Tagged: mindfulness

Anxiety, My Terrible Roommate

This is the kind of shit that Simon tells me. Except about everything. Source.

You still haven’t started that paper. You forgot to send that email again. What’s wrong with you? You haven’t done the dishes in a week. When are you going to write your aunt back? I can’t believe you said that stupid thing at work today. You better call the dog in. Are you ever going to start that paper?

So goes the monologue that so often takes over my mind, and that’s on the good days. I’ve posted before about my experience with anxiety and obsessive thinking. I recently stumbled upon a strange method for getting a little distance form it. I named it Simon.

I got this odd notion from an episode of On Being (one of my favorite podcasts) with pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber. She explained,

I named my depression Frances because it was like a really bad roommate who would never leave. And at the time when I really suffered from depression, it was when Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love had their child named Frances Bean, and so I named my — at the time they named their child, I named my depression Frances.

But I always pictured her more like Courtney Love, kind of emaciated in a vintage nightgown with like smeared lipstick and a gin bottle and a cigarette. Like that was Courtney. I mean, that was Frances, my depression. And like at first, she was kind of interesting to hang out with, but then she just never moved out.

Something just clicked when I heard this. Of course! All this time I’ve been observing my thoughts, knowing myself as the awareness, not the thinking/thinker. But it’s damn hard to remember when the dust-devil swirls in. What better way to disidentify from my obsessive thinking than to give it a name?

So I named it Simon. I picture him vividly: a skinny, scrawny boy of 18 or 19, with messy black hair and wire-frame glasses. I feel like he’s my younger cousin or something, and for some reason, I’m expected to live with him. Simon is the kind of roommate who leaves his dirty socks on the floor and eats the leftovers you were saving. Simon has strong opinions on matters on which he is utterly uninformed. Simon believes everything will go wrong and he wants me to know it.

Naming Simon has sparked something of a revolution in my mind. That evening, all my anxious thoughts were suddenly in sharp relief, obvious in their absurdity and complete uselessness. Shut the fuck up, Simon, I though to myself over and over. In the few weeks since this happened, my anxiety has plummeted. Best of all, whenever it rears its ugly head, it is easily shot down. I wouldn’t put up with this crap from a roommate; there’s no need to put up with it from myself, either.

No more Simon Says.

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My Goal

My goal is to be present in my life.

My goal is not to be perfect.
My goal is not to avoid pain.
My goal is not to never make mistakes.
My goal is to be present in my life.

My goal is not to finish what I am doing.
My goal is not to have everything go as planned.
My goal is not to achieve goals.
My goal is to be present in my life.

My goal is not to be right.
My goal is not to be successful.
My goal is not to be comfortable.
My goal is to be present in my life.

My goal is not to change things.
My goal is not to solve problems.
My goal is not to get through the day.
My goal is to be present in my life.

My goal is not to do.
My goal is not to find.
My purpose is the purpose that is no purpose.
My goal is to be present in my life.

Since the purpose of life is to live, ask only, Am I alive?

Am I alive now?

Every Piece Of Chalk

Feeling numb to experience is caused by the false perception that you are caught in the wrong experience, as in if a predicament. This perception is caused in turn by the false belief that you need to pursue experience. You do not need to pursue experience. You are experience.

J. Jennifer Matthews, Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are

Old hurts beckoned me and I went to them, searching the subterranean labyrinths of my heart. The memories come broken, twisting toward wholeness. I unlock their secret meanings and let them fly away. I have the sensation I am getting to the bottom of something. Age 12, staring hard at my face in the mirror, thinking, “When will I look like myself?” Unable to picture how that self might look. I think of myself as a depressed, insecure teenager, an overwhelmed 9-year-old. I think of myself now, a man with a transsexual body. I realize that for my whole life, my greatest dream has always been to be normal, to live a normal life. It seemed so out of reach. Then I get to the core of it, to the single thought that has tormented me so long. I’m not how I’m supposed to be. Sudden tears warm against my cheeks. Then, sudden laughter. It’s only what I know all over again. I am trans. To be trans is to know in your bones that something is very wrong–that somehow you were supposed to be different.

Everything is wrong, and nothing is. This is the truth of the experience–to remember the mistake over and over. I laughed then, giddy with freedom. I’m still trans; that’s all. In that moment a few weeks ago, I felt I had finally accepted it.

What is truth for the transgender person? The truth is we are really and truly trans. We’re weren’t supposed to be different. We are the ones who walk across/between genders. That is one journey our spirits make in this life.

Spiritual questions related to the artifice of the ego or self speak directly to the trans experience. But which self is false? As transsexual people we can get caught between competing false selves. We are haunted by twin ghosts: the cisgender son or daughter we were asked or forced to be, and the cisgender girl or boy we wanted to be instead.

The truth is that neither is us. We are real, and we really are trans.

I had a strange thought. Make no sense of it; it is a spiritual truth that defies ordinary logic. I thought, God must have really loved me to have made me trans. In that moment, I felt my transness as a beautiful gift from the eternal, an endless kiss, a point of encounter, the memory of wholeness, intimacy itself. It is no better and no worse than any other kiss. It is only the particular kiss that we receive, we few who meet life at this unusual angle. In some strange way, being trans is how I know I exist, since everywhere I go, there I am, trans again.

When I was small, whenever I broke a piece of chalk–a common occurrence that greatly distressed me–my dad would make it whole again. He would take the two pieces, hold them together, get very quiet, and then hand me back a whole piece of chalk. By some sleight of hand, he’d pocketed the shorter piece; I accepted the longer half as the whole thing. A whole piece of chalk.

Of course, it is a whole piece of chalk. Every piece of chalk is a whole piece of chalk. And goddammit, I am a whole piece of chalk too.