Change Your Expectations; Realize Your Wants: “Why You Don’t Get What You Want, It’s Not What You Expect!

These are the notes that I took while watching Jennice Vilhauer’s 2015 TED Talk to forward to a friend of mine who is in prison and doesn’t realize she has the power to get herself out of jail on bail.

“Why You Don’t Get What You Want, It’s Not What You Expect!”

Jennice Vilhauer

Why You Don’t Get What You Want, It’s Not What You Expect!


Notes from Jennice Vilhauer TED Talk 2015

How many of us would like to win the lottery?

(Many hands go up.)

How many of us bought a lottery ticket today?

(Few hands go up.)


An EXPECTATION is a BELIEF about whether you will get what you WANT.

You CREATE your future with your expectations.

Expectations + Action = Creation of your life experience.

Common expectation:

I want to change my life, but I don’t really believe I can.

People give up on their lives because they aren’t willing to try.

When you don’t ACT on what you want, you take yourself out of the game.

If the game is winning the lottery, buying a ticket does not guarantee that you will win, but not buying a ticket will guarantees losing.

Our brains work on the principle of ANTICIPATION:

We constantly predict things before they occur.

When you anticipate an outcome, you automatically prepare yourself for what you think is going to happen.

When you PREPARE for something that hasn’t even happened yet, you PARTICIPATE in the outcome.


We have a tendency to use the past to predict the future:

If you failed once, you think you will fail again.

You have to BELIEVE your future can be better than the past in order for your future TO BE BETTER than the past.

Think about this scenario: A woman goes online to find the man of her dreams; all of her first dozen dates are guys who are losers; finally, she gives up showing up for a date looking her very best and then she meets a guy after she has worked out at the gym without showering and while wearing her gym clothes to the restaurant. The guy is everything she wants, but she loses out because she can’t look this well-dressed, perfectly behaved, interesting gentleman in the eye. She excuses herself and bolts from the restaurant. Her expectations, based on past dates, have ruined her future with the ideal man she wanted because she based her expectations on her past experience instead of future possibilities.

If you are aware of what your expectations are in a situation, then you have the ability to use your conscious mind to override the automatic thinking of failure expectations: you can PLAN for how to CREATE a different outcome.

Our expectations about what we want to get out of life have a very profound effect on our emotional well-being:

Our brain is dedicated to seeking REWARDS.

REWARDS are what you want out of life that make life worth living.

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.” JR Tolkien

When you EXPECT to get a reward, you get a feeling of happiness, of joy.

When you DON’T EXPECT to receive a reward, you feel sadness, maybe even depression.

The LARGER THE GAP between what you EXPECT and what you WANT, the greater distress you feel.

What do you do when what you expect doesn’t match up with what you want?

  • You can give up wanting what you want.
  • You can change your expectations to match up with what you want so you can take consistent action.

Imagine an upcoming future event and ask yourself:

1) How is what I am expecting making me feel?

If you are expecting a positive outcome, you will be happy.


If you are expecting a negative outcome,

you feel anxiety, fear, and dread.

2) What would I like to have happen instead?

This question identifies what you really do want to happen in a situation.

What you WANT is often NOT what you are EXPECTING.

Remember: You WANT to win the lottery, but you DON’T EXPECT to win.

  • What do I need to do to make what I want happen?

When you have a negative expectation of a situation, it is because you are focused on all the things that could go wrong, why it’s not going to work out for you. You are not generating thoughts and ideas about how to make it go right.

When you SEE A PLAN laid out in front of you, of what you want, your assessment of the expectation starts to change: YOU BEGIN TO SEE THE POSSIBILITIES. This is where SHIFT happens.

Every SUCCESSFUL action you take towards that plan starts to CHANGE your EXPECTATIONS.

I know what your are thinking as you read this:


If you are desperate and can’t see change happening in your life, ask yourself this question:

“Where is the light at the end of the tunnel?”

Some of us DON’T DARE to dream about life as being different because we CAN’T EXPECT it to be different.

Shift your expectations so you can find the light at the end of your long, dark tunnel.

When you are MOTIVATED by what you WANT, CHANGE is POSSIBLE.

“Whether you believe you can, or believe you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford


It’s your EXPECTATIONS of the FUTURE that LIMIT you the most. Not the past. Not your abilities.


You can CHOOSE to TAKE ACTION based on what you WANT, and when you do that, you give yourself an opportunity to STEP OUT OF THE PAST and CREATE THE LIFE you truly want.


Premonition in Costa Rica


So my goodbye day to Samara Beach, Costa Rica, was complete with a long walk on Samara Beach this morning, a long 4-wheeler ride to Nosara for another long walk on the Playa Guiones with a nice ex-pat named Linda (who isn’t a Trump fan) and her rescued dog, a great two-hour private yoga lesson at Tica Yoga Studio in Nosara with Mariah, another long last walk on Playa Guiones (topless surfers got my attention), a last and stressful 4-wheeler ride back to Samara over some of the worst dirt roads on the planet, two massages, and a last swim in the ocean before I go to bed tonight to finish my day.

At the start of the 4-wheeler ride home from Nosara, I thought to myself, “You’ve ridden this thing almost three hundred miles without biffing it, rolling it, or flipping it, you only have thirty kilometers to ride without making any of those mistakes.” I had a very ominous feeling about this last ride. At twenty kilometers out, I thought, “Only twenty to go.” The thought occurred to me again at the gas station as I drove through a busy intersection and almost got T-boned by a semi truck (my bad), “Only three miles of winding, paved downhill road to ride at 70 kph; you can do this…” One mile out, “So far so good,” but I had this sinking feeling that I wasn’t going to get out of this week without an ambulance ride. One hundred feet to the parking curb and I was home free… Then it happened, right in front of the rental place…I turned into a parking space, parked the 4-wheeler, and walked away…unscathed! So much for geriatric four-wheeling for a week!

Eva Parsons August 22, 1950-April 7, 2016

My wife, Eva Carol Parsons passed from her friends and family April 7, 2016. Two years ago, I delivered my eulogy for her on Friday, April 22, 2016, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Wasilla, Alaska. I started with the following poem by e.e. cummings:

“I carry your heart with me”

I carry your heart with me

I carry it in my heart

I am never without it

Wherever I go, you go, my dear

And what ever is done

By only me, is your doing,

my darling, I fear no fate,

my sweet, I want no world

for beautiful, you are my world, my true

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

Here is the root of the root

And the bud of the bud

And the sky of the sky

Of a tree called life;

Which grows higher than the soul can hope or the mind can hide

And this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart. I carry it in my heart


Question: Where is Eva now?

I think I know.

She’s in the Mind of God.


In The Mind of God.

Eva is connected to omniscience, that is why we can’t sense her; she is on the other side of our limited senses. We cannot see her because we can only focus on what we can sense and we cannot sense everything that can be known in other words we are not omniscient.

We too, are in the Mind of God, but ours’ is a special place: we have been given five senses in order to sense our world that we know through our senses.

We only know our world, but Eva, being connected to the omniscient world knows everything that was, that is, and that will ever be known.

Where Eva is, includes everything we understand and everything that can be understood.

The barrier between Eva and us has to exist because if we were a part all knowledge, we wouldn’t be interested in this world because it is so limited compared to everything that can be known.

Eva is connected to the Mind of God; she lives in the Mind of God.

We don’t have to worry about her: she is in a bigger place and I am sure they speak really good French there.

Who is Eva?

Wow! Did I learn some interesting stuff about Eva after she passed away from us forever.

I learned she was funny.

Who knew?

Well, just about everyone but me.

I did not know that her colleagues regarded her as hilarious on frequent occasions.

I thought she was pretty funny sometimes, but most of the time I knew her as a focused, serious, private person who on occasion made me laugh at ridiculous situations, usually situations I created.

I learned that Eva meant a great deal to her colleagues:

She was regarded as a mentor, a rock-solid friend, and a highly conscientious team member who always could be counted on to fulfill her duties on time, and follow through with her responsibilities.

She was respected and loved dearly by her fellow foreign language teachers.

I always knew how much she loved learning, speaking, and teaching French.

She loved France and the French language so much, she spent a dozen summers studying for her Masters in French, traveling France with friends, attending a French cooking school for a month, and most interestingly to me, suffering through a private school designed to teach French to diplomats and business professionals.

I say suffered because that school session lasted nonstop from eight in the morning until eight at night, six days a week, for almost three months. It was intense. It was outrageously expensive.

The pay off was that she spoke French so well, native speakers of French complimented her.

After that summer, she moved up in office from a “fluent speaker” to the rank of the fourth best non-native speaker of French in Alaska.

I just made that number up.

But it sounds about right.

Ten years ago, Sam and I listened to two Frenchmen at the Anchorage International Airport.

These guys owned a fishing cabin at Deep Creek and spent a lot of time salmon fishing.

They were trying to figure out a way to check their heavy boxes of salmon.

Eva introduced herself in French and proceed to explain to them, in French, how to use the airline concierge to help them get their boxes on the plane.

They followed her advice and were delighted.

The Frenchmen asked Eva where she came from in France.

They wouldn’t believe she wasn’t French. The were convinced she was born in France.

Compliments don’t get any richer than that.

We lived off the fumes of that conversation for a good seven, or eight years.

Did I mention that I am inordinately proud of Eva?

I admire her teaching career. I admire her motherhood. I admire her ability to accept me for who I am and her ability to inspire me to become a better teacher, father, and husband

I would like to tell three stories that almost no one in this room has ever heard.

Eva was always about work; her work ethic was legend.

One Sunday morning about twenty years ago, she kissed me goodbye at eight in the morning and said she was going to work in Wasilla High to grade papers and plan for the next week. She said she would be home for dinner around five.

I spent the day reading and riding my mountain bike on Ft Rich. I returned home around five.

No Eva.

I put dinner on the table and laid down to take a short nap.

I woke up two and a half hours later.

No Eva.

Eight o’clock rolls around, and I know I am behind the power curve. I called Dwight Probasco and told him Eva hadn’t called about being late and I hadn’t seen her for twelve hours.

He said he would go to Wasilla High School.

Something told him to take a policeman with him. As Dwight tells the story, he had his 44 magnum with him.

He just had an overwhelming sense that something was wrong.

Dwight entered Eva’s room, and Eva greeted him with, “What’s up guys, you’re here late.”

Dwight told her that I had called him and that I was worried. Eva said the time had gotten away from her and that she would pack up in a little bit and head back to Eagle River.

After calling Dwight, I called my neighbor, an APD patrol officer. He in turn, called his state trooper friend patrolling the Glenn Highway and gave him description of Eva’s car.

They never spotted her on the road; she rolled in to the house at about 10:30, chipper as could be and wanted to know if I held dinner for her!

Second story:

Eva rode ten-speed pro racing bikes with me in her twenties and kept up with the big dogs handily.

We once rode our tandem from Greeley, Colorado to Minneapolis, pedaling 1000 miles, in ten days.

We rode our touring bikes from Loveland, Colorado, two hundred and fifty miles to Casper Wyoming in three days.

We backpacked many times in the Rockies.

But sailing was Eva’s favorite sport.

She sailed Hobie 14s, 16s, and a big Hobie 18.

Eva and I reversed roles on the boat: I was the crew in the trapeze in the front of the boat and she was the captain, the tiller wiggler, and decision-maker.

Somehow, sailing a big catamaran in high winds and six foot chop innervated her, sailing in high wind actualized her inner athlete.

Her brother Vince and I sailed with Eva in thirty-knot winds over and through five foot waves.

Eva never took the easy tack. She never made the easy and safe tack across the wind.


Jibbing the boat the boat where the wind comes across the stern of the boat, grabs the sail and the boom, and slams them to the opposite side of the boat was her tack of choice.


She knew how to control this wild turn and loved to yell out “PREPARE TO JIBE. JIBE-HO!” Most sailors give the crew ten seconds to register the command and prepare for ducking the boom.

Not Eva.

At JIBE-HO, the boat stalled for two seconds, Vince and I jumped seven feet for the opposite rail of the boat, ducked under a flying boom and clipped madly into our trapeze cables while Eva laughed and sheeted in the main sail throwing all of her weight and all of her might into the mail sheet. The boat at this point is going three directions at once: it is flying forward, slipping sideways until the leeboard is dropped and most dramatically, the pontoon that we are standing on rises out of the water, eight feet into the air.

We stand on it with our heads twelve feet above the water, rocketing to thirty miles per hour as the wind roars in our ears and the bow spray stings our eyes.

Eva: Wasn’t that great! Let’s do that again!

I think that is how we lived our lives back then: Crazy jibe tack in a high wind after crazy jibe tack, after crazy jibe tack.

We laughed at caution. We welcomed the danger of our sports. We welcomed challenge.

This was Eva in the eighties: One big jibe-ho after another.

