Smart as Hell Revisited

Time goes by in a way that fools me and then it is not gone. It’s right in my fucking driveway.

Lately I have had a fatalistic feeling of being able to do nothing but wrong. People give me feedback that supports this evaluation. It is odd.

If I told you that I watch every step before my foot goes down, the exaggeration would not be too thick. This would be marvelous risk prevention if it worked. When I watch my steps today, it does not save me from stepping in the bad yesterday. The good I step in today might well be bad tomorrow. This brings on a full Alice-in-Wonderland feel. When time or learning do not matter, I become this massive, chaotic balloon with no chance of ever coming back to society, perhaps not flying into the sun but more flying so badly as to be permanently lost.

They tell me lately that I allow my emotions to wipe out the rational reactions to situations and events. It’s true that I am very emotional and this has been both an admirable quality and a defect, but lately they tell me that my rationality is not functioning. In the past, I have had extraordinary trust in my ability to reason, and others have too. It hurts my feelings more to be called irrational than it does to be called too sensitive, though both labels hurt deeply, which of course demonstrates that unwarranted sensitive side. The only hurt that is worse is when I have been told in the last few months that I am unethical or dishonest and these qualities also get attributed to my irrationality. There have been times in my life when the only thing I had left to hold on to was my integrity. I value it and it makes me cry to tell you that I have been told that I do not have integrity. But the core issue here seems to be irrationality or emotionally charged reactions to life situations and how that may hurt you when you write in emotional terms.

I’d like to discard it all as part of the depression cycle, but when I am most sick with my depression, I am most likely to hate myself for all of the things in my life regardless of whether or not I can control these things. I’ve thought about this during normal times, and I think it is asinine for someone to be unable to control his emotions, but of course that thought comes easiest when I am not in a severe depressive cycle. I have been decent about containing anger so as to minimize the number of or severity of any outbursts, but apparently, my emotions have been a silent killer.

All of this is perhaps the longest introduction to an essay topic on record, mostly because I am afraid of the topic, and I hope I have not simply made excuses.

A few months ago, in an essay not dissimilar to this one, I implied that my wife is not smart and not funny, or to be exact, I wrote that I wished I had married a woman who was “smart as hell and funny as hell.” To top that off, I wrote that no smart woman would ever marry me and that my wife had had a harmful effect on my life in some ways. In the same essay, I proclaimed my love for her and how much I valued our marriage, but of course that got buried by the derogatory statements. The essay was not about my wife, but nevertheless, those statements come across as personal attacks and on top of that, they are wrong. I’ve apologized to my wife, though my apology will never have enough weight to it.

During the time when that essay was written, our relationship had been through a rough patch, probably much of it due to my depression and inability to properly deal with people and relationships, and part of it due to how hard she was working.

I am still in that cycle, desperately awaiting some sunshine, dreadfully fearing a bad case of anhedonia which has a permanent residential feel. On most days in this cycle, my natural thought process leads me to feel as if I am without purpose, to feel as though I am meaningless, to hate myself in a literal sense. I try to fight this every day. One way to fight it is to try to reduce outside influences, and I looked at my wife and could see that she was at times dismissing the things I like to do and even at times making fun of the things that I like. Am I too sensitive? Yes. Is it funny the way she and my daughter make fun of the music I listen to? Yes (because I listen to a lot of weird stuff – often, I agree with their sentiments, but don’t tell them that). Am I too sensitive? Yes. (That last question and answer were repeated for emphasis and not due to editorial error.)

So when I said in a general way that I wished that my wife were smart as hell or funny as hell, the more accurate reflection would be that I wish that she liked the crazy things that I like (wholly unlikely). We have different tastes, and my ego was out there trying to say that she is not smart as hell because she does not like what I like in literature or music or other things of this type. The fact is that she IS smart as hell. She is smart with people. She is smart in business. She is great at managing people. She is smart with her customers. She is smart with family matters. She is smart with household issues. She is smart at personal responsibility. This is part of the list. I love all of the things she is smart at. The most amazing thing to me is how she knows how to treat every single person, whether customer or other informal contact, with whom she works, seemingly regardless of the person’s background. You might call that intuition or emotional smarts, but I see raw intelligence in that. I would love to have just a fraction of her talent in the intelligent way she works with people. I love the way she manages so many things in our lives and helps make it so I don’t screw up some of the things that I will normally screw up.

And she is funny as hell. She knows how to lighten our atmosphere. She has a great sense of humor. When we were going through our rough time, she wasn’t funny at all, but there was no space to be funny. When we have space to have a sense of humor, we have a terrific time.

Sitting here now, when I try to place my smarts next to hers, I feel rather stupid. I like to think I am smart about the arts, but that’s not true at all. I merely have passion for the arts. There is no gift in my small brain for the arts. I’m pretty damn good with numbers (not necessarily math but financial numbers and managing numbers in a way that allows me to find fraud, this being meaningless since our computers are fully capable), and though my wife does not exhibit brilliance in that area, she certainly has the capability. With her, she likes to focus her efforts on the people side of the world, and because I am seemingly allergic to people, I like to focus on the numbers side of the world or the emotional core of the arts.

Bottom line, I don’t hold a stick to her intelligence in all of those ways that help make our world work in a good fashion. I am fortunate I married such a smart woman, and I am sure grateful a smart woman married me.

In order to offset the length of my introduction, my conclusion will be this: I am lucky to be married to my wife, good times and bad times, and I hope it stays that way forever.

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  1. #1 by Evelyn on March 28, 2011 - 7:46 pm

    This is raw and amazing.
    altho I read the essay you speak of and it only made me think good things about your wife. I didnt get the impression you were talking down about her.
    You are both lucky to have each other and a loving history.
    You are a good man Carl.

    • #2 by Carl on March 28, 2011 - 8:34 pm

      Thank you for your comment. Sometimes we have a story we must tell, and this time, I hope I told the WHOLE truth!

  2. #3 by Life: Between the lines on March 28, 2011 - 7:52 pm

    ..and after such a great essay I hope there is an awesome make-up sexion :p lol

    I enjoyed the write. It seems that opposites attract in this story but it is also true that marriage is more than love but compromise, being there for each other. I think it is smart of you to point that out in the story. I enjoyed the lil bit of the read on family life here and hope someday I will have someone write such lovely things about me….uhm excluding the wish to be smart as hell part lol

    • #4 by Carl on March 28, 2011 - 8:36 pm

      LOL, You’re the best! I appreciate your comment, and I am here to tell you, you are smart as hell – Nothing to fear about that!

  3. #6 by carldagostino on March 29, 2011 - 8:56 pm

    An important part of surviving with depression is to know we have it. That it twists us and hurts and immobilizes and an aura of gloom surrounds us. It is a mental illness. It is like a bad trip. It is not real There is no justification to feel this way most often and yet we do. If you know the demon and how he works you have an advantage and can chase him out if you just get good and stubborn and refuse to be ridden by the horse. There should be no stigma whether self imposed or from external sources. Talk therapy and perhaps meds can help and allow us to be somewhat free of the demon. At least our quality of life will improve. Obviously you are examining others, your relationship with others and yourself. I think it is healthy to do a life inventory like this. Your have certainly come to a positive conclusion after having done so.

    • #7 by Carl on March 29, 2011 - 10:28 pm

      Awareness is critical, and learning those cognitive strategies that allow us to fight the demon even when we are beaten down, those things are what keeps us alive.

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