I am in no way at the end of my soul journey nor have I evolved out of making mistakes or needing to learn. But this sage IV cancer diagnosis has given me a certain perspective I didn’t have before.
I speak to friends who circle life stresses in a way I used to and notice that, not only do I not do that any more, but some of my biggest emotional triggers are just no longer there. Of course, I have bigger fish to fry. Or at least I’m aware of the fish in front of me.
We’re all going to die at some point, but the emotional knowing makes it harder to dwell on things I can’t control. Or better put, it makes it easier to live day by day, moment by moment, building a life I can leave feeling like I gave it my all without getting in my own way.
Of course, I still can be my own obstacle. I’m human. I have depressed bed-ridden days and what’s-the-meaning-of-all-this moments. I struggle with the why-me’s although less than you would think, and mostly around scan result time.
So that said, I decided to recount some of the things that used to weigh on me because I’m often surprised that they have little effect on my daily life anymore. And truthfully, sometimes I’m afraid they are just around the corner, waiting to reincorporate themselves into my world. Although the hope is that if they do crop up, their charge will dissipate almost immediately.
- Caring what people think about me – This was a big one. I really really wanted to be liked…by everyone. So much so that I would stress about conversations I’d had and wondered if certain inflections in my voice had made me less likable. These days I’m amazed that after I meet someone, I generally don’t wonder what they’re thinking in relation to me. I figure they’ll let me know by their actions or words. And I’m fine with that.
- Taking things personally – As part of the caring what others thought package, I would overanalyze the behavior of others and match it to how they must feel about me. In a sense, I was trying to read minds. So if someone didn’t call, my immediate thought was I had offended them or they didn’t like me. Now I just figure people come, people go. And whoever is there, is meant to be there at that particular moment in time. I also don’t have time to focus on others’ thoughts and have come to the conclusion that I’m not that good at reading minds after all.
- Getting (romantically) crazy about people before I know them – I used to get attached to men easily and super fast. In fact, I would do that with friends as well. And I would obsess about when they were going to call, if they were going to call. These days I get less attached to people out of the gate. Somewhere along the line I decided I don’t need to get attached unless you give me a good reason to do so. And that reason takes time to show itself. This one is particularly surprising as I date, because if a man, even one I really like, doesn’t call, I’m unphased. Not cut off, not numb, but not all that affected. Maybe it rolls into the idea of not taking things personally. Because if someone doesn’t know me, how can their lack of interest be personal? And if on some level it is personal, good to know sooner rather than later.
- Spending time in places or with people who don’t make me feel good – I’ve been in many situations that are the picture of fun, or with people who are the epitome of cool. And in the past, I was concerned with trying to change my inner world in that moment to make it match what was going on outside. So a “fun” party that I was not enjoying would become an exercise in morphing my emotional life, usually with little success. I’d come away from those moments feeling alien or, at worst, really bad about myself. Now, I just don’t bother. When I show up somewhere or meet someone, I listen for my inner voice to guide me. And I’ve learned there’s a difference between pushing yourself to exist outside of your comfort zone (good) and compromising your own sense of self and comfort (bad).
- Falling victim to my own choices – There’s a saying that with one foot in the past and one in the future, you are just peeing on the present. I never had much of a problem futuring (which is another topic all together) but I tended to live in the past. Or lived in the present regretting the past. “If only I had committed to my writing sooner” or “if only I had kept in touch with so and so.” I’ve recently come to an acceptance of what is and that I am where I am based on all the choices I made. They were mine, good or bad and regretting any of them doesn’t improve today. While it’s important to learn from the past and my mistakes, it’s also crucial for me not to live there. Because all we really have is now.