In a calmer time, this month in fact, Eva slowed down considerably to about four breaths a minute.

It seemed impossible that she could breath that slowly and continue life.

One morning, in the last week of Eva’s life, Sam was leaning over Eva to listen to Eva’s breath. Sam put her ear close to Eva’s face… Eva said, “BOO!”

Sam jumped back, and Eva, never opening her eyes, said her last words ever: “Just messing with you.”

Her humor stayed with her to the very end.

Eva is gone.

More importantly to me, is that she was here.

She lived her life and she loved her work.

She loved her daughter.

She loved her dogs.

And she loved her husband.

In about that order.

Eva’s last wish for me was that I might live a long life, I should be kind, and I should set a good example.

She knew that she lived a good life as she lived it.

That is about all anyone can ask for in life: to be present in the moment to enjoy it at the same time.

She is in the Mind of God. She is safe, happy, and probably wishes that the rest of us would get on with our lives to live as happily and as richly as she lived.

One of our last moments together was when I climbed up at the head of the bed, took her right hand in my right hand to hold it while we slept. I thought she was no longer conscious of me. She enclosed my hand in her right hand and held it firmly.

She is in my heart.

Our hearts beat together.

She is in Samantha’s heart.

She is in all of our hearts.

She is in our hearts so she can be happy bringing us joy to our lives.

SAT NAM: Or How My Life Changed in Logan, Utah.

SAT NAM: The truth is my identity.

So this is the state of the third life of Jeff Parsons as he awakens to each new day in his beautiful home in Logan, Utah: I awake, I breathe, I take yoga classes, I walk my dogs on beautiful trails and beautiful parks, I think about my future as it will unfold. I learned a new greeting today that I must use for the rest of my life: SAT NAM. No more, “I am just happy to be alive.”

My buddy, Martin Buber, said, “All real living is meeting.” This week has been a week of real living, in Logan.

I awoke too late for my hour of intentional breathing this morning. I decided to attend a Kundalini Yoga class at 7:30, and it was 7:00 when the Labs rolled me out of bed. I wasn’t going to miss this class. I thought to myself, “What fool does yoga at 7:30 on a Saturday morning in Logan, Utah?” I decided to find out what Kundalini Yoga was all about on the strong recommendation of my first Transcend Yoga teacher, Kelly.

Was I ever in for a surprise! Arriving early at 7:15, my fellow yoga friend Bonnie (veteran of one class, I bond quickly) and I thought we must be late to class because the class of three students and the teacher were already in high chant. As in: HIGH CHANT! Master teacher Andy Rasmussen welcomed us in, informing us that we weren’t late, we had just missed the early morning warm up; class would start soon. This was my introduction to Andy’s class: Everyone in the class was outfitted in white (Bonnie and I showed up in black), Andy sat on a pile of prayer pillows in front of what appeared to be a 40 inch gong! (Quite a prop!) Andy started with a loud, and relatively long chant. No “Hi! How do you do?” Just, “Let’s get busy and chant!” Bonnie informed me that this was pretty much a “chill” class that was mostly chanting and storytelling and not a lot of long-held asanas. She did get the chanting part right, as well as the storytelling, but she must not have gotten the e-mail about seven and a half minutes of “down dog push-ups,” or the really, really long time spent on an overhead arm-swinging-breathing exercise. I almost passed out from vehement arm swinging, and chuff-breathing-in-rhythm to the arm swinging. Swinging your arms, (while sitting) over your head and down to your sides, will surely wake you up if the down dog pushups didn’t do the trick!

We moved on (can an hour really be this long?) to guided visualization and then to an intense ten-minute meditation to the BONG song of that monster gong! I guess an hour has to be really, really long to get all this good stuff in!

Rarely, (if ever) do I walk into a completely different culture that shakes up my composure and consciousness. Each day spent with Transcend Yoga has given me a new experience from “Ashtanga Vinyasha” back bends with Kelly, to manic “how many of these asanas can we do in one hour because I am SO out of breath?” Chantel Gerfen, to Vinyassa Flow (OMG! I am going to run out of sweat here if we don’t stop for savasana soon) Olivia, to YinYangYoga with “if you pause, you may never catch up,” Sherilyn, to Kundalini Yoga “this will change your life forever!,” Andy Rasmussen.

I still have HOT Flow into Flexibility with Sherilyn tonight (she promised that the class would “melt” my heart).

This is my life in Logan, Utah, August 20th, and the clock just struck 1:30 pm. Wait was that a gong? My I-phone changed its tone to a gong tone spontaneously!

Six hours later: Yes! Sherilyn delivered a class to melt my heart; true to her word!


Career Tech High School Class of 2016 Commencement Speech

As I promised, here is the text of my speech to the CTHS Class of 2016, as delivered on May 10, 2016:

Good Evening Honored Class of 2016, Parents, Family, Teachers, Administrators and Board Members.

In the space of little more than a month, through happenstance, I have experienced a most devastating event and a most gratifying event. I am grateful to be here to speak to you tonight; I feel a balance from being invited to speak to you.

Thanks to you, the members of the Class of 2016, I have the opportunity to address you one last time This is the most energizing and exciting opportunity that has come my way since I had most of you as Freshman.

Thank you.

Let me catch my breath a moment.

This evening, I want to talk to you about life and death.

Settle down. We aren’t going to visit dark places.

I am going to talk mostly about life because I have some authority on that subject.

First let’s do a quick review. I wrote the Class of 2015s speech last year with you in mind as my audience.

You weren’t here last year so I will do a quick review to bring you up to speed.

First, I regaled the Class of 2015 by suggesting that their parents buy them a Tempur Pedic Memory Foam mattress for their graduation present. There was a point to my request: I reasoned that if a person is going to spend the next third of his or her life in bed, parents might as well spring for a great bed in order that their dear children might spend that time enjoyably.

Second, I offered the advice to make a point of becoming a conscientious person. For those of you who don’t have a ready definition at hand, to be conscientious by my definition is to do what is expected of you:

You perform you duties promptly.

You embrace your responsibilities every time you are called upon to be responsible.

You are cheerful in executing your duties.

And you always complete your tasks without being asked a second time, or better yet without ever being asked.

What do you get out of this?

You will be a stand out parent.

You will be loved and cherished by your spouse.

Your employer and your customers will always look forward to engaging your company.

You will always feel good about yourself because dependable, loyal people always feel good about their service to others.

My last directive to the Class of 2015, and now to you is:

Every day, every hour of every day, ask yourself the Laken question:

“Is this the best use of my time now?”

