My Experience with Ruminating

I am 12 years old and competing in my first national curling championship. My team is getting ready to play the New Brunswick team and I am excited. They’re a really fun team and I’ve been looking forward to this game for days.

Ten minutes prior to going on the ice I’m all dressed up in my curling kit and stretching out. My coach and the other, older, 3 players approach me and ask me to sit this game out so our 5th player can have a chance to play a game.

I instantly deflate and mention how I’ve been looking forward to the game and that I’m all geared up to go. I ask if it could be a different game I sit out. They all say, “no, this is the only one that will work.”

They add comments like; “I’d do it if I could but I can’t. I have to play.”

I’m near tears, I feel like I’m being ambushed and guilted at the last minute. I decide to hold my ground and play. Bad decision.

My teammates won’t talk to me. They cross to the other side of the ice if I try to stand near them. I feel wretched. I am in tears for most of the game even after my teammates are told to stop shunning me.

I feel as though my soul is bursting with guilt. I should have let the 5th play. What kind of selfish asshole am I?

This is a story that haunts me frequently. Is rattles round, and round my adult mind and I want beat myself senseless for this wrongdoing I did at age 12.

This happened 25 fucking years ago and I’m still coming back to it over and over. It’s a bizarre form of mental self flagellation. There are days when I ruminate about this and other things so obsessively I cry hysterically because I’m so disappointed in myself.

The child in me imagines what would have happened had I not been so selfish. I want to take that time back and fix it. I deserved to be shunned.

The adult in me sees the difficult position I was put in. I was asked no more than 10 minutes before the game. I was already in the zone. We should have decided as a team which game I would sit out prior to the event. Then I’d have been prepared. Also, I was only 12! My teammates were 14, 17, and 19. Perhaps I didn’t deserve to be shunned. Alas, this rational assessment rarely does anything to cut out the guilt.

It seems when I’m mentally tired thoughts such as the above gain repetitive status. Like a tv stuck on one channel and forever repeating the same short story endlessly. No escape. I simply cannot seem to let these thoughts go.

Often if I do manage to let a thought go I find something else to dwell on. I even have guilt from grade one I occasionally go back to!

Admittedly I’m poor company when I’m heavily ruminating. I vasilate between being distant and unable to focus socially and asking questions about what I’m ruminating about for reassurance. The reassurance only lasts so long before I’m back to the same self-induced, navel-gazing bloodbath I started with.

Sometimes I ruminate about several of my transgressions in rotation. This allows me to beat myself up relentlessly for a number of wrongs I’ve done.

How do I snap myself out of this type of thinking. Sometime’s painting works or another distraction complex enough to take up extra space in my mind like puzzles or brain teasers.

Often I’ll write about the situation bothering me and force myself to read it with older and wiser? eyes. This allows me to also write out the parts I did correctly and what I would change if I could.

Sometimes to cope, I’ll apologize for something I did years ago. Often the person I apologize to has no idea what I’m talking about as they’ve long moved on.

Sometimes, despite trying to use my coping skills, I still manage to slip from ruminating into a panic attack and eventually I resort to anti-anxiety meds. I then must try not to feel guilty for being so weak that I had to take meds – even though I’d never think of anyone else as weak for taking meds when needed.

Ruminating is an afliction I’ve long dealt with. Forever second guessing myself, forever, finding things to punish myself for. It’s part of my mental illness and part of me. I do my best not to slip into the past too often. I try to stay present, be mindful, but sometimes these thoughts of past wrongdoings sneak in and OCCUPY my mind like it’s Wall Street in 2011.



Another Ode to Insomnia Goodnight Brain

Goodnight Brain,

all full of thoughts, 

now’s not the time to untie knots

Goodnight mind, 

you’re safe and fine,

just let go and unwind 

Goodnight to repeating thoughts,

sleep’s but a door left unlocked

Goodnight, goodnight!

For fucks sake

I said Goodnight

why am I awake?!

Goodnight Brain,

all full of thoughts

now’s not the time to untie knots


Ruminating About Ruminating

In grade one I had two Valentine’s for Bonnie. One Bonnie was a classmate, the other a friend of the family who worked at the school.

I accidentally gave both cards to the Bonnie in my class. I realized my mistake and tried, tears of embarrassment pricking my eyes, to take back one of the cards.

My teacher insisted it was rude to take the card back and when I cried harder she took me to the cloakroom to calm down and think about my actions. I’m not sure if she knew I was crying because I might have hurt Bonnie’s feelings. I think she thought I was upset for not getting the Valentine’s card back.

She came to get me after about 10 minutes and I apologized profusely to Bonnie then sat down with the class to enjoy ice cream and cake, the later of which I had a mild allergic reaction to. I hid the reaction because I figured it was just deserts (oh yes she did­čśé).

I was in grade one roughly 30 years ago and I still pick up this Memory from  time and again and give myself a sound mental beating for how I behaved vs how I think I should have behaved.

Believe me, if we have ever communicated I garuntee I’ve spent time considering how I could have communicated better with you and disected each moment trying to tease out what I did wrong. I generally assume I did something wrong.

This tendency to ruminate does me no good at all. In fact it is a colossal time suck. So why do it?

I hear folks like informative diagrams. In light of this I have provided the following  diagram demonstrating how rumination tends to feel.

Please note: The flowers depicted on the diagram are purely decorative. Ruminating actually sucks but I find sucking hard to draw.

Here’s a theory – beating myself up over minute transgressions allows me to feed the perfectionist beast inside. I want so badly to not be socially awkward, to always say the right thing. I imagine others have this whole social perfection thing down perfectly and nary a faux pas is ever made.
In my life now I call upon mistakes both old and new to beat myself up for and ruminate upon. It’s sort of like coming home to old friends. Old friends who want to suck the marrow from my self esteem, but old friends nonetheless.

So what is to be done about this unhealthy habit? Probably more of that positive self-talk along with a sprinkling of self-love. If I could just figure out how to staple both those items into my psychee I’d be cooking with Gas.

I guess it’s all fodder for my next appointment with my therapist­čśë