Many roads lead to the place called Miserable:
Pretend. You smile when you want to cry. You want to make sure everyone knows how happy you are, even when you aren’t. Everything’s great, everything’s perfect. So grateful! So blessed! So wonderful! Pretend loves the way you have mastered your Game Face.
Pretend’s close cousin, Ignore, is usually present on the scene as well. Ignore loves the company of Pretend. Pretend that nagging pain is really nothing, no big deal. Ignore it. Pretending that that nagging pain has no emotional trigger in your psyche, in your soul. Ignore it, maybe it will go away. Nah, none of that stuff is connected. Pretend you love your job when it is sucking the life out of you. Keep going. Pretend your committed relationship is based on kindness and mutual respect when it is anything but. Oh well. Pretend everything is perfect, balanced when nothing is either.
Settle. Settling is the King of So-So Land. So-So Land is a place of beaten-down souls, of quiet and subtle misery. Settling is insidious. Settling is a big lie cloaked in fake smiles and little lies. Settling keeps you in situations, in relationships, in ideas that don’t work for you, that don’t serve you, that don’t nourish you. Settling is the fuel of the mediocre. Settling is a way of feeling in control — you can feel on top of so-so and, really, it is so much easier than taking chances and going for something better, bigger than so-so, right? Settling is a lie that’s easy to swallow…until it’s not.
Hide. Hiding from the world. Hiding from the truth. Hiding from what you really need, what you really want. Hiding is lying that feels harmless, benevolent even. Hiding from it because facing it is scary as hell. Hiding that which is messy, unpalatable, un-pretendable. Hiding makes you think, at least for a time, that you are so on top of everything. Hiding carries with it a false sense of superiority: I am stronger than this, I am smarter than this. I can hide it, no matter how strong and powerful it is, I am stronger and more powerful. I will hide it for as long as I choose — perhaps forever — and I will call the shots. It won’t rear its ugly head because I am in charge. I got this.
Rationalize. I can live with miserable. I can live with mediocre. Life is supposed to be tough. Life is hard. Life is about sacrifice. It’s for the kids. It’s for my parents. It’s for the money. It’s because of what happened in my childhood. It’s because of what didn’t happen in my childhood. It’s because of my future. I am so much happier this way. No, really. It’s because the evil I know is better than the evil I don’t know. It’s better this way. I need to protect him. She needs me. They can’t do it without me. I need to put his needs before mine. Maybe I deserve it. Maybe she doesn’t know any better. Maybe it is better this way. Everyone is better off. Yes, it is definitely better this way.