make it through, it doesn't mean I have to feel wonderful about doing so.
And I sure as hell am not going to be diverted from the tasks at hand by gorging on chocolate or pretending to believe something that I know did not happen, that forms the basis of a value system I don't buy into. It's just another day for me.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Would I Fight That Hard?

My mother has nearly died twice in my lifetime, twenty-five and sixteen years ago, and both times fought back tenaciously and resumed a more or less age-appropriate life. My brother was in very serious trouble a few days ago, and already the medical staff in the hospital are amazed at how much ground he has recovered since regaining consciousness (for anyone that was confused about a post on Facebook the other day, he does not smoke cigarettes. If you want to know what I was referring to, send me a message). My father, on the other hand, never was sick, never was in any sort of serious health trouble, until the day he dropped dead, and I will always be convinced that, after watching several of my aunts and uncles live in diminished states for many years, he willed himself, somehow, to end his life when the heart attack came; he confided to me a few times that he really wasn't interested in merely breathing or existing if he could not be who he was.
I don't normally think about this stuff a lot, but I can't say it has no place in my mind, either, and as I age, the thought of what lies ahead does occupy more space than it used to. When I was younger, I was absolutely convinced that I would be one of those tenacious, fighting types. At this point in my life, though, I wonder. I've had Sabrina to raise for most of the last two decades, and knowing that my absence would powerfully and negatively impact her life was a huge motivating factor. But the job of raising her is largely accomplished now, and that's not so much in the forefront of my mind.
And I take stock of who I am and what my life looks like, and I have to wonder whether, should something catastrophic happen to me, whether I would shut it down, too. I have lived with some chronic pains for many years--my feet hurt for thirty years until I had them operated on, my knees and back act up from time to time--but I have lived largely free from debilitating medical conditions. Despite high blood pressure that never seems to come down no matter what meds I am on, I don't have heart problems, and I have escaped active addiction and some pretty dumb behaviors over the years to not have any diseases or conditions. But that may not be the case forever; I don't really do a lot for exercise, there are times when my life seems to consist of one big stress test, and most importantly, try as I might, I cannot see a future where the environment will improve in any significant way. And while I certainly am going to do nothing to hasten the end, I will cop to thinking, "Is there any real reason, should something happen to me, to fight to hang onto life?" whenever the idea comes into my head.
I left my Catholicism behind long ago, and have, as a result of my recovery process, thoroughly examined the entire afterlife question and the theology that most religions have constructed around it. I don't know if there is an afterlife, but I am pretty sure that there is no Last Judgment, and should there turn out to be, I am pretty convinced that the way I have lived my life is more than well  enough to pass any trials. I'm not afraid, in other words, of what comes next, and the fear of damnation that appears to be many people's primary motivation for hanging onto this life with claws extended is not present in me. So that's not on the table for me, either. I mean, I don't go around hoping to die, obviously, but I am not afraid of it. What trepidation I feel about it is nothing more or less than fear of the unknown, and I've faced that down countless times over the past two decades.
And I'm at another turning point in my life, too, which also feeds this kind of speculation. Obviously, family obligations are going to play a bigger role for months, if not years, with my brother's illness. I am no longer in a romantic relationship, and every day that passes brings a deeper realization that I need to truly distance from it and from her, a process that gets easier every day. Deep changes are coming at my job, and I have a difficult time seeing where I fit in on a long-term basis. Deep changes have already occurred in the world; the world is never perfect, but this headlong descent into madness does not sit well with me, nor does it fill me with any great desire to stick around this world any longer than I have to.
So as I prepare to go the hospital to see my brother before I go to work to try to reach a young man who already is lost in anger, despair, and hopelessness, I conclude that no, I wouldn't fight as hard as many do should I be facing major physical problems. There is much that is enjoyable in my life, and I'm in no hurry to leave it, to be perfectly clear. But it's not so great that I am going to hang onto it at all costs...As in so many things, I have come to be my father's son. The more distance I get from his death--it will be, amazingly, seventeen years since he died next month--the more I am beginning to see that, as much as some of his values turned out to be toxic in my own life, some others turned out to be absolutely on point, And when my time comes, I hope to go like he did--suddenly, with no lingering pains, no wasting away, no diminished capacity, his mind as sharp at the moment of death as it was for all of his life. I remain convinced that he willed himself to shut it all down when the time came, and I hope that turns out to be correct--because if it is, I want to follow in Dad's footsteps one more time.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Putting Down The Cup

