I've Lived In Chico, CA 9 Years Now. Incredible.
Why I Need Intervention
Marc likes shows about ghosts and those who stalk them. Celebrity Ghost Hunters especially. I try to hold my tongue when I catch him watching one of these; they don’t seem to match up with the interests of my Marc, who is ever the scientist. “That’s no reality show,” I’ve said in a less sensitive moment. “It’s totally staged. And the celebrities are ACTORS.”
My husband admits that yeah, the stories are probably overblown, but he keeps watching. I think he wants to believe. He knows I believe in mysterious dimensions of our seen world, but I have a hard time referring to anything like ghosts. It’s such a cliché, making me think of Scrooge’s partner Old Marley rattling his chains as he walks upstairs.
Marc’s chance to turn the tables on me is when I iron my clothes and tune into “Intervention.” (If you haven’t seen it, click here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intervention_episodes )
At first I tried to explain my interest in flip terms: I like to watch people have a chance to straighten out their lives while I make my clothes unwrinkled. I feel like I am helping. I like people and things to go from crooked to straight.
But he and I know it’s more than that.
The intensity of the emotional entanglements and the fallout from the never-ending series of choice/consequences reminds me of my earlier lot in life. For a grown person of a certain emotional heritage all that drama smacks of "home." I suspect that being a witness to the televised version enables me to continue to work through stuff at some deep level of my psyche, helping keep what Buddhists refer to as “hungry ghosts” at bay.
People with neater, more traditional histories may sympathize but can’t understand the scars born by the children of this sort of heritage. Many transcend such pasts, but I don’t know of anyone who has done well for themselves who has entirely forgotten the details. At best, we make friends with the memories – they are familiar to us, literally in our bones. The high-contrast threads are woven into our personalities – our being. In consciously cycling through it all from time to time, with the maturity of our years, we find added dimensions to people and situations. All this has nothing to do with seeking sympathy or feeling sorry for ourselves.
We know we are condemned to somehow repeat the fiercest aspects of our forgotten pasts unless we make our peace with them, one by one, person by person. We can forgive, but to forget invites the risk of repeating old, sad stories. Reflection makes us better people and helps us to have mercy and offer forgiveness.
But back to the show. I find it oddly cathartic. I rejoice in the successes. Whether or not the intervention-ee chooses therapy or not, or maintains sobriety through time, I like to see love pouring out of family and friends who care enough to want to save a person who has become lost to them. It’s a beautiful thing by itself, even when thwarted. This intense human drama is played out through the grace of those willing to share their stories in exchange for a free shot at redemption. I enjoy being witness to it.
Commercial, yes, but with a redeeming quality and I end up identifying a bit with most everyone.
As a bonus, every so often, as I iron away I catch a little tidbit from a featured counselor who tosses off a few closing lines worth remembering. One recently discussed how important it is to first, render “invisible” addicts visible to themselves, to help them develop a core of self-worth by giving them opportunities to make good choices and do something for others.
“Do one right thing and each time, you are able to feel good about yourself. That’s true for all of us. It’s so simple – but there you have it.”
That kind of advice also helps me to get a bit outside of my own self and worries, which is the secret refuge-sometimes-to-the-point-of-addiction of caregivers and enablers everywhere. That statement reminds me of a super little line, along with accompanying gift, my husband provided me awhile back to preserve me from a lifetime tendency to worry and control all outcomes.
“Linda,” he said, “please stop scaring yourself.” Then Marc presented me with a “worry matrix” – a spreadsheet he created for me to keep track of my worries. When I looked at them and sorted them, and lined them all up in a precedence model (i.e., it makes no sense to worry about this until that has happened). I saw it was useless to think about, much less worry, about some items on the list until other matters were settled first – after which the worry would likely be baseless anyway because the worst rarely happens. And if or when it did, I would be prepared to be concerned.
When you are forced into logic, you start to see truth in the aphorism that fear is just False Evidence Appearing Real.
And I liked Marc’s line so much I learned to say it to myself when I need to. “Stop scaring yourself…stop hurting yourself.”
So simple, but there you have it.