It’s Only Human

The single most challenging thing in life is to know when to ask for help, remembering that one is never left to go it alone. Turning a blind eye to the helping hands around you when in a time of great need is a grave mistake.

There are some who get an intrinsic reward from sympathies of the masses by hoisting themselves up as martyrs in the face of great adversity and challenge. Whether it is out of pride they find no resources, or to get the attentions they crave, remains a mystery.

There is no shame in asking for help. Please never take the load yourself if you feel like you are drowning. Reach out when you are overloaded. Someone will offer to help or point you toward someone who can help.

It is no sign of failure or weakness if you ask for help. The important point is that you must recognize when you need help.

  • If it is sapping your energy/resources and there seems no solution in sight, no matter what you try; then you need help.
  • If you feel your back is desperately against the wall with no path to resolution, then you need help.
  • When you feel overwhelmed with all of the tasks/expectations set before you and you begin to shutdown physically or emotionally, then you need help.
  • When you’re experiencing a highly charged emotional state and it seems never-ending, then you need help.

Being in any of these situations it is easy for one to be blinded by the situation and not see who is around who can help – thinking you are alone to handle it.

The important thing is to know you are never alone.

Let me repeat that with emphasis…

YOU ARE NEVER ALONE.

There are hundreds of thousands of folks who probably have gone through the very situation(s) you are in and can offer guidance and solutions. Maybe family, friends, professional agencies, counselors, doctors, psychiatrists, support groups, message boards…even a complete stranger.

But you must open your mouth and say, “I need help.”

Simply complaining or staying silent will not alert those around you that you need help. Everyone around you is working through issues of their own and may not be intuitive enough to know you are in dire straits and need assistance.

Know too, that just because a person is busy does not mean they are not open to help. Please do not use that as an excuse to keep sch-tum. If they cannot help directly, they may know someone or some resource that can help.

I know it is humbling to admit vulnerability, but we are a community and we are put on this earth to help one another.

When that help is given, remember it. Do not claim that it was never received or disregard the help that is offered. You are less likely to be helped in the future.

Some of my favorite songs regarding helping

The Band –

Billy Swan –

Joe Cocker –

The Staples Singers –

The Little River Band –

The Youngbloods –

And most importantly – Bill Withers

 

Risky Business

One of the things we have most in common which you’d be surprised to know is a preference for remaining in our comfort zones.

All through my childhood I wasn’t much of a daredevil or a risk taker. I didn’t like venturing out on my own. Luckily for me I had a companion– my sister. Now, she was a put-herself-out-there kind of person!

I liked being in the shadows, keeping to myself, safe at home. I certainly didn’t like wearing clothing outside of the home that called attention to myself and I didn’t like outrageous hairstyles or gaudy makeup. If it didn’t look natural, I wasn’t having it.

My sister had big hair, flashy fashion choices, big ideas, loud laughter in all places and craved attention. And she believed that we should be included in everything. I was like a turtle in those situations, wishing to tone it down and crawl into my shell.

I was contented to stay at home, read, listen to music, draw and imagine my world. She on the other hand insinuated herself in the world whether there was an invitation or not. Her boldness worked for her.

I tended to watch more than participate. Card games in the back yard, short bicycle trips spanning 3 blocks was as racy as I got. My adventures were in my head or on paper.

I never thought I’d travel much in my life. Until high school opened up a new horizon of opportunity. Band trips crossing state lines away from home for weekends was something which opened me up to adventure–chaperoned structured adventure.

Having been in band at my sister’s recommendation also brought me to having to compete in solo competitions which put me directly in the spotlight. I hated it. I still cringe thinking of the solos. I loved playing, but just for myself. The only way I got through it was to convince myself I was alone while performing. Block everything out and pretend I was in the basement by myself. It worked as long as I didn’t look around.

When I finally had to decide on college due to the family dysfunction I was compelled to get as reasonably far away as I could withstand. One state away was perfect. I chose where I did based on the pamphlets alone. I never visited prior to acceptance. I was going in cold. That was the riskiest thing I’d ever done. Sink or swim.

Mind you, I still didn’t have a license to drive and I had no way to get there except by the family driving me the 7 hours there. Again, even if I knew how to drive I wouldn’t have the strength of character to make the trip on my own. Each break I got more independent and would take the bus home. That was as brave as I got back then.

My mother’s aunt was shocked to know I didn’t know how to drive and she taught me. She was so kind and eased me into it in a manner which helped me overcome any fear I may have had. She always stopped by with a new vehicle so I couldn’t get comfortable with just one model. I drove a sedan, a station wagon, a truck and a tractor. Yet none of them were stick shifts. I passed the exams.

