When Your Mind Has Visitors (Short Story Version)
There you were, sitting down and minding your own business, when someone stole your dream partner. This opened a door, and in came Jealousy to visit you.
Jealousy had big thirsty eyes and was wearing too many clothes (none of which they owned, all of which they’d borrowed). And around Jealousy you always envied what others had, and always thought everything you did have was bland and boring.
So you asked Jealousy, ‘Jealousy, what should I do about this jealous feeling I have?’
And Jealousy said, ‘Go out, get more money! Become more successful! Become happier, and then so-and-so whatever his/her name was,’ (Jealousy was always light on the details) ‘will come racing back to you!’
You did this, but the unthinkable happened… ‘so-and-so’ didn’t come back.
But you didn’t blame Jealousy, you blamed so-and-so. This opened another door, and through that door, Disappointment dragged its feet.
And around Disappointment you felt angry and low. So you asked Disappointment, ‘Disappointment, what should I do about my disappointment?’
And Disappointment said, ‘Get bitter and angry at the world for not acknowledging how wonderful you are! Let this serve as even more proof that the world is against you!’
‘When will my disappointment go away?’ you asked Disappointment.
‘When they finally notice your brilliance, when you win at everything you try,’ was Disappointment’s answer.
So you did this, but when people refused to acknowledge your greatness, when you didn’t win right away, and even when you did win but still didn’t feel so great, you didn’t blame Disappointment.
You blamed everyone else in the world, and you blamed yourself. This didn’t really make sense… you would have thought it would be one or the other, but you did it anyway.
You let that heat and bother build and build inside you until another door burst open and in stormed Anger.
Anger was red in the face, with bloodshot eyes and pimples that swelled red. Anger wore a red leather jacket, red leather pants, and… why, Anger’s hair was on fire. And Anger was screaming, roaring, at the top of their lungs.
And around Anger every negative thought that came into your head was absolutely correct! You couldn’t question or fault those thoughts if you tried! But you were also a little bloodthirsty.
Anger said you’re being bloodthirsty was justified, so long as the world kept misbehaving and treating you wrong. This prompted you to ask Anger what you should do about your anger, and Anger said, ‘IN THIS ORDER — SHOUT AT PEOPLE, BREAK THINGS, MAKE LOTS OF NOISE AND DISTURB EVERYONE ELSE, GO GET A FEW DRINKS… AND THEN PROVE EVERYONE WRONG!’
Well, you did just that, and you succeeded in pissing a lot of people off. But then you went out there and proved them all wrong, and now through a door walked Victory, and Victory brought Confidence.
How powerful and mighty you felt around these two! How sure you were of yourself… yes… you didn’t want them to ever leave, so you asked Victory, ‘what do I do?’
And Victory said ‘go get more Victories!’
So that’s what you did. You felt good for a while, but then Victory left, taking Confidence with them. This was the inevitable crash, the dip that was always coming, only you didn’t expect it.
Somehow this crash let in Depression.
Depression dimmed the lights and turned on the air conditioning.
Your room became cold.
You felt lower than the lowest low.
You had no energy.
You wanted to leave, but Depression wouldn’t go anywhere.
It was rude to leave a guest in your room while you went off.
So you stayed with your visitor. And you kept feeding them.
Just stayed there, stayed there talking to Depression about how hopeless things were.
Depression made a good point, ‘pull the shades down! What will people think if they see me visiting you? They already think you’re miserable and worthless, if they see me, it will be the last straw!’
You desperately pulled the shades down, but this invited Shame in, and Suppression too. Together they built a wall in your room behind which you could hide all the parts of yourself you didn’t want to see or deal with.
You didn’t have enough energy to tell them to stop.
There was now less room in your room, but you wouldn’t kick the visitors out. Why? Well, they were the only friends you had.
And you’d grown used to them.
All the while, you still felt depressed…
Fearing you would never again find Happiness or Confidence, you turned to Depression and asked ‘what should I do about my depression?’
And Depression told you to do something which would make things much worse, but made it sound like a good idea, like your only option.
This whole time, while you were looking for Happiness, or Confidence, or what you called love, the one you were really looking for was waiting patiently outside your room.
It couldn’t come in unless the other visitors left — they constantly scared it away with their noise and their advice and their schemes and their suffocating ways.
But this one — this one was no visitor. Your room, when clear, was where they lived.
This one’s name was Peace. And sometimes it waited outside people’s rooms their whole lives.
For a chance to come back in, and give them the Everything that was always theirs.
Thank you for reading – I also wrote a longer and deeper version of When Your Mind Has Visitors, with more nuance. If you enjoyed this style, you might also like another short parable called ‘Enough.’
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