Letter about choosing how I spend my attention

31st of January 2020

Dear no one.

I am beginning to feel silly writing to you. But I am committed to the writing a little every week, even if it feels stupid and meaningless. It’s not about the letters. It’s about writing and creating a habit and dedicating time and attention to that regularly. It’s not about who is on the other side of this screen. It’s about keeping a promise to myself.

Another thing I have decided to be more dedicated to is how I spend my attention. I have uninstalled games and apps from my phone. I am reading. Maybe I’ll add more walks. But the hours disappearing into scrolling through social media or playing a game I don’t actually like on my phone, just for the dopamine hits have to stop. The last couple of days have been difficult. Mostly because I just uninstalled an app that took way too much of my attention. But I have decided to give it a month without this app on my phone and see what happens. I can still do all the social media scrolling on my computer, but since I don’t want to and since it requires me to open the computer and connect to the internet and open the page, I just don’t do it without a real reason. I do feel restless, I do pick up my phone over and over without thinking about it and my fingers move to find the games and apps I used to have. And there is an emptiness when I am forced to sit without the distraction. But maybe I can figure out exactly I am distraction myself from if I don’t just jump into the distraction.

I reach out to friends who have a hard time less. Not because I don’t want to be there for them. But because it makes me feel more lonely. Unanswered calls, messages with no answer, no real connection but a promise of someday, sometime, when things are better leave me feeling like no one cares, like I am not a priority. And that is a lie. A lie I do not need to feed. I need to throw my attention, my time and energy after people who have room for me in their lives. Not people who are struggling and drowning in their own troubles. My loneliness is not their responsibility, and I have spend too much time feeling sad and rejected and alone, because I chose to look for reciprocation in place that didn’t have that to offer. I am not cutting anyone out of my life. I am just taking a step back and trying to give more time and attention to friends I might not feels as strongly about or as connected to, but who wants to spend their time and energy on me.

I still miss the people who right now doesn’t have room for me in their lives. But this way I don’t allow my feelings to lie to me. I am not being rejected, these people do care deeply for me. But their survival, life quality and mental health right now depend on being able to have time, energy and attention to take care of themselves and not my wounded ego. And I still feel so lonely and sad and like no one cares. But I feel like I am taken responsibility for that in a new and better way. Not that I didn’t do that before. I didn’t and don’t resent these people for not having time and energy for me. But I also felt a sadness connected to these people. Because I like them and miss them and have room for them in my life. And I want to keep that room open. But if all I do is stare at that empty space I am going to keep feeling a lot emptier than I might actually be. And giving more attention to other things might help me discover what other things and other people I have been blind to. And it is also a way to be more respectful and allow these people time to themselves to figure out how they feel about me and whether they miss me and want to make more room for me or if they are happy without. And I feel like that is the least I can give them.

I have also discovered that things like reading and my work is something I need to force myself to do some days even if I feel like my mental health won’t allow me to do them. I might have gotten a little too good at listening to the parts of me that says “I can’t do that today”. I used to never listen to it, so this isn’t a disaster. It’s just showing me I need to find the balance. And that sometimes it’s okay to pressure myself a little more. I need to keep being dedicated and fight to do the things that are important to me even on the days when it is difficult. I just have to make sure to not overhear the signals that says stop. It seems I just forgot how much my depression was trying to keep me depressed, and that I have more power to fight it. So just like I sometimes (most of the time) write this blog because I have decided I have to, I also have to read,  not out of joy but because I have decided I need to and have a deadline. The deadline really helps.

I am reading “The Amber Spyglass” by Philip Pullman this week. It is so good. I keep thinking I’ll write something about dæmons and dust and how these concepts are important to me. But I can’t. And maybe my thoughts on this need to stay private. Maybe I’ll write about them in the future. Maybe nothing has to be decided today.

Dear reader, dear no one. Thank you for giving me your attention. Thank you for making me a little less alone.