Monday, April 2, 2012

A to Z Honesty - B is for Bad Thoughts

It's not good to be alone with your thoughts, not for hours at a time.

I realized this with depressing clarity on Saturday as I spent yet another full day in front of the wood splitter. The throaty rattle of the machine obliterated all noise but the scrambled negative voices in my own head as the hydraulic wedge pushed through block after block of wood like it was processed cheese.

My weaknesses, my bad traits, ran through my head on a loop, piling up on each other until tears flowed in the sawdust.

I'm mean to people. I'm fickle. I want friends but I push them away.


I'm angry. Too emotional. Judgemental. Who made me the goddamned queen of morality? Like I have any reason to feel superior – HA.


I'm a terrible mother – I must be. And how do I deal with my children? I want to hold them close, but I don't want to crowd them. I want them to want me on their terms – but are they wanting the same thing?


I say I'm a writer but what have I written? My novel has sat untouched for so long I barely remember where I left off. What a fake I am. Charlatan!


And diet? What diet? When the chips were down last week I fairly flew home to the comfort of crackers smothered in margarine and cheese. Cracker after cracker slid past my tongue, without me even pausing to taste it. Like a dog. Feeding until the frenzy inside quieted and then looking in the cupboard for more, always more.

I can only live one day at a time. Be the best person I can be on that day. It's all I can do. All any of us can do. That, and check my anti-depressant medication – maybe I need an adjustment.

Or maybe I just need to do something else besides freaking splitting wood.

77 comments:

  1. Ah honey you can chat to me any time you want 'cept I'm too far away. Doing the ironing brings out my bad thoughts so I make sure I rarely iron. I'm leaving my linen shirts in the basket!

    Cheer up! Tomorrow I have a real funny person appearing on my blog and she's so cute and she wears funny red and white mittens. Please come over and meet her and send your friends!

    That Aussie Gal

    Denise

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    1. I knew there was a reason why I don't iron!!!!
      Thanks Denise, and in case everyone else is wondering about the cute girl with the funny mittens, that's ME!!! I'm featured on Denise's blog tomorrow and can't wait!

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  2. Hello! You can only live one day at a time. And be the best person you can be on that day. Good advice.

    Susanne
    PUTTING WORDS DOWN ON PAPER

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  3. Spend some time today thinking about how much your friendship has meant to me. Without you, I wouldn't have this chance to write my novel. Also think about how I want to write it, in part, just so I can put you in the acknowledgments. Then, go and pour some of this angst into Weezie's life and let it drain from yours. Because you are a good many things, including friend. And writer.

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    1. Really? The acknowledgements? Really really?
      Get busy, Lou!!!! Woo HOO!

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  4. Aw, Cathy! This post made me feel for you. -insert virtual hug here- Not sure why we women can be so hard on ourselves sometimes. The truth is, no one is perfect. So stop expecting yourself to be! Remember to count your blessings and move on.

    Whenever I am feeling crap about myself I try and go help someone else in need. (I volunteer at a homeless shelter, go visit a friend who's going through a rough time, or even just buying the coffee for the person behind me at Starbucks, always makes me feel better)

    Chin up, tomorrow is another day!! :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Mizz Jaybird! (Hoping I'm the one in line behind you tomorrow!)

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  5. Don't allow that voice in your head to bring you down. It happens to me when I wash dishes. I stop for a moment and breathe when I feel the thoughts getting to be too much. You are a great person I am sure. It is that if you are like me you are your own worse critic in life.

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    1. We are our own worse critics, KD, no doubt about it.
      And I hate doing dishes... buying a dishwasher was the best thing I ever did to quiet that yappy voice in my head.

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    2. By the way, KD, in Canada one of the country's most popular dishes is Kraft Dinner Macaroni & Cheese (the crap in the box, which I secretly adore). Nobody calls it by its long name, though - we call it KD.
      When I first saw your name, that's what I thought of!

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  6. You? Mean? Wow, I'd like to see that. I can't even imagine it.

    And I'm going to let you in on a little secret - all moms think like that. Every day I wonder if I'm doing right by my kids. You never really know. All you can do is your best.

    And you, Cathy, are the best.

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    1. Heheheheh - smiling ear to ear here.
      See, that's what I'm hoping here during this A to Z challenge - that's what I'm always hoping for. That we can connect, all of us through the things that bind us -whether it's our insecurities as parents or our general hatred for dishes and woodsplitters.

