elusive balance

Often I expect perfection from others and from myself. But both expectations are unrealistic. Time to give myself and others break. Give us room to grow- to make mistakes and learn without feeling debilitating shame. Even the most natural and pure phenomena fluctuate in brightness and intensity.  Water crests high and falls back down. . . But there is no other way to reach the shore.

Ups and downs are equally necessary for progress and change. For growth. Enough thinking that perfection is a shortcut to happiness within a person. It’s the opposite. Being perfect would hinder us from reflection and growth. Balance is most desirable, and most peaceful within me. . . Awareness of my daily mistakes. Without condemning them. This also means tolerance of others’ mistakes. Knowing everyone is doing their best at any given moment. The best they know how to do. Forgive urself. moment to moment.

A Dysfunctional Imprint

An imprint. A mold that presses you, and leaves an indelible design forever. I grew up in dysfunction. And yet, as a 16 year old sophmore plugging my ears in my car, waiting for my parents to stop arguing so I can enter the house- I hadn’t yet learned the word “dysfunction.” Nor had I learned that this chaos was imprinting on me as I sat there, ears covered, stomach turning, waiting for the signal- the relief of silence- to finally exit the car.

As a child, I didn’t know my family was dysfunctional. I was still a kid- doing what kids do: going to school, hanging with friends, going to soccer practice. No- I never lay in bed wondering, “is my house dsyfunctional?”

I simply reacted to the dysfunction.
I didn’t know. I wish I knew.
The monumental effect that this daily conflict would have on me for the rest of my life.

What my dog can teach us

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More important than the relationship we have with our friends, our family, or our significant other, is the relationship we have with ourselves. If I’m not taking care of myself, who is? If I don’t do nice things for myself, who will? If I don’t provide positive thoughts for a peaceful mindset, who will put them there?

Treating ourselves nicely is an act  I think only humans struggle with. Today, I watched my dog begin to lay down on the concrete. Suddenly, she hesitated and chose to find a spot on the soft grass instead. This decision seems effortless and potentially meaningless- but everything one needs to know about self-love can be exemplified by my dog’s decision to lay in the grass.

At times I’ve wanted to severely punish myself. At times I’ve consciously chosen to deprive myself of everything I so eagerly want my loved ones to have. I’ve comforted others before and without comforting myself. I’ve motivated, encouraged, complimented, assured everyone except for the one person I spend the most time with- the one person who’s thoughts I can actually control.

I’m convinced that when I commit such foolishness, it’s because I need  to hurt myself before others have the chance to. But the truth is- others will always try to hurt us. Whether or not they do depends on the fortress we’ve built up in our minds. If I’m spending no time building up my confidence, there’s a thin wall protecting me from the judgments of others.  If I spend less time hurting myself, and more time helping myself, I will actually become less vulnerable to pain- not more vulnerable.

Even my dog knows this.

The Feat of Adulthood

For me the most reoccurring challenge from age 18-22 has been 1) Discovering/ working towards a career that I genuinely have a passion for and 2) Relationships.

The two of them kind of go hand-in-hand, I think.The most common conversations when I lived with my roommates for three years were about school and relationships. And a lot of times failure in one category resulted in failure in the other.

The moment I started making school/ career related decisions that were true to myself, and not to the 4-year-plan, after which you-need-to-have-a-career, I started becoming more confident and empowered in all other aspects of my life, including relationships.

I think the challenge, really, is not looking to the person next to you and comparing your success to his/ hers. For me, and possibly a lot of people my age, observing others is what guides us. Our parents, teachers, and older friends tell us to go to college. Get a degree! And make a lot of money! And we listen. I think college education is excellent, but I found flaw in that focus is put on money- and status… and not on happiness.

My biggest struggle so far has been dealing with expectations- somehow living my life taking into account both what I want and what is necessary for me to live without worrying about money problems.

While all this obsessive thinking about school and money, the second most obsessive thoughts are/were about relationships with guys.

What if I never find someone right for me? Oh, look, someone is having a baby. Oh, look, someone is getting married. I want that frown emoticon and then, that weekend, I go on a date with a complete jerk… all hope is lost and somehow, a lack seems to continuing gnawing on my insides until I’m deceived by hope again.

But yay. I finally found the love of an amazing person. Still, the challenge remains on keeping the relationship healthy in it’s infancy, and removing all doubt that this person will leave me (voluntarily or involuntarily). I might be slightly more sensitive to these doubts because I’m pregnant. But the point is-whether in a relationship or single, the challenge revolves around finding/ keeping a mate. This is just for me.

