Auto-Correct

A few months ago, I took an old notebook, half-filled with Russian words, out of a cupboard, and appointed it my new diary notebook.

It has more ink in it now than it could ever have as the kind of notebook you take to classes. In fact, it’s almost full by now. When I wave it goodbye and take on a new one, I know I’ll remember it with fondness because it is the place where I’ve learned and am practicing a new life skill: auto-correct.

The pages filled with Russian words are the only pages from my notebook that you're allowed to see...
The only pages from my notebook that you’re allowed to see…

Let me explain. For most of my life, I thought I lacked self-confidence but that that was the way I was. I thought that not being sure what you want and not believing that you can get what you want was something you were born with and that you couldn’t change regardless of how much effort you put into it.

“Being the way I was” in this aspect never made me happy. But it wasn’t until my early twenties that I decided I can get rid of tendencies that make me unhappy.

One of the eye-opening events during that time was reading Anna’s post about women’s lack of confidence in their dreams, plans, and abilities.

It was this post that made me start to notice the little “I think’s” and “maybes” that I slip into my utterances, my diary entries, even my thoughts. And when I became aware of the number of those seemingly harmless words in my language, I decided to… one after another, get rid of the fuckers.

So when I had filled some of the new notebook those few months ago and, flipping through it one lazy day, spotted several sentences starting with “I think I may want to…” or “maybe I will…” crowding it up, I corrected them to what I actually wanted to say: “I want to”, “I will”.

Since then, I’ve crossed out many “I think’s” and “maybes”, and you know what? Over time, I’ve begun to feel more confident about what I want and how I feel about things. In fact, I’m just beginning to believe that I have the right to want things, and to feel about things the way I do. In other words, I’m beginning to feel that my life is actually mine.

Auto-correct may well sound silly to you, but to me it sounds like the best way to start. I have always experienced words spoken out loud as “heavier” than ones you just turn over in your head. That’s probably because I don’t like talking very much, so when I do talk, I try to at least make the words “heavier”, that is more meaningful.

The same goes for words that get crossed out on paper — the act of crossing them out means that I don’t want them in my language. It’s a manifestation. It means that I want to change.

So if you also want to change something about yourself… why not try out auto-correct?

Old Habits Die Hard

My recent therapy sessions have taught me a new way of looking at some of my more painful experiences: namely, to see them as habits.

The word itself doesn’t sound painful, does it? It sounds rather… light. Undramatic. Normal. And that’s what I wanted — to see my experiences, and deal with them as I’d do with normal things. Like bad habits, which might be sticky, and one might be too lazy to get rid of them, but they are not a matter of Fate — one can change them if one wants to, and if one applies to it.

One of my more painful experiences — or bad habits — is to think of myself as a victim: unprotected, unhelped, and abandoned. I probably got into that habit some ten years ago but, sadly, it still makes me do stupid things, like rejecting help, calling people’s good intentions into doubt, or mistaking sporadic lack of help for general unreliability.

Of course, I hate this tendency in me. It reminds me of a bad time in my life, it makes me feel guilty of an unfair mistrust of people, and I don’t really like thinking, let alone talking about it. But I wanted to get rid of it, so I brought it with me to therapy.

After some time, I decided that, without disregarding the pain associated with it, it’s best to approach it simply as a habit. And through practice, perhaps through doubt and disappointment, with a lot of patience, possibly with support from others, and certainly with my own happiness in mind, I can get rid of it.

“I’ve done that before. Damn, I stopped eating crisps!” I thought.

Have I had much success so far? Not really, no. Only yesterday, I mentally accused my significant otter of being generally unconcerned about my health just because he refused to once again wash the shower cabin when it was my turn (I ask him to do it because washing stuff is tricky when you have skin problems).

But I checked myself: “oh yes, that’s that old album playing — the one about people being unhelpful — I don’t like that one.” And I thought that no otter, even the significant one, is obliged to fulfill my every wish, especially if they’re tired, and I washed the stupid shower cabin myself.

So there is some progress… But equally important as the slow progress I am making is the fact that, even if thinking about my habit still brings some pain, and fighting it is anything but easy, I feel so empowered when I treat it this way. Seeing myself as a victim is no longer some vague “way of being” thing that I cannot change, no matter how hard I try. It’s a habit that I decide whether to keep or not.

And I already decided not to.

Finding A Voice

I haven’t been posting regularly for quite a while because I’ve been having difficulties with finding a voice that suits me. It seems that when you lose focus on your writing, it’s getting harder and harder to later figure out what you want to write about, and how to do it. That’s what happened in my case, and the dull-edged character my writing acquired as of late has been annoying me to the point where…

…I decided to change some things.

