Thursday, March 27, 2008

manufacturing misery

manufacturing misery.

can you just see lucy & ethel working at the factory as it pours off the assembly line? more misery, coming right up. manufacturing misery. i heard that line at the OA retreat and it rang like a gong in my head.

it's taken from the AA big book on pg. 133:

We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us. But it is clear that we made our own misery. God didn't do it. Avoid then the deliberate manufacture of misery, but if trouble comes, cheerfully capitalize it as an opportunity to demonstrate His omnipotence.

Avoid then the deliberate manufacture of misery.


liam and i have known each other for 25 years now and i have coined a phrase that describes a behavior he has - i call it "precasting" - it is the tendency to decide in advance how someone will respond to a situation so as to excuse yourself of having to follow through on a confrontation, conversation or interaction. it is mental gymnastics at the olympic level. and it looks so much like manufacturing misery.

in my own life this looks like the paranoia i have after interactions in public and my community. i rehash and replay every word i uttered, every interplay that happened and rake myself over the coals of regret and shame sure that everyone at the event is laughing at me and talking behind my back. i manufacture misery in costco size boxes.

Avoid then the deliberate manufacture of misery.

our daughter pink teaches me so much about myself in watching her navigate through middle school. i see her fears, watch her insecurities and struggles and find myself in and amongst her pain. poor lamb. the journey to womanhood isn't easy at all - but for those of us who are introverts with very little self confidence it is excruciating and lonely.

i can see how she holds back in social situations, i can read the anxiety on her face at youth group. will they include me? will i fit in? will i be able to bring myself to walk up to the group of girls who seem so able and become one of the group? i feel her pain. i know that even today those same thoughts and fears run through my head as i am faced with the need to meet and greet and make small talk when i would rather sit quietly with a book and ignore them all.

i hear pink speak of "mean girls" - but when i ask her how they are mean she is unable to explain behaviors. i have seen the girls she so longs to be friends with, and it's not that they exclude her, it's more that she doesn't know how to join in. she projects much of her own fears and rejection of herself onto them when they really aren't behaving in a way that is mean or cruel (now please, i know girls can be mean, especially in middle school) but i wonder if much of the angst of the pre-teen years isn't a manufacturing of misery based on our own awkwardness and insecurities?

how do i do this in my own life? how can i learn how not to create the misery that i am so afraid of? how can i teach it to her?

i don't have answers, but am starting to pull at the edges of this tangle. i so want to be happy, joyous, and free, don't you?


Dharma Kelleher said...

What an awesome post! It's amazing how much time and energy we put into manufacturing misery. We should go into business!

My catch phrase is the "misery conspiracy" which I describe as our tendency, as individuals and as a society, to chase after things that can't make us happy, in the deluded hope they will.

I hear people say things like, "I'll be happy when it's Friday or when this day is over." "If I could find the right (spouse, job, car, house, amount of money, clothes, shoes, etc.), then I can be happy."

We have conspired against our own happiness. It is indeed time to stop manufacturing misery!

Peace out, namaste and rock on!

P.S. I'm adding you to my blogroll!

Northwest said...

Tag, You're It! I have chosen you as one of the five bloggers I would like to learn more about. Come see the game rules on my blog...


togenberg said...

"Avoid then the deliberate manufacture of misery." That is brilliant. What a great chunk of wise ore.

I also "precast" (and project, transfer, worry, fret, overthink). It's cool that it now has a name! Not so cool about the Costco (and not Sam's Club thank you) size boxes of finished goods though.

I see how much of my life's pain is made by me as an adult. Or at least in the last few years and through therapy I'm beginning to see how I do this.

"for those of us who are introverts with very little self confidence it is excruciating and lonely" :( that almost made me cry. How true that is. awww your poor sweet daughter. You sound like a wonderful resource for her to have in her life. I know you struggle so but your questions and your quest are so helpful and powerful.

Lara said...

"Avoid then the deliberate manufacture of misery."

Brilliant. Though when I first read that sentence my mind went immediately to my brand of physical misery--overeating to "protect" myself FROM myself--therefore sabotaging my physical body and keeping myself in a miserable state (both mental, emotional, and physical). So I find it interesting you heard that through OA.

Since I need to start filling my mind with this wise phrase and more similar, I thank you for passing it along.

Blessings and peace. I'm praying for Liam and your family as you deal with his father's passing.

Sarah Louise said...


My mother would say it this way: don't trouble trouble til trouble troubles you.

Have a good non-miserable Monday.