Catharsis: Loss and Recovery

Death of a significant other creates deep wounds, visible and invisible. Abrupt loss gives no time to build emotional reserves against the inevitable pain.

No time to say goodbye.

If there is time, how then to prepare? Read Kübler-Ross and consider the stages of grief. Intellectualize the process. Life’s a process isn’t it? Then it happens, always unexpectedly – “I wasn’t ready” you say. No one ever is. The difference between intellectual preparedness and emotional unpreparedness hits home.

Crying is held inside; a stiff upper lip. Impossible. Tears come when they are ready and cannot be resisted. One learns to cry unashamedly wherever and whenever.

Before scars form, all can see the evidence of the wound and offer condolences and sympathy. Time passes; later, friends will comment that “he is still moody” or she is “still grieving” but make kind exceptions for silent grieving.

Undisturbed over time these wounds slowly form scar tissue.

Scar formation can be slow; varies unpredictably with the person and the situation. After the scar has fully formed, the wound slowly loses raw appearance but the damage persists, deep and unexpected twinges on the chance recollection of a past happy occasion.

Sometimes no scar is permitted to form. Intense grief and the devastating loss can lead to scab-picking so the loss feels temporarily soothed but the wound remains fresh and painful.

Caring relatives keep the loss fresh by recalling “the good times”. A large portrait of the loved one in view seems to help healing by keeping the tears flowing but it eventually becomes just a continuing painful reminder.

A time comes when the portrait can be put away.

Then there is denial. It’s “nothing”, or “I’m getting over it now” or “I’m OK”. Friends who helpfully advise that “you should be getting over it now; time to move on with your life”. Well-intentioned but essentially useless advice to the survivor. Advice obviously true but unfollowable.

It’s time may come but not now.

Illusions persist unexamined; the feeling that the lost one is just around the corner or nearby or will soon return. Deep pangs of melancholy and the illusion dissolves.

Dreams where the survivor suddenly realizes the lost one is still giving subliminal advice or repeating old instruction or simply has returned unannounced. You look up in your dream and see your SO has joined you for breakfast. “Why are you here?”

“I never left” the SO replies.

Dream over until the next time.

Slowly these things fade and the twinges diminish; resilience improves and life goes on.

Obligations

There are two kinds of obligations; those we impose on ourselves and those which others attempt to impose upon us.

It is not always apparent, but we are free to choose to accept obligations or not, and pay whatever price that the choice invokes.

Thomas Edison was an avid reader and often traveled by train. In the station bookstore, he would select several books that looked interesting. After he paid for them, he tore out the first chapter of each book and stuffed the pages into his coat pocket. He then gave the clerk his card and postage with instructions that the clerk should send the remains of the book if Edison requested it. He said later in life that he had left hundreds of torn books in bookshops.

When I learned this, I was shocked. I had been taught as a child to preserve books; no marks on the pages, no dog-eared page corners, no scuffs on the binding.

Since we had no books at home, all the books I ever read were schoolbooks, that had been used many times before me and would be used many times after. I was obligated to preserve each book for the next user.

Books thus became untouchable and I had to read every page of each one.

As I considered Edison’s behavior, I realized that since he owned the book, he could do with it as he saw fit. He had chosen not to accept the obligation to completely read it.

An aha moment: it is the author’s obligation to seize and hold my interest, else I simply set the book aside with no guilt feelings.

No more untouchable books.

With the exception of certain topics, other books and other media are the same. If you own it, do with it as you will. You owe no obligation to the author.

I have come to see that Edison’s rule fits a broad range of life situations.

What I have learned is to weigh the obligations in life that are presented to me.

I will honor those that I have made or agreed to honor and let the others pass by unaddressed.

It has been liberating.

Catharsis: TMI

The idea of a lonely widower sitting at home night after night by himself greatly raises the imperative of friends to solve the problem. The lonely widower reluctantly agrees to meet someone new. He became a little shy from recent dating flame-outs, thus needs some urging to re-enter the game.

Friends know “just the right person” who shares his interests.

We do a telephone meet-up, checking for common interests; goes well.

I like shooting guns, she likes shooting guns.

I like pets, she likes pets.

I don’t mind driving across Houston to meet someone and neither does she.

I have a stable fulltime job and so does she.

I don’t drink or smoke and neither does she.

She has lost her husband last year and knows how I feel.

Kids? Me neither. Likes long drives in the country going to no particular place. Lunches at little country restaurants. Quaint Texas almost-ghost towns.

What do I do? Work for an oil services company; been there a long time.

She works for a local PD; former patrol officer. As she got older, became a dispatcher.

Can we meet and go shooting, followed by lunch? Yes, she would like that.

How about Saturday, we’ll meet at a cop-friendly indoor range in South Houston, burn a few rounds and get lunch? Sounds okay.

We’ll talk later.

Later comes; meetup arrangements being made. Meet at the shooting range about 10:30 and we’ll eat some great BBQ near Hobby Airport.

Sure thing.

One more thing, she says. Were you married more than once?

