So I guess I've always had it in my head that I should be able to change immediately. It should be something I can will to happen right away, if I just try and believe hard enough. Mind over matter.
What I have come to understand is that change can be painfully, glacially slow, so slow that you can't see it happening in the moment. Rather, you can most easily see it when you reflect how you handle multiple instances of a particular situation or problem over many months or years or maybe decades. I spent a lot of time doing that last week while traveling: for instance, considering how I handled meeting new people three years ago (panic, self-consciousness, dissociation) versus how I handle meeting new people now (still shy and self-conscious, but I try to look people in the eye, smile, and hope that they will give me time to be myself, and I try very very hard to avoid spacing out). How I dealt with travel delays/cancellations three years ago (panic panic RED ALERT OMG I AM NOT IN CONTROL) versus how I handle them now (this sucks, but hey, did you say I get an upgrade to first class???) How I handled self doubt then (wow, you're such a moron, how can you even show your face) versus now (you're doubting yourself, and that's normal, but you have a lot to offer... Hang in there, you can do this).
I'm not saying I'm a whole new me or that my reactions to problems/dilemmas are always ideal, but... yeah, I see a change, and that change seems largely permanent. I have modified my habits and way of thinking to the point where I feel like I can live with myself. I even like myself a lot of the time. But again, it took a lot of time. And talking. And ugly emotional crises. And depressions. And cutting. And digging through unpleasant memories. And learning to trust certain people. And stepping back from the ledge (figuratively, but kind of literally, too) when I needed to.
I realize that life and experience are fluid, and that things won't always go as well as they are going now. But just knowing that change happens - albeit slowly - helps.
"Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible." - Thich Nhat Hanh
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In other news, marathon training continues. Yesterday I ran 5 miles on my own, and today I ran 8 miles with my training buddies. Tomorrow it's another five miles, followed by several miles on Saturday and (GULP) 18 miles on Sunday. Wow.