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This is Living. All of it.

If I keep trying to “catch up,” I will keep feeling like I’m trying to catch up because that’s exactly what I’m doing. But what am I trying to catch up to?

Dearest Doodle Soupsters,

At the start of the new year, I shared about how I was making some tangible goals for this year.

Back then, I wrote:

As much as we don’t need a change in the date to reflect on our choices and goals, the beginning of a new year is often when we look to the future and ask, what’s next? How can we be better? What do we want to choose?
Goals don’t have to be measurable, though sometimes it can be helpful to name the tangible steps. It can be less about the pressure to achieve and more about connecting to our power to put effort into making our dreams reality.
Reality is what it is. It sucks sometimes! Yet, I don’t want to believe that how things are is the limit of what’s possible.

I even added some reminders to myself … these were the first three:

1. Start somewhere.
2. Your sense of safety, self-worth, and love is independent from your completion of these goals.
3. This is simply a way of naming my dreams and naming tangible steps to work toward them.

I’ve made some real progress toward the goals I shared, especially in terms of performing my music. Yet, funnily enough, despite all the reminders, all the things I wrote down, I still feel disappointed, unsettled about those goals …

Right before I set the goals, I was going through one of my existential crises. I stand by what I wrote, but I think I was using the goals to satisfy questions that really can’t be satisfied with goals or steps … I think I was trying to satisfy the ache of uncertainty, trying to squash my fears instead of look at them and let them be what they are.

Trying to “accomplish” my way out of pain is an old survival strategy that made a bit of a comeback here. Again, what I wrote was gentle and balanced, but the feelings and desires behind those words didn’t match the actions.

I wanted to know:

  • that everything will be okay

  • that my life has meaning

  • that I have power over my own life

  • that I won’t be “held back” by my PTSD, by my past

  • that I can trust in my future, that I’m not “doomed”

I wanted to feel:

  • Better

  • Hopeful

  • In control

  • Powerful

  • Stronger than my pain, than my grief, that the consequences of other people’s actions, than this world

  • I’m still in the process of accepting my own humanity … I think I was trying to outsmart my pain …

On the way home from teaching today, I deleted the Gmail app, the Instagram app, the Facebook app, the TikTok app from my phone.

At first, it made me feel a bit sad. I’ve made meaningful connections and found opportunities using these apps during my commutes out and about. I’m not going to stop using email or social media. I’ll probably redownload the apps at some point. But for now, I just want to be a bit more conscious of when I’m trying to be productive to avoid my feelings, avoid being in my body, disconnecting from the present moment because my pain is still here with me now. So if I want to do a post, I can still use my browser and log in. Same for checking my email. Adding that extra step makes it feel less automatic …

Part of why I want to be on social media is to connect and find people who are going through similar things or have similar passions, support others’ work, etc. But I think I’m at the point where it’s just too much information for me right now.

Over the past few months, I’ve been learning more about my nervous system and my brain, coming to terms with me being different outside of the PTSD. And there are so many ways I can support others. I don’t have to keep checking apps that feel like I’m being bombarded with all this stimulus and information. I think I want to focus on my own voice for a while and the people I’m already connected with.

And it’s okay that I want more. I think it’s human to want more. To always want more. But side by side with wanting to explore X and Y and Z and learn about XXXYYYYYYYZZZZZZZZZZZ times infinity is my desire for peace. I won’t always feel peaceful. I get that. But I can find ways to let go of wanting to “take full advantage” of free time.

Sometimes, I just need to remind myself of the basics and forget tangibility, forget the details for a while.

I’ve been feeling like life is moving past me, like I’m missing out because I’m too tired to do more. Feeling like PTSD is stopping me from living life. And then I thought, it feels like I keep trying to catch up and I’m always falling behind. But then it occurred to me, just now, before I started writing this edition … okay, then, stop trying to catch up.

If I keep trying to “catch up,” I will keep feeling like I’m trying to catch up because that’s exactly what I’m doing. But what am I trying to catch up to? Does any of whatever that is really matter more than living now?

I thought my exhaustion and pain was getting in the way of living life. And of course, that feeling is also valid. But this pressure I’ve been putting on myself to have more energy than I do? Maybe, that’s getting in the way of living life too.

Can I let my relationships with others be enough, the way it is right now?

Can I let the love that’s already in my life be enough?

Can I let the present moment be enough?

Can I let the opportunities I already have be enough?

Can I let myself be enough, as I am, right now?

How much of this wanting is really my pain? Is really my grief? So much of this wanting.

I love the people in my life. I love art. I love just existing. And watching the sunset. And our cat. And music. And writing. And wondering. And just breathing. Walking.

I don’t want to feel this pain, but I don’t want to block out what I truly feel. And when I disconnect from my pain, I tend to also disconnect from my joy. They’re connected, whether I want them to be or not. And I’m choosing to just be here right now. I’m choosing to stay with myself through these feelings, even though it’s hard.

Distraction can still be a useful tool and sometimes, it is about just getting through. And that’s okay. It’s all already okay. And at the same time, it’s all not okay because there is so much wrong. And at the same time, rushing isn’t going to solve my suffering. Suffering isn’t something that can be solved. It’s not some puzzle I can just figure out the right arrangement of pieces, or find “the trick” to it.

I wasn’t wrong to write those goals. Or to have Instagram on my phone. Or to spend time on social media. Or checking my email. That’s where I was at. And it was intertwined with checking the stove and checking the door and checking, checking, checking. I don’t have to feel bad about trying things or struggling to let go of safety behaviors. I can just let this be my process. And realize things as I realize them. And feel what I feel. And adjust as I wish. And try my best.

The funny thing is none of this is really about accomplishment or goals, not at the heart of it.

This is about making peace with uncertainty and also knowing that making peace isn’t something you do once.

Accepting my humanity or how I feel or what I’ve been through or anything else isn’t a checkbox, whoosh! and then, all done! All this? It’s not something I finish. I can’t skip over a part because it’s uncomfortable or painful or annoying or heart-breaking or confusing. That’s the reality. Yet, this acceptance doesn’t just serve me in moments of pain. This acceptance of what is is threaded throughout every part of me. And the resistance, not wanting to see things as they are, wanting to be “stronger than any roadblock, anything wrong, etc.” is a part of me too. I can be kind to myself about this. I can understand why feeling is so hard, so much of the time. And I can distract and then decide not to distract and it’s okay.

There is no “perfect” healing process. There is no “perfect” living. There’s just living. And being here. And trying. And trying can look differently in all sorts of moments.

I’m already living my life because this is my life. This is living, all of it.


Nicole Sylvia Javorsky


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