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Naming Emotions, Hurricane Edition.

1 October 2015

I’m afraid. I talked about it last night during my men’s meeting. Hurricane Joaquin, now a major hurricane and strengthening, embarks on a northward journey tonight, and will likely power into the east coast sometime over the weekend. ECC is one of the cities that has a chance to be in the direct path of the storm. That’s the part I can do nothing about. The storm is the storm. ECC lies in its potential path. My fretting will change neither.

I worry about my house. It isn’t well built. It has a tendency to get water in the basement during exceptional rain events. I don’t know how it will stand up to a direct hit from a major hurricane. These are things I can’t know. I do know that it survived the last couple to come through, though none of those powered directly into the city, to my knowledge.

I get to be afraid. I’ve never been in a hurricane. Hurricanes kill people and ruin stuff. Basically, if nature had a military, hurricanes would be the Marines. I am frankly not up to repelling a Marine expeditionary force.

But I don’t want to be a coward. My friend @labroides weathered Sandy, being in the Bronx at the time. I remember thinking at the time that I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him on the news being interviewed for going out in the middle of the storm to rescue a retirement home. I tweeted such at him, and he just said, “Hey, we get through this together or not at all.” He meant it.

I’d like access to that sort of bedrock courage. Just do what you have to do because it’s the right thing to do and you’re the person in the situation to do it. Circumstances meet willingness meets ability. I hope that if the hurricane hits my city, I’ll be able to summon that. I don’t know. We never know what we can really do until we have to do something that takes everything we have.

When AA was young, and no one had much more than about five years of sobriety, there was suddenly a war. The greatest war in the history of humanity. Sober members of AA, like men everywhere in America, were drafted to fight. I’ve read accounts from the time – just anecdotes – in which both recovered drunks and their physicians wondered how these sober alcoholics could perform in war. Alcoholism was still primarily seen as a moral failing, weakness of character. Would these men be cowards in combat?

The results seemed to be that we alcoholics are about as suited to war as normal folks. We’re not especially cowardly or weak-willed in the face of extraordinary challenges to our fortitude. We seem to be able to manage the stresses of combat when called to that purpose. And if those drunks could do that, well, maybe I can weather a big storm without embarrassing myself or my family or my community.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. laorencha permalink
    1 October 2015 10:03

    Just keep an eye on the Forecast Discussion and the 5-Day Forecast Cone on the NCH page. It’s updated 4x/day at 5 and 11 EDT, more frequently as the storm approaches land. You can see that Joaquin is forecast to be a tropical storm, not a hurricane, by the time it reaches your area some time on Tuesday. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.

  2. psycgirl permalink
    1 October 2015 11:11

    I think circumstance meets willingness & ability describes to me very well your approach to alcoholism! Everyone has different types of courage, and I think that variety is important!

  3. aimee permalink
    1 October 2015 13:04

    “Just do what you have to do because it’s the right thing to do and you’re the person in the situation to do it. Circumstances meet willingness meets ability. ” This is a good answer for the question you asked me about why I was stepping in to take on some of Dad’s problems. I think it’s more or less the answer I gave you at the time. Hurricanes come in lots of forms.

  4. Syd permalink
    2 October 2015 18:59

    I think that you will be okay from the hurricane or TS because it is going out to sea. It is the rain that is going to be bad. So much of the city here is flooded. Fortunately, our property is high in the country and there are marshes around that buffer storms. Wetlands are so valuable for many reasons and storm buffering is one of their functions. Hang in there. We have been through many hurricanes. Everyone pitches in.

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