There was a moment this weekend, as I was lounging on the couch with a beer doing a crossword puzzle, our new crazy dog miraculously settled down next to me, Josh in the kitchen cooking, when the zoom lens of my life panned out and I could see my life from a distance and felt a lightness and freedom I infrequently feel. This was more than gratitude, it was a rare moment in which my brain stopped focusing so myopically and frenetically. It was a split second, but it seemed I could sink into the feeling, relieved and relaxed.
It was contentment.
I was recounting this moment for my therapist on Monday, and found myself tearing up and becoming pretty emotional.
As we dug in, I realized that the emotion wasn’t because of the moment itself. That is, they weren’t joyous tears.
The tears came because I was sad that these simple moments are so few and far between for me.
Unpacking this is a balancing act. I want to understand why my brain is wired in such a way that feeling appreciation, gratitude, pride, celebration is so fleeting. But, I don’t want to turn that understanding into another way I can criticize myself.
It is easy for me to realize that my brain doesn’t stop to appreciate the moment because it’s always trying to solve the next problem, it focuses on what isn’t rather than what is, and then think, “god, Erin, you can’t even let yourself be happy for a second, what is wrong with you?”
How can I be sad that my brain prevents me from feeling contentment and also not internalize it as something the matter with me?
I don’t know that I have the answer.
It’s taken years for my brain to build the neural networks that make it run, and it will take years to train new ones.
New connections that free my brain from needing to define everything as a problem that I need to solve.
New connections that don’t believe that something is wrong with me.
New connections that can slow down long enough to listen to my heart and know that this moment, here, now, is where I live.
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