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A Special Kind of Helpless

April 16, 2012

There’s a lot going on in the world, in a lot of different areas.  Politics, religion, business, the economy… areas that I see out of the corner of my eye every day.  When you spend your days at a computer connected to the internet, you absorb a lot of news.  Heck, I write a game set in a dystopian near-future; if you added some demons and aliens to current news coverage, I’d practically be a visionary.

It’s not uncommon that I spend a little while at night, laying in bed, feeling immensely helpless to affect the future that my son is inheriting from me.  It’s an uncomfortable, general feeling of helplessness.  It’s a fairly common condition, though.  A lot of people deal with it by taking an extreme view of one side of a highly polarized modern issue, and filling their Facebook feed with demotivational posters that support their viewpoint.  Me, I write a pithy blog.

That’s not the kind of helplessness that has me in an icy grip at the moment.  The “the world is going to Hell in a handbasket” helplessness is something that I’ve almost gotten used to.  No, there’s something a lot more personal going on, right now, and in the absence of being able to teleport or perform long-distance magical healing rituals, I’m going to have to write in my pithy blog to try and deal with it.

There’s a person in my life who is exceptionally special to me.  I form very strong attachments, and there are people special to me all around me; my beautiful wife Annalisa, my incredibly imaginative son Andrew, my talented and brilliant partner Vic, my best friend Mandy, the incredibly supportive and able Twisted Joe and his family, my strong and wonderful mother, and many others.  The majority of people who are important to me are within arm’s reach, no more than a day’s drive (or much less)  from where I live.  I’m immensely lucky.

There’s a person, however, who holds a unique place in my heart, mind, and soul.  Twenty-five years ago in St. Louis, she was one of my first real relationships, and back then, I was something of an idiot.  She charitably tells me that I was just young; I feel compelled to remind her that I was not only young, but I was clueless and stupid.  I ended our relationship because I believed I could “trade up,” and as a result, my life hit the craggy rocks below and exploded.  When I was at my lowest; at the point where I was only one bad decision and one rainy day away from taking my own life, this wonderful person showed back up in my life, picked me up out of the gutter, dusted me off, placed me shakily on my feet, and pushed me onto a plane to Los Angeles.  Saved my life, she did.

She’s gone through some very hard times, lately, and she’s reached out to me for help and support.  She’s still in St. Louis, but thanks to the wonder of the internet and long range telecommunications, she’s become a member of my family.  She’s a surrogate aunty to my son, one of my wife’s staunchest supporters, and well-known and liked in my circle of closest friends.  We talk often, and I have, indeed, managed to help her past some very difficult times.

She’s currently undergoing a difficult situation with a hostile roommate.  The roommate is in the process of leaving, but she is doing so in the most passive-aggressive, psychologically demeaning and degrading ways she can possibly arrange.

Lisa, my friend and the woman who saved my life when she had every reason (and every right) to watch me burn as she danced and laughed, is recovering from a major surgery… complications from a lap-band that slipped and malfunctioned dangerously.  She’s lucky to be alive to begin with.  Thanks to the way that the roommate has comported herself in this situation (which is, frankly, the reason she has to leave to begin with), Lisa over-strained herself.  I had to yell at her for ten minutes, last night, to get her to call an ambulance and get to the hospital.  It’s a good thing she did, too… she was immediately admitted, and is under treatment and observation.  I don’t have a lot of information, at this point.

In short… someone hurt her.  Someone poked and prodded and goaded her until she strained herself into a hospital room, when she was already weak and trying to recover.  Someone kicked her when she was down, and didn’t stop kicking until she had to go to the ER.  It’s probably a good thing that I’m roughly two thousand miles away, right now.

It’s also a bad thing.  It’s not like I can pack up the car and drive overnight to get there.  I don’t have the resources to drop everything and hop on a plane.  There are plans in place which will have me visiting St. Louis at the end of the month, briefly, to try and help things transition smoothly.  Ten days from now.

I got a brief text from Lisa today.  She’s in the hospital, she’s weak, and trying to rest.  I’m stewing in my own juices, here, fighting the impulse to rage and throw things.  That’s not going to help anyone, and with the way I don’t keep myself in any kind of shape, I’d be just as likely to end up in the hospital myself.  Anger is generally self-destructive if you don’t keep a handle on it, I’ve found.

No, I’m filling my days with doing writing and art, putting together new products and polishing large projects.  When I’m too mad to do that, I log into Star Wars; The Old Republic, select my Sith Warrior character, and murder digital people without let or hindrance for a while.  All of which accomplishes things, more or less, and I am getting things done.

I’m just not helping my unique and injured friend.

My wife is more than supportive of my going out to help; we’ve arranged the trip at the end of the month so Anna can handle her schedule in my brief absence.  Anna’s good like that; she understands how important my friends are to me.  In ten days, there’ll be a boarding pass waiting for me when I go to the airport, and that helps somewhat.  I’ll be going, I’ll be helping.

It’s just that she’s in a hospital bed right now, as I type, and I don’t know what her condition is or how well she’s doing.  Her mother is with her, but her mother and any helpful skills like using a cell phone don’t stay in the same Zip Code.  I’m putting off going to bed, because that once-a-night feeling of general helplessness at the state of the world is being joined by a bigger, harsher feeling of helplessness; a personal feeling of helplessness that I am currently powerless to affect.

That, and the anger.  With a special kind of helplessness comes a special kind of anger.  A slow, seething, thoughtful, meditative anger.  The kind of anger that makes you do sit-ups and study engineering.

All of which is to say,  “do not hurt my friends.”


One Comment leave one →
  1. Twisted Joe permalink
    April 17, 2012 10:31 pm

    *sigh* Yeah, there’s nothing worse than being forced to reckon with the general powerlessness we are occasionally forced to contend with. Unfortunately, there are times where we really can do very little compared to what we would like to do.

    But even so, you do need to remember that even if you can’t get out there instantly, the willingness to drop everything and head out there, the fact that you’re keeping in contact with her and providing her emotional support she certainly needs are amazing and wonderful contributions to her wellbeing. Focusing on that and what more you can do and less on what you can’t should in turn reduce your anger and help you cope as well.

    And while you’re probably aware of that all on a mental level, hopefully hearing someone else say it will make you feel better. We love you and by extension, we love those who have helped make you you. Give her our love as well and let her know that even though neither Sarah and I know her, we’ll pray for her as well.

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