Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bad Days and Dollar Stores

Everybody has bad days. It is inevitable. The alarm clock doesn't go off and coffee grinds get into your morning cup and its off to the races.
    I have been having a particularly difficult year and when I have a bad day, its a doozy.  I get the feeling lately that I'm God's plaything. I have been exasperated to the point of exhaustion. Yes, I will admit I get angry at God and throw up my hands, "Why?!  Don't I already have enough?"
    I hate that saying: Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger. If you need proof that that's a bunch a hogwash, spend some time with a stroke patient.
     If that adage is true than I have played my cards wrong. Instead of being a capable, independent and strong woman I should have become a mincing delicate flower fainting from the "vapors", so God wouldn't seek me out to heap the challenges on me I am somehow designed to handle.
    This past week my son was sick. His father is falling off the wagon more regularly lately so was less than no help, in fact, he was a nuisance.  I nursed my son, cleaned up vomit, wiped his nose and and he got better. And, of course, then I got sick.        
     Meanwhile, the week ran into the weekend and yard work was beckoning. The leaves are piled in the yards and needed taken care of before it snows. This was a six-hour job I wasn't up to, so  I used precious funds and paid someone to do it for me. The yard looked great when he was done. 20 lawn bags filled to the top.I felt better about spending the money as I was feeling very achy.  I had a hot drink and went to bed.
     In morning, I awoke with my throat on fire, my head stuffed with cotton and then looked outside and saw that some miscreants had dumped half the bags out on the lawn and porch. Why? 
    After cleaning that up, I found out my ex is teetering on getting himself evicted from his parents house for his continued drinking. If that were to happen, there goes my son's relationship with his father, another crises he would have to handle.
     And yes, I hear those of you out there saying he's better off without his drunken father, but I'll tell you this: My son and his father love each other. My son is very aware of his father's illness. His father is deeply flawed, but who he hurts most is himself.  Is my son better off not having a relationship at all? I truly don't think so. When we got divorced, that was son's biggest fear that he wouldn't see his daddy anymore. Yes, Alcoholism is rough stuff and its not something that tops my wish list for what I want in my nine-year-old's life,  but I can't withhold reality from him and I can't withhold his dad. My son is adores his dad when sober, and avoids him when he's not. He knows how to use a phone and his grandparents are there to fill in any gaps of neglect that can happen if his dad falls off the wagon.
    I also found out that if my ex is allowed to stay at his parents house, they will be leaving on vacation half-way between my son's next scheduled weekend with his dad.  The weekend I had a Christmas party to go to. A  rare, adults-only affair that I have been looking forward to with unusual glee.
    Uncle already! I have enough. I've proven enough that I'm strong. God, if You are trying to teach me something, I promise you I can learn without all these negative distractions.
    Last night I got down on my knees and begged God to send me something good. Today in mail I received a $20 gift card for a dollar store. I had to laugh. That's about how the balance of good/bad is going in my life. Bad Stuff: Drunken ex, hooligans, sickness, cleaning up vomit in the middle of the night, poverty, uncertainty, despair. Good Stuff: A dollar store spree. Yes, God is funning me, but it's  better than a kick in the ass.  I'll take it.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nosy or Noble? What's your business and what's not....

There's a show on television  I'm fascinated with. It's called, "What would you do?"  The premise features actors displaying morally questionable behavior in public. The public's response, or lack of, is filmed. The goal is for someone to step in and when that happens it is celebrated. When it doesn't it's explored.
    Yes, it verges on the cheesy reality t.v. side, but I think its hold on me is  because lately I've been thinking about our judgment on what is considered something worthy of moral outcry and what is not. When is it okay to cry "foul" and when is it better to say, "mind your own business?"
    In the Serenity Prayer that serves as the conscience of such groups as Al Anon, it says, "Grant me the ability to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can."
    Usually this serves as a reminder that you can't change others, nor should you try. That you can only change yourself, your own behavior and attitudes. Which I totally understand (and fail to successfully incorporate into my life way too often).     But there is a lot of gray space there. If someone is being hurt and your intervention or voice isn't going to change that someone getting hurt, does that mean its wise to be silent?
    It all comes down to what you expect to change.  For example, if a drunken man is at a bar with a young child, your voice and actions can change the man driving that child anywhere, but there is very little chance it going to change whether or not the man gets drunk again.
    If a person is being bullied because of his race, religion or sexual persuasion, you are probably not going to change the bully's attitude and prejudice by speaking up, but you can change the acceptance of the bullying.
    Too often we don't speak up because we think it won't change anything. It does change things, but you have to change your expectations of what will change. Forget trying to change the person. Change the environment in which that person operates. 
    I have written before about the bully's universal defect of not minding his or her business and that is correct. It is not anybody's business how people look, talk, or who they love or what they believe as long as it doesn't directly negatively affect your life -- and "directly" is the key word here because it doesn't count if someone's lifestyle negatively affects you internally--that's your business, not theirs.
    I'm talking about actual interruptions into your life. For example, if someone doesn't agree with your politics fine, that may make you uncomfortable, but it doesn't directly affect your life. That's their business. Someone protests your politics on a public street, yes, internally uncomfortable, but still its your problem and their business. That is not to say you shouldn't express your beliefs and disagreement, appropriately, if you choose.  If  that someone makes threatening calls to you or prevents you from going to work, school, church, that affects your life. They are no longer minding their own business. They are minding yours. They are bullying you.
    Speaking out against cruelty or potentially harmful situations is not butting into someone else's business. It is our business. It's your business, and mine.
    We stand by all too often and shake our heads at the state of our town, our country, our world. History has shown us that when this happens, the most amazing atrocities can happen.
    Speak up and speak out.  Your voice may be lonely, but not for long.