June Beaux You Can Be Broken And Fixed At The Same Time
I started writing this post as an answer to a post by June Beaux,
Who Am I If There’s Nothing Wrong With Me?
My belief that I’m fundamentally flawed is so deeply held, I’m not sure who I’d be without it.
When it got to 400 words or so, I realized that this was both a personal story and one that might add to an on-going dialog here regarding mental health in general and depression-addiction in particular.
I realize now that I have been depressed a long time, perhaps my whole life. Probably my whole life. It drove a lot of what my therapist-teacher likes to call “maladaptive behaviors.” Addiction, certainly. The inability to act due to the lovely combination of hopelessness-fear-anxiety-dread. Social anxiety expressed physically in a way that made people uncomfortable to be around me, deepening my sense of isolation, making me more anxious, and onward…
I think that’s changing now. My inner experience certainly is considerably different (a lot easier to deal with), and it appears it’s apparent on the outside, too. The world, universe, whatever you want to call it, is responding to my new and improved ability to willfully engage with it with positive feedback. And that combination is accelerating my reverse climb out of the whirlpool. It’s a positive feedback loop now (in more ways than one); the engagement and positive feedback feeding each other.
I believe that I have started a positive trend in myself; beyond just feeling good at any particular moment (which would be “relief”), this feels like a longer-term trend. One that won’t be easily be derailed by circumstance. I believe I am building an antifragile life; an antidepressed life. Is this a “cure” for depression? I am no one to say. All I can say, to paraphrase Hunter Thompson: It’s working for me.
Here’s how it started. Or, at least, how it reached the tipping point. This is 99% of the original text of my response to June.
I don’t mean to sound a braggard at all, and…I think I’ve made — am making?? — this transition. And it happened in an instant, after 25 years of meditation and therapy and psychedelics and seeking. My wife even noticed when it happened. I came back from that evening’s men’s group and she looked at me and said, “What’s going on? It was that obvious. I was different inside and that was just the first of an on-going tide of changes, growth, whatever.
One of the men in my group did a meditation (our group always starts with one): after a few minutes of quiet…this is about self-love; see your self as you are today and hold yourself-as-a-baby in your arms. Feel what you feel for that baby…feel the love you would feel for that baby…now realize that you are still that baby.
In that moment I realized that, mostly, my internal state was disdain for myself. Once I could see it, it made all the difference. Suddenly it wasn’t me anymore, I could find emotional distance from it. I grew bigger than it — it’s still there, but now I can watch from afar as it does it’s thing — and from that moment life has been really different in here.
And my internal state is being reflected in my external situation. Life is getting better — still has ups and downs just like before, but now I am able to react from another place than my pre-existing disdain. #bkf Be Kind First is my new motto, and the universe is reacting with great new people, business opportunities, and teachers.
It was truly fu@#ked getting here, through all that misery but, honestly, if I knew at the time that this is where I would end up? I might have made the decision to do it anyway.
Good luck. Via con Dios. Be well.
So, June Beaux, good luck. From this perspective, I see that I was trying to fix the wrong problem for years. I was never going to “fix” or “cure” my depression-addiction, nor was anyone else or thing going to do it for me.
Instead, the answer (for me, anyway) turns out to be letting all that stuff be. Don’t try and fix it, instead focus on getting “bigger” than it, growing past it. My depression-addiction isn’t going anywhere and, maybe, it doesn’t need “fixing.” Maybe it’s there for a reason — an emotional appendix, so to speak — and our job is to use it rather than try and extinguish it.
Maybe that’s your answer — who you are if there is nothing wrong with you is all that same stuff inside a bigger you. It’s all just diluted into a bigger pool of youness.
I feel like life has been feeding me insights through a firehose since that night (has anyone else had this experience? Insights beget insights?). I think that these two might be the most important so far.
Be Kind First #bkf
My new motto. Everything I do and say gets filtered through that. Some people say, “well that’s just not authentic,” or “that’s not being honest.” And my response to them is “who says that initial response is the ‘honest’ one?’” That’s my limbic system talking. It gets a vote, but it ain’t driving the boat. My authentic response is — can be — much bigger than that, more thought out, more nuanced, and nicer. I like myself a lot more. I’m strong in a way that I don’t question and thus a lot more interested in a conversation than proving my point.
My other new motto. Since reaching this new place I seem to get a lot of interesting insights, but this seems one the best. It works for anything that life throws at me, any reaction I have, and any reaction anyone else has. It’s like a big shot of morphine for my ego-limbic system (sorry, there’s the addict again). That question allows me to somehow detach from that quick brain stuff. The quick brain still fires, but…I’m “bigger” than it now. Now the question “how can I use it?” quickly follows.
For instance (this really happened): My body is twitching in a group of people because I am trying to hide my anxiety. Oh (noticing it): how can I use this? The answer that night was to channel part of it into paying attention to the conversation rather than to how anxious I was and to learn that I had a say in its happening or not. I could, in fact, calm myself down in the moment (a really good thing to know!).
I am gaining (some) agency over myself. The larger me is in charge now, well…mostly; more than 51% of the time, I like to think. Not because it’s taken over — all of my other parts are still happily (or miserably) doing what they do — the depression, addiction, anxiety, self-doubt — they’re all still chugging right along. It’s just that they’re all committed to a larger goal now; building an antifragile Adam. They have all realized that that’s the only way for them all to be safe over the long run.
It’s an on-going…not “struggle,” that’s too strong…but, effort. To stay awake and aware that I can be this new me. Because the dark of the depression and addiction are so welcoming and so comfortable and so…known.
To all of you — all of us — that suffer with this, you have my deep empathy, compassion, and understanding. My sincerest hope is that my victory over this (however long it may last) provides hope that it’s possible.
And to all of you who have made it through this and are on the other side — antidepressed, or whatever — please tell us your stories. They’ll be very healing.
Good luck. Via con Dios. Be well.