Tuesday night journaling in late January

OK. Going to try this again today since my earlier entry was a bit too personal and therefore needed to be marked private.

Keeping it simple, I’ll just say this. My worry over the “relapse” last Thursday wore down and I no longer am as concerned about seeking outside help, at least so far as AA is concerned. It’s not that difficult to keep the alcohol out of my mouth (having made it over 7 months since the last time I drank and am right back to leaving it alone again), and my knotted stomach days later continues alerting me that it felt abused. That was a glitch, a momentary bad idea that I take full responsibility for, and it had a bad outcome (that shouldn’t be too surprising). Certainly not as bad as it could’ve been, though, thank god. Not worth playing Russian roulette with it, as I full well know already. I’m going to chalk that up to one bad decision in 7.5 months of sobriety and simply carry on with my plan to keep alcohol out of my mouth. Might not always be easy, but it is simple.

If I feel the need to reach out for external help, I will do so. Nothing is off the table in that respect. But my fear has abated and I recognize the situation for what it was. It feels like a showdown with “the devil” because indeed that is essentially what it is. And so be it. Hanging out with a bunch of recovering alcoholics doesn’t sound like the smartest way to confront that problem though.

One reason being that I texted this guy I met a couple years ago who had a horrible drinking problem and finally went to AA (he preferred the atheist meeting that is held downtown) and got sober. Good for him. We talked about all of that back then, and then we lost contact over time. I reached out to him the other day, while I was lying around on my comfy sack trying to recover from Thursday’s shenanigans, to ask if he is still off the booze. Unfortunately the answer is no. Said he made it 19 months and however many days. Said he broke his ankle a few months back and wound up moving back to his hometown and is now back to drinking with no desire to quit again anytime soon. Hmm. That’s disappointing since that guy was a poster-child for someone who needs to lay off of alcohol. The stories he used to tell me were disturbing, and I witnessed enough firsthand from him, which is largely what ended our interacting. So…that’s a bummer. And that guy was avidly on board with AA back before.

Not saying AA doesn’t work, just noting another example where someone in that program returned to the drinking lifestyle. Not exactly wanting to subject myself to making friends with people who are going to fall off the bandwagon and return to boozing. Strikes me as counterproductive, like it would be better to instead meet people who don’t have drinking problems. Because I have no desire to return to that lifestyle. It’s frickin’ suicide in my view, and so many of the people who’ve succumbed to that way of life for many years are bound to return to it. I intend to be an exception, and will be. Unless (or until) I grow old and get cancer, then all bets are off.

It’s not a lifestyle for someone wishing to live and make productive use of their years on this planet. Leave it for the hospice cases.

Heard too much negative stuff about AA. Though I’m willing to read their literature online and acquaint myself more deeply with their ideas espoused. Just don’t think hanging around with a bunch of its members is the best gameplan for me personally. I’d rather go it alone primarily. Social support can come by way of friends and family.

The counselor lady I used to see and sent an email to over the weekend has yet to respond. So I’m starting to think she doesn’t work at that clinic any longer. Might look her up to see if she’s practicing elsewhere in town. If not, I may consider arranging a visit with a therapist who specializes in addictions, since it might be good to gain more insight from a professional perspective. Maybe. We’ll see.

I’m not one to trust the mental health field much, but that’s just me. My Papa licked this addiction on his own, as have plenty of others, so I know it can be done. It’s one day at a time regardless. But I have so much anger and frustration toward that time in my life and the barscene as a whole (and my idiocy within it) that it’s not tempting to return to. Thursday night was the result of a self-destructive impulse to block out other pain in my personal life, which didn’t do a damn bit of good and only left me feeling far worse afterward, as to be expected.

As for my personal life… Former has fully moved on to this new lady and has announced her as his girlfriend. I’ve given him my blessing on that when we spoke at length yesterday. Undeniably an odd and crazy dynamic between us two. But now he gets to move on in this new relationship, and I told him I’d prefer to hear fewer details in moving forward. Their personal business is and should be their own. He’ll have to turn to other friends for those types of conversations. Yes, I asked some questions, and now I’ve heard enough. We intend to remain in contact, though less frequently, and I plan to reduce that further as time goes on. Because I really need to care for myself right now, having already devoted the last 7 years to our chaos. I’m admittedly a little miffed about a couple things he cared to share last night that I thought were attempts to rub salt in my wound, plus he confessed to lying to me on one matter, which was irritating. What’s going on with him? I’m not entirely sure. But either way,  we’re headed in separate directions now. I wish him all the luck and want the best for him, and he says the same for me. And we will remain friends, albeit at a much further distance.

So, it’s been an interesting new year thus far in that respect. All of this was inevitable and I accept it. Is for the best. That man and I cannot communicate effectively with one another to save our lives, and that gets to become her problem now. Don’t mean that to sound bitter, but damn. I deserve to purge our drama out of my system, and so I am. Not feeling sad any longer, though I will undoubtedly continue missing him a bit since we spent so much time together. But it’s also a relief quite frankly. Been on this carousel long enough. Wayyy past feeling disoriented and nauseous. He’s not a bad person, nor am I; we just had a ton of problems and weren’t suited for one another romantically, as we began figuring out long ago. I look forward to experiencing less stress in the coming months, as I’m sure he does as well. Those two already have a vacation scheduled in the spring, so I’m sure she can keep him entertained over in her corner at least long enough for me to work this attachment out of my system in case they don’t work out and he gets to thinking he can come back to me until he meets the next one. Nope. No more of that will be tolerated. Hurts too much to deal with that yo-yo bullshit.

And then I basically blogged the same damn thing I marked private earlier. Ugh. Oh well. This has been my life. Won’t claim to be thrilled with all that’s been going on (actually quite the opposite), but there it is. I’m a little over half a year into giving up alcohol (aside from last week’s reckless outing), and then I got to start off this new year saying goodbyes to my ex-boyfriend whom I’ve gone through the longest breakup in recorded history with. Was a unique relationship, to say the least. But I am actually very glad that both of these phases in my life have come to an end and that now I am free to head elsewhere. It’s all an adjustment though. Was pretty sad for a couple weeks there, but c’est la vie. This is the best timing for this to occur, and we both knew this day would come eventually. He sounds very happy and excited, and she sounds like a decent person, so far as we know. So, good for him. And that’s that.

Turned my attention to cleaning some in my apartment today after work and resumed re-listening to Mark Manson’s audiobook The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. Didn’t make it to the gym this afternoon since my left foot still hurts, but soon enough. Later I began listening to Kevin Hart’s audiobook I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons while out at a little Chinese buffet that I enjoy.

Am supposed to bake brownies for my neighbors who are moving out on Thursday, which I may do later tonight once the dishwasher finishes up.

It will be quieter around here, but that’s okay. I need some time to myself right about now.

Dammit

Just got back in from work. Feel like absolute hell today. What a stupid thing to have done.

