Putting Socks Away in My Head - by Chris Pridmore
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
In rehab, I had a roommate that offered me some good advice. For the sake of privacy, I will call him Bird man. Apparently, even in the limited knowledge we had about each other it was obvious when I was thinking too much. Bird man would notice me getting serious and quiet and he would say, “you got to stay out of your head. It’s a scary place in there. Stay in there just long enough to pick up the socks and put them back in the drawer and then get out.” Bird man was right. Here I am all of this time later with all sorts of tools in my tool kit and the advice of Bird man is still one of my greatest requirements. Even with my sober maturity, my natural tendency is still a problem. When I say I think too much, I mean I literally never stop thinking. It’s not always bad things either. My positive plans can also rob me of mindful moments that could otherwise further my good living. I am learning that feelings change, that I need to not pile issues on top of each other and turn all things into growth mode through faith. Here are a few observations about that process.
When I get too far in my head. I get too far in your head too. I wonder and worry and question motivation. Of course, none of it is positive when I think that way. I am always “not enough” in my own head and “conspired” against in what I project to be in your head. I literally create a perceived world that has no option for success. Ridiculous right? Of course it is. However, it still remains as a reality of how I manage some days and in tougher cases weeks. I am suppose to be writing you with some level of conviction of an option for success and yet I simply splash a war story at you and grab handfuls of sand as an image of a firm grip.
A few basics. Another friend (who happens to have a bunch of letters after the comma after her last name) said, “the good thing about feelings is that they change.” Ok. I can do something with that. Another point that I realized on my own is that some of my defeat in these situations is that I take individual situations that “feel” the same and make them one big problem despair pile. In fact, as individual situations with similar feelings, they should be treated as individual and not a collective mass. This helps make things more bite size and manageable for me.
The first suggestion by my friend puts reality, duration and provides an indication of the stamina I need to ensure the emotions are stable. They are just emotions. They aren’t real, physical danger. The second suggestion takes the enormity of the emotions I feel and puts them into a manageable bucket to carry. These two suggestions help me move forward in a growth mode.
In growth mode, what do I do to actually grow. It seems like in most of these situations, I have really just let the video play out. As I have been down this road, I realize that no matter how many times I go through this, I am only worse off as a result of my actions I take as a reaction. I believe that patience in this biblical algorithm is critical. How does it go? Tribulation works patience, patience works experience and experience works hope. I believe that’s the one plus one of it. In this instance or in these periods of staying in my head too long, it seams that I should ride out the feelings with no action. Once the dust settles, I have the experience of having survived without causing more damage. Knowing that I can survive it gives me hope that I am getting better and that if and/or when I have a similar situation I will survive again. These single instances become single instances that prove over and over again that I can live the life I want even when my mental health wolves come gnawing at my heels. I still survive.
One last thing that is equally critical in my case. I need to remind myself that just because my mental state has become a little unstable and my anxiety is dancing to its favorite song, no real thing has changed unless I change it. In other words, the God I say I believe in says He is constant no matter what. If I have faith in what I say I have faith in, over time this little exercise in minimizing brain loitering is really for my own good. It further solidifies my skills for life and my faith in what I believe to be true.
Proper writing requires a formal conclusion. I struggle with that because there really isn’t a "conclusion." When feelings change, the tough days get better. When do not pile issues on top of each other, I am not overwhelmed and defeated. When I trust what I say I believe in, my faith shows me a path of safety and growth. There is really no conclusion. This life is about the long game in a place outside of my head and continually remaining outside of yours too.