I have heartfelt gratitude for this space to share my thoughts and experiences with you.
Starting five or six years ago, for a variety of reasons, at the time referred to as “mid-life,” I began a conscious rebuild of my broken self and started untangling my convoluted value system.
I put an earnest effort into becoming more aware of who I am, and how I influence the people and objects in my life. I wanted to stop the “familiar” from being desperately and continuously toxic.
With the view of hindsight, I was needing connection and validation. I wanted some form of authentic love to purify the sorrow which made my being ache.
Progressively, life started to present itself with little segments of clarity, small connections between cause and effect would flare up and I liked how it felt to be aware. Even small sample tastings of awareness felt good.
Was it an option not to carry this crippling weight everywhere I went, always?
I still do the occasional behavioural equivalent of a face-plant on cement, and that is okay. All experiences, good or bad, have a little gold speckled somewhere in them.
I thought I collected enough skills to navigate the ups and downs, ins and outs of an ensuing existence without the need for life-threatening amounts of drugs and alcohol. Then, unexpectedly, piercing through the pleasant banality of an average afternoon, my friend initiated a casual sounding conversation.
“Hey, I think you have made some progress, but I think you should live like what you say, you know, try to practice what you preach more often.”
My first thought was: “I could have sworn there was oxygen in this room just a second ago.”
Then, I readied myself to talk in a defensive posture. I’m doing pretty good, I have always been a C-plus-type student, but that is a pass, isn’t it?
My mind was swarmed with automatic negative thoughts (ANTs).
“Does she think I’m an imposter,” I thought.
I knew it. I felt like a fake, how could I think I am worthy of good things and happiness?
How can our brains be an infinitely complex organic computer capable of understanding time and mapping galaxies, yet cannot unlearn or erase basic behaviours and thought patterns which run counter to happiness and health? This from a species with a collective behaviour that has destroyed civilizations and could render a planet once thrush with life uninhabitable.
I turned around to address my friend and her indictment of my actions. Her arm was extended, one hand held her phone to her ear and the other gave me the universal hand gesture: can’t talk now, just a moment.
I would keep my avalanche of negative thoughts quiet when she, after her phone conversation, asked me what I wanted to say.
I must work on the foundation of my recovery. We are all in a constant process or journey and I am still a bit fragile and needlessly defensive. Also, I tend to think too much, at times, I thought.
Robert Skender is a qathet region freelance writer and health commentator.