I have scolded close friends and family before about what I call “management by chaos (MBC).” Sometimes when human beings don’t know how to solve one life problem, they create another one. They spend money they don’t have, take on another responsibility they don’t have time for, or pick a fight with a spouse instead of addressing the difficulty that underlies the diversion. In small doses, it’s not a toxic behavior. We’ve all solved problems by tackling something else. My favorite avoidance device is shopping, preferably clothes sale shopping, but even the grocery or hardware store will suffice in a pinch. In these moments, we decompress a bit, get our minds off the presenting problem, and get ready to face the “elephant in the living room” that we’ve been trying to avoid dealing with. Healthy folks eventually do return to solve the problem. When we are in an unhealthy state we create some sort of other chaos in order to avoid facing the problem all together. I’m sure there is some specific psychological tern for this particular brand of avoidance behavior, but I lack the vocabulary. So I just made up my own term of observation – management by chaos.
In facing the challenges that stroke has brought into our lives, I have had enough chaos thrust upon me that there’s not been a lot of time or energy for manufacturing my own. Until now. I fear I have perhaps done the very thing that I’ve warned others against. I’ve created my own unnecessary “initiating action.” That’s the writers term for a plot twist that has to move the story forward because there is no turning back for the main character. The new event changes everything. The storyline is forever altered. In real life, these are the moments we don’t usually want to create for ourselves, especially when the act of living itself creates so many for us.
Ok. By now I hope you are asking, “what the heck has she done?!” Or you’ve seen the photo and figured it out. When we came home to Plymouth, I decided to bring a puppy into our lives. Ron was doing better and better. I was lonely. I can’t have a cat to keep me company because of allergies. Ron’s nursing facility is “pet friendly” and what might cheer him (and me) up more than a warm ball of fluff (hair, not fur, so hypoallergenic!) to distract, amuse, and comfort us. Of course, now Ron has had this major health downturn the last week. He seems to be climbing out inch by inch, but the prognosis is not long-term hopeful. What was I thinking?? I have blundered into a major management-by-crisis situation! Now I have to take on the care and feeding of another little life while I have this major need to care for my husband. My original MBC delusion was, “I should do this now so that when Ron is ready to come home, the puppy will be more settled, trained, and I can then focus on Ron while the dog is simply a joy for us both. Well, I’m sure he will grow on cat-person Ron, right?”
So now you know my secret. I am just as prone to delusional thinking as the rest of the human race. But isn’t he adorable? Well, at least his picture is. The breeder tells me he is. And he was born on my late sister’s birthday. His name is from one of the four musketeers (he had three other litter mates) in the novel by Alexander Dumas. And in Greece Mount Athos is called “The Holy Mountain.” Athos was one of the gargantua in Greek mythology, but our little Athos should only be five or six pounds full grown. Sigh. I’ve really done it this time. This is worse than the Turkish rug I surprised Ron with when I visited ancient Ephesus. But he grew to appreciate the lovely handmade carpet. Surely this will work out, too. She says, hopefully.
Regardless, Athos arrives tomorrow. I wonder if all my friends who’ve said they would be glad to help me any way they can will stretch the offer to include puppy sitting?
Alia jacta est. that’s what Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon: the die is cast! So this either will work out better than I can imagine, or I will have yet another problem to solve. Only time will tell. But, once again, I am in it for the long run.