If the answer is “no,” you’ll know what you need to do.

If the answer is “yes,” you probably won’t be asking the question.

The best use of your time is different for you than it is for me, and anyone else. But you and I will spend a large part of our lives doing the exactly the same activity if you listen to me carefully for the next five minutes.

I want to teach you something I have always known, but something that has just re-entered my life in the last four months.

I want to teach you to live and to know you are alive while you are living.

How will I teach you to be aware of living in five minutes?

Let me show you.

Stand up.

Follow my instructions:

Breathe in deeply.

Hold that breath for two or three seconds.

Now breath out slowly, twice as long as it took to breath in and this is the most important part:


Okay. Once again for the slow guys:

Breathe in deeply.

Hold that breath for two or three seconds.

Now breath out slowly, twice as long as it took to breath in, and this is the most important part:


And again:

Breathe in deeply.

Hold that breath for two or three seconds.

Now breath out slowly, twice as long as it took to breath in, and this is the most important part:


Breathing is life. Intentional breathing is living and paying attention to your life as you live it.

You know you are alive when you are breathing.

You appreciate your life as you live it when you breathe intentionally as we all just experienced.

Breathing is the miracle of life.

We all come into our lives on an in breath.

We leave our lives on an out breath.

In the meantime, we never stop breathing, we just stop paying attention to the beauty of our breathing until now.

Breathing intentionally will inform your life about everything you need to know and do with this gift of breath.

Our breath is central to our lives:

We hold our breath when we are excited and joyous.

We laugh. And laughing is the most joyous form of breathing.

To cry is to breathe: crying is breathing to help us catch up with our overwhelming emotions. It is done in the presence of god if you think about the tears and the symbolism of water being the presence of God.

We breathe harder when we live harder. Running. Skiing. Basketball. Baseball are all breathing sports.

When we play sports like baseball, we breath!

Watch me: Pitch. Bat. Catch. (I act this out.)

We hold our breath when we think we are about to die.

Maybe we do that to keep from dying. Who knows?

Now I will make my point.

I know of a man, Thich Nhat Hahn who breathes intentionally and smiles with every breathe all day every day and he has been doing this for the better part of his ninety-three years. I think he must cheat a little by smiling continuously during his waking hours and in his sleep. He does smile and he does emphasize every breath he takes.

I want you to take sometime to breathe intentionally every day. It should become a livelong habit to breath intentionally. We may not become Thich Nhat Hahn, but we will all be better for breathing intentionally.

Ten minutes every morning would a good start for you.

I wake up every morning and breathe intentionally for sixty minutes. I roll out of bed. I touch the timer on my I Phone, and assume the down dog position and start breathing intentionally.

I don’t stay in down dog for an hour in case you are wondering. It is fast way to wake up.

Sixty minutes is a really, really long time to dedicate to breathing. However, the upside is that every hour of the rest of my day is shaped by that first hour.

Every minute of intentional breathing reminds me that I am alive and that I am enjoying my life.

Ask yourselves if you have ever seen me not vibrating with excitement and exuberance in the last four months.

Let me shift gears here for a moment.

Addicts have negative triggers in their lives: a Bic lighter, the television remote, the VISA card, you know your negative triggers. They live lives of negativity and aimlessness; they are hungry ghosts in search of more of something to fulfill their lives and they never find that something.

We will not become hungry ghosts; we will breath our way though a full and rich life regardless of what comes our way because we are intimately in touch with life itself through our breathing.

Let me show you my positive triggers.

I use my I Phone in the morning to trigger my intentional breathing.

I use the key fob to my Volvo to remind me to breathe intentionally while driving all the way to Anchorage, or to Carrs, if that is all the further I am driving.

When I feel fear, or anger, or sadness, I stop, I focus, and I breathe intentionally.

It’s kind of like that “count to ten before you explode,” but better because it works and it lasts longer.

Okay. Let me catch my breath.

I want to tell you two stories before I close.

I learned that life was breath from my chocolate Lab, Duke. Duke lived ten great years by my side. I biked with him, sailed with him, and read the Bible out loud to him. Twice. He loved it. The day that my wife Eva and I put Duke “to sleep” as the euphemism goes, we took him into the exam room, watched as the vet gave him a sedative to calm him, and then we petted his chest as he breathed in and out and in and out and then stopped.

My moment of awareness was realizing that when he stopped breathing, his life was gone. Forever. It could never be started again because he was dead. He had stopped breathing. He had stopped living. That was the moment that I knew the secret to life:

Life is breath.

My second breathing story is about my daughter and my wife. My wife had lost consciousness about ten days before she stopped breathing. My daughter, Sam, spent every minute of every day with her mother almost until her last breath. About five days into unconsciousness, Eva was breathing so slowly, about four breaths a minute, that Sam had to crawl across the bed, put her face close to her mother’s face and listen to see if she was still breathing. As Sam was leaning into her mother’s face, Eva said, BOO!” Sam jumped back, scared breathless and listened as her mother said, “Just messing with you.”

Her last words.


My last words to you:

I will always think of my wife, Eva, my daughter, Samantha, my dogs, too numerous to mention, and you, the Class of 2016, every morning as I practice intentional breathing






Good night! Good luck! Thank you for this experience!


Here is the video of the Career Tech High School Class of 2016 Graduation.

My speech is introduced at 58:44. Maximize the screen and turn up the sound


Christopher Drick (a former student) suggested I and this video to this blog:





Ghosting: The Gutless Goodbye.

The purpose of my blog is to write about what I like. This essay is about something I don’t like; thus, it has an unavoidably negative tone.

Last night, I was reading a Cognitive Behavior Therapy  book. I remember some blurb about how the smartest man in the world (Aaron Temkin Beck) invented the cognitive behavior branch of psychology in the 1930s. I thought the CBT approach might be something that could help a friend of mine overcome depression and assorted dysfunctional behaviors. I chose a book titled, The Everything Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, by Ellen Bowers, PhD. It sounded authoritative enough to teach me about CBT.

As I was reading, I came to the following passage:

“Popular literature is full of helpful information about ending romantic relationships or marriages, but how do you manage a friendship that, as far as you are concerned, is definitely on the skids?

