Reflections on Life Thus Far

My life. My story: Exploring mental health, spirituality, meditation & random thoughts I have



Discouraged. That pretty much sums up how I have been feeling lately. I think I am overwhelmed because I have been going through my possessions trying to become more minimalist; but in the process I have felt a mixture of emotions. Most recently, I parted with a garbage bag full of treasured books destined for charity and in doing so I wanted to pull some out and ‘save’ them…but I resisted. It feels like a loss to me because I love books and they’ve been my ‘significant other’ since I have never let real people close to me. So in parting with so many books I felt attachment to I went through a series of grief related feelings. Maybe not all of the grief related feelings/stages but definitely some anyway.

When you use books to satisfy your need for relationships giving away a large quantity of them feels horrendous. It’s not like I hoard books but I definitely value my books more than a person ought to. They aren’t historic relics suited to an archives department either so I don’t have any objective reason to view them so fondly. Perhaps it’s the fact I parted with books that had served as valuable references and comfort when I needed them; now I’m forced to either let go of anything I can’t remember or trust I will be able to call upon my brain to give me the knowledge when I need it. That’s scary given I dissociated for so much of my life to avoid pain. What if I can’t remember everything I read in the books I gave away?! Now I must trust myself to survive and have greater acceptance of my innate fallibility which also makes me face the fact I am imperfect. You see all these things connect to my sense of lovability and self-worth and that is terrifying territory. There’s little comfort in what I’m experiencing.

I want to crawl under my bed covers and not have to face the world. Maybe I am depressed but more than likely I am afraid of the fact I have nothing solid to stand on. All of my worldly identifiers are gone and I’m struggling to not concoct a new identity for myself knowing such a thing would be a production of my ego anyway. Part of the reason I fear social interaction is I’m afraid someone will ask me about myself and I don’t have any tidy, pat answers on tap to reduce my discomfort and the other person’s. The other reason for my social anxiety is I simply have trouble easily relating to everyone. Maybe most people don’t easily relate to others either and just hide it better than I do. Or maybe it’s a problem of ‘how’ I relate. I can relate at a human level but not at the social/surface level. After all, I don’t have a paid job, sports don’t interest me and I don’t have a husband or kids. So right there I am starting off from a disadvantaged position. Then again maybe I just overthink these things and should try to ‘relax’ more! Ha, if it were that easy I’d have done it by now. In some ways I have learned to relax about it a little bit but other times I get triggered by things like giving away some of my precious books. Who knew parting with a garbage bag full of my books would trigger me? Certainly, if I’d known it, I might have chosen to part with fewer books to ease the discomfort. The way I have done it feels like I just had a Band-Aid ripped from a tender sore spot. I suppose I shall have to go easy on myself. Trying to bulldoze my way through the pain won’t help me any if past experiences are anything to go on.

On a more positive note I did manage to dust my computer desk and tidy up my messy cords from my electronic devices. Well that’s it for now. Tomorrow I see my counsellor.

©Natalya, 2014. Reflections On Life Thus Far®


Author: Natalya

Blogging my thoughts and feelings about mostly mental health, meditation and spirituality(non religious). Hoping to connect with other interesting people in the blogosphere. *The name is Russian and is my pseudonym.

16 thoughts on “Changes

  1. Hmm, well, you are an INFP, and I’ve never met one yet who didn’t have a book for a best friend. For some reason attachment to books is just a huge part of that type, so you are not alone there. Maybe you could find a different way to relate to books that takes up less room – my mom loves her Kindle, for example, and you can take that anywhere. As for relating to other people, maybe you need to meet some other INFPs, who would totally understand, or join a book club or library group. Libraries are awesome – you can always take the books back so they don’t clutter up your house.

    In any case, don’t be too hard on yourself. Parting is such sweet sorrow, but you’ll feel better soon, and probably a lot lighter for the trouble. And hey, there are always more books out there. Lots more. 🙂

    • Aw, thanks Jenny! ❤
      I like e-books but need to get an e-reader so I don't have to read them on my laptop like I do now. Maybe if I can find one that's not too expensive I'll buy one. I bought a couple of inexpensive e-books from Amazon and Chapters then bought a physical book from the Book Depository because it was a good price and free shipping, lol! So I have one book to add back to my book case and a few for my Kindle PC.

      • Yes, the new Kindles are great, and they don’t cost that much anymore. I’m sure you’d love one! You can fit a whole library in there and take it with you!

      • Yeah, I really want one so I can read the new e-books I bought on feng shui, minimalism and Buddhism (not as one topic but individually!). E-book prices can be quite cheap and I found some for FREE too!!! Bonus 😀

  2. I have, likely will again gone through this process. I narrow down to the books I love and can justify keeping. But the problem is that still equals maybe too many. I think as we try to ‘minimalize’ though sometimes we go against our nature to the point where it hurts us, I wonder if this is worth it in large doses, if instead we shouldn’t try smaller steps.

    • Thanks Valentine Logar. I feel minimalism is good for me but I need to pace myself instead of trying to do it all in one go. It’s easier emotionally if I weed out a bit at a time rather than attempt a big clear out. I’m still learning though so there’s bound to be a few hiccups for me!

