I don’t want to be a might-have-been!

The following is my favorite poem. It’s short and quite simplistic but has quite a lot to say in my opinion. It’s dismissed by poets as being a simply ditty I suppose but I don’t care, I like it. It’s easy enough to memorize and thus far anyone who hears it likes it too. So really, who’s to say what is and isn’t poetry, right? 

I’d rather be a Could-Be if I couldn’t be an Are,

For a Could-Be is a May-Be with a chance of reaching par.

I’d rather be a Has-Been than a Might-Have-Been by far

For a Might-Have-Been has never been but a Has was once an Are.

(~anonymous)

Has-Been

In many areas of my life I can easily say I’m a Has-Been. In truth, I’ve experienced more than my fair share. I’ve had adventures overseas, not Europe, but in the Philippians and Korea; I’ve had a ride in a super sonic jet, I’ve lived in the streets and lived in a plush apartment. I’ve had sports cars and derelicts where I had to get in from the passenger side and use a screwdriver on the radio. Remember radios? I was alive before the internet and was witness to amazing technology that has allowed me to chat with friends across the world in real time, for free! I’ve been a dance teacher as well as a stripper. I camped for years at a clothing optional pagan campground, drumming and dancing around the many fires. I was also tortured in a Christian based cult for five years, destroying my faith and making my already tenuous trust issues so significant that I couldn’t recognize friend from foe. I was a pagan, a militant atheist, a zen buddhist, and everything in between. I strutted my tattooed self in parades while hiding in closets slashing my body with razor blades and anything else I could find. I’ve been too scared to walk to my mailbox but courageous enough to drive 2600 miles from the east coast of the US to the west coast, and then back again.

Most of my life I’ve been in a pit of despair, misery and depression. I suffered all these years with an eating disorder. I starved myself into many hospitals and programs. I’ve ran away from life through self harm and suicide attempts. I’ve spent decades feeling alone and afraid, unlovable and disposed.

However, I’ve seen some of the most beautiful things one can imagine: the Earth at 30,000 feet, tent city with 2400 people (imagine the TV show Mash), compassion and empathy of countless people who despite societies belief of a cynical world, spend their lives reaching out and helping the next person along. The silence sitting on top of a boulder, looking out over the vast redwoods, with the ocean silently pounding the shores in the distance. I’ve watched the tumbleweeds roll along as I drove across the continental divide. I’ve seen a rescued dog, timid and fearful, fall asleep with utter abandon in the arms of his rescuer. Shall I go on?

Yes, I struggle now, a lot. But sometimes it’s good to look at the greater picture; to look at our lives honestly, not at just the horrible stuff but also the interesting, inspiring things too. They are there. I admit, when I’m depressed it’s hard to see them but it doesn’t change the fact that I’ve experienced all that. Yes, I’m a Has-Been (proudly), when it comes to much of my life. If I were to die now, one thing I could say is that, whether for good or bad, I’ve experienced life.

Might-Have-Been

Letting go of the first half a century of my life, I now move on to the second. I’m fully aware that I’m at risk of being a might-have-been. How? Why? Well, quite obviously it is the fear that has caught up with me, paralyzingly my decisions, my ability to move forward, to have more experiences. I sit. I exist. And in existing I continually fall into behavior. Anorexics are constantly told about what we Could-Be but we are afraid. I am afraid. I fear I’ll be overwhelmed with all I’ve avoided the first half of my life. Everyday that goes by, every week, month, year, compounds those fears and makes them seem bigger, and bigger to the point of my feeling catatonic. 

Remember those people I mentioned full of empathy and compassion? I am surrounded by them even now. People that want me to get better, that want me to succeed, that keep trying over and over and over no matter how many times I fall, how many times I fail. I am, at this point, at a loss of coming up with reasons why they do this on my behalf. They’ve picked me up too many times for me to think that, in anyway, they are doing it to feel good about themselves. 

Staying still, being stuck hurts. I don’t know about anyone else but it’s an awful place to be if one is self-aware. Having been eating disordered for as many years as I have, I am fully self-aware. When am I going to start picking myself up? I would do anything to help others… when am I going to count myself in as one of them? I need help, this I know. This everyone knows. I don’t know how to ask for what I need; shoot, I don’t even know what I need! Maybe that’s where I ought to start, figuring out what I actually need. I realized this weekend that I don’t necessarily need support beyond my treatment team and this wonderful online community. I have friends who were in treatment with me, they are a help for sure. But do I need my regular friends to be a support? I used to think so but no, I really don’t. What I want from them is normalcy. When we go out, we talk about anything, everything, not ED stuff. I am so sick of ED stuff. I am tired of complaining. I’m tired of my friends asking if I’m okay. I want them to ask if I want to go for coffee, come to a birthday party, hang out at whatever… not, “are you okay?” I want to be okay. I’m not okay… 

To do… figuring out what sort of support I need – done. Next? 

