Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fight those demons, day in and day out.

This year, I resolve to be happy. I will continue to fight the demons whenever they arise, stand up after I fall, treat myself and others with kindness, and fill each day with as much positivity as possible.

So far in 2014, I'm off to a mixed start. On New Year's Day, I slept past noon, lounged for a couple hours and napped again 'til 5pm. Impressive! This is highly unusual party-time behavior, woo! But it's not a good thing for me. There's something about falling asleep when it's light out and waking up when it's dark that has often been the kiss of depressive death. More than once, I've woken up from such a nap and felt a deep sense of life-hatred. But, somehow this 5pm wakeup felt happy and refreshed. I needed that day of rest, I told myself. It was the first day that the cold I'd had since Christmas Eve finally let up, and hell, it was my last full day of vacation. Sleep it up!

My good mood lasted through dinner, which was delicious and totally unhealthy -- my first trip to Five Guys Burgers and Fries. A+ on the pig-out joint rating list. At home afterward, I put some vodka into what was left of my paper cup of Mello Yello, lost a game of cards, and at 9pm, I found myself strangely devastated. Specifically, crying about the objectification and hypersexualization of women on TV.

Whoah. Really? What happened there. Let me see...

I slept away most of the day, ate grease, and watched too much TV, including some dumb Miami crime show that mostly consisted of boobs and butts on rollerskates. Ads for other crime shows filled the space with headshots of missing and exploited women. I also watched one too many episodes of this trashy TV show called Hemlock Grove, which is addicting and the plot is good. It also features a lot of steamy teen sex and that part gets to be kinda blech after a few.

I have every right to engage in a rant about how women are portrayed in various forms of media. Our media-infused lives are filled with unreal images. There is abundant evidence that it greatly affects the self-image of the female population. Common knowledge. There is value in questioning it; if we don't, it infects us.

In the words of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt: "We see these images on TV and in movies and magazines all the time, and if you don't stop and think about it, it just sort of seeps into your brain and that becomes the way you perceive reality." Check him out dropping this feminist wisdom in an interview with Ellen.

This stuff is certainly worthy of examination, even scorn, but never forget that you have the option not to expose yourself to an excessive bombardment of media bullshit. There's power in that. I can fill my life with subjects that inspire and fulfill me, instead of provoking my angst. Yes, the media is pervasive, and it affects our society, but there are many ways to escape it, by choosing how we direct our time and minds. The despair I felt wasn't really the fault of this programming's very existence. Watching it was my choice, and letting it creep into the cracks in my spiritual strength... that was made possible by my own behavior, too. I put myself in a weak place.

I decided to indulge this feeling of despair in a way that I haven't since summer, since before I began meditating in an effort to stop exactly this kind of emotional turmoil. Misery loves its own company; it seeks to perpetuate itself. When a depressive mood takes a strong hold, it can be hard to shake. My higher mind knew that this was optional. It knew that I was essentially doing this to myself by indulging it instead of moving past it. I knew that if I dragged myself to a quiet spot, I could try to breathe my way back into the quiet, calm state that knows that totally body happiness is a choice, but I just didn't want to. Depression itself told me that meditating was stupid, that I deserved to suffer for this moment. It also said that those around me would just have to observe and hopefully understand my suffering -- if they couldn't understand, that was just proof that we are essentially separate and alone. Hello, ego!

In the past 6 months, I've taken more responsibility for my behavior than ever before. I've recognized that I control my body, my attitude toward my body, and my emotions, not the other way around. I've invested time daily in order to do this, and it's made me feel radically empowered.

In this moment, it also made me feel alone. I felt the urge to rely on someone else for a change, to lay all my pain on the table like I used to, and see if someone else could sort it out. I'm so thankful that I don't feel a regular compulsion to do that anymore. It has only ever compounded my problems and made me feel much worse.

I guess this happens. We're only human and sometimes we do need each other. Sometimes we even need to sleep all day, eat crap, and watch filth TV. But as the vodka wore off, so did my total bummer of a mood. It left me even more resolved to take good care of myself, and to (in the words of UK band Dry the River) "fight those demons, day in and day out." I'm thankful that those demons don't rage up daily, but I do believe that strengthening the spirit with daily positivity works like a vaccine against the poison arrows of spiritual devils like pride and self-doubt.

Spiritual strengtheners and spiritual injuries both add up incrementally. In each moment of our behavior, we cast a vote about what knowledge and experiences we are filled with. We can multiply moments of happiness, and we can eliminate doses of things we know make us feel bad. Maybe if nobody watched those TV shows, or bought those magazines, they would disappear from existence. But I doubt that will happen tomorrow. So, just know that in any given moment they can definitely disappear from your own life. It takes some effort to snap out of it, but that is always within your power.

That night, I slept badly, dreamed wildly, and by 5am, was wide awake. By the time my alarm went off, I had already:
  • Warmed up Dave's car 
  • Toasted us both an English muffin with almond butter, and eaten mine
  • Watched the weather/news while stretching
  • Changed the sheets/made the bed
  • Seen the sun rise
  • Had a conversation with a friend
  • Listened to an album and a 20 minute guided meditation
  • Washed/dried/folded a load of laundry
  • Retrieved the mail
  • Cleaned Moose's litter box
  • Taken out the trash and recycling
And that feels great. Maybe I needed a trip to the dark side to refuel my dedication to a peaceful and productive morning routine. Today, I am a master of this early morning thang, all I have to do is keep it up tomorrow... and tomorrow... and tomorrow... whenever possible. Best of luck to me! :)

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