Dear curious ones,
Yesterday, I had a moment of clarity. It happens now and again, despite my apparent best efforts to prevent it. I had an insight about who I am and who I am’t.
When Eckhart Tolle had his enlightenment experience, he went from a state of massive suffering to complete serenity. Such was the mental anguish he felt in his anxious, often suicidal thoughts that he repeated ‘I can’t live with myself anymore’.
Then, all of a sudden, a new thought came to mind:
Who is this ‘I’ who can’t live with ‘myself’?
As I don’t appear to be plural, which one is the real ‘me’?
And with this insight, his mind went quiet.
I certainly cannot claim to have become enlightened overnight, but at the moment I can kind of see the edges of the me that is real and the me (or mes) that is not (are not).
Last night, I was cooking stew, while also checking my messages and flipping through Facebook, as you do. I saw some messages about an event that I would not be attending, and went into a FOMO panic. I shut my phone case, and popped the device onto the recipe stand. I reflected on the apparent shitness I felt in my body and mind, which was so very disproportionate to the irrational disappointment at not being able to be everywhere and do everything all the time.
I had an image of a distorted, lonely ‘Anguish Me’ figure (like mini me, but less cute). Anguish Me was separate from all community, and therefore, forced into an anxious, swirling oblivion, from whence there would be no return.
Anguish Me tends to come when I am all caught up in my mind. When ‘I’ seems to turn into a rapid mess of thoughts and feelings struggling around inside ‘me’ like eels tangled up. Everything is just chaotic enough that it is difficult to tell the difference between motion and flesh.
Anguish Me is not an unfamiliar sight in my mind. She comes with a silent, tearful scream, and a wrench in the guts, responding to the most trivial happenstance with hysterical writhing.
Fortunately, she is 100 per cent NOT REAL. Anguish Me is just a thing that my mind does from time to time, rather than a real and true ‘me’. Right now it is so obvious: I have a bunch of thoughts and feelings that look like a ‘me’, but Anguish Me is completely different to the ‘me’ who is standing in the kitchen making stew.
Anguish Me is a projection of self, who does a FOMO dance, at a pity party, which is happening in my head, and only in my head. And when you look at her closely, then she becomes flimsy and unconvincing. There is no way that this fleeting sensation with a picture attached is the same thing as ME, the space that she is inside of.
But of course, right. Duh.
Anguish Me can seem very real. When I am worrying about a future of shame, boredom, and penury, she is there. When I remember moments from my past where I was suffering and self loathing, I remember the sensation, the flavour, of her presence.
Anguish Me won’t be real, has never been real. Yet, because she has been around at least since around my adolescence, then she seems to have more substance than she has a right to. She is a mental habit, who may reflect something about all substances I took when I was a teenager, but who has fuck all to say about who I was, who I am, and who I will be.
In fact, who I was, who I am, and who I will be are the same thing. I am only ever an awareness in a present moment, with a collection of thoughts and feelings rising and falling in a mind and body. I am at least as reliable as breath. I am more reliable than breath because you can go minutes without breathing, without stopping being.
Anguish Me comes to mind from time to time. Fine, let her come. But, in the moments where I am present enough to see her for what she is, I don’t have to think she is a thing, much less be seduced by her, swim in her, masturbate her. I don’t have to feed this thought beast. I certainly don’t have to be scared or worried. I definitely do not need to be anguished.
In other news, today is day 16 of being sober, and I notice that I am on a more even emotional keel. I feel less inclined to list ways to not drink and justifications of fitness for alcohol free life (see previous post). Being awake to the nature of Anguish Me was not on the list. However, seeing my actual, dependable, quiet self more clearly appears to be both a happy side effect of not drinking and a calming influence on self medication urges.
And FOMO. What is the point? I invite FOMO to kiss my bum, while also being accepting, compassionate, and zen.
What about you? How many yous are you being today?
Who are you, really?
Let me know with a comment below.
Lots of love,