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  7. It's true we are our own worst enemy...I think especially writers. Meditation has helped me alot with this stream of negative self talk, I highly recommend. You are perfect just the way you are, and I don't mean perfect in a barbie doll, miss manners, stepford wife creepy way...I mean perfect in all your glorious humanity just like the rest of us. (((hugs)))

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    1. Awww, thanks Shannon.
      Matter of fact, there is a fabulous meditation course going on in this area and some of my best friends have taken it and sworn it changed their lives. I'm thinking it's probably a good idea.

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  8. Don't you just hate that "B" in your head? I kick her out of mine on a regular basis but she just keeps coming back.

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    1. :)
      We need some steel-toed boots, methinks.

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  9. My friend Sue and I have decided that we don't just have an inner critic, we have an inner terrorist. The really weird thing about it is that the "it" (for brevity's sake) is so dedicated to us, it's with us wherever we go and never gives up, so knowing this I have made several dscisions regarding how best to shut it down and I know (and you know) my blogs give me away, I don't always succeed, but it is a lot better. I listen for it because by the time the voices come I already reel under the impact, I listen to it, talk out loud to it and when I am doing very well, I tell it I heard what it said but I do not agree. The thing about that inside voice is that is does come out and try and strike out at others too, it's almost a relief to NOT be the target. When I was small and needing to keep safe the inner critic developed as a way to get my attention really fast and try and stop me from making mistakes (so of course the effing perfectionist came along then too) so it thinks it is helping me, and when I was small it was a help, relatively speaking, now I recognise it is still trying in its abusive way to help me but I do not need that sort of help anymore. Today I blossom, I thrive under the care of love and compassion. I know this is a long comment, but I see we share this as well, and I would love to talk more with you about it, it's such hard work wrestling with this nasty voice, but it is not going away anytime soon, so all I can do is learn/train myself to respond differently. And I eat crackers and other food in the manner you described all the time, I call it eating my feelings. When I am feeling bad for whatever reason sometimes I just hunter/gather through every cupboard, eating anything I can find, stuff I don't even like or don't usually eat. Just hang on, let the love from us all seep in especially on those days when you are not feeling the love for yourself. A long time ago I heard someone say (and it resonated with me so I stole it) ""I need love most when I am at my most unloveable". But here's the thing we are ALL, ALWAYS worthy of being loved. Hope to see you this summer. I miss you, all the time.

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    1. There is so much to love in your comment, Kel, not the least of which is "eating my feelings."
      My brilliant, brilliant cousin.

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  10. A doctor once told me, "The best grade any parent ever gets is a high F." That was true during my kids' teen years, I think, but we all got through that period and their attitudes now tell me that grade has gone up. Hold on, sweetie, and keep on lovin' 'em!

    I hear you about the meds. Mr. Lexapro is my friend. Is the wood splitter something you have to keep an eye on, or can you use that time to look up and around? When the bad thoughts get me down, it helps for me to focus on actually LOOKING at the beauty around me, seeing it clearly.

    Thanks for this open and honest post. I just met you, and I like you already!

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

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    1. And I like you too, Marian!
      The woodsplitter is something that haunts me once in a year, in the spring, but it's a very intense time with many, many days spent doing backbreaking, repetitive labour. It can't be helped - it has to be done. But I do like whining about it!
      It was a gorgeous day here today and, after spending all day cooped up in the office, I came home and actually suggested we get outside and split some wood. I worked for an hour before starting to make supper and, I hate to admit this, it was almost pleasant in such a short amount of time.

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  11. Maybe the only comfort is knowing that we all do this, we all have the droning criticiser in our heads. There are things to shut it up. I find Led Zep blasts it out, certain bits of entertainment...but there are days when it's a persistent bugger. Remember it only has as much power as we give it. And that we are always our own harshest critic.

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    1. Exactly, Austan. We all do it. This isn't just about me and my whining. I know we all have these droning whiners, bitching away at us and only during our weakest moments.

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  12. I can be really mean to myself when I'm alone. However, I love your advice, take things one day at a time.

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    1. Don't be mean to Clarissa! She's lovely!!!

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  13. And push those thoughts out of your head! Why are we always our own worse enemy?? Me included??

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    1. Judy, I think we all seek the truth and it's so hard to tell if the voice in your head is telling the truth or if it's just a wild exaggeration. So we agonize about it. Because that's what we do best!!!

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  14. We really to have some more wood. Can't use the log splitter as I can't use the chain saw as I really don't know how. sigh.

    I love your mind chatter. It sounds like mine!!!
    Cheers from Cottage Country!

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    1. Yeah, I refuse to learn how to use the chain saw. Sometimes it's best to not know too much!

