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is it ok: to use adele as a coping mechanism?

I am a walking cliché. I’ve smudged tears across a highly emotional diary entry while trying to fully express my life ruining despair over the end of a relationship, I’ve listened to “Somebody That I Used to Know” while thinking about somebody that I used to know, and I’ve blasted Adele at full volume as I sobbed violently through my fingers because sometimes life is just so goddamn sad.

My method of dealing with bad news and difficult situations has been an evolution. As much as I like to think that in the film version of my life I’m up to the stage where ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ plays over a montage of a balanced and mature me coping with things like an adult, in reality that is a long way off. I won’t be an adult until I like brussel sprouts.*

Coping methods are a necessity, as without them I am convinced that one fell swoop of bad news would have us blubbering on the ground, curled into a ball rocking back and forth until we eventually drown to death in a pool of tears and/or snot. Lying catatonic in bed is not a coping mechanism. Eating McDonalds is. It is also an excellent way to shave years off your life and millimetres off your arterial circumference.

In junior school if I had an “enemy” I would write a “file” on what was so awful about them (stole my eraser, made up stories about me, wouldn’t let me have the window seat on the excursion to the sewage plant etc) and then put them in an envelope which I then hid under a couch cushion. When I realised this was crazy, I tore them all up, put them in a plastic bag and poured blue food colouring all over them, thus restoring my status as a sane person.

As I got older and had different dramas, my coping methods went on to include things like eating all the chocolate, eating none of the chocolate, or eating some of the chocolate and then feeling bad about it. Then eating the rest. The aforementioned diary is something that I’ve had for years. I don’t have the discipline to write in it every day, and as a result it swings from emotion to emotion, sometimes with months or even years between entries.

At times I’ve turned to illustrations to try and express what was bothering me, resulting in a curious mixture of scribbles ranging from the abstract (geometric, angular pictures of birds) to the hilariously literal, the best example of which being a masterpiece consisting of a series of stick figures standing together in a clump, laughing (demonstrated by “HA!” in speech bubbles) and smiling, whilst another figure stands slightly further back with a big frown on its face, which it defiantly refuses to turn upside down.

When late last year I received some surprise, unwelcome news, once the blood had returned to my face and my posture unfroze, I blasted “Set Fire to the Rain” as loud as my speakers would allow without distortion, let that wash over me say, ten, fifteen times, then headed to the movies to see something I can’t even remember now. Over the next week I repeated that process almost daily. Adele let me wallow in my own misery whilst the self awareness I had of what I was doing made everything that bit funnier. The movies, as always, provide escapism, and things outside of yourself and your life to think about. It helped.

Obviously some coping methods are better than others, and I guess we find the best ones through a process of elimination. So far I have eliminated “picturing people with beards” (it worked better when I was 10 and all my friends were female and pre-pubescent) and “aggressively kicking my mother” (being born made me cut that right out).

Maybe if we live long enough we will find the one true path to dealing with emotional turmoil. As far it goes, Adele is not a bad one. So, for now whenever there’s a fire starting in my heart I will count my blessings to find what I look for and turn my sorrow into treasured gold. Or, you know, sleep it off.

*I will never like brussel sprouts. They are the vegetable version of liquorice, which is the lolly version of car tyres.

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