The question of the day yesterday was, “Why are you playing a game and letting them win when they aren’t even playing?”
(Day 15 of my 30-Day Writing Challenge)
There is still a stigma attached to any mental-health challenges we face. That’s why I have hesitated to write about my own until now. Now, it is important for me to put my stake in the ground, so to speak, and tell myself enough is enough.
For almost 50 years, I have lived with anxiety and depression. It has manifested itself in several forms, including an eating disorder while in high school. Negative self-talk has been a huge problem, too, as I alluded to my article “Meeting Students Where They Are.” I tell myself that if I try to stay positive, I’m going to jinx myself and fail. When I start out positive, the old tapes (I call them tapes because I’m almost 50) run in my head.
- You don’t deserve to be successful.
- Who are you to try to help someone?
- Who are you to stand up to someone and demand anything of anyone?
- You aren’t good enough.
- You are a bad person. You deserve to be miserable.
- You have to work harder than others because you aren’t as smart as they are.
- Plan for the worst. Maybe you should hope for the best, but it’s unlikely.
At times, of course, people have come and gone from my life. When they go, I blame myself, tell myself I should have done more. They probably believe that too.
For the sake of argument, let’s say “they” are right. Let’s say I should have done more.
They are gone. Off to build better lives. I am here. Alone. They took their marbles and went home. Meanwhile, I’m losing my marbles.
What’s the point? I keep playing mind games and letting them win, but they aren’t even playing.
I let that revelation sink in yesterday as I cut the lawn. No, seriously, I am afraid of edgers, so I edged the walkway with a pair of scissors. The edging isn’t perfect, but it’s better than it was.
Back to the story. Instead of learning from the past, I have spent so much time repeating it, long after the players on my stage have exited stage right. I’m a historian by training, and I haven’t been using those skills wisely. Lately, I have been writing in my journal that I have to do that, but one thing stands in the way.
That ever-present game during which I let them win, and they aren’t even playing.
On April 30, I published this poem.
It needs to become irrelevant that "I'm Still Standing," Elton John.
Perhaps it is true that I've been put upon
this Earth for more than that,
that I'm destined for more than that.
Irrelevant. It. Perhaps. I'm still standing.
I'm not an It. I'm not irrelevant. I'm landing
on a different runway this time.
No more deja vu for me this time.
This time. Why so many years spent!
Why let them live rent-
free inside my head?
Why live filled with dread?
Break free! Be me! Stop being
who you think they want you to be. How freeing
to think it can be different.
It will be so very different...
I'm not there...yet.
With apologies to Sir Elton John
I need to read it more often. I mean, why am I letting them live rent-free inside my head? Indeed, why live filled with dread?
How can I help others when it is so hard to take care of myself, to stop punishing myself? It doesn’t have to be hard. I make it that way.
It’s Time for a New Game
In my new game, I pick up my marbles. I use my historian skills to reflect on the past with the goal of effecting change in the present and future. The old adage is true: “Those who don’t learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.” I am doomed no longer when I start using my historian skills to build a better life.
In my new game, I overcome this negative self-talk. I stop the tape. A wise man has been telling me to work on the tendency to walk down the same street, day after day, and fall down the same hole, time after time. That’s his metaphor for my metaphor about the tape rolling.
In my new game, I become more productive, more social, more helpful. My goals have life beyond words. They become part of my existence more than ever before. I imbue myself with my mantras and head into the world outside my apartment, determined to reach every one of them because I want to be part of the conversation and in the world, helping others.
In my new game, this image is more than a lock screen.
I Am Hopeful
It’s been a long time since I have been hopeful. Yes, I’ve said the words. It’s different this time. This time… I feel them.
With this post, I hope I helped someone, although I wish I did not have to write that. To you, I say, “You can stop playing the game and letting them win. Remember: they aren’t even playing.”
Thank you for reading my fifteenth post in my 30-Day Writing Challenge. Frankly, I am thrilled I have set a goal and stuck to it.