Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pause when agitated

My wife had a good birthday, celebrating with a lunch out the day before and opening her presents on the day. This year, I got her an Italian pizza oven with accessories.  She enjoys cooking, especially out doors where we can sit on the deck or near the outdoor fireplace. And we both enjoy a thin crust pizza now and then.  She is going to try out the cauliflower crust soon.  Anyway, it was a good time, although much too short as I had to be on the road on the morning of her birthday.

I traveled to Raleigh to do some work.  In the meantime, I had a chance to go to the Al-Anon Literature Distribution Center where many of the books and pamphlets are shipped to groups in NC, SC and surrounding states. And I had an opportunity to go to dinner with my Service Sponsor, a person who guides me in the practice of the Traditions and Concepts.  I continue to do a lot of service work, but I also recognize that I can talk to this fellow if I have questions about whether I may be taking on too much.  I do have a tendency to say Yes to things that I really don't want to take on, but do so out of a sense of duty.  It's all about balance.  And it was a great chance to meet face to face with him.

When I got home on Sunday, I was catching up on news when I saw that a lady who was a passenger on a weekend cruise I captained had shot her husband during a domestic dispute.  As more details come out, it appears that she shot him and cut herself with a knife to fake self-defense.  I knew that she was a hunter and carried a gun.  She talked a lot about guns and her belief in being armed. I cannot understand the love of guns or the need to have them around.   I don't know what went on in her head to decide to shoot him, rather than walking out the door and leaving.  I don't think I can know how lives get so messed up.

I have thought about this tragic situation for the last couple of days.  No matter what, it seems that understanding the motives of people is baffling.
"...... when someone commits a violent crime, they always report in the news about his possible motive. As human beings, we need to somehow make sense of things. If someone murders someone, do you think it makes the family of the victim feel better to know the murderer's motive? No. Except for self-defense, there really is no excuse for murder. Motive, if there is any, is irrelevant. 

You want to know why. In many ways, you might feel like you need to know. But, if you could come up with a reason or a motive, it wouldn't help you." — Beth Praed (Domestic Violence: My Freedom from Abuse)

By no coincidence, last night's meeting topic was on motives.  It was a good reminder for me to examine my motives and understand what kept me in destructive relationships and accepting of negative behaviors and humiliation. What came across is that each of us is entitled to live without fear, uncertainty and discomfort.

Before Al-Anon,  I did not think about motives.  I had reasons to stay for many years with an alcoholic,  and those stemmed from beliefs that had been developed from outside influences and from poor self-esteem.  Then when I learned there were layers of truth underneath the reasons, I did not want to examine them because sometimes the truths about me were unacceptable to the mask I had created.  There was shame amidst my shadows.

Looking at the real motives and truths is an ongoing inquiry. My true motives may be unclear in the heat of the moment, but for the most part, I stay clear of people and those tasks that are unhealthy for my emotional well being.  I used to stick around for unacceptable situations simply because I didn't think that I deserved any better.  I stuck around to please another or because I was afraid of a negative reaction.  I let fear dictate my actions--fear of loss, of abandonment, of worthlessness.  Now, I do know that I can sort out my thinking in time, so that I realize what my motives were at the time I opened my mouth or made a bad decision.  It has helped me to not react until I have asked myself what my underlying feelings are at the moment.  "Pause when agitated" is a good mantra.


  1. Shame has always loomed large in my sense of self. I know it and I try to recognize it when it pops up its ugly little head.
    No, no one can truly understand the motive of an act like murder. Especially when committed by a "loved one." Humans are often not logical at all and if there are guns about...
    So very sad.
    But I'm glad your wife had a good birthday. A pizza oven sounds perfect!

  2. When my son failed out of college, I had to pause myself before responding because I was understandably angry but didn't want to do or say anything I might regret. It was not the easiest thing, but it was the right way to begin.

  3. I am someone who needs to know "why." About everything.....why do people choose the things they do, why are people the way they are, what is the motivations behind the actions....its really enough to drive myself and everyone around me crazy! Learning to live in acceptance and that most situations just are what they are, has been hard but when I can find my way to that safe spot to nestle in and accept and stop questioning.....I am at peace. I try to live there, but I get derailed occasionally. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here Syd.

  4. Seriously Syd. i may have done a lot of shameful things in the past but I have not one fear, doubt or regret over any of it. It was my path, still is for the journey is not yet complete. i have no more fears, especially the fear of offending others who are in and of themselves offensive.

    Murder, humans harming humans, reams of of books of libraries are full of motivations, reasons, excuses, and WAYS we have harmed each other, I speak in the collective imperial tense, though I have not hurt anyone for quite awhile, we are all bits of the same whole.

    You know what the motive for murder is? the killer simply didn't want the killed around anymore.I may be jaded though from living here for so long but it has become a part of life, one that still has the capacity to astound me.

    Stay sensible Syd, be shocked at every untoward death. this hardness towards it, is not a state of mind for most people.

  5. I hear you, Syd.

    And I hope that cauli crust for the pizza comes out well!

  6. I like and agree with all you wrote Syd but what really captured me was the cauliflower pizza crust ! (go figure...) I love the fake mashed potatoes using cauliflower and will have to try this.
    Next time you're in Raleigh head south on Rt. 1...I'll treat you to lunch.

  7. Thank you for that wisdom.Regret is a heavyl burden.

  8. Syd,

    Thank you, for your post and for dropping by my place. :-> I want to say how lucky you are to have a marriage where you and your wife enjoy each other's company. But, I imagine you arrived at this place as a result of a lot of recovery work, especially making use of what you have learned from Al-Anon Family Groups. I say to myself, it probably took a lot of time, too. The good thing is, you now enjoy the investment you made.

    Did the fellow die? I am thankful for Step One. I realize I am powerless over understanding the motivations of others. I turn that over to my Higher Power. I am learning to rest and experience my feelings. In this case, I am sad, unhappy and my insides felt frozen after reading what the wife did.

    The families suffering from this incident have my prayers. That is what i can do. Hope to see you over at my place soon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. I am 8 months into my Al-Anon recovery program. I left a 30-year marriage to an Addict/Psychopath. The final straw after enduring every imaginable ugliness under the sun (including closed-fist punches to the face): He decided to hide $100,000 of debt and open a gun shop, without me "knowing" about it. He wore a 9-mm gun tucked in his back pants; and that coupled with his drugged-out rages caused me to have to make a painful decision. I left with 1 suitcase and my work computer....In my own insanity, I went out and got a conceal carry permit and carried a weapon of equal intensity at all times. I endured unspeakable things. After I found a safe place in a safe city, he found me, broke into my home often and left 0.38 caliber calling cards. In my insanity, I came to believe that he would either kill me or I him, I was that afraid. I totally understand the motives of this woman you speak of. Terror is an awful way to live. I thank God daily for my renewed faith in God, a chaos-free life without violence and the hope for happier days. Blessings,


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