One method is to take it in increments, increasing levels of subtlety. Become somewhat vague in your answers to e-mails and phone calls. Be a little evasive when the other person wants to make a specific plan to get together for a concert or an outing. If he doesn’t see that you are tapering off in your investment, it may be necessary to simple not respond to communications. Then, you may want to have a face-to-face meeting and briefly state that your life has changed and you find you no longer have time to nurture your friendship. No lengthy explanation is needed, because if he didn’t “get it” with your more polite attempts, he will not get it now. It will make you feel bad on explanations that fall on deaf ears.

If the former friend morphs into a stalker, you may have to block him from your e-mail, phone, and social media sites. This is drastic, but sometimes it happens. This final level of protection in no way makes you a bad person. You are simply protecting your sacred inner essence from the Negative Nellies and Energy Vampires who enjoyed feeding off of you in the past. They will find other prey.”

Bowers. P 71.

Wow! Bower’s guide is a formula for ghosting!

This is how we treat people who considered themselves to be our friends?

A brief definition is in order: My definition of a friend is someone who is concerned about your well-being, and who supports your efforts to live an effective and productive life through companionship.

I immediately thought of a “friend” who ghosted me in January, and then reached out to me via social media in April to assure me that we were still friends, and then ghosted me again after my wife’s death. She could have read this text from this book and followed it to the letter. Or maybe, her therapist taught her this strategy based on the therapist’s understanding of CBT.

Trust me, if you have ever been the object of ghosting, you know the humiliation of wondering what exactly you did wrong to deserve to be ghosted,then reinstated into friendship, only to be ghosted a second time.

Is this a civil way to treat people? Does anyone like being manipulated like an object? Would Bower’s strategy for ending friendships pass the WWJD test? Would a normal person really feel that ghosting someone is treating them humanely? Does this even come close to the “Golden Rule” that our parents and churches advocated for us to use in building and maintaining our friendships?

My answer is “No” to all the questions.

Bower’s strategy sounds like a page right out of the high school drama culture. It is not a guide for learning “positive and mindful techniques to change negative behaviors,” as the book purports to be. Quite the opposite.

I take exception to the steps Bowers describes to end a friendship. Ghosting is cruel. Ghosting is not a effective, or humane way to end a relationship.

Bowers  is coaching duplicity.  She is not coaching for positive relationships and mindfulness in our relationship with others.

She suggests meeting with a person face to face after ghosting the him? Can anyone besides me see the potential for a violent encounter using that strategy?

What is the matter with just telling someone from the moment you decide to end a friendship: “I can no longer be friends with you. Do not contact me again. Ever.”

One shot to the right temple lobe.  End of friendship.

No doubt will exist in your former friend’s mind: the relationship is dead; your friendship is dead.

A piece of your soul will die with that shot; you can never do just one thing: there is always a cost associated with changing relationships.

Why is this more humane?

Easy. It is honest. It is unequivocal. It respects the person’s dignity by not allowing them to linger in hopes that the friendship might be salvaged if they can only figure out what they did wrong. It saves that person time and emotional energy by letting him, or her, know that you are no longer a “friend” right up front. In all probability, your friend was  deluded that you were ever a friend in the first place; it is important to clear up misunderstandings as quickly as possible.

People can move on if you don’t resort to subterfuge, impeding their understanding of their new relationship to you.

Ghosting is subterfuge.  Ghosting is inhumane.  Ghosting is gutless.

Bower’s should review her advice on how to end a friendship. Her method calls into question her authority to teach “positive and mindful techniques to change negative behaviors.”

I was brought up by my parents, and my teachers, and my friends to treat people with dignity and respect. I don’t treat the people I don’t care for with Bower’s level of disdain.

How others treat you is their karma; how you treat them is your karma.

Bower’s, and my former “friend” have bad karma.

Good luck to both of them: they will need it.

Click  the following  and listen to why Sarah Hepola learned not to ghost boyfriends.


The Bank of Jeff: Where Lifelong Savers are Forged

Savings is the absence of spending. That simple fact can dictate the future success of almost every individual’s financial life. As important as knowing how to spend money wisely is to one’s financial security, it is even more fundamental to good economics to understand the value of saving.

With that in mind, I combined some ideas I learned in the insurance industry and designed a program to shape my daughter’s financial acumen to be directed toward saving.

To that end, I created the “Bank of Jeff.”

The Bank of Jeff is unique in that it is home-based, doesn’t insure deposits, accepts deposits twenty-four/seven, and pays a very attractive rate to only one client: my daughter.

The features of this bank were designed for only one function: to turn my daughter into an inverterate saver.

A typical bank, or credit union, was paying about one percent per anum when she was learning about money. As an example, one hundred dollars is a lot of money to a seven-year-old kid. Given a one percent return, said seven-year-old would get back one dollar for hiding her one hundred dollars away from the pleasures of what that money could buy during the year. I can’t think of too many kids (or adults, for that matter) who would find that rate of return motivational. In fact, even Sam, at seven, found it laughable.

What to do? Easy. Pay a better rate: pay a meaningful return of the dollar. I chose a rate that even Sam could appreciate: five percent per month. If that sounds good, think about the per anum return: about seventy percent. Now we are talking about a rate that will get any seven-year-old’s attention. Heck, it would get my attention, and I hate saving.

So how did it work? The account balance was evaluated at the end of each month. Starting with a balance of one hundred dollars, the one hundred dollars must remain in the account for an entire month, then the value of the account at the end of the month would be one hundred five dollars.

If the money was deposited in any time after the first of the month, say January, the five percent would be paid at the end of the next month, February. The money had to remain in the bank for a full month to earn interest.

On the other hand, at any time money was taken out of the account, said money would earn no interest.

The incentive shifts from spending to saving because there is a rich economic interest to save as opposed to spend.

Certain controls had to be placed on the account in order to not bankrupt the banker. The maximum amount that could remain in the account was one thousand dollars; one month’s interest on one thousand dollars is fifty dollars.

When the one thousand dollar limit was reached, by mutual agreement, nine hundred dollars was withdrawn from the account and placed in an aggressive mutual fund opened in my daughter’s name.

The point of having an account with between one hundred and one thousand dollars is to have money available for spending on really important wants, say a RC car (Sam actually withdrew money to buy one). At the same time, Sam thought long and hard about withdrawing her money that was drawing five dollars to fifty dollars each month in order to by whatever it is that kids what to buy with their pocket money.

The Bank of Jeff created a deliberate saver and an even more deliberate spender: Sam. She remains a deliberate saver to this day. She could probably cash out her own house if she wanted to. She cashed out a new Volvo with her savings and picked it up in Sweden to boot.

The Bank of Jeff was retired after high school graduation, but the benefits of the bank accrue daily: Sam’s financial attitudes toward money are simple: she’s a saver, through and through.

