Sometimes It Sucks To Be A Skeptic
I think I understand what it's like to be lost in a world of woo thinking. Maybe even an inkling of what it's like to believe in Jesus as your personal hero.
Butch, my awesome husband, came home Friday night and told me he felt awful. He and I both got a cold about 3 weeks ago and he shook if off in about 4 days while I suffered with a nasty chest cold, congestion and laryngitis until just the other day. I didn't want to hear that he was sick again. It was my birthday weekend, we were supposed to go out to dinner on Sunday (last night), and I was hoping we'd both be feeling well for a change.
Alas, it was not to be. He had a fever, the chills, and was completely miserable. And here's where I realized I felt totally helpless. I can't stand seeing someone I love sick. When Butch or my dogs or someone I care about has a problem or is in pain, I want to fix them. I want to make them at least feel better. But sometimes there's nothing you can do.
Butch seemed to have the flu, which is a virus, and really all I could do was make him a hot toddy, be extra nice, and send him to bed to sleep it off.
Recently my older dog, Koku went through some weird emotional thing where whenever I gave the dogs treats, he would suddenly act like there was thunder and lightning and he would practically jump in my lap and shiver. Which is also new. He just developed a dislike of thunder last year. Poor little fella is anxious like me, I guess. But again, there really wasn't anything I could do for him, except give him some affection and make sure that he was physically alright. (I can put him on doggy prozac, I guess, but that would make him sleep all day, so it's a last resort.)
But it's painful to watch the ones I love suffer. I hate it. In my previous life, I was into taking vitamins and airborne. And before that I (shamefully admit) I believed in energy healing. But back then, I had solutions. I could turn to a concoction or my hands with authority and say, "this will make you feel better." Butch didn't believe in the energy stuff, but sometimes he'd let me do my woo woo magic. Because when you're sick, you just want to feel better, even if it's a long shot.
Then I figured out that energy healing was totally bogus. Which meant I lost a huge security blanket. It was all a placebo, nothing more. Recently the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe, along with other podcasts and science news, helped me to become a full fledged Skeptic. (I have a badge and everything!) I learned that taking vitamins have been found to actually shorten your lifespan (a recent study), mega doses of vitamins can be very harmful, and taking airborne as suggested is dangerous, and that it was never properly tested. So, now I have no security blankets at all. It's just me and bare naked facts and science.
Most times that is quite liberating, not to be weighed down with lies and nonsense. But when my loved ones are sick and there's nothing that can really be done except fluids and bed rest, (oh, and TLC, of course), I feel really naked and frustrated.
So I guess I understand why people turn to crackpot pseudo-science. I see why they buy ridiculous remedies, books for crazy diets, books for strange magical ways to improve their lives. I guess I even understand people who pray to Jesus for a cure. It might be a long shot, but at least they're doing something.
Of course, prayer is actually doing nothing. You're just wasting time and energy on a god that doesn't exist. But I guess it makes sense, in a way, if you really believe it's going to work. Maybe it's just the knowing, the confidence that Jesus wouldn't let you down, that whoever wrote that stupid book you read really does have the answer and really wants to help you achieve perfect health and happiness. Whatever it is, it's doing something, it's keeping you from realizing that the world is often harsh and cold.
But turning to a god that isn't there, or a pill that doesn't do anything useful, or a book that is full of lies isn't doing anything. It might seem like it's helpful, but really it's worse than nothing. Sure, you might feel like you have a bit of control over a bad situation, but you don't. You've given what little control you might have had to the invisible god, the sugar pill, or the guru who wrote the book. See? You're less in control than ever. With no hope of ever getting any of it back when you believe in lies and let them lead you and control your life.
It sucks. I know. But reality is a harsh mistress.
So, I kissed my husband on the forehead, reminded him that a mild fever is the body's natural way of fighting infections, and told him I loved him. He was upset about my birthday dinner, but I told him it can wait. No big deal, just feel better. Sometimes all you can do for someone is love them. So that's what I did. Love is good medicine, at least.