Letters From the Eastside – Letter Four

Dear Uncle Achiever and Auntie Believer,

My apologies. It has been a long time since my last letter. But either way, I hope that this letter finds both of you at a good time and that both of you are doing well.
So much has changed yet many things are still the same. I suppose this is something that happens over the years. We grow older. We learn. We forget and, somehow we find ourselves at a moment when we are reintroduced to our true selves. 

Life happens in such an interesting way. One minute, we can be walking along and minding our own business – and just like that, a light turns on. Something happens. Or, maybe something changes and we find ourselves at a moment of awareness. We can see clearly as if we are amazed how we never noticed this before – and even if we don’t want this – even if we wished we could un-feel or un-see the details of our truth, our eyes are opened now. There’s no closing them. There’s no going back. There’s no pretending anymore and there’s no way to plead ignorance anymore. It’s too late for any of that.

I have been thinking about the loops and traps in our belief system. As people, I see how we question our hopes and our dreams and how we wonder about the anxious ideas and that maybe somehow, everything we hope for will end before it even gets started.
I have been thinking about the courses of our life and how we can run in a million directions but, inevitably, we come to this point in our lives when all of the bickering becomes nothing more than just wasteful. We run around. We quit. We run away. We come back. We search and we find and then somehow, we come full circle to understand that where we were is exactly where we needed to be.
We’ve always had life looking at us right in the face yet we didn’t know it. Or, maybe we just didn’t know how to pull off the trick. Maybe we were too scared. But there’s a lot of maybes in life. I know this because ideas of “maybe” drive the bus down Anxiety Way.

I know this is only anxiety. I know these are the thoughts that creep in. These are the conversations we have in our mind and this is when we relive or rerun old conversations. This is when we focus on every possible, worst case scenario. This is the part where our fears immediately lead to an extreme source of shame, regret, pain and irrational exposure of our deepest vulnerabilities.  

A person can think themselves sick this way. Next, the heart starts beating. The mind is in a million places at once.
I have to say this kind of thinking is pretty goddamn tiresome. The ideas of impending doom, as if something is on its way; as if something awful is about to happen, something painful, something tragic is about to happen, this is enough to tighten the chest to the point where it’s like you can’t even breathe.

They say these attacks cannot last forever. They say this is stressor related. But I don’t care what anyone says anymore. I say this is hard to live with. I say all the little tricks are great but when a person is in the middle of an anxiety attack, nothing seems like it will work. At least, not in the moment.

We all know that these thoughts are irrational and as unreal as this may seem, the mind believes that this is real. The mind thinks that all of this is about to happen. And why wouldn’t the mind think this way?
We’ve fed the demon way too much protein and we starved the angels in our heart by giving them the leftovers of grizzle and fat. 

It can be hard to settle our own nerves. I know there are people who say that if we change our thinking then we can change our feelings. If we change our behavior we can change the way we think and the way we feel.
I know there are therapists who help with this and I know that there are trained professionals in the world. I know they are readily available – so long as you can pay them, of course. But still, the ideas and the hopes or the belief in recovery seems unbelievable to me.

I suppose this is what I miss the most about both of you. I suppose your voices were a means of support to me. Not just because you were kind or because you always knew what to say.
I think what I miss most is your sense of understanding without speaking. There was no judgment. There was an honest goodness about you both yet there was a time when this was uncomfortable.

I know this was never your intention. However, I say this because in fairness; I knew about the darkness in my life. I knew about the holes in my heart. I knew about the worries and the fears and although this was dark, you both had the power to shed light on this sort of thing.
Maybe this was hard for me. Maybe this was difficult because this exposed my truths, which is not to say that everything about me was a lie.
This is not to say that I was terrible or absolutely undefendable. All this showed me was that I knew I was not living up to my best.
The reason why I was upset with so many things is because at the moment of truth, I was able to see who I was and what I was doing. Had I truly been a monster or had I truly been a bad person who deserved bad things – I wouldn’t have had any feelings about where I was or what I did. 

I have learned that our actions betray our best interest when we are in a bad head space. I have learned that our thoughts can predict a pattern of behavior. And should we focus on the worst, well, this still doesn’t mean the worst is always going to happen. However, this makes it very difficult to enjoy the good things that happen to us. (Know what I mean?)