But it’s over now. Did it and reminded myself why it’s not worth it. Going to hunker in for the rest of the day and likely much of the weekend so I can get to feeling better. Poisoned my mind and body, and for what? Wanting to escape some other form of pain. Okay, well it didn’t work. Now it’s just pain multiplied inside.

Son of a bitch. Dallying with the devil once again. Wasn’t even interesting. Truly monotonous bullshit.

So there was my relapse. But it’s over now. I am severely disappointed in myself at present, as to be expected. But like my friend said earlier, I survived it and didn’t kill anybody else or do anything to get sued over. So it could’ve been worse. And it will be worse if I return down that road, I know that. Known that for a long while now. Just a matter of time.

Made myself feel more miserable is all. Helped nothing. Improved nothing.

It’s a bad habit, man. Tough to kick. Better to not even form it in the first place if it can be avoided. But here we are. The neural circuitry is already linked up for that habit, so cravings will be inevitable long into the future. Even when you make new habits to replace old ones, that still doesn’t undo the old links in your brain. They live on, just like never forgetting how to ride a bicycle. And they act up when we’re stressed, calling for us to reengage them. Just have to ignore it, which is admittedly easier said than done. But it has to happen. No good comes from caving to that crap.

I opted to go that route last night. I decided to do that. Knew it was a bad idea and did it anyway. Why? I don’t fully know. What’s the point in desiring to partake in a self-destructive activity with no benefit?

All is not lost. Just have to accept that this happened and resume the path I was on. Am pretty unhappy with myself right now, but that too shall pass. Ugh…

So anyway, back to one day at a time. Onward and hopefully upward.

Journaling Friday night in the new year

Just got off the phone with my best guyfriend. Love that guy. A true-blue friend to the end. Helped me put things back in a better perspective.

Life is a gift. Never guaranteed tomorrow. Reflecting on people whose lives have been cut short or who just are no longer with us. Imagining some of their circumstances and how their passing leaves their loved ones’ mourning. Definitely puts my own little ongoing “existential crisis” in proper perspective. I am a lucky human being. I live in America and have an apartment that’s pretty comfortable, a solid roof over my head without worries on how to pay the rent each month, have food in my belly regularly that tastes great, enjoy indoor plumbing and heating during these cold Midwestern winters. And I have awesome friends, real people who aren’t afraid to speak their minds and tell it like they see it while coming from a place of good faith. That’s a big blessing. Plus, I still have my Grandma.

Don’t even feel the need to cut the man down to feel better about where I’m standing right now. This was all inevitable, and we both knew that. And that’s fine. It is better this way, truly it is. I know this, and I also know I’m a lot stronger these days than I once was. Proof is in the pudding. I got this. Just had to mourn a bit, per my custom, but it’s all right. I’m feeling better tonight already. Thoughts like to roam and ruminate, that’s a given, and the stupid alcohol cravings like to pester me when stressed out. Drinking never fixed a damn thing, though, so no worries about falling in that trap again. Would be too disappointing to give in to that again — takes too much strength to keep trying to quit over and over. Once the line is cut, it’s best to leave it alone. SO VERY GRATEFUL that I quit drinking in 2017, allowing me to approach 2018 without that weighing me down and messing with my emotions and basically fueling the drama in my life. It’s a choice, but I am so glad that I made it and have stood by it.

It’s easy to get down on oneself and just focus on the negative, but sometimes I just have to pause and recognize my own accomplishments so as to make that sense of futility back the heck up. Doing better than I was 7 months ago. Doing better than I was in summer of 2016 when I took sabbatical in Mississippi, and even back 3 years ago. Learned a lot through that leg of the journey. Can’t fully regret it due to its lessons presented, even the really painful stuff. In a way, it’s all a blessing since it did provide valuable insight and new perspectives. Living and learning…

Stupid earworm of the week that I finally caved into and am listening to on YT currently:

That gem was Hall & Oates’ “She’s Gone.” Literally have been waking up to that song playing in my head for the last 4 days. LOL! How dumb. On one hand super-annoying, but also kinda funny since I do love that song but my brain is such a drama queen. That song just keeps circling through my mind this week, pestering the hell out of me, but tonight I find it delightfully goofy. Not sure if that part of my brain is trying to torment or amuse me, but it succeeded at both. Ha

A comment someone left that cracked me up:

If John Oates’ mustache couldn’t keep her from leaving, nothing could.

Gotta love the internet. 

Time for another tune.

One that it helps me to listen to occasionally is “Getting Better (All the Time)” by the Blind Boys of Alabama:

Just a beautiful, humbling song.

Gotta keep on keeping on. Onward and hopefully upward. Try to walk like a more upright human being, despite being a monkey who isn’t as evolved as imagined.

My compulsivity remains a challenge to continue wrestling with. And so be it.

Very lucky when the power of love touches our lives, even when it’s accompanied with pain. Probably can’t have one without the other.

Always have to return to that one.

I know I’ve got this. Truly am in a better space these days. Helps to reassure myself occasionally, versus just berating myself for not being where I think I ought to already be. Life is not a race.

Ben Harper’s “Where Could I Go”:

There’s no deal to be made with the dawn…

The truest truth.

But the verse that’s been on my mind again a lot lately is where he says:

They say freedom is just another place to hide

Something about that rings so true…

“Well Well Well” by Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama:

Excuse-making is something we’re really, really good at.

Switching gears, Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On”:

Tonight is kind of a rough night. My head hurts, lungs hurt, eyes hurt. I’m pretty emotional. But it’s going to be okay. Been down this road many times already with him and need to step on. Everything tells me so and has for a long time now. Only holding myself back at this point. Not even sure what the hell I’m afraid of anymore. Thought about all my supposed fears and I can see their irrationality. Amazing how seeing a problem really is only the first step and doesn’t remedy it much, but c’est la vie. Some say seeing is half the battle. But I have been inching into the future and made a good bit of progress already, so it’s not likely we’re stepping up from rock bottom. Attachments are hard to let go of, but it can’t be helped. Severance is necessary. Besides, he said and did enough bullshit himself, and I really don’t need that anymore. We’re not bad people, but we are on such different tracks. And at the end of the day it’s not even really about him. He’s just been made the focal point over time. This is my own journey, and I have a responsibility to myself to take better care of me, including cutting ties that wind up perpetuating pain and stifling personal growth. The back and forth and repeated game changes and general drama have run their course. There’s no going back to that. Not even if invited once again. It’s no good for anybody involved. And now I really need to be the one strong enough to keep walking. Keep caring but maintain distance. Return to my own life without him playing a central role within it. Can’t focus on my own shit when we’re hanging around with one another. Way too distracting with no positive end in sight. We know this.

The jealousy will pass. And I’ll try to keep busier during the evening hours so that I don’t concentrate on him being out with the new woman. He needs to move on, and hopefully he stays safe in doing so. But I don’t like being lied to, and I’m so sick of our drama. He riles me the hell up, and it never changes. Says stuff that just drops my jaw sometimes, but whatever. That’s his life to manage and navigate. I don’t want to stand too close to it anymore.