"Change or die" is the most brutally honest phrase, of the many slogans and cliches, that is heard in the beginning stages of the recovery journey for people with substance abuse issues. While it may seem dramatic and simplistic, it isn't. Lasting recovery, and long-term abstinence, absolutely depends on whether an addict is willing to change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. None of them are easy, but it involves getting honest with ourselves, for ourselves, about one basic fact of our lives: that whatever values we have been living by have not worked for us. And the first thing that has to change is the behaviors that result from the way we think.
Of course, not using drugs is the starting point. But without basic, real change in how we think and what else we do, the rest of it does not happen. Some of the connections between eventual use of drugs and our mindsets are obvious, but many of them are less direct. But for all of us that have kept it down for a long time, they all have to be recognized and addressed. Recognition comes from changing the people we spend our time around from those engaged in the old life and lifestyle to those trying to live a new way, listening to what they tell us about not only their own stories but also to the suggestions about what we need to change--and then making changes.
And one thing that those of us that are "predecessors" have to develop are boundaries, walls that define our own danger zones which we cannot enter. If we grow close to those that will not change, we will suffer, too. It is not necessarily fatal to our own recoveries to set a foot over those boundaries on occasion, but we cannot loiter in the danger zone. And as much as we like to, we cannot drag those that are not willing to go onto our side of the boundary.
There comes a time when you have to let them go.
And one visible manifestation of a working recovery program is beginning to understand that God often does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. I've known what I have had to do in this house and in my life for some time now, but I was unable to completely take the actions I needed to take... until now. With every passing hour, absence is not making the heart grow any fonder, and the clarity of vision that I exhibit in almost every area of my life but this one is returning.
But knowledge without application is useless. To that end, I began moving things into the basement last night, and I will not answer the phone if it rings this morning. I am not bringing anything to the place where someone is temporarily residing, either. As my rationality gains the ascendancy over my emotions, as what has been becomes as clear to me as what it is, I am finding the strength and determination to do what needs to be done.
I changed, and continue to change. My brother's problems this week have driven home the point that I could die at any moment, for any reason, But even though we all die at some point, I do not have to hasten the process; I do not have to sip from a cup of hemlock and kill myself by degrees. This situation has been very complex and fraught with emotions good and bad, and I now see that it was impossible for me to not think emotionally and act on the desires of the heart while engaging on a daily basis. That has been removed, and clarity is returning.
There is a part of me that feels like this is cruel and a bit chicken. But three years-plus of experience has showed me what my limitations are. It's time, and I've been given an opportunity to do what I need to do for myself without interference from those pesky feelings, without being subject to the manipulations of the heart. It has been my experience that God's will really does get made clear to us, and that if we don't act on the more subtle hints that we get, eventually the hint is applied with a sledgehammer. And this week, the hammer has come down.
And it's not so bad.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

An Emptier House

The next act arrived yesterday. I don't know how how long this stage is going to take, but I'm looking at it as a chance for an honest, rational, non-emotional assessment of what has been and what will be. And I've already started that process by doing what I learned, at great cost, to do all those years ago; pay attention to the people around me and be open-minded to input other than mine.
And also to stay busy, and to reflect, not obsess, and also to keep it simple. The first question of the day is going to be "Do you miss having her around?" It wasn't so apparent yesterday, but that's what I am going to be asking myself at the end of the day.
And listening to my friend talk about his wife's inability to stay clean and stay out of jail, listening to a good friend's brutally honest characterization of the situation, helps. There was also input on the other side, too, to be sure. But most of all, I just need to take care of what I need to take care of today--at work, on a family level (my brother, I found out last night, is in the hospital), around the house, with friends. I might make tonight's meeting, if things break right, and I definitely am going to make my home group Thursday, for the first time in a few weeks.
I don't think complete openmindedness is possible. After three-plus years of experience, it really isn't realistic to expect that. But I just want to make sure that what I think I am going to do would be done for the right reasons, not on emotions. And the emptier house can also serve to empty some of the clutter in the mind.
And I haven't forgotten that this process might be going on with her, too. She surprised me yesterday somewhat, in a good way, and the chance of losing someone that has been taken for granted for a long time sometimes has a salutary effect.
But for now, I'm doing what needs to be done, and also taking care of myself. I went to bed earlier than I have in a long time last night, and slept a little later. It's a start..

