Yeah – I don’t know what that title means, either. I just couldn’t come up with a better one…deal with it.
What makes the stories we tell ourselves turn into the life we live? What makes “the truth” true, and “reality” real? I’m just asking for a friend.
Is it when someone else agrees with us? How many people have to agree? One other person? More than one?
I woke up this morning wondering if the story I’m currently telling myself about my life is any more true than the one I’ve been telling myself for the last 20+ years. How can I know? How can I know if this surreal feeling means that it really isn’t REAL?
How can I know, moving forward, whether I can trust myself to judge anything, or decide anything based on what I think is true? Do my past relationships and patterns dictate my future? I should be learning, and growing, but if I can’t trust my own version of what is true, then I can’t really trust anything or anyone.
When You Know That Sometimes You’re Crazy…
I know I write about being a little crazy, sometimes, but this isn’t one of those times. At least, I don’t think it is. Usually I can tell when depression or anxiety are making my brain lie to me.
Speaking of anxiety and being crazy – there is a man in my kitchen dismantling my stove, and I feel nervous and paranoid. Is that normal? The feeling nervous and paranoid part – not the man in my kitchen part.
The man in my kitchen is definitely NOT normal. I mean, HE might be totally normal, I don’t know, because I don’t know him. But HAVING a man in my kitchen is no longer normal. Never really was, I guess, if I’m being totally honest. In 22 years of marriage my now estranged husband never really spent enough time in the kitchen to warrant calling that “normal”.
I’ve been using the word “normal” a lot lately. My friend recently suggested I use “common”, instead of “normal”. I think, in this case, that may be a better choice of words. I mean, normal is defined by Google as: “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”. Ewww – conforming is hardly EVER seen as a good thing, let alone usual, typical, or expected! So, yeah – common – a man in my kitchen is not COMMON for me.
Anyway – he (the “not common but possibly very normal” man in my kitchen) was here to replace the element in our oven, because it blew up the other night when my daughter was here alone trying to bake muffins and I was out and about trying to figure out my new reality.
My New Reality
In case you haven’t been keeping up with MY life, my new reality involves having a husband that no longer lives with me because he has discovered some things about himself that make our marriage no longer right for him. I keep waiting for it to be over. For life to feel real again. For everything to go back to being normal.
A year ago we uprooted our lives and moved across the country from Seattle to Buffalo, NY. All in search of his happiness. Our daughter came with us, and we all hoped for a better life for all three of us.
We had reasons, of course, and therefore, the decision seemed reasonable.
THAT is part of my current dilemma. WE made this decision based on a bunch of reasons, and some of them were true for me. It wasn’t entirely about him. I mean, honestly – it WAS mostly about him. But…I’m here now, in a city I don’t love, missing a city I DO love, and I have no idea if how I’m feeling is true or real or can be depended upon.
The Pacific Northwest has been the only place I’ve lived that truly feels like home to me, and I’ve lived in enough places around the world to be able to convince myself of the truth of that. But I haven’t lived EVERYWHERE…so how do I know that Seattle is really home? How do I know that Boston wouldn’t be SO much better?
Does Changing Your Location Change Your Reality?
I can’t keep moving to different cities to try them on, it’s too expensive. So, I have to figure out how to know whether what I think is true, is really true, so that I can know whether I’m living where I want to live. Except, everything I thought was true 3 months ago, is no longer true.
OK, not “everything”. Let’s see…what is still true. Hmmmm….well, my back still hurts. That SEEMS true. What if it isn’t though? What if my back hurting is just a lie I’ve been telling myself really, really well for the last 10 to 15 years, and all this time I’ve just been so good at lying to myself that I believe it so completely that it FEELS true?
My whole life could be a lie. Everything I’ve been telling myself about my childhood could all be lies. Everything I have believed about myself, about my family, about my friends – all of it could be lies.
As a matter of fact…wait, hold on. That’s an interesting phrase: “as a matter of fact”, implying that the very next thing to be said is IN FACT…a fact. An undeniable truth, able to be proven over and over again. Something that can be agreed upon, defined by Google as: “a thing that is indisputably the case”.
The Truth Is Not A Fact
Well, most of the stories we tell ourselves, no matter how true, really aren’t factual, are they? Most things about the stories we tell ourselves about our lives and our relationships COULD be disputed. What seems like a healthy way of relating from one perspective might turn into the most unhealthy of dynamics when viewed through a different filter.
I spent so many years truly believing that I had a better relationship than most people. I believed that we communicated and knew each other SO completely. Our friends believed that, too. We had a LOT of validation and a large group of people that supported and agreed with our “truth”. Both my husband and I had friends who wanted what we had. Friends that viewed our relationship as something to which they aspired.
