StressI lived in England for a year without Mrs Zen 13 years ago, and I
don't remember being sick for a single day in that year. I had
dysentery in India but all the colds and viruses that people fall prey
to gave me a wide berth. I was in very good health.
Even when we went back with Zenella, I don't recall being sick very
much. And if I think back over my life, I was always robust. I was
even fairly well in Australia, when we first moved here. I had a spell
of tiredness, and had blood tests that revealed that I had had
glandular fever but otherwise, I think I was mostly healthy.
For the past year or so at least, and maybe longer, though memory
fails me, I have constantly had colds, throat infections, headaches.
They say that stress can cause sickness, and I'm beginning to believe
it. My day to day is not particularly stressful (which is a cause of
stress in itself) but they say that stress can be caused above all by
lack of control in your life.
I don't doubt that I lack control. The two big things in your life if
you are an everyday person are your work and your home. I work in a
dreary, thankless job, totally unsuited to my abilities, such as they
are, and my temperament. I struggle with focus, yet I work in a job
that demands it. Why don't I change? I think about it, but what to? I
have to support a family and rent is an incessant pressure that no one
can ignore. One of the worst ways a bad world is organised is that we
are enslaved to each other for our shelter. Land has always been
central to human conflict and human pain, since we first settled and
started saying this is mine.
I am just not very good at seeing the way out of things. When I was
younger, I wished I had someone to guide me, to help me see
possibilities in life. I generally feel as though I live in an
enclosed space, which extends a few yards from me, and everything
outside that seems unreal.
I needed expectations. People stopped expecting anything of me when I
was 14 or so, and I lived down to their revised view of me. I know
people feel it is a character failing not to have an internal locus of
control but saying so doesn't fix it. The doctor's job does not end at
diagnosing the problem; they must also cure it.
It's no secret that I have no control over where I live, and that
makes me profoundly unhappy. I mean, I can choose, but then I simply
exchange one thing I can't control for another: I get to choose to
live somewhere I hate or never see my kids. I love them more than I
hate Brisbane. But it has drained my vitality, created such a huge
suck on everything good in my life. Now I barely have a life at all. I
just can't build one.
I feel like I am imprisoned. Like in jail, I am surrounded by people
differently motivated from me. Their love of money, insularity and
conservatism combine to make them dull, uninspiring people. I don't
claim not to be dull or to be inspiring, but I like to laugh. Now I
live among people who only laugh when other people fall over.
There is nothing I can do about it. I am stuck here until or unless
Mrs Zen dies. (I don't wish death on her. I have tried, and I do not
have it in me.) She could have chosen to do the right thing, so that
we could both have a life with a hope of happiness. But her
selfishness and lack of desire to take responsibility for her actions
prevented her from considering doing anything but stay where she was
and expect the world to revolve around her.
I do try. I do count my blessings. But we are how we're made.
Sometimes I'm overwhelmed with the feeling I'm not worth bothering
with. No one much bothers with me, so it's hard not to feel it's
merited. I had a terrible time for years, peaking when I split up from
Mrs Zen. I was lucky that I did have support: from A, who I do not
deserve, and from E, who probably didn't realise how much she helped
me in a difficult time and how much it hurt that she stopped thinking
I was worth the trouble knowing me causes.
The grinding disparity between how smart I am and how capable I am of
coping causes me more stress than anything. I hate being worthless,
wasting my life on pointless things that no one values, but I am
unable to move on from any of it. When I was younger, I felt as though
no one understood that all of my blessings seemed to come coupled with
curses. I'm clever, but my mind is restless; I'm capable, but I need
to be pointed in the right direction; I'm passionate, but I am prone
to rage; I'm gentle, but I am meek; I'm kind, but I'm needy.
I look around and I see a world full of people who are comfortable
with who they are. In their shoes, I wouldn't be, but they don't seem
to mind what they are or how they feel about the world. I am not
envious of what they achieve; I am only envious of their sense of
comfort with themselves.
I don't know what to do. Grit my teeth and bear it seem all that's
open to me. Make the most of my family. Try not to waste too much time
on computer games or reading fiction. Build a website. Try to dream
again. Ignore how pointless and wasted my life seems. Stay alive and
try to prosper.