Learning to Live With Me: A Self-Education


courtesy/What I hope to accomplish

Not being able to sleep and lying there thinking can sometimes yield an interesting result. My circumstances, living in a small town and having a job where I have to be cautious of who I make friends with, have put me in a position to have to be self-reliant and that’s fine but at times it’s trying. Being alone frequently is tough on the soul, but this one night turned into a night where I learned even more about myself. I schooled myself on myself.

I kept tossing and turning, trying with every ounce of my body to get to sleep. Maybe it was the heat, but I had to be honest with myself. That soda I drank right before bed wasn’t such a brilliant idea. It’s not unusual for me to struggle to get to sleep. My brain is always on the go and at night, I’m usually playing mind movies, but this night was different.

What’s a mind movie? It’s my term for fantasizing because fantasy just sounds dirty to me. I blame it on my Catholic upbringing. In my head, I visualize and pretend I’m in one of any  number of situations, like a movie, and play them out. I’m not sure I should share my brand of crazy, but there it is for all the world to see. Don’t fret – at the end of the day I still only have one personality. I’m not a Sybil in the making, I promise.

This particular mind movie focused on The Ellen Show (I just happen to be a fan). I’m not sure how I ended up lucky enough to be there but there I was and being interviewed. For me, when I’ve had these sorts of “self” interviews (because let’s be honest… it really is my own mind examining itself), I tend to find out things I may not otherwise figure out. This is particularly true these days when because I have to depend on myself a lot anymore and that’s not all bad.

I have plenty of friends, but most are married and/or have kids and there simply isn’t always much time for the single friend who lives out of state (as there’s also a time difference to contend with). I try not to complain as that’s just how life is, but it can be tough not being able to call a friend at the drop of a dime and have someone pick up. I’m getting used to voice mails and unreturned texts. I know I’m supported and loved so please don’t get the wrong impression. There’s just frequent droughts.

But I digress. This “interview,” I think will play a major role in my journey of self-discovery and hopeful self-recovery. My answer to a question, which oddly enough I can’t remember now, was I didn’t just fear that I would fail at certain tasks, but that it was inevitable. There wasn’t a question. I never doubted my failure but instead doubted my success. The really peculiar thing about it is that this has nothing to do with my parents or siblings or other family or even friends. It was all about me and that one little voice in my head that still exists. It was startling to think that and know that it was true. I’ve known for a long time I am truly  my own worst enemy. I tend to be extremely self-critical, but to realize I actually prevented my own potential successes because I was convinced I couldn’t was astonishing. It hurt and yet it was also a bit of a release.


courtesy/How I need to be living

That time when I was cut from my soccer team and my dad tried to convince me to try out for another team… No, dad, sorry, it’s just over. I was worried about failing before but now it’s definite so why try again? He never said that. I did. Both my parents did nothing but support me and encourage me all through my years… um they even supported my odd decisions to go to Detroit for spring break in college and a door-to-door sales job so they are not the culprits. I am.

All those times in gymnastics as a kid, when I held back from doing those flips and moves on the balance beam, was because my fear prevented me. I knew I couldn’t do it and it would result in falling, hurting myself. None of my coaches said I couldn’t do it. Both my parents kept telling me I could but I didn’t believe them. It’s nobody’s fault but my own. How could I do that to myself? When all other kids are imagining futures as astronauts and becoming the President of the United States, I was busy just being me, not really dreaming. The other part of the revelation was why I have that fear.

At least part of it, is because of how short I am. I think it all stems from that one day in the doctor’s office, finding out I was finished growing. I was 10 years old and it literally broke me. Before then I had hope of at least not being so short and there was hope of feeling “normal.” That was not to be. I got the news and I knew right then and there that life would never be normal for me, at least not like it would be for most. I’ve been working hard to kill my own prejudices against myself for some time and it’s working, but it’s hard.

“Prefiero morir de pie que vivir de rodillas” – Emiliano Zapato

“I rather die on my feet, than live on my knees.”

