I feel like I should start this post with a little bit of background. I was born and raised in a dead end town in upstate NY, and moved to Austin about a month ago. I’ve spent the past month unemployed, looking for a job, and spending an alarming amount of time by myself. As I embark on this path of mindfulness that I’ve decided on, I’ve been faced with a lot of room for improvement. My practice is a wee little baby one, really only just over a year. As such, I am nowhere near having any real say about what my mind, emotions, and especially my anxiety decides to do. Over the past month I’ve had multiple days where I feel confident and strong and feel as if there is forward motion in my life, and I have just as many days where I don’t put on pants and wonder how I have failed so badly at 26. Rationally, I don’t think I’ve failed my life at 26. Irrationally, I think I’ve made all the wrong choices without meaning to.
This pattern of self deprecation and defeat is something I’ve developed in my second nature. These are not habits I was born with, and I certainly did not have unsupportive parents. Somehow, through the course of my teenage years, I’ve developed this rhetoric of being less than. I’ve spent so many years nourishing this self sabotage that it is fully automatic; the slightest hint of negative emotion sends me into a tailspin. As a woman, I’m sure some of it has to do with the general encouragement to self-hate that surrounds me on a daily basis. As a recent MFA graduate, I’m sure it has something to do with getting my freaking life started already. Since my circumstances are what they are at the moment, I just have so much more fuel to feed this monster.
I remember growing up, we lived in a pretty rural neighborhood where there was always the possibility of animals getting into the trash, pool, shed… whatever was outside that they could get in. This was especially true if you didn’t take precautions. Maybe you didn’t lock the shed or put a lid on the trash can, and as a result of that neglect, there are intruders. Right now, my anxiety is a black bear fumbling through my yard, and generally just fucking all my shit up. It won’t move along if I keep giving it things to feed on. Sure, it’s going to come by sometimes and check things out, and a few times it will probably break a lock somewhere. The point is, a little bit of maintenance that isn’t repeated, let’s the nuisance of an animal do whatever he wants.
I think I’ve fallen into the trap of feeling like I’m done with this mindfulness stuff. As much lip service as I might have paid to it being about the journey, some reflection has revealed to me that… maybe I had a few “woohoo I’m so enlightened!” moments. As a result, I think I got a little bit lazy. As crippling as this anxiety and self defeat can be, I need to make this a growth opportunity. This is, for better or worse, a reminder for me that I need to be fastidious. I need to keep working at this, for my health, and not for any other goal.
Tonight, I’m going to sip some ginger tea, do some kundalini yoga, and a ten minute meditation. I’m going to start tomorrow with the same. I only get one lifetime to care for my mind and happiness, and I guess I need to stop being passive about it.