I felt independent with this new skill but owned no car. It wasn’t until my second to last year in college when I needed extra income badly to pay for my remaining time there did I finally obtain a vehicle. A turquoise pearl metallic and rust Manual transmission Corolla.

I had to learn all over again and retake the driving exam. It was as if I had never learnt anything. So stressful and I wanted to give up. My desperation to finish college thankfully overtook my desire to quit the pursuit of a license to drive in my college state.

Funny how a risk taken is usually fueled by extreme need.

I also needed a job and some friends were kind enough to sell me on the job they were doing as long distance operators in a call center. It was on the opposite end of town! I had to venture out to this place with only a route learned from a map in the back of a telephone book. There was no satellite navigation back then.

I found the courage to put myself out there and apply. I got the job and I became braver for it. Each step in my journey to where I am today stemmed from a great need. Taking a risk was the only way to get toward my goal of self sufficiency.

Each job opportunity was based on my fear of going into huge debt after college with no place to live and no way to subsist. I didn’t want to be homeless and I was certain I would die before I would return to my family to live.

Sometimes I had to put on an air of over confidence and fake it till I made it. Not my forte, really. So I worked crazy hours and read scads of books to learn my jobs as best I could.

Do you know the only time I had ever flown in a plane was as a baby at that point in my life? By my early 20s I had to fly to Texas to see my dad who was dying of cancer. Never traveled like that alone and had to research the shit out of the experience in order to do it; because,

Extreme need necessitates taking risks.

As I climbed the corporate ladder the expectations for air travel became the norm and I was flying all around the county. Sometimes with teams, other times alone. The latter scared me to my core. I had plans, schedules, maps, contingency plans, alternate routes memorized before I departed.

When I got to the destination, I rarely ventured out to explore the new city I was in. Stayed at the hotel when I wasn’t at the office. Though when with groups I went along, but they did the driving.

It took me many years to become comfortable enough to actually enjoy my surroundings and do some sightseeing. Luckily at this point, anywhere I traveled someone I knew from college lived there and they would guide me on my sightseeing experience.

When I look back on it all, I am thrilled by how much I traveled and all the lovely places I had the opportunity to see, the wonderful people I met along the way.

When I got sick I knew there was one last risk I had to take and that was a completely solo trip overseas to a country I’d never been and see as much of it as I could in 10 days as a local and not a tourist. It was scary to be on my own like that with just my passport and having to learn a new way to drive in a rental car where local laws were much different from ours. The currency was different. I had to learn all of that on my own.

It was crazy. But I loved every moment of it. It was a risk I chose to take not because of extreme need, but because of a desire to put myself out there. It took me 46 years to get to the same place my sister was her whole life.

I know where you are in your mindset to remain in the familiar, but I must warn you that life has a funny way of giving you a shove to take a risk and get out there.

If I had a chance for a do over, I would have been less conservative and traveled far more than I ever did. So much to see and do. Don’t waste your youth in a comfy shell.

Best Cure For Heartbreaks

When someone shuts you down, turns you out, excludes you from their company; it hurts.

The cut is so deep there is a hollow ache that begins in the throat which feels asphyxiatingly tight. The hollowness spreads so deep within your chest — as if someone took all the wind out of you as your brain begins to process the complex flood of emotions which are about to follow.

  • Disbelief
  • Shock
  • Speechlessness while the hollow ache travels
  • Humiliation
  • Worthlessness
  • Grief-ridden sorrow that appears to have no bottom
  • Anger and indignation
  • Guilt over feeling angry

I find that it is easy to crawl inside myself to heal while simultaneously building internal protective emotional barriers to never allow this to affect me in this way ever again.

That method of cutting one’s self off to wallow and lick wounds takes so much time. So so so much time.

Over that time, whilst wallowing in the flood of emotions, I began to waste so much of my energies dwelling on the event, reopening the wound over and over again. Picking at each second of what had happened to try to heal.

Yes, you must take a minute to cry- sob even. But then there’s an immediate fix, that I offer to you…one that washes everything away.

Service.

Acts of selflessness toward others. Random others. Opening that wound so wide to let the love you have pour out to others in acts of kindness and generosity of spirit. Expect nothing but their happiness in return. Because, as the love of yours pours out, a new form of love surrounds you like a comforting warm wrap. It feels healing. It strengthens your spirit so you may face that hurt with newer eyes.

