“Have you noticed that an angry man can only get so far
Until he reconciles the way he thinks things ought to be
With the way things are”
Don Henley, from the album Inside Job
I’ve been angry lately. Not smash-things-at-the-wall angry, but a low-grade angry that’s eating away at my mood. It’s my typical March hangover, and as usual, I’ve been choosing to see the bad, not the good; to focus on what’s wrong rather than right.
You know how, when you’re in a hurry, you throw your underwear and bras in the wash along with jeans and pants with long stringy belts and they all get tangled up together in the dryer and it takes an hour to separate them and you cuss and swear you won’t do that again? That’s sort of how things are in my head right now. Small grumbles and problems have gotten so knotted together that I can’t tell you what my real bitch is about. It’s just one lumpy mass of yuck.
But I’m finally ready to pull my head out of my ass and start sorting the laundry, as it were.
The way things ought to be: (Rodney, this one’s for you) Back in January, I resolved to blog every other day. I’m a writer and I should be full of writing ideas all the time. That’s what writers do.
The way things are: I’ve skipped a few days. When my brain gets twisted up like this, I can’t think or come up with ideas. I’m still a writer. I’m just not a perfect writer.
The way things ought to be: 75-degree sunny weather
The way things are: 30 degrees and snowy. I hate it, but I can’t change it, and so why fuss over things I can’t control?
The way things ought to be: I own healthy pets that will live until I’m 100.
The way things are: 14-year-old Bungee the Cat has diabetes.
The problem with being human is awareness. Bungee has no idea he’s sick. He still eats and sleeps and purrs and sits staring at walls. But we know his little body is eating itself up from the inside. What to do, what to do.
My first reaction when I heard the diagnosis was to treat Bungee the same way we’d treated our dog Sasha who had diabetes: with twice-daily shots, hundreds of doctor visits, and a special diet. I mean, how could we not treat Bungee in the same aggressive way we chose to treat Sasha? Life should win at all costs, right? Fight for life, choose life, isn’t that what we’re taught to do?
Then my husband, ever the level-headed fellow, reminded me of the reality of Sasha’s suffering and of the financial and emotional burden we bore during the three years we treated her disease. We’d been drunk with love for Sasha and desperate to keep her alive, but one October day, our vet took a proverbial 2×4 to our heads and made us see that keeping Sasha alive was all about us, not about her. Sasha was in pain even though she still wagged her tail and howled at the car alarm. And so we took her home, fed her pizza and garlic bread, petted her and talked to her and loved her the best we could, then returned to the vet’s office and cried as she quietly died.
Sasha was an awesome dog, a truly loving companion, and we don’t regret the time and money we spent treating her disease, but we vowed we’d never do it again.
Now we were being challenged by our own words. We talked together and with our kids. I talked to friends and felt like shit for considering other options than insulin shots. But after talking with our vet, we decided to treat Bungee only with a special food for diabetic cats and to give him the most comfortable and loving home we can for the remainder of his days. He still has life in him and right now he’s in no pain. We will keep vigilant for signs of suffering and make the decision to put him down when it’s best for him.
I am at peace with this decision. (Below this blog is a column I wrote about Bungee in May 2006.)
The way things ought to be: I’ve lost 158 pounds and should have a rockin’ hard body.
The way things are: I’ve lost 158 pounds and had two children – you do the math
Stretch marks are what they are: war wounds, reminders of birth and illness. I can either fork over 20 grand for a 20-year-old’s stomach or deal with what I’ve got. Those are my choices. So, note to self, stop bitching about the pouch and get down on the mat and give me 200 crunches.
The way things ought to be: I am debt free
The way things are: I am in debt
I’m working my way out, but let’s just say the interest I’ve paid to Citi and Chase has funded many a high-priced martini lunch for their execs I’m sure.
Reconciliation. Untangling the messy laundry. I can choose to be angry at brick walls or I can choose to see what’s real.
Thank you, Don Henley.
“For every moment of joy
Every hour of fear
For every winding road that brought me here
For every breath, for every day of living, this is my thanksgiving
For everyone who helped me start and for everything that broke my heart
For every breath, for every day of living, this is my thanksgiving”