Ask anyone who has watched her deliberate about spending her cash.

Rereading The Liar’s Club for the First Time

Last December 2015, I was walking with a friend for the first time in five years. We were walking and talking about writing: writing memoirs in particular. My friend thought she might have a few books in her waiting to get into publication. She was thinking of writing a memoir and was sounding me to find out if I could tell her anything valuable from a literature teacher’s point of view. I’m sure I didn’t.

She asked me if I had ever read Mary Karr’s book The Liar’s Club. I said I had read it. I remembered that I had listened to Mary Karr talk on NPR about her book in 2010, when she re-issued it. I bought the book, didn’t find the immediate enthusiasm to start it and shelved it for a while. One day, again on NPR, I listened to Stephen King profess has admiration for Mary Karr and for her book The Liar’s Club. I dusted off my copy and started to read it due to King’s enthusiasm for Karr and the book. I remember not being too fond of the idea of a Liar’s Club, and I must have dismissed it after a few pages because there is no way I could have read that book then, or now, without simply falling in love with the language, Mary Karr’s style, and her voice. The book is all about voice and that voice speaks to a broad audience.

I could not have read more than three pages. If I didn’t like the book, and didn’t think much of Mary Karr, then I could not have read it. Maybe my problem was that it  was set in Texas…who knows?  Bald fact: I didn’t read the book. Mea culpa.

My response to my friend was that I had indeed read the book a long time ago and that I didn’t think much of it, or much of Mary Karr as a writer. A dark shadow crossed this woman’s face. She was thinking deeply to herself, “This guy’s an idiot.” Her formally good opinion of my literary opinion stock dropped through the floor. I can’t be sure what her exact thought was coursing through her mind, but if I had to guess, it probably went something like this: “You are a pompous, arrogant dumbass, who doesn’t know good writing when you read it.” Or something to that effect. People don’t think highly of ridiculous criticism of obvious good writing, especially writing they personally enjoy. Fact. Been there.

Last week, after I had to cancel what would have been a third walk in five years, and first in three months, I decided to reread The Liar’s Club in order to find out why this book is adored by so many readers, and by my friend.

People read books for a number of good reasons. Some people like the action in a book, others are happy to read a simple narrative; still others like to read a particular genre, or read about an interesting topic; I am happy to read books others find interesting. I will always find a book engrossing, if the language talks to me with interesting metaphors, images, rhythm, tone and sentencing (variation of sentence lengths); I am a hopelessly attracted to novels that read more like poetry, and novels where I can’t distinguish between whether, or not the language has been deliberately chosen and polished, or if the author is just that damn amazing of an artist, and writes beautiful language effortlessly and naturally.

Mary Karr’s particular genius is that she understands that the sense of smell is intimately related to memory. If you are writing a memoir, it makes great sense to use the smells that evoke memories liberally. She is a master of placing an evocative image of a particular smell to introduce her recollection of a place, or event. The entire novel derives its sense of place through her numerous appeals to our sense of smell.

Mary Karr had me from her first image when she connects the sense of smell to her memory of the nutty smell of coffee and the background smell of her hometown: “Somebody had made a pot of coffee that laid a nutty smell over the faint chemical stink from the gasoline fire in the back yard. Every one tries to conjure up the sense of smell to fill out their narrative by using the smell of bacon, or coffee, and then abandons the sense of smell as a tool to evoke a minor image. Karr uses coffee, cigar smoke, Salem cigarette smoke, and then moves on to much more masterful smell images throughout the book. She repeats the coffee image: She remembers picking up her dad at work: “He brought into the cab the odors of stale coffee and of the cleaning solvent he used to get the oil off his hands.” Later in the book, when Pokey reunites with her dad, she uses “He’d been drinking black coffee during his shift, the coffee that pored like tar from the foreman’s beat-up percolator. That coffee brought my whole former Daddy back. I knew the solvent he used to strip grease from his hands and the Lava soap applied with a fingernail brush. (She moves to a tactile image: “His chin bristles scraped my neck.”) then she shifts back to smell to complete the child and father reunion: “And he must have been sweating from damp or work or worry, for the Tennessee whiskey he’d stood on the tarmac sipping was like the fresh-cut oak coming off him.” It bears repeating: Karr’s genius is her use of smell images to build her memoir because memories are richly remembered around specific smells. Karr makes fun of frozen fart smell which appear as her Dad, Pete, tells a story of “about a dozen of these round fuzzy things rolled our his pant leg. Big as your thumb, and white.” Pete continues the story: “And you ain’t going to guess what happens when they thaw. They pop like firecrackers and let off the biggest stink you ever smelled…” “They was farts?” Daddy slaps the laughs at sucking in his audience. And thus, we are introduced to the humor of the Liar’s Club and Pete’s storytelling through the sense of smell.

Another favorite of mine that takes me right in the car with Karr: “The too-sweet smell of Grandma’s hyacinth perfume hung in the car till Mother lit a Salem.” I know that perfume and I know the smell of Salem (menthol) cigarettes and that sentence takes me back to my mother’s smoking when I rode in the car with her as a youngster, about the same age as Karr is at this point in her narrative.

Karr gains memory-evoking strength just a few sentences later on the page when she remembers: “The sheer stink of my hometown woke me before dawn. The oil refineries and chemical plants gave the whole place a rotten-egg smell.” A positive memory: “The right wind could bring you a whiff of the Gulf, but that was rare.”

That smell leads, a couple of pages later, to this revelation about her hometown: “I later learned that Leechfield at that time was the manufacturing site for Agent Orange, Which surprised me not one bit.” She is remembering arriving in her hometown after an all-night car ride: “That morning, when I woke up lying under the back slant of the windshield, the world smelled not unlike a wicked fart in a close room.”

Another example of Karr’s narrative genius is how she parallels the novel To Kill a Mockingbird without even reaching from her own life to do so. Karr is the Scout Finch of Leechfield, Texas. Both Mary Karr and Jean Louise Finch have nicknames: Pokey and Scout. Both tell the backstory of their hometown while writing about how much they adore their fathers. Scout is no slouch at setting people straight, and neither is Pokey. They both speak in the vernacular, both write in a highly literate narrative form that somehow reaches out and includes the speech sounds and rhythmic cadences of the South. Karr doesn’t appear to deliberately make the connections between the two novels, but there are clear connections in her story. Harper Lee has a unique voice that draws the reader in by telling the story with a child persona: Scout. Karr steps back into her childhood and tells her story as her younger self, modeling her seven year old voice when she asks questions of her sister and parents and then shifting subtly to an adult voice to carry the narration.

