Letting Go

There’s only so much time and energy for a person to give. How we choose to use that time is entirely up to us and I’m a firm believer that we’re ultimately responsible for what happens to us in life. Today there was a disgusting topic trending on twitter about domestic violence that caused me to stop and think. I’ve never been the victim of physical abuse and I don’t want to assume that I even remotely know what it’s like to be in a situation like that, but I can see one area of similarity to my own. Those victims often know that they’re in a bad situation, but are unable to bring themselves to leave.

I know more than a few people who complain about their significant others. I’ve often asked them why, if things are so bad that they stay. They justify it with reasons that, while they may seem questionable to me, are very valid ones to them. This is just my opinion, but I think that the real reason is that they feel it’s comfortable, and that the unknown is scary, and that if this isn’t so bad, it’s worth holding on to.

In my own way I’ve been guilty of this for far too long. In my search for meaningful relationships I’ve settled for any that would come my way. The negative consequences that came with those relationships are completely my fault. It may not be my fault that they treated me like garbage, but it is my fault that I tolerated it. Today I’ve finally decided that enough is enough. Holding on to tangential, hurtful relationships while holding out hope that things will turn into something better isn’t working, in fact, not only is it not working, but it’s hurting me and I’m not OK with it. Today I’m letting go, and if you’re someone who stops hearing from me, you won’t have to wonder why. It’s not me, it’s you.

Log Jam

When a system is at equilibrium, the only way for it to get moving is for something to change. That force can be internal or external, but if it doesn’t act then things will remain exactly as they are. That may be a good thing when you have a dam and the force of the water pressing against it is met with an equal force exerted by the dam, but there are some situations where things can come to an undesired equilibrium over time.

Back when loggers would float timber down a river to the mill, around bends in the river some logs would get caught. Over time, more and more logs would collect, and if nothing was done to keep them moving, eventually they would block up the entire river. In extreme circumstances, the only way to get things moving again was to set off an explosion. Some of the lumber would be sacrificed, but in doing so, it allowed things to start moving again.

Just like those logs can accumulate over time and jam up the river, things that happen in life can add up, and over time, cause someone to get stuck. While anyone can see a river being backed up, when it comes to being at a state of unwanted inertia in our own lives, it’s not always easy for other people to see. While the supervisor of the logging crew can tell his team that there’s a problem and how to solve it, when you’re stuck, it’s not always that easy.

Initially, you may not even know what the problem is, just that something isn’t quite right. Over time, it becomes clearer and identifying the problem, not just the symptom becomes easier. The trouble arises when, unlike that supervisor who had a team to call on to clear up the blockage, you don’t have a trusted group to rely on. You may not even have one person you can reach out to for support. Turning inward only gets you so far.

Everyone needs a support system to help them through problems that arise. Some are lucky enough to have a more robust group of confidants than others. What do you do when one of your biggest problems is that the very support network you need is lacking? Genuine caring relationships don’t come out of thin air.

Even the most independent of individuals I’ve seen who pride themselves on being a self-starter have at their base, a group of people supporting them. They’re often the very same people who will, with a smug disposition remark, “You have to love yourself first before anyone else can love you.” I understand their point, but I also don’t think they have a valid argument, because while they may say that, they already have others who love them.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m stuck. I’m to a point where my river is jammed up and while I believe I’ve identified the problem, I’m not sure how to get things moving again. I know I can’t do it on my own, but unlike that logging supervisor, I don’t have a team to help clear up the jam.

Why Did You Ask?

I’ve seen it happen more than a few times. Someone will ask a question, whether in a public forum, or a more limited area and responses will come in. Then, just like clockwork, the person who originally asked the question will get upset. Is it because the responses to their question were Spammy or not well thought out? No, it’s because the responses aren’t the answers that they were looking for.

That leads me to my own question. Why did you ask in the first place? If any answer that isn’t in line with your opinion is wrong, were you just looking for someone to shore up your existing opinion? I can’t find any other reason that makes sense, but I could be missing something.

