Part of my surviving the last year and a half or so has been about learning how to be present. My typical MO generally has me trying to numb out, often with food, sometimes with busy-ness.
One of the hardest things for me to learn has been that my pain will not kill me if I let myself feel it. It passes. It does not stay in its most intense form indefinitely. The trick is allowing myself to face it. I have been learning my whole life how to escape from my true feelings, and despite my constantly turning back time and again to that mode of survival, it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t really work because the feelings don’t go away if I ignore them or numb out to them or pretend they are something else. They are like a beach ball pushed under the water; they have to come up eventually.
One of the most painful realizations of the past year has been that I have been letting my life slip away, numbed to the present, because I was putting all of my stock in an imaginary future. In this future, I have a baby (babies, children) and my life is complete. I realized a few months ago that I haven’t been living my life, I’ve been tolerating it until this magical future would appear. And then I was told that it might never appear.
Suddenly, the meaninglessness of simply marking time (but just until my “real life” could begin) became apparent to me. I had been living my life for the imaginary baby that would surely be here soon. The terrible job I am vastly overqualified for was good enough because, hey, I would be pregnant soon, right? There’s not much point investing too hard in friendships, because this isn’t real life yet, right? The thing is, this was just another way of numbing out to the things I was unhappy with: just focus on the magical future and don’t live in today (because today kind of sucks). But part of why today kind of sucks is because nothing was really getting invested in it. Everything was going into the magical neverland in my mind.
And one day I woke up. This is the only life I get and saving all my energy and focus for the “future” is just another way of throwing it away. I felt like I had been living life asleep and I wanted to live it awake.
So I am trying to live life awake, which can be hard, particularly some days. Some days I remember better than others that I WANT to feel my feelings and that I WANT to live in the right now. Change is hard, and I am trying to change my way of looking at the world. It often feels like two steps forward, one step back, and sometimes two steps forward, two steps back, but I’m learning. I’m learning how to live in the now and how to love myself in the now. And that’s a good place to be.