Weird

I have a weird thing going on.

I have this knowledge that I am damaged. I carry a lot of pain from a less-than-wonderful childhood and a lousy adolescence. The trauma from my early life caused me enormous problems as an adult that I’ve been dealing with for three decades. It’s no wonder that I am damaged.

At the same time however, I’m not terribly worried about it. I’m not overwhelmed with grief or sorrow.

I think the lack of negativity has something to do with the years I’ve spent in therapy and the fact I meditate. I’ve overcome some truly high hurdles. For example, I quit drinking and came out of the closet when those were monumentally difficult tasks. I survived. If I managed to live through those upheavals, I can live through this stuff, too.

So, I’m not a stellar example of a well-adjusted man. So what?

I kind of like this weirdness.

Advertisements

Feeling Good

Being me is a full-time job. (That is unrelated to this post, but it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about.)

I had a good meditation this morning. My meditation is changing a little. I have no idea if this is a permanent change or something that’s just happening because I need it right now.

When I meditate, I process stuff from my life. I release a lot of fear by visualizing myself gently pulling it out. I also get a good indication of what my daily energy feels like.

Lately, I’ve been doing less of the processing, and I’ve been spending more time just trying to concentrate on the breathing. Of course, my mind wanders, which is what it’s meant to do. I let it wander and then bring it back to the breathing without judging the fact it wandered. Letting go of the judging is key. It’s just wandering. It’s meaningless, so why get upset about it?

That’s trite to write it like that. I don’t remember when I was able to release the judgment, but it happened. I just kept returning my concentration to the breathing, and over time, the judgment attached to the wandering mind dissipated.

When I think about it, the mind is actually quite beautiful. It’s always busy trying to figure out what’s going on around me. Mine has a lot to do figuring out what’s going on inside me.

But the mind is not the most important thing I have going for me. Somehow being able to get a few good breaths with good concentration is more important than what the mind is doing. And when I’m in the middle of those breaths, I absolutely love my mind deeply. I love its wanderings.

Self Study

I should probably call this “Studying My Self.” I’ve been in therapy for 32 years. Off and on. More on than off, but there were some short periods when it wasn’t possible. Therapy is basically the study of self.

I’ve learned a lot, and therapy has helped me put some demons to rest that were the result of a messy childhood and adolescence. It has been very valuable.

I tried to cope with all the crap in my head by drinking to excess. That did not work, and I eventually had to get help to quit drinking. AA taught me well, but it did nothing for the demons. Therapy helped me unmask those and take their power away. After 19 years of sobriety and 32 years of therapy, I can honestly say I never think about drinking. During the pain of the break up last summer, drinking never once crossed my mind. I’m grateful that’s over.

I saw my ex yesterday, and it brought up a lot of emotions that I didn’t know what to do with. I had therapy this morning and was able to talk about them.

Last week, my therapist recommended a book that I bought and devoured: Wired for Dating by Stan Tatkin. I highly recommend it. It talks some about the biochemical processes that happen during dating, but the bulk of the book is about how we attach to people in our lives. I learned a lot about my way of attaching, and I was able to see my ex’s way, too.

In therapy this morning, I was able to see how I had triggered my ex, even though that was not my intention. I was also able to practice some ways of saying things that won’t be as triggering.

I was also able to see that I tend to get very hot in the early stages of the relationship, and that might scare a partner. Since my ex and I are talking again, I’ll get to practice moving slowly. We’ll see what happens. It might work out; it might not. I can’t predict.

I am really grateful to have my best friend who reminded me yesterday that emotions aren’t permanent. I’m grateful to have a good therapist who helped me work through how I can trigger other people. I’m grateful to have meditation that lets me release so much fear. I’m grateful for all my tools.

I’m grateful for you readers. I’ve had some comments in the past few weeks, and it really is nice to know that a few people really connect with some of the stuff that gets written here. Thank you.

Emotions aren’t permanent

I was sad this morning. Very sad. I was in the middle of it, and it seemed endless.

My best friend said, “Remembering that this too shall pass doesn’t make the pain any less.” In that second, I realized I’d forgotten that this would pass. Sitting in the middle of it, it felt permanent. That reminder helped ease my sadness slightly.