On the upside, I did demonstrate that I could quit drinking while still hanging around a heavy drinker. Dawned on me that people say not to do that probably because it can be so difficult, but I did it and it was easier than even I expected. Because I am truly wanting to be completely done with that lifestyle. Of course he’ll remain in it, and a part of me does get jealous of that, even though I’ve come to loathe the barscene. Part of me gets to feeling like I’m being left out, like that life is moving on without me. But that’s such a dumb thought. I’m moving on, regardless of what it or they are doing. Sure, it used to be fun at times, but I’ve paid my dues on the downside of what comes out of it too and don’t want it anymore. That may be his life, but it’s not mine nowadays, and I need to find new directions to turn my attention. Sitting around toying with the internet isn’t enough, and I really need to get out more. To where? I don’t yet know. Maybe just go on walks when it’s not too icy.

Feel like I just need to take care of myself right now. The last 7 years have been a really tumultuous ride that I want off of. But at the same time, it’s disorienting for that ride to halt so abruptly. It’s done it before and it’s always jarring. But oh well. Let this be the last time.

Too much solitude does make me nervous. And that’s the fear I have to confront.

“Jordan Peterson – How To Stop Being Lazy & Progress In Life”

Re listening to this again today:

Sticking by the devil you know out of fear of dealing with the devil you don’t yet know…so true. Not that either parties involved are necessarily devils through and through, but we can and do get comfortable in our routines, however painful and stifling they may actually be. As I have and am now embarking away from, once again. This time it MUST stick. Simply must. What was has been outgrown and this clearly understood by now. It’s amazing the sense of loss though, even when you know it’s for the best in the long run. Very easy to cling to that which we know already, even as it keeps us feeling rather miserable.

It does boil down mostly to fear of the future. Fear of the unknown, as Dr. Peterson spoke of. Fear of getting one’s act together and standing on your own two feet also. Fear of failure, though we’re failing already when we insist on remaining within a cocoon that no longer fits. The lessons have already been learned here, so why stay? To forever remind one another of past mistakes and hinder future growth? Because that’s all that winds up happening after a while.

I do get, just as I’ve gotten it previously. But it’s obviously not what I preferred to hear. Stubborn resistance born out of nervousness and the desire for the comfort of familiarity. The desire to stay hidden as well. Why? Who knows? Probably just the human condition be geared that way, right or wrong. People and relationships can come to serve as wombs for us, but if we stay too long we wind up regressing. No question about that.

Been down this road many times now and just need to stay on it and not give in to temptation to relapse back to past comforts. Managed to quit drinking about 7 months ago and have been altering my lifestyle overall in recent years, so this is just another step along the way. And it’s one I can manage just the same. No real choice in the matter anymore. And I have been excited now, just as in previous times when arriving at this same impasse, to go forward into the future so as to explore and grow. It’s scary in a way, but it’s also exhilarating imagining the possibilities. Won’t be a rose garden (life never is), but it holds more promise than what I’ve been cocooned within the last 7 years. Change is always painful — no way around that fact of life. But it’s not so bad. It’s going to be okay.

A new dawn, a new year (first journaling update for 2018)

Well, here we are in a new year. Welcome to it. Can’t complain thus far. Had a nice NYE with Former where he cooked us a very nice meal (beef tenderloins wrapped in bacon, baked potatoes, button mushrooms, and fettuccine alfredo) and we watched the movie “The Running Man” until around the halfway point when I fell asleep. Was absolutely nothing like the book, for the record. Different storyline, the main character was completely altered as if the role were adapted for Arnold Schwarzenegger to show off his Rambo-wannabe persona. Planning to finish watching the film before the week is up, just to see how it ends. The book was great, but this movie so far is a piss-poor adaptation.

Woke up on New Year’s Day to dessert in bed (chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream). Pleasant start to a new year.

Today I took myself to the local theater to see the movie “All the Money in the World” starring Mark Wahlberg. Ate a bunch of buttered popcorn, which was my primary reason for stopping in, having never heard of that movie before. Was a pretty good flick. Decent anyway.

And I made it through my favorite holiday without toasting wine to the new year. Decided to avoid all temptation and not go out on the town that night. And I’m glad. Nice to not have my progress wrecked by one night of foolery. So, 6.5 months and counting is where I stand currently in quitting drinking. That’s really good.

Ran out of audiobooks for December and my Audible subscription doesn’t renew until Jan. 7th, so I began re-listening to previously purchased books: Carl Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul and now Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is the Enemy.

Did a little shopping at Sally’s Beauty Supply earlier with my Christmas gift card and selected new hair dye from a brand I’m unfamiliar with. Eventually we’ll see how that turns out. Decided to bleach streaks in my hair last month that wound up being a bit choppier than I’d hoped, which I then covered with a demi-permanent black cherry shade that I kind of like. But it’s nearing time to move on to a new permanent dye, preferably one similar in color. If all goes to hell I can always dye my head back to black. It’s fun to play with beauty products and usually my experiments turn out fine enough.

On another random beauty-related note, I tried out the “jelly sandwich” technique on my nails using jelly polish concocted by mixing a few drops of a dark blue polish with half a bottle of Seche Vite top coat that I had been planning to toss, layering a cheap blue and silver glitter polish in between coats. Turned out quite pretty and has me looking forward to future “jelly sandwich” attempts with other shades.

What else? Delivered most of the treats I had planned, though I should make one more batch to deliver to a few more folks on Friday. Thinking peanut butter cookies with hershey kisses as well as Ghirardelli double chocolate brownies. Tomorrow already promises to be a long day, followed by more baking.

So basically easy-going over here. Chatted with my best girlfriend tonight and got caught up on gossip. Rarely does she find time for lengthy conversations since she has kids and a busy schedule, but the stars aligned for an hour-long chat today, which was nice. Normally it’s 15 minutes here or there while waiting for the kids to get out of school or when she’s out picking up food for the family. More hectic of a lifestyle than I’d care to contend with, but it works for her.

Yeah, pretty simple week thus far. Cold as Hades here, but hopefully it will begin warming up some this weekend. Oh, and I got the great idea that I ought to challenge myself to lose 10 lbs. by Valentine’s Day so as to keep from becoming a total sloth this winter like I did last year. Hate heading to the gym when snow is on the ground, so I need to start working out at home. Already am aware of HIIT workout videos freely available on youtube and really ought to exercise along with them. Really seriously need to. Because I fell off the low-carb bandwagon in November and am struggling to get back on there and need cardio to help balance me out. Improves the mood too, which is necessary during winter months when sunlight is in shorter supply. Will continue trying to coerce myself into going along with this scheme…

Ear worm that won’t leave me alone this week:

That was “These Eyes” by The Guess Who. Never realized they were a Canadian band before now.

