I am older now. I am out of range from my past. So are you, by the way. Older. Out of range. We are out of reach from yesterday’s grip. No matter how close this seems. Yesterday is still gone and neither of us live there anymore.
I am far from the time when I was lost but yet, there will be times ahead where I will feel lost again. And consequently, there will be times when I am found once more. There will be days when I am enlightened and delivered. There will be days where I am confused and burdened.
There is of course, this journey we call life. There is the search for “Self” and the drive to achieve or “Arrive” so-to-speak. There is the need to fit and the need to understand and comprehend. More to the point, there is a need to achieve balance. There is a need to find that station in life, in which all is stable or harmonious. And too, — there is the misunderstanding that balance or serenity is the absence of adversity.
Into each life, a little rain must fall. This means we will all experience laughter and tears. This means each of us will experience the various stations of life and death. We will go through loss. We will learn about heartache. We will see greatness. We will love. We will hate. We will run the gamut of each and every emotion known to us all.
However, and in whichever manner, be advised that serenity is not the absence of adversity. By the way, bravery is not the absence of fear. Instead, both positions whether we discuss bravery or serenity is the ability to mindfully adjust. This is our ability to reach an optimal level of awareness, consciousness and understanding, which allows us to reach the best level of personal freedom.
Of course, there are the basic and common misconceptions about life. There are the common misunderstandings and misperceptions of other people. We judge. We judge ourselves and others, based on comparisons and the way they live or appear. We assume. We jump to conclusions.
One of the most enlightening conversations in my adult life was through a few messages on social media. I had the opportunity to speak with someone from my youth. The interesting part is we were on two different sides of the lunchroom. We were from two different crowds. Both of us were socially active and both of us dealt with the social politics of our crowd. However, in a million years, I would have never known how similar we were.
In my ignorance, — or wait no, I should say before I was educated, I never assumed that anyone else in the so-called “Popular” crowd would understand anything about the word depression. I never thought that someone that was seen as desirable or pretty could understand what it feels like to be lonely or ugly. I never thought anyone would know what it means to be afraid like me; or, to be worried about their position in the crowd like me. I never thought anyone from the “Pretty” crowd would feel the need to socially justify themselves the same as I had to.
I never quite told this person how helpful our discussion was. However, somehow, I think this person knew. I think they knew how groundbreaking this was to me. (Maybe I’ll tell them about this page someday and how they’ve influenced me.)
There came a time when I needed to break away from the traditional education of classrooms and diplomas. I took courses. I listened to teachers discuss topics of mental illness and trauma. I spoke with professionals. I heard lectures about the mind and the connective thoughts. I learned a great deal from the courses I took. I learned from the materials in my coaching courses. I learned from the teachers. However, there was something missing. There was something viscerally missing.
I knew about anxiety. I knew about fear. I know these things well because I have been born and well equipped with all of this. I have fears, concerns, anxiety and depression. I have subconscious programs that create pathways of thought. I have my share of simple prejudices that are based on past lessons and experiences.
I have my own issues with trust or the inaccurate placement of trust. I understand the misapplication of friendship, especially when red flags and warning signs come to light. Yet, the need for acceptance allows for a blind eye.
I wanted to learn more about this from more than just a classroom experience. I wanted to hear from normal everyday people that work normal everyday jobs and live everyday lives.
I recognize who I am. I have needs, wants, aspirations, hopes and dreams. I want to fit. I want to be part of. I want to have and share connections with people. I want to be wanted. I want to be desired. I want to feel comfortable in my own skin. I want to be in a room and not feel alone. Or wait, even better is this; I want to be in a crowd and not feel so lonely.
I want to be able to adapt and believe in my ability to overcome, perform and be attractive without promotion. I want to be confident. I want to be cool. In fact, I say this without hesitation. I say this without shame or without regret. Further, I say this with all honesty and without the sentiment of self-degradation. No, this is simply me being honest about the weight that has often shifted me from my balance. And again, balance does not mean the absence of weight or counterweight. Instead, this means we learned how to distribute the weight of our life without going off-balance.
There is the misperception of equality. There is the miscalculation of others and their world in comparison to my ours. I know this now. I know that my assumptions are neither fact or fiction. This is only my perception or the deception thereof.
Throughout my life, the one thing I have always wanted is to find where I belong. I say this because I want to belong somewhere. I want the best environment. I want to share the best connections between people and co-workers.
I always wanted to be in the right crowd and at the right job with the right house, the right car, and the right retirement plan. I never realized where this came from. I was living my life, according to a blueprint that I was trained to abide by. The only problem was the blueprint never seemed to fit my plans.
I had to learn that where I am is where I belong. Right here. Right now. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Anyone I meet today or the day after is part of my trip. This is all part of my journey, and if I am lucky, I’ll learn from this. If I am lucky, I will notice the world around me.
This is what I want to do.
Rather than learn from classes and teachers, I decided that I want to learn from people. I wanted to hear about them and their life. I want to give people a voice where no one else would. I want to know what anxiety feels like to someone else. I want to hear different descriptions and the different definitions of panic. I want to hear from people that lived beneath the clouds of depression and find out what this means to them. I chose to do this and leave nothing up to judgement because while each story was individually different, I want to find the commonality.
I want to learn more about the commonality of treatment and failing treatment plans. Rather than create programs based on a one-size-fits-all strategy. I want to learn what works for people on an individual basis.
Although we might relate, our personal chemistry is absolutely and individually different. Our chemical reactions might be similar but our chemistry is still not the same. This of course is why there are so many different medications on the market.
This is also why I wanted to speak with people that live with medicated resistant depression. I want to hear from anyone and everyone that put themselves through the treatment process and found no help, no relief and no answer to the endless questions.
I want to know what happened. What do we go through in life. Is it abuse? Is it a loss? Is it fear? Is it witnessing something tragic or living in a troublesome household? What creates the chemical changes in us?
I want to hear from different people, from different backgrounds, different cultures and races. I want to know what works for them. How do they get through their day (or do they get through it)?
Over the years, I have spoken with people that lived both similarly and differently. The one commonality I’ve found is the importance of identity. Who am I really?
Who is anyone?
Identity is everything, — and yet, our identity is simple. It is the mind, which complicates this. It is the lessons and experiences with fear or rejection, which teach us about our imperfections and mislead us into thinking we are imperfect.
I once heard, “Relieve me from the bondage of self.”
This was part of a prayer known as the Third Step Prayer. This comes from Step 3 of 12 in a 12-Step program that I was introduced to back in 1989. I often think about this line. Relieve me from the bondage of self.
I think about what this means to me.
This means to be relieved of the internal hamster wheel. This means no more overthinking and no more regarding myself with unfair judgement. This means I have to allow myself to resign the internal critic.
I have to learn how to reprogram the voice of my internal narrative because yes, it’s true. We can think ourselves into being sick. We can convince ourselves that we are no good at anything.
Our thoughts lead to the chemical changes in our mind. This has nothing to do with fact or fiction. This is only a chemical response. If we can think ourselves sick then we can think ourselves well too. No?
Therefore to the mind of trauma, this is why we feel and why we react. We are responding to countless data, which has been stored in the mind and seen as pertinent towards personal survival. Therefore, deal with the trauma. Uproot the problem. Otherwise the roots will spear. Otherwise, we deal with weed-like symptoms that suffocate the mind and prevent us from living.