Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sayings That Stick #1

Day to day life, with its irritations petty and grand, is a difficult thing to manage without sayings, those things you repeat to yourself to make a bad situation better, or at least manageable. We all have them. Over the next few days or weeks, I will introduce you to a few of mine.

Not My Problem

I went to therapy the first time because I wasn't coping with my life, and at the encouragement of my partner. Whose menacing, sharp-toothed, stealthy substance abuse problems were the actual things I wasn't coping with. I took care of him, a lot, and in ways entirely damaging to my own sense of self and self-worth.

Of course, this tendency didn't come out of nowhere, and is probably partially what drew us together in the first place. In general, I had a pretty hard time differentiating between problems that required my assistance and problems that were really none of my business. It is much easier to worry ineffectually about the mess of utensils and cookware in someone else's cupboards than to put your own to rights.

My therapist and I developed a filing scheme. There were a few files - all neatly labelled, I assure you - but Not My Problem was my favourite then and has lasted till this day.

It was invaluable. I would think crazy things like "I can't leave him! What is he going to do for pots and pans if I move out?" Open drawer, flick flick flick, chunk: Not My Problem. As soon as I realized that I had started to worry at some issue over which I had no control, thus preventing me from living my own actual life, I would stop, pull the drawer open calmly, confidently flick my way to the Ns and file that fucker away. Some issues, like my ex's crazy drinking binges, needed to be filed away several times before I had the fortitude to get my ass out of there and make them really not my problem.

Currently, Not My Problem is, just let me double-check, yes, a very slim file. What was once very difficult to do eventually became second nature. I don't worry so much anymore about how other people organize their spices. Unless they're asking me to cook, and then still, I try to put them back where I found them.


Anonymous said...

That is brilliant - thanks to you(and your therapist)

I use "let it be" for issues, people, situations in the same vein. Which, for me, works better than when someone says just forget about it.


Asteroidea Press said...

It's my favourite of all my sayings, I must admit. Let it be is a good one though. I'll give that a try.