Monday, December 26, 2005

Welcome to the Suck

One's dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but cannot be taken away unless it is surrendered.
--Michael J. Fox

Y'all. I made a big decision this week. I decided that when I go back to my doctor this week I'm going to tell them to put me down as "noncompliant." It's a medical term that denotes patients who don't cooperate in the taking of medication, etc. It's often used in the warnings and concerns section of that little insert you get with any prescription med to say, "the side effects are x and y, and therefore patient compliance is of concern." It means, "this drug's side effects suck so badly that a good number of patients will say 'the hell with it' and tell you to go pound sand regardless of its efficacy.'"

Count me in on counting me out!

I'm so done. It's not like the drug is working so well that I'm just torn apart inside trying to do a cost-benefit analysis. The side effects are beyond what I'm even going to detail here, which I know is out of character for me! Which oughta tell you how my Journey to Noncompliance has reached its destination.

The thought of taking it makes me want to cry. I was in the shower the other day (where I do my best thinking, unlike special males in my life who require a commode), and I was pondering the irony of being put on a medication that you initially pray will be The One That Fixes Everything, and then you end up a couple of months later in your shower praying that it doesn't work because you think you might off yourself if you have to take it one more day, much less for the rest of your life. It's bizarre to mentally hope that you stay sick just so you can stop taking a drug 'that doesn't work.' When you are using all of those mental healing and mind-body techniques you've learned in order to visualize *continued illness*, that's when you know it's time to become noncompliant!

And so I bounded out of the shower, in my best impersonation of Archimedes, yelling, "Eureka!" and proceeded to celebrate my decision to Just Say No to sucky drugs.

The point of this post, however, is not to turn into my Great Aunt Jean who used to talk incessantly about her torn ligaments and her rheumatism, which endeared her to us tremendously as you can imagine. On and on about her feet and ankles (which were actually "cankles"--those ankles that have the same circumference as the upper calf), her back, her knees, on and on. This woman literally did not have a single joint that did not apparently give her pain that needed to be talked away with anyone who was too polite to turn tail and run when they saw her coming.

So, enough about the side effects that dare not speak their names and onto the point of the post:

Decision-making is difficult for people for a lot of different reasons. So many times we defer decisions to someone else, someone smarter, someone "better at that sort of thing" like doctors or lawyers or husbands maybe because we lack confidence in ourselves or maybe because we want to have somewhere to place the blame if something goes wrong. "How can we be in debt?!! Isn't this YOUR job to take care of the household money?!" Or, alternatively, we don't want to make a decision that will require us to take responsibility for our choices, and so we act out in ways that will force someone else to have to make decisions for us. Like in cases of infidelity where you essentially force the other person to end the relationship in a hailstorm of hurt and anguish because you couldn't bring yourself to do it honestly and appropriately on the front end. "It's not my fault; SHE ended things with ME." Other times, we just decide not to decide. We stay in the same job, we avoid opportunities that might make us have to decide something, or we convince ourselves of the absolute rightness of our belief system because then we don't have to ever decide again; that work has all been done already.

What I remembered in my showertime contemplation/cogitation is that my whole life philosophy has always been that everything a person does is a decision. Everything. Loving someone is sometimes a decision you make on a given day when they are not being so lovable. Choosing not to drink again is a decision, even though no one would blame you for falling off the wagon just once. "Having feelings" for someone when you are in a relationship with someone else is a decision. You can't help getting the feelings, but you can and do decide whether you are going to "have" them. Determining how today is going to go is a decision. Will I indulge my self-pity today? Maybe. Will I let my inner demons get me down? Perhaps. Will I be the person I would want myself and my mother and children and most-loved friends to believe I am? I'm gonna try.

No matter how bad you think you've got it, someone has it worse. The only thing they may have, like you and I do, is the power to decide how to deal with it. Are you going to give in to the temptation to blame someone else for your situation? Are you going to take the easy way out and force someone else to decide something for you? Are you then prepared to live with the consequences of that decision? I had a friend who used to say, "I didn't mean for it to happen; it just did" and we'd have the biggest debates about that statement because I always posited that nothing (except for illnesses and acts of God, etc) "just happens." You let it happen, you allow it to happen, you put yourself in situations where it is more likely to happen, you don't dissuade it from happening, you fool yourself into feeling surprised/guilty/confused when it does happen, but the truth is that you got the exact result you were subconsciously seeking if your decision tree is any indication of the truth. I'd find myself saying, "Tell me, how did you THINK this was going to go?!! Your decision tree is a road map to this very point!"

Physician heal thyself.

I realized in the shower that day that I had been feeling like my life was not in my control. Which, to a certain extent, is true for anyone. You get sick, a loved one gets sick, you get laid off, your dog dies, whatever--some things really are out of your own control and there ain't nuthin you can do to stop them. But I realized that I had been letting myself get pulled along by the current, hating the current, afraid of the current, but just letting myself get pulled along regardless...and feeling like being mad at my lovely, smart and sweet doctor was the appropriate and justified response. I had been essentially throwing up my hands and hoping for the best, rather than remembering that--like anyone else--until they nail the box shut with me in it--I'm still and always in control of my life. And I absolutely have the right to control what happens to me even in the service of fixing what ails me. It's not the "damn doctor's" fault that I am in side effect hell, it's not God's fault, it's not my family's fault or my friends' fault; it's nobody's fault.

But it's my decision--my responsibility--to pick myself up and walk myself out of that hell with all deliberate speed. Yeah, I could paper my walls with all the "poor you" messages I'd get if I just let things go the way they're going, and no one would blame me for being a miserable wretch for my troubles. But "Eureka" doesn't mean, "Aw hell, live with it." It means "I have found it!" And what I found in my shower that day (besides the the fact that I love my new Crisp Apple scented shampoo) was my decision-making mojo, which had gotten lost somewhere between "reduced liver function" and "massive weight gain" on that little drug package insert...

So, with all love to Archimedes for the inspiration, this post started with Welcome to the Suck, and it's ending with The B(tch Is Back!!!

Eureka: I have found her. She's drug free and noncompliant as can be--by unanimous decision.


redsoxnationbaby said...

Oh, had the b&tch left? ;) hee hee

Vigilante said...

Bosox Baby,

I think you have her confused with Betty, the Bitch on Drugs. This is E, as in Eureka.

Vigilante said...

Dear Eureka,

I'm not with you. My life history has been lived under the rule of compliance. I have always lived so as to avoid making decisions which would require me to take responsibility for choices.

I realize how accustomed I have become getting
sucked along in the river known as Compliance. It's as comfortable as my favorite hoodie in wintertime. Some may say it takes courage to get oneself out of the current. To them I say courage might be somewhat over-rated as long as we can trade it for some much needed comfort instead...

Not to make light of your heavy content:

At this time of my life, I take less time 'on the throne' and in the shower. And I also have scored a shower radio this Christmas. Anything to cut down on the silences in my moments of solitude....

Suck sucks.


Runner said...

Rock on, E. Welcome back.