Magical Thinking

There’s a quote in Augusten Burrough’s “Magical Thinking” that I love:

“I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

That’s me, pretty much to the letter.

I had good intentions of keeping things super light here and not addressing some issues, but I also don’t want to be dishonest and act like everything’s fine every day. So today you get this crap.

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Long story short-ish, the past few months my OCD, exercise, weight, depression, etc. have really been kicking my ass. Everything except spacing out on the couch or exercising makes me uncomfortable. When I get uncomfortable my instinct isn’t to sit back and evaluate why, but rather to simply escape.

Quickly.

Enter the (maladaptive) behaviors I associate with relief. But the problem is it’s never enough, and it becomes harder to sit with the most fleeting feelings of discomfort. (And when you’re depressed, there’s a lot of discomfort.)

In other words, it’s a temporary fix for a permanent predicament—that “life” will always happen and things are always in flux.

I guess it’s a little comforting to know that what we all struggle with in our lives can be acknowledged as ordinary experience. Everybody feels the pain of not getting what they want or getting what they don’t want, and most of the time it’s not because they suck and can’t get things right.

It’s life, and we’re not the only ones who feel we can’t keep it all together.

But sometimes the internal issues offer no rhyme or reason—no big life event you can cite—which makes you feel kind of crazy and write blog posts like this.

Because even though my intentions are good — I know I’m not a horrible person — I cancel plans because it might interrupt my “safe” routine. I do a good job at work, but don’t enjoy it or the fact that I’m stuck at a desk for the day. I’m pretty sure at times I come off as a flake.

I’m not a flake.

I’m trying to get by. And while I know these bizarre things I do for self-preservation are technically making my life more complicated, it’s a “comfortable” complicated. I pretend I can deal with that better than I can deal with reality without them.

So why write this? I don’t know.

It doesn’t have some great motivational moment to end with other than the fact that my insecurity over publishing it trumps any insecurity you might have if you relate to anything written.

I can also add that if you do relate to anything here, just know that I pledge to try every day. Most days I fail, but I try.

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Maybe that’s it.

Maybe it’s so you (we) remember it’s easy to get sucked into online personalities presented in an edited version of reality, one where we’re often  given the good parts and a sliver of the flaws, just enough so that people relate. We forget that it’s only what they want us to see. 

Of course I’m envious of those who don’t have to deal with this stuff and can just be “okay” without so much effort, but I’m not ashamed that I have issues.

You should never be ashamed.

So while my next post is back to humor—writer’s block, be damned—this one exposes my flaws. After all, “I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions.”

Magical thinking, indeed.

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40 responses to “Magical Thinking

  1. Wow. I love this. Thank you. Do not be ashamed your perceived weaknesses; to others they may be the oddities that mould your uniqueness and sculpt your beauty.

    • Nah, I’ve never been ashamed of my flaws. Despite wishing I could just be “better” and healthy, I also know that my challenges help shape who I am. I’m more empathetic towards others and when my head’s not up my ass or buried under the covers, I really draw strength from the challenges I face. Sometimes. ;)

  2. Yes, I know this place. Am there.
    Not ashamed, just wanting to feel different, feel better.

    <3, here's the hug I can't give you in person.

  3. *claps wildly* Wonderful – and GOOD FOR YOU for publishing it. You are so right about people only seeing certain angles of others online, but you’re a step ahead of many people in that you’re so aware of, and realistic about, your issues. I know how hard these things are to write, let alone publish. I hope you’re as glad you published it as I am. :)

  4. This post proves it. I receive you in my inbox, and read you every time you post, but when you pull at my soul by showing me just how much like me you are, I have to come over and hug you, to let you know how much this saves me. I wallow in my own stuff and look at everyone else being made of teflon and making it through all t his shit out there, and I wonder why oh why can’t I just stand straight and push on through. and the pity party begins, and i feel alone again. and then you post this, THIS, and I’m here, my people my tribe my community. the internet has been saving my life for four years now. thank you, abby, for being in it. xo

  5. Such a great reminder! Thank you!

  6. Amen. http://wp.me/p3QEq4-n7
    I hear you on wrestling those interruptions from the ‘safe’. But, as my therapist said – its called growth, and even when it feels like a circle, its actually a spiral. We’re not Sisyphus and that boulder isn’t come back down. Its just that bumpy road uphill.

    • Eventually the new can become the new “safe,” as “safe” can often keep you sick. I’m just always expecting that boulder to come crashing back down.

  7. YES. I feel you on this completely. Especially since I’ve been dating an extroverted outgoing person, I sometimes panic that I’m not interacting with more people all the time or going out/doing things enough. But in reality, I get more anxious if I don’t have time to just chill and stay within my comfortable and safe schedule. It really is comforting reading your posts and commenters saying they feel the same way.

    • Amen. I also realize there’s a difference between introversion and isolation, and it’s the latter that is quite maladaptive. There’s a balance we need to seek out, I suppose.

  8. True, we do only get a glimpse of the true person behind the blog/writing, and mostly it’s what they/you/we want others to see. But, I like to think that if you pay attention, you see what is beneath. At least somewhat. Everyone has their demons and issues they are dealing with. Nobody is just an entertaining comedienne all the time. We all struggle. You are not alone. This post is a brilliant way to demonstrate that. We’re all going through something and trying our damnedest to put on that “got my shit together” facade at work, on the blog, with our families and in life in general. And a lot of times, all we can do is get through the day. That is our victory. You are definitely not alone, Abby. We are all held together by all of our flaws. Keep on keeping on.

    • You can tell when the writer is genuine and when their blog is simply a commercial endorsement for what they want you to see. I know I’m not alone with this crap, even though it’s different for everyone, which is why I sometimes just spew it all out there. While I’m not glad anyone can relate–I wish everyone was happy ALL THE TIME–I’m glad that someone can relate, if that makes sense. ;)

  9. Bless you. We all, everyone of us, have issues of some kind or another. I especially love your comment that its “easy to get sucked into online personalities.” You hit that nail right on its head.

  10. I am currently spinning like the hamster on the wheel. I get it. (you)

  11. Abby, I really appreciate your honesty – always. I’d never seen that Emerson quote and need to copy it down. Perhaps I should put your whole post on a bathroom mirror sticky! That’s my version of a display at the Louvre. If it makes it to the bathroom mirror, it’s art. Thank you for writing.

  12. Love you Abs.

  13. I think the name of your blog says it all. We all have issues.

  14. have struggled with depression my entire adult life, and was considered a melancholy child. I have spent 15 years on a variety of anti-depressants with good results but bad side effects. Finally quit with the help of 5 Htp. Keeping my fingers crossed. I am an introvert living in an extroverted world as many of us are. Some days, you can only put one foot in front of the other, but dare not lay down. You are a lovely person who brings a breath of fresh air and humor into all of our imperfect lives and we love you for it!

    • “Some days, you can only put one foot in front of the other, but dare not lay down.”

      I love that so, so much. Thank you for leaving this comment. Thank you so much.

  15. It’s weird when world collide. I love your writing. And I share your struggles and insecurities. And we also share a love of Augusten Burrough’s writing apparently. Don’t ever apologize for writing posts like this. This is you that feels most like me. The stuff I connect with and think, “Oh my god, someone else gets me! I’m not a total fucking freak!” We all have issues, the brave put them out there and try to work through them with a very quiet indoor voice.

  16. It takes courage to show your flaws. To put it out there for all the world to see. I admire you for that. For me, that is in short supply. Enjoyed your article.

  17. I enjoyed reading this:)

  18. Thank you for sharing! I can completely relate and sometimes it’s all you can do: just get up and keep. on. going. xoxo

  19. I love the funny stuff, but I also really appreciate the honest stuff. This is relatable and real, and makes you and your blog that much more enjoyable.

  20. I like it when you show me vulnerable abs…every time.

    hang in there, slick

    *fist bump*

  21. Augusten Burroughs is one of my favorite contemporary writers. I have read each of his books many times over.

    issues, we all have them. I cannot begin to understand an actual depression. I have seen many varieties of it, and think you are amazing in the way you deal. thank you for this heartfelt and honest writing.

  22. I am glad you wrote this.

  23. Flaws = Character = Interesting life.

    Depression passes…angst fades…words remain, and yours are a blessing. Remember that, damnit.

  24. It’s great to see someone being so honest about their life. We live in a digital world where everything is screened to make us look perfect. Sometimes it is had to remember that.

  25. I puffy heart you right back my friend.
    Not only am I not ashamed of my flaws, I own and embrace them. If I can take advantage of my OCD ways, you best believe I’m gonna.
    I like the softer side of Abby. It’s kinda like The softer side of Sears, but better.

  26. Get it. I’m with you.Too tired to elaborate at this moment, perhaps from wrestling my own demons all day, but thanks. It’s always good to know you’re not the only one out there. As for OCD, it just sucks. Props to you for being open about it. So glad I found your blog.

  27. “Long story short-ish, the past few months my OCD, exercise, weight, depression, etc. have really been kicking my ass. Everything except spacing out on the couch or exercising makes me uncomfortable. When I get uncomfortable my instinct isn’t to sit back and evaluate why, but rather to simply escape. Quickly”

    Oh, Abby. I COMPLETELY understand. I have been ABSOLUTELY miserable for the past few months as well – thus my lack of posting – or reading/commenting on blogs.

    Luckily, I’ve been slowly forcing myself out of the funk.

    BIG FAT HUGS

  28. If it were up to me I would curl up in my blanket and not come out for months. I like safe. I like uneventful. But your candidness is great and I wish you the best.

  29. I super-duper relate to this, especially right now! I feel like my best days are when I manage to survive and feel OK… mostly lows and mediums and not too many highs!

  30. Ah, thank you for this Abby!! It’s so nice to know we’re not alone in our weird spaces. And this: ‘But the problem is it’s never enough, and it becomes harder to sit with the most fleeting feelings of discomfort. (And when you’re depressed, there’s a lot of discomfort.)” totally nailed it for me. Sometimes, like today, I end up just sort of speed walking around my house wringing my hands because I don’t know what to do but I can’t sit down because sitting is when the feelings attack haha. Also, from the title I thought you were referencing Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking which made me worry about you more than a little because if we’re talking depression using that book is like throwing a brick through the window so there will be more oxygen to fan flames burning down the house. Clearly Augusten Borroughs: much better choice. (Don’t get me wrong, I did really appreciate Didion’s book! It’s just I can only read it in certain frames of mind and this one isn’t it.)

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