I really need to take better care of my yard. Considering tearing down the toolshed and building some kind of fenced-in garden or greenhouse or something. I am just not a born gardener and don’t like plants (that is, to care for plants). It’s all lovely when I am not the one pulling the weeds.
At a loss. I have written before about loving an addict. Or someone who clearly reaches a stage at which he is no longer fully in control of what he is doing. The first reaction is always hurt because his first action is to lash out and take a swipe. It’s textbook self-hatred seeping out but nevertheless taking its toll on unintended targets.
My next reaction: self-preservation and anger. By this point, though, he has moved to the next stage of his oblivion. Self-pity festooned with self-destruction. Empty promises strung like burned-out Christmas lights on a dying tree.
Watching this play out, I don’t understand what I should do, if anything. I talk to his family, and they have been through this before. They kind of have to be part of it. Maybe they could practice some of this ill-advised “tough love” but what should I do?
It’s a rough question and for my own sake I should just do nothing. Wash my hands of the whole thing.
I question, even if only academically, how to give someone like this the “community” he apparently lacks when he is demanding, insufferable, compulsively lying. As I wrote when I originally posed the question, “Of course I’m all for discoveries that help us better understand the nature of addiction but would also appreciate knowing on an individual level: if addicts lack connections and relationships and a sense of community and connectivity – and that partially explains what they are doing – how can an individual help? How does an individual, the non-addict in the addict’s life, cope? Every study in the world, every book in the world that explains what addiction is does not change the day-to-day challenges of living with, loving or trusting an addict.”
My next discard is a boring, ugly dress. I will chuck it at the weekend. It has come to symbolize a lot of things, including moments of tremendous self-hate. It has come to remind me of many times I would rather forget. I never liked it in the first place but almost as if woven into the fabric, it’s just a sad rag clinging to who I don’t want to be. It’s going.
I have not decided yet what item I will cast aside today. I know I will throw out a broken interval timer. I bought a new (identical) one online… but in the absence of the replacement, I found an app that works fine. Not sure why I didn’t think of that before. It must be generational and habitual.
I am not “too old” to think “app first” but am kind of on the cusp of that group of people that doesn’t look for apps or look to technology to solve inconveniences unless they have some connection to technology. That is, people who work in tech or who have a deep personal interest in it. I am a bit of both, but because I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into it back when the 1990s dawned, it still isn’t always my first inclination or response in some situations. Of the people my age or older (with whom I am acquainted, anyway) who have no professional or personal interest in tech, most are pretty lost; many would not understand if I were to tell them, “There’s an app for that.” They would more likely roll their eyes but nevertheless sheepishly-though-defiantly say something defensive like, “God… everyone’s gone app shit!”
Habit-wise, I am still in the habit of finding gadgets. While I very rapidly moved online to do anything and everything that could save time, help me avoid too many trips to stores and offices and help me locate the exact things I want from all over the world (you know, do all the stuff that the internet enables), some things don’t pop into my head immediately. Even though something basic like an interval timer should spring instantly to mind as something with multiple app options available, I clung to a little doodad thing because I already had it. But if I carry my doodad device AND my phone everywhere anyway, does it make sense to carry so much stuff around to perform ALL the tasks I need? No. I will keep the new timer around in case, heaven forbid, I go out and my phone runs out of juice. (I admit to believing heartily in redundancy, even where it’s not absolutely essential. I spent a couple of years working in an air traffic control center, where talk about redundancy was constant. And you’d want it to be, wouldn’t you?)
Shedding layers and moving forward also means adopting new habits, thinking in new ways. Improving even on things that already work well. Streamlining, simplifying. Whatever you want to call it.
He may have been right when he said that it’s all about the details, noticing the little things. Trouble is, our brains are wired differently, so the details that matter to me are not the same ones that matter to him.
In the years since I moved to Sweden, I made priorities that included being able to more than support myself, never getting into vulnerable situations (economically, financially) again.
For him, the priority is having the right pair of shoes and looking cool in them.
I didn’t realize it was this pervasive or stark until too late.
That is not to say that I don’t agree with him. I ignore these details and can be very stubborn about fixes. But when I promise to fix something, I do it even if it takes a long, long time. I fixed so many other things in my own life and in his, but it was not apparently the stuff that he prioritized, and his patience ran out. Or his resolve to sobriety, given how brutal his approach was.
He said eventually, “I’m not that guy.”
Without recounting the nightmare of his addled mind and anxieties, I can say… I’m not that girl, either.
Heading into a new phase, discarding and changing.
Ages ago I bought a cheap-as-hell blender so I could blend fruit and veg on the road (in my long commute days). I never took it out of the box until now. I’m all about the spinach and kiwi gorilla juice. Or some knockoff gazpacho made of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. This cheap little blender works – improbably – better than my relatively expensive KitchenAid blender ever did. Sometimes paying more is not better. But the trick is learning when it matters and when it doesn’t. This is true for things you purchase and for the people you let into your life. How much can you really spend on someone else before you’re running on empty?
But the concept of spending anything is so remote… I’ve spent so much time, so much money, so much patience, so much care, so much compassion, so much understanding, so much love, so much tongue-biting frustration, so much support, so much much much much much that was all for nothing. I am numb – what is it in my karmaorwhateveritis that makes the people who get close to me so damaged, petty, troubled and such users and takers? Sometimes it’s narcissism. Sometimes it is a weird brand of self-hate. You know the self-haters who have to be as cruel as shit to you to take you down with them, right?
For a couple of days, while shedding stuff and moving forward in a real way like I haven’t in years, I’ve been crying – a lot. Improbable things set me off. Like at the end of the latest season of Orange is the New Black, suddenly the cheesy Foreigner tune “I Want to Know What Love Is” played over the end credits; soon tears are shooting out of my eyes like arrows. Sometimes I cried out of anger and sadness but sometimes just because it felt cathartic to shed tears in the same way I could shed a tattered sweater or a pair of tights with a hole in the heel.
Today I threw out an old nightgown. It was worn, threadbare, completely see-through by now. But it is a part of the long-ago past. It has a bunch of naughty monkeys on it. An ex used to poke the monkeys, claiming they were “mocking” him. That was like an eternity ago. That life is over. The nightgown is clearly of no use. I used it for the last time to dust the house. And now it’s away.
I like beans so don’t necessarily advocate chili without beans, but I saw a recipe that used a diced head of cauliflower instead. And a slow cooker. The miraculous slow cooker.
I made it as follows:
1/2 head of cauliflower, diced into pieces
1 diced yellow onion
1 diced red bell pepper
2 minced garlic cloves
28 ounces tomato puree
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
chunks of chicken breast or thigh
a tablespoon or two of some Macedonian pepper relish
Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for eight hours. And you are done.