Returning to Mindfully Crazy

There couldn’t be a better title for this post. Because I lost it, y’all. The mindfulness that I had worked on years to cultivate had disappeared through a combination of falling out of practice and falling off the wagon.

Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of and present in the moment. It means not ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. It is very difficult to do, especially in modern times. Go ahead and try, right now, to meditate….. slow your breathing…. close your eyes and focus only on your breath….. challenge yourself to see how long you can go before thoughts about another person, a chore, a bill, or your car come into your mind. That’s you focusing on something you have no control over in the present moment. Get back to your breath. Now do that for five whole minutes.

Oh, you don’t want to do that for five whole minutes right now? Just sitting there and breathing sounds lame and boring, right? Yeah, it freaking does when we could be playing Among Us or binge-watching a show. That’s how easy it is to lose focus.

As I read recently, mindfulness is a skill that we learn. Much like learning a new language is a skill, if we fail to continuously practice we will slowly lose what we spent so long learning. Ask me how much Japanese I remember after spending 5 years learning it in university, including a semester abroad in Japan. 何もない。(Nothing.) Honestly, I barely remember any of it because I had no one to regularly practice it with.

I recently started learning Spanish though. And because I use an interactive app (Duolingo) that reminds me to study daily, estoy aprendiendo muy rapido! (I am learning very fast!)

I also recently got back into intensive therapy. I have been hunting down apps to remind me to meditate (Breethe), remind me to write, allow me to see a therapist (BetterHelp), and allow me to attend recovery meetings (AA Big Book) all from my phone. It is great since we’re in a pandemic and I currently live alone with no transportation.

I’ve also been deep diving into self-help and trauma-recovery books and workbooks. I am an absolute sucker for self-help workbooks. I’ve also been incorporating skateboarding and yoga into my days for some exercise because I have been a hermit loaf basically since the lockdown started. Although I did climb Stone Mountain recently for the first time in my nearly decade of living in the Atlanta area.

The point is that I am specifically taking the time out of my day to work on these skills. It is not always something I want to do–why write about my recent trauma when I could just watch Lady Dynamite for the millionth time?–but I put in the effort because I know the outcome will be a happier healthier me.

Don’t get me wrong though. Less than three months ago my life was positively flipped upside down. I lost my partner, our cat, our car. We were planning to get married until a fateful night when we both actively decided to fall off the wagon together. I was a rage-monster-terror-face. I didn’t yet know where the anger was coming from but my partner and his friend, our roommate, had previously commented that I needed to figure out where the anger was coming from.

I was offended that they were insisting I should talk to a doctor and a therapist about it. I knew what I was doing in therapy, I’d been doing it all my life!

But the day my partner left he reiterated that I needed to talk to someone about my anger.

And with absolutely nothing else to lose, I started talking to a new therapist. I just said, “I’m getting so angry at people I love and I don’t know why.” And then I swan dived into self-help.

I may never see my ex again, or even get to truly apologize for my part in our disastrous break-up (which is a traumatic story that opened my eyes up to painful discoveries about my mom in therapy.) The only thing I can do right now is put everything I have into becoming a better person and reinforcing healthy coping mechanisms to overcome explosive emotions.

I understand if you’re too depressed to do literally anything right now. I had to write “brush teeth” on my self-care checklist because even that felt like such a chore. But try to do one nice thing for yourself. Just think to yourself, “I’m worth being here and I’m worth improving myself.” Seriously. Even if you don’t believe it right now. Actions start to follow thoughts.

I have to believe that you’re worth being here, because I tell myself that I’m worth being here. And if I am, then you must be too!

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