Here’s a really comical “truth”…this is a good one. Really – I think you’ll find this funny. Ready???
I believed in our relationship so strongly I was going to teach “relationship” workshops. I was going to TEACH other people how to have what WE had. Oh my gawd, that’s so humiliating now. It literally makes me feel sick to my stomach.
How’s that for hubris, eh? I was so completely immersed in the lie of how we were living, that I thought everyone ELSE should be living it, too. I thought I could TEACH them a healthy way of being and relating to each other.
Turns out we were ALL wrong, though – all of us that thought my hubby and I had the relationship of the century. We didn’t really relate in a healthy way at all. We simply agreed to embrace the delusion that was “us” so completely, that it fooled everyone…including us.
At least, that’s the story I’m telling myself right now. It is no more true than the story I told myself a year ago, or 5 years ago, or 10…20.
How Do We Find Our Own Truth?
So what makes the stories we tell ourselves “true”? Is it just that it feels true at the time? If I can’t rely on the story I am telling myself, then how am I ever to make a good decision based on that story?
Right now, in this moment, I truly believe that I want to go back to Seattle. I’ve moved across the country so my husband could find his happiness, and it turns out his happiness can only be found by leaving me – not leaving Seattle. I don’t even know, at this point, if he’d be happy back there. He seems to like it here, it seems to suit him. Could he be just as happy back there, now? Now that he knows?
Now, however, my next choices can’t be about him, and what makes him happy. They have to be about me, and I can’t trust myself about anything right now. I have no compass – no way of knowing whether what I think is true right now really IS true. What if going back to Seattle has nothing to do with my own happiness? What if I can’t be happy anywhere?
Turns out I’m pretty great at convincing myself something is true, regardless of facts. Right now, it feels like I simply can NOT be happy here, in Buffalo, NY. Except, where you live doesn’t really determine whether you are happy. I think it is a part of it – for me, a fairly large part – but not THE determining factor.
I keep trying to tell myself that if I just move back to Seattle, everything will be good. I’ll feel GOOD, life will feel GOOD, and I can be happy again. After all, everything went to shit after we left. Stands to reason going back to a place I love would make at least SOME things feel good again.
Yeah, I know. I’m not even convincing myself with that one. I can feel the deception in the story. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to move back there…but it does mean that I know my happiness does not depend on whether I can see the Space Needle from my back yard.
When Your Brain Is A Liar It Doesn’t Matter Where You Live
Anyone with depression can tell you that your external environment can be PERFECT, and you can still be so miserable that no longer living seems more appealing than living where you are. So changing houses, or cities, or states…or countries…may not be the answer to finding happiness. I’m a bit of a nomad, so that is a hard pill to swallow.
Really accepting that “no matter where I go, there I am” is, well…a fact that I don’t like very much.
I often wonder whether my awareness that nothing I think is necessarily true or real makes me…uncommon. I would like to use this power for my own good, and change my thinking so that my life can feel happier.
It would be a lie, just a different lie. I mean, if I’m going to lie to myself, why not make it a good one, eh? Or maybe it would finally be the truth, within my own reality tunnel. Maybe my truth doesn’t have to be THE truth. Maybe it doesn’t have to be verified and certified and agreed upon by the masses. Maybe I can just find a way to have MY truth work for me well enough to keep me going.
Choosing To Accept The Story You Tell
Because we can’t really know, can we? If we really, truly accept that our perception of reality is just a deeply held belief that the story we are telling ourselves is true…then that may be the best we can do. So what if we don’t want our current reality to be true? Can we just change the narrative, and therefore change our lives?
Some people think so, but so often they end up just living in a delusion. When delusions are dissolved, it can be very painful. Unpleasant – hell, look at Neo in “The Matrix”. The so-called reality in THAT movie was not nice, or comfortable. It was kind of gross, and painful, and involved what looked like VERY hard beds. Delusions can be a lot more comfortable than reality, that’s for sure.
I wonder if I have a point in all of this. Just sitting down and writing what’s on my mind works out sometimes. Other times I end up with a bunch of drivel. I wonder which is true this time?
So. The bottom line is that the dissolution of the delusion that was my marriage has me questioning the very nature of reality.
That seems about right.
OK, then. Well. Good chat, everyone.
See you next time, when we’ll discuss whether the dust on the top of my computer is actually dust, or a living organism planted here by an alien species that is doing experiments on me while I sleep, and has just left this “thing” here to watch me and report back on all of my activities.