Birthday Revelations From a 46 Year Old Korean Therapist with a Bloated Stomach
Every year I write a birthday blog. I get up early. Ride my motorcycle somewhere far, (by far I mean like Burbank which is a fifteen minute ride with traffic), sip hot coffee, and review my year.
Some start their birthday with pancakes. I start with my feelings. And pancakes.
(Holding up my coffee) Here’s to forty six, baby! Cheers.
As more grays wash in and wrinkles deepen, I reflect on my year. This has been an important year. I’ve learned so much about life, love, and myself. Let’s break it down, shall we?
- I’ve accepted that at the end of the day, I’m a loner.
I’m not saying I’m lonely. I have friends and a social life. I go out and do things. But since I was a kid, I’ve always lived in my head. I’ve always done my own thing. I don’t do well with teams. I’m okay with not getting picked. And I used to think that was weird and sad. But today I’ve realized that’s who I am. It’s how I am wired and it lines up with what I believe I’m meant to do in this world. This isolation is required to be a writer. Or sit in the dark and talk into a microphone twice a week. I have to enter my inner world and disappear into it to create my art, share revelations. Or I have no gift to give.
There’s a 80’s TV show called Kung Fu. It’s about a loner who goes from town to town, gets involved in people’s stories, kicks some ass, and moves on to the next town. I feel like this character some times. (cowboy accent) Now I don’t know no Kung Fu but I do get involved with stories every day. Strangers who fall from the sky. Then I move on to the next town (more stories). I think also because I’m an introvert, my solitude is my comfort zone, where I recharge. I am a loner. And I’m okay with that.
2. This is the first year I officially feel my age.
Most of my friends are younger than me and since I don’t have kids or a picket fence, it’s easy to forgot how old I am. Usually people my age have children who are approaching high school which acts like a height mark on a white wall but with age. I feel like I’ve been thirty for the last decade. Yes, age is just a number. Especially today. We have finally shaken old timelines and blueprints. Marriage is not a must. Kids are an option. We are reinventing ourselves and catching our second wind later in life. I’m all about it. I plan to be doing butterfly pull ups and wheelies on my Harley at 80. But fuck man, 46 is now tipping toward 50.
50 is the new 40. I get it. I’m with you. I really believe that. But let me whine a bit. It’s my birthday. I’m getting older and I feel it for the first time in my life. That’s all. I can’t eat what I used to. My stomach is always fucking bloated from food allergies I don’t want to admit I have. I have to unbutton my pants in restaurants. I’m seeing lines on my face. It’s all happening.
But there is good news. You start to accept yourself more. You give up on the idea of being someone else. Maybe this whole practicing self love, self compassion, and self care starts to pay off. It doesn’t mean you don’t have insecurities. I have many. But they don’t strangle me like they used to. They’re like the bullies at the party who have moved on to other kids. I see them but they’re over there. And if they come this way, I’ll sit them down and ask them who hurt them.
3. My relationship with sex.
I think because I’m a therapist and been busy helping people with their relationships, I have forgotten that I am a person too. I have a story and experiences that have contributed to the way I love and liked to be loved. Also, I’m not perfect by any means. I have many things I need to work on. This sex thing may be one of them.
My love language is sex. Aren’t all guys? Yeah kind of but no, seriously. I can’t believe how sexual I am. I thought by now I would have lost interest. Gotten obsessed with building patio furniture or something. I think I obsess about it more than most men. Maybe it has to do with the addiction gene in my family tree. I don’t know. But at 46, I still crave sex daily. Thank God my boner is back! I lost it after going through two years of the worst insomnia in my life which fucked up my testosterone and led to many embarrassing moments lined with shame.
On a deeper level, I believe I use sex to fill the needy child in me that wasn’t loved. I use sex as an emotional blanket. If I receive sex, I feel that I am loved. And if I don’t, I feel rejection. Yes, sex is a part of love. But sex alone is not love. And it’s not about suppressing my sexualness, if that’s a word. It’s about understanding how I am wired. I believe once we understand ourselves better, things shift inside. It’s the beginning of growth. Maybe a year from now, I’ll have a collection of hand-built patio furniture. Look out for it. They’ll be on sale on my website.
4. I am an author.
It feels strange to say that. I can say I’m a writer but to say I’m an author means something different. It means I’m a professional writer and I’ve never seen myself that way before. Not until this year. Writing is like my career. That’s weird to say. I always saw it as something I did on the side. Like a hobby. So this is brand new to me. Although I’ve been writing forever, I’ve never thought of myself as an author. The launch of my second book, “I Used To Be a Miserable Fuck” was what created this new belief. Maybe sitting in a small closet recording the audio for three days made me feel official. Or maybe it was going on an official book tour. I don’t know. But something shifted. I am an author now. It’s still settling.
