Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Guess what I did today?

This is actually what inspired me to go ahead and make the appointment.  I'm sure Barry would be pleased.  Maybe I can still get the certificate he promised.

BYLINE: By Dave Barry,
>>> McClatchy Newspapers
>>> OK. You turned 50. You know you're supposed to get a colonoscopy.
>>> But you haven't.
>>> Here are your reasons:
>>> 1. You've been busy.
>>> 2. You don't have a history of cancer in your family.
>>> 3. You haven't noticed any problems.
>>> 4. You don't want a doctor to stick a tube
>>> 17,000 feet up your behind.
>>> Let's examine these reasons one at a time.
>>> No, wait, let's not.
>>> Because you and I both know that the only real reason is No. 4. This is
>>> natural. The idea of having another human, even a medical human, becoming
>>> deeply involved in what is technically known as your "behindular zone"
>>> gives you the creeping willies. I know this because I am like you, except
>>> worse. I yield to nobody in the field of being a pathetic weenie medical
>>> coward. I become faint and nauseous during even very minor medical
>>> procedures such as making an appointment by phone. It's much worse when I
>>> come into physical contact with the medical profession. More than one
>>> doctor's office has a dent in the floor caused by my forehead striking it
>>> seconds after I got a shot.
>>> In 1997, when I turned 50, everybody told me I should get a colonoscopy.
>>> I agreed that I definitely should, but not right away. By following this
>>> policy, I reached age 55 without having had a colonoscopy. Then I did
>>> something so pathetic and embarrassing that I am frankly ashamed to tell
>>> you about it.
>>> What happened was, a giant 40 - foot replica of a human colon came toMiami
>>> Beach. Really. It's an educational exhibit called the Colossal Colon,
>>> and it was on a nationwide tour to promote awareness of colo - rectal
>>> cancer. The idea is, you crawl through the Colossal Colon, and you
>>> encounter various educational items in there, such as polyps, cancer and
>>> hemorrhoids the size of regulation volleyballs, and you go, ' Whoa, I
>>> better find out if I contain any of these things, ' and you get a
>>> colonoscopy.
>>> If you are as a professional humor writer, and there is a giant colon
>>> within a 200 - mile radius, you are legally obligated to go see it. So I
>>> went to Miami Beach and crawled through the Colossal Colon. I wrote a
>>> column about it, making tasteless colon jokes. But I also urged everyone
>>> to get a colonoscopy. I even, when I emerged from the Colossal Colon,
>>> signed a pledge stating that I would get one. But I didn't get one.
>>> I was a fraud, a hypocrite, a liar. I was practically a member of
>>> Congress.
>>> Five more years passed. I turned 60, and I still hadn't gotten a
>>> colonoscopy. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I got an e - mail from my brother
>>> Sam, who is 10 years younger than I am, but more mature. The e - mail was
>>> addressed to me and my middle brother, Phil. It said:
>>> Dear Brothers,
>>> I went in for a routine colonoscopy and got the dreaded diagnosis: cancer.
>>> We're told it's early and that there is a good prognosis that they can get
>>> it all out, so, fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that. And of
>>> course they told me to tell my siblings to get screened. I imagine you both
>>> have.
>>> Um. Well.
>>> First I called Sam.
>>> He was hopeful, but scared.
>>> We talked for a while, and when we hung up, I called my friend Andy Sable,
>>> a gastroenterologist, to make an appointment for a colonoscopy. A few
>>> days later, in his office, Andy showed me a color diagram of the colon, a
>>> lengthy organ that appears to go all over the place, at one point passing
>>> briefly through Minneapolis.
>>> Then Andy explained the colonoscopy procedure to me in a thorough,
>>> reassuring and patient manner. I nodded thoughtfully, but I didn't really
>>> hear anything he said, because my brain was shrieking, quote, "HE'S GOING
>>> I left Andy's office with some written instructions, and a prescription for
>>> a product called "MoviPrep," which comes in a box large enough to hold a
>>> microwave oven. I will discuss MoviPrep in detail later; for now, suffice
>>> it to say, that we must never allow it to fall into the hands of America's
>>> enemies. I spent the next several days productively sitting around being
>>> nervous. Then, on the day before my colonoscopy, I began my preparation.
>>> In accordance with my instructions, I didn't eat any solid food that day;
>>> all I had was chicken broth, which is basically water, only with less
>>> flavor. Then, in the evening, I took the MoviPrep.
>>> You mix two packets of powder together in a one - liter plastic jug, then
>>> you fill it with lukewarm water. (For those unfamiliar with the metric
>>> system, a liter is about 32 gallons.) Then you have to drink the whole
>>> jug. This takes about an hour, because MoviPrep tastes (and here I am being
>>> kind) like a mixture of goat spit and urinal cleanser, with just a hint of
>>> lemon.
>>> The instructions for MoviPrep, clearly written by somebody with a great
>>> sense of humor, state that after you drink it, "a loose watery bowel
>>> movement may result."
>>> This is kind of like saying that after you jump off your roof, you may
>>> experience contact with the ground. MoviPrep is a nuclear laxative.
>>> I don't want to be too graphic, here, but: Have you ever seen a space
>>> shuttle launch? This is pretty much the MoviPrep experience, with you as
>>> the shuttle. There are times when you wish the commode had a seat belt.
>>> You spend several hours pretty much confined to the bathroom, spurting
>>> violently. You eliminate everything. And then, when you figure you must
>>> be totally empty, you have to drink another liter of MoviPrep, at which
>>> point, as far as I can tell, your bowels travel into the future and start
>>> eliminating food that you have not even eaten yet.
>>> After an action - packed evening, I finally got to sleep.
>>> The next morning my wife drove me to the clinic. I was very nervous. Not
>>> only was I worried about the procedure, but I had been experiencing
>>> occasional return bouts of MoviPrep spurtage. I was thinking, "What if I
>>> spurt on Andy?" How do you apologize to a friend for something like that?
>>> Flowers would not be enough.
>>> At the clinic I had to sign many forms acknowledging that I understood and
>>> totally agreed with whatever the h**ll the forms said. Then they led me to
>>> a room full of other colonoscopy people, where I went inside a little
>>> curtained space and took off my clothes and put on one of those hospital
>>> garments designed by sadist perverts, the kind that, when you put it on,
>>> makes you feel even more naked than when you are actually naked.
>>> Then a nurse named Eddie put a little needle in a vein in my left hand.
>>> Ordinarily I would have fainted, but Eddie was very good, and I was already
>>> lying down. Eddie also told me that some people put vodka in their
>>> MoviPrep.
>>> At first I was ticked off that I hadn't thought of this, but then I
>>> pondered what would happen if you got yourself too tipsy to make it to the
>>> bathroom, so you were staggering around in full Fire Hose Mode. You would
>>> have no choice but to burn your house.
>>> When everything was ready, Eddie wheeled me into the procedure room, where
>>> Andy was waiting with a nurse and an anesthesiologist. I did not see the
>>> 17,000 - foot tube, but I knew Andy had it hidden around there somewhere. I
>>> was seriously nervous at this point. Andy had me roll over on my left side,
>>> and the anesthesiologist began hooking something up to the needle in my
>>> hand.
>>> There was music playing in the room, and I realized that the song was
>>> "Dancing Queen" by Abba. I remarked to Andy that, of all the songs that
>>> could be playing during this particular procedure, "Dancing Queen" has to
>>> be the least appropriate. "You want me to turn it up?" said Andy, from
>>> somewhere behind me.
>>> "Ha ha," I said.
>>> And then it was time, the moment I had been dreading for more than a
>>> decade. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself, because I am going to tell
>>> you, in explicit detail, exactly what it was like.
>>> I have no idea.
>>> Really. I slept through it.
>>> One moment, Abba was shrieking "Dancing Queen ! Feel the beat from the
>>> tambourine . . ." and the next moment, I was back in the other room, waking
>>> up in a very mellow mood. Andy was looking down at me and asking me how I
>>> felt.
>>> I felt excellent.
>>> I felt even more excellent when Andy told me that it was all over, and that
>>> my colon had passed with flying colors. I have never been prouder of an
>>> internal organ.
>>> But my point is this: In addition to being a pathetic medical weenie, I was
>>> a complete moron. For more than a decade I avoided getting a procedure that
>>> was, essentially, nothing. There was no pain and, except for the MoviPrep,
>>> no discomfort.
>>> I was risking my life for nothing.
>>> If my brother Sam had been as stupid as I was, if, when he turned 50, he
>>> had ignored all the medical advice and avoided getting screened he still
>>> would have had cancer.
>>> He just wouldn't have known.
>>> And by the time he did know, by the time he felt symptoms, his situation
>>> would have been much, much more serious.
>>> But because he was a grown - up, the doctors caught the cancer early, and
>>> they operated and took it out. Sam is now recovering and eating what he
>>> describes as "really, really boring food." His prognosis is good, and
>>> everybody is optimistic, fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that.
>>> Which brings us to you, Mr. or Mrs. or Miss or Ms. Over - 50 - And - Hasn't
>>> - Had - a - Colonoscopy yet...
>>> Here's the deal: You either have colorectal cancer, or you don't. If you
>>> do, a colonoscopy will enable doctors to find it and do something about it.
>>> And if you don't have cancer, believe me, it's very reassuring to know you
>>> don't.
>>> There is no sane reason for you not to have it done. I am so eager for you
>>> to do this that I am going to induce you with an Exclusive Limited Time
>>> Offer. If you, after reading this, get a colonoscopy, let me know by
>>> sending a self - addressed stamped envelope to Dave Barry Colonoscopy
>>> Inducement, The Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132.
>>> I will send you back a certificate, signed by me and suitable for framing
>>> if you don't mind framing a cheesy certificate, stating that you are a
>>> grown - up who got a colonoscopy!
>>> Accompanying this certificate will be a square of limited - edition custom
>>> - printed toilet paper with an image of Miss Paris Hilton on it. You may
>>> frame this also, or use it in whatever other way you deem fit.
>>> But even if you don't want this inducement, please get a colonoscopy. If I
>>> can do it, you can do it. Don't put it off. Just do it.
>>> But be sure to stress that you want the non - Abba version.

Friday, March 20, 2009

My life as a fundamentalist

Did I ever mention I was a fundamentalist Christian in my teens?

The day before yesterday the mom of one of Connor's school friends called. Her son wanted to invite Conrad along on some sort of program that had to do with their church.

Her husband is the pastor of a church on Lombard; they live in the parsonage. One time I looked up their church online and it was clear that this is a congregation that believes the Bible is the final authority in all areas of human life. The site declares that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, literal word of God.

They're very nice people and have never imposed their religious beliefs on me. Their son skateboards with mine in the outdoor and indoor parks--religious belief doesn't seem to put restrictions on him in any way that would distinguish him from his peers. As far as I know, the subject of religion hasn't come up between them.

{"Mom! Mom! Come check this out! Come on, I want you to see this. Mom, you're taking too long. Fine. I'll print it...I don't know how to print it...can you help me print it ...you're addicted to that white computer...I'm hungry...you're going to fix me pancakes" (already had a grilled tuna-and-cheese sandwich)}

The Conference is a youth ministry outreach. It's taking place in Seattle, several hours away. He would attend a 'drama' tonight, spend the night with the youth group of a church up there, spend the entire day in conference and community service (and evangelizing? One participant's experience, posted online, did include "witnessing"), spend another night, and come back Sunday afternoon after worship.

I went to the website and realized the nature of event. This is like Billy Graham--it's being held in an arena that seats 16000 people. I found a page that describes the ...strategy of the thing:

  1. It is a neutral ground.

    ...There is something about getting students out of the same building and into a new climate that opens the doors to their hearts to hear and receive.

  2. It is an electrifying atmosphere.

    The atmosphere of an arena or auditorium crammed with thousands of teenagers surges and pulsates with excitement and anticipation. Before the first session ever starts students are already excited, screaming, yelling and pumped. This electrifying atmosphere prepares the way for spiritual impact. (Studies have shown that many movements have been launched by large group meetings, i.e. 1st & 2nd Great Awakenings.

  3. It builds a reaffirming climate.

    Over the course of a conference weekend, students build strong bonds with those in their youth ministry group(s). But they also are building an invisible bond with every student in the auditorium. They are together experiencing God and the mission he has called them to. This reaffirming climate insures positive reinforcement for teenagers when they stand to give their testimonies on the Saturday night portion of the youth ministry conference weekend. Student after student is applauded and affirmed by the teens that hear their stories.

  4. It produces a "movement" mentality in youth ministry.

    Students need to feel a part of something bigger. It is the way that God has wired them. Being a part of a conference where thousands of students gather for a common mission, many of these teenagers know for the first time in their lives that they are not alone. There is an army of students from across their city with the same passion, purpose and cause. The more students there are, the more this feeling is punctuated. The more it is punctuated, the stronger the likelihood that students on the fence will choose to be more than a spectator in the coming student awakening.


{now he's on his rollerblades, round and round the circle that is our upper floor plan. ker-chunk--clunk--clunk--ker-clunk Constant stream of chatter: "If Cody died, it would not be the Humane Society's fault." "When you get sick and you die...you go...to Heaven". "..Hell, is where there is a...Daredevil...that's Hell" "...Eighteen thousand miles an hour is very fast. Twenty-five miles an hour is too slow. Isn't it, Mom? Isn't it too slow?" Me, mind numbed, trying to think of how to explain that in different settings 25 mph might actually be fast, but he's moved on. "If Connor falls down that hill without a helmet on, he will injure his brain. He won't be able to talk, or to walk, or say anything, and he won't be strong..." "You have to pay lots of money to go to Africa. You have to pay ALL your money. If you go to Africa it's farther than going to Hollywood..."}

I remember big arena Christian conferences. Some version of that, come to think of it, is how I became a fundamentalist Christian in the first place.

We're a secular household now. Not hostile to religion, respectful of people's beliefs. And I understand that from the point of view of a fundamentalist Christian, all religions, including no religion at all are trumped by all-humans-are-sinners-and-Christ-died-so-his-blood-can-cleanse-your-sins-and belief-in-him-is-necessary-if-you're-to-have-eternal-life-in-heaven-or-eternal-torment-in-hell--your choice! Coming from there, then of course it seems a duty to 'save' humankind by bringing them the message of salvation.

To send Connor to such a conference, knowing no one but his friend, far from home and totally immersed, seems like tossing a glass of water into a river heading over a falls and saying, "your choice...make up your own mind".

Evangelists love this age group because their minds are just beginning to open into a whole new dimension of comprehension and thinking. But they're only at the very beginning of the ability to make meaningful choices and informed decisions. He may come to this path on his own, someday in the future. Putting him in a situation where the field is so steeply tilted in that direction seems foolhardy, though. To have his allegiance and heart captured now before he's had any other life experience seems rather like getting married at age 13.

It would be different if he was already a Christian, or inclined in that direction. The difference that makes a difference is that he'd then be strengthening and revitalizing his faith; celebrating it with other kids his age. To have him in a situation with strong peer pressure to make a decision that will affect much of his life's orientation, well that is not an informed decision, freely made.

So I told Eddie's mom that it didn't work for Connor to go this weekend. I debated the merits of a fuller explanation. I really do like and respect this family and would like to show that by being forthright. If she would have asked I probably would have been more frank. The adage about parenting, making sure you're not giving a child more information than what he's asking for, applies to adult relationships as well. She accepted my refusal and nothing further seemed necessary. Did we need to have the talk that acknowledges our religious differences last night? No, not really. Do we need to have the talk at all? That remains to be seen.


...as in 'down in'.

Scott woke up with a low-grade temperature this morning, and since it was high well into the afternoon yesterday I opted to miss school today. It's only a half-day anyway.

On any other school morning Scott would be hell to get out of bed. This morning he's up, totally cheerful, at 7.

He has an obsession about model rockets that seems to have sprung to life this morning. In the few moments I've been sitting here he has called me to come and see the rocket he's found online--5 times.

