David Sheedy — Letting Go

Hel­lo fel­low ‘fringe dwellers’. You may or may not remem­ber me from an arti­cle I did awhile ago for Wayne, enti­tled “An Ama­teur’s Guide to Being’. If I know Wayne, you can find it back to the index by search­ing my index.

Late­ly I’ve been think­ing about one of those points, that said “Don’t make a reli­gion out of a moment”. What was nig­gling at me was the flip-side of this par­tic­u­lar coin. 

The process of ‘de-reli­gious-izing’ my moments has been a long and con­scious act for me. I have man­aged to roman­ti­cize a pletho­ra of moments into these won­der­ful, mean­ing­ful epipha­nies. The kind of scenes that have gauze over them when filmed in movies. Per­haps you know what I mean:

  • The hap­pen­stance of a par­tic­u­lar song com­ing on at a par­tic­u­lar moment, where I just say ‘oh, that was MEANT to be’ (or more pre­cise­ly, meant for me. I have a unique abil­i­ty to be roman­tic and arro­gant in the exact same space).

  • A moment of rev­e­la­tion where I see myself, and prompt­ly turn it into a ser­mon on how self-aware I am, to be told to as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble, as grand­ly as pos­si­ble (in these moments I’ve sloughed off the romance part, and just stuck with arro­gance). What­ev­er learn­ing there might have been in that moment of clar­i­ty is soon buried under a load of descrip­tives and self-con­grat­u­la­to­ry ravings.

  • Stay­ing in a moment (for what­ev­er rea­son) and declar­ing myself present because of it. Yet the longer I stay in this moment, the less present I become. 

Per­haps you get my mean­ing. So with the help of places like The Haven, and beings like the wiz­ened dwarf (Hi Wayne!) I’ve start­ed a process of mov­ing through my moments and see­ing them for just that. Moments. Does­n’t work every day, but most days I catch myself.

As I did this I start­ed to notice the oth­er side of this par­tic­u­lar pat­tern of mine. What about moments that aren’t so grand, don’t make such nice lit­tle sto­ries? What about moments I am dread­ing, or am afraid of, and so want to avoid? So there comes a corol­lary to the ini­tial point: Don’t paral­yse myself by think­ing a moment I have cre­at­ed anx­i­ety around will last forever.

I real­ized that through­out my life I have played out the dra­ma of what I imag­ine to be a dif­fi­cult moment, pri­or to it hap­pen­ing. And then I assume that the moment will last for­ev­er. And so I avoid it all costs so that it nev­er actu­al­ly hap­pens. I recent­ly left a long-term rela­tion­ship (oth­er­wise known as a ‘mar­riage’). Upon doing so, it became obvi­ous to me that I had been avoid­ing doing this for a long time. And most­ly because I did not want to face the actu­al moment of hav­ing to say ‘I’m leaving’. 

Not ONLY was I afraid of not being liked in that moment, but I cat­a­stro­phized it to the point that I thought it would last the rest of my life. Sim­i­lar­ly, hav­ing to tell my chil­dren that the rela­tion­ship was end­ing would — in my mind ‑trau­ma­tize them for­ev­er, leav­ing them with noth­ing but hate for the rest of their lives (Are we detect­ing a deep nar­cis­sis­tic ten­den­cy here? I’ll go there in anoth­er article).

And in one respect I was accu­rate. All par­ties con­cerned were upset in the moment as they were in it. And then here’s the pro­found part:

They got over it (or rather, they got over me).

That’s right. My ex-wife moved on quite nice­ly, and my chil­dren recov­ered with­out irrepara­ble harm. The moment did­n’t last for­ev­er. Because, after all, it is only a moment. I find myself think­ing “how many times have I avoid­ed / imag­ined / ratio­nal­ized not deal­ing with some­thing, because I have cat­a­stro­phized the imme­di­ate into the eter­nal?” The answer is a lot. Small things like giv­ing feed­back, medi­um things like talk­ing to a bill col­lec­tor, large things like end­ing a rela­tion­ship. All of it taint­ed by think­ing like ‘oh my god, they’ll hate me forever.”

My ten­den­cy to romance my ‘good’ moments could not help but calami­tize the ‘bad’ ones. I stuck in being stuck; try­ing to cre­ate an eter­nal present out of an already fad­ing past. And I find myself mar­vel­ling at how I allowed it to colour every deci­sion I made in my life. Most­ly by not mak­ing them, and wait­ing for some­one else to make them for me. I get nau­seous just think­ing about it.

Like any addict, I’m in recov­ery. I take it one day at a time. The secret? For me its about clear inten­tion. Why am I doing this, in this moment, and how does it serve me? And then let­ting go of ‘this moment’ and being open to the next. I thought it would be scary, but it isn’t — by roman­ti­ciz­ing / cat­a­stro­phiz­ing I was cre­at­ing the future, instead of let­ting it fold out in front of me. 

And I’ll be damned if haven’t found out that not know­ing the future is a hell of a lot of fun.

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