Category Archives: sociology

What It’s Like To Love An Alcoholic During A Pandemic.

Alcohol is my mortal enemy. She wears a harlot’s face. She dresses like a skank. And, she waits in the shadows of the country roadside distributors and “buy one, get one free” holiday specials to snatch away hope, impossible promises, everything worth emotional investment. And, during the pandemic she, too, wears a mask.

About 22 years ago, I learned the meaning of isolation. A lifetime of vocal abuse, yelling outside in the ragweed and grass pollen at the high school marching band and generally clamoring over everyone had created a polyp the size of a Champagne grape on my left vocal fold. The surgery itself, an expert excision performed by the robotic arm maneuvered by Dr. Clark Rosen at UPMC Voice Center went without complication; but, the post-op, follow-up patient compliance would prove daunting. I had to remain absolutely silent, for two solid weeks, never so much as clearing my throat lest I destroy the tiny cauterization and blow out my cords — and, then, only permitted to speak for five minutes every hour for two more. My landscape was bleak; I would be in for a very long haul, nearly three months alone and six more under prescribed restriction. Nobody wanted to hang out with somebody who could barely speak.

Given that year of life spent avoiding human interaction, when the coronavirus pandemic descended I was hardly fazed. I had this. Real, fake, or somewhere in between, I knew the drill.

But, for these past nearly four years, I’d been quite accompanied. Either with me on occasion at my house or more frequently at his country idyl twenty some minutes south of our town, my partner — my man — had been ever present. Our relationship was a challenge; not exactly compatible, we’d thrown ourselves at each other late in life after a 30 year separation caused by the details of what each of us had known life to be in the town of our birth. But, after more time than I’d ever spent with one man, we found ourselves bonded. Many would call it love.

I was addicted to him. And, he was addicted….but, not to me. He couldn’t drive past any sign that flashed BEER without stocking up. And, his patterns were, among those who imbibed, the least healthy; whatever he purchased, he drank — all at once, over a period of just an hour or so. The assault on his body frightened me; but he, muscle bound and head strong, hardly gave it a second thought.

When the word came down that everyone of a certain age should stay home, I looked at him and made the decision for both of us. He would shelter in place, with me — 24/7, for a solid month. This would take him well past day 28, the period of time every addiction therapist believed was required for the body to be cleared of alcohol and all its affects.

And, this appeared to work. We had, by both his account and mine, some of our most joyful time together to date. We rearranged my kitchen to make it companion compatible, my assisting his gourmet meal preparations nearly every night; we walked Bella, the Rotty, under the grand oaks and firs at the nearby cemetery; and, the only binging happening was our umpteen seasons of HOMELAND. During the coronavirus pandemic, no less, I thought we’d achieved what everyone else called happiness.

At the end of the 28 days, he was ready to return home. It was May; there was garden soil to turn, and pullets to cage, and the spring lawn to mow. And, he said, he had to “test” whether he could sustain his now streamlined figure and newfound mental clarity alone.

Of course, my addiction dictated what happened next. I’d be monitoring his every going and coming, texting and calling – urging him to wear the n95 mask I’d given him from my tool drawer, reminding him to wash all packaging upon returning from the store. Wondering, alone at home, if he’d slipped. Agonizing over whether this 65 year old, sleep deprived, retired nurse in a compromised physical condition was watching the news and realizing how lucid he’d have to be, daily.

Tomorrow is Labor Day. We’d endured nearly six months. Tonight, after a major row about nothing, a two for one sixpack binge the night before, and another canceled plan to be with me for a Sunday, I drove out yet again to get my things. This time, I walked out onto the back stoop, searching for a place to toss the three empties instead of smashing them on the pavement.

And, there it was. A black mask just like his, neatly folded on the landing.

I didn’t remember whether he’d said he had one, or two. I only knew that he wasn’t home, he always kept his in the truck, and this mask sat, folded, on his cement step. Not even an alcoholic in a boozy haze goes outside to stand on his own backyard stoop with his mask still on his face, only to remove it, fold it, and set it down. This one had been on somebody else.

I don’t scream much, anymore. The throat surgeon taught me well. Now, when the overwhelm of grief driven exhaustion descends upon my small bones, I just increase my step and hasten my exit stage left. I run, to the car, and tear off in the increasing dusk, my jaw set in the rear view mirror, my eyes aflame.

Being alone has its merits. Solitude can be a gift. Loving someone who loves something else more than you eats your soul from the inside out. This pandemic had better end. I have better love to give, all mortal enemies be damned.