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Waiting For The Next Act

There are times when "one day at a time" is more than a cliche. And there then there are the times when it seems like a cruel joke. The creaky wheels of the justice and chemical dependency treatment systems are like a three-mile train being pulled by a Honda Accord right now. I've been living the way I've been living for a long enough time to know that there's some purpose being served here, and that if I just can resist the impulse to act on the impatience being generated, the impact will be manageable and all of us, hopefully (and me definitely) will get to a better place.
But it's hard to do, particularly when all the principals being asked to exercise superhuman patience are among the class of people that are the most impatient on earth. And delays give the inherent tensions and stressors that have played a part in setting the wheels in motion that much more fuel to work their dark magic. As much as I would like to, I can't speak for anyone else, but I can say this about what's been happening with me. We all like resolution; we all like a chance to sift through conflicting emotions; we all like chances to seek guidance from our supports and from God about what the right things to do are. Perhaps that's the underlying reason why this kind of limbo period has occurred.
But the longer the inertia is in place, the greater the chance of sand accumulating in the gears. And sometimes I wonder if that is the ultimate purpose of the inaction--to simply stave off doing something until someone does lose patience, does lose hope and faith, and makes an impulsive decision that forever changes the equation and essentially removes the need for further action. I realize I'm being somewhat cryptic here, but there are lives in play here that are at crucial crossroads, and I don't want to tip the scales one way or the other, nor be partially or totally responsible for consequences incurred by my own loss of patience.
But the flip side is that exercising patience can also be painful. It can lead to repeated exposure to emotional injury. And none of us are made of stone, no matter how long we've been trying to live a more spiritual, God-centered life and no matter how much experience we have with trying to follow God's will, not ours. When deep emotional waters are reached and roiled up, I don't care who you are and how strong your "connection" with the God  of your understanding is; you still want relief from those feelings, and the temptation to act out is almost overwhelming, whether through emotional outburst or short-sighting, impulsive decision-making that can easily lead to the fragile Jenga tower of your life coming down around you.
And if I'm feeling this way, imagine what the others that are a part of this situation are going through, people who have a lot less experience with managing these kinds of crises, people with poorer coping skills and with more issues than Time magazine. Honestly, it's like watching from a hilltop as a train desperately trying to brake approaches a stalled car at a railroad crossing. Is there enough room? Is there enough time?
Who knows?
Maybe today will be a day when the gears shift a little bit. I've made a commitment to not remove myself, to be an adult, to not be a jerk, and while honoring that commitment, I've discovered that whatever else I may feel, I still feel as fiercely protective and, damn it, affectionate as I ever have. It's not right, and part of the seething impatience is knowing that someone you will always care a great deal about is being asked to show superhuman strength in a situation where faltering has already taken place. I think my own stance and my own actions have been more helpful to that person than not, and in the process I've found much to feel good about regarding the type of man I've become.
But damn, I wish the test would end.

