Am I a Fake?

I’ve been at my job for three years and four months. I was on disability for eight years before that, and before that, I was hardly working for about five years. That was a long time in which my main occupation was taking care of my mental health.

It’s no surprise that all this time back on the job, I’ve felt like I was not quite here. Actually, I felt like I wasn’t really supposed to be here. The strange part is that I didn’t question the thoughts that I was out of place at my job.

It’s only been the past month or two that I’ve really felt firm in my job. I’m not faking it on the inside or outside. It took a long time for me to get to a point where I didn’t feel like I was waiting for someone to tell me I didn’t really belong here.

I’ve heard it called Impostor Syndrome. I haven’t really read anything about this pop-psychology idea, but I’ve heard of it. Basically, it’s the notion that one doesn’t really fit in with one’s surroundings. I understand that.

I can say that today I really feel like this is my life. This is what I’m doing. This is where I belong.

The feeling that I was somehow not leading a real life is not new to me. I’ve felt it for many years. Perhaps for my whole life. I always felt like I needed to prove myself. Like I needed to be something more in order to be accepted into the world. I had to work doubly hard to simply have the right to exist.

It’s exhausting. I was constantly struggling to get others to approve of my right to be here. Of course, I now realize I was fighting for my own idea of approval. Maybe what’s happened in the past month is that I realize I do approve of myself. In any event, it feels good. I feel like I can relax a little.

Today, I’m whole. I can breathe easy.

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Hope

A few weeks ago, I decided to repeat a party I did last year, so I’ve invited some friends over to decorate my Christmas tree. It was fun last year, and I’m hoping this year’s tree-decorating party will be, too.

It’s fun to look forward to little things like this. It makes my mind dance just a little knowing that there’s delight on the horizon.

I was thinking about that dance of delight. It’s good anticipation. It’s hope.

I’ve got hope today that things will go well for me. It feels good. I’m going to revel in this feeling for as long as I can.

This has also got me thinking about hope in general. I think we can generate it for ourselves. It’s possible to plan something for some time in the future and then look forward to it with delightful anticipation. It does not have to be an elaborate event. It can be as simple as deciding that on a certain day will we go to a fast food restaurant and have one of their desserts.

I think the hope comes in the wait to experience the event. It feels good to anticipate these types of good things.

Today, I’m living with the hope of a fun party. Hope lives.

Stability

This afternoon, an old friend arrives to stay for a week. I’m really looking forward to seeing him after eleven years. It will be fun. I have to work while he’s here, but we’ll have evenings together and one weekend.

I was thinking this morning about how quiet my life is right now. I’m really happy with that. I don’t have a lot of stuff going on. I wake early and meditate and exercise and go to work. I relax when I get home from work.

My sleep is not the best, but it seems to be adequate. I’m limiting my caffeine to two cups of tea each day.

I have some good friends that bring me joy. My children are all doing well at the moment, so that feels really good.

My ex is slowly becoming not-an-ex. We’ve only been on one date because of his schedule, but I’m not worried about it. The right thing will happen.

My meditation is good these days. Years ago I used guided visualization, and I highly recommend it. I’ve evolved to something closer to traditional meditation where I just concentrate on my breath. My mind wanders naturally, but I don’t judge it. I just calmly bring it back to my breath. I do it as often as necessary.

My life is quite boring right now. I feels really good.

Quiet

It’s quiet, and I like it.

My mind would not allow quiet for many years. Thankfully, the medication and meditation have made mine quieter.

I go to bed very early and get up in the wee hours of the morning while the world is still sleeping. It’s quiet then, and I like it a lot. I get to meditate without traffic noise. It’s so quiet that my refrigerator sounds loud at that hour.

I’m doing a task at work that is easy to concentrate on and leaves little time for other distractions. It gives a quiet-like feeling to the day. Of course, I work across the street from a big hospital, so there are sirens interrupting the feeling throughout the day. It can’t be helped.

I get to walk down the street to a cathedral during the day and meditate. That adds to the quiet-like feeling of the day.

I have a lot of uncertainty about my love life right now, but it’s not unmanageable. There are questions, but I’m allowing that ambiguity to have its space, and I breathe through it.

I think a lot of the quiet has more to do with me than the external parts of my life right now. I feel quiet.

I like this. I like it a lot. I know it’s not permanent, but I’m enjoying it for the time being.

Feeling It

I had dinner last night with my ex. We talked for an hour and a half about all sorts of things. The topic of my childhood trauma came up. It felt very tender for me, but I talked. We discussed a lot of pleasant things, too. There was talk of current affairs and the tragic fires in California.

It’s too early to say we’re dating again. We both enjoyed last night a lot. We both said so, and he said he wants to do it again.

Now comes the tricky part for me. My nature is to rush in and flood him with love. I want to wash over him with goodness – with what I perceive as goodness. That’s my attachment style. I’m like a wave from the book I read recently – Wired for Dating by Stan Tatkin.

Now is when I get to practice a bit more patience. I get to breathe and pace myself. What does going slow look like? I think I’m going to be answering that question over the next weeks and months. I’m going to be breathing and walking through the feelings.

Breathing.

My meditation has changed this week. I’m doing less and breathing more. The words still pass through. They’re always there. My goal each time is to get just three good breaths, but while I’m concentrating on the rise and fall of my diaphragm, the words are still there. It’s quite humorous. They’re mostly words about whether or not this one is a good breath, or I’m counting this breath. They’re very quiet words, but they are there nonetheless.

I wonder what it’s like to breathe with a still mind. To be fully present in the breath. Even one would be a great accomplishment for me.

My mind is definitely quieter than years ago, but it still chases thoughts. It’s fine. It’s not a worry. It’s doing its job. I just want it to be a little quieter.

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.

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.