This is not the Rasheed you’re looking for

droidsIn many ways, I envy Donald Trump. Not so much because of his excessive fortune or his influence over other people or his notoriety, but because he says whatever’s on his mind, regardless of the consequences. His statements show a patent disregard for the outcomes of those statements. He says what he thinks, and whatever the consequences of his words, he’ll deal with them. I wish I could be more like that. I wish I could be more matter of fact about things. I wish I could tell people what’s really on my mind. I wish I could not care about what other people think of me. All while keeping my own hair.

I’ve struggled with sadness for the last four years or so. My melancholy mood waxes and wanes, but it’s been persistent, and it’s become more problematic recently as I feel as though I’ve been rapidly rising towards some sort of metaphorical boiling point. When I moved out on my own again back in April, I thought that I would get to live a freer, happier life. That hasn’t happened. And while I do feel some satisfaction in my self-sufficiency, I feel a new sort of unhappiness.

The period between March 2013 and July 2014 was the most challenging of my life. My ulcerative colitis went out of control, I had a surgery riddled with complications, I lived with pain and shame and regret for months before my second operation, which did help right the ship, but only after several more months of difficulty. The sadness of that period is markedly different from the one I feel now.

During my recovery, my unhappiness was rooted primarily in the state of my body. Losing so much of my physical capability, and literally losing so much of my body (I had a colectomy, doncha know), floored me. But through all the hard days, I could hold on to hope that better days and a better body were possible. I had rational reason to believe that my body could and would recover, and that I could escape my between-surgeries limbo.

Now I’m in a different milieu. One that isn’t, thankfully, riding on my body’s ability to convalesce. My pelvic pouch has held up pretty well, and it’s let me do a lot of normal and even enjoyable things. I’m not thrilled with my skinny arms and flabby belly and the piss poor time it takes me to run 5K, but my body isn’t that bad. It’s been much, much worse. So just what in the hell is wrong with me?

A few days ago, while I was feeling down, I Googled “I hate my life.” It’s not exactly a new refrain for me, but I wanted to see what wisdom the internet could impart during that time. I found an article that highlighted a problem I’ve known I’ve had for a long time – who I am and the person I present to the world are incongruent. From the article on PsychAlive:

One of the reasons we have the feeling of “I hate my life” is because we aren’t really following our own path. Instead, we are, often subconsciously, carrying out someone else’s idea of how we should live.

I’ve said in the past, on this very blog, that I saw myself as a pushover. I haven’t made any progress in that department, and that’s not down to my bowels taking their time recovering after being slashed apart and stapled back together. It’s down to my weak character.

At some point in my life I learned that it was imperative to be nice. That it was imperative to make other people happy. That it was imperative not to disappoint other people. And so to this day, my decisions and my words are dictated by that desire to make everyone else happy. My happiness became irrelevant. Or more accurately, my happiness mutated, so that it became dependent on the happiness of others.

Years of worrying about what other people think about me have worn me down, and yet I’m still worried that writing this blog post right here will disappoint people. I have ideas and perspectives and beliefs and desires that I keep to myself because they don’t fall in line with what people want to hear. If people knew what I really thought, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t like me. And for some reason, it’s so fucking important for people to like me. I know that can’t remain the case, because always worrying about making other people happy is leaving me more and more despondent.

It goes beyond my values too. So often I’m asked to do something or go somewhere and I say yeah sure okay even though I don’t want any part of it. Sometimes if I’m quick on my feet I’ll come up with a lie, but my mind isn’t usually fast enough. It’s pathetic that I even have to lie, but I do. I do it all the time to avoid telling people unpleasant things. If the truth would bring about even a mild disappointment in the person I’m dealing with, I’ll usually make up some bullshit story to cover it up.

It’s not that I haven’t tried being honest. There have been instances where I’ve told people exactly what I was doing and where I was going and who I was going with, and those people still got pissy. I’ve made attempts to state plainly and honestly what I need from others to feel better, and my words have been turned on me and I’ve been made to feel selfish and uncaring. After experiences like that, it’s all too easy to just opt for the easy ways out – childish fibbing and patsy-like agreement.

This can’t continue. I feel horrible about myself that I’m 30 years old and I still care so much about pleasing other people that I’m willing to hide things and make up stories just to avoid or delay uncomfortable conversations. How embarrassingly childish of me.

I thought that overcoming diseased, bleeding, leaky bowels was hard. Turns out it’s just as hard to rewire your character as it is to rearrange your intestines. I need to be more honest, and this blog might be a good place to start. I’ve long wanted to use this blog to better express my perspective on things unrelated to inflammatory bowel disease. If I actually turn this moment of catharsis into a turning point, there might be some more interesting content on here.

I need to learn how to speak honestly. Perhaps even more importantly, I need to learn how to face the unhappy reactions of other people, because my honest voice – should I ever find it – will make other people unhappy. If I can be more tactful in my honesty than Donald Trump is in his, that might soften the blow. Being able to balance tact and honesty will be another mighty challenge, but either I take it on or I continue on with this passive, unhappy existence.

I think my friends and family would describe me as a nice person, but building that reputation through years of acquiescence has only left me woeful. Submissiveness has only led to escalating demands to do more of what I don’t want to do and be more of who I don’t want to be. In an attempt to maintain my nice guy façade and please other people, I’ve hidden so much of my true self. I only hope now I can let that real self out.

Image via Fragaholic

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About rasheedclarke

Award-winning author. Marathon runner. Exceptional dresser. I'd like to be all those things.

3 comments

  1. Thanks for sharing that. “One of the reasons we have the feeling of “I hate my life” is because we aren’t really following our own path. Instead, we are, often subconsciously, carrying out someone else’s idea of how we should live.” This quote describes my life exactly for the last four years, maybe even longer, and was one of the reasons I sunk farther into depression and couldn’t find happiness in anything. That ended up costing me a lot more, but also put me back on a path to take care of myself better both mentally and physically. Good luck in finding happiness again. It can be a long road, sometimes seemingly with no end in sight.

  2. Hey David, thank you for sharing the fact that you’ve had a similar experience. Sometimes I wonder whether a life of being so submissive in any way influenced how I developed UC. But that’ll be a mystery until we know more about IBD. I think being more forthright will cost me too, but it’s a necessary cost in the long run. Hope you’re still making forward progress.

  3. Pingback: Aging and anxiety | Rasheed Clarke

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