At some point you have to ask yourself: where does your chemistry stop and your choices begin? You look at your situation and assess that you are taking all of the drugs you're willing to take, and getting all of the talk therapy you can handle, and any outsider would look at your life and conclude that things seem pretty much fine.
And yet, you stand on the edge of a chasm: on the other side lies a place called "general well-being" or "contentment", and you realize the gap between you and this other place is still too wide to jump, even with a good run. Then comes the debate that everyone has at some point... does anyone actually live over there? Besides true Buddhists and those without compunction, does anyone have a rest state of organic happiness, or is it like General Public sang, "it's a sad but natural fact, there's something deep inside that stays lonely forever"?
It's not a debate you want to have with anyone else. Even those with the patience of a saint will tire of your gloom in short order. Even those who are tremendously depressed themselves will bark at others to "snap out of it", to "think positive", as if their diminished powers will suddenly find purchase in someone else. More likely, everyone is barely keeping it together, and have no strength to play sideman in anyone else's blues.
Here's the kicker, though: everything we do - especially long-term - we do because it provides a payoff. Ask yourself, why are you negative? Why are you choosing dread? I mean, once you've wrestled most of the demons with chemistry and therapy, what are you gaining from your misery? If it wasn't providing something, you would have stopped long ago, so what exactly is it?
And then it hits you: it's your identity. It's who you are. Who would you be if you weren't Unhappy? Where would you get your power if you weren't full of Rage? You have been these things for so long that you don't know who this other, "happy" motherfucker would be. Think of alcoholics in recovery - it must be almost impossible, since so many of them knew themselves to be funny, raucous, unreliable, self-immolating drunks. They have to rebuild a new persona, and let's be honest, that's really goddamn hard.
Ask yourself: would it really be so bad to be someone slightly different? Would you really lose your energy if you didn't have something making you angry, and would others find you less interesting if you hadn't brought a trauma along?
Suppose you were to choose being positive - when it was an option, of course - and you felt the chasm between you and warm happiness begin to close. Perhaps you even could even walk over there now. What if you discover that you have just as much energy and remain just as interesting? What if you could stop hoarding, end your desire for coddling, and best of all, stop considering yourself an exception for everything?
We eat what kills us, and then, when told of our condition, hoist a flag of what we eat. Our town is washed away by a hurricane we name our children after.Posted by Ian Williams at May 14, 2009 11:28 PM