Free Advice

Tonight I’m feel a little bit exhausted. I can feel my buckets are getting empty again. This happened last weekend too. I’m learning to not feel guilty about it. Today was a hard chapter to write about. It had a lot to do about anger.

I’m going to take the wayback machine and explain it a little bit.

When I was married, the house was always loud. Someone was always fighting, the TV was always blasting, and someone always had to be outraged about something. I had actually been told more than a few times that I wasn’t “angry enough” about something. So, like getting stuck in the mud, I would back up a little bit and get another run at it. Plowing right through some kind of berm of humanity and right into irate assholiness.

I hated living like that. So, when I was first out on my own, in spite of all the divorce drama, I worked hard to not be angry. You see, when you are angry, it’s a cheap source of energy. For quiet nights like tonight when I’m just a little quiet, anger is like those pills they sell at truck stops to keep the truckers awake. It gives you energy, but it is also killing you.

Anger gives you a cortisol drip, which triggers your fight or flight reaction. So, whether it was fighting each other, fighting the kids to eat their food, or fighting with random strangers in the store who looked at my ex “weird” I had a constant fuel that seemed to have no limit.

Nowadays, I just worry. It’s the same result. It gives you energy, but that anxiety will kill you eventually. There’s a lot of things I cannot fix. And a pro-tip, all that worrying won’t fix anything. But it gives you energy. As it kills you.

It’s the same drug really. Cortisol. Cortisol also causes you to gain weight (and I’ve heard that a reason for this is fatty and carby foods help regulate it by triggering a comfort response).

I gave up anger. Do I get angry? Sure. It’s a human emotion and last time I checked, I’m still not a robot. But I work through it. But it’s this worrying thing that has been dominating my life for a little while, and anyone who reads my posts probably figures “Yeah, it’s understandable why he might be worrying a lot.”

Thing is, I’m sick of it. And I’m sick of filling my buckets with high-test cortisol just to keep pushing forward. Last weekend, I disconnected from contact with everyone for a couple days. It bothered a few people and in turn they worried about me, or thought I was mad at them or pushing them away. I wasn’t. I was just spent, and I knew that I wasn’t any good to anyone feeling the way I did. Sometimes you have to know your limitations and take some time for yourself.

I often pester a friend of mine about self-care and I know I sound like a jackass whenever I bring it up. But I only mention it because I am awful at self-care, and like many aspects of my life, I love giving advice, but I seldom take my own. Dropping off the grid, for me, was self-care. Taking a step back from everything was self-care. And yes, I did take a whole day to go get coffee at Dutch Bros. Twice.

This same friend has often told me that they aren’t going to get mad at me for dropping off when they know they haven’t done anything to cause it. That is reassuring and much appreciated. Because I think so many of us are wrapped up in each other’s business sometimes that it makes it difficult to just disconnect. I think getting your head together and regrouping is important, but because we all live in each other’s phones anymore, it has changed that dynamic.

Today, I wrote a hard chapter about anger and the past, and I got a phone call from a buddy of mine who was just worrying about the same stuff they have been worried about for the last two weeks. I hit a point where I was like–okay, I’m going to disconnect for a little bit again. Because I just ran out of evens. I can’t even. So, I cut the call short.

I’m working on the book, trying to figure out this whole travel writing thing, the court stuff with my son, working on sorting out my life over my recent stress overload for the last couple of months–and trying to be a better friend/man/son/dogdad/dad/etc. It’s not easy.

But instead of worrying about it (which made sooooo many things worse in recent events) I’m just going to do what I did with anger. Take a deep breath and step away from it. Look at things from another perspective, and then respond instead of react.

Recently I watched a video about people with something called “anxious attachment disorder”. There are lots of things to pay attention to when they resonate with how you have been in the past–maybe not even the past. One of the key features of this are when people need constant reassurance. But here’s the kicker. As you work towards “secure attachment” no amount of reassurance is going to be enough. What is feeding your anxious attachment disorder is that you have allowed anxiety to become part of your personality. Even hard-wired that shit. So it becomes as much a part of you as your favorite color or which hand you brush your teeth with. Being aware of it, at least gives you the advantage of saying “bitch be cool” to yourself.

And when you realize you are riding that wave of anxiety because everything feels like it is coming apart at the seams and you just don’t have the energy, you can also see that you are like Marshall, Will, and Holly on a routine expedition. About to go over that waterfall into the Land of the Lost.

So, the problem with giving others free advice you should be taking yourself is you get what you pay for. It’s easy for me to spout some crap to someone when they are struggling, but if I don’t take my own advice, it’s not really worth anything is it?

So, I’m going to work on filling the buckets. Today I wrote. I cooked French onion soup. I visited with a few good friends, (and I didn’t dwell on my problems in the process). And I threw the tennis ball for the dog for about twenty minutes. I worked on not worrying so much, and I can already feel my buckets filling back up.