Recently, I’m coming across people searching for who they are more often than I ever have in my life previously. Maybe I’m just noticing it more because I’ve been more dedicated than ever to try to figure out the same thing myself, maybe I recognize it for what it is when I see someone going through the same motions, getting to similar points that I did throughout my search. It prompted me to share my experience and understanding. Any way that I express didn’t feel right for me, I mean it literally: On the inside a certain way regardless if it worked for everyone else or a certain group of people didn’t feel was right for me. Not in any way I’m criticizing it, or imply that it’s the wrong way. I wanted to clarify that point because I’ve had to deal a lot lately with people interpreting what I say and giving it a different meaning that what the actual words I said mean. I don’t believe in wrong and right anymore. I believe there are choices and there are outcomes based on those choices. Not accepting the outcome that make sense based on the choice I made, gives the perception of wrong and right. My search and my journey through was extremely difficult and very painful at times, now I feel peace. I’ve discovered myself and accepted myself as I am, forgave myself for anything I needed to in the past and let go of all the pain fully that haunted me in the present or I suppressed deep inside, I feel at peace, no feeling of anxiety that’s just always present, no fear, no uneasiness, just acceptance of the past as it is and a feeling of peace. I am not my past. I am just me, a person, who lives here and now, amongst other people and living organisms. I am just me, in the present. What actions I do in the present, what I feel in the present that’s also me. But as this present moment passes and another comes, I may do something different and feel different and that’s also me. I am just me. Not a label. Not my past. Not what I think I want my future to be. Not my ego. Not my pride. Not what my mind has tried to convince me I should be. I am just me. I make choices that lead to outcomes that I don’t like or did not exactly know would happen, that’s just how it is. Nothing to prove. I don’t have an opinion of what’s right, I’m just sharing what I’ve learned and my experience, everyone has their own experiences through which they’ve formed their understanding. They don’t have to be the same as mine, if they’re different they’re just different, one’s not right or wrong.
So I’ve been in the process of searching for that very thing my entire life. Trying to figure out what the actual definition of identity is and factors that should determine my identity to myself as well as to other people. I kept constantly getting stuck, sort of going around in the same circle and always returning to the beginning. My life circumstance at this time made finding the answer that felt right to me extremely urgent and important, as I got to a point where I had no idea how it’ll ever be possible for me to live life and not be miserable. I went off of what I know, through reading what has already been written on that subject as well as my personal experiences. The two things contradicted each other at times and at first that’s the part I would get stuck on and hit the dead end feeling that made everything dark inside. So I tried removing all the external factors, such as career, relationships, hobbies, or anything that was part of any of my life circumstances. But even when I would look at it from strictly internal point of view, I would define what determines my identity by all the factors coming from the conventional point of view. When I would explore each one of the factors separately, it would lead to being based on things that are external. So I get stuck again, the dead end feeling. Several times through life I have given up and instead found some category of society I could identify with until that got to the point where it felt wrong in every single way. I’m also someone who has a hard time expressing exactly what I think or how I feel, every time I have tried doing that, I have been ridiculed but since I made sense to me, I thought maybe I just need to find some facts of proof to what I’m saying, which caused more ridicule and feeling humiliated, misunderstood and alone. Nobody wanted to look at any facts of proof, but the actual act of me going out of my way made everyone treat me as a weirdo and not normal based on what the society standard of normal was. So I learned to adapt easily, mimic things others were saying, their manner of conversation as well as their behavior. Going about life that way has earned me a lot of different life experiences that were pretty extreme in their diversity. If I was to try to identify myself based on those, it would be impossible to do in the conventional way of finding one category of society that I fit into. And that isn’t anything I wanted anymore. The outcome was always me being in a very dark place, just the intensity of it would increase each time as well as the damage from it all. During one of those times where I’m at a complete dead end, have no more fight left in me or any inkling on what the hell I could even do to change anything, I’ve tried everything that I already know and it all led me back to this place again, I chose an action that was very extreme. But through that I actually felt something that was so freeing to me, I felt peace, the real feeling of peace, not the emotion of calmness, and I felt a powerful presence that made everything else feel so insignificant in comparison.
