I’ve always had trouble living in the present. Mainly because nothing’s happening. So, I need to go and drag either the past or future into my present mindscape of over-thinking, over-analyzing, regretting and worrying.
Shakespeare once said that life is nothing more than going from one problem to the next. I remember first hearing that in high school and never feeling closer to the Bard. And for decades that’s how I approached things: as obstacles that needed to be overcome in order for me to relax and enjoy living. That’s where the “if onlys” come in. The “once I”s. I was either waiting for something in my past to quit hurting, or was fretting over something coming around the bend.
Alcohol was a great help in getting me through the never-ending shame or concern. I didn’t fixate as much because nothing mattered when I got my head right with the proper level of intoxicants. That was when I could forgive myself for the past and stop freaking out over the future. Of course, my present was mush. Things that would have sent me into a tailspin rolled off my back with uncaring ease. Did something I did or didn’t do upset you? Welcome to my world. Let me give you a giant spoonful of constant dissatisfaction and see how you like it.
Turns out they didn’t. Which lead to fewer phone calls, fewer friends and fewer interactions. I was isolating from the outside in. This was another useful technique in eliminating as many potential problems as possible. The way my alcoholism saw it, the less I interacted, the less upset I became.
Of course, that’s all crazy. The less I interacted, the more free time I had for my disease to tap dance across my brain. Insane musings, once thought, became realities that turned into resentments and anger and depression. My present was filled with ruined beliefs of the past and anticipation of ruining the future.
What it’s like now: I try to stay focused. Work in the now. Sure, the present is still boring. But I’m getting better at keeping it that way.