This morning I was dancing in my living room (something I do for exercise and brain chemistry therapy), listening to Santana's Supernatural. One of the songs, "Wishing it Was," perfectly describes the dilemma of bad brain chemistry. Here are some of the lyrics: "Beauty and grace is what touches me most / Good times can put me in fear / I always feel safe when things are bad / So I cannot let you come near / It seems that I thrive on the dark side of things / I always feel alive when death bell rings / Now you come and bring out the tears in me."
As I explained in my theory of bad brain chemistry, the hyper-alert or super-observant person feels anxious because she is aware of the dangers or potential dangers around her. Once she figures out where that danger is coming from and deals with it--by fighting or running away from it--she feels better. But for those of us who live in a relatively safe environment, real dangers are few and far between. Yet despite the absence of danger, the hyperalert (HA) person still feels anxious. He wants to fix the anxiety, but in order to do so, he must find the source of that anxiety and deal with it. That's pretty hard to do, of course, when it doesn't exist. So he comes up with a source of danger, something not too difficult to do if he has any kind of imagination. Once he identifies the "danger," then he can respond to it and feel better.
I think the seemingly paradoxical statement from the speaker in the song--"I always feel safe when things are bad"--illustrates my point quite well. If things are going well for him, he gets anxious, because he knows danger is lurking somewhere: "Good times put me in fear." But once he responds to the danger, he feels better: "I always feel alive when the death bell rings."
But the line that is the most poignant, and perhaps most indicative of the bad brain chemistry dilemma is this one: "So I cannot let you come near." He can't allow himself to be happy with someone he loves because that makes him unhappy.
Here's the chorus of the song: "Pain never makes me cry, but happiness does / It's so strange to watch your life walk by / Wishing it was / Wishing it was more like a fantasy / Where every day surprises me / Wishing it was."
He'd like to have a "fantasy" life where he enjoys the "surprises" of life, but he can't. To me, surprise has a good connotation: something you don't expect happens to you, and you're pleased. If something unexpected happens to an anxious person, he's afraid. That's not going to work in a love relationship because part of getting to know someone is exploring the differences, delighting in the strangeness of the other. For the hyperalert person, the stranger is a threat that must be escaped from or destroyed.
The last part of the song shows his regret over the way he is: "This feeling won't last cause I cannot survive / I tell you I've been here before / When it's moving this fast / It's a matter of time / One of us walks out the door." He chooses to escape the danger of a relationship before it goes too far.
In the wild, animals only explore the strange other when they feel safe. Bad brain chemistry interferes with the natural inclination to explore, to socialize, to pair-bond because it won't allow the person to feel safe when she is safe.
And that's what I struggle to do every day--make the bad brain chemistry go away so I can enjoy the good things in life.