Most of my life, from early childhood to old age (I think 75 is called “old age”), I have felt something wasn’t / isn’t right about me and how I was / am thinking, speaking, or acting.
In my youth I didn’t cognitively understand what and why things didn’t feel right, but these feelings and emotions were definitely affecting the choices I made in thoughts, words and actions.
Over the years, from observing myself, family and friends, I realize that many of us grow up with a self-image that is based on influences outside of ourselves. These shape self-awareness, identity, and how we are “supposed” to be.
I’ll get back to the “I” statements, which is the only way I can really speak with validity. I didn’t recognize or understand the feelings and emotions I had when young. Maybe my mom and dad – who were wonderful role models in so many other ways of thinking, speaking, and acting – didn’t display them honestly. Maybe I couldn’t read the emotions they expressed, and certainly nobody explained them to me.
I didn’t see or recognize emotions present in their husband and wife relationship, and that shaped what I thought intimate relationships with women were supposed to be: the man was in charge, right, stoic, listened to, and agreed with. No surprise, I wasn’t very successful in my exploratory relationships!
My father was so successful, powerful, assertive, confident, and my older sister followed in his footsteps. She was a better athlete than I. She did better in school, was more popular, acted as a leader, really put more energy and importance than I did into succeeding. So before I could mentally understand much of anything, feelings shaped my self-image and ways of being. I felt “not as good as, less than, inadequate,” and on and on. You know those feelings I’m talking about.
I went to college away from home so I then had the freedom to act on my feelings, which I still didn’t understand. I continued to have more experiences of rejection, not being good enough or as good as others. With the introduction to marijuana, hashish, LSD, and mescaline, I found ways to deal with the feeling that something was missing.
I hid, escaped, denied those feelings. I didn’t confront them, understand them, and more importantly, I didn’t DEAL with them.
My parent’s role modeling never taught me. And I had no other adult figures in my life who taught me life skills in dealing with emotions, or if I did have mentoring, I didn’t grasp it.
I believe a benefit I received from being high for so many years – beside loving nature, music, yoga, and meditation – was the opening of “doors to perception” and an awareness that something wasn’t right. This was the beginning of my conscious quest to “discover and dissolve the barriers between me and becoming the man I wanted to be.”
So, 75-year-long story short:
My 20s through the 60s I spent learning about my feelings and emotions, how to overcome the desire to ignore them, how to deal with them in a healthy way, and how to actually use them to my benefit. Fortunately I can’t dissolve the barriers that emotions give to me, because the barriers have provided the challenges that have led to more maturity and wisdom by dealing with them.
During my 70’s there has been a magnified awareness that something is missing, especially in the 75th year. This year 2023. Either the increase of intensity in living on earth has been a reflection of what is going on in my heart, mind, and body, or vice versa. But clearly there is, as the Buffalo Springfield song states, “Something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.”
I am way more conscious of my mortality now, way closer to the end of my journey (though all my life has been a roll of the dice whether I stay alive or not). As I observe and feel the deterioration of my physical and mental capacities daily, I put more attention and energy to the maintenance of me.
I have had a vision of myself for many years of being and acting in ways that are slightly different, or in addition to, how I have been:
- Talking to people
By living this vision, I would be more holistic. I haven’t fully lived into this vision yet because it would take effort adjusting what is standing in the way.
And what could that be? What is the something that is missing? Doing what I feel would be best for me physically, mentally, and psychologically is that something that is missing.
The barriers are addictive habits. The solution is to choose to replace the habits with the activities in my holistic vision. I want to at least balance the time and effort I put into distracting myself when I eat out of anxiety, stress and compulsion, and spend an unhealthy amount of time on devices. I want to replace that with the time I put into living my vision.
“Step by step, inch by inch” I will get there.
Happy New Year.