In The Moment

The Universal Law of Here and Now states that our tendency to cling to the past and grasp for the future is just an erroneous preoccupation with the idea of linear time. To live life to the fullest we need to focus on moment to moment events.

Yesterday my former wife, Betty, passed away after a 20 year battle with cancer. This event has brought me some sadness and put me in a place back in time. I’ve been on both sides of the cancer battle. First , as a caretaker for Betty and then as a survivor myself from throat cancer.

I do believe that it is harder on the caretaker than the patient. The patient has a schedule and rules to follow. Granted the treatment is grueling and at times you just want to quit. If it wasn’t for medical reasons, what you have done to your body would have you seeing a psychiatrist because of inflicting pain on yourself willingly.

The caretaker though, sees what you are going through. They see your hair falling out, your appearance changes and your weight drops. They try to cheer you up. They change menus trying to find something that you can eat and more importantly keep within you. They try there best to make your life as stress-free as possible.

As a good caretaker, the patient doesn’t see or sense or own fears. They have no idea of the financial situation their family is in. The caretaker does whatever they can do to make it possible for the patient to do nothing else but focus on their treatment and recovery.

I reflect and see that I wasn’t the best caretaker, nor was I the best patient. I did want to quit treatment. It was a demanding treatment. I lost my voice, I struggled to swallow, which made it difficult to eat, and my neck was burned from radio therapy. I know how much fear I gave my wife for wanting to quit, yet as a great caretaker, she supported me. Deep down she wanted me to continue treatment but she bit her tongue and hugged me. Eventually, with some nudging from doctors and nurses and her never ending support I did complete treatment.

As a caretaker, I did my best but I do feel I let Betty down as well as her family. I struggled with the bills and keeping them current. I wasn’t a good paternal figure for my step-children. I didn’t want conflict, nor did I wish to hear of their fears. I just wanted everything to go back to normal and forget this ever happened.

The reality is that I did do a good job. Could I do more? In hindsight, for sure I could have. Yet, I did everything I could at that time. The fact is that after being diagnosed with cancer Betty lived for another 20 years. She got to see all her kids finish schooling and all of them become parents themselves. She got to be a part of her six grand-children’s lives. Through our marriage, she got to travel throughout America and met people she would have never known and witnessed things that others have never experienced.

I say this because it is easy to shame myself for things that weren’t done correctly or done at all. Yet, finding it difficult to say I did do a good job and helped her have a fulfilled life. It’s not healthy to dwell on the past. It’s OK to look back on it – just don’t stare. Spending to much time looking back does nothing but destroy the present.

Double Standards

I have had this JPEG for a couple of months and find it very meaningful. If you look past a penis, breasts, and a vagina, it is thought-provoking. It speaks of a society filled with double standards as well as personal choices. It is why I saved this photo, in fact, it is my wallpaper on my laptop.

Let’s look at The Law of Choice which says that we have free-will and choice, we are never powerless, we can change our perception of people, places, and things.

If there is perfect freedom of choice, society wouldn’t have any double standards. The picture above is a perfect illustration of a double standard. The left side has a fit young lady announcing to her to date that she is a nudist. She’s comfortable and relaxed. Her date has a big smile thinking how lucky he is to have this lady as his date. He can stare and she won’t mind, she’s comfortable in her own skin.

On the right is a young man, doing the same thing to his date – telling her that he is a nudist. He too, is comfortable and relaxed. Yet, his date looks shocked, revolted, and maybe even fearful.

Both of the nude figures are sharing their lifestyle with their dates. Trying to make a story from the illustration, I see that both couples just came back from a dinner date. The nudists got their dates a cup of coffee and told them they’d be right back. They go to their bedroom and take off their clothes. They emerge from the room with their proclamation that they are nudists, to the thrill/fear of their dates. Both look ready to return to their bedroom if asked to put something on. The reality for both of them is that it’s a lifestyle and has nothing to do with sex. Yet, their dates see it differently. The man on the left is excited by the thought of what may happen, while the woman on the right is scared of what all this means. Neither one has a look of just simple acceptance.

It is just a cartoon, yet it does show how easily our thoughts and imaginations can run wild. Now imagine if the two dressed people were swapped in the photos. So the nudist was showing themselves to someone of the same sex. My own double standard mind would say that the woman would be more accepting than the man. In fact, the naked man might end up with a black eye.

It is because of choice that we can understand or we can judge. It is because of choice that we can be accepting or we can be disgusted. In my life my own choices have covered the whole spectrum, from understanding and accepting, to total disgust and judgement.

My own personal experiences in life has taught me that there is more than just black and white. There is a large grey area. A nude person doesn’t mean they want to have sex. The same can be said that a chubby person is not necessarily lazy. Just because a person didn’t finish school doesn’t make them dumb. Just as a nude woman isn’t a prostitute, nor a naked man a paedophile.

No matter what you believe or how you may judge the people in this illustration, I do believe it is wrong for the nudists to just shock their dates like that. The subject could have been handled while they were out and about, where everyone was dressed and content with how things were going. Then when they were in a more private place there wouldn’t be any surprises. The nudist would have known in advance what their guest thought and their guest would have known what to expect.