Overall a nice Christmas

Was a pretty relaxing day. Didn’t have as much work as in years prior, which was actually kind of nice. Had dinner with my best guyfriend and his mom on Christmas Eve, then later met up with Former for our present exchange. Then today I mostly bummed around the apartment, aside from roaming around Walgreen’s cosmetics section for a while earlier in the afternoon.

Received all sorts of goodies this year, including a few gift certificates/cards.    My uncle and aunt sent this cool electric fleece-lined throw blanket that I’ve been sleeping with (and which my cat has fallen in love with). They also sent along this super tasty chex mix with chocolates and pretzels and nuts in it. As well as some little slipper booties to wear around the apartment, which are always appreciated since it gets pretty darn cold in here in January and February. And I also received thick socks from a few people, as are always needed. Former went on a shopping spree this year and picked up everything he’s heard me talk about in recent months, from silicone baking sheets to sweatpants to straws (I have trouble finding ones that don’t bend, ha) to a comfy lounging sweater to socks to a pack of ankle wraps to a speed loader for my pistol to his customary box of chocolates, plus gift cards to two stores and a gift certificate to get a manicure and pedicure at the local Asian-owned salon that I like best. Very sweet of him.    I only feel bad that I didn’t buy him more fun stuff, focusing mostly on the things he needs like bunches of socks and a few pairs of warm thermal underwear and a new bread knife and another Martha Stewart cookbook (he’s a big fan of her work).

So he spent the day wrapping presents before heading to dinner with his family and I chilled here at my apartment and puttered around online mostly. Enjoyed the leftovers my buddy sent me home with yesterday. Tasty ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, his mom’s corn casserole, with slices of pear and chocolate cake for dessert.

Chatted with my Grandma again briefly earlier today on the phone. Messaged a few friends and my uncle and cousin. Don’t have any work scheduled for tomorrow so I’ll likely be bumming around the apartment some more, aside from heading to the grocery store (in need of more seltzer water — forgot to stock up for the holidays).

Not sure what will be planned for New Year’s Eve just yet. Maybe a dinner out. Maybe a night in. We’ll see.

All in all, it was a pleasant Christmas. The neighbors even knocked off their fighting, which was nice since I can hear them plain as day through my bathroom walls. Wanted to drop off some treats to a couple neighbors but that can wait. The rest of my gift-giving will be for the new year.

Even heard from a buddy I haven’t seen in quite a while. One of the downsides of staying away from bars is we never run into one another anymore, and he moved to a new house that I’ve yet to visit. Will respond to him tomorrow. Been missing his company too, but such is the way things go when my lifestyle changed. Maybe one of these days I’ll head over to see his new place and catch up.

Back to watching youtube videos now.

Christmas Eve drama

Currently in the process of getting ready to head out, having baked some brownies last night I intend to share with a lady friend of mine, with plans to go over to my best guyfriend’s place to have dinner with him and his mom. But while sitting here in my livingroom right now I’m listening to the neighbors upstairs fighting, as they’ve been doing frequently in recent days. Sometimes it’s the man and woman, but this time it’s the man yelling at a little boy. Kind of unsettling. I try to give neighbors the benefit of the doubt since we all have our moments and get into loud arguments at times. Never called the police on any of them over it and am glad none have done so on me either over the years (though I’m much quieter these days). But still. It’s more difficult to tune out when a kid is crying on and on and on. Went upstairs and listened in the hallway a few minutes ago to try to find out how bad the fight is, but I can hear them more clearly through my own bathroom walls. Puts a damper on the holidays when these fights keep erupting over and over again.

But you have to be careful about approaching people over that sort of thing. Never know what all is going on on the other side of that door. And sometimes it just sounds worse than it actually is. Overreacting helps nobody. One time several years ago a young couple were living up there and fighting so loudly to where I did wind up banging on the door with my stun gun in tow. They were scaring the shit out of me with the way she was screaming. Turned out to not be that bad of a scene despite her dramatic screams, and they later apologized to me and kept the noise down after that. And I told them that I just cannot tune out the sounds of a woman screaming like that. Hurts the soul to try to do so. And they understood and rectified the situation and we all were cool after that.

But this family I’ve already had issues with since their kids were throwing boxes of lit matches out the window a few months back, pissing off a bunch of us neighbors who’d prefer the place not be burnt down. And the mother blew her top at everybody when we confronted her about it, immediately denying her kids had done anything wrong or been left unattended. Pure bullshit, yes. And she tried getting in the face of a man who lives downstairs, creating a very tense situation that took his girlfriend intervening to deescalate. Shouldn’t have gone that far, but that’s how people can be around here. Hence why I don’t knock on doors unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary, which is extremely rarely.

The landlord knows and just tells us to call the police. But most of us here prefer not to involve the police in our business unless it’s an emergency. Best to know what all is going on before calling them since they’re not there to mediate our personal affairs and someone might wind up going to jail even if it’s not fully warranted. So…there’s always that consideration.

They seem to be piping down now. That’s good. Just makes me nervous is all.

Sunday morning thoughts on that which we call God and the formation of hell on earth

A thought keeps returning to me lately. When in the Christian bible it is said that the meek shall inherit the earth, perhaps what that really means is that lower lifeforms will inherit the earth. Think plants, protozoans, and prokaryotes. (Or, thanks to human ingenuity, perhaps even nanotechnology.) The smallest of the organisms. That would make sense, when you really stop and think about it, considering how the cellular level always adapts and eventually triumphs over whatever we attempt. The microscopic evolve much faster than we do, putting us and other higher life forms at an ongoing disadvantage, with no end in sight.

Also, consider the scripture where it was said that lions will someday lay down with the lambs. Maybe by that what is really meant is that lions and lambs (e.g., higher-level lifeforms) will both succumb to death, as in going extinct as species. Just a thought…

Seems to me life is crazier than we can imagine and that it’s so obviously not constructed to cater to our human whims and wishes.

Was just listening to a youtuber Christian that I turn to from time to time to hear his commentary on current events. Today he was complaining bitterly about how stupid we human beings have become, how our civilization project has led us to become weak and incompetent, comparing us to modern farmed chickens and how far from natural they’ve strayed. What he’s pointing at there is domestication, and yes, we humans are subject to this as well, as should be apparent by now. Does it make us lazy and stupid? Yes. We too are far from natural in nearly every sense, having forgotten in a few generation’s time how to provide even the basics for our own survival. I’ve bitched about this plenty over time as well, noting how most of us nowadays only know how to wave around money, not create things of actual productive value. Sure, modern economics is largely to blame for bringing us to this point, and overpopulation, popular socialization, and increasing technological dependence will keep us here. Is this trend going to lead to human extinction? Perhaps. But such concerns no longer bother me much anymore. C’est la vie. Special as we are, we’re not above Nature. Though undoubtedly a few of us will brave the storm and survive on in the future dark ages. Maybe. Or maybe not, depending on the disaster(s) that befalls us.

