[Jul 2013] Seaside Holiday

We arrived at the seaside vacation with my friend Mick, to join the rest of our friends. We left the city in the morning together. I had some inner trembling in the morning in the bank already, where I went to pick up some cash. I didn’t understand why I was feeling that way. Then I was nervous about the long trip on an unknown route. We had lunch at an unknown restaurant near the highway, we crossed the border, we crossed the highway gates. All unknown and new things and places, it all made me anxious and fearful.

After we had arrived, he went to the beach with the others, but I wanted to stay in the room to take a rest after the long trip and the stress. I am feeling uncomfortable, just like all day. The new environment is frightening to me with the crowd, with the sparkling life. Two new guys joined us (friends of our friends), who I don’t know very well yet. They bother me, too. We spend a night here, then move tomorrow to another city, where we are going to spend the rest of the week.

I am trying to take good care of myself, to accept and respect my feelings. I am trying to love myself and be kind to myself. I am working hard! I want to embrace the fact that I am extraordinarily sensitive. I want to accept that I need time to become acclimatized to the new environment. I am trying to give myself time.

As Cesar Millar says it on certain dogs: I am rock bottom. I feel like that. He recommends an environmental change in such cases because the stimuli of the usual environment trigger such strong negative associations that make it impossible to move the patient from its place at the bottom. I am trying to do the same thing here. No matter how unpleasant, demanding and uncomfortable it was for me to come to a vacation with my friends, I still did it. Just like I did it a couple of months ago when I went skiing for the first time in my life, and when I visited my friend Alex abroad. I felt horrible before both trips, so much that I thought I was better staying home in my room for a week. But I felt much better after coming back, filled with experiences and gratitude. I hope the same this time, that I am going to feel much better in a week, and I will be grateful to myself for forcing me to come. Although I feel so bad right now, that I don’t think anything can possibly help me. But I am still here.

After lying in bed for an hour, doing a body scan meditation, I gathered all my strength, got out of bed, and slowly, step by step started my first walk to breathe in the feeling of the place, or rather just smell it. During the long walk, I began to ease up a little, step by step, breath by breath, to a level that was still very tense, but not unbearable. I had terrible anxiety during the evening with my friends. I realized that I can’t let go of having to be happy, having to be strong, clinging to my self-image. I can’t be weak in front of my friends or any people. I have to do what society and my status expects me to do. I am still very much dependent on others’ opinions, or rather my expectations about myself.

But what would be the true gentle, loving and kind attitude to myself? If I could just love myself, without any expectations and conditions. If I could tell myself I don’t have to be strong anymore. If I could be strong and weak as well. If I am dizzy, let me be dizzy. If I am trembling, let me tremble. If I feel like fainting, let me faint. This is true unconditional love. If I am afraid or scared of fainting, it won’t make me feel better but worse. And it makes me accept and love myself less. What am I really afraid of? It can’t be fainting because it is a healthy, natural, and benevolent reaction of the body. What I am afraid of is the failure, that I won’t live up to my expectations, and my self-image is going to be broken. This is everything but unconditional love. This is love with hard conditions: I love myself only when I’m strong. Enough of it! I want to love myself in every circumstance! Bright and strong, trembling and weak, dizzy and collapsed!

**********

This is my second day here at the seaside, and I am already feeling definitely better than yesterday or any other day on my last few weeks. I can relax and let go better. I can forget things that are going on at home. I have a better appetite. I sleep better. I feel like I am on the right track.

I had the same unpleasant, uncomfortable, tense feelings in certain situations during the day, for example in the morning, when we had to move from one apartment and city to the other one. Or when we went to have lunch at the beach, and I had to wait twenty minutes for my hamburger in a crowded place with loud music, and all my friends were waiting for me.

