Some habits are born without thought. Being thoughtless is of course a defining characteristic of 'habit', but not all habits begin in thoughtlessness. Some begin in over-thinking.
I have developed a habit of not thinking about my future. Now, you know, depression blah blah blah...but there's a loooooooooong history there. Therapy from the ripe old age of twelve. Anti-depressants on & off since my early twenties. And this lovely blog for going on six (yeah, holy shit) years. And a lot - I mean really just if you could measure it it would be mind-boggling - a lot of thought. Thoughts about how to think, mostly. Whole years spent trying to learn both how not to think, and how to not think. (read it twice, it makes sense I swear) Long story short I have thought a lot about thinking. And in thinking about thinking, somewhere along the line I thought that the future was something I would be well-served to avoid thinking about. And that became a habit.
The reasoning, in a nutshell, is that a lot of "actively managing" depression (which is something I do, you know) has to do with managing expectations. One doesn't wish to be bleak, but at the same time one must keep constant guard against the kind of hope that can be detrimental, that can lead to unrealistic expectations and thus disappointment (which, in depressed folk, spirals out of control easily). This is well-traveled ground on this blog, I know. Bear with me.
So this constant, ever-present, ever-conscious search for the happy medium, this quest for balance, this vigilance...its exhausting. Have you ever been punished (or just challenged - boy, use of the word 'punished' here sure is telling!) by kneeling on your knees and holding your arms outstretched with books in your hands? (I have - camp, 1989, pretty sure it's illegal now). Anyway, its that kind of exhausting. And so, at some point, like, mile 6 1/2 on the treadmill when you're hungover, you just decide you can't do it anymore. Thus - i don't really think about the future much.
If you look for it, by the way, you'll see this approach everywhere. In self-help books, in proverbs, in Facebook memes, in cliches all the world around. "One day at a time." "Babysteps." "Don't bite off more than you can chew." That whole God-closing-doors-but-leaving-windows-open-because-he-doesn't-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle thing I never quite figured out.
This approach has probably served me well in more ways than not. Perhaps not professionally, and definitely not financially, but in relationships, friendships, parenting. Sometimes its becomes 'one hour at a time' and sometimes, frankly, 'one minute at a time' and I can say for sure that there have been days that it was the only way.
But what happens when all of the sudden you have something to look forward to? Something you should look forward to? What if, say, someone proposes?
People keep asking. "Have you set a date?" Given all I've stated above, you can imagine how insanely debilitating this question is.
I'm striving to sit with this feeling without judgement. My first wedding - I was really into planning it. The photographer, the florist, the venue...it was fun. (Who knew I should have been planning my marriage?) I focused on the event; perhaps it was a needed distraction.
This time around I'm ecstatic and comfortable (at the same time! Its a crazy-great feeling) about the marriage, but the wedding? The planning for that? That requires...dreaming. And dreaming, I have learned/internalized/completely woven into every aspect of my being...is perilous.
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