Monday, April 10, 2017

A Better Place To Live

Good news this morning, on several fronts. I used to be more wrapped up in the state budget than I am now, when my then-program was dependent to a degree on state funding. But the budget that was passed last night is a reminder that, for all the legitimate bitches about living in New York, it's still a real good place to live compared to Red America, because there is still a commitment by the government to use the government and the public purse to improve the lives of those that live here. The budget provides free college tuition for so-called middle income families, effective immediately. Which means that my daughter, about to start college in the fall, will have that much less money to find (ie borrow) to attend college. Since my own finances are shaky, this is more than welcome; it's a lifesaver. The age of criminal responsibility was also raised from 16 to 18, meaning that 16 and 17YOs will no longer automatically be charged as adults for any crimes; hopefully, this will mean that the prison population will decline somewhat, and at least the illusion of justice will swing back in the direction it ought to move. I am not a fan of Andrew Cuomo and will never be, but I have to say that as much as I detest him for who he is, he occasionally does good things. Believe me, it could be worse, and is in a lot of other places in the nation.
The curious limbo of my home life is headed for resolution, too, as soon as today. She will not be moving into her own apartment; consequences of an action she took over a week ago are going to lead to her going to an institution of some sort. I don't really think that what is being recommended is necessarily what she is going to need, but there is a standard procedure that authority follows when certain things happen, and she pretty much has no choice, if she would like to continue to not be a guest of the Department of Corrections. That may happen anyway, if authority does not deem her sufficiently motivated to get into the place they want her to be in. I'm not going to add to her burdens by blowing up a place to stay at this very moment, but when she leaves here, regardless of the circumstances, she's not coming back. And as time goes on, I realize more and more that, as hard as I have tried and as much effort as I have put into this, that ultimately, it's gone as far as it can go. A conversation with an ex-sponsor a few nights ago led me to a truly honest assessment of the situation. We all have things that we want out of a relationship, and qualities that we want and need to see in our partners. And the plain, unvarnished fact is that of the things that are important to me, the things that I want and need out of a partner and relationship, are things that she simply is either unable to unwilling to be on any kind of consistent basis. I'm not going to be a dick about it, but once you know something, you can't unknow it. And it has led to a bit of acceptance and even serenity about the whole thing. I've done the best I can, and conducted myself in a manner that demonstrates my own quality of character. That's really I could and can continue to do. And the expectations, the things that I am looking for out of a partner, are not unrealistic. I have a lot of thoughts about why she can't meet them, but that is ultimately a fruitless and pointless exercise; the fact is that for whatever reasons, she's not showing those characteristics, and isn't willing, at this time, to change her attitudes and behaviors enough to show them. It is what it is. And the one that is paying the price for her inability to change those attitudes and behaviors is her. My life will go on, a little emptier and with a bit of initial sadness, more or less unchanged.
The outside world showed a rare sense of justice yesterday; it was tense and drama-filled, but Sergio Garcia did win the Masters. Now it's on to the NHL playoffs, starting in a couple of nights. Let's hope that the Rangers show up for them.
And today is the home debut of Binghamton's softball team. My daughter, against considerable odds, is starting--at third base, of all places. But she is being counted on to be a key component of the team's attempt to defend its state championship. I will not be overly involved, but the games I am able to make, I will make. And I should be able to attend at least a portion of today's game.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Odds And Ends, Early April 2017

Still not quite back to normal around here. The more perceptive of you might be excused for believing that I am sitting on a major development. In the meantime, a few things have crossed my mind recently:
1) Never mind politicians; is there a group of people more out of touch with modern American reality than the mainstream media? Everyone--and I am including most Republican/conservatives that I know--that I know was not happy with the news that our President had ordered nearly sixty cruise missiles fired into Syria earlier this week. If you listened to the MSM, you saw things like "Now he's acting like a President," "he's growing into the job," "this should make him more popular," "very Presidential", etc. It didn't make him seem more Presidential; it made him seem even more of what he is--an ignorant fool incapable of resisting impulse and who is absolutely itching to exercise power over somebody. And the vast majority of the great unwashed know this now, even those that voted for him just five months ago. Trump is the greatest disaster of our lifetime, and I think even the bozows are aware of it now. It's frightening to contemplate just how messed up this place can get in the next four years. The only solace is that even with a rigged system, the other party could throw up Zippy the Chimp and win in 2020--if there's an election at all. But that remains to be seen.
2) On to less important matters. The Masters golf tournament is this week, and I, not normally a follower of golf, am paying attention. One reason is that the Masters usually provides a decent spectacle, and it does have that this year. Jordan Speith is looking for redemption at the place where he blew a five-shot lead with nine to play last year. Speith has to be considered the favorite going into Sunday; ten shots behind after the first round, he's now only two behind, and he has finished 2-1-2 in his last three appearances here. Speith is infinitely more likable than Tiger Woods was at a similar stage in his career--and if Speith is not going to dominate the sport like Woods did, he is going to dominate this tournament more than Woods ever did.
It's an interesting leaderboard, but the one name I want to see win is Sergio Garcia. Garcia burst on the golf world as a 19YO wunderkid, and it was inconceivable in 1999 that he would still be looking for his first major in 2017. A lot has happened to Sergio, too much to recount here, but amazingly, he's a bit of sentimental favorite here (there is much I do not like about the Masters and the way it is run, but I will say this much; it's nice not to hear boors in the galleries. Masters officials have made clear that the crowds will act like decent human beings, or they are immediately banished never to return, Garcia has been treated abominably by galleries in other American tournaments, but that's not going to happen tomorrow). We've seen Garcia grow up in the spotlight, and it's been a mixed bag. He's had successes; he's also had very public failures, and earned the enmity of the bozos that shout "USA!USA!" at every sporting event by some of what he has said and done. But I would like to see him win tomorrow, and pass the Best Player Never To Win a Major title onto someone else.
3) Today ends the NHL season. The Rangers had a decent season, a hundred points and the first wildcard spot in a loaded division, with a series against Montreal locked in. And yet there is the sense that it could have been so much more. There are as many as five guys playing regularly that should not be playing, and they are killing this team, leading even casual observers wondering how Alain Vigneault is hanging onto his job.
And I am one of them. How does this guy not see how bad Dan Girardi is? How does one justify the total lack of skill that Tanner Glass brings to the ice? How does one not see that every time Adam Clendening plays, the team is better than when he doesn't? How does one not see that Pavel Buchnevich is, although erratic, capable of spectacular play, and why does he not play regularly? How does one not see that Jimmy Vesey has hit the rookie wall, and why hasn't Vesey sat more? How does one not see that Kevin Klein is not an NHL defenseman any more?
It's going to be ugly; the Rangers may not win a playoff game. And hopefully, AV will be gone by the end of April. God, this is frustrating.
4) It's supposed to be near 70 today, and we're going to have decent weather for a week or so. Combined with looming developments, I will soon be undertaking major landscaping and gardening improvements. Which will be occupying more time, a development I welcome. Maybe it's the Italian in me, but I find that I love gardening, and I do like, at least in the beginning of the summer, maintaining the yard (I tend to lose enthusiasm when it's really hot out for it). I want to try some different stuff this year, and I am going to double my efforts to provide a bee haven here. I was encouraged last summer to see more honeybees, for the first time in three years. I am seriously considering, despite my own extreme allergy to them, buying a hive and placing it somewhere on the property.\
I also have discovered the joys of something I have not experienced since I was married--the annual "let's discover the remains of dozens of piles of dog shit in the back yard, now that the snow has melted." If nothing else, it has ensured a regular supply of compost material, and on the whole I'd rather have the dog around than not. But this task is one I can easily do without.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Back From Hiatus

