Thursday, December 13, 2007

Giving Up That One Heroic Death


The coward dies a thousand deaths; the brave man dies but once. It’s a nice little saying as far as it goes, but it in no way constitutes a necessary and sufficient cause for the dying of a thousand deaths. Brain damage does this same thing. There are level upon level of loss, as you discover just how pernicious the damage is. I keep wanting to heroically get it over with, die the one death and move on—become the new person. I don’t have a choice, so why waste time on all the emotions?

But the whole thing is like algebra. You can’t skip steps. You’ll just get it wrong and have to go back and do it over again. And I can’t treat it like algebra. If you pull a C in algebra and get through the course, you’re done and don’t have to revisit it until it’s time to take the GRE. But God is a more thorough teacher than the school system. He makes you go over it again and again until you finally get it. There is no gentleman’s C. The course is pass-fail with a very high standard for passing indeed.

I’ve looked enough at skills to realize that devising organizational techniques to compensate for my shortcomings is no longer my major problem. I still fuck up badly, but it’s not because I don’t have a method. I think I’ve learned most of the skills that I need to compensate for the damage. I’m still fucking up because I can’t manage all the emotions involved.

There are three recurring emotions that I cope with whenever I deal with medium to large organizing tasks. These are: shame, inadequacy and despair. These three are a direct cause of my pronounced tendency to withdraw from or delay organizing tasks. As the intense negative emotion generates fatigue, experiencing these three emotions generate the fourth direct cause of withdrawal and delay.

I don’t have the ability to suppress the emotions anymore. So that’s off the table. I need more therapy, prayer and meditation. I need to learn to be okay with my situation so that I’m not ashamed, overwhelmed and despairing anymore. Being brave, in this case, means dying the thousand deaths. It also means my progress is going to be really slow.

Slow but steady wins the race. Fuckin’ tortoise.

4 comments:

Miyagi said...

I wish there was some way I could pull you out of your tail spin:

AS the old sying goes, Lu Bu the tiger and dragon of ol tired, failed and went out whining like so many handmadens his death was ignominous. While Ch'ien Yang learned to walk again without his legs and mounted, sorely defeated Cao Cao the next they met.

Why should you feel shame and anguish? You are smart and brilliant. Maybe things have changed but your soul is still gold.

The great egoist that is dead and the events that you espouse as great, they were things that drove you out of Washington and sent you to exile...why should you embrace them so?

Cuphound said...

Don't worry so much Sean. For me, it's always darkest before sunrise. Ironically, looking at things very flat on, usually helps me stamp out the unrealistic ideal that is making me sad.

My life is not a plane that can go into a tailspin. It's a canoe with a steady leak. I keep expecting that I can fix the hole. I have to accept that life, for me, will be about continuously stopping in the middle of the water to bail the canoe. As someone who used to fly, the psychological disconnect between going from an F-16 to a leaky canoe is really hard on me. The adaptation is taking time.

It's not that I consciously embrace the past. It's that I reflexively cling to it and am slowly learning to let go of it. Identity loss is always like that. It wouldn't have been a meaningful identity if I could just punt it away.

If it reassures you at all, I get grouchiest and whiniest just before I get a bout of progress, usually because I start looking at things more realistically. Storm and stress periods followed by crapulent depression and sober re-evaluation.

Marx would say, I'm a revolutionary of the eighteenth century. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Craig said...

Oh for God's sake lighten up. It could be worse, you could live in Iraq. Or even worse then that be related to George Bush. I love you!

Cuphound said...

I love you, too, Sweetie Bear! I am lightening up. Look at all those cookies I baked for Christmas!