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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Are You Living or Existing ???

If you were to have asked me this question 4 ½ years ago I would have responded without hesitation or doubt “I’M LIVING!” But, today as I ask myself this question I’m really not sure and that uncertainty in itself indicates I’m existing.

It’s as if my body and mind have gone into survival mode ~ many may say “ After all you have been through, of course you are a survivor”. But survival mode is much like a plane operating on auto pilot. The Pilot is is able to observe what is taking place, while the plane goes through the functions that have been programmed into it (for the body its cell memory ~ years of doing). For the most part , things function as they are expected to. Then suddenly without warning something in the transmitting goes haywire and though the pilot may not become aware of it immediately – he eventually does notice /feels something is not right. Ttry as he might he cannot override the auto pilot – survival mode - the plane is in. So after awhile he stops trying to override and hopes (one day) things will come to a happy landing and he can get off auto pilot and become the pilot of his life again.
What is scary about this survival mode, much like the pilot, you can be in it and not realize it or along the way notice something doesn’t seem/feel correct, but subconsciously your “auto-pilot” is stronger and you just keep going along for the ride. For the most part you will get through each day, week, month and years. Eventually the feeling that something is not right will become so great that it consumes your every thought and before you know it , a volcano of emotions erupt .
Image Credit
This is what happened to me while we were on our South American trip. The realization that I have been operating in survival mode post -accident, started to manifest its ugly head. In survival mode my body and mind seem to have found a way to work together to protect me from the reality of what was really going on within. It even managed to make me believe this survival mode was “living”. What triggered this realization? I really don’t know. The closest I have come in self analyzing is perhaps when I wanted to go on my own to the park in Lima ~ and Mr. G being the responsible and sensible one; pointed out that I was having anxiety with people and traffic when we were together – what would happen if I was alone and went into a full blown attack. Of, course my first reaction was “I have travelled the world and often on my own, you are not my boss!” Correct, but  then I also didn’t go into a panic attack at the sight of a moving car; or become overwhelmed with large groups of people, especially those speaking a foreign language; and I didn’t strike up conversations with “questionable” strangers; oh, and I didn’t have an ABI (acquired brain injury) or an ankle that weakens without warning and gives out (which Mr. G saved me from many a fall during our trip) and the list goes on, you get the picture. Of, course it wasn’t until we survived the remainder of the trip; being back on home soil and having the support of friends to discuss this with (I’m on the search for a new Shereko (psychologist), that pieces of the puzzle started fitting together and the realization that I have been going through the motions of living.

From the outside people may say “What do you mean … you have been traveling, you shop, you are looking better, you have been more active; you do things etc… etc..” ~ yes , but looking back those were are all tools my survival mode created to hide behind and possibly what kept me from realizing that I was just existing.

I’m sharing this with you, so that even as you go through your day without an ABI or the other challenges (ones which  I need to be acknowledge with reality, accept and figured out how to live with) ~ in hopes that you will stop and ask yourself “Am I living or existing?”

What is the difference? Some of you may be asking … well I’m not an expert but this is my humble thought:

In Existing: you are waiting for and or allowing some outside influence to control the outcome of your life.

In Living: you are taking control and facing the challenges head on and making an action plan to make the changes.

I would love for you to share how you have turned your life
from existing to living or your thoughts.

Part of Getting My Life Back Post Series!!HHL


  1. HHL somehow when I read your posts I get the feeling you are living. Make each moment count and bringing depth to your renewed self.
    I was in the existing stage for many years but moved from that to Living and that to one day at a time. I am here and now and owe it to my retreat!
    Hugs and plenty of it

  2. Hello. I'm stopping by from Say hi Sunday, and I'm a new follower. Thanks for this great post.

  3. Reading your post I think I can say you are definitely living! You're fight to gain normalcy in your life, to try and do the things you used to do,and your fight to do the things you used to do without just lying down and playing dead, makes me say you are living more than some people I know!

  4. Sorry I made a typo! "you're" (in the second line) should read "your" (I promise I do know the difference!)

  5. I think that you are living.. and being aided :) ..like all of us.. your problems are without your fault.. there are many emotional cripples who are not living because they do not know how to..
    xx You are very brave, I have stopped travelling as I find it a nightmare and stressful, especially with kids. Its not the places its the people and the journey xx

  6. I (without any experience in what you have been through) think you are Beginning Living .. you are still in Recovery.. but you are venturing out and the fact that you want to do things differently ( walk alone) shows that you are not just laying back and accepting the way things are Now .
    It has been 4 years but really, look at the extent of what happened 4 years ago and where you are now ! My God you are a little beautiful miracle walking around !
    I think part of this might be due the the amazing brains we have that say, keep trying , keep trying and getting you back to as close as possible the way you were Before.
    It is just taking a while.
    I totally believe in talking to someone if it helps and I am glad that you have G who is there for you at all times. We all need a G in our lives :)
    You ask a very good question though .. I think all of us at one time or another go into a sort of state of Drifting, where we are aware of things but just drift along and let things come and go and watch it as if from a distance. I do this quite often :) But then I (we) also do things quite insane and I think maybe we need these spells of quiet in between.
    You are a brave wonderful person, I think if you are "existing" right now, that is fabulous too.. because is means you are also "living " :)

  7. If living involves champers, snooty pursuits with me, lunches, shopping and planning our outings...then no!!! We have just been existing. I wonder if we are feeling blah because of the snow and feeling a bit trapped by it all.

