Archives For coping

100% Pure Molly


No. This isn’t about that Molly–the drug. But it is about 100% pure Molly of another kind. My son’s best friend, Molly the canine. He so loves her that, since getting a job, he pays his sister to take care of her.

I digress, and need to backup to the beginning. It was three years ago that Molly entered our lives. We got her as a rescue. As such, two things are true of her:

1) We don’t exactly know her breed–other than possibly part Cockapoo.

2) She was spayed at just weeks of age.

Number one above isn’t so much of an issue as is (and isn’t it always) number two. You see the veterinary literature suggests that spaying too young can lead to health issues. These can include growth and/or maturity, cognitive problems, and in Molly’s case, seizures.

So here we had this cute, sweet, playful little puppy doing the things puppies do: pooping, peeing, playing, chewing…

And seizing. Out of nowhere, she would drop, losing control of at least one side of her body. At the time, we didn’t know of the link between spaying and seizures; we thought she was just sick. Sick, and that the rescue shelter hadn’t disclosed the issue. When contacted, they affirmed that we could bring her back; whereupon she would be promptly put down.

We weren’t about to do that.

So we just loved her.

Molly is still with us, has grown out of the seizures, but still has a problem which had persisted since puppyhood:

She doesn’t just chew; she snaps.

We’ll be watching out daughter playing with Molly (this little girl loves animals), and  they’re happy, having a great time, frolicking , running, and then for no particular reason at all snap! go her jaws. This is not a playful bite, but a quick, powerful  slamming. Molly inst upset–isn’t snarling, growling, and she hasn’t been hurt. The closest we can figure is that she’s overwrought–over-excited–amd this is how she behaves. Being a dog, we’re not sure that even she knows why. It just is.

Not being canine behaviorists, we can only speculate that PTSD being a thing with people, it’s entirely possible that it’s a thing with dogs as well. Molly suffered childhood trauma: was born into less than ideal conditions, removed from that setting, cleaned up, operated upon, separated from her mother and siblings, introduced into a new environment, and then to top it all off had seizures as well.

It’s no wonder that life sometimes is too much for her. Why she’s dysfunctional. Why she gets anxious outdoors, preferring the security of her crate.

I bring that all up, because it’s like that with dysfunctional people, too; they probably don’t even know why they are they way they are. They have suffered some kind of childhood trauma, and adopted a particular set of coping skills to make life survivable. Understanding this–like Molly–give us a way to love them, have them in our lives.
One could, for instance, be having this awesome conversation with your loved one, be feeling the familial bond, like you’re relating, then the <snap>  comes. Just like Molly, out of nowhere, one is cut, emotionally bleeding.

We’re all conditioned to trust our family members, but then get seriously sidelined when they let us down, hurt us. We have to bear in mind where they’ve come from, the hurts they’ve borne, and go prepared. That to my mind is the difference between a reaction and a response.Forewarned is forearmed.

Make no mistake: this is  not excusing bad behavior, but understanding its origins. Like Molly, people don’t often know  they’re being hurtful. Like your loved one (or mine) for instance. They says things probably because that’s how they were spoken to. They don’t know there’s something wrong. Just like Molly getting over excited and snapping her jaws. She’s not trying to be bad, she’s not trying to hurt anyone; she’s just being Molly. 

Understanding this is the difference between reacting to a perceived (or actually hurt) and and having a prepared response. It’s knowing that the hurt will come, and having a plan going into that time without always being so hurt, so caught off guard, by them. We go into any interaction with the understanding that sooner or later the <snap> is coming. In the case of Molly, she goes back into her crate for a cooling off period. With people, much as we want to at times, we can’t simply lock them away.

But we can excuse ourselves, having determined in advance just what our limits are, and what to do when those boundaries are crossed. It could be words: “that’s unfair,” “it hurts my feelings when…,” or it could be simply getting up and leaving ourselves. If my family has learned anything Molly, it’s that when she’s acting out reprisals, reproach, recrimination, or call it discipline doesn’t work. People aren’t so very different; defensive behavior will almost always escalate situations. Or as the Bible says, “a soft answer turns away wrath.” In the case of these difficult situations, and especially in cases where people just don’t even know they’re being hurtful (and tempers can easily flare), sometimes that soft answer is simply walking away–thereby gaining much needed space and perspective.

It’s amazing what we can learn from a little dog, isn’t it?

How do you handle the Molly’s in your life?

Are you tired? Do you know what it’s like to try to sleep, only to toss and turn? And then sleep fitfully, only to waken early to answer nature’s call? Do you shuffle through the days, dreaming of your next caffeine fix? Do you long for another world because the thought of continuing on this way is just too exhausting to contemplate?

Have you been there?

I’m there, too. In the first Addams Family movie, someone asks Wednesday what she’s dressed as for Halloween; she replied, “I’m a homicidal maniac. We look just like everyone else.” And so it is with folks suffering from chronic conditions: we look just like everyone else, but oftentimes we’re dying on the inside. For myself, I have a cocktail of maladies which each contribute to an overwhelming exhaustion. I have thyroid disease, anemia, sleep apnea, and insomnia. I try to compensate for these things through a variety of means: vitamins, supplements, medicine, a CPAP machine, and caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine. There are days when I can easily consume half a gram of my favorite alkaloid. Beyond that, when one is this beyond tired, the body tries as one of its strategies to replace the lost rest, to fill the energy gap with food. I’ll eat things I don’t normally eat, hoping I suppose to top off. Even as I write this I’m slouched in my chair almost Stephen Hawking-like in my posture. Writing is as much an emotional endeavor as it is an intellectual one, and I’ve not had any emotional energy to spare. So the very thought of stringing words together in some kind of cohesive, cogent manner just makes me want to run away and cower in fear.

