Those who show pity and are always ready to help during times of trouble are seldom the same ones who rejoice in our joy: when others are happy they have nothing to do, they become superfluous and lose their feeling of superiority, and so they easily show their displeasure.
— Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900), German philosopher
A Journey of Rebirth
Returning to your life after a catastrophic experience is not as easy as you may think. Especially when recovery is big business and often the only business seeking you out in the media, non-profits and spiritual organizations, government, and advertisements. Every area of your life becomes a commodity, most especially the inner you. We refer to it as rehabilitation, overcoming, spiritual enlightenment, and other buzz words generic to this era of our lives. None of these, however, necessarily mean returning to your life. Sometimes the methods and assistance we receive in our overcoming stalls us in a holding pattern or void. Empty spaces remain inside of us, throbbing worse than the physical, mental, or economical hardship that brought us to this point. Why is that, despite the smiling face in the mirror and applause from everyone that helped us get to this point? Or is this the point? Is it now really your life?
Even the most vibrant young and older adults suffer life altering experiences. Some experiences, they recover from easily over time. Then other incidents or illnesses take years of recovery after the initial experience concludes. These debilitating cycles can be caused by severe accidents, drug abuse, layoffs, and divorce, which cause permanent or temporary physical, economic, and mental disabilities. During this cycle the individual accumulates people and habits that can be more harmful to their well-being than the initial mental, economic, or physical condition. A person may find life no longer enjoyable and yearns for the “good ole days” or a period when finding happiness was not an effort, but easily accessible. This is the optimal moment when the effort to return to life is most important.
The concept of recovery or rehabilitation may seem easy at first. Some join clubs, become more spiritual, volunteer in organizations, go back to school, and change their style of dress or even address. Still there is that constant, nagging sadness within. That sadness, for the sake of clarity, we will call the accumulation of debt. A debt is something owed, yet it can be an assumed tie to people and habits that enforce negative feelings and guilt within the person consumed — the carrier. Within the mind of the carrier, pictures and scenarios play out constantly, reinforcing sadness, anger, paranoia, and taint whatever joy and accomplishment attainable. In an effort to break this cycle, some become extremely overt in their frivolity. They seek out outward stimulations as a substitute for inner peace and joy. Those who were present during the period of illness or mental upheaval become important, since through the continuous association with these persons, the carrier reinforces a sense of accomplishment. They develop mantras to reinforce their sense of accomplishment. We will hear them proclaim “I could have been dead,” or “I’m not where I used to be.” It is most important, during this period, to break these chains of negative reasoning to truly move ahead.
Moving ahead is fearful. There is no foundation in the return to life. There is no set road to follow; no security other than to choose their life. The carrier must recreate out of nothing a something, a new way of being acceptable to only them. In the search for self, the carrier becomes a magnate for sociopaths, conmen, opportunist, and those who live to pity — parasites. The carrier is targeted by those who have no real talent or skill other than to feed off the misadventures of others. The elderly, for example, become prey to many because of their vulnerability. Their well-earned fortunes are squandered by those taking care of their finances. Some suffer ill-health and dire living conditions due to unscrupulous caregivers. It is a sad situation but it is even sadder when a young vibrant carrier recovers to find that they have been living a similar situation, and feel they have no way out. But there is a way out. Hard, yet worth it.
Think of a table filled with fatty foods. There is a well-cooked turkey, drenched in a well-thickened gravy. It is accompanied by a platter of steaming roast pork, a three quart bowl of buttery mashed potatoes, a large pan of macaroni and cheese, three two inch steaks; and four bowls of ice cream, each topped with syrups and chocolate for dessert. There are no fresh vegetables and salads; nothing to off-set the oils and sweets you are to consume. You have been starving for many days and this is the closest bit of food source you can attain. You gorge yourself over and over again, day after day until you are no longer able to move away from the table. You become fearful that if you try to leave that table, you will be hungry again, starve even. So you stay.
You become the carrier of the memory of starvation. You carry the pain and fear of an aching belling, fierce cravings, light-headedness, and a savage mind with unthinkable thoughts. Your cholesterol is now out of control. Your blood pressure soars causing you to wobble on the chair. But now your legs are too heavy to move. The smell of the comfort food sickens you, but the fear of starvation weighs heavy against the urge to run away. It is this quandary that hinders many in their quest to return to life. Your parasite? The waiter, who elegantly replaces the ravaged pork platter, with a heaping platter of rack of lamb. As long as there are members at the table, he is paid to serve.
The First Bell
Leaving the focus off of self-inflicted catastrophes, such as drug and alcohol abuse, leaves a still wider array of situations open to us as humans. The climate of drug and alcohol rehabilitation has created a community of parasites, both apart and inclusive in the human rehabilitation or recovery systems. Due to the complexity and delicacy of the situation, we will leave that community for a more extensive conversation as it deserves a volume of chapters all its own. Accidents, layoffs, physical and mental, illness, mostly psychological trauma, constitute the worst forms of human pollution since they damage with no category of victims or prohibitions. Everyone is open to each of these situations regardless of race, class, gender, or occupation. We may say, “What about a doctor?” Surprisingly, the more education or prestige a person acquires, the more destructive forces available to them. For instance, a dentist’s wife dies in a plane crash. While suing the airline for millions, he begins to drink heavily. He is not only a dentist, but a white male with a luxurious office in a prominent part of town. In America, he is king.
Each working day, he eats breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner at a more bar than restaurant near his office. The owner of the bar-restaurant is honored to have a dentist among the truck drivers and office workers frequenting his place. They form a firm friendship. Meals are half-priced or free. Drinks are always full-price, plentiful, and include a tip. The dentist meets a young administrative assistant during lunch. He tells her his story. They begin to meet every day and form a solid friendship. He loves her, she loves him. He’s counting on the $4,000,000 suit with the airline to cover his faltering work ethic. They fly away for a two month vacation tour of Europe. She is only a temp at the office. He returns to his stool broke and alone. She finds another bar.
The dentist’s partner forces him out of the LLP. His clients have dwindled. One woman slaps the drill from his wobbling fingers after smelling the alcohol on his breath. Now, the dentist is at the bar morning until evening. The owner becomes less friendly as the dentist’s running tab is not paid at the end of the week. The owner must demand his money but is conflicted. The owner has just learned he has prostate cancer. Turns out, the building housing the bar-restaurant, he leased for 25 years, is being sold. The lease will not be renewed. Therefore, his home, which he also leases, he can no longer afford. An IRS audit shows him owing in excess of $200,000 and his car, also leased, must be returned. Oh! His wife is leaving him. She is not going to move into an apartment with an ailing husband who has treated her badly for the past 10 years of their 32 year marriage. The dentist and the bar-restaurant owner are more in love than ever.
Accidents could be due to carelessness. There are varying degrees of carelessness in the human condition. Individuals and worldviews dictate the concept of responsibility. Yet, there is always a point at where we have a conscious or unconscious choice — to the left or to the right. Then sometimes, the choice is made for us.