I can understand people getting riled up over these topics, angry that we humans can’t seem to change course. But at the same time I also try to accept that we’re not as smart as we like to think, or at least we’re not as quickly adaptive due to our mega social/cultural/political/economic systems currently in place. The individual maintains more flexibility than the collective, yet we’re all absorbed in a major collective scheme at this point in time, whether we like it or not. Indeed, we will go down with this ship when the time comes because there is no alternative for most of us. I accept this and reckon I would be one of the first to go down when that day comes, assuming it’s a big catastrophic event rather than a lengthy decline (the latter seeming more plausible). Is what it is. I, for one, am thoroughly dependent on modern conveniences and technologies and can’t barely imagine life outside of them. Being subject to the elements directly and learning to hunt and gather when modern weaponry have run out of available ammunition strikes me as entirely daunting and best left to the survivalist types who train for such scenarios.

This is the downside of domestication. We grow increasingly dependent on the Systems humans have constructed. We know this, and yet some become very depressed when contemplating this reality. I used to as well, but then I came to see that that’s my expectations acting up. Rose gardens were never in the trajectory, much as we love to envision a utopian future. It’s just not realistic. Especially when you consider who are attracted to wielding such power over and within these Systems and how they tend to get there (hint: not through truly democratic voting into office).

Personally, I don’t wish to see the future past a certain point. Wouldn’t know what to do with it. Continually reconfirms my decision to not have children, having no way to prepare them for what’s to come. Just trying to imagine what 20-30 years into the future will hold is mind-boggling enough, based on my readings of where technologies are heading. Where others see possibilities and easier living, I see enhanced domestication and surveillance. That in no way warms my heart or makes me hopeful for my species, though I do aim to maintain an open mind since I have no way of truly knowing how it will all shake out in the end. Maybe we will get lucky and knock ourselves back into a stone age, that seeming to me to be a better alternative than winding up within intensely technologically-advanced totalitarian societies. The future looks very dystopian to me and has for a lot of years now, try as I might to imagine things working out more in the people’s favor.

Hence why I can’t stand these gender-bent movements and racial movements and other ideological oddities intent on separating us from one another. Just creates more suffering in the meantime, and very little of what they have to say is actually relevant in the big picture. Not really. Just keeps us blaming one another while our ship rocks and threatens to sink, as if that will change a thing for the better. Even our stupid political divides have come to look like nonsense to me over time. Corporate-backed teams with more in common than not, parading as if competing in our media circus. Just another smokescreen, another illusion that we all-too-willingly buy into.

So I guess when I think about these things nowadays, I’m overcome with the thought that we should probably make life easier on one another in the interim. Maybe quit paving the way to hell in our own individual fashions so far as we’re able. Cease blaming others who weren’t alive when the ball first began rolling and who individually have no more power than we do to stop it. Guess I’m taking more of a hospice outlook on life at this point, though I understand that simply making ourselves more comfortable isn’t necessarily the best idea either. But screaming profanities at one another constantly and casting blame wholesale and telling others to get off the planet certainly isn’t helping anything. Much as I don’t like the notion of coddling our illusions, I also take issue with the idea of stripping them from people and leaving them with nothing to believe in. Seems the latter will prove to be a more dangerous tactic, leading more into nihilism and a sense of despair and futility, which will only further paralyze people. That doesn’t sound like the right thing to do.

As I was talking about with a couple friends lately, everywhere I’ve explored has eventually wound me up at the same place, which is to go to God. And by that I do not mean religion, though I’m not exactly sure what it does mean. That’s just the feeling inside my heart and head more and more these days. Like this is too big for any one of us to comprehend and to take on, and perhaps we’d be better off giving one another reasons to maintain faith in humanity and that which is good and proper and reliable, rather than tearing it all down and leaving people with nothing to believe in. This is an intensely personal and emotional topic for me and not one that I typically care to speak about with others outside of my closest people, so I won’t run on much about it here. It’s just a recurring thought, a pull in a direction that I’m not yet able to fully grasp the meaning of but recognize it as significant. That which I call God isn’t what religions have taught about, though past people tried to point toward it to the best of their limited abilities. It’s incomprehensible in a way, yet very meaningful in Its reminder that life follows a “plan” we can’t control and dominate, try as we might. Perhaps referring to it as life’s “flow” is more accurate, though we tend to conceive of it as if it is a plan since we can note that its workings indeed do appear to have some sort of rhyme or reason. Just not in line with our human melodrama, which then perplexes us. I won’t pretend to understand It, and I certainly won’t attempt to articulate my thoughts about It beyond what I’ve said already since I’m not the one to attempt to do so. And that’s fine. Striving for a personal understanding is all one really can ever hope for, considering we can’t help but experience this life through our own subjective lenses.

As someone who hasn’t been religiously affiliated in over 20 years now, I admit that it feels a little weird to keep feeling this pull toward that which is greater than us, not knowing how to describe it or what it all may mean. Atheists and skeptics would look upon someone like me and say that I’ve grown scared enough that I’m just grasping for straws at this point, when in reality I’ve actually grown calmer through this process of exploration. I was far more scared in years past, back before I began to release my expectations and try to accept life simply for what it is, good, bad and ugly alike. That transition maybe was brought about originally through fear and fatigue from fretting, but I didn’t go searching for it so much as it just crept up on me over time. And I don’t know why or how or what any of it means, but I’m willing to listen to It and accept not having answers. Because there’s nowhere else to go, quite literally. So maybe it is some sort of figment of my imagination — that’s always possible. But perhaps it’s a useful one, far more so than all this bickering and team-joining and politicking and expecting humanity to find its way out of our myriad conundrums. I don’t think we can, not in the foreseeable future. And I do believe there are people poised and ready to take full advantage of whatever power grabs become available, because that’s part of human nature to do so. We’re not a good species, but we’re not entirely a bad species either. We just are what we are, complicated as that can’t help but be. Shortsighted and tribal, power-hungry and nepotistic, sometimes charitable but also unavoidably naive…and on and on it goes.

Seems to me there’s no good reason to loathe one’s own species, especially considering none of us are immune to its foibles and fallibility. This is who we are, right and wrong, and it’s what we have to work with. So many seek power over others, believing that to be supremely meaningful, but really it’s learning to exercise power over oneself that’s especially tricky. We’re not too good at that. Domestication may be partly to blame today, but this problem follows us back to the very beginning of human origins. It’s the perennial conundrum that most of us don’t even begin recognizing the importance of until we’re more than a couple decades into living and will struggle with for the rest of our lives. It’s certainly easier to deflect outward, to blame those over there for our problems, even those at the top, but really we’ve all been complicit in the games we play in this life. Whether we initially meant to be or not, we became so and remain so even after we start becoming aware of what’s going on. No political party or laws on the book can rectify this matter for us. It’s an innate flaw within us — just part of living as sentient life who are always growing and exploring and learning. Can’t be helped and can’t be altogether changed. So no, there is no utopian on the horizon, just more human errors in judgment and striving for power and popularity and playing of the games as have been set before us by previous generations. Plus more technological prowess that many of us don’t fully understand and that most of us will not be able to control.

And on and on it goes. Sometimes it feels very daunting to take in, but other times I feel relatively at peace about it, sad as it can’t help but make me. Am I still scared of the future? Sure. How could you not be if you’re really looking into what’s being developed and what ideologies are growing in strength and numbers? I worry a lot for my loved ones, but I take some solace in the fact that our lives will only last so long. Some say that’s pessimistic thinking on my part, but what really strikes me as pessimistic would be if we were designed to live 150 years or more. That sounds like hell on earth. Which gets me thinking about the reason why I lost my religion in the first place as a young teen: I couldn’t believe in infinite suffering in hell. That’s what broke me out of that faith originally, finding no answers to that question. And since then I’ve come to understand at least that hell is something we humans can create on earth, and I can’t help but believe that in the future we will construct a greater hell than has ever been known before. That’s not what I’d like to believe, but all signs keep pointing in that direction. Why? Because our good intentions don’t tend to jibe with reality, as has been proven time and time again, yet technologies can and will allow for the formation of far more invasive ways of life. And many people will embrace them, believing the hype and accepting the rhetoric claiming that these technologies will aid us in reducing waste and saving the planet/climate and becoming evermore efficient as societies and within corporations. People will believe it because they wish to, going back to that naivete mentioned earlier. And people will gnash their teeth and people like myself, calling us fear-mongerers and luddites and pessimists for not gleefully being on board. To which I say: we’ll inherit the life we deserve. So be it. We do not understand freedom and have shown nearly a fearfulness of it and the responsibilities it requires of us to maintain it. That much is clear by now. So we will get what we help bring about. Right or wrong.

I’m just grateful that life isn’t too long. Allows us to appreciate what time we do have and what people we’re lucky to know while alive. I can grieve for my country and my species in general, but it will change nothing. We’re an interesting lot, if nothing else. Life is indeed fascinating and mysterious, and I look forward to observing it continuing to unfold during my lifetime. I try to tell myself not to be afraid, that it’s just life and this is how it can go. That no suffering can go on indefinitely (though some torturers have demonstrated to the public that it certainly can go on far longer than one can sanely endure — hence our capacity for evil). Feels like a game of whack-a-mole sometimes where the objective for the average layperson is to not get shut up in a box somewhere, whether by a government entity or a crazed stranger or even in an abstract, ideological sense whereby the box is fictitious yet we treat it as if it’s real and keep ourselves within its parameters out of fear and/or obedience.

Life is crazy, life is mad. And it always will be, that much is guaranteed. But with the notion of God comes Love, and I think that’s of infinite importance right about now. Others in the distant past have said it’s true, but reality keeps demonstrating just how true it really is. But then again, that topic perplexes me too, so I continue to grapple with it, not comprehending what it’s even asking of me. Not known for being a very forgiving person myself, so I’m likely very limited in my understanding of what that all may mean. But I will continue to explore it, feeling that it’s very important and deserving of our dedicated attention and contemplation.

Makes me feel very humble reckoning with all this stuff, feeling like a little animal who’s just not competent to make sense of so much in this life. It can be very overwhelming, undeniably so. But I’m trying not to be paralyzed by reality so that I may participate in a more meaningful and productive fashion. However successful I prove to be at that is yet to be seen. My prayer today for all of us is that we be willing to reckon with all sorts of unknowns, particularly those which contemporary “wisdom” deems as off-limits, irrational, or otherwise heretical. I believe it will be good for us to do so, albeit difficult as well.

Mid-December update

Been holed up over here, not interacting much online this week before tonight. Got busy with Christmas shopping (nearly all of which is completed now) and otherwise laying low. Had a good bit on my mind lately and am keeping much of it to myself. Recorded a few videos back in November and early December that I’ve yet to edit and upload. May get around to it eventually. Especially since I’ve now hit the 6-month mark in quitting drinking. Yay me. Though I haven’t missed it much, nor the bar patrons I used to waste time with. Cravings still come and go, as they perhaps always will, but nothing overwhelming.

Haven’t been to the gym this entire past week. Was pretty darn cold out, so I got lazy after finishing work. Plus my knees are strained. And the left ankle’s weak again. Maybe it’s developing arthritis…

Took my car into to Sears auto shop last week and it wound up taking them over 2.5 hours to just put my snow tires on, even with the appointment booked days in advance and me standing around waiting with a friend to get my car back. That shop’s gone to hell. After they messed up my car’s rack during a previous unrelated job, I no longer trust them to do anything more than mount my tires, and they can barely even do that right, come to find out. Probably should re-tighten my lugnuts just to be on the safe side.

That’s been my main gripe lately. Otherwise I had been in a pretty decent mood. Kind of unusual for Christmas time, having not been in the spirit the last several years. Though now that I’m feeling somewhat chipper I’ve noticed that practically everybody else out roaming around town seem to be pissed off. Bunch of grumps in the grocery store, at Target, in traffic, at the UPS store, etc. To that I say that folks should take a break off of celebrating the holidays then. We’re not mandated to do so. If it stresses you out so severely, then say to hell with it for a year or two. Maybe only sends cards for a change. Doesn’t make much sense to wear ourselves ragged over a holiday, especially since it’s become little more than a commercial ploy these days.

Audiobooks that I’ve been listening to lately are Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (as already mentioned elsewhere on this blog); The Quest For Cosmic Justice by Thomas Sowell (HIGHLY recommend that one!); The Running Man by Stephen King; three books in Lois McMasters Bujold’s Vorkosigan series: Shards of Honor, Barrayar, and The Warrior’s Apprentice; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (narrated by Alison Larkin — she sounded like a chipmunk, causing me to miss nearly every third word, but I’d already listened to the story long ago — not sure why I felt the desire to re-listen to this); The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains by Robert H. Lustig; Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday; and currently I am listening to Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman (and loving it — would definitely recommend it to others, though I doubt most people I know could sit through it since its information is rather alarming for those unfamiliar with current technological threats and those on the horizon — think “internet of things”).

What else? Purchased a bunch of baking supplies and am planning to share brownies and cookies with some of my clients and friends this season. Been putting together little treat bags for some special animals in my life. Finally ordered Grandma some cookies Saturday morning (with free shipping — woohoo! Having already spent over $50 at UPS this week.). Bought lots of thick, warm socks since those are always needed in the winter. Pretty pricey too.

Cooked myself keto “mac” and cheese three days ago and have been enjoying the leftovers. Basically broccoli and cauliflower with a homemade cheese sauce, and I also poached some chicken tenders to add to the mix. Plus a side of roasted brussels sprouts. All very tasty. After two weeks of carb bingeing I figured this meal was in order. Continue reading

Book of interest: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” (my thoughts)

Today I began listening to the audiobook Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance and am currently on chapter 10, putting it on pause until tomorrow. Definitely speaks to my own spirit and life experiences, both directly and indirectly among people I knew.

