Funnily enough, I came over to this computer today in a distracted kind of way, even though it's the exact reason I even opened the computer, because blogging always takes me forever and a day, and actually, I don't have forever to compose my thoughts. And I am quite stingy with my time in general, which means when I do sit down at the computer, several things happen at once. My mind whirrs with thoughts, usually encompassing what I could be doing, and I stare off into space, trying to make myself think logically for two seconds, if I'm going to try and pull this thing off. Neither method works particularly well, and even though I am a semi-faithful follower of a guided meditation practice, I still have more moments where I'm swept away by past thoughts and future anxieties than I have moments of truly living in the present, and being content and happy about it.
I painted my mailbox this morning. A project that I have had on my to-do list for ages, finally complete. I painted a monogram on my mailbox, actually, which is a lot more fun than just painting a mailbox, which would probably never make a to-do list of mine. It looks quite nice, if you're into that sort of thing, and I walked away feeling happy with the outcome. But lately I've begun to lose my faith in the things that make me happy, and I've started to wonder if happiness can ever be a lasting emotion, or is it just a fleeting, feel-good emotion that I grasp for with the hopes that this, whatever this might be, would be The Answer. I meditate (almost) every day, I listen to TED Talks and to The Good Life Project (occasionally over my head...what is "ethos", anyway?) podcasts. I go to bed early, exercise every single day, have a good relationship with my kids and talk to my sister pretty much every day. I see a counselor once a month and believe all the gossip about sugar really is true. (Sugar is like the devil. Apparently.) So, on days like today, when I seem to have all the ingredients for a Happy Recipe, why do I still feel sad? It doesn't make sense. I have all the tools. How am I not using them right?
This is when I take my fingers off the keyboard, flip the lid, flip the computer off (Like literally. Middle fingers high. Boy bye.), and shut the whole thing down. What do I have to offer the world when I can't even answer a simple question about myself?
It might be easier to discover what I'm lacking than to say what I'm doing wrong. Because maybe I'm doing nothing wrong, I've just gone about things a little differently than I could have, and the outcome hasn't been exactly what I've expected.
A lot of people say how open and honest I am. Let me say this. I am open and honest. About the things I am comfortable being open and honest about. But being truly vulnerable is really, really hard. I don't want to be. Being vulnerable has brought on a pain and grief I didn't expect, didn't ask for, didn't want, and who wants any of that? So in response, which is what I know and am most familiar with, I close myself off. It's simply a self-protective gesture, so it doesn't seem like anyone should or would even notice. I'm still me. Just...not. Because putting up walls to keep other people out makes me a little less friendly and a little more edgy. Not edgy like "look at my edgy ripped jeans and tattoo" but edgy like the aforementioned single finger salute. Not that I salute any person, but I think it. Which in and of itself isn't so bad, but it sets me up for negative thoughts and negative attitudes instead of feelings of compassion, altruism and love for all others. There are some "others" that are really hard to love, but I don't get the privilege of picking and choosing who I authentically love and who doesn't make the list.
My counselor told me about a study done (book? study? I don't remember, doesn't matter) on people and what they value in others. Which was vulnerability. Which is defined as "the quality of being easily hurt or attacked". Which is something none of us want, and most of us guard against. So what we want in others is what we are the most afraid to give. Leaving us wrapped up in walls of our own making, guarded and on the lookout for hurt.
I have been hurt. I have been disappointed. I have felt unimportant, rejected and dismissed. Not by one. By a few, by many, I guess it just depends on how picky you want to be. I would suppose the person reading these words all the way to the end has also been hurt, disappointed and felt unimportant, rejected and dismissed. I'm certainly not the exception. And I have, in the process of battening down the hatches, so to speak, for fear of more storms, also lost true vulnerability, and in a way, lost a way to heal the hurts. Nothing in. Nothing out.
It's going to take time to really sort out the tangle inside. There is no easy fix when it comes to emotions and hurts and people and old habits and new habits and being open to healing rather than band-aiding. This life requires active participation, an awareness of the present moment, and the decision to enjoy it, and anyways, I'm tired of being on auto-pilot, knowing I'm anxious but not knowing how to breathe. When all I have to do is...just breathe. Allowing air in. Allowing a tiny hole of openness, starting with a pinprick, to get some light. Some vulnerability. Some life.