Chaos Theory, aka The Butterfly Effect

Over the past several months, I have had a slow progressive spiral down towards serious depression. I know that I am prone to depression, so I do whatever I can to avoid it. It’s not a fun place to be. Sometimes, sheer will is the only thing that gets me through the day. The past two weeks have been especially hard on me. I have known for 26 years that my left knee is bum. A combination of patella-femoral syndrome and arthritis, so I’ve spent roughly 68% of my life favoring that leg because of the pain and stiffness. Finally, things came to a head and on Saturday, the 7th, my right knee decided that it’s had enough and it collapsed beneath me. The bright spot in this event is that it happened when I was walking up the stairs on my way into work, so I do have worker’s comp helping me out, but it’s a slow, bureaucratic filled process, and my knee is not getting better on its own, as far as I can tell. I’m waiting for approval to get physical therapy, which hopefully would make everything all better again. Unfortunately, it appears that it is either a severely sprained or torn lateral meniscus, so PT probably won’t do a whole lot, but I can’t do anything else until I get past this next step. That’s not really what this post is about. That was just a mini-vent, because I’m in pain, and being in pain for long periods of time is a known contributor to depression.

On to the real statement of this post.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life. I’m sure I’m not alone. I accept that they are my mistakes, and I have to deal with the fallout from the choices I make in life, including mistakes. I’ve come to the conclusion that every single bad choice I have made in my life is because I have chosen to put the needs and/or desires of someone else before my own wants/needs. There is a reason why flight attendants always tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping other people. If you are helping other people before helping yourself, they are going to benefit – which is a good thing – but you are going to suffer for it – which is a bad thing. Being the type of person who tries to please others whenever possible, I forget that sometimes I need to make decisions based on what is going to be best for me, first. I know that sounds a bit selfish, but I still think it’s true. The only major decision I’ve ever made in my life where I put my own needs first was when I packed up my life and moved from California to North Carolina. I knew I was unhappy, and that I needed to do something drastic before I became one of those people you see on TLC or MTV reality shows. Living in the Carolinas – both North and South – are some of the happiest years in my life, barring a few bad events. Again, those bad events happened because I put someone else’s needs before my own.

I’m alive, but I’m not living my life. Everything I do is because I’m trying to make someone else happy. Somewhere, along the line, I subconsciously decided that my own happiness was not as important. That’s just plain stupid. I deserve to be happy, but I know that in order to get that back, I need to start evaluating every aspect of my life and deciding which things I’m doing because they are beneficial to my well-being, or if I’m doing it because I think that it’s the expected thing to do to make someone else happier or to make their life easier.

I’m 38 years old, and I’m having a mid-life crisis. Unfortunately, unless we’re using a very, very loose interpretation of “mid-life” (as in, it’s happening at some point between being born and dying), I’m well past the mid-point in my life expectancy. The worst part of always trying to make other people happy is when it doesn’t work, and then both you and that other person are unhappy. I have said ad nauseum that I want to get out of California, because this state is sucking away at whatever happiness I have left. So, it’s time to play with some butterflies, and set some changes in motion that are going to make me a happier person. I’m tired of hiding my unhappiness, and the fact that I’m always in pain, and that I feel like no one cares about me. I know that last part is the depression talking to me, but it’s a very convincing whisper repeated in my brain endlessly. I want to be happy. I’m scared of doing anything that is going to make someone else unhappy, but I can’t keep living that way. From now on,  I promise myself that every choice I make will consider whether I am doing it to make myself happy or to make someone else happy. If the answer is that it only makes the other person happy, it’s just too bad for that person. I need to start focusing on myself. It’s time to write down my list of goals, and get back on track to finding my way back to happiness.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Hab
    Sep 19, 2013 @ 07:55:45

    Hey Es, wanted to just encourage you to find those things that make YOU happy and find a way to incorporate them in your life. Life IS too short to just do the minimum and do for others all the time with no thought to what brings your life meaning. There is so much pain… That I cannot help you with except send you love, prayers and good thoughts – I have tried everything throughout the years to deal with it – sometimes successful for the moment, other times, not so much. In any case, I do know what it is like to deny yourself the other stuff (it doesn’t matter, we tell ourselves, or have time to do it later, always later). The problem is, later never comes, and you have just ended up filling years up with the details of living a less than life. I have a few years on you, and hope that you will not do what I have done, which is what I have just described. I can’t say there have not been moments of happiness or contentment… there have, and I am thankful for those. But to lose who you are and what really makes you special/happy in the minutia of the never-ending little chores of life… well, I think that is the real tragedy.


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