I spend my evenings figuring out work around to numbers that don't pick up my weird international numbers, transferring my way through back to the nurses' station after we are disconnected for the 4th time because wifi and 3G is having another bad day in Egypt. I worry. I feel helpless. I feel far away.
My my dad is so sick with pneumonia that he can't talk. He let the infection fester for so long before going to the hospital that it caused his kidneys to fail and he is now "on" (is that the word?) dialysis. It is heart breaking. And hearing the nurses talk about health, calming describing how the COPD, the congestive heart failure and the hypertension in combination with pneumonia has led to his kidneys to fail causes such a panic, freezing pain in my chest that I almost vomit.
And then It turns to anxious energy. My way to cope with the emotions and the helplessness and the waiting is to take actions in other ways. It is a release. When I was drinking this week would have been long nights of drinking to self sooth, to embody the emotional pain-it seems to distance them zoom in in pain works to really keep for seeing it for what it really looks like.
Instead of drinking, I did some smoking, on the porch, talked to nurses, rearranged the living room and front room furniture, made jambalaya, made cards to send my dad, texted the firefighter that dad more sick than ornery. I talked with Husband about how to be a good daughter, how to love my dad in a way he can see and accept, how to honor his terms for how he wants to wrap up his life...when it comes. I feel I failed my mom as she was dying, I want to do better this time, but the rules are different.
Im almost to work, the bus blogging, the dwelling on my state will be paused. Work does draw me into the present: puts a spotlight on problems to solve, actions, movement, other's issues.
By the vague rules I set, as to not commit too much, I think I have partial success. I have smoked, repeatedly, but outside! And not-as-often-because-it-isn't-in-my-face.
But that isn't what I really want to talk about, I'm okay with my "failure". Yep, quotes around failure. I don't feel bad. It isn't like tripping up with drinking, that was a problematic state that needed a turnaround. I did that, I continue that, I'm so much better for that. This is minor, fine tuning of my wellness disguising the underlying need to improve myself, prove myself, drive myself...instead being able to love myself.
I'm currently listening to the book Present Over Perfect and relate to author Shauna Niequist's take to the root of her pushing, achieving, proving competency exhausting lifestyle: self loathing. Running from the self loathing into external affirmation or numbness. I have worked a lot to dig into myself and rut around into what is lurking there. But it is a long conversation.
I'm back to my family and how they trigger my emotions, my sadness, my failures, my resentment. I got a text from my Dad's friend, the firefighter, that my Dad called himself an ambulance and went to the emergency room. (I'm so glad I mined th firefighter's phone number from their newsletter-did I tell you that story?)
I called the hospital and talk to the ER nurses and he is just having a hard time breathing and has an elevated heart rate. I'm told that dad can't talk to me because he has on an oxygen mask. Okay, fine. I call everyday and a couple days later he is moved to a regular room. The hospital connects me to his room, no answer. His cellphone has no answer. I talk to The Firefighter and he says, "your dad is refusing to talk to us, he's being ornery." And there it is reflected back at me: my dad can't handle the love of his friends and family; the concern and attention makes him uncomfortable, he probably says it is no big deal.
When I see this in my father, it makes me sad, I want to tell him, "let people love you, we care about you. Your wellbeing is a big deal to us." Can I do this for myself? Better than him, not good enough for healthy.
On the the other side of the family, emailed to my brother to tell him that dad is in the hospital and to wish his boy a belated happy birthday. The email I got back told me his son is now 6 and not 5. No acknowledgment that our dad is in the hospital.
All good on the smoke free trail, but those sneaky thoughts are creeping in: I will just smoke outside too, and I won't want to do it all the time, I can go back to smoking a pipe without the tobacco. I am a pretty amazing problem solver against my own set limits. I need to crystallize my goal a bit more; the pro and con list can help this too.
Ultimately, I don't like the daily tobacco intake. I'm mildly bothered by my ensuing laziness from the hash, but that isn't too big of a deal: I'm pretty productive most of the time. While I could say no to the Rollie, I find it so tempting because of the same ritualistic, calming, bonding characteristics that drinking has. It's sometimes to do while sitting around and chatting about the day. If I give stop completely the smoking the Rollies do I stop the shisha too? That isn't good for me either, but It isn't a daily or even weekly problem. Do I need to be this cut and dry? Am I getting neurotic and needing something to "work on"? Am I talking myself out of this because it's the drugs talking? ...I'm laughing at myself. I wish for moderation in everything, can I have it here? I wish not to be such a square, I wish to be healthy. Unnamed reader, you too have played this game with your mind.
Things I can conclude for now:
I didn't write yesterday but I thought about it and that kept me from smoking, both at the house and a shisha (which I haven't decided if I'm cutting out, but I had a jab of a headache behind my right ear just thinking about it) Thank you potential readers, one day at a time, one problem at a time.
I have been reminded again that I can't force those near and dear to change their habits to suit my needs. Let's cut to the chase: I can't make Husband change his habits to suit my needs. I have told him how difficult it is to be tempted by his constant rolling of cigarettes and smoking them in front of me. I asked him if he could just smoke outside. H said yes, but then sometimes he forgets and then jumps up guiltily. I don't want to be in charge of his actions, I don't want to have to remind him to do something each time. Or do I out of Principle that he is smoking in the house and tempting me? This is a new bad habit that started about 8 months ago. We never smoked in the house before that in our 10 years together. Now he is, I let it happen and joined in, and now I want it to stop.
Well then. Maybe I need to Pro and Con it. Even how I frame it leads to different results:
its between the last two, is the real issue the smoking in the house or that I want to stop smoking.? Easy answer is both. I never liked smoking in the house but I get too tired / lazy to enforce the rules against the actions of Husband. I find it exhausting to be the enforcer on household matters, this is one more of them.
But, this might be a good one to enforce, even though Husband claims this is an Egypt Specific Habit. Maybe it is, he can be like that. I'm out of time for the day. Pro and Con list will be milled about and captured in writing tomorrow.
So I'm back for a bit, with a new challenge that I'm hoping blogging can hold me accountable for quitting: Smoking. Smoking has crept into my evenings and week-ends and I want to stop and find that when presented, I can't resist. I had set myself up multiple times with different rules, new start dates to quit completely have not been able to keep that promise to myself. February 1 was the last nice round number that was going to be a fresh start, but that didn't work out, obviously. I wake up with headaches and ashtray mouth and claim "enough of this stupid habit!" in the morning, and then soon as I walk in the house in the evening, I can't wait for Husband to make a rollie. Repeat!
Happily I'm on Day 2 of not smoking. I started this blog on Day 2 of not drinking over 2 years ago. I just went through a lightening quick session of thoughts saying I should reward myself for that by having a rollie, that drinking was way more detrimental to my health than a couple of cigarettes a day....no foul. But the point is that I have fallen into the habit, I don't like this reliance on it and I can't keep my promise to myself to moderate.
Back to being on Day 2. All yesterday and most of today I've been thinking about and planning on blogging and those thoughts kept me from smoking: even thinking about accountability made me accountable to myself.
Why Day B instead of Day 2? Well, because it doesn't have the same heavy weight of needing the endless counting...Day 8?? of not drinking. At least I don't think it does, so I thought going through the alphabet once to mark the days over the blog might be all I need to cut out this bad habit. A-Z and then done. As I write this, it sounds dumb.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. I like myself better for it and have a full life because of it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp