June 24, 2023•1,773 words
Some miscellaneous reflections:
I've gotten used to the mental spaciousness that comes with being mostly on my own. Now that I've slowly started engaging with others more, I'm finding some of the old overthinking and irritation returning, though there's also the pleasure of company and interaction. The main challenge is moderating contact to the degree that I'm comfortable and actually enjoying it rather than continuously engaging as a courtesy. I'm happy to see and talk to others when I'm happy to but it can quickly start to feel distracting and annoying if I have other things on my mind. Since I tend to want less interaction than others, I'm usually the one who needs to moderate and set the pace, which can feel unfair to others and draining for me. But if I don't do so I can quickly start to get overwhelmed by others' attention and bids for mine. It seems that clarifying and making them wait is the lesser evil than pushing myself to engage when I'm not sincerely up for it, otherwise I'll slowly be pushing them away from within anyways. It just is what it is I guess. It can feel mean to say "not now" so often but it's actually a kindness in the longrun, even if they can't see that.
It's been so hot lately, it's hard to get comfortable. I've been eating a lot of frozen blueberries and popsicles which helps. I'm enjoying this new phase of being less preoccupied with health and food and just eating what I feel like when I feel like it. It feels chill and right.
Focusing too much on self-centered things like health and appearance can turn into a kind of procrastination/scapegoating to avoid actually living and doing harder/scarier things. Eg instead of putting myself out there and engaging others (thereby risking judgment or rejection), I'll focus on optimizing my diet and getting fit. This may end up increasing wellbeing and success at times but at a certain point it produces diminishing returns. The amount of time and energy going in ends up taking away from overall wellbeing without contributing to a more enjoyable life. Having recognized this, I'll be moving towards minimizing the amount of time and energy put towards these areas and redirecting my remaining energy to engaging with others and exploring new things/experiences. It might take time though, as the habit to focus on these kinds of things rather than branching outward is strong.
For the most part, I seem to have let go of the future for the time being. All I can see in front of me are the next two or three steps. The rest I'm leaving to Life. Sometimes it feels irresponsible or foolish but I don't see a more viable way. My conditioned thought/control patterns have proven unreliable. They created a miserable life, just as they did for those who raised me. Now I want to see what kind of life unfolds when I'm no longer forcing myself to do things I don't want to do or say things I don't really mean. When I'm no longer chasing the delusion that I actually know what's best or what will "make me happy". Just being more and more genuine while embracing relaxation and enjoyment rather than constant activity, stress and striving for (???). It'll take more time for this way of living and being to shape something on the surface though. It's taking patience. It's very slow going. Often it seems like so little is happening while time continues rushing by. The days feel short. Overall though, I trust this more than when I was trying to forcibly steer everything where I thought I wanted it to go. What a stressful existence that was. So much running around and getting nowhere worth going.
I've been feeling a bit bored and restless lately. I don't seem to be very interested in media anymore. I'll put things on for background noise or casual watching/listening but I'm not really invested or engaged, whether it's entertaining or educational. I'm just not very interested in the world right now, not that I ever was very much. I'll read a couple pages here and there but I'm not too compelled by ideas either at the moment. The only things I really seem interested in are interacting with people and reflecting on the phenomenon of life itself. People can be challenging though because of my codependent patterns. I want to be around them, I want to engage sincerely and enjoyably, but it's hard to fully trust myself and let go. I'm not very confident when it comes to communicating and enforcing boundaries, preferences and differences, especially if it might involve conflict. I used to let myself melt into others and experience their worlds completely. I miss that, at least until things would get complicated and messy. Now I'm always on guard, always clarifying where they end and I begin. Making sure that my space, freedom and energy won't be encroached upon and siphoned away. I hope to come closer to a flexible middleground soon. Engaging with people is probably the most entertaining and interesting thing there is to me. I guess I just haven't found the right way to do that yet. I don't think I can fully enjoy it unless I'm comfortable being really honest, even if it might hurt feelings. The polite, people-pleasing, overly agreeable shit just drains the life out of me. I want to be myself at all times, or at least as often as possible in this wacky woyld. I want to engage with others while prioritizing and honoring myself. I want to have fun. I can't do that if I can't be playful, blunt or coy sometimes. If I'm always being nice. I'm sick of nice.
This might be supremely arrogant but I think I might have already learned the core/crux of what I "need" to know. The rest is kind of just beating a dead horse, or rather, getting more and more details about the horse. Everything keeps pointing back to that so it's more like a reminder and expansion of what I already know. It's like the buddhist parable of leaving behind the raft after getting to the other shore. It's tempting to go on carrying it, ie to keep looking back and studying and researching and exploring and rehashing and retelling things that were once so vital and precious. But at a certain point it might be time to leave all that behind and just move forward. To what? I don't know. For so long, life was about the former shore and then the raft - the journey across. What comes after it? I don't know yet. I feel like nothing and nobody sometimes. I'm not who I was but I'm also not someone new. I'm just a question mark - a blank page that hasn't yet been filled. I don't really know what kind of person to be, or rather to present myself as. Because I hardly feel like a person at all. I'm more like a channel for passing phenomena. Things arise and recede in my experience. Thoughts, emotions, desires, fears, sensations - but they don't stay. So what to define myself around? What to present myself as? I don't know. I'm roleless and directionless. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Actually I think it's probably the most natural way to be, or at least the most deeply true. But it's not the most practical in this world. Or maybe it is? I guess I'm not sure. Maybe it's just something to get used to. The ego certainly doesn't like it. Not _____ enough!
Some more thoughts on this - spending a lot of time alone can start to make it feel like I'm disappearing, or at least some parts of me. There are certain sides that are only expressed around others, and they come out spontaneously during interactions. When I'm with others these days, I'm often surprised by my own responses. I'm more often feeling like I'm watching myself rather than enacting myself. I suppose I'm trying to give myself more freedom to be spontaneous and authentic rather than socially acceptable/pleasing. So in some ways, I'm only now learning how I really am as an inter-person. Still, I'm not socializing much so most of the time I'm just watching thoughts, feelings and sensations go by while occasionally getting glimpses of my face and body in the mirror, reminding me that I do in fact have a physical form. Pretty soon I may be interacting with people a lot more. I'm curious to see what will play out and if I'll be able to keep perspective rather than falling back into old patterns of anxiety and stress. I hope I'll have the courage to be true to myself, even if it might make others uncomfortable or upset. I hope I can say and do what I really want and need to.
Despite some of the above, I feel pretty solid and substantial. There were times in the past when I was really dissociating, when it felt like I was lost in a thick fog that I was trying to drag myself through. I don't feel that way now. I don't find my experience particularly stimulating lately but I feel stable, grounded and content overall. I'm still experiencing some hesitation and avoidance in some areas but I've been keeping up with what needs to be done while otherwise enjoying this time of rest. I suspect a day may come when I'll look fondly on this period, when I had so much room to dawdle.
It occured to me that worrying and expecting the worst are just conditioned ways of thinking. They were adopted, passed down to me. Someone else could be in the same situation interpreting and expecting totally different things. Therefore, I can choose to disengage from my thought processes and choose another. I can even choose to rest happily in not-knowing, knowing that I really don't know. All I have are accumulations of habitual thought. I really don't know anything. There are always far too many variables to consider so anticipatory stress is usually based entirely on the past. It's so habitual that it's easy to miss how often it's unfounded, how often things work out totally fine after all the worrying. It makes far more sense to cut out that portion whenever possible and just rest happily in anticipation and uncertainty. Easier said than done of course but worth having in the back of my mind.