Yes, three times. You? Once she says.

If you don’t mind my asking, how did your wife die? she asks. Car crash last year. In fact, all my former wives are now dead.

Silence. Long silence.

Let me get back to you, she says. I think it’s too soon for me to begin dating.

So what is the first thing that a cop thinks when she hears that all of a man’s former wives are now dead?

There’s innocent explanations, but I’ll never get a chance.

Where did I go wrong? Too Much Information.

Life’s a lesson.

Back home early; birds and dogs are happy to see me as always.

So ends Catharsis Act III.

A Dangerous Age

Twenty years old is a dangerous age.

At an age when responsible young men worldwide are graduating, entering the workforce, getting married, starting a family, twenty can be an ominous coming-of-age milestone for the immature.

If you are a “disadvantaged American teen”, at 20 you have never had a job for more than a month. Nor do you want one; jobs are for suckers.

If you are a “Syrian refugee”, at 20 you have also never had a job; if it were not for the martyrdom reward payoffs, your family would never have anything.

If you are a “disadvantaged American teen”, at 20 you have long since dropped out of school. Radical community organizers keep you angry at the unfairness of it all.

If you are a “Syrian refugee”, at 20 you have no education. The angry radical Imam is the only teacher that you have ever had.

If you are a “disadvantaged American teen”, at 20 you already have 2 bastard children whom you do not care for. You have no parenting or work skills, nor does anyone in your extended family.

If you are a “Syrian refugee”, at 20 you have never had a loving relationship with a woman other than your mother and never can hope to have. It is forbidden.

If you are a “disadvantaged American teen”, at 20 you already have several baby mommas who provide food, shelter, blunts, weed, smokes, malt likka and crack cocaine for you. No one in the extended family has ever had a job.

If you are a “Syrian refugee”, at 20 you are already radicalized and have accepted the idea that you have no future except martyrdom. 72 eager virgins await.

If you are a “disadvantaged American teen”, at 20 you already accept that you will not live to be much older. Few of your friends will either.

If you are a “Syrian refugee”, at 20 you are expert at suicide vests and automatic firearms and nothing else. If it were not for free UN food, you would have starved.

If you are a “disadvantaged American teen”, at 20 you have been involved with gang violence several years. The gang is the family you have never had and gang values are all the values you have.

If you are a “Syrian refugee”, at 20 you have already attended a terrorist training camp. Terror training and hate gives your life purpose.

If you are a “disadvantaged American teen”, at 20 you have been involved with drugs for 7 years, first as a consumer, then as a lookout or a courier then dealing. It’s a career.

If you are a “disadvantaged American teen”, at 20 you already have tattoos on your face and neck proclaiming gang membership and attesting how awesome you are. Tattoos are not free, but government “walking-around” money is available.

If you are either a “disadvantaged American teen” or a “Syrian refugee”, you are listening to “leaders” who tell you that you have no future.

You have been taught to hate and kill people you have never met.

Your “honor” is so important that you will kill anyone for any slight, real or imagined.

If you listen to what the “leaders” have to say, they are right.

You won’t live to be much older.

As Predicted

A traffic stop that could have killed an officer resulted in a dead thug and two live officers.

About 3 am today, a red pickup blew through a stop sign in southeast Houston. Two officers on patrol saw the failure to stop.

Officers attempted a traffic stop but the pickup driver refused. The truck eventually did stop and officers approached the pickup on the driver and passenger sides.

Officers commanded the driver to lower the window but the driver refused.

Unbeknownst to the driver side officer, the driver drew a concealed handgun from his pocket. The passenger-side officer saw the gun and shot the driver through the open passenger-side window.

The driver sped away but crashed. Officers realized that the driver had been hit and tried to provide first aid. The 40-year-old thug died at the scene.

All the more reason for two officers to participate in a traffic stop.

Impulsive thug dies, officer goes home to his family.  What’s not to like about this?

Misunderstanding

Thugs who think that targeting the police will suddenly cause them to retreat, to skip responding to calls, to leave the force or stop doing their sworn duty to serve and protect clearly do not understand the police.

Unlike you thugs, the police are not in their chosen profession for the money. There is also no glory either.  They are cops because that is a life calling.

You are in your chosen profession for the money, for the bling, for the dope, for the notoriety, for the baby-mommas who idolize thugs. You have to make sure that society pays for all the real and imagined wrongs you have “suffered”.

You have already decided that you are not going to live to be very old, so live it up. Kill a cop if you can.

But unlike you, the police are tenacious warriors who run to the sound of gunfire.

Unlike you scum who retreat the instant you feel any danger.

You will be shocked at how many officers respond to a “backup needed” or to a “shots fired” radio call.

You never imagined that many officers were in the city, let alone that neighborhood.  Your chances of escape become vanishingly small.

Until you are imprisoned or killed, you will continue to attack innocent and unarmed victims, you will rob them and go ahead and beat them even after they have given you what you demanded.

Just for the fun of it.

That’s just what thugs do.  So misunderstood.