I'm not going to be real detailed today, but I am going to post something The last two mornings, I have been busy with private communications, and haven't really had time or inclination to post on the blog. And my days have been full; between my job, home, Sabrina, family, and court, I felt like I worked a nine-day week in four days. And just because I don't work today, doesn't mean we haven't started already; the dog found it necessary to upchuck his entire breakfast just now, after getting me up two times during the night to go outside.
Lauren's daughter's birthday is soon, and the party is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow, so there was a lot of running around to do for that yesterday. I am going to meet my sponsor and my sponsee this morning; I am not letting go of my recovery for any reason, especially after some of the events in the area recently. More will be revealed on this subject, too, as time passes, but for now, suffice it to say that a lot of change is imminent, and it can't be recalled or infinitely postponed.
But at least I do not have to work until Sunday, and even that will be a half-day. The financial drain has stabilized, and will only improve from here on outward, as well. The storm has been steady, fierce at times, but for me at least, it is passing.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Starting To Re-energize

Last night, I went to the one meeting I've been going to every week, and as it turned out it was a group conscience night, and I stuck around for that, too. The meeting had far more people at it than I expected, but since there was another drug-related death last week that hit very close to home for many of the core group that attends the meeting, I wasn't really surprised. In fact, I was encouraged; if you're going to be heartbroken, you might as well be talking about it at a meeting. It's ninety more minutes of a safe place for people who have never handled emotional crisis well.
Group conscience also shone a light onto my own conscience, too. There was a short debate about finances. A guy who should know better was bemoaning the fact that the collection only netted $10 despite a crowd of 25; when only three people there have even one black keytag, there isn't a lot of spare income to be found, and not everyone there is totally convinced that they are part of the recovery community yet. I've always found it fruitless to get uptight about financial support in the fellowship--but then, I think I was raised in a different tradition than others. Basically, from my very first home group, I learned by the example set by people like Aldo and Rich A., that those with experience and means ought to shoulder a larger share of the burden of opening the doors, that individual members of the group take care of things like cups, coffee, sugar, etc. Not everyone thinks that way, and there are reasons in support of both views. But that's the way I've believed, and acted, for nearly two decades. No meeting that draws twenty to thirty people a week and that counts eight home group members should fold because they can't make the rent--and as long as I belong to it, they're not going to fold.. That's just the way it is.
And I haven't felt that passionate about much of anything for a few months now. It was good to care again, to not be dominated by my own personal issues. And even those are improving; the conscious decision to both not be a dick and to be honest about how I feel led to a pretty good day yesterday around here. It's going to be all right, no matter what happens.
Or maybe it's just because the birthday passed and whatever unsaid and hidden expectations I had surrounding it passed. For whatever reason, it was nice to feel something other than resigned exhaustion and suppressed resentment when I went to bed last night. And I feel all right this morning, too.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Up And At 'Em Today

