Cognitive behavior therapy (n) (CBT) - A kind of psychotherapy used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, phobias, delusional disorder and other forms of mental disorder. It involves recognizing unhelpful or destructive patterns of thinking and reacting, then modifying or replacing these with more realistic or helpful ones. (Source)
We repeat our misery in our heads, stifling our happiness in favor of embracing the funny comfort of nostalgia. Whenever a kicker is faced with a 47-yard field goal attempt, millions of Buffalo Bills fans flash back to the horrible memory of Super Bowl XXV. The same thing goes when you mix Red Sox fans and slow rollers to first, or what happens whenever someone runs from Baltimore in the middle of the night. Moreso than happiness, we have an immediate recall of the misery of our past.
For me, CBT involves reciting the details of the horror for my own good, and for the sake of progress.
We're only two weeks away from the sixth anniversary of the second-worst event in the history of the contemporary freedom-loving American progressives. Already the nightmares are drifting back. The only thing keeping us from certain plans of suicide or drastic emigration, like we began making in 2004, is an overblown and irrational sense of confidence. Surely it cant happen again. It was one thing to re-elect CEO Bush II in 2004, despite his identification as a war criminal and major international asshole. But to re-elect the very congresspeople who enabled him, who validated his madness and global atrocities, that is unimaginable.
Those are the kind of impossible thoughts that we tried to jam out of our heads moments before Steve Bartman pulled the ball out of Moises Alou's glove at Wrigley Field. We are the kind of people who show up year after year at Rich Stadium to endure another season of devolving football, hoping for simply glimpses of a success we can pretend is still to come. These are the kinds of people who write newspaper columns about how the Democrats will deal with their November victory. Or how CEO Bush II will possibly handle a slightly less compliant Congress. O the already gloating, the hilarity, the glorious optimism of a future sealed like an honest history book.
Even whoever 500 years ago first said, "Dont count your chickens before theyre hatched" knew better than to bet on certain change. We hope for the best. We remember mommy telling us that everything is going to be okay.
I got news for you, ladies and gentlemen. It's not going to be okay. Everything is not fine. You're mother was lying. There is no sun. There is no over the rainbow. There is no billy goat in northside Chicago. There is only simply losing. We repeat the event in our minds late at night but we refuse to believe it can happen again, even though you know it's going to happen again tonight, late at night, while you're asleep and dreaming in the dark, under the covers.
There are still those of us, fortunately, who know that things are always going to be the same. Cant believe this administration is worse than Nixon? Worse than those which allowed the infamous and incomprehensible Communist witchhunts? Worse than the racist imperialism of the turn of the century? Believe it, baby. Life sucks, the Cubbies lose, and the government will always get better at stealing your freedoms and killing little boys.
And this is where enjoyable sports, good therapy, and precision pharmaceuticals come in. There is no need to escape to Belgium or New Zealand. Bush will still be our president on November 8, folks. If you think the partisan cruely and insanity is peaking now, two years before the end of our CEO's term in office, think again. If you think you've seen the worst collapse in Arizona Cardinals history, think again. History's timeline has a funny way of kicking you in the balls when you're already on your knees, in new and different ways from every other time it kicked you in the balls, from new angles and with new points of contact. And theyll kick you in the balls every time. Every single time.
And these are our escapes. If I'm going to have a flashback, I'd rather it be that of Scott Norwood's monstrous failure than of the jackbooted thugs stomping through my front door in the middle of the night, beating my wife, stealing my children, and shooting me in the head because I attended a peace conference in Baltimore in the light of day, at that point in time in the light of day when only honest men do business. So instead of believing that my future holds that bad acid trip, I embrace that my past had me on my knees, balls unbusted, weeping over Brett Hull's illegal goal in Game 6. And every hockey season, I'm going to remember that. I'm going to seek its images, its sounds, its feel, its late-night exhaustion and empty hungry belly. I'm going to repeat it to myself and lick the slime of its emotions. I'm going to bath in the black crap of its reality. It's going to be 1999 all over again, and again, and again. And before I know it, I'm going to be cured, and I will be immune to this and to future embarrassments of hope. I will stop rooting for football players and politicians.
The doctor pushes the microphone over to my side of the table in the middle of his office. I was expecting a much more complicated sound system. Other than that, I had no idea what else I had been thinking for even a moment at any point in time before this incredibly horrible session. Complete blackout. I wonder, how am I going to deal with this? The only time I can really see the future is when I know there are plentiful options at home, a little grass, some labeled opiates, a bottle or two, a nice selection of microbrews and three shades of hash. I see the very escape I'm going to need when this guy starts making me repeat the horrors of yesterday for a tape that I'm going to have to listen to for the next two weeks.
It's this persistent exposure, apparently, that really does the trick. And that is for the brave, indeed. Not for the ones with their heads in the sand.
In those Woody Allen movies, therapies involved Freudian catharses. Moments which changed everything forever for the better. That is true scriptwriting. That is real truth, art-style. That is how curses are supposed to be resolved, that is how life is supposed to evolve. That is where dreams become real and heroes are born.
Can I get an Amen, ladies and gentlemen? There is room between the ultimate buzz and an overdose, and some say that that is heaven, in its brief perfect gleaming moment. I know that it exists because the Sabres are 9-0. Theyve surpassed their best start in franchise history and are minutes away from truly chasing the night that shaman in Tibet experienced after happening onto a perfect dose of opium. The only thing left after that is a moment of heaven. If the stars are involved, it will happen on November 7, when they reach that instant glimpse of perfection as we feel the ultimate dull thud of election results.
And then, like it or not, you're going to have to get out of bed in the morning and face the bright new day with the knowledge that nothing's going to change. Just focus on the World Series. Wait for the Super Bowl. Dont forget March Madness and before long we'll have a pennant race again and the uncertain glory of our favorite teams to look forward to.