Karr lends credibility to her memoir by questioning her remembrance of certain events as though she might not be remembering them as accurately as she lived the events as a child. Both Karr and Lee echo the idea that we don’t remember events as they were, but as we were.

Another comparison to TKM I noticed was Pokey’s comment about running away from home: “What I didn’t know until I finally did leave home at fifteen was that, if I had lit our, nobody would organize any posse to sniff me down.”

Dill observes to Scout that maybe Boo didn’t run away because he had no place to run to. Dill was also the product of a mother who remarried and chose to focus more on herself and her new husband than on her child. You can see that parallel in Pokey’s mom when she divorces Pokey’s dad and remarries destroying the family bond. The children are allowed to choose which parent the wish to live with. To me, this shows the indifference of Pokey’s mom to her children. To her credit, Pokey’s mom later reunites the family.

Does everyone in the South drink to excess? Wow! There are the big drinkers: Aunt Rachel and Bob Ewell in TKM. In The Liar’s Club, everyone is a drunk. They probably don’t problem drink any more in the South than in the North, but drinking is definitely a favorite past time that has detrimental effects on both communities. The Liar’s Club makes glad I live boring, non-drinking life, that no one would actually write about.

I noticed that in Karr’s alcoholic family, each sister was willing, at any time to walk away from the other. I think this is the mark of an alcohol-affected family. For example Pokey says of her loyalty to her sister: “I wished Lecia no particular harm, but if there was only one banana left in the bowl, I would not hesitate to grab it and leave her to do without.” On the other hand, when Lecia, Pokey, and her dad were together, Pokey said, “We were just like the three curved boards for the hull bottom of some boat that only needed gluing and caulking together.

If you are still with me, you might like to think about Karr’s use of pacing to add texture to the story. Throughout the narrative, she leads us down a narrative trail, story by story, stopping and digressing occasionally to illuminate a important connection to the narrative.

The rape story demands a under current of pacing to reinforce how craftily Pokey was cut out of the herd and raped by an older boy. She mentions him. She describes him as evil. She tells how he grooms her. Then she describes the rape as it happens. It all seems to build up gradually, to demonstrate how this evil boy planned the rape. Pokey is left without any recourse to address her rape. She concludes her story by describing him walking off to the ball game, he never rushes; he is confident that he is in complete control of Pokey and Pokey’s will, and he is confident that he will never be found out. The pacing of the story reflects his confidence: slow and deliberate.

A particularly touching dramatic story Karr relates is how Lecia, Pete, and Mary enjoy a cookout in Colorado. Mary remembers it as a Halcyon moment before the family’s tight bond is obliviated by their mother’s selfishness the next day. Mary experiences the best day of her life the day before she faces her worst day.

If I filmed this book, I would choose Adele’s “Hello” as the theme song for the for The Liar’s Club. The book has an most plaintive vibe to it. One can hardly imagine a little girl growing up in such a dysfunctional family and still turning out as close to normal as most of the rest of us are (if we all were truthful about our families).

I have a special . If I really like a book I have read, I rate it by how many copies I buy on Amazon and then send to my reading buddies, or give to my friends. So far, I have given away fifty copies of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, forty copies of Gilbert’s, Eat Pray Love, twenty-five copies of Caroline Knapp’s, Drinking: A Love Story, twenty-five, or thirty copies of Ted Kerosote’s, Merle’s Door. I was so taken with Elizabeth Smart’s Story, that I bought fifty copies of a very expensive hardback to loan to my students. Each book was read over twenty times over a two-year period. That was money well-spend. If I thought I had fifty friends that would actually read Mary Karr’s The Liar’s Club, I would order fifty copies just to start. Sadly, I don’t think I am going to find that level of enthusiasm unless a bunch of folks read this blog and tell me how excited they are about the book.

Thank you, my friend for embarrassing me into reading The Liar’s Club. As with everything else in our relationship, you are right and I am wrong. The abyss will never be bridged except with great book recommendations. I’ll miss those in the future.

This interview and video might pique your interest in reading The Liar’s Club:







Alcoholism and the Bell Jar

First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

I won’t gain too many friends by writing my thoughts today, but this topic has been on my mind for years.


I grew up in Casper, Wyoming. Wyoming folks, when I lived there, used to measure distances by how many six packs it took to drive from point A to point B. Drinking alcohol was that casual and that socially acceptable.


Alcoholism engulfed my family and me as I grew up. Alcoholism pervades every aspect of my life today.


Almost all my friends’ parents were alcoholics, or at best, really heavy drinkers. I didn’t know any family that didn’t have a well-stocked wet bar in their home; the majority of my school friend’s parents had a drinking problem. There was a lot of shame associated with our families’ alcoholism; nobody talked about alcoholism openly with their friends.


I thought alcoholism was about drinking alcohol; I didn’t understand that alcoholism was a symptom of a deep and powerful substance addiction. Alcoholism was a family affliction to almost every family I grew up with in the fifties and sixties.


I was a thirty-something before I even knew that it was possible to communicate effectively about the disease and communicate with an alcoholic; I’d given up trying to talk with my alcoholic mother; I shunned her for years.


In my thirties, I discovered a communication skill set to communicate with my alcoholic mother when I discovered a metaphor for alcoholism while watching the 1986 movie The Fly with Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis.


I discovered a metaphor for alcoholism and I found the tool to understand and defeat the alcoholism agenda. I used that understanding to learn to accept and love and reconnect with my alcoholic mother.


In the movie, The Fly, Jeff Goldblum is a scientist trying to invent teleportation. In the movie, he steps into teleportation booth A and flips a switch to travel to teleportation booth B. What he doesn’t know at the time he flips the switch, is that a housefly has surreptitiously entered booth A just before the teleportation commences. The machine transports the fly and Goldblum at the dismantled molecular level in booth A and reassembles them in booth B, confusing their genes in the process. Goldblum acquires some of the fly’s genes. His body starts to grow at the genetic level of the fly, changing his body in a most grotesque manner. Fast forward a bit to Goldblum’s hospital room as he tries to explain his perception of his body’s morphing into a fly to Geena Davis, his main squeeze. He sees the metamorphosis as a disease.  Goldblum’s character states: “I know what the disease wants: It wants control.”


I had never thought of disease as a sentient entity before, but it made perfect sense to me.