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  15. I used to beat myself up a lot. Then one day I heard myself saying, Oh, well, can't change it now; and stuff like that. I could think about it, decide to do it better next time, then forget about it. I have no idea how the switch tripped. Maybe I had just beat myself hp enough.

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    1. I use that expression all the time Joanne - our heads are like light switches - sometimes they're turned on, sometimes they're off. All it takes is the will (or whatever magic it is that you're referring to) to reach up and hit that switch.

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  16. They say we are our own worst enemy. It takes a pretty strong person to admit feelings and thoughts like that out loud. But like you said, live one day at a time. Keep your head up :)

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    1. Thanks so much Jennifer! My head is UP!!!
      :)

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  17. I have a little too much going on inside my head most days too. Thanks for visiting my blog-I'm following you here now too. Good luck with the challenge!

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    1. Joyce, I think what our heads need now and then is a good spring cleaning!
      (I suspect this post is what I just did!)

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  18. That Inner Queen B can be the mother of self-assassination. All while the bad stuff piles and piles, the good stuff, which couldn't be carried in any way, form or fashion becasue there's loads and loads of it, sits by, totally ignored...because we can be so hard on ourselves.

    But one day at a time. And no wood splitter for a moment :-)

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    1. "Queen B!" HA! From now on that's what I'm going to call that nasty voice in my head! You're so smart, Angela. Thanks!

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  19. Honey, lay off the wood. Splitting and stacking can drive a girl crazy--but I honor your honesty and I've felt/feel the same way about many things in my life. One day at a time, everyday is a chance to begin again...at least that's what I keep telling myself! ;)

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    1. Exactly, Lisa.
      And have I mentioned how much I love it when someone calls me "honey?"
      :)

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  20. Don't let self doubt drive a wedge into your confidence, just handle things one at a time, you're a person of good timber (sorry just keeping it pithy) 8^D

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    1. I am beginning to see that you are nothing if not pithy, RCH!!!!! Thanks!

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  21. I think it's so easy to think negative thoughts about ourselves as well as about others, so I am trying a technique that I found in The Magic by Rhonda Byrne of when I catch myself thinking negatively I also say "but I have to say that I am really grateful for...." and you know it works!

    The worst time for me, is late at night when I can't sleep. Don't be hard on yourself, especially re your novel, I started mine nearly 4 years ago, hopefully I will finish this last polish and publish it, either traditionally or self.

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  22. I haven't read The Magic, Helen, but it sounds like good philosophy. I shall keep it in mind and try to practise listing things I'm grateful for.
    Like having you as a blogging bud, for starters...

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  23. Don't let the voices in your head bring you down. I know it's easier said than done, but I try to think positive and take everything one moment at a time, one obstacle at a time.

    Happy Monday!

    My A-Z

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  24. The voices in our heads....lie! That's my story and I'm sticking to it! :)

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  25. Yeah, you need to quit splitting wood...or decide that you're really having an internal interview for a character profile. :) You're the best, Cathy, so shut up. There. Feel better now?

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    1. "Shut up" BAHAHAHAHAHAHA! You crack me up, Mizz Eno, you really do! And ya, I do feel better!

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  26. What do you mean you're not a writer. I love your writing! It's honest and true to life. I love the cover photo! Nice to meet another Canadian!
    Thanks for the follow. I'm now following you too.

    Kathy at Oak Lawn Images

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    1. Both Canadians. Both Cathy-Kathys... we're like practically sisters!
      Yeah, I'm a writer... I'm just a LAZY writer!

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  27. You are a writer! You need an art date~ Go do something artistic, take photos, visit a museum. I usually go treat myself to coffee and a walk downtown with a camera. It does a body good, not to mention one's spirits~
    Nice to meet YOU!

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    1. Ella, that is really, really good advice. I need something to stimulate my moldering brain. Luckily I have a writer's group meeting coming up and those girls of mine are always just the ticket for kick-starting my creative juices. A gallery or a museum would be a fabulous idea as well. Nice to meet you as well!

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  28. That miserable critic can only exist inside of you if you let her. Instead of letting yourself listen to that nasty internal voice, why not sing? Sing silly, sing happy, and sing loud. Drown that meanie's voice out.

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    1. Now am envisioning the Carpenters (or is it the Muppets?) singing away:
      Sing, sing a song
      Sing out loud, sing out strong
      Sing of good things not bad
      Sing of happy not sad

      Sing, sing a song
      Make it simple to last your whole life long
      Don't worry that it's not good enough
      For anyone else to hear
      Just sing, sing a song!

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  29. No one should have this many bad thoughts all on the same day. I'm sending you warm fuzzy vibes, so I hope they help.

