Back at Starbucks – 5

I’d dropped this thread back in July but it’s time for another post. While I enjoy my Sunday outing where I can get away and do as I wish it is “exile”. I’m not coming here entirely voluntarily and would prefer to spend today at home, especially where I thought we might be having a pleasant St. Patrick’s Day with some corned beef and cabbage and Irish Soda Bread (and probably a little Irish whiskey) but that was not to be.

I leave my home and hide out at Starbucks because I am trying to break a co-dependency pattern. There is a person at my house that I don’t believe should be there, an adult male who persists in trying to remain a child and dependent, aided and abetted by co-dependent bioparents who also cannot face independence. There are many excuses and it’s a long sordid story but the bottom-line is that I don’t believe this continued dependence is necessary or unavoidable – it is a choice by several people.

But it’s not my choice. I do firmly believe in the concept of co-dependency and that the concept applies in this case. I feel I have often been an active enabler (over a decade) and now, not by my choice, I am a passive enabler. It is a situation I cannot change and that I cannot escape. It is destructive for all parties but I am unable to persuade any of the other parties to accept that idea and more importantly act to change it.

For me the idea of independence as an adult is just the default (and desirable) case. But I realize that idea is not shared. Independence is scary, it has its drawbacks, but it is also the natural cycle of life. Dependence, beyond a certain age, is unnatural and undesirable.

I “left the nest” at 19, not entirely, but in transition. And then by 22 I had achieved my independence and I wouldn’t trade that, regardless of how much responsibility it imposes on me, for the convenience of a pampered life of a dependent. And I’m sure my parents are perfectly happy that I made that transition. Perhaps I made it a bit sooner than some, but there is a limit to how long a child needs to “grow up”. Just avoiding reality (and thus not achieving independence and adulthood) may be “easy”, but it’s not good for anyone.

So today I spend 14 hours outside my home as my feeble (and misinterpreted) “protest” against merely returning to a more intense dependency that has marked most of the past decade. It’s time for a change but I don’t see the change coming, so this is the best I can do.

So I spend today, partly in pleasant diversion, partly in angry rejection of my situation. It’s not the best way to spend an entire day and I certainly don’t recommend it for anyone else. At least today’s world includes a Starbucks that tolerates me sitting here for a long time and using their resources for a small fee. But it’s not where I should be, at least under these circumstances.

And when I started doing this, over two years ago, I certainly had no idea it would continue (and now be cast in stone) for two years. Unfortunately any time I think about it I also realize nothing is changing and it’s entirely possible I could be writing another post like this a year from now, two years from now, even a decade from now. What a depressing idea. The sun may be shining outside now but this evening’s likely rain and snow is more what I can expect.


About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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10 Responses to Back at Starbucks – 5

  1. Nona says:

    I can’t even begin to think of words to respond to the above. I have spent months trying to understand why a grown man would blog in secret. Obviously your world is not filled with caring people and you must respond in kind to spend a day at a Starbucks. Sorry, but confused.

    • dmill96 says:

      Thanks for your kind words. I have been living with this and failing to find a solution for a lot time. I do not have any “good” choices, or the least bad one. I know my “hiding out” is partly a cop-out and it’s what I’ve done for years but I can’t face making a bigger change. All of us (me, included) involved in this little drama are just engaging in denial, unwilling to make changes that have to be done. Lots of people get stuck in ruts. I just never thought it would happen to me. I had a good run without really being challenged by difficult situations so unlike people who do have challenges early in life and learn to cope with them I haven’t and so naturally I avoid unpleasant scenarios. Maybe what I’m doing with my “exile” is just trying to kick myself into gear. A unexpected and unpleasant visit to a doc got me going on the weight loss thing, maybe I need something like that now. But it’s still sunshine outside so it’s not all bad. Thanks for listening.

      • Nona says:

        Getting your weight under control is a good thing. Once you reach an age or an illness that is overpowering for you, you will be glad to be a fighting condition. Maybe your rut is because if you do something about the situation you won’t like the person (yourself) that has to make the decision to step up and learn to say, “This is unacceptable.” Easy for me to say, but since having a double lung transplant I have learned not to keep score. I decide everything with the thought in mind, “Will this be important in 100 years?” If not, I let go and move on with my life because it is necessary to move forward. Not to sound preachy, just being a Jewish mother. LOL

        • dmill96 says:

          The weight thing is something I can do, entirely under my power – no permission or agreement of others needed, so I realize it’s probably part of why I’ve obsessed about it with all the stats and graphs. But I do know how to look at the glass half full too and know that any health problems would only make things worse, so at least I can fix the things I can fix.

