[Sober Living] Focus On Externals

When I’m feeling the worst of my sobrieties being tested, either directly through temptations or indirectly through headaches of sensations unfathomable, what I’ve done most to overcome anything regrettable is focusing all of my energy into something – almost anything. Whether that’s writing, art, or talking to others, I’ve found that if I can focus on something for long enough, the worst of those internal waves trying to knock me down will fade for a while.

I’m not sure if that’s promising or not.

Essentially say that life is just a series of attempts at distractions isn’t great. What else can I do? Even when I go about my day, if I’ll be suddenly struck with a headache by just the merest movement of my head, or encounter stress so shocking that I want to escape it thoroughly, what else can I do? For one, by admitting those sensations openly in a public forum of my own creation, [where I can be free to explore these thoughts, as we should all be able to express our vulnerabilities to help improve our abilities to prevent these vulnerabilities from consuming us – or, admitting to the faults I have so I can correct them,] then I can work on fixing those sensations.

Let’s consider my headache I wrote about in “Pain Behind Eye.”

I’m writing this essay shortly after. My headache has mostly gone away, and not because of any sort of medication or insobriety relief – no. Rather, I focused on learning something new for work, then chatted about some art stuff. By distracting me from my internal sensations, and moving into some external sensations, I could then forget about myself.

That’s not to say that I am egotistical when my head hurts.

It’s rather to say that sometimes, when we focus on external variables, our minds tend to relax on some of those internal variables. We might still have the headache, but rather than being a primary focus, it becomes a secondary or triceriary focus, which is nice when you’re required to be somewhere for a number of hours still, and can’t leave, yet want to because the headaches might hurt too much.

Done well, distractions can be helpful.

The trick might be letting them take over your day or life. When I write, it’s because I see each word, sentence, paragraph, and essay as contributing to my brand and my skillset. I couldn’t write to the degree I can now if it wasn’t for all the thousand-plus essays I’ve already written. I can still write with the same amount of time but then write more words, with more potent word choices, exploring more potent emotions or concepts than in years past. However, I am here because I didn’t let my distractions take hold of my life.

As much as it’d be nice to keep playing certain videogames…

There’s more to life than living in a digital world, even one like this, where I move the cursor from left to right across the screen, then down the page. Every row of text gets me closer to my end goal, every essay gets me closer to my end goal, but I can’t keep writing for hours on end.

Not that I run out of things to say.

More that I find myself repeating myself then repeating myself until it becomes too boring for me to want to keep writing. When I get out and experience life, I take new external ideas in, internalize them, then regurgitate them in essays or thoughts that maybe others can benefit from in the upcoming months or years. Maybe?

I also can’t write for hours on end because my brain just empties out.

That’s the thing I like most about writing, thought, because before I started writing my thoughts would be as wild and rampant as my thoughts here, but they’d be neverending. I’d jump from one idea to the next, then find myself in a completely different category of thought shortly thereafter. At least under each essay title and introduction paragraph, I can loosely tie in many of these disparate thoughts into an essay, so they have somewhere to live, rather than rattling around inside my brain.

My writing becomes a way of externalizing the internal.

As soon as I write something – like this thought here – it is as good as “real.” I can touch the sentence as it appears on my monitor. I can print this essay out and I can highlight, cut, or cross it out. Some of these essays cover more important ideas than others, but all of them come from the same place: my internal thoughts. Through my understanding of the English language, through my subjective interpretation or reality, and through my experience of writing, I can conjure up thoughts that I haven’t been able to express before. The ideas I couldn’t say in years or months past – because I didn’t have the words or didn’t know how to say them or were too headache-impaired – I can now better express.

It may take 100 more revisions before I can express it “well.”

However, that’s kind of the point of Better Zombie and all these essays. My first essays were about me finding my voice, and well into my thousands, I’m still getting there. I’ve made three-plus years of progress, but there’s still progress to be made, because as long as we have something as subjective as the human experience, there will be interpretations of it that are different than the norm, and the trick is just figuring out how to enable everyone to express those thoughts.

Sometimes, we can externalize those empathetic internal sensations we all feel.

Universality is what I’m after. Being able to express my feelings, our feelings, in a way that might help others in their bad spots, or even before they approach their bad spots, to then tell those people:

Yeah, life is shitty, but just don’t focus on that a whole lot, just focus on what you like or love…

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal and professional experiences.
Inspirations: While I was on break, I was thinking about how my headaches had calmed down, then tried to figure out why, then I had the inspiration to write this essay.
Related: Other Sober Living essays.
Picture: Just something to fill the space.
Written On: December 22, 2019 [23 minutes, from 1:08am to 1:31am, Gdocs.]
Last Edited: December 27, 2019 [Some edits to adapt from Gdocs to WordPress… so… second draft?]
My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.