Somewhere in my reading, I learned that the objective of alcoholism is to degrade, demean, isolate, and humiliate the alcoholic and the people who are known, and loved by the alcoholic. Alcoholism has its own agenda.


The lingo of alcoholism defines the alcoholic as the afflicted and everyone else in the alcoholic’s life as the affected.


Everyone in the alcoholic’s life is affected by the disease until the key to extricate themselves from alcoholism becomes available to them. No one ever extricates themselves completely from alcoholism.


My mother choose alcohol addiction; and the alcoholism enthusiastically embraced her.


She lived the first forty years of her life as a brilliant, powerful, and attractive non-drinking woman who mistakenly thought that life owed her a living. My father inadvertently supported her delusion, not realizing his inadvertent role in my mother’s addictive descent.


Mother was so intelligent, so self-possessed, she could have run a small country. Columbia would not have been too big for her energy. Being a homemaker didn’t challenge her talents and abilities. She wasn’t up to avoiding an alcoholic lifestyle, however.



Alcoholism is not about intelligence, or lack thereof; rather, it is a powerfully negative life force that defeats one’s mind and soul.


On her fortieth birthday, my mother didn’t get out of bed. She had an epiphany:


The rest of her life became a slow slide into a slough of mental and physical decadence. She believed that she would never be as beautiful, or as popular, or as powerful as she had been in her first forty years. It was a self-fulfilling prophesy.


When she chose to drink heavily every day; her fate was sealed for the next forty-one years.

Whatever the cause, the effect was that she became a world-class alcoholic. The power of the disease, and the power of her brain, produced a synergy that outpaced the abilities of everyone in her life to understand, or respond to her disease.


In my thirties, I came to realize my mother not as a broken-down alcoholic, but rather as the wonderful person she was and always had been. She required what we all require: love, affection, respect, connection to her family, and friends, and the nurturing of her soul with their presence.


Alcoholism is a bell jar that completely encapsulates the alcoholic and thwarts any positive, or nurturing relationships with her family and friends.


A bell jar is a bell-shaped cover made of glass used for covering delicate objects, or a clear container used in a laboratory, or an environment in which someone is protected, or cut off from the outside world.


My dear, kind mother was a hungry ghost: she was desperate; she was starved for affection; she could never fulfill her needs: she was completely in the thrall of a disease whose agenda was to degrade, demean, isolate, and humiliate her and to degrade, demean, and humiliate everyone that she loved, cherished, or cared about.


Her alcoholism was a bell jar isolating her from her world: the disease was invisible to everyone including to her; like the wind that cannot be seen except by its affects on the environment, we could only see the affects of the disease, not the disease itself, or its agenda.


My family couldn’t separate the disease from our mother: she was a disease to us.


We slipped into the role of being complicit, and being participant in her degradation.


She contributed to her abasement by drinking, or so it seemed to everyone outside of the jar: we didn’t perceive an agenda in her drinking, we just saw the effects of her drinking.


Belatedly, I imagined the disease process for what it was, I seized the responsibility to respond to my mother as a person rather than to respond to her disease.


I fought for her instead of against her.


I said kind words to her.


I expressed affection for her verbally, and by simple acts of kindness.


I ignored her anger.


I deflected her rage.


I refused to respond angrily to her syrupy voice when she called me on the phone.


I no longer upbraided her for drinking.


I refused to take her phone calls when she was drunk; rather, I made a point of calling her almost daily, and visiting her in person frequently, when I knew she would most likely be sober and rational.


Initially, I accepted all of her ridiculous demands as a matter of course; eventually, her demands became reasonable requests as her needs for affection and positive attention were met.


I addressed her desires and her needs promptly and without comment. (To her, her wants and needs were the same thing; there was no need for me to quibble over the distinction.)


I became hyper-conscientious around her: I addressed her authentic personal needs, not her alcoholic confusion of those needs. Sometimes, they were the same; I didn’t differentiate, I just worked to meet her needs as she expressed them.


The disease hated my conscientious efforts to love my mother and support her growth away from helplessness.


The disease slowly lost its powerful grip on me:


I no longer allowed the disease to drive my life.


I gained power over my life as the disease lost its power over me.


I felt great.


I developed a positive relationship with my mother for the first time in my life.


Slowly, the bell jar lost its implacable grip on my mother and its firm grip on me; it released our family to function as a family.


The disease is never entirely absent from our lives: it is always in the background. Mother died an alcoholic struggling every day for the rest of her life with the affects of living half a century in the clutches of alcoholism.


I celebrate my creative resolution to an alcoholic relationship with my mother. It seemed a success to me.


I know and respect alcoholism for its power over me and for its power over many of my friends.


Alcoholism still has a unmistakable hold on me.


I ruined a friendship one December when I tried to explain my understanding of the disease process to an alcoholic. She (and the disease) did not take the discussion well.


My friend’s alcoholism (bell jar) understood my discussion of her alcoholism as criticism. (It was.)


No criticism is ever welcome, especially when it is understood by the disease as a threat to the status quo.


When I encounter alcoholic friends and alcoholic acquaintances, I invariably choose the wrong approaching their alcoholism. I still cherish the idea that I can challenge and defeat their alcoholism. I should leave well enough alone. I’ve never vanquished alcoholism completely in my lifetime and I’ve had lots of opportunities to do so.


My alcoholic bell jar shouts out to an alcoholic’s bell jar:


“Watch out for this guy! He really has an ‘ass-holic attitude’ about alcoholism! Avoid him! Straight-arm him! He’s no fun! Ghost him! Don’t let him play in our sandbox!”


As soon as I mention my thoughts about alcoholism and the metaphor of the Bell Jar to an alcoholic, that is pretty much the end of any meaningful relationship with that person… forever.


This is how I explain to myself why I don’t have 999 friends lined up to socialize with me: There’s a good chance my dormant alcoholism works to isolate me from many potential non-drinking friends and alcoholic friends.


I isolated myself from an alcoholic/psychopath person recently. I cared deeply about that person, a former student. I became addicted to the hope of saving her and the need show my love for her by sacrificing everything important to me to save her from her shitstorm life.


I realize now that I fueled a codependent relationship trying to rescue her from her alcoholic life; I became a controlling, crazy-person who was addicted to the hope of rescuing, and loving her as a means of saving her; she didn’t want to be saved.


I became the very addict that I was trying to rescue and reform.


I’ve moved on now; I have great respect for the addiction process. I escaped from that addictive event; I will always have the scars of addiction on my soul, however.

Lesson learned.