Do you remember this annoying "game"? If you played it, it was with a sibling or a best friend or a cousin maybe. If you were a victim of it, it was from a bully. But someone would take your wrist and with more power and control than you, take your own hand and hit your face or your leg or your chest and repeatedly say, "Stop hitting yourself, Hadley. Why are you hitting yourself?". (Likely, they used your name, not mine, but this is for reference reasons..:))
It is a stupid game. Truly. If you still like to play this game with your friends, stop it.
But that's not why I bring this up. I was thinking about it the other day as I was beating myself up mentally. I was going over all the rules in my head that I have set for myself. I was lecturing myself on not following through or failing. I was, in a sense, hitting myself. Why was I hitting myself? Why do we do this to ourselves so much. Don't eat this, don't compromise that, don't drink then, do more work, do more work, DO MORE WORK.
And then after so much mental turmoil, I find myself horizontal, on my couch, with a spoonful of vegan almond chocolate chip cookie dough, mindlessly thumbing through instagram while reruns of Law & Order play on the TV in front of me and I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted from the emotional abuse I had put myself through. I punish myself for not doing more work, for not having willpower, for being lazy. I struggle with restful sleep because I am anxious about what I left undone or what more I have to do. My mind is constantly making lists, first thing in the morning as soon as I wake up, planning the day ahead. And when the end of the day comes, when I crawl into bed, having left my phone in another room to calm my mind, I go over the list in my head. What did I accomplish? Why was it so hard to not do that? Why did I think it would be so hard to do this?
My anxiety races towards completion, acceptance and disappointment. My eyes fall close, heavy with the weight that was on my mind. I fall asleep, fast, and I mean fall. 4:30AM my mind's eye opens and I know I am awake, I know my mind is about to start going through the motions. But I'm not ready, I'm not ready to make a list, I know I have another hour and a half, no hour, to really start thinking about it. I just knocked thirty minutes off already, already I've started the to do list. Some days, I can feel tears welling up behind my lids, and on those days I just want to be. I don't want to adult. I don't want to move. And then I remember, I'm lucky. This is all the responsibility I have and in comes the guilt for wanting less. And there I am, 4:37 in the morning, and I'm hitting myself, why am I hitting myself?
Today I decided to be more gentle. I decided to not play that game, not play any games with myself, with my mind, with my worry, with my heart, with any person. I decided to be okay without pressure. I made a list, and it was to share this truth. So if you are hitting yourself, if you keep hitting yourself, ask why are you hitting yourself. Then put your hand down, and remember, that game is stupid. Stop playing it.