Personality…and then some
July 17, 2019 – Joemma Beach State Park, WA
We all inhabit multiple personalities. When I’m tired and hungry, I behave like my cat in Italy. She loves to sit on my lap while I stroke her gently, then suddenly, with no warning, decides she’s had enough and lashes out with her claws. When I’ve had a few too many glasses of wine, I become argumentative, and just one puff of weed is enough to turn the most mundane event into a hilarious comedy routine.
After five days without Lyrica (the drug he takes for fibromyalgia) Brent was able to get a refill, but I wasn’t prepared for what followed. Throughout his withdrawal Brent, though suffering, had been amazingly positive about the situation—no doubt, the copious intake of beer had something to do with that. This was a decidedly different man. Instead of staying up half the night polishing his rocks, he just wanted to relax in the tent, cuddle up, and watch movies before drifting off to sleep.
Within two hours after taking the first pill, I noticed a dramatic change. He morphed into the “caveman” Brent—limitless energy, limitless ego. The drug had pushed him in the opposite direction, but had taken it a little too far, and I began to wonder. Had I fallen in love with the passive, cuddly, kind Brent? I certainly wasn’t attracted to this one. The next few days were rough, as I tried to adapt. Overnight, our peaceful, loving relationship turned into a battleground, and my days were marked by anger and tears. How could a drug designed to block pain signals have such a powerful effect on someone’s personality? Was it really worth it, or should we have just let him go through his withdrawal and tried to find another solution for his pain?
The day after the first pill, we took off for Oregon to meet my Arizona friends, Karen and Dave. Fort Stevens, near Astoria Oregon, is the king of all state parks. With over 700 campsites packed close together, it’s anything but peaceful. Crowds of kids rode their bikes and skateboards up and down the road in front of our picnic table—parents screamed at them to slow down. We made the most of an awkward situation—we’d stepped into the middle of a mini family reunion, and my friend Karen was pulled in two directions. She hadn’t seen her son and grandkids for a long time, but she hadn’t seen much of me either, not for the last 10 years (we’ve been friends since our kids were small).
For the first couple of days, Karen and Dave spent their daytime hours with me and Brent. Dave and Brent got along well, with their mutual interest in fishing and rock hounding, so Karen and I had a lot of time to catch up on the past. However, by day three I could see there was tension brewing. Her son was offended that she hadn’t spent the day at the beach with them, so we decided to take off early and let them spend time with the family. Brent and I were still at odds, but we’d managed to conceal it, whispering angrily inside the truck after they’d gone to bed. We spent the next two days exploring Oregon and Washington, before returning to Joemma Beach.
But I can’t blame it all on Brent’s situation. He’s back to normal now, and I can see things more clearly. During this period of chaos, Brent commented that I enjoyed arguing, and I shrugged it off as a hostile remark. Later, as I lay in bed waiting for sleep to take over, I thought about his comment. As I looked back, one by one at my relationships, I saw that chaos had indeed been a pattern in my romantic life. Of the eight long-term relationships I’d had, I couldn’t think of a single one that wasn’t marred by arguments and emotional turmoil. I was always the one that broke things off—it was easier that way. The why’s were something I’d leave for another night—I was too tired to face them now.
Visiting my friends has made us all the more anxious to get to Arizona. The only thing holding us back now is Brent’s 5-day work assignment, which is dependent on recovery from his shoulder surgery, but we should be out of here by the end of August at the latest.
I can’t remember a recent summer that’s been as cool as this one, but I’m thankful it’s been dry and we’re not suffering from the 90-plus degree weather that has hit other parts of the country. The climate has been going crazy everywhere, though the Pacific Northwest has stayed pretty stable. No doubt that’s why it’s one of the fastest growing areas in the country right now. I can’t help but laugh when I read the arguments about climate change, whether it’s caused by humans or part of a natural cycle. It’s like arguing why the boat is sinking instead of taking the time to bail it out. There’s no doubt that the climate is changing, and we need to find ways to deal with it.
My friend is convinced that the “big one” will happen any day now, but I don’t worry about it. Anything can happen at any time, and I refuse to live in a state of fear. Maybe my longing for a permanent place to settle has something to do with the chaotic state of the world right now—it probably does. But I’ve done enough analyzing, and in the end, analysis doesn’t accomplish much. I’d prefer to work on coping—trying to keep a positive outlook, curb anxiety, adapt to change, and live in the present.
Yesterday, I stood by the picnic table, feeling drained from lack of sleep and overdose of emotion. Brent put his arms around me and held me close. As he was holding me, a voice rang out from the phone clutched in my hand, “I’m glad you liked it”, she said and we both smiled. “Hey Google” rarely gets it right, but this time she nailed it.