He doesn't realize that getting up is a factor. I have my laptop on my lap, on a portable laptop "desk" deep in an easy chair. To get up I have to transfer the whole shebang to the coffee table, but first I have to move my coffee cup, which is sitting where the computer usually lives. I have to heave the chair into an upright position and heave myself into an upright position to walk to the kitchen and ooh and ahh over something I'm not interested in...at all. And know that my future for today is other interruptions to "Come look!" "Mom! Come see this!" It is as much effort to fend him off as it is to go and look.

And the entire time I'm explaining yet again that I am doing something I don't want to be interrupted in, that when I get up I will come and see what it is he's found--I'm aware of the irony of how often I interrupt him in something he's interested in doing to have him go do something he'd rather not.

Effing hypocrite.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Really down

I was really looking forward to today, as it is one of the two days each week where I am free of obligation while the boys are in school. A week ago I got Thursday, but it was at the expense of Tuesday: Connor was sick Monday and Tuesday. And in one of life's little ironies, that Monday kids at his school were in testing, so that would have been a day I wouldn't have volunteered.

The week before that there was a teacher's planning day on Friday, so no school. And the day before that, "my" Thursday saw Gary staying home from work because he didn't feel well. Next week is spring break: one week for Connor, and two for Scott.

Guess it's obvious that I'm not alone today.

Scott was restless in the night, complaining of being too hot. Gary: "Do you think he has a fever?" "Well, I don't know; he usually sleeps hot" (please let it be that he's just sleeping hot, please, please, please). Scott got up to use the toilet and threw up. I tried to take his temperature, but I couldn't get him to keep the thermometer back, under his tongue. He held it in his front teeth instead. I quit taking it before the alarm rang, when I saw that he did have a temperature that was above the threshold for keeping him out of school. He complained of headache; I gave him ibuprofen.

Which brightened him considerably. If he'd been behaving the way he is now, cheerily hyperactive, huge appetite, and talking non-stop, I'd probably have sent him to school (without a temperature, of course). It's probably an artificial bump up from the medication. Guess I'll know in about 6 hours. In the meantime he's fully active.

And I just feel...really down. Not a very good sport.

I remind myself of managed care health insurance, the kind that's "capitated". That means, the plan allows for a certain amount of services and money to be spent per patient per year. Whatever is left over the provider gets to keep. What this has done is set up an incentive to not treat, because the parties involved have come to think of the money as their money.

Just as I've come to think of school days as my time.

Poor Scott deserves a mother who is not plunged in the doldrums at the thought of spending a sick day home with him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Really. Big. Deal.

In the past 2 days a confidential document that was prepared by the the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2007 was leaked. It is among the obligations of the Red Cross to visit prisoners of war, check up on their condition and the compliance of the captors with the Geneva Conventions. The report was only for the eyes of the acting general counsel of the CIA, John Rizzo, and whoever he would choose to show it. It concerned the 14 high-value detainees who'd been held in the so called black sites, out of reach of Red Cross monitoring, in some cases for years.

The document states definitively that the treatment of these detainees was torture.

Now that looks like a smoking gun.

Considering the audience this report was intended for, this is a very significant conclusion.

The United States engaged in torture. It was under the direction and approval of the highest officials in the land, who in turn say they were backed up by the United States Justice Department. We have the paper trail of some of the memorandums that detail the efforts to find legal underpinnings for what the Bush administration was doing with detainees. They were later repudiated and withdrawn by the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, a Republican appointed by Bush.

The United States engaged in torture, and our president and his secretary of state bald-facedly lied when they denied it.

"The gloves came off" after 9/11, said Cofer Black, former head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center. He was quoted multiple times, including an article by Mark Danner in the upcoming New York Review of Books. The remark hints at one implication for me, and a different one, equally true, for Danner. The implication Danner highlights is that 9/11 happened because the gloves were 'on'. 9/11 was not a result of infighting between US agencies, a "failure of the imagination" of these agencies, miscommunication between agencies, and failure to take the threat seriously enough--no, 9/11 happened because of fetters that had been placed on the US executive after the abuses of the Nixon presidency. The lesson: the President needs monarchical power to "keep us safe".

