The Bad Twin’s guide to resilience

When I was in a freshman in college in 1978, an assigned reading in a cultural anthropology class was about these white folks who lived with and observed the !Kung San peoples of the Kalahari desert. In an effort to determine how the San people survived the various extremes of the desert in all seasons, with very little clothing on and in temporary, nomadic shelters, the white folk decided to strip down and live in the same conditions as the San and see if they could do it. To make a long story short, their white, Western-raised bodies adapted extremely fast to this new way of living, in an environment they had no experience with in their “normal” life. They demonstrated a physical and mental resilience that enabled them to survive. And finish their PhD thesis on the topic.

How many times have we heard that word, RESILIENCE, over the past year? It used to be called a ‘high tolerance for ambiguity’ in the workplace, and now its parallel is pandemic resilience. Not everyone has the same ability to switch gears and roll with it. Although, we may be physically built to be able to adapt to extreme changes, we’re not necessarily mentally able to do it with the same swiftness. And change without mental adaptation can lead to anxiety, depression and partaking in extreme activities, like eating, drinking or smoking too much, just as examples.

I’ve surely used COVID as my excuse for mainlining chocolate, although it doesn’t deserve all the blame. Family stress also receives an honorable mention over the last year, with Dementia Mom leading the pack, followed by Dad dying, and The Husband’s health issues as the caboose. Oh, and then the COVID wet blanket over the whole swill. What’s so weird about it, in my case anyway, is my current unwillingness to really do anything about this bad habit. My Gemini personality facilitates a conversation between the Good and Bad Twins, arguing, cajoling, insulting, begging. Bad Twin is one mean schizophrenic little female devil and can sometimes be quite intimidating, and quite convincing. She gives the Good Twin lots of options: Let’s worry about the diet tomorrow; things aren’t stable enough in your life and you’re dealing with a lot of shit right now, so don’t beat yourself up. I love it when Bad Twin says that. It’s a real pass lobbed at me and I catch it and run with it. But much of the time lately, the Bad Twin just says, “Fuck everything. It’s all just too damn much.” Chocolate is my Ativan. And edibles too, as directed by the Bad Twin.

So much bullshit going on. It truly gives Bad Twin more power, more influence over Good Twin. To placate the good side, I go for long beach walks and have started doing some traditional exercises when the rain prohibits going outside. That’s the little nudge that says, ‘You may be a fat ass right now, but we — your personalities — have not given up on you to find a way to act with your best intentions at heart. Yeah, even the Bad Twin crosses the aisle sometimes and votes with its self-motivated half. It’s rare. But it happens.

But in the meantime, having no chocolate supplies in the house, I, Lady Proverbs, made Mama Bear’s Bisquick cinnamon roll recipe (Bad Twin) and shared them (Good Twin) with the landlord downstairs; he’s nice, and leaves me chocolate, and in that sense is an enabler.

And guess what? You can have a free pass too, to listen to Bad Twin sometimes. Here, I’m handing it to you. Because, you know, this blog is not a self-help blog. There’s lots of those out there and you can find advice on how to lose your muffin top, handle your kids without homicide, leave your spouse finally, redecorate cheaply, moisturize optimally, and lots of other stuff we do need help with, you and I. No, I’m a friend and it is tough out there right now, and we all adapt at different paces, and have extraneous shit happening too in our lives that adds a multiplier effect, yeah. So don’t beat yourself up. But also don’t let Bad Twin completely take over. Even if your Good Twin is just a faint whisper in your ear, giving a nudge, starting to think about a plan for change, keep listening. Just keep listening.

But for now, eat the fucking candy bar!

From Lady Proverbs, somewhere on the Oregon Coast

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