Have I mentioned I'm a pessimist? That may sound like a complaint, but it isn't necessarily. As a pessimist I have a deep well of cynicism at my disposal; I draw out sarcasm and self-deprication by the bucketful. I mean, it's fun to be pessimistic, right? Some of my favorite comedians are pessimists: Woody Allen, Janeane Garofalo, Lewis Black, and the list goes on, so at least I'm in good company. I confess I enjoy looking on the dark side of things sometimes; my rose-colored glasses were sold in a garage sale at some point in my early 20s, and I've never thought to replace them.
My husband has been telling me I'm a pessimist almost since we met, but I didn't take him seriously for a long time. It was only a couple of years ago that I began to realize he was oh-so right. We were our way to visit a friend overnight; my husband was driving, I was in the passenger's seat, and our then one-year-old daughter was sleeping blissfully in her carseat. The drive was only two hours, but from the get-go I began considering the worst. I sat quietly imagining an impending car accident in which my husband and I both perish. I lamented the fact that we hadn't drawn up a will and fretted over what might happen with our daughter in the event of our demise. I went so far as to imagine how long she might have to wait amongst the wreckage until the arrival of the fire department or ambulance, all the while calling, "Mom... Dad..." in the direction of our lifeless bodies.
(I know, right? AWFUL.)
At this point, my husband interrupted my imagined horror to ask if I was okay. I confessed my concern and began spewing all my fears in gruesome detail until my thoughts were spilled out like an upturned bowl of tomato soup.
"Holy shit, Honey," my husband responded (and rightly so). I immediately went on the defensive and spat back, "You're telling me you haven't worried over a single thing about this trip?" He admitted that he had, but when he told me his general concerns were in the realm of, "What if one of us forgets a toothbrush?" I shut my mouth.
Thus began my attempt to drop the pessimism a few notches in favor of something else - if not cautious optimism, at least buoyant apathy. Exactly where this tendency came from, I'm not sure - nature or nurture? I don't know, and really, it doesn't matter how or from where it originated. I'm doing my best to curb it to a manageable level these days.
Though I've made strides, my mind still veers off into the dark forest more than I care to admit. Now, however, after only a couple of minutes of leaving the good behind in favor of harping on the bad and the ugly, something inside me screams, "Stop. Just, stop." And amazingly, I do. Simply recognizing and acknowledging my pessimistic instinct has been surprisingly helpful. I realize I probably won't ever be someone who dots her "i"s with perfect tiny hearts, but I've stopped dotting them with hostile "x"s, so that's a start.