Assumption: 'I don't know' is unacceptable.
The last few weeks have been umm... interesting for me. I've been a
little quiet here as I've been working to get myself into a good place
before, I wasn't too far gone, but I was dealing with crankiness,
irritation, rage, chronic fatigue, migraines, a severe outbreak of itchy hives (omg... so itchy, as I stop typing for a frantic scratching fit. Curse you, new shampoo with your allergy-inducing, I mean, natural extracts!),
not being able to write a coherent set of thoughts for a blog article,
bad dogs at work...
Ya know, the usual silliness we call life.
I'm a big meanie
When I get really cranky, I get very
mean-spirited. Deep down, I think I may actually just be a mean person. But I don't like to see myself that way... Plus, it's hard to play in a
world with others if you are a jerk. In any event, I do a fair amount of filtering. Don't give me the stink-eye, you do it, too. Everyone does.
I try very hard to take people's feelings into account. There's a million ways to say something to someone... I usually try to find the ones that will be taken least hurtfully + most constructively.
I'm feeling well, filtering myself to be pleasant doesn't take much thought or effort. It's second nature. When I'm vulnerable, filtering becomes
an arduous chore... requiring more mental capacity + energy than I have
My true nature bypasses my 'nice filters' when I'm tired or stressed. It's unexpected to those around me who know me as a nice person most of the time. It's unexpected for me, too, as I hear words come out of my mouth that I would normally never ever say to someone so harshly + abrasively. Hmmm... maybe I should be more direct? Eh, but the truth hurts.
So, I snap at people + hurt their feelings. Feel bad about it,
which drains more energy... Snap again. Hurt more feelings. Feel bad. See where I'm going?
Run, run, run, run. Run, run, run awaaaay.
For my own sake + for the sake of those around me, my preferred weapon of choice to deal with these negative
feelings is to avoid them. I do anything + everything to stay out of the present moment. I keep do-do-doing + go-go-going to distract myself from the unpleasant.
But that avoidance comes with a lot of negative
Little by little, I start avoiding anything
remotely unpleasant... eventually, avoiding everything. I miss all the good that also happens in the moment, too, right along side of the negative I'm trying to so desperately to avoid.
This time around, I recognized very early
the desire to run
from feeling cranky/worn-out + identified the old habit of running from
myself. If left unchecked + allowed to mutate out of control, the
ultimate form of that desire for avoidance becomes suicidal thinking/obsessing for me. I'd like to NOT go there again, thanks.
Choosing to be here, right now...
To take the opposite approach, I wanted to make time to
specifically sit with these unpleasant feelings, explore them, see if I
could find the roots of them... just see if they were really as scary as
I thought they were.
As I've been practicing meditation + exploring Buddhism, one chapter in the anthology I just read entitled Why Meditate? talked about the value of sitting with pain + painful emotions
instead of running away or desperately searching for a way to make them
go away ASAP.
The value being pain's power + intensity diminishes as you sit with it in the moment. Your body + mind stop screaming louder + louder + louder for attention when you begin preemptively being attentive.
Sometimes the physical pain +/or painful emotion goes away.
Most of the time, it's still there... just much less scary + much more manageable
Flawed Robot Logic
my recovery, I'm learning the differences between the feeling/emotion of
depression + actual full-blown depression.
In the past, feeling
depressed would trigger a full-blown episode, because I would kind of
thrown my hands in the air + let the free-fall happen after feeling a hint of depression or after the initial slip.
As a result, I've avoided feeling depressed... or any related/nearby emotion as much as possible. But, to do so is only practical for machines.
natural part of the human experience is to experience being human...
meaning, experiencing the full spectrum of emotions: the positive, the
negative + everything in between.
For us flesh + blood machines, feelings come + go, don't always have to make sense or have a rhyme/reason + they certainly don't have to determine actions. Otherwise, we'd all be in prison for acting upon murderous intentions.
The high cost of safety
Slowly but surely, by avoiding depression or anything I label as a 'bad feeling,' I begin avoiding more + more feelings + emotions. I'm limiting myself out of
fear. It comes with a huge trade-off. My freedom + confidence are sacrificed for safety + security.
Instead of enjoying the time that I'm not depressed, I live in fear of not feeling well... fearing that I'll become
Since I've been through the hell of depression so many times, it is a
legitimate fear, but... Healthy fear keeps you alive, unhealthy fear keeps you from living.
tend to live in unhealthy territory with a hyper-vigilance to stay in
positive spirits at all costs. Constantly interpreting, evaluating + analyzing is exhausting. Always being happy is not only unrealistic but an
unreasonable expectation that is doomed to fail. Yay, perfectionism rears its ugly head yet again:/
Plus... it gets kinda boring.