First of all, I’m considering switching to my native language. Writing in English is super-cool because you can reach a bigger audience, plus if writing in a foreign language makes you feel less exposed, as is does to me, you don’t have to struggle. But I guess I’m ready to take on the struggle now.

Also, some of the things that I want to write about, I want to write about them specifically for a Polish audience. I feel like matters of mental health are rarely approached with a healthy attitude around me so I decided to do a little something to maybe change this a bit. I know I won’t change much; I know I’ll still be hearing, or reading on the internet, the same old shit about the scary, dangerous, inhuman mentally ill people; but I really want to try and change this a little.

…So now you also know what the main topic will be. I decided to cut on other topics, though, so that my blog is less of a dump and more of a blog.

Expect some update about the Polish version of the blog some time soon, then.

***

Finding a voice is important, not only for blogging, but in all kinds of communication. You probably know that you won’t get very far if what you say, and how you say it, doesn’t quite fit with what you think and care about. So you need a voice for that. I’m not writing about any voice, but neither am I writing about “your own, unique voice” – just one that suits you better. Go and find it, and so will I.

Funny Thing, Spring

Too lazy to write anything by myself, I’m posting the most brilliant thing that ever has, or ever will, appear on this blog.

e. e. cummings
Spring Is Like A Perhaps Hand

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and from moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.

Don’t Be a Bitch… Darling

Besides being a very unfortunate thing to say to your darling, the above are words I’ve often said to myself lately.

The bitch’s habit is to tell myself every sluggish morning: “Get the fuck up.” But I try to change it and add at least some nice word at the end: “Get the fuck up… baby. I mean, get up, baby. That’s what I wanted to say. Baby.”

Cos I decided I’d be good to myself. It’s a long-term commitment that I’ve entered into some time ago to get healthier. And when I say healthier, I mean that on every level. So I decided not only to change my unhealthy thinking habits like criticizing myself e.g. for lying in, but also to adopt things like regular exercise and having dinner everyday.

And why am I (over-)sharing stuff like that with you?

Because I’ve seen too many people tormenting themselves with self-criticism (I’m not [insert adjective] enough, I’m such a bad person), and harming themselves through overwork (But I have to work!), substance abuse (C’mon, it’s just beer), or plain self-neglect (I’m fine, I don’t need a doctor). It’s actually scary how much harm people do to themselves.

And I know they’ll continue doing it regardless of what I may write here. Some people just won’t admit they’re harming themselves.

Still, I want to say that harming yourself won’t make things better. And, simple as it is, you’re the one who’s empowered to make them better.

So don’t be bad to yourself… darlings.

And take care.

Mulan

For a Change

This is a post of the kind where you remind your readers that the year is ending like they didn’t know that.

But read on! There won’t be any NY’s resolutions!

I resolved to change something before the year ends, though, and I want everyone to notice that: the name of my blog changed, see?

“Like some punk bride of the future” is a quote from Stephen King, and I wanted to steal these words the moment I read them (some months ago when I was reading It) because

  • they describe one of a group of children who fought against their fears, and
  • recently, I feel like I belong to that group because I’ve been confronting my fears a lot for the past year (though I’ve been doing that in therapy and not by shooting silver bullets), and
  • thanks to that, I’ve finally found myself able to think about the future, which I was practically incapable of for some time in my life, and also because
  • I love punk; I even sat in th kitchen yesterday listening to some good old feminist punk rock, and actually reflecting deeply on how awesome it is to be the person I am partly because of that music (I guess I’ve too much time on my hands), and finally because
  • in the couple of months of running this blog, I’ve learnt, and even began to sort of like, to title the things I write, so I may do away with “Untitled” as the blog’s name.

I guess by now this post already looks very much like any other year-is-ending-let’s-look-back post (which I think is just what I subconsciously wanted), so I can only add:

a happy New Year to you!

Mulan

Driving Home for Christmas

I’m driving home for Christmas, bitch, I intoned, and they all laughed. Such a happy carful of people it was that I almost opened the door to throw myself down and roll behind on the highway, and get lost, get lost, I so much wanted to get lost on the way.

We were driving home, for Christmas, and for the sake of decency I remained on my seat. It wouldn’t be nice to get killed on the way to celebrate a birth. Whose birth it was meant to be I wasn’t sure.

But there is always some birth at those times when your sense of self sways, pushed by a gift you don’t like, and by how it makes you feel older, or different, than the giver expected; by a brother-in-law wishing you a merry shmerry and that you’d be made happy by something you least want; by the snore that resounds in the vast empty chamber of your skull as the rest of the table gets livelier and more unwelcomely familiar with every passing minute.

It felt heavy all the way. We arrived, finally, without any miscarriages.

I spent that last Christmas like a decent, healthy neonate should: mostly, I slept.