The other day, when I had been drinking and was feeling sorry for myself already and had both lowered inhibitions and expectations, I wrote a fairly long editorial piece I haven’t yet read sober. It’s actually posted here, but only scheduled to be published tomorrow morning. I’m still deciding if I’ll let it go through, and will be reading it over later this afternoon to make that choice, but I have a sense right now that it probably won’t see daylight.
I remember being pretty careful not to go off the rails or sound overly opinionated, and in fact I made every effort to look like the perfect moderate liberal (a phrase I’d actually used), examining both sides of an issue with an apparently objective eye, and coming to what seemed like a considered conclusion. I remember making that effort.
But ultimately, at the heart of it, it had been inspired by nothing more ignoble than jealousy, envy, and disappointment probably more in myself than anything else. While I think there’s a place for these emotions, that no emotion we have as human beings is healthy or unhealthy in and of itself, I was also angry and, like water mixing with potassium, that’s a dangerous combination.
As an aside, I want to mention that I was envious of another’s accomplishments and personal support structure, as well as their ability to push beyond limits when I have so much trouble doing that. The piece itself had also been about the politics of mental health advocacy, and I swore to myself there would be no political discussion here at all.
I don’t want to be that person that is fueled by anger and jealousy, drunk or not. There’s no peace there, no calm, no inner serenity to rely on in those moments of stress, and though I recognise it hadn’t helped me manage the other day either, I am getting closer to the day when it will. The lesson in that, I think, is to allow yourself, even expect yourself, to make mistakes and do dumb things but to push ahead despite them when you know the path is a good one.
A friend has said to me quite a few times lately that we take three steps forward and two steps back. Another cliche that holds a meaningful truth at its core. Even Dorothy took a few wrong turns before she finally made it to the Emerald City.
There’s a coping trick often cited for people swimming in the goopy toxic mess of anger and jealousy: Write a letter to whomever or whatever has triggered this in you, as nasty or heartfelt or both as you want, saying everything that’s going on in your head, then put it in your underwear drawer for a few days before ripping it up. It actually does work. My little opinion piece wasn’t quite that, but I’m finding it served the same purpose.
Coming into this, the choice of whether to go forward with publishing that entry had probably already been made (in fact it has, I’ve just trashed it). Though I’ve ripped my chest open and exposed my guts to the world now, if only to force honesty onto myself, being hurtful and critical because of your own faults is not a thing to be shared. Integrity is as important as honesty and peace.
I believe that my own personal Yellow Brick Road involves embracing all three, because, without one, the other two are meaningless.