It seems I meet more and more people who are comfortable with taking the easy way out,IMG_0217 like water seeking a down hill path. Teens who avoid looking for a summer job. Teens who casually announce they “don’t do food service jobs”. College grads who expect to walk into well paying jobs in a recession. A divorced father who plays Santa Claus to his kids, doesn’t assign any chores or set limits. Parents who blame the teacher. Parents who do their kid’s homework. Mothers who drive their kids to school so they don’t have to deal with the power dynamics of riding the school bus. The bride who knows on her wedding day that she’s marrying the wrong guy and walks down the aisle anyway and 10 years later she is divorced with kids. A parent who insists they will win every argument with a teen or the parent who gives in on every argument.(A lot of work with families is to travel in between everybody in the room, supporting, challenging and navigating the messiness of negotiation.) When a teen simply decides to ignore their parent and refuses to talk. When a parent finds a wine bottle in the laundry hamper and pretends there isn’t a problem. When someone lies to someone they love to deflect trouble short term. In a recession, walking past a help wanted sign and not going in. Deciding it’s too hard to explain yourself to someone else all the time. All the couples who avoid the conversations about lack of sex and/or money. Smoking pot and feeling special without doing anything to earn it. Reacting to your feelings instead of working to calm down and respond. Imagining marriage is only romantic without recognizing it’s building layers of a history of experiences and solving problems together over time that makes the work worth it. Blaming others and lacking self-awareness. Not watching foreign movies because they have subtitles. Staying silent as a substitute for being authentic. Feeling good FAST with sex, drugs, gambling or alcohol. Starting a blog and bailing out as 95% do. Bypassing reality whenever possible. Giving up too easily, rather than trying harder to get something important to you. Just leaving the t.v. on without making real program choices and turning it off. Not visiting a friend who is dying or when their partner has died. Not talking with a friend about what really worries you. Not talking in therapyidea honestly.

One of the hardest things about the disease of addiction is that taking the easy way out is at its core. I look around and believe we’re immersed in a cultural pandemic. It’s really very scary.

I’ll never forget my first real job offer, after waitressing with my B.A. for a year and a half. I’d been interviewed at an African-American settlement house for a recreational director job. While I appreciate all the people who are grounded in their physical self, walking is what I do best. I gamely went in for my first day and Mr. Bray the Executive Director was talking about family services casework. I interrupted to say “Excuse me, I applied for the recreational director job?.” He blinked and responded “Didn’t I tell you I was looking for two positions?” “No.” I answered with great relief. I was determined to have a job somewhat in the vicinity of my field and was willing to try anything. My first supervisor there was a raging alcoholic and I persevered learning a lot and loving my work. Where is the determination to figure things out and go after them? Understand that a B.A. with no experience means setting yourself up to learn and to grow. The reluctance to do the hard work of struggle to find your place, your truth in the world is the ultimate self-betrayal.

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About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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