So I guess I’ll wear my glasses more. And keep writing books. I hope to write six before I die. We’ll see. It’s weird. Writing is such a love hate for me. It always been. I feel like cutting my ear off sometimes. But it’s been something I have never been able to escape. I have tried, many times. Believe you me. And that shit comes back like herpies on a blistering hot day after not sleeping well. Maybe it’s finally time to accept it fully and lean into it. Maybe I’ll move into the woods and grow a beard. I can’t grow facial hair. Who am I kidding? Anyway, I finally feel believe I’m a writer now. A real one. An author.
5. Happy is not an island.
This is probably the greatest revelation of the year. Happy isn’t somewhere you swim to. So many believe if I can just have this or that, I will be happy. But happy is not about the things. Don’t get me wrong. I still want the things. The house in the hills with a Korean bbq in the backyard, Porche, vintage truck, and a collection of motorcycles. Expensive pants. You know. But these things alone won’t make me happy. I really really believe that now. They are just things and they won’t give you sustainable happy.
Happy is a state. Happy comes in moments. Happy fluctuates, daily. But most importantly, happy in an inside job. It has nothing to do with the external. I’ve learned that you can’t feel happy without these three things.
You have to have meaning in your life. In what you do for work. In your relationships. Maybe in raising children. Without meaning, your life will feel like an empty soda can. And you will feel worthless and invisible. And it doesn’t matter how many things you have, you will not be happy. You will merely exist. But with more things.
A well-lived life is a life packed with meaning.
I’ve lived a life without meaning (chasing state). And I’ve lived a life with meaning (attracting state). And it’s like day and night. In my twenties and thirties, I didn’t have much meaning in my life. I was just trying to get from point A to point B. Life was more of a race than anything else. I was chasing the things. I didn’t really have a life. I wasn’t engaged. I just lived in my head all day. It almost makes me tear up thinking about it. I was so lost and disconnected.
- The ability to produce joy.
Something I was never able to do before: Wake up after a shitty night of sleep and a ton of stress and still find joy in something that day. I finally have the ability to produce joy. It can be from a motorcycle ride or a workout. It can come from a fresh cup of coffee or a deep conversation with a friend or client. I don’t need anything great to happen for me to feel joy. I can get it from whatever I have in my life right now. This is a game changer. Because it means I’m finally able to feel gratitude, one of the highest frequencies that pulls you out of the suck. It makes you believe everything’s okay. Not going to be okay. But okay now. That you are not lacking. That you are exactly where you’re supposed to be.
If you go to a party and just stand there and complain it was boring, it’s your fault. The same is with life. You have to engage. You have to make that effort if you want to produce happy. You have to be present. Practice mindfulness. Use all your senses. Stay out of your head. Dive into your work. Take chances. Call people. Engage. Connect. Do things that feel weird and scary. Lean into transitions. Allow yourself to feel something, even if it’s discomfort or pain. That’s so much better than not feeling anything. It just means you’re alive. You’re living.
6. There is nowhere to go but inward.
Most of my life has been about the external. Accomplishing something. Building something. As I mentioned above, getting the things. But as I turn 46, I am realizing that the true journey is not in what we see. What happens on the outside is secondary, the by-product. The true journey lives inside. Let me explain.
There is our outside life. Our friends and relationships. Our achievements. And this is what we place most of our weight on. It’s what we’re betting on. So we spend our entire lives trying to create this external vision. We grind at work. Mute our inner voice. Do what the world thinks we should. Follow timelines created by society. Climb that mountain hoping to stake our flag on the top and say “I made it”. And the more we are NOT able to make this happen, the more we believe we are worth less. We internalize and believe we are defective. What’s happening on the outside begins to rot our inside. So we walk this world feeling defective and worthless. We create our own prisons. Happy becomes a mirage and we disconnect more and more with ourselves.
There’s nothing wrong with going after our dreams. As a matter of fact, we should. We’re supposed to. I believe everyone has a personal responsibility to maximize and share their gifts and story with the world. That’s what gives us drive, a sense of purpose, and makes this world greater than us.
But what if the gold is not in what we create externally but in the journey we go on internally? And what if that’s what we decided to make important to us? How would that change our life?
Two things would happen.
One, with this belief/mindset, if we believe the nectar and purpose of this life is our inner transformation, it makes us lean into our own discomfort. The inner dragons we must slay. It causes us to accept our past and run toward ourselves instead of away. This transformation will ripple outward and change our potential and state. What and who we attract.
Two, focusing and going on this inner journey, changing our thoughts and beliefs and how we think, truly connecting with ourselves, will allow us to become more of a conduit. Greater things will start to work through us and guess what? We will start to manifest our external dreams. They may not exactly match the vision we had but they will line up with our story and the projection of it. What is meant.
Our life then becomes about more than corner offices, promotions, cars and empires, and bloated stomachs. Life becomes about more than instant gratification, sugar, dopamine, and followers.
Life becomes light.
And we disappear.
And that’s when we truly live.
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