I finally feel physically right this morning. I have a full day at work ahead of me, but I'm OK with that; I am grateful to have a job that allows me to have my bills paid, even if there isn't a lot left over. But there's a bit of a spring in the step this morning. Addition by subtraction is a real thing, and when you make up your mind on something that's really been vexing you, it's not only freeing, it lightens your load and your mood. Things look brighter, and you can even look backwards and find a laugh or two among the grimaces. And to not be bound up in bitterness and repercussions and "you lied that time and this time and..." is new, and excellent.
Because I know I'm going to be all right. I know I did nothing to be ashamed of. I know that the things that led me to close the door are not unrealistic expectations. And I know that I am a better person than I was a few years ago, and even a few months ago, because of the way I committed myself to being a better person. I really thought I would be having a harder time than this. It turns out that all the angst and the reluctance to surrender to the obvious completely for the last month or so was the issue. And the final ability to surrender came in a way that I was surprised it took so long to figure out; rather than dwell on what I didn't like and trying to change it, I really really internalized the idea that "this is between two people who have legitimate wants and desires, I'm not getting a couple of the really important ones met, and it's been made quite clear that they're not going to be.There isn't any common ground on those issues, and it is what it is. Why be miserable?". That's really all there was to it; the old hope/denial line once again.
It's a little awkward, but at least through last night, it's not too bad. And even if it doesn't stay that way, I'm still in good space and at relative peace.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

On Turning Fifty-Four

I have a good friend who is almost always full of positive energy. He's forever posting cheery stuff on Facebook; he's well-known in the rooms for always bearing a positive message; he's into people like Wayne Dyer and generally makes a concerted effort to be sunny and happy all the time. The one time of year when he isn't, the one time of year that we his friends have learned to keep a close eye on him and stay in touch with him, is around his birthday. Several times over the years, he has gotten seriously depressed around his birthday, to the point where he has admitted thinking thoughts that would land him on serious medication if he was having them regularly. I used to wonder why he would put himself through that on what was an ostensibly happy occasion. Now I know.
I've never been much for birthdays, one way or the other. The only ones that I remember having any real meaning for me psychologically were eighteen (that was the drinking age at that time) and forty-five (was the first time I really felt like my youth was gone). Well, maybe that's not entirely true, because as I think back, I believe that a big reason why I let Nightmeredith so deeply into my heart at the time was that fifty was approaching, and it seemed like domestic affairs needed to be settled in some way at fifty.
If I only knew. Nightmeredith has been gone four years from my life and is three years into a relapse that isn't going to end well. And I'm years into a different mess that is only coming to an end now. And as this anniversary of my birth dawns, I think that finally, the mid-life crisis, if that's what it was, triggered all that time ago may finally be passing. It's one thing to be floundering emotionally at twenty-six; you've got lots of time to change and heal and get to a better place. It's not so good at this point in your life. It's getting a little awkward around here; I really haven't spoken a whole lot in three days because it is possible that the dam of acceptance holding back a lot of emotion is going to burst forth, if the right triggers are pulled. But mostly I just feel that the tank is empty, almost numb, and I just wish it was possible to make an immediate clean break and be done with it. It's clear that she has no real idea that the Rubicon has been crossed, and that I am in fact done. I suppose, with our history, she has reason to think that way, because I've been done with her before and always reneged. But I've never felt so calm, so matter-of-fact about it. I know I did my best; I know that, as far as can be told, she did, if not her best, much more than she was capable of a couple of years ago. But the gap is simply too wide to bridge. I've inched out as far as I can go without falling completely; I have to withdraw for my own safety.
And on top of it, I'm feeling physically lousy. I'm not sure if it's just a heavy cold, or if I actually have some kind of flu, but I have felt really bad for a couple of days now. I'm supposed to work this morning, and I'm glad I don't have to make the decision to go in for a couple of hours yet. I'm supposed to go out to eat with my mother and brother and Sabrina later today, and at this point I honestly do not feel like going. But I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, too.
So as this year of my life begins, I'm at more of a crossroads than at any time since I turned thirty-six--when I was a week away from coming home from the halfway house I was in with an infant daughter that I had yet to lay eyes on waiting for me. The enormity of the task ahead isn't quite as big as the enormity of the one at that time; even the dramatic side of me understands that, and I am taking solace in the fact that I've gotten through bigger trials than the one I'm facing. But that was literally a third of a lifetime ago, and I realize that I don't have the time that I used to have. The world around me has become harsher and more rigid. The margins for error are much smaller now, and the resources available to me to withdraw from should setbacks occur are nearly exhausted. And it is definitely affecting me. I've learned not to project too much ahead, and that when I do the right things, I can not only get through the inevitable pains, but can land in a place of, if not milk and honey, at least relative bliss.
But it's a daunting task that lays in front of me, and I just don't have the energy that I used to have. It's going to be a struggle, and while that struggle has been underway for some time, it is only going to intensify. And I'm not looking forward to it one bit.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

