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Hi everyone,

It's been a little while since I checked in here, and I wanted to provide a brief report.

What I hope is the recovery continues, some days more challenging than others, but I still continue to struggle with different manifestations of what feels like the fear of life. That makes me question whether I'm making any progress at all, but I guess this kind of thing is one step forward, two steps back.

Specifically, what I've become REALLY aware of over the past few days is something that has always been with me, but seems more intense now—this constant underlying feeling of needing to DO something, to fix something about myself, all in an effort (and I'm guessing on this but it feels right) to stay safe. Not that it ever works, but it seems that hope springs eternal.

It manifests itself in constantly feeling on edge, worrying if I've done the looking enough, constantly trying to do the mindfulness meditation, feeling anxious when I'm sitting in traffic, driving home, feeling that I should be doing something to improve myself-- basically, it's crazy thinking that's making me crazy. It's embarrassing to even describe it, it sounds so insane. And yet. It feels very real, and I guess this is what John means by psychological mechanisms because it feels like a drive that has a life of its own.

I know that I don't have control over anything except where I put my attention, but even trying to focus on my breath right now has a crazy-making quality about it. I worry whether I'm doing it right, whether I'm doing it enough, and it feels like that effort is feeding this beast of constantly micro-managing my mind, my time, my attention, etc. And as I mentioned before, this all has the effect of making me question whether the fear of life has diminished in the slightest—it feels very much front and center in driving my life.

Any thoughts or suggestions that anyone has would be super-welcome. Even a reminder that this will pass would also be appreciated! ☺

Thanks,

Ansley

Ditto

tryingtolook

...Any thoughts or suggestions that anyone has would be super-welcome...

As I am in pretty much the same place as you, I too am looking forward to what others say about this...

I'm about 2 and half years into the looking and that pattern was/is a heavy, recurring one in my experience.

I would feel like a loser if I wasn't looking enough or if I was thinking the wrong thoughts or if I felt any

slackness in my training for the breath counting Olympics

That need to do anything about anything just goes away. Those patterns of thinking and feeling will

continue but they will gradually lose sway and oddly enough, at some point there will come a day when

you get a little surprise and that entire range of thoughts and feelings are just seen as interesting, as

entertaining... as LIFE.

The personality might be like a David Lynch film - when you stop looking for meaning or any sort of linear

narrative you just look at it nakedly from moment to moment not caring how the pieces fit together and if

they might ever amount to anything you can actually use.

It took close to 2 years before things began to click for me - before that I was a sporadicly functioning

nightmare.

You're good - Stay the course.

Hello Ansley,

I have got a lot out of listening to your participation in the online discussions - thank you.

As I understand it, the fear of life manifests as a sense of 'wrong-ness'. That somehow there is something wrong with life, wrong with me, my thoughts, actions etc etc. I find in recovery that the fear of life shows up as an uncomfortable sense of wrong-ness, sometimes identifiable, sometimes just a generalised anxiety. The trick for me is to catch it and recognise it. I think it is a sign of being in recovery that you are finding 'wrong-ness' everywhere you turn, especially in those squirrelly little places in the mind that tell you you should be doing more/better etc. If you can get to a place where you can watch this playing out, it becomes almost funny. I remember my kids used to have tantrums when they were 3 years old. They would lie on the floor and throw their heels and fists around yelling about, well, about nothing. It was just a developmental phase playing itself out. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I had to supress a smile that the tantrum about being given carrot rather than mash was so dramatic! Your recovery sounds like it is having an anxiety/micro-managing tantrum - just playing itself out. Be gentle with yourself and you can maybe have a small smile as the fear of life/wrong-ness works its way through. It sounds like you are well on your way!

Best wishes,

Emma

Life is OK./div>

Hi Ansley,

I've come to believe very strongly that the process of recovery is a natural rebalancing of intelligence, a spontaneous and autonomous healing process not unlike that of the body. Like the biological healing process, the recovery happens by itself, and there is no way to alter or influence that process. Continuing on the analogy, I can however make the healing more comfortable, or keep on scratching the scabs in the old habitual way. I know for myself that I have that choice now, through the knowledge of being able to shift my attention, and stop it from being totally absorbed by the old persistent protective measures my mind/brain has created for itself.

I've also noticed that the concepts and narrative that have been built around 'the looking' and 'the recovery' have been absorbed and assimilated by that same old protective context in a very clever (and frighteningly fast) way, which of course complicates things, but to me that seems like a logical byproduct. Having lived so much of life learning to protect itself, my mind/brain has become very good at doing just that, but right now I can only say that I just try to let it be what it is.

