So last Friday I wrote about reality and perception and this morning I heard Paul Gilmartin, while discussing getting sober, say something along the lines of:
“…but when you’re drinking and you don’t realize that your biggest problem in life is your perception…”
Which is pretty much the reason I was writing about reality and perception last week. I don’t have a drinking problem (I have plenty of addictions, but that isn’t one of them) but I do seem to have the shitty perspective that comes with having one. I’m not 100% positive where my negativity originates (I have a really good idea but that’s more of a book than an essay, so I’ll spare you. You’re welcome.) but it’s there nonetheless. I’ve spent more of the last decade of my life in therapy than out and I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on it, but sometimes my brain slides back into the shit and leaves me cradled in the arms of despair (I’m wearing my frilly poet shirt today). Here’s a perfect example of what can happen to me:
I really need a job. I’ve been lucky enough to get some consulting work recently but things are way too tight and I really need a fucking job. I hate how the front and back yards of my house look because we honestly can’t afford to water them enough to keep them looking healthy. We’re a few weeks away from looking like the Munster house but there’s literally nothing we can do about it until I get a job. There are a ton of projects I’d really like to do around the house but there’s no money, so they go undone. Now, all of that said, I’m an adult and I can deal with life not being as I wish it to be. Most days, I’m genuinely happy, despite the financial bullshit that’s a constant worry. Sometime last week we started having a problem with flies in our kitchen though. At the start, it was one or two flies buzzing around the sink. By Saturday it was over a dozen and it was disgusting. I wanted to clean all the dishes, move everything off the counters near the sink, and spray the shit out of that area with bug killer and that’s exactly what we did on Sunday morning. But Friday and Saturday we couldn’t get around to it because of various obligations, and that was enough to send me flying backward into The Bad Place. All of a sudden, I felt like the shittiest neighbor for having the ugliest lawn, and I felt like the shittiest husband for not having a job, and I felt like a total fucking failure for the various career changes and for not having any sort of stability or retirement savings and blah blah blah. And all of this was coming down on me like a ton of bricks by Saturday night. And it was then, as we were driving to a party, that I chose to burden my poor wife with all of that. The short version of the rest of that story is that talking with her helped me feel better long enough to go to the party and have a good time. But as we were in the truck, I did NOT want to go to that party. I wanted to go back home and clean the kitchen and get a job doing literally anything and go out and buy a ton of sod and plant a new front lawn. Before going to bed.
And that’s my mental illness in action. That, and eating food I know I can’t digest properly, but that’s a whole other conversation. We got the kitchen clean, the flies appear to be staying dead (which is awesome because, you know, zombie flies would be worse), and this morning my perspective is back to normal. It’s a little too hot out and I’m way too poor, but life is good and there’s possibility around every corner. My reality has barely changed at all. The only real difference is a few dozen flies have been killed. But it’s a great morning. It really is all about perception.