Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
Post Reply
User avatar
achilles
Posts: 394
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:17 pm

Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by achilles » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:09 pm

I have been seeing a therapist over the past eight months or so, which have truly been horrendous. The therapist is helping me to get through a rough patch in my life, and I'm grateful to have the insurance coverage to see her regularly. In order to talk about "ikigai", I have to give you some background.

I'm very unhappy. It truly, truly sucks. I'm grateful that I don't really have unmet temporal needs, but being deeply emotionally and spiritually unfulfilled for such a long period of time is...it's just awful. There are a number of things that I think are contributing to this:

1) depression and fibromyalgia--they keep me from leaving the house for anything but school
2) loneliness--I feel geographically isolated, don't have regular people in my life, and feel like I'm without daily accessible friends and others who love me
3) unemployment (3+years)--after being gently nudged out of my job as a professor, spending a year and a half taking care of my dying mother, and pushing through school (again), I feel kind of worthless and unemployable (I know it's not true, but it's hard not to feel this way)
4) not having a spiritual/worship community anymore--I think leaving the Church was the right thing for me, but in the four years since I left, I haven't found anything to replace it
5) losing my careers--my careers as a music educator and professor were very meaningful to me, and I feel like I don't have anything like it anymore. I'm in school to be a medical laboratorian, which will be meaningful, but school is difficult and I worry about being able to get a job as an older guy
6) frustrated about dating--I have only been dating other men for about nine months now, but let me tell you, gay dating is messed up. Because of our history with society we have all kinds of emotional baggage, there's a lot of hookup culture, and shallowness. Add to that I'm no spring chicken, have some weight to lose, and obviously flat broke. I'm a great guy, but not a very "eligible bachelor"

I know a lot of things are going to change for me when I finish my program and get certification. I'll be able to stand on my own feet again and make another stab at life. In the meantime, it's a struggle. My wonderful therapist gave me an impassioned/inspired talking-to about not waiting to live later, but starting to live now. I appreciated it.

She's always reading new books, and had one called Awakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day. Ikigai literally means "reason for living". I have realized over the past few weeks that one of the main reasons I've been so unhappy is that I've lost my previous ikigai--being part of the Church's Work, being an arts educator, teaching kids and young adults. I need to find new reasons for my life.

I may be agnostic, which makes finding a new church community a little more complicated. I thirst for spirituality, and I'm not sure where to look for it. I'm sure that after this season of my life I will continue to be a teacher and arts educator in some way, but it won't be my day job, so to speak. Helping people as a lab tech is a much more distant and abstract thing, and I'm not there yet. Dating is tough, and I think finding long-term companionship could help me find more meaning, but I know that sinking all my meaning into that is setting me up for some trouble down the line.

Anyway, I just wanted to vent. I know it's kind of whiney, and I don't know that there are any great solutions right now, but I feel like this is my one remaining community. This is a very tough time of year for me and I'm grateful all of you are out there.
“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

― Carl Sagan

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek."

-Joseph Campbell

User avatar
Red Ryder
Posts: 1817
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2016 5:14 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by Red Ryder » Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:41 pm

There's a lot to unpack and reply to here Achilles.

A lot of people are going through many of these same challenges without the hangover of a faith crisis and lost church community.

Glad to hear your getting therapy.

I'll check out the book recommendation.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

Reuben
Posts: 799
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:01 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by Reuben » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:10 pm

achilles wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:09 pm
She's always reading new books, and had one called Awakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Every Day. Ikigai literally means "reason for living". I have realized over the past few weeks that one of the main reasons I've been so unhappy is that I've lost my previous ikigai--being part of the Church's Work, being an arts educator, teaching kids and young adults. I need to find new reasons for my life.

I may be agnostic, which makes finding a new church community a little more complicated. I thirst for spirituality, and I'm not sure where to look for it. I'm sure that after this season of my life I will continue to be a teacher and arts educator in some way, but it won't be my day job, so to speak. Helping people as a lab tech is a much more distant and abstract thing, and I'm not there yet. Dating is tough, and I think finding long-term companionship could help me find more meaning, but I know that sinking all my meaning into that is setting me up for some trouble down the line.
I can so relate to this.

I think you're right that sinking all your meaning into finding a relationship would set you up for trouble. After my FC, one of my two sources of meaning remaining was my role as a husband and father. As I sank into depression, I was increasingly plagued with thoughts that the church would hurt my children or turn them against me, and that I was powerless to prevent it. I anticipated failure and felt like it was already happening. And because I thought I was failing at the role that gave my life the most meaning, life started to feel meaningless.

With my therapist's help, I redefined success in that role to be more flexible and realistic. But my point is that having almost all my self-esteem eggs in one basket made things pretty unstable. And honestly, I'm still in that position, because I still find it hard to trust people, even though my mood has improved a lot.

I don't have any advice, just solidarity. Mainly, I wish I could just transport into your head the idea that you matter and are good and worthwhile, however broken you feel. You're a good man, achilles.

User avatar
Lithium Sunset
Posts: 174
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:11 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by Lithium Sunset » Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:10 pm

I don’t really know what to say... Sorry things are so hard and have been for so long. Definitely glad you are getting the help you need and you have a good therapist.
I requested the book from the library. Mine didnt have it but luckily I can pull books from most of the counties in my state.
Hang in there. I hear dating can be horrific even without the extra challenges.... I don’t wonder if people should just team up for companionship and to share the cost of living w/o wanting an intimate relationship but relationships are hard no matter how you slice it.

Better days ahead my friend. Let’s hang in there and hope they come sooner rather than later.
"The real things haven't changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Anon70
Posts: 450
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 11:56 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by Anon70 » Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:52 pm

You’ve gone through a lot in a relatively short period of time. I read a list once that was titled something like major life events that can create stress/depression and I think you’ve got quite a few of them going on so your unhappiness feels understandable.

I love that you’ve picked a new career and are working towards it. I hope as you start to move into the next stage, your equilibrium will come back and you’ll find joy again. Despite being “broke” is there a hobby or interest you can pick back up that could be a happy distraction? Best of luck!

User avatar
MalcolmVillager
Posts: 593
Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2016 8:01 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by MalcolmVillager » Sat Jan 05, 2019 8:15 am

Sorry for your pain and challenges. May you find peace and joy in your journey!

User avatar
2bizE
Posts: 1048
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 9:33 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by 2bizE » Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:23 pm

I’m so sorry for the sorrow. We all go through trials, and finding the silver lining helps us to navigate them. Finding ways to be happy during struggles has always been difficult for me. May you find happiness along the journey. I’m glad you have a therapist to help.
~2bizE

User avatar
Journey
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:16 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by Journey » Sat Jan 05, 2019 4:56 pm

I am so sorry for how painful this season of the year and the season of your life is for you right now. Thank you for sharing your innermost feelings with us! I feel as we are a small community of friends and try to support each other through our life’s journey.
I don’t think either one of us was ever meant to be an island and even when we feel as if we are one, hopefully we can remember that the waves gently rolling into the shore are the outstretched arms of our loved ones giving us a hug. Hang in there!

User avatar
DPRoberts
Posts: 183
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:48 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by DPRoberts » Sat Jan 05, 2019 7:16 pm

I am sorry for your pain. You have been through a lot. I will repeat what others have said, you are fortunate to have a good therapist. I think you are doing the right things and better days lie ahead. I wish I had more than just words to offer.
When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease to be mistaken or cease to be honest. -anon
The belief that there is only one truth, and that oneself is in possession of it, is the root of all evil in the world. -Max Born

User avatar
moksha
Posts: 2027
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 4:22 am

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by moksha » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:09 am

It is hard sometimes to figure out reasons for going on despite adversity, but we are all pulling for you! Unless you are facing advanced old age, time seems to heal all wounds. Something else will turn up to sustain you. Are you into reading, TV, movies, video games? Ever go to gay bars? I know years ago I got to meet dating partners by going to dances. I was there to meet women, but I imagine that same dynamic exists for gays. I remember getting a few dates just by striking up a conversation at a bookstore. Interesting people can be found in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section, although that might also be true for other genres as well. Sometimes just getting out, even when you feel tired helps.

