I’d been feeling angsty and in my head, like I was very possibly too tender for this world where everything feels more intense than it is for most. I had a spot-on sense of people and could read human behavior in a deep, layered way that caught every nuance, hesitation and flaw. I came away from conversations buzzing, millions of bits of sensory data to sift through and process, having taken on too much of others’ energetic residue, now storing their quirks and burdens like a bank that was full to brimming, yet somehow bankrupt.
I’d started going phone-free for a full 24 once a week. Decompression Mondays. The P.I.C. went back to work and I had the cozy writer’s bungalow all to myself. I’d put on something bingeable, get naked and spot-treat any upcroppings of psoriasis with my UVB light wand. Padding around with house panda during refreshment breaks, peeling and snacking on fresh mandarins, taking it easy. I wasn’t ready for a full-on tech hiatus, but leaving my phone off for a turn around the sun was starting to both cleanse weekly energetic gunk and stir things up inside, some inspired stuff + a lot of ick: low-vibing self-perception, negative mental projections and tantrumy clinginess. (What you never see in the After Photo is the mental mania and complete inner chaos that accompanies making any sort of change to one’s life.)
I was embarrassed by the number of times I unthinkingly went to my phone (that was powered off and plugged into the charging cord) as if magnetized, and tapped the black, unilluminated screen like I would throughout the day when it was on. Just to look at the screen light up. I could try to justify the behavior by saying I was checking the time, but that was a lie. I had digital clocks in eyeshot. It became grossly apparent that I was tapping the phone like a mouse in a clinical trial for oxycontin, punching the button for a hit, addicted. The computer I could hold in my hand had become an attention-seeking device that had me looking for love in all the wrong places, leaving me lacking, starved and always wanting more.
Back-in-the-day Phone Detox
This digitally induced neediness bothered me because I knew better! I did my first Phone Detox back in 2017 and would regularly leave it off for week-long stints. It frustrated those close to me who always wanted a line in, which happened to be the ones I needed space from. These breaks illuminated how my utter lack of boundaries had turned my relationships from slightly too entrenched to toxic—I wasn’t my best Self within them, hadn’t been for a long time, and I was really unhappy. I succeeded in carving just enough space to actually acknowledge what wasn’t working—at the time, everything—and my life went through the spin cycle over the next six years. I thought I was mostly hibernating and hiding during that time, writing my first book in stops’n’starts, making elaborate, color-coded grocery lists, painting picture frames, bingeing TV and Pizza Hut. Looking back, I see how what I thought was me just being fucked up and avoidant was me healing.
I ended every single relationship that had long expired.
I moved to another state—a lifelong yearning finally realized.
I finished writing my first novel.
I rebirthed my brand, centering my work around what I always wanted to do in the first place: write.
I produced over 40 Big Blogs.
I stopped binge eating, a compulsion that felt unbreakable for years. (To just say “I stopped” isn’t accurate. The need for it lessened the more I understood my highly sensitive nature and tailored my lifestyle to the unique needs of my nervous system, and that took time. My binge eating “addiction” died off like this: Roar > loud talking > annoying but not-as-loud talking > whisper > fleeting flash of a thought.)
My life transformed in large part due to the single, unglamorous act of turning my phone off for chunks at a time.
Somehow, until writing this, I forgot that. Here I am, starting over. Too plugged in too much of the time. Swimming in a soupy, scattered malaise of brain fog, unable to sift out others’ opinions from my own. Needing space from the never-ceasing virtual bombardment. Resisting it because I know the truth will surface and I will have to change once again. But it must be done. One day a week is doable. I can show up and power down for Decompression Mondays.
You’d think a one-day phone cleanse would be a welcome break, a hit of bliss. In ways, it was. I exercised good ol’-fashioned willpower (proof my humanity remained intact) to detach from the technology that had fused onto me like another limb. But mostly, it was withdrawal. Last Monday with my phone off, I couldn’t relax. A pervasive tension stiffened me and I got up time and time again because I was simply unable to sit still. Other people’s stuff was coursing through me and my mind flashed through images of their posts, our interactions, all the details I was tired of recounting. It’s like these influences are inside me and I don’t know what’s mine and what’s theirs, a perpetual tug-of-war taking place in my psyche that results in scatteredness, like flipping through channels too fast to decide what to watch, toggling between my knowing and their opinions. This mental imposition has affected my entire being and made me a slug as of late. Only alone (even better—in nature), unplugged, can I breathe again and feel more wholly myself, first in slivers, then pockets . . .
Hmmmm, what would it feel like to live life fully, autonomously me?
The Upside of Change
After my first mini Phone Detox in many years, every cell of my being is gently opening its viscera, like the petals of a flower tickling their way to bloom. Relief has wedged its foot in the door. I’m hopeful of the freedom this will bring.
One of the greatest challenges in life is believing ourselves.
Not relying on others to tell us what we, ourselves, inherently know to be true.
We not only live in an age of information but one where we hunger for the expansion of consciousness. It’s easy to lose ourselves while seeking self-betterment. We pile on others’ experiences and advice, wearing them like Girl Scout badges, emblems of hard-earned personal growth. But the time comes when the best, most self-realized process we can undertake is Unlearning. To strip away everything we’ve been told and connect to that which rises through us. This is what “making space” means.
Decompression Mondays are merely the beginning of a new dawn. A return to Self. Reacquaintance with my own potential. Sitting through the discomfort one less distraction presents.
Six years from now what personal transformation will I look back on?
How will I choose to direct my precious energies and renewed focus as I roll into my fourth decade on the planet?
Do I even want to know?
Maybe I’ll just take it day by day, relishing the possibility of tomorrow, which happens to be Decompression Monday.