Thursday, April 28, 2011

I Don't Deal Well With Disappointment

Late last summer into fall, a series of unfortunate events befell me, leading me to write this post. In form, the post appeared to be an attempt to reach out to others in similar circumstances so that I could use my pain and what I had learned to help them. In truth, the post was just me vainly grasping at more productive ways to cope with the less desirable events in life. The reason I had to work so hard on this list is because of the way I normally respond to anything that upsets me. In one word: poorly.

The Lead Up

I was in the field seven of nine weeks, leaving me exhausted and weak. I still adore my job and served people the best I could, but I also felt my emotions beginning to unravel. I began to spend my free time occasionally complaining about my work day and felt overwhelmed by tasks that I usually handle with ease. I also lost discipline with very regular habits. I tried to limit my occasional outbursts and sense of disappointment, knowing that rest and relaxation were on the horizon. I also had, in hand, tickets to what I was thoroughly convinced would be the greatest concert in the history of the world, ever. Although I was getting slowly worn down, I knew I had enough left in the tank to handle everything in front of me. I simply had to. This has been my life and my job. Although I am sensitive I am not of weak constitution. Well, maybe sometimes I am.

The Dominoes Begin to Fall

Then three weeks got especially intense. My Mother had a particularly bad response to one round of chemo and it did not have the positive effects for which we had hoped. Work got tougher: I had a couple of especially challenging groups and even had a fender bender in a company vehicle. When I returned home, I did not have the same comforts I had begun to expect. I could feel the tension building up inside me. Passive aggressive behavior began. I spent extensive amounts of time curled up on the couch by myself. There was still hope on the horizon though. I would soon be soothed by the live melody of my favorite band in all of the cosmos. I could hold onto this and start my road to recovery, right? Wrong. My carefully made plans had been laid waste. Mumford was taken from me. The downward spiral began. It was unstoppable.

I am a Sensitive Sally: Everyone Must Feel My Pain

This would have been the perfect time to think of the things I'm thankful for, have a beer, eat some s'mores or slay some sweet singletrack (impossible right now, for reasons I will explain in another post, also contributing to my depression). Instead, I chose to do the following things, not necessarily in this order.

1. Pretend I can change something I have absolutely no control over - When I've made a poor decision or am confronted with something I wish were different, I try to make it different in my mind. I try to find a loophole when I know there are none. I bend and melt my mind trying to somehow alter the reality in which I exist. Throughout this process, it does not occur to me that I cannot change things that I cannot change. I convince myself that I can. This is an emotionally and physically exhausting process. Ultimately, I never admit that I cannot change my reality, I simply consider myself a failure for not being able to do so. I find this to be the emotional equivalent of a dog chasing but never being able to catch it's tail. This leads to despondency.

2. Mope around, listlessly - I have perfected this action. I am fairly certain that my tall, lanky physique and typically outgoing personality make me especially adept at moping around listlessly. I begin by simply remaining silent and sort of slouching my neck and shoulders. I often stare at the ground or into space in a decidedly forlorn manner. The coup de grace is when I sigh heavily to myself in others' presence and make thinly veiled remarks cryptically referring to whatever is bothering me. If whoever I'm with is either naive or really cares about me, they will inevitably ask what's wrong. This immediately results in a thorough lesson on why one should never be naive or care about what's wrong with Clint.

3. Talk excessively about whatever is wrong with me - Misery loves company and when I am miserable, I am extremely talented at increasing my company at a phenomenal rate. Most people that know me well are familiar with the fact that I have the gift of gab. This is especially true when I am upset. I absolutely cannot help but talk about whatever's wrong with me, who's fault it is, how it can be fixed, how it can't be fixed, how my life has been irreparably damaged by recent turns of event, and how these types of things always happen to me, all while wondering aloud why life is such a cakewalk for everyone else. Talking excessively about whatever is wrong with me also helps me accomplish #1 on this list. By talking to other people and asking for advice about things I clearly cannot change, I encourage them to participate in my vain attempt to find simple solutions to complicated problems. Shortly after I begin this stage I find myself with a lot of alone time.

4. Let my disappointment bleed into every area of my life and subsequently ruin every minute of the day - I have a unique ability of figuring out a way to allow anything under the sun to be a reminder of whatever happens to be bothering me. I'll give you an example. I love s'mores, but if someone were to offer to make me a s'more right now, I would refuse due to the following logic: One usually makes s'mores over campfires. A typical campfire activity is playing or listening to music. I love music, which makes me think of my favorite band, Mumford & Sons. I was looking forward to a Mumford & Sons concert, which I did not get to attend. This makes me upset. Therefore, s'mores make me upset. So, no I would not like one, thank you very much.

5. Retreat to my cave of depression and self doubt - I remember a scene from Fight Club where the narrator is encouraged to find his power animal. He finds himself in a cold, dark cave in search of his power animal and he is disappointingly confronted with a penguin. According to an online quiz I just look in the last minute and a half, my power animal is a jaguar. Awesome. Unfortunately, he does not reside in my pain cave. All that exists there is sadness, darkness, depression and self doubt. When I retreat to my cave of depression and self doubt, my sorrow has reached it's greatest depth, greater than that of the Mariana Trench.

Once I hit this point I came to a pretty solid conclusion. I needed to get over it. No amount of thinking, talking, moping or sitting in cold, dark places was going to change any of my circumstances. I've got a lot of people around me that care about me and that I can count on. I'm getting a nice solid break from the field and have the opportunity to spend some solid time with all of these people. I am learning a ton from these people and God. I will continue to deal with the challenges in my life better and better as time goes on. There will be more Mumford concerts, even if there aren't any in the near future for which I could get tickets for less than $400. I've got some awesome things to look forward to. It's not like there's a fembot sent here from another planet strictly to ruin my life. Things are good and I am happy. And I got an Easter tattoo.



Friday, April 1, 2011

I Have a Lot to Declare

Last Sunday, they asked what I was bringing into Mexico, so I told them. I'm not sure anyone else got the joke.