The Learning Curve

The Unenmeshment Chronicles – Part 1

The past almost two years have been a whirlwind of learning experiences. From diapers to daycare and everything in between, I’ve been grinding on the steep side of AvE’s favorite curve. Hard learning is not anything new (see: Marine Corps Enlistment, see: BS of Mechanical Engineering,) but my previous learning curve faceplants didn’t ripple too far from the impact. It only really affected myself. The reality of a family is that everything affects everyone.

I don’t want to give too much weight to a dirty-talking Canadian enginerding YouTuber, however, Ave often makes very salient points for making it through life, and he does it in a no-bullshit manner that appeals to me. Given that if Uncle Bumblefuck described his target audience a competent sketch artist would have my portrait locked down solid, this makes sense. One nugget of life advice that he gave was a recommendation that a person (he’s speaking to “the guys” but it applies across the board) to “get a counselor and get their shit together” before bringing a child into their life.

When he made this point I heartily cheered, popped a thumbs up and proceeded as if I already had that wrapped up, believing that “nosce te ipsum” had been achieved long ago. Sure, maybe a thing here or there, but on the whole, I’m feeling good, successful, happy and balanced. No major work required.

Learned Thing the First:
I had myself fooled, hard.

There exists a concept in engineering of the stress riser or stress concentration. It is a localized point where, for various reasons, the stress at that point is greater than the average in the rest of the material. This can be invisible in negligible or light loading conditions. However, when the material is given a high load, even though the material on average can handle the stress, the concentrator’s stress shoots up and can exceed the material strength, resulting in a failure. Often times the failure is the first sign of a problem and the results can be catastrophic.

Luckily, humans and their emotional health make for poor building materials, but the stress riser can function as a good analogy for those internal emotional problems that many, most, or all of us have. Those emotional stress risers are obscure and unimportant right up to the time a person’s emotional well being takes a heavy load.

In my personal opinion, there is no heavier emotional load than bringing a child into the world. I think it almost broke me. Those little things that just needed touched up were really signs of some deep problems, and at my worst point (so far,) it seemed that so much as a stubbed toe would be enough to shatter the whole works.

The worst part about this worst part is that I really didn’t know it. I didn’t know what was going on and nothing made sense. I knew that things were out of whack, but I didn’t even think to look at myself for a reason. I had to be told, and I’m exceptionally fortunate to have a partner who stood up to my shit and asked me to get help.

I heard my best friend and her care for me, and I have sought that help. It’s giving me another learning curve to climb up, and this one is pretty hard as well. My work now is to plumb the unknown depths of emotions and thoughts to find those stress risers and their causes, and learn how to reinforce around them. I can’t make them go away, but I can improve my average emotional strength.

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