The beginning dialogue of the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral” started off with successive F-Bombs. I remember rewinding the VHS tape immediately to make sure I heard it in all its glory. My future wife rolled her eyes and I knew it was going to be a good movie, not trapped in the bland rom-coms that were being produced at the time. The successive profanities uttered on film is an apt metaphor of my head for the last few months. The cumulative weight of everything, and nothing at all pressing me to the frustrated ends. Yes, it’s ok to not be ok, but it’s not ok to stay there. Wanting to chuck it all in the trash is nothing new, and it won’t be the last time. Life in all of its endeavors is frustrating, and tough, in every moment you are at a place where you have never been before. Tempered with even the best of tools and good thinking, that all too human part of it all can break down even the best of work. There is no shortage of sayings about life being a roller coaster, the hills and valley’s of, the up’s and down’s, et al.
It didn’t work, I couldn’t get going, life was as stuck as it got. Of course I wanted to chuck it all, I needed change in the worst way and I was stifling my ability to engage in it. Anxiety, stress, depression and fears, any and all of the above and more were working overtime. In recovery and life, these things are going to happen, the mantra is to allow it, it’s said just don’t stay ” __________” – fill in the blank. Don’t stay angry, don’t stay stressed, don’t allow the depression to grip so tightly you are paralyzed. We are given tools, other mantras, ways to cope, and all of it can sit in waste unless something is done with them. Even with all of that information and proof of effect, the malaise sets in, the redundancy of the hollow parts of life start to fill up the calendar more than anything else does. Personal health has been at the forefront of thought these days and the deep thinking that tags along with it doesn’t help in the creative process. It doesn’t surprise me that I want to avoid things, avoid using my best thinking, my best tools, I want to close it all out is the way I have dealt with things in the past. That’s my pattern so far, but there is also a part of it that I had to look at my history to find.
The thing I was forgetting was the thick headed stubbornness that I was gifted with, the part where I really don’t give up, rather pull back and reassess. These last months have piled up so much internal clutter that it clogged up the better thinking, the better tools, the writing out the long talks that are essential in that better thinking and tool selection. Don’t stay angry, cue depression, don’t stay depressed, cue anxiety, get out of your anxiety, cue stress, relieve stress, cue apathy… The changing insides didn’t mesh with the inputs and lack of them from the outside world. The kind of things that would help alleviate these things in the past didn’t have the power that they once did. Hanging on became the mantra more than anything else, and after a while even the best of grips lose their strength. Fill in the rest of life with the lacking social and societal regularities that were once taken for granted, and poof, the work becomes an unruly pile once more.
Stuck in a part of life when holding on is a survival skill, change would have to be found in those things that only I could produce. So I tried to change it, what happened felt like I was taking a long run at a moving train in hopes I could tackle it and derail the thinking that had rutted my tracks so deeply. What that left me with was a broken psyche, a bruised up and overwhelmed ability to think. I had closed myself off from the world for so long trying to find myself, that when I was ready to engage again, the world itself was closed up to that engagement. The little things grew, the bigger things shrank, and the composition of it all came out as a Newtonian fluid which was not quite fluid and not quite solid. Cue the opening dialogue of the movie once more. I’m nowhere near the place where I want to be inside, the ok is still not, and the mechanisms for change are still clamoring for me to find them.
The truth is that these are difficult times, and those difficulties flow like that Newtonian fluid ever so slowly onto everything. The stuck feelings are not mine alone, but they’re not talked about, the loneliness is not mine alone, but it’s not talked about either. It’s a version of polishing the outside of the garbage can in the hopes that someone doesn’t open the lid and see the layers of grime. The changes that are happening now are the important ones, the going out for walks, finding different meetings, and learning how to like myself as myself. Experiencing the world again and dispelling those anxieties and fears that had grown oversized in this suspended time we are living through is also difficult, but imperative. I don’t have any magic answers, and I certainly do have some deeper issues more than some, but I know that the answers aren’t going to come to me, but me to them. Finding them though is what is necessary, it’s the only thing that will lead me out of the rutted thinking and holes of life I am experiencing today. The primary thing for me to remember is that if I am not finding the answers where I am at, just don’t stay…