Living In The Moment

Yes, you get two posts in one night because it’s been that long since I’ve written and today was such a mind blowing day that I am inviting you to experience it with me.

In my “Slumber” post (which is required reading, by the way), I prattled on about how music is my nirvana and how powerful it is. In the beginning of that post, I also said I had an uncanny ability to find the most appropriate songs at the most appropriate times. Today was no exception.

Yet another part of DBT-focused therapy is radical acceptance (which is part of the Distress Tolerance module). *insert a HUGE sigh here* Acceptance, much less radical acceptance, was/is/probably always will be the bane of my existence and therapy. It is something I will fight and struggle with and cry over and embrace and punch over and over and over again. In a nutshell, radical acceptance is the acceptance (toleration if you want another word) of everything (your life, situation, a relationship, a feeling, a thought, etc.). Now that doesn’t mean that because you accept something, it’s good or okay…it’s just acknowledging that it happened/is happening and you have no control over it (other than what you let it do to you). “It is what it is.” If I had a nickel…

(As a disclaimer, any DBT skill I explain/talk about is always easier said than done.) Radical acceptance takes a lot of practice and a lot of work and after over a year in this therapy group, I am still learning and practicing this skill and there are days where I’m really good at saying, “Fuck it. It is what it is.”…but there are just as many, if not more, days where I say, “I hate you, Life! Y u gotta b such a biatch?! If only I had done this or that, or said this or that…” and on and on and on. Broken record. You continually beat yourself up for all the coulda woulda shoulda’s. Stop that shit. Seriously. (When I figure out how to do it, I’ll let you know.) Acceptance is not a skill that comes easily, if at all, and for me personally, it’s often something I get to after I’ve already beaten myself up (in DBT, they call that “suffering”) if acceptance even comes to me at all. Group and homework this week, as it so happens (but not really because all things happen for a reason), is all about radical acceptance. My peers and I managed to fill all 90 minutes of group time with our musings (and bashings) about acceptance and we probably could have continued until the sun came up if the therapists had let us (sometimes I swear they are grateful for that clock…oh who am I kidding?! I’m grateful for that clock some weeks!). I had some pretty awesome epiphanies this week and even came out with a new a favorite “soundtrack” song. (For those of you who are behind on the required reading *ahem*, “soundtrack” songs are songs I could put in a movie about my life and they would be dead-on perfect for a particular scene.) Before I even knew we were approaching our radical acceptance module, I wrote the “In My Mind” post. In that post, I rambled on about how shitty I thought it was that I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life and things hadn’t gone according to my plan…the one I so meticulously laid out for myself. That song helped me get a little bit further in accepting that “shit happens.” And I said helped…it wasn’t a cure-all…maybe saying that it gave me perspective is a better way to put it. So I walk into group last week with “In My Mind” already floating around in my brain and THEN the therapists want to go and pull the radical acceptance module out on me. It’s moments like those where I wonder who is Big Brother’ing me because sometimes things like that are just way too freaky, even for someone like me who’s own personal conviction is that all things, good and bad, happen for a reason. I walk into group singing, “Maybe I’ve just forgotten how to seeeee…that I’m not exactly the person that I thought I’dddd beeee…” and the therapists go and slap me upside the head with the radical acceptance unit. Really?! Seriously?! BUT…it was what it was…so I rolled with it. (Like what I did there?)

Our homework asked us to list out three really important things that we need to work on accepting and three less important things we need to work on accepting. (Obviously, I was already one step ahead of everyone else.) And then we get to pick those six things apart and attempt to “radically accept” them or at least be aware that we need to work on accepting them for what they are…be it life in general, a situation, a person, what have you. I’m an OCD over-achiever so naturally, I listed FOUR really important things I needed to work on accepting because I just enjoy making things really difficult for myself. I said above that I had already walked into group singing “In My Mind” so accepting my life for what it is, despite going completely OFF the charts of where it was SUPPOSED to go, was my #1 thing I needed/wanted to work on accepting. (I said the song helped…it didn’t “make it all better.”)

After that lovely 90-minute group session, I was hit with epiphany after epiphany. I wrote all over my homework page (I’m so glad we don’t actually have to hand those in). I like to write (duh) and so I write A LOT. Sometimes it’s a blog post, sometimes it’s a one-sentence musing or random thought that gets shoved into a text message, a Facebook status update, a 140-character Tweet, or written all over whatever piece of paper I happen to have handy. One such epiphany that I patted myself on the back for (and later found out that my therapist LOVED…so much, in fact, that she asked me to save it and repeat it to the group later this week) was this one: I’ve mentioned (I think) in some of my posts that I was, at one point, majoring in psychology. (If I didn’t mention it before, I’m mentioning it now.) I haven’t totally given up this dream and while I now realize I could probably never be a therapist, I do enjoy taking notes on serial killers, so I imagine, in my perfect healthy world, that I could be a criminal profiler some day. I also said (in my “About Me” section, I believe) that I am that proverbial preschooler who incessantly asks, “Why?” I’m curious about anything and everything and I like figuring out what makes people tick (myself included). People say TV makes you dumb. I say it only makes you dumb if you let it make you dumb (e.g. you watch Honey Boo Boo and/or Keeping Up With The Kardashians). My TV generally stays on the Discovery Channel, the National Geographic Channel, TLC, or the Investigation Discovery Channel. I don’t condone nor do I believe in everything I see and hear…BUT…I enjoy learning about different people and our world and all the who’s, why’s, what’s, and how’s of almost anything. Yes, I am much more inclined to watch a documentary about Aileen Wuornos than I am Toddlers & Tiaras, but that’s just because I have this weird fascination with crime and serial killers that I haven’t quite figured out yet. (And as a side note, I would much rather watch a real documentary on crime scene investigating, graphic photos and all, than watch CSI or any other “fake” TV drama series.) All that to say that I “enjoy” (I say that lightly) watching Hoarders on A&E (and the TLC one, too). (If you don’t know what hoarding is, click HERE. Remember people, Google is a wonderful tool.) Yes, I have to turn my head away or turn the program off if it involves animal hoarding or anything really nasty but those are insignificant details. In my brain (which is always running rampant with random musings) as I watched Hoarders this past week (which, unfortunately, was one that involved animals so I only watched the other person’s story and not the story of the animal lady…if you don’t know, most of the shows document the lives of two different hoarders per episode)…something hit me: When it comes down to it…as least as far as those of us who have psychological and/or emotional disorders…aren’t we ALL hoarders? Some people hoard THINGS…tangible items…but some of us (the “mental” ones) hoard emotions and feelings. The crux of the behavior that is “hoarding” is a mental disorder marked by an obsessive need to acquire and keep things, even if the items are worthless, hazardous, or “unsanitary”. How are we, as non-hoarders and emotionally dysregulated people, any different? Do we not sit in a group for 90 minutes every week trying to learn skills that will aid us in “throwing out” all of our “garbage”? Pick your chin up off the floor because you know I’m right. BOOM! Mind-blowing, huh? Well that’s what you get when you put a TV in front of an emotionally dysregulated almost-30-year-old who cannot radically accept her own life and throw away all the garbage that consumes her life on a daily basis.

I’ll have to explore this theory in group, but I wonder sometimes if I’ve made my own journey even harder because I am such a perfectionist. It’s so hard for me to just let go of shit. I remember being in school, back when we had to hand-write (in cursive, no less!) our essays…none of that 12-point-Times-New-Roman-double-spaced shit. If I made a mistake, no matter how tiny or fixable that mistake was, I crumpled that paper up and started writing my essay all over again…even if I was almost done with it the first time. It had to be perfect. And my life has gone SO far off of perfect that it has literally eaten me alive. But fear not…because I’m working on letting go of that habit. I’m learning to live in the moment.

Remember wayyyyyy back where I mentioned the “In My Mind” song and post before I got into this long-winded tangent? Come back to that now. There is a part of that song that says, “And in my mind, I imagine so many things…things that aren’t really happening. And when they put me in the ground, I’ll start pounding the lid, saying ‘I haven’t finished yet’…I still have a tattoo to get…that says I’m living in the moment…” On the pretense of doing my best to remain anonymous, I’ll just say that I like tattoos (and piercings) and I did not take that part of the song lightly. Every single time I heard that song, I put “get a tattoo that says you’re living in the moment” on my Bucket List. Well ladies and gentleman, today was the day where I got to check that item off. And right here is where I’m going to make this entire post make sense and tie it all together (I promise): I couldn’t sleep for shit last night/this morning. I had a semi-early therapy appointment today so once the sun started to grace me with its presence (however uninvited it was), I said fuck it, got up, and just started watching YouTube, Googling random shit and listening to music (of course). What song should come on? “In My Mind” by Amanda Palmer. What verse should stick out? The part about the tattoo and living in the moment. What are we learning/practicing in group this week? Acceptance and living in the moment. What bright idea do I come up with to do after my one-on-one therapy session today? If you guessed “accept your life” and “live in the moment”…you are so totally wrong…well…sort of. If you guessed “get a tattoo that says you’re living in the moment”…you are so totally right! And yes, I am so totally dead serious.

Now my tattoo ideas come off as being impulsive but what really happens is is that I sit on the ideas for months, even years, until a bee flies up my butt and I go all Nike and just do it. I’m an instant-gratification kind of girl. If I want something bad enough, I kinda sorta want it NOW…I have little patience for appointments or shipping time. So there I am, 4 AM in the morning, gathering the #s of my favorite tattoo shops, when they open and also looking at where I want my tattoo and what font I want it in. I went to my therapy appointment, made a few phone calls and a couple hours later, I walked out rocking some new ink. And you know what? I think it’s fucking awesome. Not only is it totally meaningful (in more ways than one…everything about it is meaningful, down to how I arranged the words and where I chose to have this permanent piece of ink needled into my skin), it’s totally applicable, it’s a great affirmation and reminder…IT IS WHAT IT IS. I’m sure you’re wishing my story ends there, but it does’t. Well, chronologically it does, but I didn’t tell you about what I found while Googling tattoo placement and font ideas before I even stepped foot into the tattoo parlor. Remember A LONG time ago where I said I was really good at finding appropriate/applicable songs for their appropriate/applicable moments? I had never heard or seen this song before. It was nonexistent in my world…until this morning. Behold, my little angel faces, the little gem I discovered today and the end of my post (finally):

Living In The Moment
by Jason Mraz

If this life is one act
Why do we lay all these traps?
We put ’em right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry ’bout all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go of what I know I don’t know
And I know I’ll only do this by

Living in the moment
Living our life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going
I’m already home
I’m living in the moment

I’m letting myself off the hook for things I’ve done
I let my past go past
And now I’m having more fun
I’m letting go of the thoughts
That do not make me strong
And I believe this way can be the same for everyone

And if I fall asleep
I know you’ll be the one who’ll always remind me

To live in the moment
To live my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going
I’m already home

I can’t walk through life facing backwards
I have tried
I tried more than once to just make sure
And I was denied the future I’d been searching for
But I spun around and hurt no more

By living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going
I’m already home

I’m living in the moment
I’m living my life
Just taking it easy
With peace in my mind
Got peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Oh, wherever I’m going
I’m already home

I’m living in the moment
I’m living my life
Oh, easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
Peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going
I’m already home
I’m living in the moment

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