What's That Smell?

I found this picture on Facebook at just the right time. I have no idea who came up with this picture, or the quote. Ever since I saw it, it's become an important mantra for me. I actually turned it into my desktop wallpaper.

I went to visit my husband's aunt and uncle recently. They are in their 80's. If asked, Aunt Ellie and Uncle George will tell you the reason there are no dinosaurs is because of God's flood. They will say this with a straight face, as if no other thought has ever occurred to them.

They believe the Bible is 100% true and don't question anything in it. Everything that happens is part of God's plan. This is their worldview.

This uncritical, unquestioning acceptance of Biblical truth, has turned them into living stereotypes. They watch Fox News and believe without question that Fox is the only source of fair and balanced news. They believe that President Obama was born in Kenya. They live in an alternate reality. Usually, I approach them with the attitude of a cultural anthropologist. I just watch in amazement as they apply circular reasoning and thought-terminating clich├ęs to make sense of the world. Unfortunately, Aunt Ellie opened her mouth once too many times, and I couldn't help myself. I challenged her beliefs. She responded by digging deeper into the crazy.

When I came home from dinner with Uncle George and Aunt Ellie, I was upset. I want to challenge them, explain things to them, teach them the beauty of reality. But, they aren't interested. I wrestle with this. How can you not want to know the truth? The emperor has no clothes. Look! Jesus was not born while Herod The Great was ruler and Quirinius was governor of Syria. Herod was already dead 10 years when Quirinius was governor. Were you born in 1933 when Roosevelt was president and while Truman was president? They cannot both be true.

Except, they live in a reality where both are true at the same time. It made me want to tear my hair out. I was so frustrated after I came home from dinner with my husband's family. Then I saw this picture on Facebook. Talking to Uncle George and Aunt Ellie is like trying to smell the color 9. That explains everything.

Next time we are together, I will keep this phrase in mind. Instead of getting frustrated by their wacky ideas, I'll make a record of them and share them here on my blog. That way we can all get a laugh and I can save my sanity.


Thank Science I'm Alive

I'm still alive. This amazes me at least once a day. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night because my insulin pump tubing twisted around my arm. When this happens, I look down at this little machine and thank science I'm alive. This little mechanical wonder pumps insulin into my body, because scientists and engineers worked together to make this amazing device. To the people who invented the insulin pump, thank you.

Fifteen years ago, I had a tumor the size of a golf ball wrapped around my aorta twice. 
To the surgeon who cracked my chest and spent almost 10 hours carefully removing the entire tumor, thank you. 
To the anesthesiologist who kept me alive through the surgery, thank you.
To the nurses who looked after me, thank you.
To the pharmaceutical companies who created the medications and equipment to make that surgery possible, thank you. 

To my amazing doctors who have kept me alive this long, thank you. I am 15 years into the bonus round of my life, thanks to all of you. I am so grateful people study science instead of theology. If all I had to rely on was hopeful words and salad dressing sprinkled on my forehead, I'd be dead right now. Instead I'm still here, cancer free and amazed. Thank science I'm alive!


Chronic Illness And Anger

When I was still attending church and trying to adjust to a chronic illness, anger was unacceptable. To feel angry was to deny God’s sovereignty in my life. I was told to submit to God’s will and trust Him. The mental gymnastics required to feel angry, but express happiness, tore me apart inside. 

What I wanted to say, needed to say, remained bottled up. I smiled on the outside. I listened to the scripture verses people quoted. I listened to the holy cliches. The more I listened, the more conflicted I felt. I felt crazy, until I left religion. Funny how letting go of my faith allowed me to gain my sanity.

I am so glad I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not anymore. Truth is, I'm angry. All day long I see people who don’t have to deal with muscle spasms and weakness. I vividly remember a life I no longer have. Of course it makes me angry. I have one of those neurological nightmare illnesses. The kind of thing people fear getting. What helps me deal with my anger is acknowledging how I feel without sprinkling it with sugar.

I’m angry, but the Lord knows everything.
I’m angry, but I know God has a plan.
I’m angry, but I shouldn’t feel that way.

No more of that. I’m a human being and I get to feel angry. When I feel angry, I don’t have pretend I don’t feel it. Instead, I recognize that feeling pissed off over chronic illness makes sense. Sometimes I get mad because I have to deal with symptoms, but most of the time I get pissed off over the word, incurable. I hate that word. Incurable. 

Synonyms: Remediless, Unrecoverable, Cureless, Hopeless, Fatal

Venting anger by yelling and screaming tends to make me more angry. Some people can vent their anger and get it all out, but that doesn’t work for me. I just explode. The safer way for me to get rid of my anger is by defusing it. I can write about feeling angry, or listen to angry music. I can play violent video games. When I am angry, I express it without fanning it into a rage. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life having a temper tantrum. I could. I have a thousand reasons why I could yell and scream all day long. I just don’t enjoy feeling angry. It’s exhausting. 

I’ve learned to express my anger for a while, and then back away from it. I back away by doing things I enjoy. I change the music I’m listening to from angry to quieter and more upbeat. I’ll play a different video game, one with less violence, and more laughter. I’ll binge watch something funny on Netflix. Other times I back away from my anger by spending time with friends and family. Or knitting. Or being with my dog. Or reading a good book. Or just sitting outside in nature. 

I give myself permission to lose my temper. I also give myself permission to quiet back down. Giving myself permission allows me to live a quieter, and much more peaceful life. Chronic illness isn't going anywhere. It's not going to stop making me angry. It's not going to stop me from enjoying my life, either.

What do you do with your anger? Do you have any special ways of defusing your anger?


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