How Have I Survived? (Intro)

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

–Friedrich Nietzsche


I have survived in four ways:

1) I’ve survived by FORGETTING

Past: my forgetfulness took the form of chemical oblivion, through booze and pills.

The problem was, I wasn’t forgetting my pain—I was forgetting myself.

Now: I’ve traded in intoxication for reading, writing, massage, acupuncture, exercise…anything and everything to shift the focus away from the depression/anxiety.

All these things have allowed me to forget that pain has power over me.

And if I can forget it…

                                          …sooner or later I’ll stop believing it.

2) I’ve survived by LISTENING

Past: I stuffed pain down and drowned it out.

Now: tune in and listen to what it has to say.

Like Rumi’s guesthouse, I allow distressing thoughts and emotions to come and go, and while I have no say over their visiting schedule, I rest safely in the knowledge that I am not themI am the guesthouse, observing, watching, studying, interrogating them.

Pain is just one interlocutor/guest among many.

It’s not special.

And it doesn’t deserve any more of my attention than any other guest.

3) I’ve survived by EXPANDING

Awareness is boundless.

I imagine myself as the vastness of space, with all sources of distress encased in tiny bubbles.

I float up to them, poke them, spin them around.

I push them away.

I zoom in, back away, circle them, float over them, drift under them.

I am not my pain.

Pain is too tiny to hold me.

4) I’ve survived by MOVING FORWARD

Step.

Another step.

Another, and another.

On and on, varying speed, distance, and motivation—but always, always moving.

Even when you’re crawling on shredded hands and knees over razor-sharp rocks…MOVE.

This isn’t to say you can’t occasionally stop and be still.

Stillness ≠ Dawdling.

Stillness is a chance to survey the landscape, gather your strength, and keep moving.

Just.

        Keep.

                  Moving.

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