I just don’t have what it takes right now.

And I’m afraid I never will again.

This is why it’s been so quiet around these parts. I mean I used to love it here. I loved sitting down and writing. I loved the interaction with readers. But I feel like my mojo has exited stage left.

I feel like a shell of my former self. I mean I’m getting through, but it’s not fun. Don’t misunderstand: I don’t feel depressed, but I sure don’t feel like myself. It’s far easier to kick back, and watch TV than it is to make these words march across the page. To actually do something creative. It used to be fun! What happened to that? Where is that guy? I’ve forgotten what it feels like to be him. Then again, I figure that’s okay: he’s still here. He’s just passing through a difficult season right now. He’ll be back. He’ll find purpose again.

Jesus isn’t done telling his story yet. Else why does He allow him to continue on?

His grace is sufficient. <–I’m holding onto that. And if anyone tells me this is my best life now, they best get acquainted with fisticuffs fairly quickly. ‘Cause Homie don’t play.

Would you look at that? The words are still there. Who would have thought?

Bless you for reading.

How do you deal with your tiredness?

Pascal said that we all have a “God-shaped blank,” a hole in our souls. Problem is, we try to fill it with anything and everything but God. I’m not just writing of non-believers, but Christians, too. We don’t get a pass just because we’re saved. No, we still carry around “this body of death,” and as such will sometimes often try to cope, to fill the perceived holes in our souls, with things.

Instead of God.

C.S. Lewis (paraphrasing) said we much about with drink and sex–when all the splendors of heaven are available to us. It’s not that our passions are too strong; rather, they’re too weak. But Jesus said “blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed.” And that, I think, is the crux of it: like Abraham, we believe, but think we can take the short road to the good thing God has promised. Yet it seems there is no shortcut to righteousnes, for even Jesus “learned obedience through those things which he suffered.” If the Son of God Himself had to learn obedience, how much more ourselves?

Yet we don’t like pain (I don’t), and will try to cope, mask, cover it however we can: through food, entertainment, sex, porn, drugs, alcohol, etc. Problem is, we treat Jesus like just another bottle in the medicine cabinet: we try a little, and when it doesn’t work, we pull something else off the shelf. Proving that we’re no different than the wayward children of Israel (going after foreign gods).

We don’t know how to endure. We are a culture of now. If You, Sovereign Lord, aren’t going to come through, well then, we’ll just hedge our bets. Because You’re too slow, distant, implacable, invisible. You don’t know. You promise life, and by God we’re going to find it somewhere. You just don’t know.

Yet He does:

Jesus was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

And the beauty of His sacrifice is that we don’t have to anymore. We don’t have to sin: we have a new nature. Yet we still carry around this dead flesh, and that in a fallen world. “For the Spirit lusts against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit–the two are contrary to one another.”

“Who shall deliver us from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ Our Lord.” Thanks be to God!

But do we really believe it? Do we live like we believe it? Most times I confess I do not. And so we come back around again…

Trying to fill those holes. Which is why, for me, the answer is no longer things. I’ve tried things: gone to conferences, tried liquor, stuffed my feelings with food.

None of them, not a single thing, ever gave me life. Life, hope, is only found in the nail-scarred hands of the One Who died for me. I’m done beating myself up for my failures, and giving them to Him. I’m also, in the interests of developing better strategies, surrendering my pride and going for counseling.

There are things I’ve held onto for too long. And I need help laying them down.

How about you: what do you do to cope? Where do you try to find life? Is there anything you need to lay down?

“You’re not like the other kids,” I said to my son. “I mean in all the ways that matter, you are. In your hopes, and dreams. The things you want from life. That stuff.”

“What do you mean, dad?” he asked. “If I’m the same, how am I different?”

“It’s like this, son: sometimes your mother and I, we forget. We forget, and take you to the movies, or out to eat… We forget how sick you can get. About the headaches, the nausea, the indigestion. All that stuff that comes from eating food with corn in it. I think you forget, too. Or maybe you’re fed up with not being able to eat what all the other kids eat. So you cheat.”

—————-

This is a journey that my family and I have been on for the past several years. I wrote of it in a post entitled How Blue Like Jazz Saved Me, which was about the journey of finally coming to a diagnosis regarding my son’s corn allergy. Nobody knew anything, and the detours along the way included seeing a pediatric oncologist…

I know, it may not seem like such a huge deal, but just try to avoid corn-containing foods (or drinks), and get back to me. Like Mr. White in Quantum of Solace, corn has people everywhere. It’s in everything! Plastics are made from it, soft drinks are sweetened with it, and even MSG is synthesized from it.

Say what you will about Chick-fil-A (they use MSG), but it’s one of life’s cruel ironies that it’s not something I can share with my son. Something as simple as a chicken sandwich! I know that’s not huge, but it is one of my (dwindling list of) guilty pleasures.

And as he gets older, the consequences just mount up. Lest you think I’m overststing things, he’s had both a colonoscopy, and an endoscopy, and both showed lesions–lesions where linings were irritated because his diet consisted of foods his body rebelled against. The price of indulgence maybe be small now; later, he could be looking at Crohn’s, colitis, or worse…

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

So I write this today more for him, than I do for you, constant reader: take this seriously now before you wind up in a world of hurt. I know it’s not fair. I know you want to be like the other kids. I know eating, or drinking, these things won’t kill you now (like someone with a peanut allergy), but what about down the road? Do you want to shorten your lifespan over things you can avoid?

I guess what I’m saying, son, is that you’ve got to learn to think long term. Think about consequences. How will this effect you in the future when you’re a husband, and dad?

These are the cards you’ve been dealt; how will you play them?

And how about you, constant reader? Do you have food allergies? How do you handle them? Is there anything you can’t eat?