Coffee with ghosts: Learning how to stop listening to negative voices in my past


I asked myself why I stopped writing last year and the answers were revealing.

Some days, there are just too many ghosts.

It’s difficult to imagine typing out what you’re really thinking when the other half of your brain is imagining her reading what you write and mocking you for being sentimental.

Don’t listen to the haters, she used to say.

I try not to.

Everyone else’s disapproval is not as loud in my head as it was last year, or even the year before, or the year before that.

Don’t mock people who are trying to learn what it feels like to breathe, who have been holding stale air in their lungs for years because if they did anything else, someone would hurt them for it.

Sometimes we just need a break. Sometimes blogging is too vulnerable and we need time and space to heal.

Other people in my life now keep telling me that I need to write a book about my childhood and growing up, about my escape.

Right now, I’m curled up at my desk writing a lot of existential nonsense and sipping noodles.

I remember to drink more water now. I try to eat more vegetables. I take more walks. I have a patio garden outside my apartment.

I have done so many things that I never thought I would. I am still alive, after so many things that I thought would have crushed me.

People are always telling us to stand up for ourselves because no one else will.

This isn’t untrue, it’s just oversimplified.

Nearly all of my behaviors are habits, something I learned how to do. So if I want to become my own advocate, I have to learn it.

When my dad comes to visit and we have lunch, I pause when he tells me to eat more so we won’t have to use a to-go container, or that I should focus on my salad before my mashed potatoes because it’s healthier.

I eat what I want. When I want.

I don’t have to eat what he says or how he says.

Choices are difficult when you grew up with very few. This is ironic because my dad used to joke about not having options in Soviet Russia.

It is okay if my progress is slow on some days. I grow at my own pace, like a plant.

I am not the same species as her.

I am not competing with anyone to see who can become healthier first because healthy is subjective and relative to the human.

Today I am just me. And that is enough.

5 thoughts on “Coffee with ghosts: Learning how to stop listening to negative voices in my past

  1. You have to take care of you. And if that’s not writing as much, there’s nothing wrong with that :).

    One thing I had to learn was not only was I happier when I broke away from the constraints of my upbringing or unhealthy people I found in my young adult years, but also that I was happier if I stopped worrying about the constraints or criticisms that came from an initially positive place (whether others trying to help or from within myself trying to improve). I still had (and often still do) that mentality of I “should” do this or that. I just replaced the unhealthy shoulds with healthier ones, but I realized even that’s not ideal. Really, the only thing I “should” do is what works for me. What makes me happy overall. Not what anyone else thinks I “should” or “need” to do, even if it’s coming from a place intending to be positive and supportive. And that can change over time! Maybe today it makes me happier to focus on my martial arts training, but in a few months it’ll make me happier to focus on something else. (Actual example of something I got stressed out about how I “should” do more.)

    I think at least for me, with my background, it’s just so easy for me to let something outside of me tell me how to live. To think I failed if I wasn’t constantly checking off my “shoulds”. And no matter how positive it was, it still stressed me out to have all these shoulds placed on me either by other people or myself. It got to the point where I was stressing myself out because I didn’t do various hobbies as much as I “should”. Something that is purely to make me happy, I was letting stress me out! And that’s when I realized all that.

    So idk if that helps your situation a little, but my experience is just live and do what makes you the most happy and know that if you don’t get everything done that some ideal thinks you should, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as it’s working for you. You’re not obligated to do anything that isn’t helping you, unlike what we were brought up to believe. And that includes writing a book, even if other people think you should, or whatever else well meaning but potentially not so useful advice you might get. Maybe someday you’ll write one, maybe you won’t. And either way is totally fine as long as you’re doing what’s best for you right now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Eleanor,” Don’t mock people who are trying to learn what it feels like to breathe, who have been holding stale air in their lungs for years because if they did anything else, someone would hurt them for it.” WOW! What a deep and beautiful sentence. I am thrilled to hear you are taking care of YOU inside and out! There will be time to write again. Your health is a treasure. GIGO ( garbage in garbage out) well there is another GIGO …GOOD IN AND GOOD OUT!

    Liked by 1 person

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