Love and Duty

So I’m in therapy, right? It’s something I talk about openly, because hey, we’re all a little crazy and it shouldn’t be a scarlet letter that we try to hide. That being said, it has helped me a great deal, so I would recommend therapy to anyone. Notwithstanding my shameless plug that everyone should go to therapy, he and I, and by he and I, I mean me, had an epiphany yesterday. To preface the epiphany, it’s important to note that I have feelings (*GASP* you don’t say?!) Well, I do say. However, I generally don’t acknowledge them, because having been raised in a religious household, I tried to become the best little boy in the world (Nothing against you, Mom. Just a survival mechanism). Except it didn’t stop when I moved out. I kept putting down the bad feelings, focusing instead on the good feelings that I got from accomplishing things. The adulation from my parents and others, the sense of accomplishment, etc. I like those.

But the bad feelings, such as fear, anger, resentment, sadness, inadequacy, I put down and turned into fuel to keep me accomplishing things (because being accomplished is exhausting work). That has, frankly, become unsustainable. To temper this, therapy isn’t a silver bullet for me. I’m still going to intellectualize things, look for empirical data on which to make decisions, and generally not emote too much. But what I am going to do is acknowledge my feelings. The good, the bad, and the ugly of them. But most importantly, I am going to work on figuring out when to stop. When enough is enough. Because, frankly, I haven’t quit a single damn thing I’ve ever started. When I was in high school, my Mom started back to Uni to finish her degree, so I was left to finish school on my own (not throwing shade, Mom.) So I did. I finished. I finished out a kids club at my local Church. I finished home school because it was the dutiful thing to do. I’m pursuing my undergrad and then a law degree because its the dutiful thing to do. I have, most importantly, stayed friends with and been in relationships with (Not throwing shade, Jay.) people who make me miserable because it was the dutiful thing to do. In short, I didn’t listen to my emotions when they said, “Hey! That guy is an asshole! Don’t be friends!” Or “Hey! Doing this makes you miserable, stop.”

I remember that my first relationship ever made me miserable. I was going through the motions, doing all of the things a good boyfriend would do, but I wouldn’t break up with her because of duty. However, it didn’t matter. She broke up with me because of emotion. That left me pretty crushed, because I felt as though I hadn’t been enough for her. However, looking back, I realize that she did it because us being together didn’t make her feel good. And that’s totally a thing that I never realized. On the flip side, I broke up with another girl because she was far more advanced than I. She was more accomplished, dedicated, and driven. She was going to go away to graduate school, move to the big city, and do amazing things. My progress just wasn’t fast enough. So I broke up with her because I would be damned if I held her back. Now, I don’t know how that would’ve gone. I don’t know if she would’ve stayed in Utah if I’d asked her to. But out of a sense of duty to her, I couldn’t let things progress. The difference between the two is striking. I will stay in a situation, even if I’m miserable, because of duty, but I will terminate something wonderful out of a sense of duty. Apparently my life is just a big ol’ pile of Duty.

But the most disturbing facet of this is the effect this has on my depression. It’s analogous to a hurricane. They’re formed when ocean temperatures meet the right conditions, then a tropical depression forms. Then, if the conditions continue, a hurricane forms. At which point, it becomes self-sustaining. My environment growing up forced me to be prudent, in what I said, how I acted, what I did, in addition to the need to be accomplished to make up for being bisexual/gay (whichever you’re more comfortable with). Ultimately, it became self-sustaining. When I moved out of my family’s house, I stayed in environments which, whether it’s real or perceived, I felt the need to continue to be accomplished. Realizing that has made me very sad, because I don’t know what I enjoy anymore or if the things which I am involved with are actually things I enjoy, because I am quite capable of enjoying things that I wouldn’t otherwise do if I am doing it out of a sense of duty. So now, much like Descartes, I have to painstakingly examine everything, and focus on how it feels. Some things are going to get tossed out, some things will stay, but you know what? That’s OK. It’ll make my life better.

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