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Running away from myself

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  • #78966
    TriangleSun
    Participant

    First of all, I want to apologize as this may seem like i’m all over the place. Here goes my story…

    About 4 years ago I was involved in a pretty horrid relationship which threw me in for a huge spin. All of my insecurities and doubts came up to the surface and after a few months I wasn’t so much troubled by the failed relationship as I was by what the hell was happening with my life. I felt like a drone. I gained weight. I was lonely and life felt like uneventful passing of time.

    This escalated to severe depression where i’d stare at the ceiling and cry my eyes out for hours. Instead of seeking help I decided to do something out of my comfort zone. I flew to Europe and walked from the French/Spanish border to the Atlantic coast. I came back home completely healed with an amazing sense of confidence and wonder. I wanted to do so much! I lost weight and started working out and got the body i always wanted. I started traveling incessantly. I started mountain climbing, hiking and paragliding. This also reflected on my career. I started jumping from place to place seeking new challenges. In the end I have an amazing job with a great pay.

    Then I met HER. The one. The only. The girl i wanted to marry and have family with. All of this craziness stopped. I slowed down to unwind and share amazing times with her. We were both happy (at least i thought we were). Long story short, 2 months ago she said something was amiss and left and i found myself heartbroken and back where i was 4 years ago (just not as devastated and depressed).

    I think at this point my mind is aching for a way of coping that worked for me before which is doing the crazy things I was doing before. So i slowly gave into it and started traveling obsessively again, climbing and just getting lost in the world. However, I feel like i’m stuck in life. I don’t know if it just feels this way because i’m coping with a loss of a significant other or it’s something else. I feel like I need to change my surroundings and move to another city (unfortunately away from my family) but don’t know where. So i closed my apartment lease and moved back with my parents thinking that i will move somewhere in a little bit. I feel like I need a different job but i already have an amazing job with a great pay. I just feel like what started out as an escape from my depression has turned into me running away from myself. I don’t even know what i’m running away from. I love the feeling of the world fading away behind me when i’m disconnected and lost on an adventure but as soon as i am back i am no longer happy. I literally live by looking forward to a trip booking on my calendar.

    I guess I’m insanely lost in life and don’t know how to proceed. A lot of people say that you have to find things you like doing to just kind of let your mind wonder. But what do you do when the things you like doing are becoming an addiction? Or are they? Has anyone struggled with something like this? How do you find inner peace and a sense of belonging?

    #78973
    Matt
    Participant

    Trianglesun,

    I’m sorry for your tough times, and can understand the desire to go for a jog when we are uncomfortable and sad. Consider that sorrow and grief is much like a backpack filled with stones. You can ignore it by surrounding yourself with new and shiny people and places, but you can’t outrun it. You have to choose to set it down. To open it up, pick up each stone, cry it out, and leave it behind you as you walk on.

    Perhaps because you felt exceptionally lost 4 years ago, you are scared of your grief. Very normal. To try to avoid “going backwards” so you run and run, trying to recreate the walkabout and adventure. But you’re skipping an important step, unpacking the stone. So no matter where you go, when you stop and rest, the weight is there too.

    Consider one of the stones. “HER. The one. The only”. How beautiful to have met such a lovely woman, what a romantic and poetic explanation of who she was! And also, total bullshit, a fancy romantic notion, you over exaggerating, being dramatic and storybook ignorant. She had some great qualities, and as a person, she helped your body and mind and heart sing with happiness. Then, clamp that tight fist in your brain around her, throw ropes around her as “the only”, and you have yourself a stone.

    To set it down, consider unclenching around “the one the only” and accept that as romantic fantasy and false. “She meant a lot”, sure, of course, clearly. “I really loved her”, yes, well said, definitely. “She left”, yes, that sucks friend, hurts like crazy, cry it out. “I don’t like sorrow”, of course not, grief is tough, not fun for any of us, takes time and tears to heal.

    Finally, consider starting a meditation practice. By becoming more in tune with your breath and body, it will be easier to stay present even when you’re not on vacation. So you don’t get lost in your brain as much, and can see the freshness in the everyday beauty, not just the beauty in externally fresh experiences. With so much high adventure experience, chances are great you have focused concentration. Focus that concentration into the breath, as though direct attention toward breathing is like an extreme cosmic sport of climbing the mountain of happiness, and lots of things will get easier. Consider “Thich Nhat Hanh guided breath meditation” on YouTube as a potential liftoff point.

    With warmth,
    Matt

    #78975
    Axuda
    Participant

    Hi Trianglesun

    It sounds to me that you are doing the right things, but for the wrong reason – as you put it, running away from yourself instead of trying to find yourself. It is good that you are doing something to cope with your depression and situation – many people can’t even get that far. It’s just a matter of setting it in the right direction.

    When I found myself in your situation, I started by sitting with a pencil and paper and writing down everything that was good about my life in one column. Then, in the other column, I wrote down all of the bad things. Almost immediately I noticed that the things I was planning to do would actually take me away from more of the good things than the bad things.

