When I accepted the position with Nspire Today and decided to go back to writing, I knew I would have to deal with two issues – talking on the phone and some thoughts about my skills.
I don’t like the telephone. I never have. I suspect it comes from never using it. I didn’t use the telephone often when I was a kid. My sister did. She was the stereotypical girl who was on the telephone with friends for hours. My friends were imaginary, stuffed, or the bugs, birds, and squirrels I would watch and talk to outside.
Today, my aversion to telephones include not being able to see the person when I ask questions during story interviews and the fear that I’m going to be yelled at or do something wrong. It can take anywhere from 40 minutes to a few hours or more to pick up the phone and make the call.
The other issue with writing is much more insidious to my mental health. Before I begin writing, I also take anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to begin writing my story. I have to build this time into my work day because I know it’s an issue. Each time I put my hands on a keyboard, I am fighting 47 years of being told I’m not good enough in a variety of categories.
I’ve never been pretty enough or thin enough or smart enough. Sometimes, I was too smart and told to shut up, stop asking questions, and know my place. I’ve been told I am the “dumbest fucking thing ever placed on this earth.” I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been mansplained to because I couldn’t possibly grasp or understand concepts because I’m a girl.
When one person insults you in such a manner, it can be brushed off as, “Pffft. They’re and asshole,” and you can go about your day, knowing the person was just an inconsiderate jerk. In one instance, you can remember your grandma’s words of “it says more about them than it does about you.” When it happens frequently over decades, it eats away at you from the inside and you begin to wonder if you truly are some sort of mistake of nature.
I don’t tend to reach out to people about the issue for a number of reasons, including the difficulty in explaining how bad these thoughts really are, I don’t need to hear “just stop thinking that way,” and experience with a previous therapist who didn’t help me with the issue, which reinforced my faulty thinking.
For the past five days, I haven’t really slept. Due to my trauma, I have been sleep deprived most of my 53 years of existence. I’m working on it, but it plays a part in not being able to think clearly sometimes. I’m not sure if my brain will ever change. I get going along well enough and then my brain steps in and trips me up. Yesterday was a day like that.
It wasn’t even a big thing. Around 11 a.m., I typed a phone number wrong when calling someone to do a story. I made my apologies. The other person said “no worries.” I should have been able to move on. My brain reminded me of all those conversations through the past four decades about how I was a complete fuck up. Everything spiraled from there.
I spent the rest of the day struggling to get my mind thinking of something else. It didn’t work. I tried several times to write. Shortly after 9 p.m., I gave up trying to accomplish anything and decided to get ready for bed. I received a text message. It was from someone I wrote an article about for the August issue of Nspire Today. It changed everything.
The person thanked me for the article and said “We are so glad that Nspire lets your creativity continue.” I teared up. I’m tearing up again thinking about the text. It was just a couple of short sentences, but it meant the world to me.
One small comment wiped away all the doubt I had. I’m hanging onto it this morning and it’s helping me to not worry or panic about how no one has called me back yet from yesterday. I can’t control when people answer their phones or texts, nor can I control when they reply.
I am grateful I can wake up each morning and get a story written before 11 a.m. Those abilities to write early in the morning, most days around 6 a.m., and schedule my time this way really helped me yesterday. I left 10 messages, set up one interview and completed one interview before my brain exploded.
My mother and grandmother taught me to always be kind to others. The whole “walk a mile in other people’s shoes” has been a part of my thought process my whole life. We don’t really know what someone else is going through, so a kind word may be what helps get them through whatever they are dealing with at the moment.
What I’m saying is, if you think someone did a good job, let them know. They could be someone like me – constantly walking around putting themselves down and thinking they don’t contribute anything worthwhile to the world. It may only take a second of your day to do so, but it could mean everything to them.
I am working on this issue, but you can’t erase a lifetime of belittling thoughts hurled at you in a few months. I take the positive that these kinds of days usually only last a day now. Sometimes, it’s only a few hours. It’s a far cry from the weeks or months it used to set me back. I’ll take these positive steps forward and keep working on being better.
And thank you, [name redacted], for the text yesterday. It meant the world to me. You made a difference in my life.