You are no respecter of age, race, sex; you will assault anyone who is not strong enough to kill you. Other black men, young and old black women and young children are equal targets to satisfy your greed and lust.

How will the police respond to your criminal frenzy? Well, we have already ruled out retreat; warriors do not retreat.

The police will instead make tactical and strategic changes to their policies that will assure that every thug who they have to kill will be buried un-mourned by anyone except your grieving momma, who will demand “justice” for the death of “my baby who dint do nuffin”.

Full color and sound body cameras that record from the instant an officer arrives at a scene.

Patrol-car dashcams that not only look out the front, but also the side and back; everything that happens around a patrol car will be in the public record. Video of you in the back seat of the car that shows you attempting to injure yourself to make a brutality claim.

New department protocols on use of force. Non-compliant thugs will be put on the ground after the first ignored command. Tasers will be deployed quickly and several times if the thug is not complying.

And when you force the police to use deadly force there will be complete and incontrovertible video and audio evidence that will stand up in the Grand Jury room.  Every time.

And a lot fewer thugs will be wounded. A wounded thug is a problem, a dead thug less so.

Thugs, does this all make sense to you?

Or will you continue to take a chance to shoot a cop?

We won’t miss you.

Catharsis: Invisible Man

Suddenly becoming single after many years of being married creates bizarre distortions of what seemed to be reality. Suddenly it is all too real and not comfortable at all. At home I am alone; just the dogs and my little parrots. Unaccustomed as I am to buying groceries and housekeeping, household things go to pot quickly. Eating out alone is a dead-end and who wants to cook for one?

Friends offer “it you need anything, just ask”, but the new widower doesn’t want to impose on old friends; they have their lives, too and anyway, what would I ask for? The evening silence is palpable and the loneliness begins to pick away at your sanity.

Television? Surely you jest.

Slowly, friends from work gather courage to ask if I am seeing anyone. Would I like a night out? Maybe meet some new people. Come out of your cave and take your mind off your troubles. Come to the downtown concert and we can go to a bar later for drinks.

It will be fun, they said.

Misgivings? I had a few, but here’s the brave new world. Got to get out there because nobody is going to come to the door looking for a fat old widower. And I am not fond of the idea of growing older alone.

Besides, what could go wrong?

So I put on a blazer, white shirt and my best jeans (gotta look hip) and joined the merry throng. As soon as I got there I realized that the only thing extra I could have done to complete my ensemble would have been to ditch my sneakers and wear my Ronald McDonald clown shoes.

All the women looked to be 15 years old with the solid maturity of 12-year olds. Grungy rock band sweatshirts named with multi-syllable profanity. Neck tattoos and ripped designer jeans with sequins, high heels, just barely standing upright. And screaming.

And screaming.

I still have no idea who was playing the concert, what they were playing or what they were singing.

Wow is that music loud! Waves of bass guitar crash over the churning crowd. My ears are already ringing and I have no idea how anyone converses here, with the noise bouncing off the concrete pavilion. I might meet someone, but I’ll never understand her name over the noise.

I cannot figure out why people come here. We are wedged hip-to-hip and the crowd is completely anonymous and impersonal. It is a surging beast and no damn fun. Women in the crowd don’t look at me; they sweep their eyes and never stop to see who or what is there.

Some people are dancing-ish. More like jerking to the music, trance movements somewhere between Boris Karloff and an epileptic seizure. I am on the Karloff end of dance moves and elect to just stand around uncomfortably.

Sudden realization: where is the restroom? Well, about 500 yards behind the stage, and there is already a line out to the street waiting. Music set ends and the restroom line grows about twice as long. People start to drift away and I realize that I have to find my ride (drat – I should have driven my car).

Who knew this would be so hard?

Finally in the restroom; floor is awash. Is every man a urinal slob? Well, nothing to do but make the best of it and try to keep my pants cuffs dry.

Finally find my buds and we take off for the bar.

There is some quiet at the bar – not much, but some. I get a beer and survey the ladies; there is a lonely-looking lady more my age. I consider introducing myself and offering to buy a lady a drink. Suddenly there is raucous laughter. A very florid-faced lady is loudly telling a raunchy joke over the jukebox noise.

The song ends abruptly and with perfect timing, she shouts out the ribald punch line in the now-silent room. She is now convulsed with laughter; her friends look away. She chugs her drink and suddenly looks desperately around for the ladies room. Maybe this would not be the best time for quiet conversation.

I suddenly realize that I am verging on invisible; only the barkeep knows that I am there and that’s only because he wants to sell me another beer. Alone in the crowd and no idea how to fit in.

I thank my hosts for shepherding my first night out and they insist that I was doing fine; just need to loosen up a little. My hosts are a little embarrassed for me.

We both know the facts; wrong venue, wrong player, wrong script.

This ain’t gonna work. I promise myself I won’t do that again.

Home. The birds chitter and coo knowingly and the dogs console me; all is well. Back home and safe.

So ends Catharsis Act II.