Surviving Myself…

Erin Schaden
4 min readJun 5, 2024

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Really this has been the greatest struggle of my life…surviving myself. All my ideas, plans, schemes, drastic measures, alcoholism, addiction, pathology. I mean, looking back, it is really a fucking miracle I am still here after all this time.

I just have always had this head that has so many ideas, so many thoughts which lead to plans which are all pretty much concocted to avoid feeling. I still do this, although I am better now. Much better really.

But the whole of my life, I feel like what has plagued me the most is me. My way of living with the neurosis I have, the anxiety, the depression, the addictions…all of them. It is God’s own private miracle that while having all this dysfunction, I have also been granted the power to survive me.

And at times, it has been pretty tenuous. While my acutely suicidal times are mostly long in the past, I mean, active addiction is really a suicide mission every day…but having survived that particular nastiness, the rest of my life has been mostly uphill. I did have that one time in early sobriety when I didn’t leave my house for 3 weeks and was acutely nuts. But after that passed, and it did pass (with therapeutic intervention and an anti-depressant) I have lived pretty much a stable and relatively sane life.

Now I can see from some people’s comments here that perhaps that is only my impression of myself…sometimes I read the comments and I am like, “wow, these people are really worried about me!” Or “wow, I didn’t mean that to sound so crazy…sorry I worried you all, I am really good!”

But I know I have a flair for the dramatic and so sometimes my words, my writings just give voice to tiny parts of my living, but in the writing make it appear larger and greater than it really is. I mean, I just have had this one feeling that lasted five minutes, but then I write about it and it leaves you all with the impression that I am on the verge…and teetering.

If I am honest, I hate concerning you but it also makes me laugh. At myself. And this is again yet another way that I survive me. There is a lot of head shaking and a great deal of laughter at who I am and how I am and how I show up for this amazing life I have.

Recently, I have been given a new perspective on my life. I have really wanted to leave, to move, to relocate to somewhere where I know no one, where I am alone on 40 acres and immune to the day to day grind of it all. And yesterday, as I hiked the hills of my hometown, I realized that there isn’t anything waiting me for me there that isn’t available to me here. Yes, I would like more land, and less people, but I really have that here. No one (besides work) is blowing up my phone. I am alone in my house and yard quite often. I retreat to nature every single day with the dogs and we wander meadows and streams and hillsides and sometimes, even mountains.

I live in this amazingly beautiful place which was Shangri-La until I decided it wasn’t. And yesterday I saw it, again, this need one more time to survive myself. Ojai isn’t the problem, my job isn’t the problem (in fact the job is the thing that allows me to have this house, this life and this ability to escape into nature…).

And so there on the mountainside last evening I watched the night come to relieve the day and I saw that the only thing wrong in my life, truly, was me and all my ideas that things should be different. And instead of spending all this energy towards figuring out how to leave, when to leave, how to get the fuck out of here, I could just be happy where I am, living where I do, having the life I have, being the person I am right now in this moment.

I am grateful for the seeds of my discontentedness…they are what has just now bloomed into a flowering gratitude for things being exactly as they are…nothing needs to change, all the things I want to do differently elsewhere are really available to me right now, living here, the life that is here today.

So I guess one more time I have survived myself and all my ideas to the contrary…again, still.

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Erin Schaden

Who am I? I am all that I write, all that I learn, share and grow. Read and find out? Check out www.nakedrandomthoughts.com for more.