To begin with, rarely have I heard of anybody else referring to a Memaw and Peppa. That’s what my stepdad’s parents were known as too. Memaw Allen we called her, and Peppa Pete we called him. Weird to write down those names now since I’ve long since switched to referred to them as simply Mr. and Mrs. Allen, having effectively divorced myself from accepting them as kin since back in my teenage years.

J.D. Vance’s description of his Appalachian Kentucky-rooted family shares similarities with what I’m familiar with in my section of the Deep South, though notable differences as well. Enough similarities though that his story really is resonating with me, reminding me very much of various family members, particularly my Papa (my maternal grandpa, not to be confused with Pepa Pete mentioned prior). Though I’d say that my own people tend to be a bit more conservative both in mannerism and political affiliation, as well as religious involvement. Interesting to observe the overlap between our two camps, not that it should be too surprising considering we share historical ethnic heritages (Scottish primarily). His people and my people came originally from the same regions of the United Kingdom at roughly the same time, belonging to the same socioeconomic class as well. Some went to Appalachia whereas others populated deeper parts of the South. The rowdiness he described there among his people is reminiscent of that which was described by Dr. Thomas Sowell in his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals, which also resonated with me. But the differences are worth noting here. He spoke of his people being Christian yet rarely attending church services, whereas many of my people remain lifelong active in their churches. He tells of his people voting Democrat because they were union folks and associated that political party with being for the working men, while my people viewed the Conservative political party as more beneficial for the working class, if only because they viewed government encroachment on their lives as doing more harm than good more often than not. Though I can see the commonality in the underlying political sentiments despite our camps belonging on opposite sides of the political divide, most markedly in their distrust of getting the Law involved in their personal affairs and vying to align themselves with the political party least likely to screw them and theirs over (though it appears we’ve all failed in that regard, both political parties demonstrating over time that they don’t give much of a damn about the working class aside from paying lip service to gain votes).

Parts of the book struck me as very funny, particularly when he described his grandparents hillbilly ways and inability (and/or unwillingness) to adjust to the established middle class norms and expectations in Ohio where they migrated to in search of jobs and an escape from Appalachian poverty. My Papa shared a lot in common with his people, from the gruff talk to the gun-toting, as well as the years of drinking and the damage that did to his family. But also the defiant pride and desire for your children and grandchildren to go to college so as not to have to work in laboring jobs like he and others in his generation had to. So much Vance said on all of that had me tripping down memory lane about my home county in Mississippi and various family members and neighbors. But we’re not hillbillies since we never resided in hill country — we were rednecks. Though I suppose to outside onlookers we all appeared to simply be “white trash” (a pejorative I do not like or accept being applied to my people).

Our stories differed in important ways, such as my mother thankfully not subjecting us to a carousel of husbands and boyfriends (to which I give credit to my stepdad for working with her as much as he did expressly to ensure that did not happen). And my mother never became a drinker nor a drug user (prescription or otherwise). Was just crazy in her own right, though not necessarily in a uniquely Southern/redneck fashion (we speculate it being due to brain damage likely experienced early in life during a car accident). But I knew those kind of people too. And I also wound up being raised largely by my grandparents and proved better off as a result thanks to the stability that offered. I also grew up hearing rough stories of violence and abuse, including episodes between my grandparents back when Papa was drinking. I can also understand the feistiness  among women that he described, though my own female family members tended to be a little more reserved about it than his. Among my people it was less acceptable for women to smoke and drink and curse like the men did, though some did anyway (myself included). And even among the men it wasn’t viewed as positive attributes to do so, the only exception being when they channeled their aggressive tendencies in the service for protecting the family. There is especially where I saw the women behave like junkyard dogs themselves, because all bets are off when it comes to defending one’s own. It’s a matter of pride and protecting, checking disloyalty and disrespect. And yes, it can go too far and wind up creating total chaos in some circumstances, which I myself have had to discover the hard way in my own behavior and reactions.

Perhaps that’s the biggest difference I noted there between our camps of people: self-control. Not that mine are terrific at maintaining self-control, but it’s definitely prized among them in many social situations. Because they deem it necessary for moving up in this world, though they too expressed feeling conflicted about it when it came to accepting poor treatment from others. There’s an underlying resentment toward those who look down upon you, who see you as nothing more than a member of a downtrodden class not worth much and treat you accordingly, leading to the manifestation of a great deal of class-related distrust (which I too continue to struggle with). On one hand they want you to do well in school so as to have greater opportunities, but on the other they don’t want you to get “too big for your britches” and forget where you come from and who helped you along the way. It does create a bit of cognitive dissonance within us to come up with so many contradictory messages. Want your daughter to marry well but then resent the man she does marry because he’s some highfalutin academic who doesn’t really with the rest of the family. Kind of sets up a no-win situation in a way. But that’s the way it goes. Probably has something to do with why I prefer to date working-class men — feels like there’s too much of a social divide between myself and my people and folks of middle-class origins for a romantic partnership to likely prove workable long-term.

In chapter 7 where J.D. Vance spoke of his Pepa dying, it really pulled at my heart strings. Especially when he stated that his Pepa died on a Tuesday and how that Lynyrd Skynyrd song “Tuesday’s Gone” played on the radio afterward. Was out walking in a neighborhood while listening to that part and had to turn off the audiobook so as to compose myself. Breaks my heart to hear of someone losing such an important father-figure while they’re still so young, he only being in his early teens by then. My Papa died 6 years ago when I was 29 and I still can’t barely talk about it without crying. Just can’t. Losing the big man in one’s life is a tragedy we don’t easily recover from apparently. In J.D. Vance’s case, it was so sudden with no warning, which is really sad. My Papa had cancer so we knew he was going down for a year and a half and tried to prepare ourselves for it, so much as one is truly able to do so. And I can understand how one wrestles with the memory of someone so important to them who also happened to have had drama with others in the family, largely due to his own doing through drinking and acting wrongly. You love him so much, and yet you can’t pretend he was perfect. We’re lucky in that our grandpas did change over time, they did both quit drinking (his in 1983, I believe he said; mine in 1990) and they sought to become better people toward their loved ones so as to find some sort of redemption. I think there’s a lot to learn from life stories like that, demonstrating that many people we consider good and valuable had to make a conscience effort to become that over time. They weren’t necessarily born that way, or their life experiences didn’t incline them toward a more noble direction originally. They had to make the choice themselves at some point, and often it comes after years of pain and strife created within their own families unfortunately. Pain likes to pay forward, and that can be a very difficult cycle to break. Speaks a lot to their merit as people, I would say. To come up in such rough circumstances, to fall into bad habits, and to eventually pull out of it. But we each wind up experiencing these events in life differently, especially us grandkids who weren’t yet alive for the worst of the storm.