My fear of dating, or not being able to date depending on how you look at it, soccer, even marching band and more, was all somehow rooted in my own feelings about being short. I’m not sure all my fear is just height related, but it was the cancer and it has since spread, awakening all the other types of fear. The various off-hand comments and stares from folks hasn’t helped but it was mostly me. I kept myself from pushing myself in soccer because of the comfort zone, which is related to the lack of height issue. There’s no way I can do that… I’m too short, I’ll just get hurt. Oh what I would have given to end up on U.S. Women’s Soccer team, but I stopped myself. I was 10 years old and barely on my first competitive soccer team and a girl who I played with, her dad was the soccer coach at the local high school. He told my dad he could tell I could be a varsity soccer player as a freshman. What a compliment! But did I believe him? Apparently not because it never happened. Do you have any idea how many times and how many things I’ve missed out on because of me? I’m sure it’s endless. Here I am at 32 and just realizing this and it’s good and bad.

It’s good because maybe the rest of my life doesn’t have to be like that. It’s bad because some of the things I really wanted should have been done by now. This is another element I have to work on, just like the six or seven other things I need to address to fix me. I’m a bit of a mess right now and the clean up is feeling a bit overwhelming, but somehow I’ll figure it out. I have to or I’ll never really be happy. I will have settled for something I don’t really want to and that’s not good enough for me. The back of my head may be saying I don’t deserve this, but I do. I have to start believing that. I’ve pulled the wool from my eyes about me so it’s just time.

“Vivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias!” – Fran, “Strictly Ballroom”

“A life lived in fear, is a life half lived.”

Gary Allan has a song called “Learning to Live With Me.” Yeah… that’s me for sure.


6 responses to “Learning to Live With Me: A Self-Education

  1. I play mind movies as well! Thanks for sharing. I’m not short, certainly not, but there’s a physical feature I have that I’m sensitive about. For years it got in the way of the things I did, but I don’t let it any more. It was a gradual process. Wasn’t a snap of the finger by any means.
    It probably made me a better person. More unique as well.

    • glad to know i’m not alone! 🙂 it’s odd but i know better but it’s just always been there or at least has been for a long time and undoing that now is definitely a challenge but it’s time and thanks for the encouragement! glad to hear you were able to overcome your obstacles also. 🙂

  2. Hi. I think every one has at least one thing that they really really DISLIKE about themselves. I’m not talking big thigh type stuff (although for me..that is a big thing) but things that can’t be corrected. Mine are my eyes. (enough said about that) It held me back from a LOT if things and still does. Now though it is the whole vision thing that scares me.
    I was wondering… is there some sort of city league for adults that plays soccer? Maybe at a gym or rec center? Think about it…I know how you love soccer still..this might be a way to live some of the fantasy. Just a thought,
    People do hold back for whatever reason. A lot of it is shyness. That may stem from things that ‘are not to their ‘likeing’ or just things they THINK are not right. We are all individuals and it is hard to reach out to each other. Even though it seems everyone wants too. Isn’t that odd? People want to be with some one but are scared to reach out. I am one of those people…
    Call me any time. You know, even if you leave a message. I will teturn your call. I always do!! HUGS!!!!!!!

  3. Hello Jennifer. I read this blog intensely, I think because you were expressing, for the most part, universal human struggles. I liked it. I will even share my song with you… Pink’s “Don’t Let me Get Me”… good for when I feel like I’m my own worst enemy. The “mind movies” you referred to remind me of the book The Buddha’s Brain. In it, the author talks about our “simulator” or day dream mechacnism. It actually serves a purpose for survival. Anyway, self-honesty is the first step for healing, so you’re well on the road. Good luck! – cousin Dora

    • that is a really good song. so far that lil’ active imagination of mine does seem to be doing something for me so it’s all good. 🙂 and yes i work hard to be honest with myself but it’s hard. now it’s onto addressing those things. we shall see how it works out. thanks for reading dora!

  4. There’s probably not anything wrong with “just being me”……I’ve been thinking for some time that our culture puts this concept in our head that we “have to be something” and it sort of puts this pressure on us that can be hard to fulfill…….

    As to sleep…..I’m an insomniac and the only way I can fall asleep is one of two ways; I play soccer w/ my kids late into the evening and it really tires me out……or I turn on old time radio shows (like jack Benny) which are free online, they are sorta funny and sorta boring at the same time so they have just enough in them to keep me interested and focus on the program and nothing else, but because they are also a bit boring…before I know it I find myself zoning out and falling asleep. Definitly do not watch tv! It is no help in falling asleep!!!

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