Yesterday, and the days before, I felt very gloomy and kind of lost again in all the negative opinions about life, but then a question appeared quite spontaneously : "What's the problem?" The answer came immediately : "There is no problem, only thoughts." And that kind of sums it up for me right now. Sometimes all it takes is a little reminder, that life is always Ok, no matter what labels the mind puts on it.

Hope this is of any value to you.

Wouter

Perfection!
Perfection!

Dear Ansley,

What a gift it is to read your words. You have nailed my experience completely. Completely. This is absolutely my daily experience, except for one additional thing: it’s that in the middle of all that you are expressing here, I look at me. Sometimes it is with some effort, sometimes it’s spontaneous, but it just keeps happening. And in that moment, my thinking mind just can’t “name” it – and so my thoughts are still and it is as if I am listening to the rain falling on the roof, sputtering in the gutters – just silence, like the sound of a fan blowing. I am without a thought at all, an experience with no name.

I wonder if this is happening to you as well, and just because our minds can’t name it, it doesn’t seem to be happening.

In my recovery, I am noticing many physical issues arise, but the most imposing one I’ve noticed is an overriding, heavy, huge, life-long tendency to feel a deep hopeless darkness about my life. I’ve just begun to notice it, and see how I have wrapped many of my daily life events in its cloak of doom.

This tendency has taken many forms, among them, tiredness, exhaustion, an inability to choose to act on my own behalf, a feeling of illness, emptiness, remorse, sadness. I have begun to notice that I am thriving on, living in, this sense of exhausted doom.

Lately, with the looking, I am experiencing this doom as simply energy -- I am able to melt into it whenever it arises, instead of holding it, as I have in the past, as a correction, as a truth -- and I am able to feel deeply in touch with my own suffering and hold it with love and tenderness. I used to see me as a hopeless human, me, as doomed. This thought has now begun to deconstruct itself. It has shape-shifted from awareness of itself into awareness of itself as energy, energy that has no particular power over me. Just energy. I wonder if that makes any sense?

It is so interesting to me, that as I have been studying about each of my current life issues, they are each pointing me back to Mindfulness Meditation! It really makes me smile as I see how my body is acting as a tough, uncompromising coach, pointing me back to this stillness, this me, who and what I really am! I agree, it sometimes feels to me like one step forward and two steps back, but when I open into the presence of me, even that judgment fades, and the presence of life shines like a silent star in the clear night sky.

I hope this is some consolation and support to you Ansley. I know you are doing this all wonderfully, and I have so much gratitude for your post today and for you.

Thank you my dear sister.

With love,

Dawn

Misunderstanding

Very touching to read all your observations... Lately strong feelings of wanting, wanting overcame me..a feeling inside like something could never be satisfied but I had to search and search for something or someone to fill this "void"...such a misunderstanding and reinforced over a lifetime of suffering in relationships, spiritual seeking etc...so there were a few days of feeling extremely uncomfortable with a desire to isolate myself and hide from life. Now I've seen, felt, known this me which is always here ..I just wait and it's like my own natural intelligence clears up another misunderstanding. Now it just seems silly in an affectionate way..and life carries on...as I take it all less seriously I am aware of a natural creativity arising ..for me it's a joy to

find creative ways to communicate with children to remind them they are 'here'..they just want to be 'seen' ., They can really benefit from this reminder as much as possible before these misunderstandings get reinforced.

love you all,

Maureen (Montreal)

Amazed

Wow. These forums continue to blow me away. I really don't know how to thank all of you enough for kind, helpful and thoughtful posts. I've never been a part of a community that was so supportive and WISE. I learned something from each of your responses and I can't tell you enough how much appreciate your thoughts.

Dawn,

Yes, I also continue the looking amid the rest of the mess-- thanks for the reminder that that continues... even when I'm not focusing on it. Your kind words really touched my heart. Thank you for your warm, open heartfelt presence here.

Wouter,

I hadn't really thought that yes, the "protective context" (as you put it) can co-opt the recovery terms for its own purposes-- what a good observation. Just knowing that that is what is happening (and that's OK) is super-helpful. Thank you!

Emma,

The image of a screaming three-year-old going through a tantrum is definitely what I'm going to keep in mind the next time my mind goes into one of its endless loops. I love it! It really is as silly as carrots vs. mash a lot of the time. That definitely helps me shift my perspective... many thanks. I always love reading what you post--

R32673,

OK, your term "the breath counting olympics" is AWESOME and does encompass the silly, self-imposed competitive nature of the ridiculous standard that I hold myself to. I also love your idea of the personality (or even perhaps life itself) as a David Lynch film-- that the process of looking for meaning or a pattern in fact ruins the fun of the whole experience. It does feel that I am constantly trying to "figure it out" or put labels on it and I'm trusting that that will relax over time. Thank you for the reassurance.

