Karen Rivers

addiction and marriage: vulnerability vs. happiness! sharks vs. zombies!

Karen Rivers

I have too much to do right now.  I am busy.  I can't write a blog post.   Not today.   So, self, take the one you were going to write about addiction and cotton batting and marriage and write it another day or not at all.   

It was going to have zombies!  And sharks!  PLUS vulnerability!  And happiness!  It may just have been the best blog post ever.

But likely not.


Oh, OK.  


Here goes:

In a battle of sharks vs. zombies, my money would be on the sharks as I don't think zombies can swim. Zombies, being human (or formerly-human at least) may be prone to overthinking, and thus not get the job done, fearing drowning and the probable outcome of trying to swim with loose (or missing) limbs.  Whereas the sharks would just chomp and chomp, swimming on to a victory that they will not even celebrate, as sharks are not prone to emotional rounds of self-congrulatory champagne and back slapping (or hugging, as the case may be).

In this case, it seems preferable to be the shark.

On the other hand, if it was a land war, the zombies would have a distinct advantage (if you assume that in order to stage the battle, the sharks are dumped in some kind of a field, where they will actually simply suffocate and die, giving the zombies free access to their brains).

There are a lot of things to think about when it comes to zombies and sharks in this scenario.

The world's insatiable appetite for zombies is something new.  Maybe we were tired of all the pretty vampires with their rampant sex appeal and undead ways.  Are zombies the answer with their ugliness and decay?  If so, why?  Discuss.  Make this your thesis, if necessary.   


I have some thoughts about addiction and marriage.  They have to do with vulnerability vs. happiness. 

(The person who I was talking to about addiction and marriage will know this is for her, but hey, you might find it useful, too.)  

When one person is not vulnerable, thanks to drugs or other cushioning, and the other one is, the happiness quotient within the coupling is significantly reduced.

When one person becomes the zombie, the other one naturally becomes the shark.  Don't question this.  It's just how it is, particularly in this post.  No one wants to be a shark.  But the thing is, you won't be able to help it.   It just happens.

Or it could.

Let's start with that as our hypothesis.

(I hope you don't find this useful as I hope this doesn't pertain to you, personally, the person who reads my blog.  I hope this is not your life, spent with eyebrows pinched together, waiting something out that you are positive will surely pass someday.)

(If it is you, there is no shame in saying, "Look, this is impossible.")

(It IS impossible.)

(And look, life is short and all that.)

This is what happens when you love someone who is an addict:  

(It doesn't matter what they are addicted to, it could be marijuana or Minecraft or hot tamales.  Irrelevant, your honour.)

When you love someone who is an addict, you are loving someone who has carefully sought out the one thing that will create -- for them -- a very thick layer of cotton batting between them and vulnerability and sharks and the world.  They have artfully wrapped themselves in this thing, this lovely soft cottony thing, making them resemble Egyptian mummies (are there any other nationalities of mummies?). Quite comfortable, especially for them.  And quiet.  And dark.


Like zombies, they are the undead, without the benefit of first being dead and thus starring in no end of e-books available for 99 cents on your Kindle.

They are the undead because they are there, but they aren't really there, is what I mean.

Mostly you won't even be able to see them as they pad around softly through their days, amidst all their sweet foggy cotton, cushioned safely from storms and bad moods.

During times when they aren't high/playing/eating, you will get a glimpse of their face, batting removed, this person who you either once loved or still love or never loved, come to think of it.  

These glimpses may keep you involved and in love.  I don't know.  Maybe.

Or maybe not.

Because these times are fleeting, when they occur, when the person is suddenly truly THERE, you will quickly push all necessary information in their direction.  This information usually contains bad news because bad news is the most important to get across with some degree of urgency.  This news must land!  The toilet is clogged!  A raccoon has died in the chimney!

"Why are you always attacking me?" your own personal zombie will say, looking panicky and not just a bit angry.  And then he will rewrap himself in the batting, protecting himself from you and your frenzy of pressing issues and needs and thoughts.

"But," you will try to say.  "I'm not.  Not really. It's just, you know, my new job's a hassle and the kids have the flu.  Also, there are mice in the attic."

"Call someone for help," he'll say in a muffled voice, and he'll turn the channel on the TV while simultaneously playing Angry Birds on his phone and messaging the girl who works for him.   You will retreat to bed and read a book or write a book or both at the same time.  He will retreat to FB and send a flirtatious message to a woman he went to highschool with.   You will start having feelings for everyone who is not him.  He will feel attractive only when you are not in the room.  You will forget how not to be sad and snappish.  He will forget how not to be annoyed that you exist, wanting as he does only to exist with other mummies, bumping into each other gently and softly, and only occasionally feeling frightened when a baby cries.

This is not a recipe for happiness.

Together, one Sunday afternoon, you will whip up a big batch of resentment in the slow cooker that you apportion into containers and freeze for instant anger on days when you both work late or you have a migraine.

He will be free of his batting again tomorrow at quarter after two.  In the meantime, two pipes will burst in the basement and you will be diagnosed with a dreadful disease and the budgie will fly out the window in search of an eagle, who will not be his saviour (as he imagines), but will as likely eat him.  

"See?" he'll say.  "It's always SOMETHING with you."  He will pound his head into a door and leave a shallow, round dent.  

You are the problem, he'll think, and not the pipes and the budgie's big dream.  He will look for additional padding.  His head hurts.

Then he will rewrap.  You will watch.   It's quite beautiful the way he can weave himself into a home-made womb, all sealed up somewhere away from you and the way he knows that you can (and inevitably will, due to his own actions) hurt him.

Eventually you will get tired of having a relationship with someone who is not actually there, someone you can only see in glimpses at odd hours or when the alarm first blares in the morning, and someone you have forgotten how to love.   (And frankly, you never liked zombies.  They give you nightmares and you don't understand their mass appeal.)

Sooner or later, you won't see a whole world of difference between being alone without him or being alone with him.  But at least when you are alone without him, no one will be given to fits of enormous rage that burst out of the cotton like flames, burning your face and leaving you unrecognizable to yourself. 

Begin the work of finding yourself again.   

On your own, you'll find that you are perfectly capable of fixing the plumbing and rescuing budgies, your own wings unfurling surprisingly in the clearing sky.   You will remember who you were, when you used to be able to fly.  Before.

Which is my way of saying, you will be OK.   Promise. 

There are far too many metaphors in this post, all mixed together without rhyme or reason.  But that's sort of how life is, isn't it?  None of it has to make sense.  Not really.  Not here, anyway.