If you’ve played in the waves, you’ll remember how, as the waves rush out, the sand is sucked from beneath your feet, your steps drag slowly, and you can barely make headway against the pull. If the tide is strong enough, it can wrench us off our feet and ensnare us. One second, we are blithely playing at the beach, and the next, we are panicking and struggling. If we are unfortunate enough to get swept out by a current, it can seem as though the color is drained from the scene, and all we are left with are sepia-toned views of disaster. It only takes one such adventure to make a permanent impression on you.
Let’s call it “getting in over our heads.” We’ve all done it. Like our adventure in the tide, it starts innocently enough but then seems to grow beyond our initial commitment. Perhaps it’s a job or helping a friend in a bad situation. But most often, it’s a relationship. We wake to find out the person we’ve committed to is not as we were led to believe. There is a crazy strip as wide as the moon, and we have accepted responsibility for extracting them from a nutsy interlude at a party or in a bar.
We quietly acknowledge that it is incredible what drugs and alcohol can do to a person, just as the crazy jerk enraged by our charge tries the dumb stunt of hitting the bar with a beer bottle. As the blood flows across his lacerated wrist, you cooly evaluate the need for surgical intervention, and as you bundle your date or friend out of the bar, quietly say, “Hey! I’d get that looked at if I were you.”
The following day is full of promises or accusations. It will never happen again; I don’t know what got into me, that was not me, or wow, that was some crazy shit last night! You quietly ply them with fluids, and if you are wise, advise them that this is not the sort of stuff you signed up for.
What’s the trait you value most about yourself? The ability to retreat in good order and keep a healthy distance between yourself and getting killed in someone else’s psychotic break.