Shake It Baby

baby shakes head side to sideI’ve recently been taking a class and the instructor (who however very skilled and knowledgeable, jumped from topic to topic and here we go, I don’t remember how we got here) talked about shaking baby syndrome. The class I was taking was non-violence crisis intervention, so I think he started with how much strength and time people like us, the support workers, put into dealing with other people we were take care of, and from there the parallel with Shaken Baby Syndrome came through.

SBS is related to the idea that parents would shake their babies too hard to keep them from crying which worked only the opposite way. The point of what the instructor was leading to, and what I’m trying to get to here, is that there is a strategy aimed at the person going through that difficult experience and that it is to stop what they were doing, leave alone the task (a crying baby, if you will) for several minutes and… phone someone.

Life is that kind of thing that it may seem like it is a walk in a park in good weather one day, and it is a shaking crying baby time for the rest of the week. Stress is a constant plague of a modern human and getting out of the grind of the ever-turning wheel may seem impossible. So much work, so many responsibilities, frustrations, temptations, and unmet expectations. We can drown fast in that sea of emotions and information of all kinds, if we don’t pay attention. As the result, perpetual watching out for danger and possibilities may lead to mental and physical exhaustion, and then the spirit would start fading out as well.

What would people do in that situation if we haven’t learned and practiced (and some of us perfected) the habit of talking to others when we need it? Yes, when we need it. So often we ask a person who have flipped big time to almost lose their job, or relapsed on alcohol: “Why didn’t you talk to us?” There are plenty of excuses, and some good ones, but I think the most important reason is that we don’t see ourselves very important to take a break.

When I was in elementary school, we have an exercise in the middle of a writing session. The instructor would ask us to put pens down and stretch our fingers, saying along with that something to the sense of “we’ve been writing for a long time, our fingers are now tired. It’s time to relax before we go back at it.” (Shit, I still remember that?!) I don’t know if they teach something similar in elementary schools these days, but I hope they do. In the adult organizations they have health classes, and it is taught, as it is highly recommended, to take a break in the midst of what people are doing. Leave the desk for several minutes, take a walk around the room, bend forward, stretch legs, have a drink of water, go back to your project. It’s not just about your body – it’s about your focus and about breaking down your stress.

Good theories, and there is good proof too, too good not to apply to reality – and how often do we do it? I only do it when I remember which is many hours into the shift. Still, though, I take that time to stretch. Now how about talking to each other?

We need to do that. We need to put the baby back in the crib for several minutes and let it cry. Because if we are in bad shape, we cannot help the baby, until we are OK. And how are going to be OK? Stretch or talk. Or both. DO IT. Talk. Stretch. Give it a couple minutes. Are you feeling better? Just a little bit? That counts too. Keep doing it.


the image was copied from https://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Baby-Shakes-Head-Side-to-Side.html thanks.

Un#@%*able

yoda“Make it unfuckable.”

Those were the words of my boss, the chef from the catering place where I worked 15 years ago. I think it was the first time I heard him swear. He also was very particular about washing hands for 30 seconds in hot water before putting apron on and on his breaks he meditated on the floor in the office.

The particular situation when the phrase was pronounced took place while he was instructing me how to do chicken kebab, laying a grand bowl of raw meat in front of me. He told me about salmonella poisoning and made sure I wore gloves and didn’t puncture myself in the process. “Make it unfuckable,” he said.

(Having said that, I’d like to point out that this post is not exactly about making kebab, although considering that gods work in mysterious ways and we know nothing about that, it just may be.)

It appeared to me that what my boss cared most about was me. Sure, he cared about the meal was done right, but he surely didn’t want to deal with any liability that my messing things up could cause. So, he cared for me and so he made sure I did things right.

When I came to recovery rooms to get my life together, I wasn’t told or advised to make things unfuckable for myself. I’ve already fucked up plenty before coming over, and everybody knew I did, otherwise I wouldn’t be coming into the room full of strangers, announcing I needed help, would I?

It went without saying that I may mess up again. And it was OK. I mean, nobody really likes messing up. We all want to be winners. But crap happens. And if we did mess up in recovery, our brothers and sisters in the fellowship would tell us: “Keep coming back” which, I think, means “It’s OK to mess up. After all you are a human, not a god or a superhero. Just do your best to learn from the mistake and try again.”

Still though, I kept trying to make it unfuckable. I remembered all of my relapses prior to joining the said recovery fellowship and they weren’t pretty. I never wanted to have them in my life again. I stayed sober for all that time, but I also quit smoking, and I did give into cigarettes a couple of times. Out of three times, two were at the same place with the same people, but that was not a place or the people that I could walk away from. I just kept, as they say, counting my blessings, and walking straight and watching my step all I could.

I never wanted to say that I am coming back. Granted, shit happens, and it could happen to me, just like disasters and accidents happen. Yet I made sure that I keep my part working smooth and watch what I was doing, so in case it did happen, it wasn’t on me. Otherwise, I’d be making excuses all the time, and that’s so easy.

I kept going to meetings, and I kept writing about recovery. Then I found a job at a place that served the disadvantaged population with a place to sleep and helped people with substance abuse issues to turn their life around. That was the best thing for me, because it kept me paid and it kept me sober.

I started writing about recovery, first a diary, then a blog. I went on writing about that, and sometimes did that for the guys in recovery at work. Helping them, I helped myself. I kept it that way and still do, although the amount of people in recovery that I communicate with lately is smaller, due to a different nature of my work and to a growing level of isolating, I think. Excuses, hey?

Unfuckable. That’s how I want it to be. So far it’s been good, and so I want it to keep going. Thanks all for keeping me on the track.

… and I don’t know if he really said that but

einst

 

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the images were copied from https://www.reddit.com/r/STAR_WARS_LAST_JEDI/comments/7k2270/the_greatest_teacher_failure_is_yoda_d/ and https://www.amazon.com/Einstein-Failure-Progress-Motivational-Poster/dp/B01NABXWB5 . thank you.

Can’t Hear a Thing

cartoon7151Among things we as humans do, such as move, produce, preserve, and copulate, there is one more thing that we can do really well, and yet often fail at. It’s communicating.

Funny enough, in the world of today where communicating is recognized as vital, and with many different ways of communicating are invented, starting with education of languages and lectures on body language, and ending with phones, faxes, and whatever else they’ve invented lately that I’ve missed, we fail to communicate so much.

And that’s amazing, considering that we communicate all the time. When I write this, you read it, so I’ve communicated to you what I think and feel, and whether you agreed or disagreed with it, you can’t help but receive the information that I’ve shared. When you stand in front of me and talk, I hear you, but I also read your face expressing how you feel about what you’re saying, and I can also pay attention to your hands and the rest of your body reacting to what is being said or what you really thought. We share that information and most of us are inherently good at it.

And yet, so often we communicate and not pay attention to what was communicated to us. So often we listen, but we don’t hear. And so often we don’t even try to listen, just pass by, thinking something else is important. I am guilty of that. I can be so lost in thoughts that I am lost for words when they need to be said. Whether it is to say that I agree, or to say I’m sorry, or to provide an insight, often I just seem to think there are more important things to pay attention to right at that moment, and I ignore others. Or sometimes I am so lost in my thoughts that I miss or misinterpret what’s being said and make wrong judgements of it and come to negative and upsetting conclusions.

I read a story by Chuck Palaniuk, the author of Fight Club, where he wrote that you only get people’s attention when you disclose that you are diagnosed with or dying from some incurable disease. That’s when people start really paying attention to what you’re saying and how you are feeling.

It is at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that we really listen to others. We hear their stories, we think about how it relates to us, we express empathy with our nods and smiles, and after the meeting we talk, we discuss, and often go somewhere to talk about it some more. It is a system that works well for decades. It is not unique though, because people do that on a regular basis. People talk, people solve problems by discussing it. Only in AA meeting we discuss something that, if left unspoken, may literally destroy person’s life. That’s why we make sure we give a word to a newcomer, even if they don’t feel like talking in front of strangers.

The fact that this fellowship exists is a great thing. Over a decade ago it saved my life, just like for the last 80 years it was saving lives of thousands. But I can’t help but wonder if there could be less reasons for AA’s existence if we, the humans in general, could originally communicate better.

What if we could talk without being hurtful so that we wouldn’t cause people to look for a potentially dangerous outlet, such as drugs and alcohol? What if we didn’t produce so much alcohol that we needed to advertise it so rampantly? Remember, advertising is communication too, just as a movie you watched, or a book you read, only TV or Internet ads provide short ideas faster and with a shock value that successfully affects your mental faculties, promising you desires to be fulfilled. A powerful language to present ideas, and dangerous at that.

Could we advertise more ideas of hope and kindness than what to buy, where, for how much, and where it is less expensive and move convenient? Would we improve our lives with more products… or with more hope and understanding that we should care for others? So often I realize that it is not what we say to others, but how we say it that has more lasting effect, negative and positive.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if these questions can be answered. Thus, I focus on what’s at hand and stay sober and go to my AA home group meetings. Communication is power, and AA is based on communication. Without, it AA won’t work. We speak, we listen, we share, we read recovery books, and when we pray, it is communication to, isn’t it?

So now that we are afflicted, since the failures of communication already happened to plague us, let’s try to connect better. Maybe let’s do a better effort to listen to those that need to speak, with our loved ones (especially with them, because we may think we had a perfect connection, but we’re so often take it for granted), with our friends, with strangers, on a bus, on a street, in a group, even if we have no time, or desire to do so. Somebody’s life and sanity may depend on it.

I guess, I have to start with myself. Writing this is only the first step of dealing with it.


image copied from https://www.andertoons.com/speaking/cartoon/7151/know-youre-new-but-its-hear-ye-hear-ye-not-listen-up-people thanks.