Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Feelings and Other Terrifying Things

I'm pretty stressed out right now.

It was this or a Twenty One Pilots video.
So obviously, this.
It's that whole Coronavirus thing. It's that whole Is the economy going to collapse? thing. It's that whole Precocious-Daughter's-education-on-hold thing. It's that whole "Our President is a not just a moron but an evil moron" thing.

Stress can be punctuated in many ways. Cool cool cool.

I recognize that I'm in good shape relative to many. PDaughter and I are both healthy. My job is in no danger (in fact, I work for an Essential Business, so I actually get to leave the house and go to work every morning, even under a shelter in place order). I'm sure PDaughter's university will get back to the business of educating minds and draining wallets as soon as it can.

And of course, there's an election in November.

Maybe his lizard overlords will claim him before then.
Here's something interesting: We all cope with fear and anxiety in our own way. From a behavioral standpoint, you have your busy-workers: the cookers, the cleaners, the crafters, the exercisers. Then there are the suppressors: those who sleep, who drink, who tune out and drop out. I've heard there are even some who cope by engaging with life normally and in moderation.

Like Rodents of Unusual Size, I don't think they exist.

They're out there, and they're kind of weird.
I tend to ping-pong between busying and suppressing, and somehow manage to be neither productive nor successfully benumbed. I pretty much suck at coping, behaviorally speaking.

Now, emotionally...of course, people process emotions in varying ways. Emotional regulation is an important life skill. It allows us to operate on a psychologically healthy wavelength under most circumstances (unless you're President Reptile Face up there). When we regulate our emotions, we can control, compartmentalize, express, empathize, forbear, respond...all those good human reactions to sensory input that keep us sane and whole.

Some people are programmed to auto-regulate. They tend to process emotions on a closed circuit, relying on internalized standards and checkpoints that are more or less independent of outward influences. They don't wear their heart on their sleeve, and they typically don't want or need to "talk it out" to come to terms with how they feel.

Sorta like this.

Other people are...not that. Other people (see how I'm cleverly throwing you off by talking about "other people"?) seek validation of what they're feeling. They want to compare their emotional state to something outside themselves, to get feedback, to be reassured that they're operating within normal parameters. It's not they can't regulate; they just do it on a more communal, open circuit. They're the proverbial open book when it comes to emotions.

...and sorta like this.
Hey, you guys! Neither type of emotional regulation is better than the other. They're just different. The important thing to remember is that different people have different needs when it comes to processing things like stress, fear, and worry. And many people who cohabitate are discovering that very thing, as the current pandemic has them spending more time together in closer quarters than they're used to.

If you take an inny-regulator and an outy-regulator, who normally have time and space and opportunity to handle what life throws at them in the way they're comfortable with, and squeeze them into one living space for basically 24 hours a day with no one else around to act as either a buffer or a sounding board...

It's less ugly when illustrated with cats.
So, Drunkards who live with other people, that may be why you and your loved one/roommate/parent/child are at each other's throats more than usual. Try to understand that you and they may operate on a different emotional wavelength, and try to be respectful of what they need, even if it's outside your normal mode of operation.

Another thought.

If you are physically separated from someone you love, you should also be aware of those differing approaches to coping with stress.

Because if you want to be reinforced and reassured by someone who can't actually give you a hug or hold your may get nothing from them at all.

They may be efficiently and rationally self-regulating in their corner of the world and not even realize that you're drowning in yours.

And if you're happier dealing with things by yourself...

...then I guess you're pretty fortunate right now.

Be well and be safe, Drunkards.


  1. I've found working from home oddly enjoyable, and I count myself lucky that I have a job that allows that, although I'm also starting to feel a little trapped, and worrying about loved ones who I think might actually drink aquarium cleaner.
    I think a good way for me to deal with the stress is to limit my intake of news, and specifically completely avoid "news" when it comes in the form of "daily briefings".

  2. Suzannah, who's running my Facebook page which you know of, is in England and stuck there until this Moronavirus claptrap finally peters out. She was supposed to be with me right now. It's been over a year since we last touched, kissed, made love, and we don't want to be apart, so this is rather stressful, yes.


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