Then I hung out the laundry, and that action helped me feel much better, so I went for a speed walk and got some exercise. I feel much better now.

I am really grateful for the reminder that feelings aren’t permanent.

Roller Coaster

Today, I am calmly anxious. Is that possible? I am functioning and getting work done, but I’m waiting for some news. I’ve been waiting for five days, and I have to continue to wait, and that makes me anxious.

Anxiety is part of bipolar disorder that is the most difficult for me to deal with these days. The medication keeps me stable, so I don’t have the swings of depression and mania. The anxiety is different. I talk about it at every therapy session.

The current anxiety is related to something I did last week. I reached out to my ex asking if he would like to talk. Reaching out to him was a decision that took me a long time to consider. A few days later, he replied asking what I wanted to talk about, and I answered that I wished to discuss whether or not reconciliation might be possible.

There are three possible outcomes. He may not reply at all, he may say he doesn’t wish to talk, or he may say that he would like to talk. The first possibility will take longer for me to process. The other two give firmer feelings for me. Right now, I’m living in the ambiguity of waiting, which is not a space I’m comfortable in. Actually, writing about it here has helped release a lot of anxiety. That’s always true for me. Whenever I speak about a worry, it loses its power.

I’m at peace with any outcome. I’ve meditated about this numerous times and will probably repeat it more. Meditation is free and easy. It gives me clarity in the midst of the anxiety. My favorite part of it is that it is limitless. I can use it as often as necessary.

After writing, I’m calm. For the moment, I’m no longer anxious. I’m grateful for this moment.

How to Meditate

I was just reminded talking to a friend how our preconceptions of meditation are wrong. It is not emptying the mind.

Meditation is breathing.

Sit comfortably. I sit on a stool with a cushion. Relax. Try to relax as much as you can while maintaining yourself in the seated posture.

Now simply concentrate on the motion of your diaphragm as you breathe. It rises when you inhale, and falls on the exhale.

Thoughts will come. It’s completely natural, and you cannot stop it. When you realize your mind has wandered, tell the thought that it has had its time, but now you’re going to go back to concentrating on your breath and diaphragm. Return your concentration to that.

Give yourself a small goal of trying to concentrate for 3 breaths. Then you’re mind will wander again, and you will return it to your breathing.

Don’t judge the thoughts. Don’t judge the fact that your mind wandered. Just allow it. If you find that you do judge it when your mind wanders, ask yourself why you’re judging. Then return your thoughts to your breathing again.

Concentrate on breathing. Allow the wandering mind. Return to concentrating on breathing. Over and over.

That’s it. That’s all meditation is. Nothing more.

Reflecting

I had a number of really unpleasant days recently, and then yesterday morning, I woke up feeling good. The change was literally overnight. What happened? I wish I knew the answer so I could bottle it and sell it.

Here’s what I know.

While I was feeling down, I concentrated on the certainty that it was temporary. I was positive the negative feelings would pass, and they did.

In the middle of that malaise, I continued to use the tools I have to help myself feel better. I got extra help from my therapist. I used the medication I have been prescribed as directed. I continued my daily meditation routine. I ate well. I got as much good sleep as possible. I continued exercising. Basically, I continued doing the things that I know work for me.

I didn’t sugar coat anything. I was hurting, and I didn’t lie to myself pretending I felt good. I allowed the pain to have its space all the while knowing it would pass. The pain was not permanent. I was sure of that. I didn’t lie to my friends either. When asked, I told them the truth. To strangers who asked, I lied. I see no contradiction in that. It’s healthy to maintain boundaries with people. Strangers don’t need to know the details of my life.

It’s quite possible one of the reasons I woke up feeling good was that I did the work to process the memories that made me feel bad. I did that in therapy and by reaching out to a trusted person whom I could share the details with. I let it all come out in therapy, and I told the trusted person the reasons for the pain. I have learned after many decades in therapy that when I share the pain or fear, it loses its power.

That’s it. There’s no magic. I maintained my routine and kept walking through the stuff. I kept walking. One footstep at a time.