Fill In Your Blank

I’ve been handling my daughter’s swim transport since Andy died.

Being a Swim Dad turned out to be much less of an issue than I expected. I get to chat with my kids and read books.

While my daughter is swimming, I sit in a quiet car, put my phone in airplane mode and embrace the silence.

These are valuable moments.

Last week, between drop off and pick up, I was chilling in a Safeway parking lot.

I was reading the last book in Cixin Liu’s SciFi trilogy, The Three Body Problem was my favorite. Anyhow, I looked up and saw a guy heading back to his car with some beer.

The scene reminded me of something I want to share with you.

There was a period of time where I thought drinking most every night was helping me cope with reality. There was even a bit of fear that I might not be able to handle my reality.

We all have ways of avoiding reality. Thing is, the truth doesn’t care about my feelings.

The holidays can be a challenging time. Shortened days, cold/wet weather, increased interpersonal stress, reminders of childhood emotional injuries…

…throw in a strong dose of COVID-stress and you might find your bad habits knocking on the door of your consciousness.

For example:

1/. When KP died, anger made a strong return in my life. Fortunately, I have enough weightlifting to disperse the feelings that can manifest as anger. So long as I lift, and don’t hold my breath under stress, I’m good.

2/. Following Andy’s death, I’ve been having a desire to drink a beer. Actually, the feeling is a bit stronger than that. Allow me to describe… I would like to take all the alcohol in the world and pour it into a tiny black hole that’s located just above my heart.

It’s a strange sensation to say the least!

How do I deal with something like that? First up, I pay attention to what I’m feeling.

Am I sure? Is that really what I am feeling?

While I’m trying to figure out what’s really going on, I breathe. Breathing into an emotional hole helps, a lot. Laughter helps. Hugs help. Moderate exercise helps.

I know what works and I make time to do it, daily.

Then I start to look deeper, a friend once summed up his escape habit as follows…

When I used to feel like this, I would just XXXXX until I didn’t care anymore.

I’m not going to share my buddy’s “blank.”

Do you know your own blank?

Looking at the guy walking out of Safeway I laughed with a visual image of asking him if it would be OK if I borrowed his case of beer for a while.

I was also laughing because I’ve learned that I have the ability to choose how I fill in my blank.

  • wait, meditate, breathe, pray
  • exercise, persist, assist, clean
  • drink, use, rage, eat, smoke, yell, cry

My feelings come and go. I try not to get wrapped up in whether they are right or wrong. It’s better that way, I generate a lot of bad ideas.

Where I focus is reminding myself that I am free to decide how I’m going to fill my blank.

I also remember there were very good reasons to leave my poor choices behind.

They didn’t work!