      You are definitely onto something with trying to pare down our possessions in smaller steps. I’m going to do that from now on. Thanks 🙂

  3. May I ask of you what it was that caused you to seek to become more minimalist?

    You say ‘ . . . all these things connect to my sense of lovability and self-worth’ (‘things’ here meaning the content represented by the physical books), and so I wonder from where the minimalist tendency arose.

    Please forgive me if this question is impertinent.

    With gratitude and respect, Hariod Brawn (minimalist, sort of).

    • I’ve just this moment read your previous post in which you say ‘I grew up with a mother who hoarded’.

      Perhaps this answers the question above?

    • No need for apologies. Sometimes I write without full explanations if I am being lazy. Usually I will try to mention if a previous post explains the present one but I apologise for confusing you. Also, I apologise for not responding sooner but I am not the best blogger at times when it comes to being on top of replies and posting regularly.

      As for why I decided to try being more minimalistic I suppose it’s due to the simplicity of it. There’s so little to distract myself with it’s calming for me. As you discovered from reading one of my previous posts my mom compulsively hoarded. That gave me lots of stress and shame. The result being, I suppose, to pare down to the essentials and not feel overwhelmed by clutter. Minimalism is also good for combating any materialistic desires I might have. My philosophical beliefs are Buddhist and Taoist so I feel minimalism is in line with my values (that’s a bit vague if you don’t know much about Eastern religions/philosophy but I am low on energy today from the humidity so am not bothering to elaborate).

      Thanks for taking the time to read my posts and comment. I really appreciate it even if my sluggishness(darn humidity and heat) today has not helped convey that.

      • Thank you Natalya; sorry that you’re struggling with the atmospherics today. I understand what you’re saying about Eastern Philosophy having undergone a 20-year Buddhist training myself – rigorous meditation much more so than the books. And by the way, it’s a great pleasure to read your articles here, so hope you will continue . . . weather permitting, of course.

      • You’re welcome. Thank you for understanding. 🙂

        Wow, 20 years of Buddhist training! I haven’t been at it for that many years. Probably less than 10 years for me. I was feeling nihilistic in the early 2000s and needed a philosophy I could believe that would give me some meaning. Basically, a selfish desire to find a reason to not commit suicide drove me to Buddhist and similar Eastern teachings.
        Do you mind sharing what brought you to Buddhism? I was 14 when I found out about it but in my early 20s when I started meditating and reading books about it.

      • I did my Buddhist training (that 20 years), in mid-life; and that was all straight down the line intensive, dry-insight – so called ‘Vipassanā’. I then sort of went solo, or free-floating Buddhistic, forging my own system of contemplation which wove the former practice into a more Zen-like approach – and that’s what I still do to this day. I also enjoy the Buddhist concentration practices of Metta and Karuna.

        As to what got me started, that all began when I was just 4 years old. I had an insight to the effect that somehow everything I was aware of was sort of ‘veiled’ in some undefinable way – I still remember the feeling clearly now. Anyway, I forgot all about that insight for about 30 years and then took up Vipassanā with a vengeance for the next 20.

        I can’t really say what triggered the intensive engagement with Buddhism Natalya, though it wasn’t dukkha (un-satisfactoriness), in any overt way. I think I just understood there was work I had to do to find some response to the insight I had as a 4-year old. I settled into Vipassanā Buddhism and felt as if I’d ‘come home’ straight away, so was very lucky in that respect.

        What are you favourite books on Buddhism and Taoism Natalya?

      • Gosh, that’s very insightful of you at four to have realised what you did. Funny how we can be smarter as kids sometimes than as adults!

        Zen is the closest to what I believe these days. I’ve stopped reading books about Buddhism and Eastern religions for the past year or so because I want to just follow my own insights. Before I felt like I needed the “experts” to tell me how to think but I am comfortable doing my own thing now. So it’s not exactly true I am Buddhist because most of my beliefs are only loosely tied to anything formal.

        The books I enjoyed most were usually designed for a Western audience. I tried reading some of the more formal teachings in books but in my stubbornness and inability to conform-I would always take what ‘spoke to me’ and leave the rest. Generally that meant less scholarly and more accessible. If the book was written simply then I appreciated it more than if I had to keep track of terminology and precepts. Perhaps I can’t really say I am any particular religion because I am happier interpreting my own experiences/insights than someone else’s.

        Current authors I appreciate are Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Pema Chodron and some less Buddhist like Eckhart Tolle and Thomas Moore. As for Taoism, I don’t think I’ve read any books on it specifically just text found online. My objective is never to be a scholar of religion or expert but to experience it for myself. I learn from any source I resonate with (don’t ask me about sutras though because I have not read any!). I’m sure my approach is not “correct” but it works for me.

      • Thank you for explaining yourself Natalya; it’s interesting to know what’s behind the writer so to speak. We have a quite similar approach from the sound of things; and I certainly agree that direct experience is far more valuable than hand-me-down, or book knowledge. I wish you all the very best in everything Natalya – Hariod.

      • Thanks! I’m pleased I’m not the only one interpreting religion/spirituality in my own way 🙂

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