A few months back, I had an unexpected late-night scare. It was about 3:18 AM, and I was fast asleep. My wife woke me abruptly, concern in her voice. She had done this to me about an hour earlier to ask if I’d given the dog her medicine, so I was already mildly disturbed. But I didn’t expect what she said next: “THERE’S SOMEONE ON THE ROOF!” Now, I’m not one for idle speculation. Especially at three in the morning. But I know my role as husband and spouse. I diligently got out of bed and joined her in the kitchen, to listen for a noise I was already convinced was probably just the wind. After 60 seconds, still nothing. I started off back to bed… until I HEARD IT. Footsteps from above. Slow, deliberate, and not all at once. Alarmed, I ran across the hall and grabbed my flashlight. I grabbed a jacket to brace against the rainstorm and dashed out the door to see what was going on. It was pitch black and the rain was starting to pound on the pavement. The nearby motion lights didn’t help much, but I could hear tearing noises against the roof and the sound of metal scraping. After a few LONG minutes, I could slowly make out the identity of our midnight invader:
raccoon
The real winner of David and the wiffle bat..
I was livid. I did NOT need this right now. But since I could see what looked like torn insulation scattered across the roof, I felt certain that this couldn’t wait until morning. The rain kept pouring and our intruder showed no signs of being in a hurry to leave. This HAD to be dealt with. Now, in afterthought, this had all the elements of self-sabotage:
  • It was dark and 3:00 AM at night
  • It was pouring down rain
  • I wasn’t thinking straight
Naturally, I did what any impulsive, illogical person would do in these circumstances: Me, in a jacket and soaked in the rain, climbing the roof to chase off a raccoon, armed only with a flashlight and a wiffle bat. My wife tried to persuade me to wait until morning, but I wasn’t having any of it. I grabbed what turned out to be the wrong ladder and climbed up to the roof. What ensued over the next few minutes is unclear even to the best of my recollection. It involved a lot of running on a wet roof, gesturing wildly with a wiffle bat, and making loud, threatening noises. When we lead with our emotions, our bodies are often are overwhelmed with chemicals that put us into crisis mode: Adrenaline. Cortisol. Norepinephrine. One of the side-effects of these chemicals is that we start thinking fuzzy. Unfortunately, when our thinking is fuzzy, we don’t REALIZE that our thinking is fuzzy. It’s a catch-22, and it sets us up for impulsive choices. Which is exactly where I ended up. Our friend the raccoon weighed his options more thoughtfully than I, likely calculating the odds of survival against a human armed with a wiffle bat versus the odds of my slipping off the roof. He promptly scattered to a nearby tree to observe the likely logical outcome while I surveyed the damage, which turned out to be a beehive. Pulled out from under one of the metal vents on our roof and scattered in pieces. My mind began to clear. The roof looked intact, and I couldn’t find any more damage. I headed back to the end of the roof, and… Little did I realize that not only had I chosen the wrong (short) ladder, in my haste to get up on the roof I had knocked the ladder away. It was cold and wet. And the rain showed no signs of letting up. Ultimately, my wife was able to find the right ladder and I was able to live to tell another day, despite my best intentions. Self sabotage is like that.

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