I have spent most of my life avoiding.
Conflict, reality, knowledge, pain.
I didn’t know I was doing that.
I know it now.
The past two years of my life have been one big lesson. A painful lesson.
It’s the most important lesson I have ever learned.
Now, don’t get me wrong. At 42 I am pretty convinced I know nothing, about anything.
That’s the cool part about aging…the acceptance of your complete stupidity.
I know nothing. I am ok with that.
But here is what my life has taught me lately.
There are things that will happen to you in life that are painful. They suck. Life’s circumstances often suck. It is what it is. You can certainly try to avoid suckiness but once it gets you…you just have to deal with it.
And here is where I run into trouble. Dealing with it.
I don’t wanna.
So I don’t.
I avoid dealing by drinking too much.
OR in some periods of life, by smoking pot.
I have struggled with depression and anxiety all my life.
Ping ponging between the two.
I started reading buddhist philosophy years ago as a means of learning to control my thoughts…my obsessive thinking. I figured if I could just learn to control my thinking, I could be happier…more content. If I could control my thinking, I wouldn’t mull over the past…leading to depression. If I could control my thinking, I wouldn’t worry about the future so much, leading to anxiety.
It didn’t work. I did not learn to control my thinking.
I read some cool books. But my thinking remains a problem.
So recently, I decided to stop seeing it as a problem.
Similar to meditation, when your mind wonders and you simply say to yourself,
I am giving myself permission to think about the things my mind wants to think about.
I am not obsessing over it…getting angry at my thoughts…frustrated…or trying to numb my thoughts with some substance.
Instead I am just accepting my need to think things through.
Last week, I had a few days of sadness. Normally, my desire to fight the feelings would have brought me into a full blown depression. Instead, I just let myself feel sad. I let myself think about the things that were making me sad.
I cried. Often. Soft cleansing tears.
I gave myself permission to feel it all.
I did respectfully say to myself, “that’s not really helpful…that’s not true.” Whenever I had particularly negative thoughts.
But mostly I just waded through the emotions. I told myself it was alright.
And I feel better again now. It’s good.
I was thinking about this today. How I had been through a tough few days and avoided slipping down the “rabbit hole”…what I have always called my depression. How I had avoided the rabbit hole by doing exactly the opposite of what I normally would have done. I was feeling kind of content and peaceful and the perfect song came on the radio at that moment. I love it when that happens. Here’s the song: