This past couple years I’ve unplugged from the Matrix. Unlike the popular movie, it hasn’t been so dramatic as joining an underground militia to start a human revolution against machines, but the plot is actually pretty similar.
If you’re somehow not familiar with the movie, the basic gist is that people in the future become slave-batteries, powering machines, and are kept subdued by having their brains tapped into and fed fake realities. It all seems real until you’re unplugged from the matrix and shown a much harsher, but ultimately freer reality; a reality in which you have choice. In my own life, I’ve started focusing on my problems, stopped drinking alcohol, started working on my spirituality, and started realizing that in everything—even how I feel—I have a choice.
Part of my “matrix” consisted of being judgmental and blaming everyone around me for things that weren’t right in my own life, and getting angry at myself and others for them. I was stressed out because there was too much work at work, or the kids were being noisy, or my wife wasn’t pulling her weight. I thought I was powerful and in control, but somehow couldn’t solve some of my simplest frustrations. I tried to control everything and everyone in my life because I thought I had the solutions. I used to think that if I could just get people to do what I wanted, then I could relax.
And it was all an illusion.
No matter who I blamed, I was still angry. No matter how much I got done or accomplished, I was still stressed out. Even when people did what I wanted, there was something else that wasn’t done right. So I unplugged from my matrix.
Instead of blaming others for what’s not going right, I try to look at what I can do to make things better. If I can’t change it, then I try to let it go. When people or things irritate me, I know being irritated and angry is a choice. I walk away from problems to get perspective and I try to take breaks to breathe. Instead of using alcohol or other distractions to cover up my feelings, I feel them. I try to accept myself whether I’m angry, sad, frustrated, funny, or brilliant. I try not to make excuses and I accept compliments.
And it’s hard sometimes. I make a lot of mistakes. I slip back into old habits and behaviors. There are definitely days where I wish I could plug back into that matrix and go back to the “easier” route of blaming others for my problems and washing it all down with some whiskey, laughs, and shit-talking. I often go back to this scene from The Matrix movie where Cypher is tired of being in reality and just wants to plug back into “the good life,” even though he knows he won’t be free:
Giving up control means that I know I can’t and don’t have to deal with all this on my own. I have friends to help me and pick me up. I believe there is a God that has a plan and that things happen for a reason and that I won’t always see it, but I can trust it. I try not to look at things as “bad” and “good” but that they simply are. I can distance myself from situations and people that aren’t helpful without being mean to them or talking behind their backs. In the same turn I can make mistakes without beating myself up about them. I try and focus on the present moment because I have a tendency to regret the past and worry about the future, and regret and worry tend to bum me out. If I can stay in the present moment, I can be without fear, and that feels pretty damn good.
No, I’m not happy 24/7 now. I still struggle just like I always have, but I’m less angry, frustrated, and fearful. I’m able to be more present for my family and friends. Now that I really see who I am, I can be fully immersed in my reality and can work on what I need to in order to enjoy my life for what it is. Outside of the Matrix the struggle is definitely real, but I know I’m getting closer to being the person I want to be.