Reconciling the Past
Many spiritual teachers typical focus a great deal on “staying in the present moment.” For those who don’t live with bipolar disorder it’s still a great challenge not to hold on to the past. Because I live with bipolar disorder I feel like it might even be more difficult for me to “let go” of the past.
While I know it’s not healthy to hold on to the past and certainly even less healthy to ruminate about it, I still find it difficult not to get stuck sometimes in a time when life might have been a little easier. I also have those moments when living in the present actually triggers my thoughts and takes me back to a different time and place.
Whether it be with my current job situation or my past career I can’t help but wonder where I would be without this illness. This mental war doesn’t happen relentlessly, but it does affect me everyday. I realized this when I started paying more attention to my thoughts. A little thought monitoring in an attempt to stay more in the present led me to realize just how much I dip back into the past.
Then there are the times when I feel I have to try to make sense out of a bipolar episode and the subsequent fallout from those times. There are days when it makes me so tired I often find myself going back to bed just to stop the unwanted memories.
What helps me focus on the present?
There are times when I can successfully take a deep breath and bring myself into the present. It also helps me to recognize sometimes I overestimate the “good times” from the past. After all my “before bipolar life” was not perfect either. Then again, when I do look back I realize bipolar disorder was affecting me from the time I was in high school, maybe even sooner.
It is no secret my life did not turn out the way I wanted it too. But I tell myself anyone who gets taken out of her life because of any illness is not necessarily living a dream life. I am not so sure a dream life exists anyhow, although I would have like to have known a life without so such struggle and pain. I simply did not get that opportunity.
Each day is a new start, a clean slate. A new day is a chance to try and live fully in the present focusing on the days gifts. I try to practice acceptance of “what is” and fully embrace exactly where I am.
I do consider myself a relatively positive person, but I have realized the tough times have caused me to become a little more cynical than I would like to admit. I don’t sit around waiting for the “shoe to drop.” But as I become more aware of my thoughts it shed some light on the disappointing views I hold close inside.
Once I was a dreamer and I was really good at setting goals and reaching my dreams. I still hold hope that my dreams will come true, even if those dreams consists of simple everyday living that inspires my soul and not grandiose dreams that go up in smoke after the end of a manic episode. The truth is through the proper treatment I am blessed without having mania and that is surely a plus. Now I focus on reconciling my past and staying in the present without giving too much credence to wishing my life was different.
Paying attention to my thoughts has given me a new-found realization that I am glad I have found. It’s not an easy task to stay in the present moment, but it is where life takes place. We all know the past cannot be changed and the future is not guaranteed. The present is all we truly have. I just wish the past would leave me alone and not grab my thoughts backward.
Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to focus most of my energy in the present. At the very least it will give me a peace of mind and that’s all I really hope for.