So ever since then, I have been trying to find that feeling of peace again, instead of finding myself. But I didn’t know what I was looking for, how to even express it in the way others would understand what I’m even talking about, and where to even begin to look for it. So needless, to say I was getting stuck in the same cycles, as well as the corresponding cycles of the unhealthy way of being in my relationships. And my last ditch effort was to try another way that was already set by society, NA groups and meetings. Since me battling addiction was life circumstance of my life for the past 4 years it made sense. Also a couple of addicts in recovery that I’m close with insisted that it is the only way to be able to live life clean and happy and assured me that as soon as I go to a meeting I would feel like I belong, like I finally found my place and my people. And it did…..at the beginning. But as I was going to more and more meetings I felt out of place again. I hear the phrase “don’t concentrate on the differences, concentrate on similarities” and I would understand that the meaning of it is different to various people based on their perception and completely differs from how I understand it. The literature itself of NA actually made sense to me as an overall concept of what the program is supposed to do, but the interpretation of that literature by different people not only varied but also changed the meaning of the words that are written a lot of the time. I also could not ignore the contradictions in what someone says I should do and how I should understand it and what they actually do and way their behavior is showing they understand it. The pushiness of it being the only way that’s right, understanding and defining things only one way as they’re understood by the category as a whole made me want to take a break from it because I realized I did not belong when I was fully being honest with myself. At least until I understand myself, accept myself, not surrender to the way of just adapting and mimicking, can express myself without concerning myself with anyone’s reaction. A couple of people out of all the meetings I went to actually felt like someone I could relate to, and they expressed themselves without any fear or reservations, even if what they were saying was completely opposite from the general rules of understanding of NA as a group. They have years of living clean and they actually emanate peace with just their presence. That gave me hope and determination to find my feeling of peace, real peace. But I was beginning to feel defeated and hopeless that I’ll ever find it.
The day where I’ve hit another dead end feeling and decided to take some time away from NA meetings, I was in a horribly depressed state and didn’t feel like talking to anybody, arguing or explaining anything. As I laid down in bed I picked up whatever book that was closest to me, pretending to read it so my significant other wouldn’t want to talk about anything. I think I was actually watching funny videos on my phone to distract myself and I was using the book as a cover. When my significant other came in to the room to lay down, I had to turn off my phone though and I stared at the book still pretending to read it. The book is called The Power of Now. My dad gave it to me about 5 years ago and urged me to read it. I was telling him at some point I will, so I kept it by my bed for when I finally begin reading it. So while I was emptily staring at a page, some word caught my eye, because it was a word I used a lot and haven’t heard anyone else use it. So I read the sentence to see if the author meant the word the same way I do and I couldn’t believe that he actually did. I read a few more sentences on that page and the awful feeling of a dead end disappeared, was replaced with excitement and feeling that I finally have something to look forward to in the morning. I began reading the first chapter the next day. I felt no resistance to anything I was reading, and realized where the resistance came before when I tried reading a few pages of the first chapter. He begins with saying that everything your mind knows to be true, the understanding of concepts of life based on only what it knows, anything that comes from what your mind where it’s telling who you should be and who you are based on the way it understands it is false. To understand yourself and accept yourself, you have to misidentify from your mind. The true meaning of an open mind comes to light. The acceptance that you cannot know everything, the only way someone can actually know something is through personal experience, the rest is unknown and there’s no need whatsoever to understand and know what you don’t and can’t, just accept it as it is without questioning it. Anything that’s important for you to know and understand as an individual will come eventually through actions. Every concept that is understood through the mind is driven by pride and ego and therefore flawed. All understanding of all of the concepts in life that came from the mind and is the established way of what’s right in life by the conventional view of society as a whole or any particular group of the society is flawed as well. I was ready for it this time, everything I knew made no sense to me at all, so no part of me resisted to what he was saying. In fact his words resonated everything I was feeling on the inside but couldn’t express it. The real understanding of ego and pride and what it really means to destroy them finally opened up. More importantly I understood the powerful presence and feeling of peace that I felt. The true meaning of the Higher Power, Being, God or however else someone chooses to understand that power for themselves. It’s a feeling of a powerful presence that’s bigger and more important than me, than any of us, than anything that we try to argue or fight about, any problems or struggles that we feel are the end of the world, in fact all problems that overtake our internal state turning it into something very negative and dark seem insignificant, they’re self created for the most part through constantly resisting the natural flow of my life. Life just is. And I feel it. That was a big revelation for me and I’ll end it here for now.