I am trying to focus and remind myself to handle these situations in a healthy way. To not take these situations and my feelings too personal. To consider it as a brief, temporary state, like a pain in my body that is coming and going. To know that I can’t and shouldn’t do anything about my feelings. To know that if I fight them, I make it even worse. To be patient with me in such situations. To love myself and accept myself the way I am: with tension, anger, weakness or fear. To try living these moments to the fullest, as a passive observer, watching my thoughts, feelings, and body sensations. To not ruminate or figure out my thoughts, just focus on my feelings without endlessly looking for a deeper meaning. To not judge the situation or myself. When a thought or a feeling is too strong, then I have to work with it, I have to breathe with it, I have to see it carefully. When seeing too deeply in it is unbearable, then I have to just let go of it. I don’t have to face everything at once.

These are the attitudinal foundations of mindfulness that I try to remind myself of:

Non-judging: when I don’t judge myself and don’t take everything too personal

Patience: when I don’t want to rush things

Trust: when I trust myself and the temporary nature of feelings

Non-striving: when I don’t want to fight things or make them go away

Acceptance: when I accept myself, with my thoughts and my feelings

Letting go: when I don’t hold on to my thoughts or feelings, but let them go

**********

In the afternoon I went back to the beach. I don’t really like water or swimming, but this time I went in for a swim for the first time on our holiday. I entered the water nicely, slowly, step by step. First, it felt very cold and unpleasant. I didn’t want to dive just to get over the unpleasant process quickly. After a few minutes, I was in it with my whole body and started to swim. It was an amazing feeling to float, to swim, to move my body. After that, I sat on the beach on a plank, with my legs in the water. I felt my lungs expanded, my pulse and my blood pressure raised. I felt pleasant tiredness in my arms. I hadn’t felt this good, this whole, this happy for weeks. Those were fantastic minutes.

After these uplifting feelings, I decided that I try the jet ski that my friends brought with us. I knew it is a bold venture, but I was enthusiastic, just like always when I feel happy. In these moments I often forget that these ordeals that I am in can’t be healed so quickly. A moment of happiness doesn’t mean that I am my old self again, and I can go full throttle without even thinking about it. Not because I won’t ever be my old self again. I will. But I should never do anything mindlessly ever again. I should never forget to love myself and care about myself.

I sat on the jet ski with my friend Pete. He was driving, I sat behind him. I told him I was sensitive and asked him to be careful, but I didn’t say it firmly and threatening enough. Maybe because I believed for a moment that I would be able to handle and enjoy it. No matter how much I knew about my emotional condition and the fact that I don’t really like adrenalin rushes. I clung to him, and we set off. I was already shaking, only partly because of the cold water and the cold vest. He started with a few little turns, set the machine to the right direction towards the sea, and pulled full throttle. The jet came out of the water, like an airplane about to take off. It produced far greater acceleration than I had ever experienced in my (otherwise very powerful) car. At that moment the excitement, the happiness, all the magic was broken. I started shaking inside and outside. I felt weak and helpless, the all too familiar crippling fear and anxiety came back to me. I was moaning to Pete to stop it. When I looked ahead above his shoulders, I saw the jet flying above the water with incredible,  dizzying speed, jumping above waves. In the distance, I saw a larger wave approaching. I was certain that if we hit that one, we were going to be destroyed. My heart wanted to jump out of my chest. He slowed down, but I was already broken by then. He made a few slow turns, but I signaled him that I didn’t want any of these either. I asked him to bring me to the coast. I swam out with a shaking body, I sat out in a fetal position and tried to regain my balance.

I felt terrible during the whole evening after this horrible experience. When we were going to have dinner together, I asked a friend of mine to drive my car, because I didn’t feel capable of driving. I felt terrible and miserable, and on top of that, I was angry at me for not being wiser, more careful and more loving to myself. I made a promise to sit on the jet ski next time only if I can drive it. But I didn’t want to sit on it anytime soon.

**********

Today I sat on the jet ski again, this time in a more careful way. I was driving, so I had full control. It was fantastic, I really enjoyed it, slowly, step by step. In the end, I was driving faster than yesterday when my friend Pete drove and almost killed my nerves with it. Today it was fun.

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