Sunday, August 31, 2014

Taming the Doomer

After a difficult summer, I've achieved some sense of emotional security and stability. But still the Doomer insists that I'm surrounded by fools. I walked through the Augsburg campus today and saw a large circle of college-aged kids. (I'm guessing they were college-aged, because nowadays college kids look like high school kids to me, high school kids look like middle school kids and so on, although infants still don't look like fetuses, thank God.) The Doomer just wanted to point at them and shout, "You're all doomed! DOOMED!"

I've come to accept the Doomer as an aspect of my personality, an incorrigible child of the Dark Side who must be kept in his corner. He acts out every now and then, and that's when he needs a timeout. This taming of my Doomer has been instrumental in my emotional recovery. I've had to learn to look on the bright side and not wallow in pessimism. It has helped me recognize the subjectivity of my perspective and realize that happy people aren't oblivious; they just have a different, arguably better perspective.

In my solitary wandering, I've often seen happy people and thought them stupid. My mind would ask, "How can you be happy in this vale of tears?" I usually diagnose this reaction, correctly, as envy. I'm lonely and resent their apparently happy, friend-filled lives. But the persistence with which I've discredited happiness as ignorance imprinted that equation on my psyche. I came to distrust happiness in others and myself as a symptom of naivete or willful blindness.

In order to climb out of a hole of anxiety and depression, I had to re-program my brain to accept happiness as a legitimate response to the world, even with all its injustice, pain and suffering. The things that had previously supported my sense of self-worth (living in a hip neighborhood, working a job that paid the bills, hanging out with friends with whom I felt strong emotional bonds) were lost.

I was forced to expand my emotional aperture to accept support from sources I'd been rejecting, most notably my parents. The friends I have now aren't as artistic or sensitive as my old friends, but I've learned to focus on their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. I've also tried to reciprocate their loyalty, no longer expecting the relationships to be one-way streets of encouragement. Once I pulled back the curtains to let in more light, the Doomer had fewer places to hide.

No comments: