How a Death by a Thousand Cuts Destroys Us 

I’ve moved. I’ve had a kidney stone. I ran over a nail. Even after getting fixed, the tire keeps losing air. My headlight went out. Lola’s been sick. I’ve had a sinus infection. Bills have piled up. I’ve had anxiety about my future. Some things I hoped would happen didn’t. I’ve had at least one fight. 

It’s been a long five weeks in other words. Like to a point I’ve had to stop and think about what I’ve talked with my therapist about in advance of Tuesday’s appointment. It’s been a tremendous amount of stress and it’s started to break me. 

This is not however an article where I cry woe is me. Kind of the opposite. I want to discuss a hard truth. When we go through such an arduous time it often makes us kind of terrible. And that’s not ok. 

I’ve noticed in the last few days just how toxic I’ve been. I’ve snapped at a few of my friends in chat. I’ve been incredibly cynical. I’ve almost sought fights. About the only area I haven’t struggled is with my wife and daughter who do make me feel calmer, despite Lola being such a key stressor this month. (Babies get a free pass. They’re babies.)

None of this is ok. Not one bit. I can’t take my issues out on other people. They don’t deserve it. 

So why do we do it in this case? Well we can’t rage against what’s actually stressing us. Random bad streaks of luck are just that: random. So there’s no outlet for the stress we feel. We’re stuck festering in our stress. 

We also take periods where small things batter us continually harder than one massive hit. There’s a psychological reason. We have mechanisms that kick in after a massive hit even if they’re grief and depression. We don’t have those for minor stressors that come at us repeatedly. (Note that I would under no circumstances call the last month a period of minor stress. I’m amazed I haven’t had worse health issues.) 

What we’re really dealing with the hits. It’s the fear of what next. Thus we get on edge as a defense. We know something else is coming so we fight off everything. And that’s not ok at all. 

It’s just so very hard to shift down, especially when you’re not sure it’s over. And I’ve tried. I meditated. I read. I listened to music. I took a drive. (Ok that one only made things worse.) Shifting gears is hard. 

Ultimately all I can do is write an entry like this where I lay out my issues and hope for unearned patience. This won’t last forever. I just need to be better.