In-laws and outlaws

You know the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted.

In-laws are like an arranged marriage. You didn’t pick them – they were picked for you. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. It is great when it does, but it is horrible when it doesn’t.

You can’t drop them like you can drop a new friend.

With a new friend, one you are trying out, things might not work out the way you both hoped. You can just stop calling and making dates with each other.

Family is different. You are stuck with them. All the major holidays, all the big celebrations, you are expected to spend with your family. Thanksgiving. Christmas. Weddings. Funerals.

The most important days of your life, and you are stuck with people you didn’t pick.

This makes no sense.

The only thing that will make bad in-laws go away is divorce. Either you leave, or they do.

Or, better yet – re-invent the idea of holidays. Don’t make it mandatory to spend time with people you don’t like. Create new traditions. Invent your own ideas.

Being stuck with people you didn’t pick doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps this is why people hate holidays so much. They are expected to spend time with people they think, by society’s rules, that they have to get along with.

Why fake it anymore?

Just say no.

Here’s a way to stop unwanted pregnancies: stop having sex.

Unless you are emotionally, financially, and in every other way ready to have a child, don’t have sex. No birth control is a sure thing like abstinence.

Not sure if the guy you are dating is father or husband material? Don’t have sex with him. Getting pregnant only makes a bad situation worse. A baby won’t bring you closer together. It may make him run away.

No worries about having an abortion if you never get pregnant. You won’t get pregnant if you don’t have sex. Seems simple, I know, but so few people seem to get this.

Sex is one of the strongest impulses that humans have, but it can be gotten around. Sex isn’t like food. You can live without sex. You can’t say the same about food.

If you don’t want to go to Chicago, don’t head down that road. Don’t even get in the car. If you don’t want to have babies, don’t fool around. That train is hard to stop once it gets started.

I have never understood why there is so much debate about being pro-choice versus being pro-life. To me, that seems like people are focusing on the wrong end of the problem. The time to start the discussion is before sex even happens. It is too late when she is pregnant.

The horse is already out of the barn.
Lock the barn door and you don’t have to run around trying to catch him.

Oh, and you say abstinence isn’t a possibility? Really? Are we really just like wild animals, rutting with whatever and whoever?

I’d like to think that part of being human is having some self-control.

As adults, we don’t pee everywhere. We don’t yell all the time. We don’t hit everybody when we are mad. We learn to control these impulses. We learn when and where it is safe to let these impulses happen.

Sex is the same thing.

It is way past the time we stop even talking about pro-choice and pro-life. It is time to start preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

It is embarrassing how many unwanted pregnancies there are in a supposedly “first-world” nation like the United States. It is sad how much poverty and heartache and tension is created from it. It isn’t tragic. It isn’t an accident. It is entirely preventable.

If you don’t want babies, don’t have sex. Or if you must have sex, use multiple forms of birth control at the same time, and use them correctly. Think about it before you even start kissing each other. Think about it while your clothes are still on.

Feel uncomfortable talking about birth control with your significant other? Then you sure aren’t ready to be a parent.

Addiction – on the death of yet another celebrity.

You just can’t understand addiction unless you’ve lived through it.

Yet another famous person has died of a drug overdose. It was an illegal drug but plenty have died of drug overdoses of legal drugs. This just highlights the tragedy that is drug abuse and addiction. Hundreds of people die all the time from drug addiction, legal and otherwise. They aren’t famous, but their deaths are just as tragic.

Even if you don’t die, addictions steal your life. You aren’t quite fully human when you are in the pit of addiction.

Just before you start in with the “But for the grace of God, there go I” line, think about it. Many people have addictions. They are just socially acceptable ones. You probably have an addiction and don’t even realize it. The best addictions just masquerade as habits. It is just something you do. You don’t know why you do it, you just do.

Gambling. drinking. Smoking cigarettes. Eating too much. Eating unhealthy food. Even being angry all the time can be an addiction.

Anything you do unthinkingly that is harmful to you is an addiction. It doesn’t matter if you think it is a problem yet or not. If you let an addiction have its way, it will slowly take over until the addiction is driving you. It will take over and use you like a puppet.

I remember what it was like to smoke pot. I smoked for ten years. When I started it was once a month. Then over time it was once a week. At the worst it was all day long.

I’d wake up and get stoned. When the buzz would wear off I’d smoke some more.

Meanwhile I was in college. I had a job. I was fully functional as an adult. All my bills got paid.

Nobody knew I was a pothead unless I let them know. The only people I let know were other people who smoked. We had a code between us. We kind of felt each other out, like Masons. There wasn’t a secret handshake, but there were still tells.

I remember one time I wanted to quit but I just wasn’t ready to go cold turkey. I told myself I could slow down. I didn’t want to smoke every day. I took my supply of pot and my pipe and I wrapped them up in plastic and sealed it with rubber bands. I then put it up on a shelf in my closet so I’d have to get a chair to get it. I figured this would make me think several times, way more than twice, about what I was about to do. I figured it would slow me down.

I remember time and time again going for that bundle, opening it up, and smoking, and the whole time wondering why I was doing it. It was as if I was possessed. I didn’t want to smoke, and here I was smoking. It was insane. Nobody was forcing me to do it, but I couldn’t stop.

I felt helpless.

And this is just pot. It wasn’t heroin, or oxycontin.

People say pot isn’t addictive. They say it is a gateway drug, that it leads you to other, harder drugs. I say otherwise. I know. There’s about ten years of my life that pot has, that I missed. This is why I’m opposed to the legalization of pot. Look how well we are doing (not) with alcohol. Look how many people’s lives are ruined by it.

A lot of people think they can’t become addicts. They can drink or smoke or snort or swallow whatever they want. They think “That can’t happen to me.” I say, why not? What makes you so special?

The only way to be special is to not do it at all. You can’t tame an addiction. You can’t do it half way. You can, at the beginning. Then it gets bigger and bigger and it will win, every time. There’s a honeymoon period at the beginning. It is all sweet and wonderful. It is your best friend, your lover. It fills in all the gaps. It makes the bumps in your life not so bumpy. It makes things warm and mellow. It makes life not hurt so much.

Then it gets harder, and it wants more. It takes more to make the warm feeling come. Then it costs more, and that has you bothered, so you do more to not worry about it. It spirals. It is a snake eating its own tail, but you are the one being eaten.

Every time you get near the edge of the abyss and you survive, you think you’re lucky, and you can do it again. There is always another sign telling you that you’ve gone too far, you should turn back. That car crash. The arrest. Your spouse left you. You got fired. There’s always something after the last road sign on the way to your demise. You think you can stop before you get to the end of the road. You’re enjoying the ride, you think. You can stop any time. But you don’t. You want to see how hard and how fast you can drive this thing. You don’t realize that the whole time you are the one who is being driven, and you’re being driven to the very edge of madness – and sometimes beyond.

Sometimes you stop. Sometimes you get off. But then there is still danger. The lure is always there.

The bad part is that even when you get clean and sober, the addiction is still there. You’re two years sober and the moment you forget how hard it was to get clean, you’ll try it again, and fall for it again even harder. There won’t be that honeymoon time like at the beginning, where you’ve got it under control. It remembers, and you’ll reset to how things were at the worst.

You can’t control it.

You aren’t special.

I could say “Just say no” but that’s naïve. The moment you tell some people to not do something, they are going to do it.

There is no simple answer to addiction. And there is no way of understanding it unless you’ve been there. If it was as simple as just quitting, nobody would be an addict. And there wouldn’t be any more overdoses.

Pray for peace for the addicts. Pray for strength to resist the pull. Pray for all those who haven’t heard that siren call to turn away from it when they do.