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Refraining.


I suck at refraining. I think that part of me is actually broken. This is progress because 20+ years ago, I would have told you that I just didn’t have it in me. Today I know that it is in there but it is hard to reach at times. I feel like action is always the better thing. Always. I know this isn’t true but it feels that way.


Refraining is hard to do when you are pathologically averse to being uncomfortable. Refraining means that you willing sit in discomfort. You don’t say that next thing you want to say - you don’t hit send on that email/text - you don’t add that one more sentence to the fight. Refraining energy is really acceptance. It is the willingness to see things as they are and just sit with them without demanding that there be more. But refraining goes one step further - you must accept that you should refrain and then you have to take the action of actually refraining. For me this feels like stopping a horse on a dead run full gallop. Oh I can do it but it isn’t going to be pretty.


I think this is because I am action oriented which is just another way to say that I hate sitting still. Sitting still feels like death to me. I have this pathological need to stay in motion - constant motion. Historically, I could think of nothing worse than a weekend with no plans or a day without an agenda. I have been attempting world domination through calendaring for, um, well 40 years... at least. Maybe longer.


I am not sure where I got the idea that being alone with no plans was a problem to be solved instead of a situation to be enjoyed. I am also a committed gap filler so I am sure that was operational too. But at no point in time did the thought ever occur to me that I could stop seeking all these outside sources to entertain me and I could instead just be. NEVER. Being an only child in an alcoholic home only exacerbated this deep seated feeling of lack. I was bored and scared. Constantly and continually scared of boredom. I did not learn to address that in any productive way - I did not learn to self sooth - I learned to take action. Actually any action will do.


This led to a lifetime of being unhappy. Seriously unhappy. Can you imagine having to have your whole life revolve around making sure that you were never bored, alone or inactive? It is exhausting. Embarrassingly, it has only been in the wake of a break up that I have been able to address this. In the absence of him, the one that I thought was my permanent other half, I was given eyes that could see what I was doing to myself and then others. I use people. I just need you so that I don’t have to be alone, bored or inactive. You need to be in my life to keep me constantly entertained. It feels like intimacy but it really isn’t. It is me needing you so that I can feel better about me. You are just a handy vehicle to exit boredom and loneliness. It is a lose/lose situation no matter how you view it.


It has only been since I decided to stop doing this (um that feels like a pretty big adventure into refraining) that I have been able to see that I suck at waiting. I have raised children that also suck at this which will be the subject of another article at a later time...


So why am I working so hard at refraining? Because I have become surrendered to the idea that that is where the magic happens. It is the place where if I don’t scratch the itch, I realize that it will just go away on its own. That the action I feel compelled to take is what lands me in these places that I get stuck. Stuck in habitual patterns that do not serve me well. Habitual patterns that in fact stop me from ever getting what I want or need.


Refraining also allows for the divine to enter - which is something I never wanted or thought I needed. However, I have become convinced that a life run on self will is no life at all. I pick all the wrong shit for all the wrong reasons. I need divine minute to minute guidance or I am off track so damn fast. I need spiritual GPS - some energy (other than my own or yours) to get me where I am supposed to be not where I think I should be. Refraining is what gives pause to my internal dialogue, orchestrating my life, which in turn allows for something other than my idea to surface. Something other than me.


Refraining, pausing or waiting have been hard learned and hard won lessons for me. I think I always needed something or someone but I completely lacked any ability to be led to it. I was all about orchestrating and manufactoring the future. I had to act on all of my ideas in order to get where I wanted to go. At 49, I am not sure that worked out all that well. I think that I have always been acutely aware that I needed some guidance. But I was wrong about where I would find it. It was never going to be what my head came up with. It was always going to be from above or within. Always. My only real work was to refrain to allow it entrance to my life.


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