The next challenge that I’m so excited for: being a mom and a good spouse.

 

 

I both produce light and deprive myself of it

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The sun is seen to pour down and expend itself in all directions, yet is never exhausted. For this downpouring is but a self-extension; sunbeams, in fact, derive their very name from a word signifying ‘to be extended’.

To understand the property of a sunbeam, watch the light as it streams into a darkened room through a narrow chink. It prolongs itself forward in a straight line, until it is held up by encountering some solid body which blocks its passage to the air beyond; and then it remains at rest there, without slipping off or falling away.

The emission, and the diffusion, of thought should be the counterpart of this: not exhausting, but simply extending itself; not dashing violently or furiously against the obstacles it encounters, nor yet falling away in despair; but holding its ground and lighting up that upon which it rests. Failure to transmit it is mere self-deprivation of light.

-Marcus Aurelius

 

Every day

Behind the smile, there is a relentless flow of self-destructive thoughts

Behind the eyes, there is a craving to be effortlessly understood

Behind the nervous laugh, there is a longing to be completely myself

Behind the downwards stare, there is a painful past, ready to renew fear

Who I am… it is rarely expressed outwardly. So much is hidden, burning; wanting to be released… so much is masked by pain from years of keeping a true self out of view.

Every day, I say things I don’t feel

Every day, I act to pursue approval

Every day, I want to stop

creating a human

Being pregnant confuses me. It takes all my energy, every last bit. What I’m left with is little desire to pursue anything that makes me happy.

I’m overwhelmed with emotion and fatigue seemingly all day every day. I want to rise up, to counter all that perturbs me with logic and motivation. But I dig, I dig deep. And all I find is preoccupation with negative thoughts, fueled not just by bodily fatigue but mental tiredness. 

I spend 20 percent of the day trying to tell myself to eat. Eat what though?.. I spend 20 percent trying to decide. I spend 20 percent of the day pleading with myself not to throw up. This feat itself takes the most energy out of me, besides the general tiredness that drains me all day long.

The last 20 percent I feel ok enough to have hope, to let optimism creep in, to start thinking about what I can do myself, for myself, to be happy. But an hour later I no longer have the energy to make myself happy. That’s why I feel so much better when I’m with Joel. He makes me happy when I don’t have the energy to do things for my self. 

I’m trying my best. I’m doing my best. I need to believe that there is a new mindset that I will soon be able to discover. One of appreciation and gratitude. One with stability. I need to believe that this is the storm before the sun comes out. 

I need to take care of myself when I can, and when I can’t I need to reach out to family and friends. Or else I’m just going to keep bullying myself. Feeling shitty and then bullying myself for not being able to deal with the shit on my own. I’m going to persevere.

Endurance

There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must have felt what it is to die, so that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.

– Edmund Dantes, The Count of Monte Cristo 

This pain is necessary. I must endure moments of fear, hopelessness, and loneliness in order to feel the contrast of emotions. When I feel content again, it will be an amazing, relieving happiness and appreciation for the moment. Only because I have an experience to compare it to.

There can be no fear without comfort, no hopelessness without optimism, and no loneliness without the warmth of company. 

In this moment, I will not make assumptions about the next moment

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Never confuse yourself by visions of an entire lifetime at once. That is, do not let your thoughts range over the whole multitude and variety of the misfortunes that may befall you, but rather, as you encounter each one, ask yourself,

“What is there unendurable, so insupportable, in this?”

You will find that you are ashamed  to admit defeat. Again, remember that it is not the weight of the future or the past that is pressing upon you, but ever that of the present alone. Even this burden, too, can be lessened if you confine it strictly to its own limits, and are severe enough with your mind’s inability to bear such a trifle.

-Marcus Aurelius

Of those events  out of my control, I can control my reaction to them.

Of those actions in my control, I can thoughtfully and passionately pursue them.

I have complete control- if only I choose to exercise it.

I don’t believe in “signs.” I don’t believe in fate- and I don’t believe that things happen for a reason.

Things happen, or else I make them happen for myself. Events overlap- and there I find beauty, causation, fortunate coincidences. I admire nature, and thank chaos, in these moments. But at no point will I give up, choose a different route, or take  action because I saw a figure in the clouds that looks like jesus christ the same day I lost my job.

My brain is drawn to patterns- I understand that. It’s advantageous to my survival. But this function, when used in extreme and  misleading ways,  is now detrimental to my survival and to my happiness.

In this moment, I choose to exercise my intent, my effort, my determination- my will.