There are people who come along in our life and act like a mirror. This mirror gives us a reflection of our true selves. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe we just don’t like what we see.
Maybe we think we’ve failed for so long that failure is simply inevitable. Maybe we’ve been taught a few lies and that our reflection is inaccurate because somehow, somewhere; someone sold us a bill of goods that said we were unworthy.
Maybe this is all a series of complications in the mind – and I know that it is. I know this is a recorded system in the brain tied to remnants of the past and the regrettable yesterdays that we wish never happened.
Everybody knows this is all in the mind. But I go back to the idea of arguing with a person who hears voices. I go back to the idea of arguing with someone who is certifiable. The voices might not be real but to the person who hears them, those voices are real enough. Therefore, anyone who argues or tells them that the voices aren’t real – well, then they must be in on it too. Right?

Auntie, you once told me that people are who they believe they are. And Uncle, you would always tell me to believe in myself. You even taught me ways to calm down and stop my thinking from coming off the rails.
My guess is I would have to improve my beliefs if I want to improve my life. If either of you were here, I know that both of you would help me to understand. Maybe this is why I’m writing this letter now. Maybe this is me, extending my hand because I need you both. I need your energy. I need your love and I need your guidance to help me change the reflection I see.

I have spoken with both Cousins Contagious and Courageous, to which both of them seem to be improving with each other. They fight less. But then again, they speak less too. Perhaps this was the best option for them.

I have not heard from Sister Serenity in quite some time. I’m hearing that she has decided to take some time away from all of the social nonsense. No social media. No mainstream news. No reports about angry people on the subways or anything like that.

I think about the walks that she takes. I think about the things she describes along the way and how the landscapes dress the houses in her neighborhood. I’ve always wished I was with her when she takes these walks. I think this would be great for me.
It’s not like Sister doesn’t have life going on at the same time. She’s told me that in spite of her name, Sister Serenity is not always living through serene times.
So, instead, she does things to give herself a serene heart. She says that in spite of the madness around her (and according to Sister, the madness is real and growing) she has to find a way to look for something special. She has to find the light.
Sister says that so long as she looks for something good and as long as she is always on the move towards something better, the bad things that exist in life are still going to be there – but nothing ever has to hold her down.

I am amazed by people. No, I am in awe. I am inspired by those who manage to live their life and keep going. No matter what and regardless of what’s going on around them, they keep pushing through.

This doesn’t mean they’re better or they have an easier time. Instead, this means they’ve managed to endure. That’s the thing about anxiety. It’s the worry that you’ll never survive. It’s the constant thought that nothing gets better. That pain is on the way. That hope is actually hopeless and that happiness is only fleeting.
Anxiety is a belief that good things happen to other people. But to the anxious one or to the person who is terminally wired to believe their own doubts, nothing good will ever work out. This is why people are hardwired to fail. This is all tied into their belief system. This is because, to them, just like the person who hears voices, nothing is real but rejection itself. 

Perhaps a page from Sister Serenity’s book would be sufficient. Change our behavior to change our thinking. Take a walk. Take a break. Take a lap around the block.
Take a minute to call someone you love. Take a breath.

Take anything. Take something. Take whatever it takes but take a minute to look for something good. Look for something beautiful, like say, I don’t know – think about a memory or a smile or a laugh from someone who makes you feel “right.”
Or look for something redeeming. Like say, a good meal during an otherwise troublesome time. Think about the flavors that made your eyes go wide-open because the taste was so damned good. 

I think I will look for five great things today. I will let this be my task for the day. I will schedule this in places; what I mean is I will do this in an order of first place, second place, third, fourth, and fifth.
And I might not see them in order. The list might change as the day goes on.
But take now for example, the sunrise and the way sunlight is glistening through the trees is both peaceful and beautiful to me. This is number one. This is my first best thing.
But the day is young. I have more to see, which means I have more great things to put on this list. Besides, I’ve counted all the ugliness before and to what avail? What has this done for me? I’ve counted the wrongs and I’ve counted the crimes.
I’ve counted the injustices, but how has this helped me?
So, let me try a page out of Sister’s book and look for the five best things I’ve seen all day.

I am leaving this note with Mother Directional to add to her collection. I have asked her to hold these notes – and since Mother always seems to know how to help (just like you do), I wanted her to have this one too. I don’t know where I would be without either of you. All I know is that I wish you were here now. I miss you both. 

Love always,

Your Nephew

B-

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