If Only...

Today is April 1. April Fools Day. I awoke, on the one day a week I can sleep in, to a text message from someone who never is up at 6:40 AM. And try as I might, I can't get back to sleep, so I might as well run with it... If only the last few days, weeks, and months were an April Fools joke. And I don't think I am alone in that sentiment.
From every level of government from national on down, there are fools, some of the ordinary variety, some of the evil and venal variety, in charge. People that I know, that I have talked to, that I have been friends with, are now dead in an epidemic that is chewing its way through our society like the plague blew through medieval Europe. On the eve of another birthday, I am coming closer and closer to the reality that my old age is going to be marked by extreme poverty, that I will have worked my entire life in a futile attempt to stay above water. My children are bravely trying to move forward in a world filled with obstacles and quicksand. While the relief of a bad relationship ending is still present, it does leave a void that I'm not sure can be filled, and that I'm not sure I want to be filled. I am coming to terms with the fact that my mother is coming to the end of her life span. My professional career seems to be stuck in neutral, and while it has its satisfying moments, it also features the concrete reality that most of what I do is applying Band-Aids to mortal wounds. And the things that have gotten me through these undercurrents for many years have grown progressively older and unsatisfying.
I know better than to think that some gigantic cosmic being is going to say, "Just kidding!" and everything is going to be all right. Maybe it will be. But it's sure hard to see it coming. I don't often give in to despair, and I'm not sure I'm feeling that down. I haven't completely given up hope. But it's getting harder and harder to believe that some day, the world won't be filled with barbarism, man's inhumanity to man, and rampant self-absorption.

Friday, March 31, 2017

An Early Birthday Present

If something can't go on, it won't. And after all the reboots, the trying, the chances, the commitments, the trying to find the willingness to work through, last night the long and winding road came to a dead end. I'm not angry, I'm not sad, I'm not even sure if I feel relief. I just know that I have nothing left to give. And after yet another provocation, after yet another demonstration of just how far apart our mindsets really are on some things, she left.
And I'm just fine with it. Although I can't be so lucky as to never have communication again, at least any lingering uncertainty has been dispensed with. I've seen a bunch of quotes this week having to do with self-respect and setting healthy boundaries, and in some ways I guess that was God telling me it was time--long past time. God's will usually isn't that hard to ascertain, and if you tend to overlook or ignore the smaller hints, eventually they get applied with more blunt-force tools.
The logistics are going to be somewhat complicated. But the emotional fire is out. It really is. The instafreeze happened last night, really for the first time with this one. There are tipping points, when something that has been precariously teetering gives way, and it will never be put together again. That's where I am. And although I am often prone to look backwards in situations like this, feel anger at the other party and self-loathing on mine, I'm not feeling that today. I know I did the very best I could, and beyond. Only she can tell you if she did the best she could, and whatever I suspect the answer to that question may be, it doesn't really matter in the end.
Relationships are between two people. And her half, at this point, doesn't matter. I'm withdrawing my half, and it's not going to be extended again. The door can't be closed completely just yet because the disentanglement of physical items is going to take some time. But emotionally, the door is locked. And the best thing is, as far as I am concerned, is that the final straw wasn't something I did. I've got a past, too, and I can remember how hard I used to work, how tenuous I would make connections, to pick a fight with my ex-wife to have a "reason" to do what I wanted to do. Now I know what my ex-wife must have felt like. And I understand a little bit better about why, when the marriage ended, why she was never tempted to look backward.