I’ve spent more of my life looking for rescue than I care to admit.
GE and I spent last week-end at Mary Ann’s working on favors for her cousin and my niece’s upcoming bridal shower. It was a girls’ week-end with my brother-in-law Gerald there to balance the estrogen for 2-year-old grandson Travis. Four grown women with 5-year-old ‘Phia can generate more conversation than a talk show host convention and have more opinions than a Meet the Press marathon.
If your ears were burning, there’s a reason for that. Eleanor Roosevelt once said that “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” We Coleman women like to try to cover all three. When we get into our conversations, I remember something my friend Glenda says about how anybody can manage money as long as it’s somebody else’s. I think that extends to relationships and raising children, too. I wouldn’t trade my week-end for anything; but an evening spent talking about politics, friends, family, books, and movies reminds me of how easily I fall into the trap of believing I know how everybody else can run their lives even if mine is skidding toward the wall.
A few days sober have taught me things about my life and how my viewpoint makes a world of difference in how I live. GE and I were talking about that on our separate ways home as she headed north from Seguin and I went south.
1. I don’t get a pinch hitter in life. I have a hard time confronting people when I’m hurt or angry with them. Worse, I don’t like having to face to face someone when I believe they will be upset with me. I am a mind reader that way. I am sure that I know what you are going to think or say before you say it. That pre-empts truthiness and lends to my editing my life as I offer it to others. I offer a shadow of the truth.
If I had a pinch hitter, I’d have them tell people the unpleasant and confrontational things that I want to say. An older woman at an AA meeting once told me that I needed a spine transplant. Obviously, she didn’t have any trouble with being unpleasant or confrontational. But it was a point well taken.
I like taking responsibility for my successes and kind words. I don’t want a pinch hitter there! It’s when I have to take ownership of my failures and unpleasant opinions that I’d like a stunt double. I’ve found that when I take that ownership, nobody has judged me as severely as I have anticipated or hated me for life. It’s my magical mind reading mind that decides on what will happen. So far, my ESP batting average is 024.
2. There aren’t any do-overs. It is a hard truth that we don’t get dress rehearsals. As a parent who has lost a child, I have relived the last days of Jack’s life and the morning of his death. Over the past week, I pass through that dumb ER when I visit friends at Memorial and I have endured intense and crazy flashbacks. Because we could only visit 2 at a time, I took my turn waiting in a small ante-room. Yesterday I was with two strangers when I started having those graphic instant replays.
What I’ve found is that willing the thoughts away doesn’t work; no distraction lessens the sense of panic and pain. What does help is to keep breathing, close my eyes, and ask God to sit with me while we watch the replays. Nutty? Perhaps. But so far I get this feeling of someone sitting next to me, no words, no judgement. Just a quiet presence. It helps me.
My friend tells me that sometimes the most spiritual thing I can do is sit with the pain. But I don’t have to do it alone.
3. Deus ex machina doesn’t exist. I love that term. I learned it by way of my smart children. It was, if they taught me correctly, a device used in medieval religious plays where the main character got into a gosh awful mess that surely meant disgrace and death. No way to turn. Just destruction ahead. And then, an angel or God would descend on a rope and pluck the poor actor out of the predicament. Saved!
I’ve wasted time and energy looking for someone or something to save me. A better job? A new house? A new relationship? More stuff! That will fix it! I’ve searched and waited for that Deus ex machina. Hell, I’ve married Deus ex machina. And found out the problem wasn’t them or it. It was me.
Most of the messes in my life are the result of my intervention into God’s will. Did I say MOST? I painfully have to admit that, to this day, all of them have been mine. If I didn’t create them, I’ve dwelled on them and agonized over them and made myself crazy miserable because of them. Deus ex machina doesn’t exist, but Deus does. I wallow in the muck; inevitably I get tired and ask for God’s help. God’s help comes through another person who offers the right words. I don’t have to look for the face of God; it is all around me. In sobriety I’ve learned that I just have to be willing to see and hear. That’s not too much to ask.