  8. I know survival mode too well. It's a tough place to be. Even when He did a huge miracle in my life...I couldn't get free of the shame....It was this huge process. I've learned to do a couple of things...
    -agree with the Word...and speak it out loud..(I think words have energy and we can create how we feel)
    -Music...listen full blast to music that makes my spirit soar
    -Friends...not isolate which I used to be too good at.
    -Excercise...in the winter or bad weather work out with the wii...love running

    I learned too that things pass...they change...the good always comes back around...Hang tight okay....and stay strong.

  9. Wow, this one is brilliant Miss HHL, you describe perfectly what many of us encounter yet fail to recognize . As someone who reads and admires you a great deal, this time I had to comment and thank you for sharing.

    Sending you a smile,

  10. You are such an amazing writer. Have you ever thought of writing a book? I for one, would buy it. I think I fall somewhere between living/and existing. Hmmm.... definitely food for thought. I think the first step in truly living is to realize that you are only existing...and you have already done that. It has been a very long road for you but I think you are helping so many others in the process. xo

  11. I am a new follower, feel free to follow back www.thatshakerofsalt.com

  12. Visiting from the LBS! Great thoughts, and great writing too! New follower :).

  13. Beautiful post! This is exactly how I felt a couple of months ago, when my asthma was causing me such problems. I realized that I was mostly just existing, waiting for the right time or moment to actually live. But no more!

    Glad to see you back! :) And thank you for the lovely card you sent. :)

  14. This is so thought provoking. I sometimes wonder the same thing - everyone else thinks you're "living" an amazing life but you just feel it's become a bit mundane. By the looks of it you're definitely living and it's great to see that you ended with the line "taking control and facing the challenges". So true. Kat.

  15. Hi... I'm stopping by from the LBS. Great Post.

  16. returning the favor thank you for visiting my blog and i'm following you now


  17. I am definitely living!

    Isn't it wonderful when we come to realizations and we are strong enough to face it, admit it, and then do something about it?

    Rock on with your bad self!

    Love this post.

    Stopping by from LBTP

  18. I find it interesting how others can perceive us as "living" when we actually know in our hearts that we are "existing". We humans are amazing at being able to fool those around us.
    I existed for a lot of years ... we moved home and took care of my parents, dealt with my brother, and then it was 2008 and it was one negative thing after another ... I was totally on autopilot and just trying to get through each day.
    Oddly, when mom died I was freed. I was finally able to concentrate on myself for a change ... on my health, my happiness, my life. And while I try never to be selfish, I do put myself first ... if I don't, I can't be there for others, which is what I really want to do.
    I've never gone through anything remotely as major as you did luv, but you never cease to amaze me ... your strength, your tenacity. Just keep at it. Don't ever give up ...
    much luv and hugs

  19. Following from LBS. I think I'm existing but trying to figure out how to live. Some day I'll get there . . . I hope . . .
    Debbie from nofiltermom.blogspot.com

  20. Following now from Say Hi Sunday blog hop! I would love for you to follow back at www.thereviewstew.com!

    Happy Sunday! :)

  21. I hadn't really ever questioned whether I'm living or just existing. I hope I'm living. I feel like I'm living, but I realize there aren't that many more years ahead for me to either live or exist either one - in this life at least. I'm 74 years old. Whether living or existing, I'm leaning on the promises that God has a much better place in store for those who love Him. I'm glad you're sharing your heart and your experiences here on your blog. I have the feeling it will be helpful to a lot of other people.
    Thank you for sharing with us on Spiritual Sundays.

  22. I think you are doing amazingly well. Just take one day at a time. If I look back over my life I see times of full on living and times of just existing...it usually has to do with what negative things are going on. Bad stuff used to send me on a tailspin, and I would retreat. Now as I look back, a liitle retreat was okay...as long as I joined the land of the living quickly. I don't think this is making any sense, so I'll just say...you are doing great, don't be too hard on yourself. Listen to, and follow your heart... and trust your journey. You are helping so many through your blog, and I KNOW you are going to write a book. I'll be first in line to buy it!

  23. This gives me so much to think about. I pray that I'm living for him,our Lord.
    God Bless,

  24. As I said in the comments of my blog, I can't imagine you doing anything but LIVING. Your blog exudes a spirit of LIVING, no matter the circumstances. A wonderful exploration of the two poles of being.xo

  25. Nice Blog! I now follow you! Happy Sunday! I would love for you to stop and take a look at my blog as well! Http://heavenlysavings.blogspot.com! Have a happy day!

  26. Popped in from Lady Bloggers! Since I recently quit my job, it's been hard for me to feel like I'm worthy of existing. Even though I'm working towards living the creative life of my dreams, it feels like I'm squandering time because I'm not producing in a corporate or business sense.

  27. I read your post with interest and appreciated your thoughts. I have a dear friend who is going through some serious struggles and your words gave me some insight into how she might be feeling. Thank you. :) I am praying for you for a blessed day, full of comfort, and encouragement.

  28. wow. what an interesting post... i definitely need a few minutes (hours.... days...) to reflect. thank you!

  29. Hi! I'm a new follower! Love your blog! I would love for you to follow me back! http://www.homemakerinheels.com/
    Have a great night! :)

  30. Hi Celia,

    Thank you for being so open and honest with something I admit I have no idea of what you currently face. For me trauma, whether it's emotional or physical, secures me to something painful, regrettable, or distainful.

    I have no questions for you, instead, I would ask them of myself. The answers for me are found in two words, joy and peace. I'm living best when I have joy and peace regarding my life. I have an appreciation for being alive. I may want more out of my life, but I will not be anxious for more.

    I will be praying for you my friend that you find what it is you seek.

    Blessings and peace.



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