A Story About Feeling Bad

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Tim Marshall

I think I have the best life anyone could ask for. My apartment is extremely cute and it’s next to a lake I can walk around or just read at. I have the best job in the history of jobs. I wake up when I want to and every day is filled with only things I want to do. I like myself as a person and I am loved by some very good people.

I don’t know how it’s possible that it still feels so hard.

For a long time I had this “if then” idea about my life. I would think “when I make more money, I will worry less” or “if I find more time so that I can do the things I enjoy more often, I will be happier.” I got more time and more money and it didn’t make me happier and it didn’t make me worry less. I started to realize happiness is not conditional on outside circumstances. Think about how the U.S. is a place where people have more (materially) than people in other countries, and yet at one point the best selling drug in the country was Abilify, an antipsychotic used to treat depression. Our external circumstances do not solve internal problems. Anxiety and Happiness are internal issues.

I still catch myself doing this. When someone talks about how they don’t like their body I’m like ?????? you have a husband that loves your body, how can you still be insecure because in my mind I think if a guy I loved and respected was like “your body is awesome” I would be able to accept that maybe I just have cognitive dissonance and accept that my body is okay. But I have enough experience to know this is not how it would go down. If having money didn’t make me happy when I was worried about money, someone telling me to love my body isn’t going to make me love my body. I’m still convinced it would, but I’m willing to entertain the idea that it wouldn’t. That’s a step.

One day I told the guy I was seeing at the time that I was having a bad day and he asked why and I thought about it and then I had to admit that I was literally having a bad day because I didn’t think the countertops in my apartment were nice enough. Then I started crying because I had become aware of what an insane materialistic person I am that I was feeling bad about myself and my life because of countertops. He said it was normal. It’s not about the countertops and it’s okay when little things trigger feelings because there’s something bigger behind it. Okay.

So I was sad because I was exhausted. I was thinking about money and how I am saving a lot for a down payment on a house (I don’t actually care very much about owning a house, it just seems like the thing to do) and then after I accomplish that goal I have to start saving to adopt kids (completely hypothetical, distant future thought) and then after that I have to start saving so that my kids won’t worry about me and I can pay for my own care in old age. The countertops were a feeling of “when am I going to have enough? When am I going to be able to stop?” I was starring down the barrel of a lot of decades of climbing a mountain just to discover all the other mountains behind it that needed to be climbed.

I just wanted nice countertops. I just wanted to feel like where I was in life was enough. That’s an okay thing to think and feel.

This morning I was feeling bad. Something I had been hoping wouldn’t happen happened. I imagined I would feel worse. I laid in bed and thought “I feel bad, but feeling bad isn’t that bad.” I like to cry, it feels good. I like throwing up too. There’s something about physically processing whatever is going on on the inside that is soothing to me. I cried and I thought about how I had been afraid of this very moment but it wasn’t really something that deserved to be feared, it was okay.

And then I started to get more anxious because I started to worry feeling bad today wasn’t enough. I started to worry I would feel bad tomorrow. I don’t know why it seems worse to me to feel bad tomorrow than it does to feel bad today, but it does.

I started to worry that the next time I have a boyfriend I’m not going to be able to just sit and cry when I feel bad because a lot of people don’t like crying and the people who don’t mind still feel like they need to help me and I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s day. It’s one thing to put myself through all of this, but it feels like a lot to ask of someone else. Who deserves to be with someone who is crying about not having a nice countertop?

Someone told me Betty White was 96 the other day and I got extremely stressed out. Who would want to live to be 96? I can’t imagine 6 more decades of this shit. I’m not depressed. I like being alive. Pretty much every day I feel happiness and joy and contentment over something. But there’s so much work for me to do just to be a person and it’s exhausting. Im exhausted. TC mark

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