The Underwriter

Next in the gallery of rogues that is my psyche is the underwriter.

The underwriter, as the name suggests, is working constantly to assess and mitigate risk in my environment. She is constantly trying to predict the worst things that could happen.

For example, say my partner goes away for the weekend. She is telling me that he could cheat on me. He could get hurt. He could die. He could realize that I’m not worth being with… and so on. Ad nauseam.

She does this without prompting and is impossible to stop. She is distraction personified. As you can imagine, when she is nattering in my ear, it’s very challenging to enjoy the day. Her analysis sparks my anxiety, making me fearful and uneasy.

The underwriter came to be at an early age. I’ve spent most of my life living with people suffering through various stages of addiction. Addicts are unpredictable and scary, especially to children. The underwriter appeared as a mechanism to give me the illusion that I had some form of control over the uncontrollable – like if I could imagine what was going to happen, I wouldn’t be taken by surprise. If you’ve spent any time with an addict, you understand that try to predict their actions is a fool’s errand… but still she tries.

Of my alter egos, the underwriter has proven to be one of the most practical. I am an insurance underwriter professionally. I use her talents on a daily basis. That said, outside of that professional application she is dangerous to my happiness. Her fear puts a lot of pressure on my personal life and is far less practical. Personal relationships are far much more variable than insurance claims scenarios. Personal connections don’t appreciate their every move and action scrutinized and dissected.

In clinic, my therapist instructs me to ask the underwriter what would happen if she didn’t try to predict all the outcomes. The simple answer is that there is a part of my subconscious that believes that without prediction my life would be unsafe. I would be taken off-guard and unprepared for horrible tragedy.

I think, unlike some of my other alter ego’s, the underwriter knows I’m an adult and she has a valid role to play in my adult life. She struggles to understand the boundaries between professional and personal.

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