Achilles, I am wishing you both Friluftsliv and Fahrvergnügen.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
-- Moksha

User avatar
deacon blues
Posts: 913
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:37 am

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by deacon blues » Sun Jan 06, 2019 9:25 am

I didn't realize you were a musician until I read this thread. What kind of music do you like? There is so much available on Youtube it knocks me out. Do you sing or play an instrument? Are there community ensembles that you could participate in? Music can be so uplifting. Regardless I know you offer so much on this Board that I hope we can continue to get your insights on life and spirituality.
God is Love. God is Truth

User avatar
Mormorrisey
Posts: 551
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 6:54 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by Mormorrisey » Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:24 pm

Like all the others, I just have empathy for your situation. That IS a lot to unpack, and I'm so glad you're seeing a therapist for some help in trying to get through it all.

Good luck, achilles!
"And I don't need you...or, your homespun philosophies."
"And when you try to break my spirit, it won't work, because there's nothing left to break."

User avatar
Linked
Posts: 781
Joined: Mon Oct 17, 2016 4:04 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by Linked » Mon Jan 07, 2019 11:17 am

I'm sorry to hear things have been so tough for the past months. I always appreciate your posts on NOM, thanks for being part of our community.

Thanks for sharing about "Ikigai", I have also struggled to find an Ikigai since losing my beliefs. It looks like the book is on Audible, I'll have to grab it with my next credit. I wish I had spent more time on my mission in Japan studying Japanese philosophy rather than trying to convert them to my own.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

User avatar
MoPag
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2016 2:05 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by MoPag » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:47 pm

((Hugs)) sweetie!!!

You are brilliant and I love reading your posts!
achilles wrote:
Fri Jan 04, 2019 5:09 pm
6) frustrated about dating--I have only been dating other men for about nine months now, but let me tell you, gay dating is messed up. Because of our history with society we have all kinds of emotional baggage, there's a lot of hookup culture, and shallowness.
I saw this all the time when I lived with my gay best friend and our 2 other gay roommates. It was a standard practice in our apartment that when someone came home from a date we would have a little therapy session where they could vent and we would console. But there are good guys out there. In fact one of my former roommates got married recently. He finally found a really great guy. But damn did he have to go though a lot to get to him. PM me if you ever need to talk. :)
...walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men’s lies...--Ezra Pound

User avatar
RubinHighlander
Posts: 1012
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:20 am
Location: Behind the Zion Curtain

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by RubinHighlander » Tue Jan 08, 2019 2:40 pm

Achilles bro, so sorry to see you suffering like this. Can't add a lot to what's already been said, but have you tried any CDB for your physical ailments? It's literally been a miracle daily supplement for my DW at about 50MG per day, not only for her arthritis but her mood is so much happier. She had been on the anti-depressants and they are hit and miss. The pills I buy are legal in Utah. We also have some creme/lotion that is not legal that also works well for direct application. I also gave a bottle of CDB pills to a friend of mine who has had knee issues for the past two years and now he's a convert. For a daily supplement with no side effects it might help take the edge off.
“Sir,' I said to the universe, 'I exist.' 'That,' said the universe, 'creates no sense of obligation in me whatsoever.”
--Douglas Adams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzmYP3PbfXE

User avatar
Hagoth
Posts: 2509
Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2016 1:13 pm

Re: Ikigai, or having a raison d'etre

Post by Hagoth » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:46 am

I'm so happy I got to meet you, Achilles. You are a very interesting, intelligent, and likable person. I think there are some great things ahead for you. I have had a couple of major direction changes in my life and they can really disorient you and make you doubt yourself. When you add the other factors you mentioned it would be really surprising if you weren't having a difficult time.

I'm excited for you to get through college 2.0 and get on with career 2.0.

Have you considered trying something like Unitarianism or Episcopalianism to find a spiritual community? There is also a small Community of Christ congregation in Ogden. I have attended the Salt Lake branch a few times and found it to be welcoming and more oriented toward providing a spiritual environment and community than with piling expectations on you. You also find that you have more in common with the people there than in the LDS church because many of them have been through the same kind of faith crisis experience. Also, rather than shunning LGBT folks, these organizations welcome them with open arms.

Good luck with everything! I hope you'll keep us in the loop.

If anyone is in the area and has the opportunity to meet Achilles you'll be glad you did.
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest