It was a tradition of sorts.
In the initial months following my diagnosis, after each doctor’s appointment, I would go to the bar
Given my deteriorating health, maybe a few pints and a plate of fried pickles was not the most constructive response, but sometimes nothing soothes a fractured soul like the warm panel walls, a friendly jukebox and the comfort foods of a corner bar.
I remember sitting with my wife and parents and two brothers, talking through the details of my appointment in low, weighty voices.
We had drinks and ate deep fried vegetables and to snap the tension, someone would say something funny and we’d laugh, but not too loud. Because, now was not the time for laughing loud. Now was the time to make sense of bad news.
I remember the hallow clinks of pint glasses and finding things to do with my hands– bending coasters, tearing bar napkins into confetti–and feeling helpless and powerless. Like sitting in the last pew at my own funeral.
For awhile I believed there was nothing I could do. It was final–I was stricken with some rare disease. Period. And I remember believing how utterly unfair it was.
If our language confirms what we believe, relying on the phrase “it’s not fair…” cements our belief in the world’s oldest lie, which according to the novel The Alchemist is:
At a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.”– from The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
A few years ago, a student suggested that I start a blog.
Because sometimes you say interesting things in class.
Not to go all Hollywood here, but in serious ways this blog, saved my life.
Because I’ve learned that it’s not the bad news that matters, it’s our response that does.
Our self-victimization vexes others to where they will lose patience and tune us out. Their previous pity sours to apathy.
By bemoaning our bad news, we empower our bad news. We waste vital energy needed to command a positive response to conquer such bad news.
And plus, self-victimizers with their bloated bellies of self-pity and self-delusions make for terrible drinking partners.