Karmarider,

Thanks for saying that this is what you're experiencing too. Just knowing that other people are struggling with the same thing makes me not feel so alone.

So, in short-- thank you everyone! It's hard to put into words how touching it was to read each of your responses. These forums are such a blessing indeed. Thank you, John and Carla!

Best,

Ansley

Thanks everyone so much for this thread....it's truly amazing how all your experiences parallel my own.

Directcontact

This tendency has taken many forms, among them, tiredness, exhaustion, an inability to choose to act on my own behalf, a feeling of illness, emptiness, remorse, sadness. I have begun to notice that I am thriving on, living in, this sense of exhausted doom.

Lately, with the looking, I am experiencing this doom as simply energy -- I am able to melt into it whenever it arises, instead of holding it, as I have in the past, as a correction, as a truth -- and I am able to feel deeply in touch with my own suffering and hold it with love and tenderness. I used to see me as a hopeless human, me, as doomed. This thought has now begun to deconstruct itself. It has shape-shifted from awareness of itself into awareness of itself as energy, energy that has no particular power over me. Just energy. I wonder if that makes any sense?

This makes perfect sense Dawn and has been my experience as well. You've done such a great job articulating something that I've never been able to really name...always a feeling of heaviness and doom. I guess to me it felt like an existential exhaustion...a deep, deep heartbreak. At first when I started touching into it and experiencing it fully it was horrifying but over time the more times I let myself open up to the feeling it started to change. I would cry so deeply for something lost even though I didn't understand what that meant...I still don't and it doesn't matter. Within this feeling of brokenness I started to experience the love and tenderness you talk about and now when I experience it I feel my heart break but it is in such a deeply beautiful way. Life is so incredibly beautiful in all it's imperfection. About a month ago I noticed something was different...the deep heaviness and exhaustion I have felt for probably my entire life is gone. I went looking for it...it's not there...I was amazed. And life continues to roll on with all it's up and downs and I'm more and more feeling like I don't need to do anything about it.

Ansley I've gone in and out of the experience of feeling something is wrong and I need to fix it multiple times...eventually it just starts to loose steam. In my experience I started to view the increased anxiety or feeling of wrongness as a good thing even though it sucked to be 'in it'...it meant it was working it's way out of my system. Will it come up again...maybe---but it's almost like I've become a parent watching a child. Letting the temper tantrum happen with a feeling of slight annoyance and mostly amusement. I think someone else spoke to a similar experience.

Wow. This forum..what a gift.

Lots of love,

Natalie

Your report

ngregers

Within this feeling of brokenness I started to experience the love and tenderness you talk about and now when I experience it I feel my heart break but it is in such a deeply beautiful way. Life is so incredibly beautiful in all it's imperfection. About a month ago I noticed something was different...the deep heaviness and exhaustion I have felt for probably my entire life is gone. I went looking for it...it's not there...I was amazed. And life continues to roll on with all it's up and downs and I'm more and more feeling like I don't need to do anything about it.

Lots of love,

Natalie

Dearest Natalie,

Thank you so much for your report. It helped me very much to hear your experience! It's so beautiful to hear that even as you embrace this brokenness and heartbreak, you are experiencing life's infinite majesty -- in all it's imperfection. I've heard John talk about this, but it's beyond anything I could have imagined.

I have this image of me as a tiny little stick figure --as if I'm painted on the bottom edge of every magnificent landscape masterpiece in museums and mansions all over the world -- just standing there -- silent and filled with awe. That's how I am feeling. Even as "hellish" events are happening around me -- I can see they can not hurt me, they can not hurt us.

What a life! With all of its ups and downs...what a life! I'm so glad that we are all here together to experience it and investigate it together.

with love,

Dawn

I Hear You

I'm right there with you Ansley. I’ll share what I’m doing that's helping me @ the moment. I'm a Yoga teacher and so I'm putting more time into my personal practice again. Some people need structure others are more loose. I need structure... but I have a tendency to go overboard with it and then it becomes a yoke and I end up getting stressed and depressed because I can never seem to live up to my expectations. I have committed myself to 40 days of 5:30 am Yoga and Mindfulness Med. I'm about 2 weeks into it and there's been a marked changed in my stress level and mood shifts. I realize that this may only be pacifying the symptoms of the “fear of life” but it’s also helping me be able to get in touch with me more easily. Everybody's different and so this may not work for you but for me agreeing with myself to have a specific regimented program with a beginning and end as helped a lot. When these 40 days are over I’ll make a decision on whether or not to continue or do something else…. Or maybe do nothing?

paul

Directcontact

What a life! With all of its ups and downs...what a life! I'm so glad that we are all here together to experience it and investigate it together.

with love,

Dawn

Cheers to that Dawn!

Love,

Natalie

 

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