I'm Less Impulsive Now

I'm over my family. I'm over it. I'm tired of writing about them, and I cut them out because they took too much energy that I reserved for counselling and surviving each week. Now I can finally move on and get back to processing my abuse like popping a pimple and squeezing all the juice out. Lots of people change their relationships when they go through rehab and therapy, and I just don't really care anymore. Extricating myself from my family of origin was difficult, but six months feels like the right amount of time to get over it for me. On with the show.

I'm a pretty impulsive person. I do some things without really weighing the costs and benefits, but now I'm actually stopping to consider the ramifications before making my decisions. For instance, one law of my life is that I always forget something wherever I'm hanging out, eg. phone, sunglasses, wallet, mugs, etc. It hits me that I forgot something usually just shortly after leaving -- not too far to go back, but far enough to be annoying to turn around. I used to automatically turn around, then after heading back for a bit, I would decide against picking it up. It's like watching hockey when someone is deking out their opponent, except there's nobody playing against me but myself. I would spin around multiple times, saying "yes, I need it, no I don't, yes I do, no I don't." Now I'll actually stop and consider if it's necessary. This also translates to larger life decisions, so I'm moving in the right direction.

This may not be a big deal for you, but it is for me. I would sometimes have these out of body experiences, observing myself not doing what I thought I should. I attribute this shortcoming partly to my impulsivity. "I shouldn't drink fizzy sugary drinks. Why did I just order a Coke from the waiter just now? I know I shouldn't have. There's that big Mother Jones article on how bad sugar is for you, and there's also that documentary on Netflix." You'd get mad at Siri if you were driving and they detected a new traffic jam but still navigated you right into it. We have that expectation for artificial intelligence, but what about human intelligence?

This week reinforced for me that there are different kinds of knowledge. I never used to value confidence with respect to fashion. Looking good makes you feel good, and sometimes that makes you live better. I used to think my fashion sense was flawed and I didn't trust it, but now I'm learning that I'm very picky. It took me months to find the perfect t-shirt. I like American Apparel Power Wash Tees because they're long enough for my extended torso, they're plain, they wash well, they're easy to get, and most importantly, they're consistent.

I never used to value my relationship with myself, trusting my instincts and (large) gut. You just stuff down all your problems, right? Logic and reasoning alone won't change behaviours or lives because there are emotional and physical knowledge which were needed to dissolve part of my intellectual inflexibility. It's like I didn't have control of my body, but now I feel like I'm regaining some. It's like performing a reverse exorcism, I'm getting my spirit back slowly, and the most recent signal has been my ability to process and integrate new information into my day to day life. I think flexibility and elasticity are strong indicators of a person's overall health, and now I'm better able to roll with the punches. Trauma is all about the frozen state, so it feels good to be able to both handle new information on a shorter timeline and then process it adequately.

Someone told me this week that I should wish my dad Happy Father's Day. Now for me, that makes absolutely no sense to do, but let's break down the situation. The old me would have taken the time to explain why that made no sense, controlling my environment and peers to make it safer for myself. Why would I break a long-standing shunning for a simple holiday? I want a relationship with my dad where every day can be father's day. I treat my father-in-law like that. Even though we have Sunday dinner every week, sometimes I'll just call him or visit, and I'll look for ways where I can help him out, whether by translating, listening, asking for help from him, providing advice, helping him to understand his iPhone, spending quality time, or being a good big brother to Billy. Instead of trying to explain to this person why it made no sense to wish for my dad to have a happy father's day (actually, I think his birthday just passed recently too), I made the split-second decision to politely agree but not ultimately do it. I reasoned that no good could come from another discussion with them about my crusade against my family, especially when they started the conversation by saying they didn't want me to get mad when they shared their great idea. This world is just a giant shit storm, so you can't yell at the sky when poop lands on you. Rather, you build a little poop shelter and prepare for the next time it happens.

Work is getting harder and busier, but I'm able to handle it better, even if I'm passing out after work for two to three hours. Previously, I would have refused projects or declined to learn new processes, but there is more room on my plate now. Things are shifting for me lately. There's a gym I used to not go to, and they had a neat motivational quote on their wall.

"It doesn't get any easier. You just get better."

I feel like I'm getting better, and one way I can tell is that I'm less impulsive. You'll know I'm totally better when I'm able to stop drinking fizzy sugary drinks.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le