    I'm doing the A to Z challenge too and developed an A to Z wish list. I hope you'll drop by and say hi.

    Patricia Stoltey

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    1. See? That's the problem, Patricia, when they all gang up on you on one day!!!!! I can take 'em and wrestle them to the ground when it's mano-a-mano - it's when they're swarming that it's hard to take!
      Thanks for those fuzzy vibes - they're like a nice warm sweater!

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  30. I think it's important to listen to ourselves and believe me I have spent a heck of a lot of time trying to turn those negative thoughts around. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Somehow I've gotten better. When your head starts with the stinkin' thinking, pull out the mother in you to comfort you. That's all I know to do.

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    1. Sage advice, Rubye, and I would expect nothing less from you. I also believe it's important to listen to ourselves and sometimes the only way we can affect change is to listen to what those voices are trying to tell us. Ideally, it's best to heed the warnings and DO something about it - better, I think, than just shutting my ears. The voices are telling me to get back on my diet - something I need to do for the sake of my health. They're saying, get off yer arse and finish your book - something I need to do. And they're right, sometimes I can be mean. I am always trying to improve myself. It makes me a better person. The key is to not get mired down by voices - the key is to just listen to them, as you would listen to a friend, and decide for yourself if they're telling the truth or leading you down a garden path.

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  31. Cathy - I was trying to hear you over the noise of the wood splitter but it was chattering so loud that any good thoughts abandoned me and obviously you. Having spent time behind one of those treasures I sympathize - they have a way of imparting bad thoughts - must be the bad vibrations.

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    1. Fecking wood splitters, eh Kathy?
      Bah....
      (Pass the Tylenol and the Deep Cold, will ya?)

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  32. yes maybe you should find something more soothing or exciting than splitting wood...I don't think your a horrible friend or mother...we all have those days when we just aren't at our best...blessings

    http://runningsurvivor.blogspot.com

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    1. Soothing... like a massage for achy muscles from some Swedish hunk named Svend? Now you're talking, Shannon!
      ;)

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  33. Yep, quit splitting wood and take a deep breath and do something to pamper yourself (other than eat--that's my downfall too).

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    1. Unfortunately there's nothing quite as pampering as a giant bag of potato chips, a tub of dill pickle dip and a quart of ice cream to wash it all down with.
      Maybe we need brainwashing, Lynda... maybe that would help?

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  34. Yes the bad thoughts sometimes take over our head and throw them out is difficult, it is best to find some element of distraction. Greetings. Abstract Photos

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    1. Like taking beautiful photos! Leovi, your work is outstanding. OUTSTANDING!!!!

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  35. It's no good - I'm going to have to come over there and sort you out, woman!!

    Tell that sneaky little demon sitting on your shoulder, whispering negativity into your ear, to p*ss off!

    You have far too much going for you to get so depressed - I'd kill for living in a great place like you, for starters!

    Plus - have you ever thought of doing 'stand-up' comedy? You have me in fits as I read your blog posts......laughing out loud, sometimes (that has the OH bemused, I can tell you!)

    C'mon kid - indulgence required, so long as it doesn't add poundage or lead to you falling over!

    Oh, and here you go: <<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>
    ;-)

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    1. ???? There was supposed to be several 'HUGS' in the midst of the <'s and >'s ;-p

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    2. HAR!!!! Laughing at you coming over to "sort me out!"
      Bring it on, lady!!!! I'll put you to work at the woodsplitter!!!!!!!!
      And thanks for those weird hugs ;)
      oxoxxo

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  36. All these nice comments show that we all relate to this- except I quite envy the log splitting machine, we have just the chainsaw or axe! Liking the sense of humour that comes through even for dark moments :-)

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    1. Oh Lily.. you're the Real Woman if you're using an axe! God forbid, I'd have to do myself in, I think, if I had to use an axe. (Suddenly I'm appreciating that stoopid woodsplitter...)
      Thanks for your lovely comment!

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  37. I was freaking out just a bit wondering how you knew me so well but realized it wasn't me. I don't have a wood splitter. LOL And I have started that diet- but how well I remember those days of cramming that food in without tasting. It's not easy to overcome, but it is possible. And living one day at a time- ABSOLUTELY! Otherwise, it's just too overwhelming.

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    1. Your photo, Mizz EmptyNester, is hilarious! And yah, I was stunned at how much we have in common. Except for the splitter - of course, you can come over and I'll be happy to teach you! (Suddenly feeling like Tom Sawyer and the whitewashed fence...)

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  38. When you're in a bad place, it's definitely not good to be alone with nothing to occupy your thoughts.

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