          During the time I was working I had a “mission”. I loved what I did and did it well. No, not everything worked out I hoped for but a lot did and I know how to be grateful for that too. But that is gone now and so I am probably going through the withdrawal on that a bit right now. But I was even thinking of “retirement” when I came here 15 years ago and was actually surprised I’d have some new work opportunities (my last fling, 🙂 ) One thing the job did was take me back to California, which I still feel is “home”, plus provide ample distraction (and some fun, like my trips to China). But I’m ready to curl up now and put that aside and do the things I can do, like cooking, even if I have to give away most of what I make so I don’t eat it.

          One factor that I know also is an impact is “cabin fever”. When I lived in California I lived outside and did outside stuff as my favorite past-time. I’m somewhat reduced in what I can do now (can’t imagine backpacking or winter cross-country ski camping any more, a little too soft for that), but I wish I could be on a real bike on the great bike routes that existed in Northern California, instead of just burning calories on a stationary bike in the basement. That’s not over for me yet (still hoping to get to Wyoming) but I can’t do that kind of thing in middle of winter.

          IIRC, you might be in Texas? A small story. After my first year here, being stuck inside I just had to get out. So I threw my backpacking stuff in the car and just pointed in south, my first major trip “alone”. I ended up in Big Bend NP and had a great time. On the way back I missed a turn and realized I needed to backtrack, so I headed on some country roads. I just stopped, about midnight, in the middle of nowhere and stood around outside, debating whether I wanted to return or not. It was still winter here and the night was clear and there was no light or clouds so I could see all of the sky. I felt refreshed and finally decided to keep going (instead of heading further west in the direction I’d mistakenly taken and driving back to California). So part of my “malaise” is just winter and needing a change of scenery.

          So to your point, of facing a decision, I try to realize part of it is that I’m just “feeling sorry for myself”, life, now, isn’t what I wanted. I’ve have my share of bumps but never ever this tough, so I may not have the “reserves”/experience to deal with it and thus I’m just avoiding. I visit my mother every Sunday (she’s nearly 99) and while she’s coping really well her world is really small (she finds a way to enjoy it, though). I’ve got years left before that situation, but not so many, so I guess I also hate “wasting” the relatively few good ones I’ll have left. Rather than thinking of of 100 years, my timeframe is about 10 years and those years will be valuable and once they are gone, they’re gone, so to some degree I do try to “live in the moment”. I’m warm, fed, free, and healthy, so that’s pretty good and better than many in this world have so I have gotten better at looking on the bright side, but it sure would be nice to have a fix for my festering sore. So Sundays at Starbucks (about to close) will have to do, for now.

          I’m sure facing a serious health threat, as you’ve done, provides some perspective, so maybe a few years from now I can look back on this with better attitude too. Thanks for your comments.

          p.s. While a kid I lived in a very non-diverse social circle. When I came to Omaha for high school my best friend was Jewish and I really didn’t even know what that meant until I met him. His mother sorta adopted me and years later inquired after me so I have very fond memories of the “Jewish Mother”. I still can remember a few words of the prayer she taught me so she was one of those enriching and broadening experiences I’ve had.

          • Nona says:

            During the time I was working I had a “mission”. I loved what I did and did it well

            When you worked you had a vocation with deadlines. Your passion for work doesn’t seem to translate into living. How strange for such an intelligent man. Like you I don’t believe in religion, it is the biggest separator of people. I piss people off when they call me on it by telling them that if they didn’t know they were going to die that they wouldn’t have a need for religion. I intentionally avoid Baptist and Repugs. LOL. I once had a Baptist receptionist who told me that had she known that I was Jewish when I hired her she would not have liked me. She was quite proud of herself for liking me. AT the time my last name was Shapiro. I figured if she was too stupid to not know Shapiro is to Jews like Garcia to Mexicans is the Smiths of the rest of the world. I did eventually terminate her for performance as stupidity isn’t a valid reason under Texas law.
            But unlike you I was thrilled to retire and have time for just being me. No false front to enable me to work with others. I can do things that make me happy and usually others in the process. I don’t have to deal with negative or insensitive people So you are bored, with no passion and in a situation which creates daily tension. But you put your mind to work and take an interest in the outside world by blogging. That should give you a moment of passion every day and get you kick started to face the rest of the day.
            I agree living in a climate that keeps you away from nature is hard. I store my patio plants for winter. We just don’t know what week we will have “winter hit.” Got them all back in place yesterday, all in great shape. I sat on patio this morning and was a happy camper.
            But I am only Monday morning quarterbacking here and could be way off base. It is easier for me as after going through several years of illness and living long enough to get a cure, I am happy to be anywhere.

