I am the damage

I want to be rewarded for being a good person.

There, I’ve said it.

Many will say that you don’t try to be a good person, you just are a good person.

But anyone who has been damaged by life knows better. Knows that nothing is black and white, there are shades of grey to everything.

I do have to try to be a good person. It is easy to slide into my anger, resentment, and selfishness, and is something I have to resist most times. I’m not always successful. In fact, I’m not successful most times. But I try to mitigate it the best that I can.

My level of exhaustion at holding back the worst of me grows every day, despite my attempts to stop it. I feel trapped by my life, one many people would kill to have. My health is excellent. My finances are excellent. There is literally nothing stopping me from being happy, except for myself. But how do I become happy? What is it, even? Is it an attainable and sustainable state of mind?

I begin to think it isn’t. Or, it is something attainable for people with simpler expectations for their lives. Much like romantic love.

It makes me feel good when I do good things for others. I pat myself on the back and say, you’re good for doing that. The same people who often say you don’t have to try to be a good person would also say that this is doing good things for the wrong reason. But the problem is, I simply cannot help but have this reaction when I do things for others. I want to be praised. I want that little boost of affirmation that I am not a terrible human being. Because that is what I believe deep down.

A part of me wants to follow in my father’s footsteps and demand praise for doing even the most minimal of things. I showered today, praise me. I went to work, praise me. Because I am the damage, and doing things other than laying in bed or hiding from other people seem like mountains to be climbed. But there will never be reward or praise for doing things other people see as routine, as easy. Nor should there be. Only children are praised for brushing their teeth every day. And yet I crave positive reinforcement for nearly everything I do.

I understand the appeal of religion sometimes. Someone who is invisible and yet still there, who loves you and wants you to live well, who will love you no matter what. It is seductive, and I understand how many people in the worst parts of their lives succumb to it. But it rings hollow to me, and always has. Maybe I should make my own religion, with blackjack and hookers and science. None of this “women are lesser” and “homos are evil” and “books are dumb” nonsense. I’m not interested in the fanclubs. At this point, I’m almost willing to accept the emotional crutch of an invisible friend.

It’d be simple. Give a name to the part of myself that wants me to do good in my life. Have imaginary conversations. Even though I know deep down what it is, maybe it would help. Or maybe it wouldn’t.

I don’t want to wallow in the flotsam of my disordered mind. But I don’t know any other way. Is it reasonable or even expectable to assume I can even not do that? I don’t mean to sound fatalistic, like it’s inevitable and there’s no other way. I simply wonder if I have set the goal posts way, way higher than is possible. I resume beating the dead horse of earlier posts when I say, maybe just self-acceptance is all I can shoot for. Not self-realization, not some shangri-la sense of contentment. Just being okay with existence. Removing the conditioned response of my brain towards self-loathing.

That, my friends, would be enough.

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