Patience in the Holding Pattern

My life is sucking less, but it can't suck less fast enough. Don't get me wrong, I'm doing a whole lot better from taking the last six months off work, a ton, but I can't seem to move on while reconciling with my childhood, and I also can't seem to do much while Carrie studies. It feels like sitting outside in the car, waiting for the doctor's office to open so I can wait some more in the waiting room. The term "holding pattern" comes from airplanes in flight, circling in a specific airspace while waiting for further instructions. I feel trapped, learning from trial and error just what I'm capable of in this doubly diminished capacity. My ego isn't taking it super well because I know I'm capable of more than it appears I'm doing, even if I'm accomplishing tons. It's tempting to think that once this is all over, I'll stop complaining, I'll stop suffering, everything will just get better, and I can shut down my blog, but I have a strong feeling that won't be the case. Regardless of how good or bad life is, I tend to push myself at 90% or so of my capacity. If I weren't dealing with my childhood problems, I'd find some others to fix. It's like I'm rushing to finish my lunch so I can start my dinner faster. Hold up.

I could save myself some grief by not writing publicly anymore. I could just write to myself privately and offline, but I feel strongly about suffering publicly. It's not for recognition (Does this feel like a pity party? I hope not.), but it feels better to let my friends know they're not suffering alone. I get a good number of regular readers, about 100 or so per week I think, which is endlessly humbling and an incredible honour. If my web analytics are to be believed, some people even visit my URL directly, bypassing the link I share on Facebook. It's a big deal to me because I grew up feeling invisible. Even in a room full of friends and family, I would feel like nobody noticed me. Seeing people read my blog soothes a big insecurity for me, having people treat me like I matter.

Maybe I shouldn't try to get that much healthier. Maybe I should aim lower and just try to lead a quiet life and just get by. Nah, eff dat noise. Life is for the living. Why work so hard to overcome my struggles just to hide away in a boring life? Is it really victory over yourself if you let the catastrophes break you? It's hard digging down into the source of my problems, but I don't care to let them sprout up again in a few years. Should I?

Since things have been so challenging for such a long time, it keeps me humble and grateful for all the little miracles. When I'm given opportunities, I need to make the most of them. I found a $20 bill on the floor in a club, but I kept it and didn't spend it. I found a deal on protein and discovered I had been paying triple at the GNC because of my laziness. My muscles are getting bigger and my weight is slowly dropping, but my gut is still pretty obvious. I'm accelerating in the right direction, I'm picking up speed, but my position is still in a negative space. I feel stuck even though I've been pushing so hard for so long.

Why do we hope? We paint optimistic futures in order to relieve our present sufferings. In the spirit of last week's post about gratitude and fighting my negative instincts by thinking more positively, I found myself just longing for the end of all this struggling. In my case, trying to be realistic about the future usually leans towards pessimism. However, we all need hope. Some of my investments into my health are starting to pay off, fuelling my optimism. I'm seeing a lot of friends, building relationships one coffee at a time, looking and feeling physically healthier, and handling my panic attacks better. I have an appointment with a psychiatrist coming up, and it's interesting timing. I have two more counselling sessions with CCASA, but even though I was referred to a psychiatrist back in September, it works out that I'm going to see them soon because they also offer six or seven counselling sessions with a psychologist. I'll have a nice overlap between both agencies. There are a lot of valid reasons for why I should feel hopeful, but I'm impatient. I just want to be at full strength already.

I write the way I do because I want people to see that it's possible to pick yourself back up when this cold world knocks you down. We all slip on black ice at some point (#canadianproblems), and there shouldn't be any shame in admitting that shit happens. Recovery isn't some magic formula. Simple problems have simple solutions, but big problems take time to resolve. For example, going to the gym, it's a lot easier to get strong than to look good. Being strong doesn't necessarily translate to looking attractive. Glamour muscles. I used to think "I should compliment that person on their beach bod," but I'm learning that it's one thing to go to the gym and another thing to look great. You could exercise your whole life and still look meh, being skinny, having long, stringy muscles. People who look that good know it. In the same manner, taking care of your mental health, confronting your insecurities, healing your wounds, it's not a secret once you're that healthy. It means picking out healthy groceries, practising proper sleep hygiene, being honest enough to call out your own bullshit or ridiculousness, all that good stuff. I was dealt a bad hand in the last year, but it's not the end of the game. You have to collect a bunch of little wins to make up for all the big losses.

Patience in the holding pattern. That's the hardest part. It all just takes time. I am getting better. I'm physically getting stronger. Applying for more jobs. Handling anxiety better. Leaning on more supports. It's super uncomfortable being in this space, but the only way I can do it is by practising patience.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le