Some days I look at my friends’ lives and suddenly everything in my life looks sad and useless and ugly.
Some days I meet strangers and suddenly I’m a fucking superstar of a competent and informed and productive adult.
In AA (and probably elsewhere, but that is where I heard this first) this phenomenon is called “judging my insides by other people’s outsides.” And it is a big damn no-no.
That doesn’t stop me from doing it. And today I did both sides of it over and over and over again, to the point where I’m so exhausted I almost started crying on the bus ride home. The last couple weeks have just pummeled me. I’m going through some very serious spiritual development, and trying to finally come to terms with a very painful event in my life. I’m not depressed or really even sad (well, expect for today, today I’m sad), but it is really really really draining (do you get how draining it is?), because all of my energy and attention is being diverted to this thing, but I still have to you know, go to work, and eat, and take care of stuff. I think today it was all just a little too much and I started to crack a bit.
I admit, I am not so fucking good at judging my own life. Or myself for that matter. I tend to either be way to lenient or way to harsh. Compared to you, I am without a doubt the most amazing person ever, unless you and I have met, in which case I am but a grub beneath your feet. I’ve tried to be a little more realistic over the last bit of time, but a lifetime of demonizing myself in comparison to all loved ones and congratulating myself on my triumph over people I haven’t met, well, let’s just say that those habits take a while to shake loose from. (As does so too my terrible habit of ending sentences with prepositions. I teach basic grammar to 3rd graders for pete’s sake.)
What it is in the end is an unintentional solipsism; a habit of seeing the world only in terms of how it relates to myself. The cuteness of my friend’s kid shouldn’t elicit any thought of how less-cute my own future (and at this point purely hypothetical) child will or won’t be. The habit of a grown woman making a pouty-face to every single minor obstruction in life should not make me (internally) jump for joy at what a mature creature I am. My perception of the trials and triumphs of others is not actually what my life is supposed to be about. I don’t want to be the center of the universe, even in my own mind, because it sucks.
So yeah, today I’m sad. I’m sad because I’m tired, and it’s 90 degrees out (and once it’s over 70 I’m bloated and uncomfortable), and I have a lot of work to do before the last day of school next week, and rent is due tomorrow, and there is no more new Doctor Who for months. Oh, yeah, and I’m in the midst of some massive emotional shit. So there are a lot of reasons for me to be sad today. And I’m okay with those reasons, and with being sad for those reasons. For today.
But I don’t get to be sad because other people I know or encounter are not sad. I don’t have the license to use other people as a cudgel or crutch in order to MAKE myself sad about how sad I am. That is where real emotions become manufactured ones.
“I just end up full of potatoes and sadness” is something I said to Alissa once, and we laugh about it every so often. I was trying to explain how when I’m sad I buy frozen potatoes and eat the whole thing. And when I’m buying these sadness french fries, or tater tots, or hashbrowns, I’m always convinced that anyone who sees them in my basket knows that I’m buying them because I’m sad. I filled myself up with tater tots tonight to match my sadness. But honestly, and not because of the potatoes, I don’t feel as sad anymore.
So, obviously, it’s time for ice cream.
(1 Year, 8 Months, and 11 Days Sober)