    I think I had initially thought that just doing something about my situation had to be better than doing nothing. All I actually needed to do was target the bad things (which, as it turned out, needed much less dramatic action, but was very effective).

    In your case, for example, you appear to be happy with your job and pay, so I would be very careful about doing anything that would jeopardise that. A relationship breakup can leave you with a feeling of loneliness and a fractured social circle, but shouldn’t need to affect your career. In fact, it is often very helpful to have an area of stability in your life whilst you address the other problems.
    It is easy to mistake activity for action. You enjoy your activities, but from what you say they are not moving you closer to where you want to be long-term. That doesn’t mean you should stop doing them, but to just spend a bit of time thinking about what you are doing them for.

    If you are not happy in your downtime, that is the area to focus on. Maybe you need to steer your activities more towards things that you can do every other day as well, such as exercise, sport, music or art. Look at what it is you enjoy about your activities and try to find ways to incorporate it into your everyday life. It’s always tempting to think we can only be happy on holiday, but even a few minutes doing something you love every day can transform everyday life. At the moment you are treating your activities as a distinct thing from the rest of your life. Try making them a part of what you do every day, and you will satisfy your craving, and find you are running towards yourself instead of away.

    #78977
    anita
    Participant

    Dear trianglesun:
    You wrote: “All of my insecurities and doubts came up to the surface.” My question is: what were some or all of those insecurities and doubts?

    anita

    #79664
    TriangleSun
    Participant

    Thank you all for great responses!

    Matt, I think you nailed it. I think seeing myself not standing still and instead “move forward”, perhaps not even in the right direction, helps me cope with it. It’s a weird feeling and I don’t know how to explain it. But in essence, it is simply avoiding going backwards and doing anything to make yourself believe that you’re out there doing things and you’re on some kind of path which hopefully leads to a greater good. It’s better than not doing anything and dwelling on depressive thoughts. You mentioned meditation and coincidentally I’ve been reading a lot about it lately and started to really consider it as of late. I’ll be watching that video you referenced!

    Axuda, I absolutely agree. These activities don’t really get me anywhere close to a long-term goal. They’re just an escape and I’m afraid that this escape is not going to be enough soon. The problem is I don’t really know what my goals are. I’ve accomplished a lot in my 30 years and I just don’t know what the next step is. So i’m just floating through life, wondering and waiting for something to happen. I do love my job but I wouldn’t blink an eye to quit and be on an trail for 4 months. What stops me is the responsible adult inside me. My hobbies are very closely associated with my profession and lately I find very little enthusiasm to work on hobby projects.

    Anita, I think I did away with most of my insecurities. I’ve always been afraid of what tomorrow can bring and doing things that are way out of my comfort zone allowed me to overcome this problem and feel very secure about myself and my abilities. However, there are other things. On the outside, I am very “macho” looking guy, but I am way too sensitive for a man. I don’t show it but it’s always been affecting me when i’m alone with myself. I find myself dwelling on negative things forever. I have terrible time coping with negativity from people close to me. It boggles my mind how someone close can do something bad towards me. It’s almost unbearable sometimes. But I’m learning to deal with it. That’s probably part of the problem in this ordeal.

    #79680
    anita
    Participant

    Dear trianglesun:

    You wrote in your note to me that you find yourself dwelling on negative things forever. It reminds me of something I read, that we as people do tend to dwell on negative things, that it is a normal human tendency that evolved through the millions of years or so because we evolved not so to be happy but to survive, and being alert to the predators in the environment was of highest priority for survival.

    We evolved to survive, not to be happy.

    I share your sentiment about how someone close to you can do something bad towards you, as you stated. It is mind boggling. It still boggles my mind. How my mother could destroy so much of me, so much of my life… all those years, repeatedly. Didn’t she notice? Didn’t she care? And at the same time I still long for her (but have no contact with her). I still long for her because the attachment is there, in my neurons.

    Our attachment to others, evolutionary wise, evolved so to increase our chances for survival, that is why the baby deer follows his mother- protection and sustenance is there. That is why we want to be liked and loved by others- protection and sustenance is in the group. But when the group or the parent turns against you- when anyone you are attached to- turns against you, it goes against nature, against the WHY of our attachment to another. We get attached because it is supposed to increase our survivability, that is because it is good for us… and when it turns against us, it does boggle the mind and the heart.

    anita

    #83071
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Trianglesun:

    I read a couple of your comments on recent posts and went back to this thread you started over two months ago. In your last comment on this thread you wrote: “It boggles my mind how someone close can do something bad towards me. It’s almost unbearable sometimes. But I’m learning to deal with it.”

    How are you these days? Are you still living with your parents? Any trip booked for the future? Is it something you are still looking forwrad to? And how are you dealing with your hurt by the last girlfriend???

    anita

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