I’m 100 percent guilty of forgetting to/failing to live in the moment, and I’m always looking ten steps ahead.
This forward-focused outlook has served me well academically in my youth and even professionally … but personally, it’s basically been a thorn in my side.
It makes me an impatient person, it means I often interrupt conversations (even though it’s not deliberate) and means I often don’t stop to smell the roses, let alone see them.
And that makes me sad, because I’m a very detail-oriented person who recalls every little thing … if I take the time to notice it, that is.
Sometimes I can be in the moment.
Friday night, for example, I totally had a blast at a happy hour goodbye party for our friend, and then easily practiced intuitive eating at dinner at a Mexican restaurant with another group of our friends. I just focused on the company (my hubby and our friends) and enjoyed the night to its fullest. I felt alive in every sense of the word; I wish the feeling could last forever.
But then Saturday night, after a fun day at the park with my husband’s work department, I found myself sitting home alone (he was studying, no friends/family were home to chat with or hang out with).
It was about 9 p.m. and I’d just finished reading a great novel about an enduring friendship (Firefly Lane, in case you’re interested–thanks D.!). I closed the book, and then thought … “OK, now what?”
The sensation was startling.
It made me recall a scene from (yes, here his name comes up yet again ;-)) an indie Ryan Reynolds film called The Nines. In it, the seducing neighbor sings to him that old existential song, “Is That All There Is?” in reference to her life as a stay-at-home mom in an unhappy, loveless marriage with a big-shot Hollywood director or something. She’s “stuck” in her life.
While my life is nothing like the neighbor’s life, I don’t know if it’s my 30th birthday approaching or wanting to start a family soon or what, but suddenly, out of nowhere, I felt bored with my life, like I had no purpose.
Without a high high or a low low, I’m just … here.
I realize this sounds ridiculous and ungrateful; I have a totally fulfilling life like 95% of the time, and of course I have a purpose … we all do, and certainly not everyone obsessed over their purpose, but allow me to explain; this is how I felt in that moment.
I’m not a student (like my husband). I’m not a mom yet (like my best friend). I have a great job, but I’m not wed to work (like my former boss).
I’m a wife and a daughter and a sister and a friend … all very important, treasured relationships. And yes, I’ve become an advocate, which wasn’t something I’d ever planned on, but is very fulfilling.
But somehow all of this doesn’t seem to feel “enough” lately, and I think that feeling of “boredom” leads me to think about food obsessively … or eat when I’m not hungry. (Boredom used to drive me to exercise or shop but I’m getting better at not abusing those two things — my body and wallet are grateful).
Truthfully, I think that’s why my brain is so focused on food and exercise all the time … it’s something for me to focus on. I need that “something.”
I know it sounds nutty to feel so bored given all the good in my life … and believe me, I’m fully aware of all of it. I’m just observing how I’ve been feeling lately.
Even in trying to eat intuitively, I’m still somewhat eating emotionally or mindlessly at times. I know with IE, it’s not an instant change; it will take time and practice to nail it down. But it’s still frustrating to me that food is still my crutch, after all this time, for better or for worse.
And so when I have free time, I don’t know how to just “be” — I never have. Instead, with free time, I feel dissatisfied if I am not doing something productive.
On a weekend like this past one, when my husband was studying or doing yard work (sawing trees–not stuff I could really help with) and none of my friends were home, my Lia Sophia jewerly stuff was organized, my scrapbooking was mostly done for the summer, my book had been read, I’d already worked out and the house had been cleaned … I felt bored … and I resented myself for feeling that way.
As I noted earlier, typically, I’d have turned to extra exercise: pop in a DVD, go for a bike ride … but I am trying not to treat exercise that way anymore.
And so I ate. Not a ton (I’m still journaling), but I finally realized why I was doing it: I felt bored. Purposeless.
Finally, I decided to just go to a movie by myself to zone out for a bit (I saw The Ugly Truth which was surprisingly cute and good).
When I got home, my husband had just taken a study break and was about to wash our cars. Turns out while I was gone, he’d also rescued a weak little robin whose mother had just died and who was on the brink of death itself.
I’m an animal lover and have a soft spot for birds. I didn’t want to see the poor baby robin die, so after he introduced me to the little guy and I said hi and touched his broken wing, hoping he’d be ok, I went back inside and decided to write about how I was feeling about everything going on in my head. Writing usually helps, oftentimes even before vocalizing my feelings aloud.
Then, as if someone was listening, in the midst of blogging about this very topic, one of my dearest friends called and she helped me put things in perspective. (Thanks, E., if you’re reading this!)
She explained that while she understood what I was feeling and that these feelings of general “blah” are quite normal, that she thinks I am my own worst critic and that I’m being too hard on myself, per usual. That if I could just be ok with just “being,” then maybe things wouldn’t feel so monumental. That if I wasn’t so hard on myself about eating XYZ just because it wasn’t on my “plan,” maybe I’d feel better about everything.
Basically, the same things she and I have talked about for years … that I just can’t seem to grasp. I’m lucky she still listens to my broken record.
The other thing I realized is something pretty obvious that I need to be reminded of often: In always living for the “next thing,” I’m missing the present. Which makes it that much harder to enjoy the present because I’m too busy berating myself for it in the first place!
It made me sad to realize that for all the strides I’ve taken, it’s still my head that needs the most work.
I mean, life isn’t always supposed to be action-packed or drama-packed, but with me … it’s that whole “if it’s not X, it’s Y.” But why does it have to be either? After all this time … why can’t I just “be?”!
I know from therapy that as an anxious, Type-A person I’m not hard-wired that way, but I really really really want to be less high-strung and more easy-going. I know it’ll make me a better, calmer, nicer person.
So tonight I did something I’d never done before: suggested we make pizza. It worked out well because we had leftover dough from making pita earlier in my KitchenAid mixer. The pizza was delicious (my husband didn’t even mind that it was soy mozzarella — it’s all we had on hand) and we ate it outside on the porch with salad.
Dining al fresco and eating pizza totally took me back to our big Italy trip in 2005, where we pretty much ate pizza and gelato just about once every day (and got engaged). A memory like that soothed me, helped me be present in the moment.
I think what it comes down to is that some of us just have to work harder at things that come naturally to others.
I’m fighting my hard-wiring with every fiber of my being when I just “go with the flow” but it can work. Likewise, if I fill my days with more meaning, then my focus on food, weight, body image, exercise should naturally decrease — inversely proportionately. Right? (Nodding, yes).
Maybe my feeling of discontent/boredom with my life in this moment is totally natural. Maybe it really is “all that there is” and maybe it’s up to me to just be ok with it, accept it for what it is: a moment in time where things are neutral in my life — nothing spectacularly good, nothing terribly wrong. Why does my twisted head correlate a harmonic, peaceful, drama-free lapse with being problematic?
Because we all know, there are going to be high highs and low lows in our lives, and maybe this lull is nothing more than the median of those to-be-expected spikes.
They say insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result, right?I guess it’s time to embrace what I have, hang up the drama queen tiara (ok, in real life it’s my wedding tiara which I love to still wear! :)) and live a little.
Really, I’ve nothing to lose … especially considering how much I think I miss in my present state.
How about you? Do you struggle with being present in your own life? How do you get out of a rut? Do you think peaks and valleys are the exception to the rule and that most of life is more of a plain?