“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” – William James
It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times. I’ve been struggling lately, with what feels like everything. I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to get something, ANYTHING done. You can tell by my tone that it has been not quite as successful as I would hope. I keep getting these momentary bursts of catalyzing despair, but they don’t stay around long enough for me to get out of the rut I’ve been in. As I am a pretty action-oriented person, it’s been more than a little frustrating. Every dark cloud has a silver lining though, and due to the timeliness of several jarring life events, this is all about to change.
Part the First
My daughter is currently vacationing in Florida for her eighth birthday. She got to go to Disneyworld, and I’m happy for her, even while I am not there with her. I’ve never been to the Magic Kingdom; maybe I am really missing out and maybe it lives up to that moniker, but I’m willing to bet it’s way better to a kid than it will ever be to an adult. Anyway, her mother texts me “Your daughter is crazy.” Funny how whenever there is behavior that registers as odd or quirky, she’s my daughter. I ask why and find out that there were both terror and tears before getting on Space Mountain, but after being forced onto it, she loved it and proceeded to ride it again immediately twice. Awesome. I’m excited for her, and I am a huge proponent of pushing her into things outside of her comfort zone.
That night, I call her to talk about her day. She tells me about the places she went, and the things she saw, but I’m waiting for her to get to the part about Space Mountain. She tells me it’s better than Batman: The Ride (at Six Flags St. Louis), better than Cheetah Hunt (at Busch Gardens) and is simply her favorite ride ever now.
“Mom said you can’t ride it though,” she said, “do you know why?”
She knows the answer to the question. It doesn’t need asking, but well, kids are like that. They want to show off what they know. She’s eight years old, and you would be hard-pressed to find a more sweet-natured kid in the world. She doesn’t know a stranger, and wants to be friends with everyone she meets. There’s not an atom of malice in her question. And of course I know why.
Naturally, my sails at this point are pretty much wind free. I’ve been pretty passive lately about my fitness plan. Depression is a thing, even when it’s being largely managed, and sometimes motivation is hard to come by, especially when time is restrictive and you don’t even have time to do the things you want to do. I’ve been exercising on occasion, being mindful of what I eat, but allowing for exceptions more than I should. This question breaks something in my heart and I immediately put plans into motion to change this. Harder. Faster. This is not new ground, somewhere I haven’t been before. Scorched earth is where I thrive, where I see results. I will not rest until this is fixed.
To this end, I am going to post here weekly (under a new heading to avoid clogging up the Healthy Gamer category) They will be brief (unless I have stories that need telling) and to the point; the point being efforts and results. I am going to work towards the courage to give actual numbers. I encourage the two of you reading this to reach out and say “Hey! Where’s my update, Porkchop?” any time I do not have one up. I want your help in keeping me accountable. Some of you have been cheerleaders, and I appreciate the hell out of you, even while I let you down. If you’re still around, I’m here to prove that I didn’t waste the energy you gave me.
Part the Second
I will not rest until this is fixed. Fixed. The word choice suggests that I am broken. This is a recurring problem with me. A pattern I can recognize, but as of yet have not been able to escape. It gets worse, and the hits keep coming; enter last night. I dreamt that I was driving somewhere, with my daughter in the back seat. She has some Funyuns. I told her not to eat too many, because she will give herself a tummyache. A bit later in the dream, I turn around and she has eaten the whole bag. I get upset and I start yelling at her. This is not something I have ever done in real life. I angrily yell at her “do you want to end up like me?” until she’s crying.
Christ. I woke up and started crying immediately. I felt like a monster, and not the adorable Sesame Street variety. There are theories that suggest that every character in your dreams are actually you or some aspect of you. If one follows that logic, then I was yelling at myself and it had nothing to do with my daughter. One of my deepest fears is projecting my body image issues onto her. In this day and culture, it’s pretty much unavoidable that she’s going to get that from somewhere, but I really don’t want to be the source of it. She’s already showing signs of it. She told me out of the blue a few weeks ago that she always wants to be as skinny as possible. This wasn’t in the context of a conversation about healthy eating, exercise or anything like that. It was a statement out of thin air. There’s another girl at her school with approximately the same build as her, and some boys teased her and called her fat. She’s not. At all. Yes, kids can be shitty, and while we like to be high-minded and such and say “don’t listen to mean people,” and other crunchy hippie nonsense, that’s not how kids work, and take it from me, that shit sticks to you. I digress.
In that awful dream, essentially I was making my inner child cry. It’s not productive, and for as much as I have used anger to motivate me, and have defended that choice by virtue of its results, I am to a point where I am tearing myself apart. I grew up in a very hostile environment rife with physical and emotional abuse. I always thought that my apple fell pretty far from the tree, as I go out of my way frequently to show kindness to those close to me, and the idea of violence of any kind against my kid makes me feel stabby. But I guess it’s not really surprising at all that I employ anger as a means of control or motivation. That’s what was impressed on me in my childhood. The only difference is that while my abusers externalized their pain, I internalize mine. I guess I didn’t fall too far from the tree after all.
Part the Third
I cannot go on in my current state, and I will never find what I am looking for using the methods I have in the past. I have to unlearn a lot of things. I have to learn to embrace this idea of radical self-love…which is pretty much the furthest thing from where I currently sit with this. I’ve talked about this before, about accepting positivity and implementing it towards these goals. It’s honestly an alien concept, and for all of my “can-do”-ness, this is one of those things where I don’t know if “fake it til you make it” will work. What won’t work is staying my current course.
I’m looking into counseling, and meditation. We pass on our own hurts to our children, so the more work I can accomplish with myself, the less I will pass on to her, and I can be a better role model for her in the process. I haven’t done too badly so far, I don’t think, but it’s not simply a matter of trying to hold it all in. It doesn’t work, and that poison finds subtle ways to get through. The best gift I can give to my daughter, and to myself, is a me that has learned to heal through self love and show compassion to myself. Fuck. It sounds stupid even typing it, but I guess that’s the negativity talking.
So, a hard reboot of Joe. Taking things in a completely different direction. Can a scorched earth style action plan be combined with the kind of relaxation and acceptance necessary for me to see the sun again? I guess we’ll find out.
I’ll wrap up here with another quote given to me by someone special. “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Helen Schucman