        • dmill96 says:

          Test, does this come out after the earlier ones?

        • dmill96 says:

          It seems we hit the nesting limit for comments in so I replied indirectly to your last comment.

          In terms of my work I often “joked” that I’d do what I was doing for free just to get access to resources needed to do the project. I’ve noticed there are people, the most obvious group being artists, that answer the question “who are you?” and “what do you do for a living?” with the same answer, I am an artist, I work as an artist. Others would answer these two questions with different answers. For me it was like the artist, the same answer. Getting paid to do what I wanted to do anyway was just very convenient. I started with computers early enough that they were very expensive and scarce resources, but frankly they were just a “toy”. But to gain access to that toy I had to do something practical for whoever actually owned that toy. Once I saw a description that the reason many people are drawn to software is that it is working with “pure thoughtstuff” and I liked that idea. When you work with any physical medium you’re limited (I’ve tried various hobbies, like woodworking, and find those frustrating due to those limitations). But with software, like perhaps writing (but not art) you are limited only my your own imagination as to what you can do. In the non-religious world we are reduced to pure materialist creatures – our minds are the product of our brains, our brains are the product of evolution working on atoms. This seems reasonable yet most people don’t believe it, not just due to religious dogma, but because it’s so limiting. We’d like to think our minds can roam the universe unencumbered by the wetware of our brains/bodies, And so that was what is was for me, like the materialist universe, everything, numbers, words, images, sounds, could be reduced to binary, and even simpler stuff that the Standard Model of physics, and then with that simple stuff your imagination could configure it any way you wanted. Your only limit was yourself. You were your strongest ally and your worst enemy (various mind blocks that inhibit problem solving). It was also a very clean, sanitary world, unlike the messy and complex world of social interactions, plus mostly a solitary one. And it occupied me for 40 years. I was lucky to exist at the same time as the technology I enjoyed was being invented (today it’s not so appealing because we’re in the period of incremental improvement and minor accomplishments, not like the breakthroughs of the past). I sometimes used to wonder what would have become of me if I’d lived in a different half-century.

          But that aside, like you, in retirement I don’t miss the people side of work, the petty stuff of office politics and fragile egos (including mine and occasional irrationality). Nor the base motivation of making money at all cost (when I first exited business school I was much more of a libertarian free-market economics type than after 30 years in real business and seeing how inefficient the “market” was and how stupid most business success was, all that idealized rationality of economics doesn’t exist in the messy real world). So it’s fine to be moving on. And work was also exhausting and I really don’t have that energy any more so a more relaxed pace is welcome.

          I sat on patio this morning and was a happy camper.

          I know the feeling. Actually we had one fairly pleasant day last week and it was good to get outside. In California I was still smoking when it was being driven outside, literally, so I didn’t smoke inside my own house. I had this covered porch and just got in the habit of living there, even when it wasn’t so pleasant. But in California a little bundling up is all that is required vs here. But, despite being a brown thumb when it comes to plants, I also realized it was light (as in the Seasonal Affective DIsorder) but it was green. Something was always green in California and here it is some drab for many months. But when spring does come it is exuberant and joyous and an explosion of green and I’ll be happy to see that again.

          • Nona says:

            We hit 95 yesterday and it was staggering because I am use to it. Back to 81 today and 70s the rest of the week. Not rubbing it in, Buddy, just stating a fact.

        • dmill96 says:

          Whoa, 95F that’s getting hot. What was so delightful about Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming was that the air temps were fairly cool, low 70s, but plenty of sunshine especially with the sparse forest, so combination of sun for warmth and air for cool was delightful. I can’t wait to get back to that, but have to wait to June, and then hope it doesn’t snow again.

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