He mentioned a book that really resonated with him that actually was about black people in urban areas and the problems they face. Many times I’ve noticed similar overlaps between members of the black community and my people as well. People like Thomas Sowell attribute that to a shared Southern culture, which I don’t doubt plays a role to whatever extent. But this is one reason why I find it difficult to view black people as if foreign, as if their community’s problems are entirely unique. There are similarities worth noting there, as I hope more of us explore in going forward since we’re all Americans here and share more in common than some may care to acknowledge.

When he spoke about his mom claiming her addiction was a “disease” I couldn’t help but cringe. He’s absolutely on to something when he stated that regarding addiction as a disease, while that may be somewhat true insofar as brain chemistry is concerned, winds up causing the addict to have less success in kicking the bad habit. It’s almost as if thinking of addiction like a disease winds up being some sort of crutch whereby one can dispense with personal agency, and that’s not a good situation. He spoke of his Pepa giving up alcohol after years of drinking without much fanfare or going to meetings, and my Papa handled it the same way. Yet I see so many out here returning to treatment facilities and turning to AA only to relapse again and again. But we’re not supposed to judge them because they have a “disease.” Yeah, a disease of the spirit, I’d say. An excuse to give up and give in to craven desires that destroy one’s life. It’s no good. Am currently 6 months into sobriety myself and while I’m proud of me, I’m very wary of myself also because I know me and I know the allure of alcohol and how much trouble it’s caused me and others. It’s an ongoing decision to leave that lifestyle and substance alone, one that has to be renewed with each waking day and bout of temptation. It’s not easy, but it is indeed a personal decision. A choice, ultimately. Yet some folks prefer instead to remain infantile and blame all off on external factors, as if the substance itself has the power to penetrate our bodies without our willful involvement. He has my sympathy in dealing with all of that. I’ve known many people who’ve had drug-addicted and/or alcohol-dependent parents and it sounds like a horrible way to come up. My former partner’s parents both drank (and still do) and I hear the resentment in him pretty frequently, reminded of the fighting and negligence. My ex-step-aunt and her husband were like that too, and it wound up producing nothing but carnage. Some people can manage their drinking and drug use better than others, but many can’t.

He spoke of his mom being unable to comprehend the significance of her father dying on her kids who viewed him as a father figure. Gotta admit, no disrespect intended toward the author (considering how sensitive he admits to being when it comes to his family), that level of selfishness burned my soul a bit to hear. My mother was like that in her own way, unable to comprehend how I could view her father differently than she did, she opting to blame everything in her life on him. And when he died, she didn’t attend the funeral and didn’t even so much as contact me or anybody else in the family. Asked her last year for the first time what she thought of his passing and she simply said she would not talk about it, so I dropped the inquiry. To her he’s a monster. To my aunt, he was her daddy but they grew apart emotionally over time, and I think she was bitter about that. To my uncle, he was a frustrating man but his daddy, and I think he has a lot of conflicted emotions too. None of them aired their grievances to him while he was alive, so now they’ll fester on, unresolved. Very unfortunate. But I can recall back when I was little and my grandparents were fighting for custody of me and I got caught in the middle and was made to choose on the spot between my mother and my Papa. I didn’t know what to do, being only 6 at the time, so I laid still until she began crying and walked away. In her heart I doubt she’ll ever let me live that down, and it still bothers me sometimes since I didn’t know what to do. I had to go with him — he was more trustworthy than her, more dedicated. Yet all she’s ever seen is her own view of him and her own sorrows from her upbringing, conveniently forgetting that she had a kid that had to be raised by them and who bonded with them. But in her warped mind, she just sees betrayal. As a result, I now see her as a lost cause. Like a perpetual child unable to grasp anything outside of her own perspective. Forever. No drugs or alcohol even needed to cause this to be the case. It is very frustrating to deal with, especially when you felt loyal to them all and loved them all.

I hate those memories. They always get to me, no matter how many times I’ve been over them in my head and recognize the situation for what it is. Left me feeling like the best way to stop this stupid cycle was to refuse to ever become a mother myself. Never wanted to let anybody down to that extent. Tarnishes one’s view of motherhood, whether we mean for it to or not. Some are able to overcome these types of upbringings and do better by their own children, which is good. But some of us think it’s best to withdraw from taking on such obligations, uncertain of ourselves in such a scenario and very wary of what the past brought. Guess we all must handle such matters in our own individual ways since there indeed is no one-size-fits-all answer to be found. That aggressiveness he spoke of I feel inside myself and express from time to time, always making me think that it wouldn’t be suitable around children. Not in this day and age, most definitely. Especially not outside of a tribe where such expressions are regarded as the norm, though even there it tends to prove dysfunctional. In my mind’s eye I can hear police sirens and crying, and I’ve never wanted any part of it, never wanted to bring children into such a life. Right or wrong, that’s been my resolve since I was young and remains so. Tangles my emotions to read or hear of parents fucking up, of children have to raise themselves and one another, of new men being cycled in and out of kids’ lives, of mothers who don’t understand the harm they’re creating, etc. Ugh…it messes with my head. Definitely stopped me in my tracks long ago, thank god. I just cannot imagine bearing the burden of bringing new people here and then winding up failing them. Yet, it goes on all the time…

Burden. J.D. Vance mentioned that word in reference to his Memaw having to raise him. I can most definitely relate with that. It’s quite embarrassing to feel like a burden on one’s family, so once again he and his sister have my sympathies on that. My Grandma would say things sometimes too, mostly when I was a teenager, like how she couldn’t afford me anymore. Hence why I kept moving around, trying to find ways to take care of myself so I wouldn’t be such a burden on her and Papa. Though I kept having return to her home, at least until I was old enough to attend college. Went into debt for it but never returned home to live again. Gave her and Papa money throughout my 20s in an effort to try to offset some of what they had to spend on raising me, as well as paying back what I owed her directly. Yet that feeling of being a burden hauntingly lingers on. I feel it with friends and loved ones even now sometimes. Live alone and try to be as independent as possible, yet still it lingers, whispering that if not for others I would be nothing and that I ought to find some sort of way to succeed so as to make it all worth it in the end. However success is to be defined here. Never do I forget where I come from or how much I am indebted to my grandparents for taking me in and providing so much love. Their commitment to me was a game-changer, no question. But I don’t wish feeling like a burden even on my worst enemies. Messes with the head and trains you to see yourself as a lesser-than, like a little parasite — needy. Because you can’t help but be needy as a kid. But when your own parents can’t or won’t take care of you properly, others have to, and that entails a sacrifice. I don’t know if it’s possible for such a realization to not color one’s outlook on life. But such is life. Guess it’s most important to take to heart what others have been willing to do for us and to carry that love forward in whatever ways we can. They made a choice because they love us, and I’m infinitely grateful for that. The alternative would’ve been to be perceived as a burden by people who didn’t give a damn about us, which would’ve been so much worse.

I know I’m rambling off on here a lot about my own people and upbringing, but this book tapped into all of that. And it’s a very good book so far. Very worthwhile. The author became a lawyer, so he really did manage to succeed. That makes me very happy for him. I look forward to continuing on in chapter 10 tomorrow.