And I’m tripping over my joy

13 Nov

And I say there’s trouble when everything is fine
The need to destroy things creeps up on me every time
— Rilo Kiley, “The Absence of God”

You are always waiting for the other shoe to drop, so you go ahead and drop it yourself. This is a stupid way of saying it, maybe, but it’s true. When you feel like things are bound to go from bad to worse, you push them in that direction. It’s not that you like feeling shitty—though maybe you do, a little—but more that you like being in control. And the best way to ensure the universe isn’t conspiring against you is to go ahead and conspire against yourself.

That’s absurd. That’s ass-backwards thinking. That’s telling yourself you’re never really happy because you don’t ever let yourself be really happy.

One of the things you do in therapy is break down your irrational thoughts with evidence to support the thought and evidence that doesn’t support the thought. Ideally, you realize that what you’ve accepted as fact is actually a major distortion, and probably everyone doesn’t hate you a lot, or even a little! But the problem with being a little self-destructive is that you create a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies. You worry people are going to leave you so you push them away. You’re certain something is wrong, so you make sure that something is.

You talk back to yourself a lot, not in a schizo way. (Sometimes you even write blog posts in the second person, because that’s not totally played out or anything.) The more you remind yourself that you’re mucking shit up for the sake of mucking it up, the less you’ll do it, hopefully. It doesn’t always work that way, but hey, there’s no harm in trying. You are too self-aware, too adept at navel-gazing, which just makes it more frustrating when you can’t change your own habits. You think, “Here is a thing that I shouldn’t do!” while you are doing it.

You treat everything like a scab you can’t stop picking. (There’s a visual for you!) You pick at it: “Are we OK?” And you pick at it: “Are you sure we’re OK?” And you pick at it: “I’m sorry for asking if we’re OK.” If you bug them about it enough, even those people who validate you will eventually get sick of it. Not because you’re awful, but because any reasonable person would. Maybe stop picking, then? Maybe just let it be? People will probably like you more if you stop asking them if they like you.

When you watch A&E’s Obsessed, you realize that you could have things way worse. But you also take comfort in the therapists saying, “Thinking something doesn’t make it true.” You have the power to control yourself, even when you can’t control your thoughts. You might not be able to turn off the feelings, but you can stop yourself from acting on them. And most importantly, you can live with life’s uncertainties, fully aware that just because things can get worse, doesn’t mean that they will.

Besides, shit hits the fan often enough without you having to throw it in there yourself. (There’s an even better visual. You’re welcome.)

One Response to “And I’m tripping over my joy”

  1. 'urner November 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Very true. I can relate to the second guessing of the negatives in life.. so easy to overlook the positives…like how nice it is your toe isn’t broken and walking adds no issue, or how easy it is to swallow without that tonsillitis……. good helpful thoughts there Louis, thanks.

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