It may still bring you some sadness; but there will be compassion. And perhaps ultimately understanding and mercy.

The more you serve, the easier it is to find your way back out of the pain.

And it is strange, I’ve often found an opportunity to serve directly following a hurt dealt. As if the universe was handing me a first aid kit for my heart.

I hope that if you experience the kind of pain you did on that rejection ever again you look up and outward for the opportunity to begin kindly serving selflessly.

Don’t shut down. Open up.

And lastly, I’ve found through experience, that in every horrible hurtful event there lies an element of ridiculousness. Some crazy element of funny, that at the time, I could not see.

Always look for the humour in the event. It is there.

Logical Science Reasoning: Sex Ed – Masters Level

Reference article in order to digest my message

You probably didn’t click the prerequisite link to read the article, but I will summarize this before the lesson begins.

A Mormon blogger serially tweets a scientific truth that men are 100 percent responsible for all unwanted pregnancies.

Ooh…I bet you took a defensive stance on that sentence, didn’t you?

If you click the link and read each tweet listed in the article you will see that she addressed each and every rapid fire retort that’s swirling in your brain in defense of your responsibility as a man with sexual ability.

Seriously, click it and read it.

I can wait.

Not only is it a grand lesson in biology in a developmental sense but also speaks to the very hypocrisy I’ve spoken to you in the past about expectations on women.

Ok so I bet you skimmed it and closed your mind with the reasoning “She’s a man hater on the attack.”

No, grasshopper, her points are distinct and clearly accurate to the function and capability of your body over and above a woman’s body.

Remember when I told you my friend and I dominated the sex trivia game and kept the high score rating for as long as we were in college? I’m here to say this mother of six nearly perfectly correct.

One more time, read the article point by point and find the two bits she omitted.

Did you find them?

Nah, probably not, my sweet little headstrong Harry.

She failed to mention two ways in which the steps a woman takes can fail in preventing an unwanted pregnancy.

  1. Antibiotics are Birth control pills’ kryptonite. It’s like taking nothing at all. Bam! She’s got a baby on board
  2. Getting her tubes tied won’t necessarily prevent your Olympic swimmers from getting to the golden egg. That’s why I have my cousins David and Sarah.

So where is my lesson in this? When you become sexually active and you will eventually; you must take great care in how you proceed with your partner knowing that one slip-up on your part means fatherhood.

Ask yourself this question: “If we do this deed and she becomes pregnant is she someone I can invest a good portion of my life supporting her financially and emotionally while raising a child together lovingly for the next 18 years? Am I willing to put my needs, goals and life plans on the back burner for that length of time just so I can experience approximately 5 seconds of toe curling, mind blowing, nearly fainting dead away ecstasy?”

Weigh it carefully. What sacrifices would you have to make as a father to raise that child?

If your not willing to commit to your partner like that; then masturbate, use all the forms of contraception at once, (triple bag it if necessary) or abstain until you want that family.

Do not ever expect that your partner is solely responsible for the contraception.

Although vasectomy is an option, like tying tubes, it can fail as well.

And finally, condoms do in fact expire which could make them more prone to break while in activity.

Keeping it close to the vest

This is the time of your life when you feel the most defiant and frustrated with your parents. “Their home, their rules” butting up against your desire to be an independent adult. You begin to notice they’re flawed and hypocritical. They only see you as a child and irresponsible when clearly you believe you are not.

From their end, they see a lack of ambition and autonomy. Poor choices on both sides fuel the arguments. They say that raising a teenager is like nailing jello to a tree. It really is.

In my experience which I have shared with you often enough, I kept a lot of of my frustrations in a journal form because voicing it would result in physical repercussions. I had always wanted to say the things to my parents that went into the journal, but over time, I had realized that it would not have been made a bit of difference to them and it would not change how I was raised.

What was done is done and cannot be undone.

Although, my experiences taught me what not to do as a parent. I stand by the belief that everything that happens to you is an opportunity for learning. When you look back on your childhood and your experience with us, I hope you too, can find a teachable moment.

Do not hang on to any bitterness and let it cloud your life. I did that for several years and it was a complete waste of time. Turn it toward something positive. List out all of the things you wished you had from us and resolve to model your parenting and relationships after that.

Parenting is hard. We think as parents we are approaching it in the best possible way, but we are human and we make mistakes. And let me tell you, the struggle with wanting to be a better parent than your own and resorting to the same tactics that were used on you is real.

