Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Lessons of the Roller Rink

Blue disco quad roller skates
Blue disco quad roller skates (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I was in middle school, one of the few entertainment options for people my age was going to THE local roller rink. (Yes, there was only one.)

I will spare you the details of the boy I always hoped would Pick ME for the Couples Only skates (he's mostly foggy in my mind anyway) and move to my main point:

We almost always skated widdershins (counter-clockwise). It makes sense, in order to avoid carnage on the floor (which there would have been) that there was ONE official direction in which to skate. Most people are right-handed; beginner skaters could then clutch the safety bar along the wall with their right hands.

Most of us were also on rental skates, owned by the rink, since most parents didn't want to pony up for skates used perhaps a dozen times before their kids grew out of them.

However, several times a night they would turn on the light for all skaters to reverse direction.  So now we were going clockwise, instead of counter-clockwise.

It felt weird. It felt unnatural. Our bodies were accustomed to doing our cross-overs of right foot over left at the turns (mine were, anyway). Our vision wasn't used to watching out for out-of-control skaters coming at us from different directions.

More than that, the skates themselves were used to going in a different direction. The wheels bore a subtle wear pattern that made us want to circle left, like NASCAR, rather than circle right.

There were a lot more spills and accidents when everybody was going clockwise - more, even, than there were when the setting was for backwards skating only.

(If you're curious, I did, eventually, master learn to mostly stay upright when backwards skating. Nothing like these peeps, though. Though I did entertain fantasies of skating this well, which I would easily accomplish while in the company of the sweaty-handed boy from the grade above me.)

Any excuse to show Patrick Swayze performing is a good one, IMO.

Anyway, my point (and I do have one) is that when a pattern/habit is being changed, maybe there's more than one component. There's the mind, of course, with its patterns, and then perhaps one is having to work against an actual physical component that inclines a person to naturally lean left, as it were.   I remember sometimes having to really work against the skates that wanted me to go in that direction (which was directly into the wall). My mind would feel like it was totally in the groove, but my skates were saying, "Bitch, we don't care how and where you want to turn."

Sometimes I managed it. Sometimes I faceplanted.

I think, for those struggling with mental illness, or even long-ingrained habit, maybe we should cut ourselves a little slack when we fail, not get into blaming ourselves.  (Not that we should stop trying to end a bad habit, or start a new one.)

But maybe it's not ALL our mind or lack of willpower or negative attitude that causes us to fail.  Maybe sometimes it's a pair of funky skates.

Your thoughts?

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