Do you remember the fable, where the scorpion convinces a frog to carry him across the pond? The frog is afraid but is finally persuaded to trust the deadly spider…. only to be stung by him in the middle of the pond, dooming them both. In his dying breaths, the frog asks the scorpion “why”? The scorpion replies…. “I can’t help it. It’s in my nature.”
Scorpions, Spiders, and Surface Tension –
I have a swimming pool in my back yard and I’ve noticed spiders lately. I’m not a friend of these 8 legged insects, especially in my pool. Every morning, I use the pool skimmer to fish them out; through this ritual, I’ve realized that these creatures are different from the scorpions in the parable: my pool spiders have mastered the art of surface tension.
These spiders do not drown. I can squirt the pool water with the garden hose, creating mini tidal waves, and they may disappear underneath the water for a moment or two. Invariably, they resurface and manage to perch on top of the water again, traversing across without effort. If the spiders were in a comic strip, the bubble above their heads may show their emotions of my half-hearted attempts at murdering them…. laughter and glee, or frustration and anger, mocking me because they are survivors.
It is in their nature.
I don’t know the scientific difference between a scorpion and a simple pool spider… but maybe it’s the difference between a “normal” drinker and me…. The normal drinkers are like my pool spiders: they can effortlessly balance on top of the water. They make it look easy as they manage the surface tension, never getting lost in the depths of alcohol and drowning in it. As I watch these spider invaders, they know when to swim to the edge and when to cling to the pool side if the water is too turbulent. I don’t have that skill.
I guess my drinking habits were more like the self-destructing scorpion. When I drank, I could not manage the pool spider dance…. I’ve finally realized it’s in my nature. I need to learn to respect the frog that is carrying me across the pond, too. By protecting it, I can survive, too.
I am not the pool spider, but that is okay. I have to protect the frog, and protect my quit.
My 22 year old son and I were talking about drinking this past week…. I just passed my one year of sobriety mark, and he doesn’t drink; life’s great, right? Not so fast. “Mom, you don’t drink because you know you couldn’t control it. But, I’ve never tried alcohol, so how do I know that I even would HAVE a problem? I mean, since I’ve never tried to control it, by not drinking…. alcohol is controlling my choice.”
My son has defied his scorpion nature, and has always nurtured his frog… 22 years of never tempting fate… but the majority of his friends drink alcohol and they are all young…. they all know they are spiders, but are uncertain today if they are pool spiders or scorpions.
I shared with him my belief that alcoholism runs in our bloodstream. Apparently, I never shared the time when I was 17 and my mom fell down the stairs, broke both wrists, her nose, her jaw…. and how her Blood Alcohol Content was .223 when she got to the hospital. Yes, the family revisionist history successfully faded this incident; it was softly forgotten and never recounted in the presence of her youngest grandchild. “Wow, really?” Incredulous, unbelieving that my mom had endured 6 or 7 surgeries to mend her broken wrists….. and even more incredulous that she returned to drinking afterwards.
And to add to the incredulity of the family story, I shared how I, at 17, had vowed to never pick up alcohol… but this scorpion decided to tempt fate and to drink, too. Whilst my rock bottom never included a horrific fall or a DUI, I knew at a young age that I shouldn’t drink, and yet I did.
I broke the silence, ruffling the surface of the family pond… my mom’s frog was repeatedly stung. Simply put, it was either faith or luck that kept her alive, despite her nature. Questioning my nature… my son questioning his nature…. I guess these are trials and tribulations of life. My heart is racing as I watch him maneuver and negotiate in this pond…. wishing we were pool spiders, but knowing that we are not.
Protect Your Quit. 💙
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