How Are You?

I remember piano lessons long ago. I remember my mom driving me to this fancy house a town or two over. I remember the immaculate lawns. I remember the two-story windows in the living room where my teacher’s grand piano sat.

I remember sitting head to shoulder to my teacher, looking up at her face. Her genuine smile greeting me each week.

“How are you?”

Like clockwork I’d dribble out the same meek “Fine.”

One week, exasperated, she exclaimed, “You can’t always be just fine!”

My mind exploded, but my mouth stayed shut. “Okay, all right, how am I? Well, that’s a tough question. Do you really want to know? Will you remain my piano teacher? Or are you prepared to become my savior? How about I just give you a quick rundown of my most recent suicidal thoughts…”

She clearly wasn’t able to see that fine was an aspirational goal for me at that point.

I wanted to be fine. For that hour, just let me be fine!

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I’m a Hurt-aholic

I was raised in a manner that led to my emotional masochism. But, I’ll avoid highlighting any specific instances of abuse that may have contributed. I’ve found that pursuit as silly as reaching for a pill to solve this.

I’m also not certain how genetics might influence this development in an individual.

But I do know that when this pain rings, I get transported back in time to being scolded as a child, my vision tunneling down to his eyes as he screams. Almost as if he was downloading his pain into me through his clearly hurt, but disturbingly lifeless eyes.

It took a long time to recognize my choice in becoming bewitched by that pain ringing in my head. Allowing myself to forget the life I’ve built since, handing my body over to that broken child still inside me, and being fully consumed by it.

I think the most revealing thing I learned from someone not suffering from anxiety is that they can have these hurt feelings too, just not as severe. Their view doesn’t tunnel. Their world doesn’t crumble with despair.

It’s like how I am able to drink alcohol, but not to excess. Other people are able to feel hurt, but not the soul-shattering, existence-threatening hurt that I would feel about the same event.

I’m not a different species, I just suffer from a weakness that propels me deeper into hurt than necessary. Others might recognize hurt when it happens, but they don’t pile on and push themselves deeper.

That’s what I do. Like a hurt-aholic.

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My Combative Brain

I notice that I occasionally wake with a combative mindset.

Those aren’t my best mornings. Not at first. At first I fight everything. Every thought, every person, every action, every stumble.

My brain chooses to take offense. Finds holes, pokes.

Identifying these mornings as early as possible in the cycle can help in defusing them.

I find that I can identify my moody1 mindset pretty quickly. Usually within 15 minutes of waking up, I can figure out if every thought entering my mind slants negative.

After identifying it, I can begin reconciling each thought by recognizing that it isn’t me presenting these ideas. I’ve learned to see that not every thought in my head originates within me.

When I’m in this state, I often have to remind myself that jerks will continue to exist out there, but I don’t also have to be one today.

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…Not Much Else

Making stuff is my momentary antidote to the relentless focus of my annoying brain. 
This might be why I find a great deal of comfort in making things.

Having a project to complete is like a chew toy for my brain.

Going too long without a new project can lead me on a path to creeping thoughts, and an easier slide into the spiral.

It can be so easy to slip too. Most don’t see my brain nudging me towards the lip. Most don’t see me desperately clinging to that last bit of sane. That bit that prevents me from plummeting down, spiraling into dread.

It calls to me like a distant song on repeat. “You’re not good enough, You’re not capable. Your career is meaningless and your brain generates useless ideas. You’ve always been dead on arrival.”

Making things can often help momentarily mute that song.

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