For me the implication is that the ideals that democracies are founded on, of rule of law, due process of law, humane treatment of prisoners and human rights that make us a free people, are fine in times of peace and stability. But they can be wiped aside and dismissed in the wake of crisis. In other words, our rights and ideals as a nation are for 'sissies'; the real world says when there's a war they no longer apply.

That doesn't say much about our allegiance to these ideals if we fold them up and stick them in a closet when attacked. It seems to say that we believe in them when it's convenient, and when they become inconvenient we put them away.

Perhaps I'm remiss in generalizing my own response to the ICRC report to the American populace at large, but I've not sensed an upwelling of outrage and repudiation. Is apathy an American trait, or could it be a sort of fatigue? Maybe it's because this isn't really news; since the revelations of the torture memos in 2004 and the black sites in 2005 we've seen a steady dribbling of leaked documents, accompanied by official denials. By time the facts are confirmed and summed into a conclusion by a document such as the ICRC report it's not new really, just a rehash of what has been known already. I can't deny that the whole issue seems an abstraction to me (and perhaps the American people? Which is why there isn't a wholesale expression of condemnation at this fresh reminder?), and that bothers me. I should feel outrage, as tangible as nausea, pressing against my insides.

I think I'm overwhelmed by this stark question: is it naive to believe we can behave decently and still keep ourselves safe from enemies? Or is there a dirty little secret that our ideals rest on a basic bedrock of thuggery, face it like a big girl, this is reality? And if so, how do we reconcile this with our beliefs? Can we really tout our professed values and ignore the core?

To begin to answer this question, the American people need to investigate this for ourselves. We need to know what torture gained us, and what it has cost. (As Danner pointed out, one of the prices we paid was the ability to bring the 14 detainees to justice. How can they be tried if the evidence was extracted under torture? Does this amount to justice for the people who suffered and died in the twin towers?) We need to assess whether it was worth it. There needs to be a strict examination of the details of the assertion that torturing these men prevented and foiled further attacks. We need to be able to answer the question for ourselves: Can we behave decently, and still be safe?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Excerpts, Spring 2007; Choice vs Decision

From a journal two springs ago

Mon 1034

Perhaps something I should do is to take notice of each moment that requires a choice from me; and of each moment I make a choice

There’s a deeper, more automatic level of choice, such as, even though I choose each minute I sit in this chair, I don’t have to think over it each time I choose. That’s one of those things I guess our minds recognize, that this is not a choice that needs to rise to the front of someone’s awareness.

This idea of making choices intrigues me. It’s another thing like matter breaking down to molecules down to atoms and etc. How far into infinity does it go? Because if I’m making choices about who I think I’ll marry, or if I want to go to Colo or Alaska, those are obvious points of choice, but how intimate do these choices go? Can we really take responsibility for every choice, no matter of how micro a level it is on? I choose to sit in this chair; I choose to be writing this…are we ultimately operating from increasingly smaller levels of choice that go very deeply into our very moments?

Perhaps these are the things that Sharon can give me support it…to see if I’m on the right track.

What kind of choosing is involved when there are positives and negatives regarding either alternative. I guess it means there might be a part of me that is driving the choice a certain direction—some old belief, or maybe some circumstance—legitimate situations where there either is no choice, or at some level we perceive there is no choice, I mean, to us it feels as if we had no choice.

Like I had a choice about leaving home today and maybe visiting with Don. I felt ambivalent about it. And I remember a real pull of tension inside when I was making the choice. My pleasure at being home conflicting with feeling (with some intensity) that it is time for a visit. That’s where the desires that influence the choices conflict and seem to be at an impasse. And it does have that two immovable forces in collision feeling to it too. Lots of energy pushing in opposition.

Perhaps it’s helpful to have an ability to assess more consciously the choices we usually don’t know we’re making.

What Tina said really struck me; about how all the time she and Gene ‘choose’ to be together.

It’s on a deeper level than the fact that

Joy called, quite a while ago, and so I didn’t finish that sentence. Maybe I’ll remember it later, just like I remembered what I’d read in the Buddha/Married book…something one of her interviewees did: set his watch to beep every hour so he would be reminded to check in to himself and be aware of how he felt. I didn’t set my watch, but I’ve been reminding myself to do it. Probably not regularly, but still, I wouldn’t have thought myself capable of having that kind of awareness.

