If life is a highway, the until recently, I’ve been driving in the faster lanes for years. I won’t reveal the exact date and time that thought went off in my head, which said “you will die if you keep driving like this,” but I can assure you that it was within the last six months. I’ve seen too many figurative car wrecks, stalls, and clear collisions to want any of that for myself, thanks.
It’s taken years for me to develop a sort of hardened empathy for drivers. I’ve always understood when people would drive erratically because of mistakes, but ohhhh those people… the ones that cut you off! Surely, they are the most terrible of people! The thing is, though, driving is actually dangerous even when there aren’t other drivers around. Crashes, mechanical failures… anything. Why, then, focus on them? Shouldn’t we rather focus on driving safe ourselves?
My writing desk is a rickety end table, partially because when I bring my laptop somewhere for a day, all I really need to feel comfortable is my mousepad and mouse. In life, we tend to rely too much on many objects to make us feel at home, where, really, we just need a few casual creature comforts. Too much just gets in the way. The more we have, unintentionally, the less we overall value.
I hate being the buzz kill of parties, where people will openly talk about getting high or drinking, and having to excuse myself from the situation. I hate that sort of awkwardness because although it’s my right to live without people being inebriated in various states of consciousness all around me, really, it’s more of a weakness that others can and have exploited. It’s just unfortunate that I can’t live in a calm, serene moderation.
My sobriety is like an open secret. No one really knows the true complexity of what sobriety really means; to have gazed through the precipice of that unknown and recoiled before being consumed by it. I have difficulties because of it. I am not the person I was or can be, but the person I am is here, writing this, reflecting on that sort of open secret some of us know but no one knows.
The emotion I felt, upon receiving the email and URL that a professional article I wrote was published on a big league website, was emptiness. Is that an emotion? I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment over getting closer to writing professionally. I didn’t feel starstruck. I didn’t feel better. I’m still in that same depressive rut. I’m happy it’s published, but no endorphins flooded my brain to congratulate me on a job well done.
Ideally, we probably all want to live in some sort of tranquil state where we can achieve any one of multiple goals, all through which the friction is exciting but not overwhelming. If we have to do a bit of mad dashing to get there, that can be fine, too, although we can get burned out quickly that way. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been swimming up a waterfall to get a mediocre prize lately.
Life is the most stressful thing we all do. Within it, there is beauty and brutality. What happens when we encounter overwhelming stress? Stimuli that seems unfathomable from multiple angles can seem like juggling chainsaws, and before I forced myself to remain sober, moments like these would be my weakness. I would allow the stress to consume me. Now, though stress still affects me deeply, I’m usually able to bounce back overnight with some self-care.
Knee-deep in this depressive state, I don’t feel good, as in the opposite of evil rather than well. I feel like I am not worthy of having good things. Not respectable. Bad things should happen to me and that I might not be successful in both my hobby dreams and professional ventures. I feel like I am one failure away from not being able to bounce back. I just want to sleep this badness away.
I’ve collected all these things to satisfy, distract, my inner demons. When I’m in one of these more intense battles of the mind, “a fight for my soul,” what helps me though is usually some new little distraction. My inner critic, so powerful that anything anyone says is but a whisper in comparison to its screams, enjoys these plastic distractions. Sometimes sleep helps as well. I hate not having control over my thoughts like this.