We’re all seeking validation for our ideas, but to think that everyone is going to think the same as we do is ridiculous. I’ve been guilty of asking a question and then getting disappointed by the responses myself, but now, if I ask as question I’m prepared not only for answers that don’t align with my original opinion on the matter, I’ve also found that if I keep my mind open I can get an unexpected benefit. I can be wrong.

Hearing thoughtful answers, ideas and opinions that cause me to stop and reconsider my own opinions? Yes, please, may I have some more? I’ll take honest criticism over a group of yes men any day. No one likes to be wrong, but I’ve learned a lot more from being wrong than I ever have from being right. So when you ask a question, are you asking because you really want to know what other people think, or are you just looking for validation?

Restart…

Have you been using your computer and things started to get sluggish? You had a web browser open, a document open, maybe an image up to retouch, some music playing, an instant message, well, you get the idea. At some point, even the best of computers can only handle so many tasks before they just can’t take it any more and instead of trying to manage al of the tasks, they just freeze, and nothing gets done.

It seems like the past few days have been like that for me. I went from doing pretty well managing tasks, to falling behind in updating my “To Do” lists, to all of a sudden I went from barely being able to keep up to just throwing my hands up and getting nothing done. I’m not sure when I hit the breaking point, but I’m there.

Now, just like someone having to reboot their frozen computer I’ve got to get started again, to prioritize the tasks at hand and deal with the things that didn’t get done, just like that document you weren’t able to save before things locked up. I’ve been trying to take a greater control over my life, to be able to prioritize and, when appropriate, to say no. It pains me not to be able to meet any obligation, but I guess when you are trying to get ahead, there are going to be some things that just don’t get done, or at least not the way you’d like them to.

Hopefully I’ll be able to get back on track quickly because even though I may not be getting things done, tasks continue to pile up and my backlog is only getting longer. What do you do when it just becomes too much? At what point do you start removing things from your list of tasks that have to be completed? I hate not being able to get everything done, but I’m only one person…

Alcohol

Why does alcohol play such an important part in the lives of so many adults? I’m not sure what it is about that question, but it seems like when I ask it, people either joke around, or get really angry and defensive. I think the latter is because those people seem to think that I’m judging their activity, but that’s not it at all.

I’m not a teetotaler, and I certainly have no right to tell anyone how they choose to live their life, but I’ve been tasked with organizing my share of events and for reasons unknown to me, if there’s no alcohol involved, attendance is drastically lower. It’s almost as if people don’t know how to have a good time without drinking.

I didn’t grow up with drinking in my house and I was never one of the “cool kids” who was invited to a lot of parties, so my exposure to drinking was minimal. It was never demonized, but it also just wasn’t a part of my life. Yes, on occasion when I go out I will have a drink or two, but I’ve never been drunk, nor do I ever want to be. I’ve seen what it does to people and it’s something I just don’t want in my life. Again, if and when this comes up, people either don’t believe me, think I am trying to preach total abstinence, or that somehow I am judging them, even though I never made one comment about their actions.

Certainly I understand what alcohol does to the body and how it can affect someone’s disposition, so I understand why people drink. After all, it’s not inexpensive and it’s certainly not going to rehydrate you, but I just can’t wrap my head around why some people seem to need it. It really struck me how important to me it can be to some people when a friend of mine was trying to decide on a camp ground for a vacation and the other people she was going to be going with refused to go to a facility where alcohol was not allowed.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing that I am missing. It can’t be that everyone is an alcoholic, because they don’t seem addicted to booze, but when they choose to not do something just because they can’t drink, to me it says that they care more about alcohol than the event itself. Even now I don’t drink at home. I’ll have at most a few drinks a month when I am out, but even that’s just to fit in with what everyone else is doing. (Actually, when I look at it, that’s pretty terrible. Why am I doing something I don’t really want to just so other people will accept me?) I don’t need a drink to have a good time, so I don’t see why anyone else, and seemingly everyone else, does. I just don’t get it.