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Emotional State of Matt #0: OPEN

Updated: Jan 6

I have decided to begin this trip on Feb 10th, the first day of the Chinese New Year - the year of the dragon (like me), which is less than 6 weeks away. I have all the feels about the upcoming trip: excited, uncertain, stressed, adventurous, terrified, brave. But, most importantly, I keep reminding myself to be OPEN. Open to the unexpected, open to talking with people I have nothing in common with, open to excitement, open to boredom, and especially open to crushing self-doubt and loneliness.


I can’t know what serendipitous adventures await me. Some of them will be thrilling and wonderful, some will really suck, but at least they will all be interesting. That uncertainty fuels my excitement. 


(View of Mount Hood's peak from the Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, Oregon)


What scares me is the personal work I have ahead of me. I blew up my life and broke the heart of an amazing woman who loves me all so that I could have the space to “get to know myself” better. That’s not going to happen in the exciting, unexpected moments, but the mundane, quiet, and lonely ones. 


For all of my life I have run from these quiet moments. When it gets quiet, my self destructive mind kicks in. “You’re not good enough, you don’t deserve to be happy, remember 20 years ago when you said those stupid, hurtful things to your friend?” The only way I’ve been able to quiet these voices is through avoidance. Drinking, relationships, video games, drugs, sex, anything stimulating enough to distract me. 


In order to avoid repeating the same patterns in my life, I need to break the cycle and do things differently. My inability to face my self-criticism and self-doubt is at the root of my destructive behavior and it’s preventing me from growing. Facing it is the work I have to do. This is the real journey I’ll be on over the next year.  If I don’t do this work, and I settle for a dull melancholy, what was the point of all of this? If I don’t do this work, this trip will be a failure - a big showy distraction. 


(View of sunset from Timberline Lodge, Mount Hood, OR)


I don’t have a great track record of self-care. I don’t even have the coping tools to handle this - yet. With the help of a good therapist, my family and friends, and a sprinkle of courage, I will develop them. Some of the dark days ahead will be very dark, and fighting, white-knuckling through them won’t be helpful. That’s not work, that’s masochism. In order to grow, I need to sit with, unpack, analyze, accept, and embrace those hard feelings. And to do that, I can’t run, I can’t hide - I need to be OPEN.


Any advice for me? What tools have you developed to manage your self-criticism?


Yes, and…

Matt

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