You never know where Open Roads will take you…

Okay, I was afraid this was going to happen. It’s been two and half months since I posted. In the world of blogging, this is a big no-no. You have to keep ‘em coming—keep things stirred up, otherwise, people lose interest and think you’ve quit. I had a reputation as a kid for being a quitter. I don’t have to dig too deeply to uncover memories of my older sister’s angry cry, “MOM, MAKE HER FINISH THIS GAME!!!” And sometimes she would; I suppose Mom, from the Solomon’s Wisdom School of Parenting, would discern which child needed most to prevail. There were times when she saw my powerlessness, as the younger child, against the direction of an older sibling who was way smart, whom I adored, and to whom I was beholden as my guide and protector in that confusing world of adults. And she let me walk away. Other times she determined I just needed to stay in the game—see it through, regardless of how much I hated to lose.

Ouch. The voices can still be heard; they mostly whisper but occasionally speak sharply about a lifetime of quitting, or the more passive version, just not following through. It’s important for me to make that distinction because that’s the one that so insidiously permeated my life. As an active alcoholic and drug addict I just didn’t have the wherewithal to follow through on anything—except scoring my next drink or drug. I wasn’t one of those hide-in-the-closet-and-drink kinda gals, my goal was oblivion and I didn’t care who knew it. Many years of sitting in AA meetings acquainted me with a different kind of drunk; the ones who spent their lives battling with themselves to maintain a “normal” life while in enslaved to the booze and/or drugs.

I heard them say, “I never lost my job, my home, or my family.” And they’d go on to describe the utter and complete hellish lengths to which they went in order to appear normal (read functional.) I had no such sense of responsibility; my favorite hat said “WORK IS THE CURSE OF THE DRINKING CLASS”. In retrospect, I see that I had some top-of-the-line enablers, that literally supported me in every way, which freed me up to drink as much as I wanted.

But then I got sober. I was shown at every turn where my active addiction gave sanctuary to my unwillingness to take responsibility for any aspect of my life. As I traveled the road of recovery, I saw where my growth stopped when my drinking began at age 14. (Some days the maturity of a 14-year-old would’ve been a vast improvement.) Working a recovery program, using spiritual principles, I was able to take an honest look at all the things in my life left undone; I followed the wreckage of my past into the wreckage of my present.

And so I began tying up the loose ends of my life. After a 17-year summer vacation, I went back to school, attending the local community college. I started the Associate’s Degree program, which I never finished. I took a detour into the Automotive Analysis and Repair program, where I got a degree, but I quit turning wrenches before I ever got started because I developed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. My next move was into carpentry, working as a helper with a friend on a project. I could’ve continued down that path when the job ended but I quit. I went to work as a counselor in an addiction treatment center and was encouraged to continue my education so I could move into being a case worker (read more responsibility, more money.) But I quit because I wanted to open a chili shop. And I did, but I quit that, too, when the shoestring on which I was operating broke. And then, and then, and then…you get the picture.

I continue to have experiences that seem to be a direct result of things I never finished. Like the frustration I feel when playing my guitar; I could probably play much better had I stuck with taking lessons and practicing. A friend mentioned to me recently that she’d been teaching for 40+ years and my immediate response was, “I’ve never done anything for 40 years except suck air.” There was a time in my life that would’ve translated into “see, you never could stick with anything—you’re just defective.” And perhaps that’s in no small part because I’ve encountered many people who’ve expressed that opinion of the likes of me.

I now see those times I “quit” as simply changes in direction. Perhaps my soul was leading me in a direction my limited human self couldn’t justify. I see “unfinished” as creative potential—unlimited possibility. Perhaps finished isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Here’s a secret; I don’t care. There’s not a human on this earth that can judge me as harshly as I’ve judged myself, who can heap any more shame, blame, and guilt on me than I’ve heaped on myself. And I’m over it. Hallelujah, praise Jesus, I’M OVER IT! No one has to live in my skin but me and that gives me full authority to run my show in any way that makes me happy. I never have to finish another thing in my life if I don’t want to and other people are free to think whatever they choose about it. No one else has to be happy about my choices. No one has to agree with me, no one has to “support” me, no one has to believe in me, no one has to do anything any different in their lives. I’m okay just the way I am.

And so are you, which means I can give up running your life. It’s no longer urgent that you hear my opinion of the decisions you make and I’m now confident you’ll survive without my sage (and often unsolicited) advice. I trust you’ll get along fine without my benediction.

The real news here is love doesn’t care either; it just IS, without condition, without judgment.

And that, my beloveds, is freedom.


Comments on: "Winners Never Quit…Or Do They?" (14)

  1. I am humbled. However, when we were in elementary school, I looked up to you. You were witty, funny and a great child to be in company with. When we were in (early) high school, I looked up to you because you were so very smart and made assignments look so easy. I struggled with many classes and thank God for my photographic memory :))). When we were in (late) high school, we strayed from each other. I was the forever cheerleader… you went in other directions. But you always gave good advice, whether you were aware of it or not. I cherish our childhood friendship and cherish our re-connection.

