Life on Hold

I cannot imagine what California and New York are going through. Enforced isolation. Isn’t that a little like, um, prison? I know, I know…separation slows the virus transmission. However, a little too reminiscent of Venezuela. Cuba. China.

Don’t want to think about it.

But…public beaches are now closed on Hilton Head.

What?

The mayor had already closed all restaurants except for takeout. All public meetings have been canceled, along with school and various and sundry other activites. Gym is closed. Pools are not open. Heritage Golf Classic is postponed.

As long as we had our gorgeous beaches to keep us sane during social distancing and closing off every recreational or social venue available things were fine. We had long lines early in the morning at Publix, Kroger, WalMart and Harris Teeter as we raced down the aisles for food and tp, but basically things were fine. Then the mayor closed our beaches.

What’s next? Golf courses? We have around 24 or so on the Island. It’s the one thing people here – vacationing or otherwise – could do safely and be assured of lots of space around them.

Golf venues will more than likely close as well. Unless a miracle happens. Which, in my mind, is always a possibility.

My house is overly stocked, now, on toilet paper. That this is a thing to celebrate mystifies me. We are also stocked to the gills on meat, bread, milk and peanut butter. Oh, and eggs. Coffee. These are essentials for us. I have two bottles of wine.

I don’t think that’s gonna do it. Must add wine to the list when (and if) I venture forth. Will handshakes be a thing of the past? Gosh, I hope not. I’m an enthusiastic hugger, so if the handshake is out the door, what will happen to hugs? 

Some say this will change life forever, at least in the U.S.

On the up side, one would hope a situation like this would make us more appreciative of daily amenties, public venues, the ability to navigate life freely. Teach us not to live in chronic fear, but hang onto courage and resilience in spite of it. To cling to hope. And there is ALWAYS hope.

One thing is certain. It’s making all of us – no matter political party, race, or affiliation – think about things. Life. Death. The importance of touching another human being. The freedom to buy and eat what we want and not what is being rationed. Toilet paper. (Had to throw that one in there. I’m looking forward to all the memes after this pandemic settles down.) Maybe we are putting down our phones and connecting more with the people we live with. Maybe we are enjoying our own little patch of earth more than usual, since many of us cannot venture outside it. Maybe we’ll learn to be grateful for small, overlooked things like a good conversation or an unexpected ‘I love you’ instead of rushing through life not even noticing. Perhaps we’ll learn to live on less and stop spending money on overpriced and underwhelming extras. Perhaps Democrats and Republicans will put down their swords.

Maybe.

Maybe a lot of good will come from something that looks like, on its face, a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions.

But still.

Mr. Mayor, did you have to close the beaches? Two whole months?

Sigh.

 

 

 

 

I Can’t Hear You, You are Talking Too Much

Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of a witness.

–Margaret Miller

for conversation articleMost folks seem more interested in talking than listening. I notice this as I sit staring at my cold coffee and listening to the person sitting across the table from me who has been talking for twenty minutes without a single thought that the other person might like to be involved in the conversation also.

Isn’t a conversation a two-way street? I always thought so, but maybe not. Perhaps culturally, the word ‘conversation’ has morphed into ‘monologue’.

 

conversation article 2

Typically I look forward to conversations with friends in anticipation of them talking, then me talking, then them talking, then me talking . . . you get the idea. I’m usually the first to dig into the meaty stuff with soul-probing questions like ‘how’s your life going?’ or ‘what’s the best thing that’s happened to you this week?’ which launches an interesting  dialogue. I love to hear what’s going on in hearts and lives and also sharing what’s going on in mine. I love the inspiration and direction that comes from a stimulating conversation.  A rhythm develops, a natural give and take of laughter, caring and transparency.

Every good conversation starts with good listening. Deep conversations with the right people are priceless.

–Anonymous

Of course, this expectation is off the table if one of us is going through a shattering life struggle. That person gets a free pass and my job (hopefully I will not be the one going through an equivalent event at the same time) is to hold a hand, say a prayer, listen with real concern and not look at my phone. Not even once.

But let’s get real, here. Barring a person going through crisis, who wants to spend a couple of hours listening to someone chat conv art 4about themselves indefinitely without realizing the other person is getting all glassy-eyed and bored because they haven’t been asked a single question or given a few seconds of space to jump in and join?  I don’t get it. And I’ve tried being transparent about my feelings, but ohmigosh you’d think I’d barfed all over them by their reactions.

I don’t do that anymore.

Instead, I’m careful to limit contact. I don’t understand the mentality. Plus, I feel devalued when I’m with them.

On the flip side, my husband and I have experienced evenings with couples that leave us smiling and content when we part ways. I think it’s because they were really interested in us. And I suspect they treat most people that way. It is a lovely thing to be around these kinds of folks. I strive to be that kind of person.

Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters.

–Margaret Wheatley

 

After the Party is Over

Christmas has come and gone, and with it, my balloon-like joy.  It popped the minute everyone left my house.

cloudy sky

Oh, we had lovely memories and lots of gift exchanging. Lots of hugs and oohs and aahhs. But the elephant in the room, the one sibling/adult child that didn’t make it for Christmas because he was in rehab (again) sat in the room (virtually) and glared at us as if his disability was our fault. As if being excluded from our Christmas celebration was an abuse of his familial privilege.

To all parents of drug addicts, a select club of which I am reluctantly a member, I salute

adventure beautiful blue dawnyou. I’m in my eleventh year of this stuff, and I can’t even feel my fingers anymore, where the addict is concerned. NarAnon has taught me to take one day at a time, to do the tough love thing, to distance myself from the addiction but love the addict.

And it is working, kind of.

But the emotional pain, the offense, the expense! The wondering if I should pay his bills, as if I, somehow, caused this and should suck it up. If I should be the one to tell his roommate sorry, buddy, for my child causing you such financial hardship, here’s a few thousand bucks to make up for it

Such insanity! That in no way, shape or form, did I cause. At NarAnon meetings it is common to recite “I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it, I can’t control it.”

This helps.

But believing it, trusting it, stiff-arming the addict’s onslaught of unpaid bills and possible jail time . . . well, that’s a different matter altogether. We parents want to rescue. And so we do, over and over until we realize it does no good. It delays their sobriety, actually.

beautiful calm clouds darkOn the bright side, I got a book contract about the same time that Christmas came around and I have many, many books in me that need writing. I have many stories to tell, not the least of which include a postscript of addiction in there somewhere. Too many people can relate. Way too many. It is an onslaught that needs curtailing, but how?

Don’t get me started.

So I fall to my knees, recite the same prayers over my son, try to carry on as if ‘normal’ is a thing I can do in spite of.

But it never leaves, you know, the weight of a child that still struggles to be born.

Since he is in rehab, an inpatient, four-month program, I sleep better. The nightmares lessen. In this facility, he cannot call often, a good thing since the sound of his voice still brings tension and fear. It is a good thing not to hear it sometimes. A four-month program that is voluntary, I pray that he will stay, not run; that he will finally understand that his life is at stake, and not only his, but mine. His father too, his sisters and his brother.

The hard thing to internalize is that nothing matters to the addict but the next high.

Nothing.

We are all praying that this time, he will stay long enough that things matter. That his life matters. His family matters. His friends matter.

That we can finally love him the way he is meant to be loved, in spite of everything.

We cling to hope. As long as he is breathing, there is hope.

person standing on hand rails with arms wide open facing the mountains and clouds