It was through the choices made earlier in the evening that led to the reactions later on. I believe that my Higher Power gave me one and only one gift in this life of mine. That is the freedom of choice. My whole life has been made up of choices – both healthy choices and unhealthy ones. No choice was good or bad – just healthy and unhealthy.

The healthy ones taught me how to succeed and accept the beauty in myself and others. While the unhealthy ones gave me the experience to improve, repent, and try again. Now when you look at that picture again do you see more than just a couple of naked people?

Thriving in Coronavirus

One of the things that prepared me for a lockdown in a coronavirus world was growing up in a home with two alcoholics. I grew up to constant yelling of one parent belittling the other. The other parent screaming from the pain of being punched in the eye. It was an insane way to grow up. The other sad part about it all was that was the baby of the family and could not turn to three older brothers for comfort and support.

What I had was a world of fantasy. A world of sports, where I was the hero, the owner of teams, and the commissioner. When I was a pre-adolescent child, I would play tackle football in our backyard all by myself. I created a scoreboard for basketball games which I also played by myself.

As I became a teenager the beatings my dad put on my mom became more intense. They went from her being a punching bag to being chased around the kitchen with a butcher knife. During her drunken episodes she’d find new places to hide and sleep it off, hoping to avoid the evil which would be returning home from work in a matter of hours. I got to the point that I didn’t care. In fact, I began to wish that she would just die, it would become a sure way for the insanity to stop.

At that time, pure peace was found when it was quiet. This comfort of peace stayed with me after my mom died and I was home alone. Sadly, this peace disappeared when I found alcohol. But before that, I could spend hours on the couch, with a Sports Illustrated Football Game on the coffee table in front of me. The teams were the Steelers, Cowboys, Dolphins, and seven others. They were the best teams from the late 70s.

The game had individualized stats for every team, so it was quite realistic. I would set up a nine game season. Each team would play each other once. Next to the game board, I had a notebook and a pencil and I kept the stats for every game. The season would last a couple of months, usually playing one game a day. By the way, a game lasted a little over an hour, so it did occupy my time.

I started doing this when I was 16 and kept it up into my early 20’s. I had two brothers who shamed me for wasting my time playing a kids game. It didn’t matter that it brought me comfort. It brought me peace from a childhood that showed me pure evil. It taught me that there was nothing wrong with staying home, by myself, because I was happy and far from feeling lonely.

I enjoyed that time and honestly, I forgot all about it until this new insanity in my life. Coronavirus. Covid 19. Whatever you want to call it, the premise is that for society to beat it, we need to stay home and stay away from crowds. No longer can a person go window shopping because they are lonely.

I’ve been at home for over a month and have read articles about the increase in spouse abuse. I believe it has happened because some people have never learned how to find peace and comfort within themselves.

My wife is similar to me, in that we are quite comfortable with the company of ourselves. We can sit in a room together all day and not really say anything to each other, yet we are at peace. There isn’t any underlying tension – just peace and comfort. I don’t expect her to keep me entertained, nor do I feel obligated to keep her entertained. Though, there are times I wish she would take notice, like right after I shower. Woooo, incoming shoe! Of course, I’m joking! I could go down a whole new path with this paragraph but I’ll save that for another day.

What I have learned through all this is that everything that happens in life is perfect. It may not make much sense at the time but it’s all perfect. It was the insanity of having alcoholic parents that programmed me into becoming an introvert. An introvert who found comfort with board games.

Over time the board games left. Also the peace and comfort left and wouldn’t return until I surrendered to alcoholism. That surrender led me to a Higher Power where I found that being myself and enjoying the quiet was a good way to live. I found a new spiritual way of life.

My old AA sponsor once told me that religion is for people scared of going to hell, while spirituality is for people who’ve been in hell. I know what hell is. I lived in hell. Spirituality has taught me that being home and being quiet was learned from the horrors and nightmares of my childhood.

We’re back

That’s right, my writings on the 12 Steps and 12 Promises of various recovery programs are back on an easy to find site. I left the internet world close to a year ago because of frustration with my previous web service. Basically it came down to the fact that I had no service. Over the course of two months my business e-mail disappeared and after four attempts to contact customer services with absolutely no response I gave up. The straw that broke my back was biting the bullet and by-passing e-mail correspondence and trying to contact them by phone. After 20 minutes, someone finally answered, which was a total waste of time. They couldn’t speak English, not even broken English. And I couldn’t speak Chinese or whatever language he was speaking.

I moved all my writings off that site and placed them all on blogspot. It’s a nice place for them but with no way for anyone to find those written words, my simple way of helping others was gone. The idea of recovery is to help others, in short, you’ll lose it if you keep it.

Anyway, this is a new site with different ways of uploading and publishing. So for now, it will be very simple, as far as templates, photos, or videos. It took me quite awhile to feel comfortable with my previous site, so I have no expectations on how fast I can make this site as lively.

One thing for sure, this site will be kept simple. Time to get back to what made me known – recovery and cancer. These two topics affect many people and it is time to go back and bring comfort to them. For venturing into other topics and falling away from a loyal audience, I do apologize and I hope that I can rebuild your trust in me and give me another chance.

As the site goes live, I do ask for some patience as pages begin to come to life. In the end it will be worth it. I’m excited by our future together, learning and helping each other along the way…

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