One of the things that I have been struggling with for the last couple of months, is trying to figure out why my reading time and music time, has suffered.
I’ve been analyzing, 9 ways to Sunday, what has changed and why I am having such a hard time with not doing those two activities as much.
If I look at the circumstances that have transpired in the life of Matt, there are valid reasons for the lack of time that I can devote to those two activities.
- I’ve moved into a new apartment.
- My oldest son is staying with me more than he has in the past.
- My youngest has started high school, and a whole new school.
- My daughter is a senior in college now.
- I no longer see J twice a week, like I had been doing for the last year and half.
- Work has been very busy these last two months and will continue to be into the end of the year.
So before all of these changes took place, my weekly schedule was pretty well structured and my routine was intact. I always made time for reading, for playing my bass, for writing, and seeing J helped keep everything in line, along with going to work each day.
Structure, I crave structure and routine; and without my life feels out of sync and anxiety builds. It’s a very uneasy feeling that permeates most of my being.
I still work the same schedule, so that hasn’t changed. There is still structure in my life in that respect, but everything else seems out of balance. But is it really out of balance or is just my perspective.
Or is it the fact that times change and I need to be able to adapt and stay focused on what’s important?
After exploring this in a session recently, it turns out that I am letting those two things define part of who I am. I am basing my existence, in part on how much reading I do and how much I play my bass and keep music as a key part in my life.
I was never a book worm until the last year and a half or so. At most I would read magazines about motorcycles, or sports articles online. I was not one to sit down and get lost in a book for hours. Having a Kindle subscription was the furthest thing from my mind.
When I first started working with a therapist, J, she recommended some books for me to read to help me understand this healing journey I was embarking on. I explained to her that I wasn’t much of a reader but she said I would gain a wealth of understanding and validation if I gave it a chance.
She was of course correct, 100%. I read book after book on Dissociation, Anxiety, PTSD, healing from abuse; anything I could get my hands on. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head and I realized how much I could tie together the things we discussed in sessions to what I was reading, and vice versa.
I didn’t blow through books in a few days, it still takes me a while to read. I was determined though to keep at it.
Looking back I can see how reading books helped catapult my healing journey in the right direction when coupled with working with a professional. It added such a dynamic element to my understanding of my past… and that was amazing to me. And still is.
On the other side of this dilemma was playing my bass. As you might know, I play my bass for fun. It’s a source of relaxation, peace, and just overall enjoyment when I can put a song on repeat and just keep working on the bass line until I can get it down pat.
Music has always been huge part of my life. It’s as validating and encouraging as it is invigorating and stress relieving. Even though I am trying to shed the persona I built up for myself of being the football guy, the 80’s guy, and the music guy, I will always enjoy music and I will always be a rocker.
I played bass when I was in my early 20’s, but then let it go for quite awhile. When I picked it back up a couple years ago it was like reconnecting with an old friend.
So let’s look at this with Wise Mind and see how my healing journey is progressing even with the absence of constantly reading or playing.
Am I really healing less because I’m reading less?
If I’m honest with myself, I’m not really healing at a slower rate now. I’m still doing a lot of writing, I’m doing podcasting and videos. I’m still working with a professional, and I’m still engaging in the survivor community.
I do enjoy reading so it’s just going to take a concerted effort to set reminders if necessary and schedule down time to just read, and be OK with that. The important thing is to realize that I can’t shame myself for not reading.
Reading is important to me, as is educating myself about my trauma so I can continue to help myself and help others in the future.
I am not defined by how much I read.
As far as playing my bass, it’s the same type of mindset. I’m not less of a music lover, less of a metal head, or less of anything else if I don’t get to play as much. Times have changed and it’s up to me to not shame myself for that, but just take time to adjust my life to fit this piece in.
If I can’t play 4 or 5 times a week, that’s OK. If I can play 4 or 5 times a month instead, then that needs to be good enough.
I’ll close out by reminding myself, and you just in case you need it, that if something is important enough to you, then take time to fulfill those desires and do that self care. Just don’t let them define who you are, and end up shaming yourself or feeling guilty for how much time you spend on those activities.
We are much bigger than our past. Similarly we are much bigger than any one or two activities that have become part of our lives.
Embrace the things you feel that validate you and encourage you, but not the extent of self shame and guilt.
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