About 15 years ago I discovered I was an angry person – finding Buddhism helped me with lots of discoveries, but only the anger issues shocked me.
I didn’t think anger was an issue for me in any way and as I inquired of my friends and family if they thought I might be angry they all did the same thing – they burst out laughing.
“Ummmm, yeah Ross – I’d say that you are angry. Glad to hear you are working on that.”
Recently I’ve had a very similar experience with self-loathing.
I was under the impression that arrogance meant I loved me too much but apparently that is not the case. If you know me you might be giggling right now. Yup, my childhood can reasonably be described as messy and I always wondered how people seemed to just know that without me telling them.
Quick aside – if this is your first time here you might not be aware that I transitioned into a wheelchair around Thanksgiving, which was about a month ago. I probably should have gotten a chair more like last summer but like lots of stubborn folks I resist most medical things.
I’m a long way from done with the #lifeonwheels process but losing the ability to walk without wheels is maybe the greatest challenge I have ever faced in my life. It’s hard to learn all the skills, it takes time to build muscle and balance, and the feelings involved are pretty gosh golly molly complex. Everything happens for a reason though and I know Buddha has a plan for me.
Most folks aren’t quite sure how to react to a person in a wheelchair and that creates little challenges every day.
So back to my new friend self loathing, which is apparently something most humans have at least a little bit of.
I haven’t liked what is happening.
Some people I encounter daily haven’t liked what is happening.
Friends and family have had their own emotional process too, most folks are “sorry” to hear about the chair.
That combination has thrown a match onto the drum of gasoline that is my own self loathing. It blossomed and ballooned like a bacteria.
Today I have so much less physical pain than I once did. Neuropathy sucks but “walking” with canes and crutches while you have neuropathy from the waist down just plain jane hurts. It can be hard to discern the difference between emotional pain and physical pain. I think that’s because one tends to cause the other and vice versa.
So this past summer I started drinking scotch. A lot of scotch.
As a guy that never took the pharmacy pain killers they offered me I felt pretty Ok about using this ‘pain killer’. It did seem to make me feel better.
I’ve never been a big fan of alcohol which is probably because my father was an alcoholic who frequently talked about how his father died in the bottle after once being tremendously successful.
My name is Ross Robert Lasley.
My father was Robert Art Lasley.
My grandfather was Ross Art Lasley.
I think that’s three generations of guys that the people who sell scotch are really happy about.
I spent time with my wife’s family at Christmas and had a little incident with a step-monster. This particular step monster has had 4 back surgeries and may be looking at life on wheels herself someday, presently she has a lot of challenges with the prescription medications doctors like to pass out like candy when they don’t know what to do.
She was supposed to ‘talk’ to me so we got left alone to chat. Long story short she called me a coward.
“If you weren’t a coward you’d do the right thing and kill yourself, that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll never be in a wheelchair.”
So I proceeded immediately away from that house to the liquor store. Bought a bottle of Dewars and made some guzzling sounds. And I made sure that the right family members had the hotline numbers that are appropriate for folks that have extreme physical pain.
Then the next day – Christmas – I reflected on the experience.
My four year old daughter had the Christmas morning we all hope little humans will experience – Santa brought her both the strawberry shortcake doll and the clifford stuffed animal she asked for. The cookies were gone. It was magic.
Looking at how happy she was got me thinking about my own happiness and what had been going on in my life.
Scotch isn’t making me happy – in fact it’s doing the opposite.
Today I am half way through a juice fast cleanse as I write this article. I’m committed to sobriety. That’s enough now, time to get on with living my life and time to stop being so afraid.
The thing that bent my brain about the step monsters comment is that she was right, I have been running my life based on fear and shame. I was being a coward and I need to stop doing that now. More than occasionally people tell me that I’m actually doing pretty well, most folks that get an acquired disability have a lot of trouble with it.
This year my big goal is to transition from being ashamed of my disability to being a proud disabled man. I’ve been struggling with that in all sorts of ways – I thought the alcohol was helping me but in fact it was doing the opposite.
Inebriation was preventing me from doing my daily meditation and all sorts of other things I need to be doing to be a happy me.
If you see me feel free to ask me if I’m sober and if I say no feel free to kick my ass.
I’m really excited about 2017, I think it’s gonna be my best year ever.