Today, my resolution to be mindful was hard. Oh, so hard. The choice to be mindful forced me to wrestle with myself and feelings about myself I’d rather not feel.
I found myself slouched on the couch today after a long day of keeping it under control at work. In the comfort of home, I cried long and hard, trying hard not to demand answers of myself that I couldn’t quite yet give as to why I was crying or what I should do about it. I just let myself feel.
But of course, my mind automatically asked, “Why?” Why am I crying? Why am I so, so sad? Thoughts crossed my mind about emotions, about anxiety, about the ludicrous and frustrating monster that inexplicable, overwhelming, and seemingly reasonless sadness can be, how it sneaks up on me so subtly, and even though I know the warning signs, I always seem defenseless against it.
And I am, as usual, disappointed, almost angry at myself for being unable to pinpoint a reason for my emotional upheaval. A hot shower was my practical attempt to shake it off, and I found myself resting my head against the shower tiles, or hunched and doubled over, fingers gripping my knees for stability, asking myself why I was so weak, why I was crying over nothing, half of me wanting the sadness to go away and the other half of me hoping the feeling would linger long enough for me to figure it out.
I wrestled with those questions, trying to grasp onto things I knew to be true about my worth, my abilities, my identity. I did things, like shower and listen to Ed Sheeran, letting steam and hot water relax my muscles and beautiful music relax my mind, giving my sadness some sort of rhythm, a beat to drown in.
Then I took a deep breath, ate some chocolate chip cookies, and did what I needed to do for the day. And I survived, even though all I wanted to do was retreat under my covers and pretend the world didn’t exist.
More wrestling now: deep down, I know I am sad because I am not all the things I want to be, and that weighs heavily on me. I am not perfect. I compare myself to others and feel I do not measure up. I collapse after a bad day, and I start to wonder if all of my personal goals are just dreams that I’ll never achieve. Do I really have what it takes to do the things I want to do? I get angry that I find the day-to-day of adulthood and living to be so wearisome and difficult; I wonder if anyone else around me feels that way, too; I feel feel lonely and lost. Am I weak, or is this part of growing up? Does everyone else find themselves wearied and worn thin by the mere living of life, or is it just me?
I think about the amount of loss and grief that so many people I know have experienced, and I ask myself, “If I’m this much of a mess now, what happens when larger tragedy hits me like it hit them? Will I stand up under it?” I am already sinking under the pressure of the what-ifs and the not-yets, feeling weak and insignificant, incapable and foolish. I start to question everything I’ve ever been told that I am, everything I’ve ever believed about myself, and I wonder: is it still true? Was it ever?
All I know for certain, if I am going to be mindful, present, and honest this year, then I must be in the moments like these, too, when the mindful, present, and honest things are hard to mutter. When the truth is still murky, and when I still haven’t found the answers to my questions, the resolutions of my doubts.
So today, I mutter that I feel like I am none of the things I have always been told I am, none of the things I have always thought I was, none of the things I have always wanted to be. And I also know that I could be very wrong about that.
And life and time move right along despite all of my not-knowing.
Tomorrow I may feel differently, and that is the nature of sadness and anxiety and disappointment and shitty days: they end, and tomorrow is a new day. So I turn up Ed Sheeran on Spotify, cuddle with my puppy, and practice grace, seek out truth, and choose to be mindful even when the atmosphere is cloudy and cold.