So Joy and I talked about choice. I almost get this apprehension of ‘choice’ being a sort of core of being. Something elemental, as if ‘choice’ is the essence of god. Like maybe it’s choice that holds our very atoms together—if it is random where an electron will be, isn’t it a matter of ‘choice’ where it is?

So anyway, at any given moment we are making a choice. Doing nothing is a choice. We often feel as if there IS no choice, when that is a mistaken belief. Joy said since she’s been a teenager she’s lived her life at that level of choice—knowing she’s choosing something and what the consequences are, I have lived long at a level of believing my choices were limited. That there were areas I believed I didn’t have a choice.

And choice implies responsibility, which I guess means knowing and accepting the consequences of one’s actions.

I suppose knowing yourself, means knowing when you’re making a choice at many deeper levels of choice. It’s funny how the word “choice” differs from “decision”. Or decide. Now I can choose whether to pursue that or not—the difference between divide, and choose, and if it means anything.

A little later yet:

I wonder if some of it is the beauty of this day. I felt a desire to go out and explore our property. This is a good time for it because the new growth hasn’t choked off the deer pathways. I saw a herd of elk a few weeks ago heading for the little creek and they made some pretty clear paths. I’m a little surprised at just how spongy the ground feels, though. It’s very soft and it just makes me wonder about how solidly some of the trees that are close to the house are rooted. Anyway, there was a very pretty light on the ferns and trees. A lot of moss. I felt happy, or buoyed, or something, walking in there.

I was also heartened by some insights yesterday afternoon before they came home. The fact that the ways I object to Gary’s treatment of me—has to do with my sense that he’s treating me as if I’ve meant him ill will. As if a question I’ve asked him has been directed personally at him to criticize him. I think that’s a lot of what I react to, is he’s treating me like someone who has deliberately done him harm. It’s just never occurred to me to step back from my reaction and address that. Perhaps in each of those moments I can stay present long enough to tell him that when I say something, my intent is to inform, and not wound. Perhaps he really believes I’m trying to wound him deliberately when I ask him to change his behavior.
Somehow, yesterday, I saw a logical way where maybe we could find our way back to being warmer with each other.

Sometimes, I’m honestly not sure if I loved him for the right reasons. At the time I thought he delighted me, but had I known then what I do now (and I did have some hints), would I have assured myself I loved him? Maybe the main reason I “loved” him was that he seemed like a suitable partner to marry, and I was tired of being single. Maybe he was just the most likely person around when I began to really WANT to have a marriage and a family. That made him look pretty good, and tipped my perceptions toward feeling I was “in love” with him. I honestly don’t know whether that was the case or not. I should have gotten it how he takes honest communication personally, feels criticized and then behaves resentfully; there were strong messages in the doubts I had about his mother. So I’m just not certain from this vantage if I’d REALLY loved HIM, or if I loved the possibilities of getting on with my life that he represented. Which may have led me to see a relationship with him through a softer lens than I might ordinarily. So the standard idea of trying to recapture something lost by thinking of what drew us together in the first place; I’m not sure that’s really valid here. I don’t think I’m really choosing Gary…I’m choosing AGAINST disrupting our household, putting our boys through a few brutal years—I just don’t honestly know that this is something they could pass through unscathed. If Gary and I can’t do marriage very well, I can’t imagine that we could have anything but an emotionally upsetting divorce.

I AM going to try, though, to stay present so if he acts passively aggressive to me I can breathe a little space into it and instead of “hit him back”I can reveal myself instead.

Anyway, all this stuff I’ve seen in him these past years tells me that if I feel he resents me, then that means he must feel he has a reason to. And perhaps what’s been missing is that I haven’t explicitly told him in those moments that I haven’t intended to wound him.

I had a thought, an optimism, maybe that that could turn around our dynamic. Maybe let us feel friendly toward each other again, even affectionate, and be able to have the boys have a home grounded in good will, if not necessarily romantic love…