Let me share my list of things I did my best to approach parenting you:

  • If I promised something to you, I followed through.
  • I was not going to Joan Crawford you with psycho expectations on how you kept your room, or how you dressed.
  • If I was to resort to corporal punishment, it was only as an absolute last resort if you were about to harm yourself or others with your actions. I believe I spanked you only 3 times in your childhood and I did not want to do it.
  • I was going to lead by example in terms of motivating toward a good work ethic and problem solving.
  • I wasn’t going to spend time comparing you to others with “Why can’t you be more like…” or “Don’t be like…”
  • I did not direct your behavior with “Don’ts” I would simply ask you to do what was desired or gave you limited choices to get you toward the parenting goal.
  • I resolved to listen to you when you spoke and did not let the belief “Children should be seen not heard.” rule in this house.
  • I was not going to go on surprise purges of your spaces with full on rants and corporal punishment in the aftermath.
  • I would allow you to find your independence by encouraging, advising and supporting you in your effort to learn to drive, find a job and finish your school projects on your own.
  • I made time to spend with just you instead of leaving you on your own all the time.

Some would say I was not strict enough. Maybe not. Maybe that was my big mistake as a parent to you. However, I did believe giving you the freedom to fall on your face and try to learn that the failure was yours and yours alone. (Not some outside force or the failure of someone else) Although, I do believe you are still learning that lesson today.

Know that some battles are not worth fighting. Only pursue the ones which are worth fighting. If after a day or week you cannot remember the reason for your anger, it was a battle not worth fighting.

With that said, I know you have tons to say to your father based on how he approached parenting you. And I am sure you have tons to say about whether or not I stood up to him enough. You’d be surprised to know, that when you were not around there were indeed shouty throw downs, I even dragged him to therapy (which did nothing to shake him out of it). And at some point, I expected him to ask for a divorce and I said, “bring it”. The reason you did not see it was because I resolved to limit parenting disputes if you were present. I know the kind of unrest that causes a child, seeing parents at each others’ throats over good cop/bad cop. It’s unhealthy. And at some point when you get older, it becomes a bargaining chip on your part to play one parent off the other and instigate the arguments in order to manipulate your way.

I know this because I did this. My family were openly fighting about parenting choices and at some point I found out how to make that benefit me.

With all you have to say, I encourage you to think about why you need to say it, what you expect from it and when you feel you need to say it. Personally, if you had something to say to me about parenting I would wish you would say it all now while I have the chance to be a better parent to you.

And lastly, the thing I have noticed about you with the contentious relationship you have with your father is that you are letting him rule your happiness in terms of earning his approval. The only person who should rule your happiness is you. You should set the standard of approval by what you want for yourself. If you feel you have done your best then you shouldn’t need to turn to others for affirmation. Self satisfaction should be enough.

Wisdom from Edgar Allen Poe

The longer I live, the bleaker the future looks to me in terms of the quality of life.

I cavalierly stated a few decades ago, that the older we get the less we will be able to trust all the services we take for granted.

  • Mass transit
  • Healthcare
  • Food quality
  • Water quality

Over those years, this prediction became a horrible reality and then some.

We cannot trust our banking systems now, or the stock market. There are no real consumer protections like there were in the 60s and 70s. Keep track of packaging of groceries; the packaging is smaller but the prices remain the same or rise. That used to be a heinous fraud and consumer protections were in place to prevent it from happening.

Other production protection measures were in place to track the quality of items produced before they went to market rather than after the fact. Recalls were less likely in my youth than that of today.

Now, you also have to worry about what information is shared with you, whether it is a video or news item and who is the source of that information, has that information been doctored in any way to sway your point of view.

The quote above was written in 1850 in a work of fiction called The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether but is a fair warning for today’s false or misleading information engine.  Just the other day, I watched the journalist Anderson Cooper respond to an allegation that he falsified reporting on the last hurricane which hit the U.S. in the Carolinas.  It was footage of him standing in deep water while his cameraman filmed a few feet away in less than 2 ft of water. This picture went viral on various platforms where he was vilified for making much ado about nothing.

His response was adept in debunking the mislead allegations as to the source (a flood in Texas, several years prior to the current event), the science behind floods and the fact that the cameraman shown in the photo had died just a week or so prior.  He should not have had to do this, but there are people out there who feel the need to cause a rise in the masses for no other reason than to enjoy the show. People who like to watch the world burn.

Inciters so to speak.