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© 9/6/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. Originally published at Medium.com

littlebarefeetblog.com

BACKLASH!

Humans react. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t survive. Reacting is the way all living things respond in the face of perceived threat. Most threat manifests in the form of change, and not all change is threatening but, since it can be, we react – self-protectively – to change.

So, what does all this mean, socially?

Society has evolved a way of reacting to changes perceived as a threat, either to stability of groups or to institutions upon which specific groups are founded. If one group changes a societal norm, any associated group which suspects a threat to its own relative perceived value will react. This collective reaction is called backlash.

For their collective lifetime, American social groups have endured many such changes. Given that the social class system was imposed by its founders, and carried out by its earliest settlers, as larger swaths of its endless plains were claimed certain among those pedigreed established and maintained power. First, Caucasians dominated its continental natives; then, the wealthiest among these brought their slave class, largely African, to serve agriculture and family structure. Thusly, racism became the order of not merely the day but the entire mentality of this new society.

But, while racism against the African class by the Caucasian landowners was ubiquitous, within this insidious system there was further suppression, against publicly unacknowledged subgroups. These were identified by their sexual preference. Significantly, since the prevailing religion of the time was Christian, such variance in sexual preference was openly condemned. Being outcasts, those whose preferences did not align with the Christian creed were pushed underground to form secret societies. Given the limits of transportation, the structure of these societies was loose and local, if managed at all by word of mouth or discreet, encoded post. The idea of open backlash likely never entered the mind of any, given that being exposed would bring about certain social abolishment and even death.

A couple centuries hence, social change has heaved its mighty hand. Contrary to the nation’s founding social attitudes, much backlash has ensued. Fiery, life threatening reaction on all fronts has periodically branded the landscape, leaving a continuing wake of destructive waste and fear.

So, what of social survival? Those suppressed by racism have banded together, spoken out, acted out, and moved with collective conviction demanding equal treatment, equal rights, equal status. Those with alternate sexual identity have, as well. This reactivity is felt, in some circles, daily. Gradually, inexplicably, the tide is turning; now, those of alternate sexual preference are publicly acknowledged by an increasing majority, and those of the heretofore subjected races have achieved social recognition, social opportunity and, while much is still unresolved and conflict persists, increasing social status.

But, while the tide turns, the threat of flood is still real.

Why?

Because, in the interests of immediate gratification, backlash has become the first order of business. And backlash, being reactive, presumes threat. But, the motive being fear, backlash cannot produce a sustainable symbiosis; rather, it is inherently destructive, further weakening any hope for true reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.

Additionally, of increasing concern is an encroaching variation on public backlash: subversion. Now, the technological revolution has produced a mode of reaction which takes place beneath public political scrutiny, behind the scenes, in unacknowledged behaviors known only to those who populate its groups. Subversive backlash has embodied entire movements, even reaching the professional and economic sector. Now, power is assumed through internal social networking within a corporate structure; indeed, entire commercial enterprises are populated nearly exclusively by members of a particular social group – to the veritable exclusion of those not identified within.

This further threatens social stability. More groups exist, each with their own inherent power, but said power wielded in exclusive interest rather than inclusive. Self-selectivity abounds; the rules of engagement made clear by the prior, suppressive class, now those who “fit” are predetermined by any number of specific criteria. Is this peaceful coexistence? Hardly. Rather, those who seek their own kind are now subject to any number of self- empowered monopolists, pushing and pulling and jostling for rank according to a set of priorities which can never align and which are intrinsically resistant to collective agreement.

Such collective agreement is the essence of a stable society. Without, any subgroup can at any point rise up and confront the other. Revolution from within may serve some, but history has left a flood of casualty in droves as proof of its power to dismantle rather than sustain.

Negotiation is the higher form of conflict resolution, but such dissonance must first be acknowledged at table. Refusal to make plain intent prevents any hope of such resolution. Subversive behavior effectively subverts the possibility!

If we are to ever return to the ideal of a stable society, we must first be open, up front, and fully disclosing with one another. If we must continue to react, let us do so with pause, recognition, confession, and a purpose which seeks the kind of coexistence which is borne of genuine, mutual respect.

What’s your reaction?

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© 9/5/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo. All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. No copying, in part or whole, including translation permitted without written permission by the author. Thank you for your genuine respect.

littlebarefeetblog.com

Telling the Truth About “The LION and The LAMB”.

©9/1/2020 Ruth Ann Scanzillo.

Please feel free to visit YouTube for more meandering diatribes from the author.

littlebarefeetblog.com