I don’t know why I do it to myself. I really don’t.
I think I picture myself knitting contentedly, perhaps even humming, using those impossibly small toothpick-sized needles on itsy-bitsy yarn that’s spooling out away from me into a fully completed sweater.
So I buy tiny needles and wonderful yarn, and maybe even a pattern I have fooled myself into believing I will be able to finish.
Then at home I realize the truth–I have to actually count stitches or some other stupid thing that requires actual concentration, and I can’t watch the Big Bang Theory at the same time, so I’ll be forced to do something like listen to a podcast or music which I love unless I am forced to do so.
My ex-sister-in-law knits like the wind–without looking. How is this possible? She can watch tv and carry on a conversation while simultaneously knitting some intricate sock pattern. I am not similarly gifted. I learned to knit in my 3rd grade class for a charity project–using sharpened yellow number 2 pencils. Given the fact that I would now be in something like a hundred and forty-twelfth grade, I should be able to churn out garments for a family of elephants in a week and a half, two weeks tops, right? But no. Number of years times amount of yarn purchased does not equal greater skill.
Even if I only make scarves and hats and more scarves for the rest of my knitting life, I have at least learned that better equipment equals better results–such as real knitting needles without graphite tips to smudge the yarn.
Stress happens. In the past several years I’ve learned about a gazillion more healthy ways to deal with stress than I used to know, back in the days of sharpened pencil knitting. Back then I hid from what scared me. Back then I tried to soothe people who needed to learn to soothe themselves. Back then I thought I could make other people happy if I just did FILL IN THE BLANK right. These anti-skills and more filled up my body with Triggery Badness and physical illness.
Once I knew enough to realize what wasn’t working, I knew I needed to pick up some new tools, learn to count some stitches even. The new skills are not perfected, but I’m so thankful for the improved tools I’ve learned to use to cope with fear, stress, disappointment, grief….yunno, LIFE.
I didn’t know I could ever feel this calm, this clear. I’m not sure that on my worst days I would have believed a day would come where I’d look forward to my future.
I don’t understand why people who would never accuse a person struggling with cancer of being weak-willed will judge a person who struggles with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD or an addiction as being weak and defective. It’s all health. If you struggle with mental/emotional health, ignore the naysayers and run far away from those who would use your struggles as a weapon against you.
It takes strength to recognize when our tools are not adequate to the job. Writing implements got the job done for my first knitting project, just like hiding from angry people used to “work.” (In other words, not well.) Getting help to improve any skill set takes commitment. As journeyers In Pursuit of Mental Health, how do strength and commitment make us the crazy ones?
The Bring Your Own Beverage Conversation: What hobbies and jobs have you put time and commitment into learning? How would your life improve if you put that kind of effort into some area of your mental/emotional health?
Yes, that latest piece you were knitting was complex, intricate, and those darn (no pun intended, literally) knitting needles were so tiny. But this is my take on it. Yes, you started the project with the best of intentions and inspired by others, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Without inspiration and intention, little of value would ever get done in this world. But then you got into the project, realized how much you hated it, stopped working on it, and after processing feelings of guilt, shame, and disappointment in yourself for all the things we second guess ourselves about, you pulled yourself together, and decided to throw the whole darn (I crack myself up) project away. And that’s the beauty your discovery. You didn’t mire your way through it, with growing discontent, anger, frustration, and dissociation, and stay when the welcome was more than over. Just like with decisions you’ve made in the last few years of your life. You saw some situations that you hated or you didn’t like how they made you feel, you paused to contemplate on them, and then you decided that the healthiest thing for you to do would be to stop participating in them, and walk away. So it seems like your metaphor of your knitting experience doesn’t reflect unhealthy thinking processes, but in fact it reflects a healthy transition TO healthier thought processes.
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Ah! And to take the analogy further, I haven’t thrown the whole project away—I will un-knit it and save the yarn so the entire experience doesn’t go to waste. Redeemed yarn. Lol
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Yes, a gift that you have that is beautiful.:)
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