I realized about three years ago when I started therapy that I’m actually a dark person.
I remember being drawn to comedy at a young age – sneaking downstairs to watch HBO comedy specials laughing hysterically at well-crafted jokes by Buddy Hackett and Rodney Dangerfield. Bill Cosby’s Himself remains one of my absolute favorite sets. These were heroes of mine.
As I’ve progressed through therapy I’ve learned that most of my life I’ve run from tough feelings. I believe that I developed a comic mind to entertain myself. Comedy was a way for me to avoid the pain that I couldn’t face. Also, it’s a charming and social way to connect with others. Primarily, though, it was used to escape the darker parts of me that were too scary to engage.
Well, after getting sober, then some therapy, getting laid off, a divorce, some more therapy and whatever other challenges I’ve faced, I’m left with this realization:
My natural state is not that of happiness. I have to work at it. Really work at it.
It now dawns on me why I studied self-improvement strategies from age eighteen on – I wanted to feel better and I just couldn’t do it myself.
So, now, I’m at a place in my life where I want to get back to happy. I’ve been exploring forgotten pain for so long I forget what it’s like to wake up in the morning excited.
Since, for me, it’s conscious effort to find happiness, I know that gratitude helps bring me to that space.
Tonight as seven of us were seated around the kids’ table at Thanksgiving we decided to talk about something we were grateful for. I’d like to add that we were all in our mid thirties and are table was the formal dining room table. The adults took the table in the second dining room which was also nice, but not as nice. Yes, this friend’s house had two dining rooms. Pretty awesome.
I was immediately grateful that I had somewhere that people wanted me for Thanksgiving. As my own worst critic I forget sometimes that I am loved by people that know me well. I became emotional and wanted to weep for there are many weekends where I don’t see anyone in person. I forget that people want to spend time with me.
I am also thankful that I have readers that encourage me to write about what really goes on in my life. This blog started out as extreme stories from my past and has evolved into a rolling diary of present events, thoughts, feelings, struggle and celebration. Your comments allow to make this blog about you. I have to write about me – you get to reclaim it by leaving your own contribution below.
Lastly I am grateful that my vision for this blog has, thus far, provided me with the discipline to write every night this year. I am a massive quitter and procrastinator. My ex-wife is still amazed I write each night. And like most things that are worthwhile, I am not usually in the mood to write, and I almost never have anything interesting happen to me during the day. But somehow I push through and click “publish” whether it works or not.
I don’t often give advice – but I will say this. By the way, this is what I say to myself, and I assume it’s true for you as well.
The antidote to shame is to have deep, personal, and vulnerable relationships with people that love you. This takes courage and discipline. You just can’t tackle shame alone.
I’ve found my tribes through my family, friends and online community. Each plays a role in helping me connect with something other than myself and where I am free to be just D.J. In my head, D.J. is just not quite measuring up. To my supporters, they think I’m doing just fine. That’s why I need them.
Those were some thoughts I had this evening as I wrapped up a second helping of apple-pecan caramel pie. Not exactly Emerson, I know. But something.