The Devil You Know

I’ve briefly talked on Twitter and on here about how I had a very dysfunctional upbringing. (In no particular order) Alcoholism, abuse, anxiety, depression, drug use, assault, medical issues, broken home, being bullied…Go through the “After School Special” checklist.

It’s not easy to talk about this because, well, it’s personal and it makes me appear vulnerable and weak. No one wants to appear vulnerable or weak…At least I know I don’t.

Some people ask me, “Why do you take on so much? Why do you stress about things that have nothing to do with you? You’ve got a husband who loves you, a roof over your head, you’re writing…What do you have to be stressed about?”

Well, the truth is, stress is my natural state because I’ve rarely known life without it. People who have never grown up in an abusive household or known trauma have difficulty understanding, and that’s fine. I don’t wish my experiences on others. I don’t want them to feel the pain I do. I just want them to understand that it’s not so simple as stopping it.

And there are some people that HAVE experienced what I have and ARE able to just look on the bright side. And I admire their strength and sheer will. Unfortunately, I haven’t found that within myself. Maybe I will, but I’m not there. As my Twitter profile says, I’m a work in progress.

I spent many years “fooling” people into thinking I had it all together. My jovial attitude was mostly fueled by a combination of alcohol, drugs, and “fake it ’til you make it.” While I don’t have the “benefit” of the former two, the latter is still in my repertoire. Though I think this post may be “outing” me. (Thank goodness I don’t have a huge readership!) That coupled with a particularly difficult year or two, most of my will has been focused on staying sober, which is its own issue (possibly for another post).

A friend chastised me today about complaining about things I “choose” to be upset and stressed about. She told me to own it. And I think that I do. I own my depression. I own my choice to be anxious whenever something is going well. I own that I complain a lot about things, and usually to people I have no business venting to as their lives are probably worse off than mine. I know I take on the stresses of things I shouldn’t worry about. I own that I am a difficult person to love. I own that good things happening to me make me uncomfortable. I own that I choose to focus on the negative. The question is why?

Because my resting bitch face is stress. I was born into this world stressed, and that’s what I know, that feels like it’s ALL I know. And no amount of therapy is going to change my past. The mental state of contentment is uncomfortable for me because I never enjoy it, always looking for the other shoe to drop. It’s likely self-sabotage, and I own that, too. But it’s difficult to be happy and say, “Wow! Things are going great!” Because when things are going well, I’m very uncomfortable. I’m always searching for something to go wrong. And if it doesn’t, I hyper-analyze things to FIND something wrong.

And that’s me. That’s who I am. I’m TRYING to change, but stress and depression is the Devil I Know. It’s a garbage way to live life, but it’s one I know how to navigate. I would do poorly in a Utopia, and I would surely be kicked out of Eden. But hey! All I can do is try, fail, and try again to fail again. My high school yearbook quote was, “People do not lack strength, but will.” Oh, Victor Hugo. I can try to live that more.

Be good, all.

1 Comment on The Devil You Know

  1. “I was born into this world stressed, and that’s what I know, that feels like it’s ALL I know.”

    Finished a cute novel the other day, written decades ago by a man now dead, who’s good with dialogue. I’ll dig up a quote. Momento.

    Back. Here:

    “The truth be known, I admire the French more than any other foreigners. In the centuries they have lived beside the Basque, they have absorbed certain virtues—understanding, philosophic insight, a sense of humor—and these have made them the best of the ‘others.’ But even I am forced to admit that they are a ridiculous people, just as one must confess that the British are bungling, the Italians incompetent, the Americans neurotic, the Germans romantically savage, the Arabs vicious, the Russians barbaric, and the Dutch make cheese.”

    Trevanian. Shibumi: A Novel (p. 273). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

    See, *all* Americans are neurotic, stressed. Jumpy is us.

    One nice result of that nasty national characteristic is that there are *heaps* of very nice relaxation albums. I recommend Liquid Mind.

    Also, I recommend the night. One unfortunate characteristic of organic life is that it needs sleep. Another is that we’re all sheep, and tend to think and act alike. Combine these two, and you get a nighttime that’s quiet. In most places. I don’t know about the mega-city you live in. Here in flyover country, darkness means peace.

    Peace to you and yours.

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