    I no longer give a damn, dear friend. Does that come with age or wisdom?

    I think we need a long conversation on that wonderful deck overlooking the creek I almost fell into behind the wheel. Maybe have some tea and Coca Cola. I’ll bring the red beans and rice. Cajun, baby!!!

  2. Marilyn Noble said:

    Wow, Beck! You nailed so many things in one short blog post, and I found myself nodding my head, saying, “Uhhuh. Yep. Yes, she’s got it.” As someone who has spent an inordinate amount of time in the past few months beating myself black and blue over my life choices, I say thank you and amen to that! No more. Only one thing — I always appreciate your sage advice, whether solicited or not (but rarely do I remember you ever pushing unsolicited advice on me). Your advice comes backed up with a great deal of life experience and wisdom, and I treasure the way you share that, as you just did in this post. So thank you for being the light you are in this wacky world. Great post!

  3. Jean Brookwell said:

    Becky, you just told the story of my life! It has the same ending, too.

    The funny thing is that I was thinking the very same thing as I was writing June’s TerraScope. I was struck by the thought that I really don’t want to tell anyone how or what to do or not do.

    I have come to believe that we are all following our own path, no matter how circuitous and overgrown it may appear. Pema Chodron writes about leaning into “the sharp points” for learning about oneself. However, if we stay or run away it all starts and ends in grace.

    Some of the most glorious moments of my life have come as a result of running/walking away. At the same time the other glorious moments are a result of staying.

    Perhaps the next TerraScope will read:
    Aries: Keep doing whatever you are doing until you want to stop or the law makes you stop! Then try something else that appeals to you.
    Gemini through Pisces: See Aries.

    Thanks for a great piece, Becky. Let’s see where this goes.

  4. “The way to know life is to love many things.” Vincent Van Gogh

    I don’t see any quitting here…I see someone who is brave enough to know what you want, when you want it, and is not strained by convention, should’s or ought-to’s, with the guts enough to move through life at your own cadence.

    Good enough for me!

  5. spikeandrox said:

    Becks, as an “only” parent, I can speak to the fact that it is hard to give in, give up, relinquish, and finally accept that children grow up, move on, communicate in different ways…but the love is still there through all of it…and there is even some that can be extended to the in-laws who happen through lives.

  6. spikeandrox said:

    …..and quitting any of that was and never will be an option…

  7. Hey, Beck:

    Wonderful insights, and I hear you loud and clear. Don’t quit The Writers’ Bridge, though. (:

  8. Becca Chaitin said:

    Good blog. I’ll have to catch up with your others. You do have a “Popeye” nature! As in “I yam what I yam”…

    And I still treasure some of your other pearls of sagacity, such as: “If all else fails, apply cats” and “Let’s not burn that bridge till we get to the middle of it.”

  9. Jon Hildreth said:

    You absolutely nailed it. We all have that feeling of incompletion, even though there are people who admire us — and you’re absolutely right, it doesn’t matter. We’re not usually aware of the good we do, and that’s probably a good thing, considering the people who have an exalted view of themselves.

    Bottom line: I’ve known people who actually did waste their lives, Becks, and you are not one of them. For one thing, you wrote this, and it’s fine writing.

  10. Excellent writing. Thank you for sharing all of these great words of wisdom. Words from the school of hard knocks are always the most powerful. Blessings to you on your journey.

  11. Mike Patteson said:

    Someone once told me the only pursuit worth sticking with is to connect with God individually and through his Other Children. They said we each have our Own Journey in that pursuit. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to “just listen” to others? It would be even greater to “just listen” with empathy. We might even resolve conflict with out destructive behavior. Then we could learn, share the jouney and expand our limited vision.
    Try that with someone you don’t agree with.
    …just a thought.

  12. I was blown away as I read this post. You didn’t exactly tell the story of my life — but you hit a lot of the high points. I am the Queen of Not Following Through, and I occasionally beat myself up for it. NO MORE! Thanks so much for your brilliant insight. I’m going to pursue freedom above completing my next project.

  13. Karen Marsh said:

    I am wondering how you knew my thoughts and were able to write them down so beautifully!!! I love how you tell it like it is and say what I feel so often. I can do a number on myself on a very regular basis and it gets very old and very wearying, so when I read your blog this huge relief came over me!! THANKS for sharing!

  14. spikeandrox said:

    I re-read your blog entry about “winners never quit…or do they.” Becks, I have so many unfinished efforts in my past, it is unbelievable, even to me. I am now cleaning up & clearing out as many of those as possible…”tying up the loose ends,” wherever possible & as needed.

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