I want to remind you that all people are lazy about fact checking what is fed to them on a day to day basis. I have fallen prey to the misinformation on occasion and felt the need to remind you to be vigilant that most of what you hear or see could very well be false and you are behooved to prove it before making any snap judgement. If you choose to be lazy then you become part of the masses (the herd of sheeple who follow the loudest noises) easily manipulated to respond in the manner that the informant wishes.

Check a variety of sources, check the backgrounds of the sources of the information to see what their true motivation is before assuming truth.

And even if you verify all the information is close to true; but the data has to do with a science of any sort, know that science is an every evolving discipline. What may be proven now could be disproved in a matter of months, years or decades.

The longer I live on this earth, the more I know that I do not know much. I am constantly searching for truth. So should you.

Listen carefully to what is said. Read everything with extreme scrutiny. Look for the faulty logic, the contradictions, and the outright lies hidden in the truth.  Know that a well crafted lie is woven within a series of truthful statements.

Only The Lonely

I said that I had more to write about those three weeks with my mom and I deliver.

It was a trip that was overwhelming with all the things to process. The actual things, the emotional things, the outrageous things, me wrestling with my conflicting things, and then the biggest thing.

The loneliness thing.

My mother had her mother for several years as her bickering buddy, her television watching companion, her people-judging partner, her fellow gossip gal, and dining companion.

They laughed, they bitched, they screamed at each other; but through it all, they weren’t alone.

Until Mimi died.

The one thing in which I differ greatly from my mother is that I am most content to be alone. I believe she has always been a social creature but too afraid to put herself out there. Mimi carried her socially. Was it social anxiety?

Maybe.

Mom had few friends of her own. She liked groups in her youth. A gang of friends with whom to spend time. She had a couple close friends in Germany but after moving to the States they held a fairly infrequent correspondence until that eventually faded away.

In the end, she had her mother, Mimi. They were friends in a loving, and yet, volatile way. Like a Debbie Reynolds-Carrie Fisher way, I suppose. Or maybe mix between a Joan and Christina Crawford way.

Their downs were dramatic for certain.

After Mimi was laid to rest, one would think that mom would have had an Earnshaw epiphany and realized now she had the freedom to really live.

I think she had some of it, but it was my sister who now carried her. Mom was not ever going to be brave enough to independently seek happiness for herself, make new friends, or build a career.

I think after the disease took hold and really presented itself, my sister could no longer carry her socially and the role of patient to caregiver began.

This meant hiring in care workers while my sister worked and it meant hours Mom went without human interaction. She could not drive anymore due to macular degeneration stealing her vision and the LBD made it risky for her to venture out to visit with nearby neighbors. (Although, most nearby she had some bone to pick with at some point.)

You and I both know we can go hours on end without any interaction except for television, books, music or the internet and relish in it.

However, imagine yourself blind and all that self entertainment is dependent upon your sight. Operating remote controls, not knowing what’s going on in a program (if you do manage to fumble your way to a show to watch) due to simply music and no dialogue. Much is lost.

Inevitably, loneliness sets in.

And boredom.

This is now an Eleanor Rigby stanza.

While I was there she had the 7/24 company she hadn’t had in years. We talked and watched shows, listened to audio books and dined together. The one thing I wished we could have done was taken walks together. She simply wasn’t steady enough on her feet to do that, however.

Having to return was the single most conflicting action of my life. I’m needed in my own family but I was beneficial there too. Every time I took a trip to the store I saw opportunities to just uproot and stay there. But it would mean starting over. There are no real job prospects in that area and it would mean forcing the whole family to forsake their paths for my sense of responsibility.

There seemed to be no right answer on this. Deep down, I believe I should have stayed longer. Everything inside me screamed I was failing her, I was failing my sister and I was failing my sense of responsibility toward family.

But I have an immediate family too–you and your father.

I knew when I returned, I wasn’t totally myself because I focused on her loneliness. Leaving her back to the hours on end without interacting with others. She spent some time in a nursing home facility after I left, so she had more contact with others but she fell while there a few times.  The trade off did not seem to balance in my opinion.

I made it a point to call her after I got back and it was a hit or miss when she would answer the phone. When she did, it was clear that our conversations would be superficial and tiring for her as she struggled to complete thoughts. I don’t want to frustrate her at all. So making the calls seems to be reopening a wound over and over for her.

This disease is complicated and difficult to know exactly how to help from this distance to combat the loneliness. I want help but I want her to rest as well.

My advice to you is to treat those who may be suffering from loneliness the way you would wish to be treated if you felt alone. Just be sure that in your efforts you are doing good in the process and not creating more pain. Take care with your intentions and act accordingly.