Perhaps the first step from being a Might-Have-Been to an Are is wanting to be okay, you think?

I’d rather be a Has-Been than a Might-Have-Been by far, for a Might-Have-Been has never been but a Has was once an Are.




14 thoughts on “I don’t want to be a might-have-been!

  1. Oh yeah… first step is probably knowing what you want. I can’t say that I want anything more than to be dead so I guess there’s not much to work with eh? I wish I could say that I wanted things. I wish I could say that I was jealous of people. I am simply not.

    But yes, the first step in going anywhere is knowing what you want…

    You’ve seen a lot of beauty in this world, I wish you a bunch more as you navigate through it. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and yeah, you bring up an interesting distinction between what we need and what we want. I have no idea what I need and don’t really feel I ought to want anything. But if I could want something it would be to feel settled, if you know what I mean. The more I think about it the more complicated it gets in my head. So I think I’m going to talk with my nutritionist this week about one step at a time and what his thoughts are.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You definitely are allowed and encouraged/entitled to “want” things… I think in depression, that’s the problem. I don’t want anything… hence don’t feel I need anything… therefore nothing is a problem… denial… it goes round and round…

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      2. Oh yes, I understand that circle! I try to explain to people that when I’m depressed I simply don’t care. I’m ambivalent about life, the universe and everything. Nothing matters. I know you understand what I’m talking about but if people haven’t experienced it, whether themselves or someone close, they don’t get it. We might as well be speaking a foreign language.

        One of the girls in group today was so depressed that no matter what she or anybody said, all was dark and despairing. I could see where an outsider would tell her to just go get a med increase but they couldn’t possibly understand how difficult it is for her to just reach out by phone and try to find a psychiatrist. I get it, everyone in the room got it! The world? They don’t get it.

        I’ll be depressed again soon, that’s the way it goes, but hopefully it will stay away long enough for me to try and put a plan together. I hope you can find your way through that dark tunnel.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a wonderful post, and I can really empathise in a lot of ways. I think a fear of what I’ve missed out on, for various reasons, always keeps me looking to the past with regret and looking to the future with anxiety, with a paralysing sense of indecision and worry about the present. You’re right, looking at the bigger picture is important, as is identifying what you want and what you need to be okay. Just know that you’re not alone. Thank you for sharing. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One thing I wrote in my discharge wrap was to talk with my therapist about the big picture, from her perspective. I’m going to remind her today because we haven’t done that yet but I think it might be of benefit since she’s known me for so long. I get wrapped up in smaller and smaller details until I get trapped by my own thoughts. This post really helped me expand my view on my own, which is probably an empowering thing to do. Even though I most certainly don’t feel empowered, I do feel a tiny bit more willingly to move on.

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  3. x poetry is in the ear of the be-hearer 🙂 ! I loved reading this post, wow some of the things you’ve seen sound so amazing! the redwoods and the dog falling asleep, it’s great to be reminded of the beauty of the world. I follow some ‘solo female travel’ bloggers on this site too and it inspires me to keep trying with recovery because even though it is out of my range for now I’d love to get well enough and confident enough to travel again… I also have this kind of ‘before and after’ feeling with my life… anorexia just takes so much doesn’t it? I used to be adventurous and travel and now I honestly worry about doing simple trips… but I’m getting there…
    another thing which popped into my mind reading your blog is about how important it is to try and develop or allow self-kindness to be there along with the self-awareness. Your level of self-awareness is way up there but how about some adventures and experiments in self-kindness? do you have any ‘tried and trusted’ ways to express kindness to yourself ? or are you still figuring out where you are with that? i love hearing the ways that people practice self-kindness so share’em if you got’em please 😉 xx Em

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, how funny… I just got out of therapy and one of the questions my therapist asked was what am I doing for self care, for being kind to myself. I changed the subject but it’s worth thinking about isn’t it? I absolutely do self care when it comes to pain management but nothing when it comes to anorexia management. Hmmmmm.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I did! I gave it away to a friend in program. When she wasn’t looking I tucked it in her bag as she was packing for discharge. She had a 5 hr drive so I thought it would be a nice surprise when she got home. 👍

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      1. aw that is such a lovely gift! I bet she was delighted, its so cute!! and wow – you’re my new crochet idol!!! how did you learn to do amigurami? I’ve tried some youtube tutorials but so far the skill evades me!! 🙂 Em

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