I haven't had any excitement for a while. I'm getting restless. Not
to say that I need to go to the extreme for excitement + turn my life upside down for the thrill of chaos. Though, that has historically been my fave cure-all for boredom.
It turns out I've been
living too restrained + too safe for too long. I'm rebelling against
the limitations I've placed on myself. Banging my fists against the walls of the protective
yet claustrophobic box I've built around myself.
Hmm... how to break up the monotony in non-catastrophic ways?
Well, I don't really know, yet... + that's okay.
It's going to be another one of those trial + error processes to define what adjustments, alterations, change + chaos mean for me... for every situation. And, those definitions are going to change for the choices that I make with every situation. It's uncertain + unpredictable... + that's okay, too.
One possible way to proceed from here is to add more variety to my life in small ways while still striving for the balance of a minimalist, less is more, simpler lifestyle I've wrote about previously. It may mean cutting some things out to make room for new things.
I'm not sure what those new things are yet either. Also, okay. I'm ever on the lookout for new opportunities. I want to be open to act when new opportunities arise. But, I also don't want to leap before evaluating.
That's always been a challenge... well, a blessing + a curse. You can talk yourself into or out of anything if you give yourself enough time to drive yourself crazy with thinking about a decision. Blah... indecisiveness is painful, too.
Wild Quest for Perfection
I tend to over-optimistically leap. I expect the new thing I find to be 'the' perfect thing. That one thing that I've been searching for forever that will make everything better. A tall order, huh?
Of course that high expectation leads to disappointment. That 'perfect thing' falls short of amazing somewhere along the way. The 'new thing' turns out to be basically the same as everything else.
In the other extreme, I tend to underestimate the impact the 'perfect thing' will have on my life.
It's perfect, why would it have any downfalls?
The after-shock of change, the delayed freak-out that happens about a
week or so after the fact, never fails to knock me down flat. It pounces, seemingly
out of nowhere. Hey, I survived the blast from the initial change with grace. What's the deal?
natural for the freak-out to occur... I just don't expect it. There's the problem again.
Trying to be superhuman... again. Mismanaged expectations... AGAIN.
Perfectionism is still a habit that I need to account for. Constantly reminding myself that my quest for that perfect opportunity that will cure all my ails does not exist. I can stop searching for it. now. please + thank you.
Wait, wait... just tell me.
Above all of these tactics, the one that I often overlook is the often simplest: wait it out. Waiting is a great tactic for clarity + perspective... especially when
every fiber of my being wants to jump, leap, race to something new.
It kills me, but sometimes it's okay to let an opportunity go. Gasp?! I know.
Rarely is an opportunity ever once-in-a-lifetime. Just like there's not just one fish in the sea for you out there. We kind of build these do-or-die situations up in our heads much more than are true to reality. Thanks television + movies:P
There will always be opportunities. There is a downside to leaping too much, too.
Intentions without the tension
So for the short-term, I'm going to wait + see.
Wait + see if restlessness is just a phase. Wait + see if it will pass. Wait + see if wanderlust is part of my personality. Maybe it's just something that I must account for + work with accordingly going forward, too.
Again, there is a balance.
Waiting is not a healthy rule of thumb or constant mode of operation. Stagnation is also no fun. But it's beneficial to wait in small, purposeful doses. But it is super tricky to do things intentionally... not just out of habit.
I have been a harsh dictator of my life for many years, setting up many, many, oh so many rules + regulations for myself to religiously follow. Perfectionism is a tough habit to break.
Breaking that habit requires attentiveness in the here + now.
Meditation as Medicine
Since I need to be in the here + now to deal with pain/fear, accept imperfection + find balance, I'm making room for mindfulness meditation again. Re-establishing it as a
priority for continued health.
As a regular practice, it helps me to be in the moment more. Here + now become habitual... as nature intended.
In the here + now, I can evaluate things as they come so that issues don't become problems. Problems don't become all-out crises. Sitting with the uncomfortable in the confidence that I am fully capable of
making beneficial choices as situations arise. I need
not fear uncertainty, unpleasant feelings/events or change.
Being present removes the need to set strict systems of rules in place to always always always or never never never... in the vain attempt to avoid any messiness, failure, problems, uncertainty, fear, crisis.
Breaking perfectionism will be a process. One that starts with choosing to welcome all pleasant + unpleasant things that are ahead. Taking things as the come. Going with the flow. Living life uninhibited.
I just have to recommit to that every... oh, I don't know, day or so. That's okay, too:)