staying present

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Jun Yang

My brain races from one thought to another, and when I slow down enough to pay attention I realize that only a few of those thoughts are actually focused on the present moment. Most of them are either far away in the past or a step into the future.

It’s been said that people who live in the moment and behave as though it’s their last day on earth are some of the happiest in the world. It sounds wonderful and I suspect that most people would like to live like that. I would. I just haven’t been able to do it. Not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t yet seem capable of doing it. 

Having trouble being present is a common response to trauma. I know that. But even with that knowledge I don’t feel good about it. It’s frustrating, embarrassing and  shameful. I absolutely hate the feeling of being disconnected, especially from the people that I love.

I am ashamed for the days I am mentally absent and drifting away, even during a simple get-together with family or friends. I am tired of losing details of conversations and struggling to respond in a meaningful way in real time. I don’t feel proud of having to ask people if they are still there because I’ve lost my sense of connection to them for the umpteenth time.

I hate the way my brain operates most days. I hate that it continues to work on the premise that leaving is the only way to stay safe and survive. I know I don’t do it on purpose and once upon a time it was necessary, but it doesn’t bring much comfort these days. I do the best I can with where I am at any given moment, but it doesn’t ever feel like enough.

6 thoughts on “staying present

  1. Two things—
    One, what you said about having to constantly ask others if they are there because you have lost your sense of connection to them….wow. You articulated one of my constant struggles in life.
    Two— I think that where you are is one of the hardest places to be. It’s so hard because you have worked through enough to feel that being far away, disconnected and dissociated don’t feel good, but being present is a constant struggle and takes so much energy. For me, for a long time, the present did not feel safe. It didn’t matter how many times I was told the scary bad stuff was in the past; my body didn’t feel safe being in the present. I had visceral reactions to attempts to be in the present. It’s gotten better, slowly, over time. It does get easier to be present. I have found it’s easiest, and feels safest, for me to be present while I’m busy with life as opposed to trying to be present and be still in the moment, letting feelings and such come up. I hope that makes some sense. ❣️

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  2. I’m new to your blog, found it last week, and resonate with so much of what you write. I shared your post called ‘I am with you, always’ with my therapist last night and she thought I had written it! It was so validating to read your words and know that others too have this, that it is proof of what happened to us when we were little. So, I just wanted you to know you are definitely not alone in losing people. My therapist echoed the words of yours last night, about how what we have cannot be broken. She said some beautiful things and I cried straight afterwards because my mind stole them from me before I’d even had chance to take them in. She said her words are in me at a subliminal level, but how much would it help to be able to tuck them away and take them out when needed! I so share your frustrations in that post, and the ones above too xx

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    • It’s hard and pretty constant for me. I’m in the thick of it still and it drives me insane most days. T recently told me that it’s okay if things feel hard because there is nothing easy about any of this.

      Your T sounds a lot like mine from what you’ve said. It helps, A LOT, when you can find someone like that. I hope it gets easier for you soon. ❤

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      • I agree. There are still not enough therapists who understand trauma, and especially dissociation, properly, let alone know how to work with it – we are lucky in that regard at least. After 2 1/2 years I occasionally manage to hold on to her now, so maybe it’s getting a little easier over time… I hope things get easier for you soon too 🙂

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