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30 Days of Truth: Day 1

I saw this over here and here.  They got it from here.

It’s just a series of writing prompts, encouraging you to be honest and truthful.  I liked the idea and thought I’d use them whenever I want something to discuss.  Here are the prompts if you want to do them yourself:

Day 01 → Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 → Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 → Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 → Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 → Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 → Something you hope you never have to do.
Day 07 → Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 → Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 → Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 → Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 → Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 → Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 → A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 → A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 → Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 → Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 → A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 → Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 → What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 → Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 → (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 → Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 → Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 → Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 → The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 → Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 → What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 → What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 → Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 → A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

Let’s start with Day 1:  Something you hate about yourself.

I am unable to shut my brain off.  I am completely and utterly unable to commit myself wholly to the task in front of me.  I could be on a tropical island making love to a beautiful woman, and while I’d be thoroughly enjoying the experience, I’d still be thinking about what I was going to eat for dinner and what I needed to do tomorrow.

I hate this about myself.  I know people who can lose themselves in the moment.  They’re able to give their entire minds, hearts and souls to whatever activity they’re doing.  These people don’t notice pain or distraction – they embody the phrase “in the moment”.

Not me.  One reason that I stay up so late until I fall asleep at my computer is that it’s the only way I can sleep.  If I attempt to go to bed early without being exhausted, I will lay there and think and ruminate and philosophize and organize and prioritize until I need to get up and do something.

It’s one reason that I’m bad at yoga and meditation.  Even while trying to consciously clear my mind and relax, I’ll start counting the tiles in the floor or the nails in the walls or reading every word that I can see from where I am.  Then I’ll try to rearrange the letters into new words or find patterns wherever I’m looking.

I’ve always been like this, for as long as I can remember.  As a little boy, I used to go sit on the toilet in the bathroom and while I was pooping, which always took forever, I would read everything in the bathroom, from the shampoo bottles to everything under the counter.  Then I’d count all of the bolts and nuts and screws in the entire room and extrapolate that to the entire house and keep counting until I had, by my estimation, counted every screw in the house.  It was impossible for me to just sit there and poop.

Even when drinking alcohol, it’s rare that I reach a state when I don’t think about other things.  I’ve tried driving 120 miles an hour down the interstate at 3 in the morning with my headlights off, my windows down, and my radio blaring, hoping to focus my full attention on not dying, but as I concentrate on the road, all I can think about is what would happen if I died, or what if I was in an accident and lost my legs or what type of car I would want if I totaled this one and walked away unharmed. I’m not sure how one shuts one’s brain off, without resorting to pharmacological solutions that I am not willing to entertain, but I hope there comes a time when I’m able to experience something with the clarity that comes with complete and full attention.

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165 Replies to “30 Days of Truth: Day 1”

  1. themomsmith

    I’m doing this too except I felt like 30 days meant I had to do it (put up a blog post get yer mind outta the gutter) for 30 days straight and I can’t make that kind of commitment so I called it “30 posts of truth” instead.

    I have a hard time shutting it off too. Sometimes the only things that work are the two V’s: vicodin and vodka.

  2. Sarahndipitea

    “while I was pooping, which always took forever, I would read everything in the bathroom, from the shampoo bottles to everything under the counter”

    I did that as a kid.

    I do that a full grown woman. If there isn’t a “trivia” book in the bathroom and I don’t have my Blackberry, I am so bored. I can’t just watch TV, I can’t just work, I can’t just try to go to sleep. My brain, as well, doesn’t shut off.

    When I’m trying to sleep, I create situations and write “screen plays” in my head … it’s that bad on shutting down.

  3. Sheila

    I’m totally jumping on this bandwagon but, like themomsmith, it’ll wind up being thirty “posts” of truth instead of days.

    I think you’re not as crazy as you thought you were….I have the same problem and I’m the sanest person I know. (That was a joke, laugh dammit.) But seriously, I can never get my mind to STFU. Kills me.

  4. Juli Ryan

    If you *really* want to focus/quiet your brain, you need to keep practicing meditation. It isn’t easy. But you learn how to focus on your breath. Just on the breathing in and the breathing out. You notice those other thoughts, but you let them go. It’s a discipline.

    • crisi-tunity

      @Juli Ryan, I was going to say this too. It took me many months of practicing yoga several times a week, but now my brain has a much less frenetic pace than it used to. I still can’t stop my mind thinking about what my next meal is going to be, even if I’m in the middle of a current meal, but them’s the breaks when you’re hypoglycemic.

      Got off track there. The point is, everyone’s “bad” at yoga and meditation when they start; if you keep practicing, it helps to quiet the mind. I swear. The key is to forgive yourself, without reservation, for the monkey-mind and keep at it.

  5. Kelly

    I loved this post. I totally do that too, and you described it so well. I’ve never before put words to resenting people who are ‘in the moment,’ but I DO, now that I think about it (ha). Let me know if you find that non-pharma way to shut off your brain. 😉 I bet insomniacs all over the world would pay big for it.

    • Avitable

      @britni, the only time I’ve smoked pot I was even worse! I was so full of ideas that I shot a video talking to the camera for three full minutes very eagerly. If only my audio was turned on, I would have known what I said.

      • britni

        @Avitable, After reading this last night I thought to myself, “wow, it’s too bad that all of these people have this problem. I feel so sorry for them. I sleep like a baby, all the time.” and then crawled into bed. So there I lay, for several hours, my eyes feeling like they had been propped open with toothpicks, my mind running at mach chicken, and when I did finally doze off? awake again at 4am. Karma is a bitch.

  6. Meg

    I love this. I’m going to do it to, but like themomsmith, I’m going to do 30 posts of truth.

    I have this problem too. All the fucking time. Unless I’m reading a good book. When I watch tv, I have to be reading or playing on the internet or cleaning or baking or something. I read in the bathtub. I think while trying to sleep. Don’t even let me get started on pooping without a book or my Blackberry!

  7. Kirsten

    I love this idea for a series. I might do this if I run out of inspiration.

    I have a hard time turning my brain off. Like you, I wait until I’m nearly asleep at the keyboard before turning in, and even then I’ll read a bit once I get to bed, but it has to be a good book that keeps my mind from wandering. I usually fall asleep with the book on my chest.

    I also have a pile of magazines in the bathroom. The only thing that keeps me from reading them all at once is that my legs fall asleep if I sit on the toilet too long.

  8. Zanthera

    Ya I do that too. I finally accept I am freakishly creative and brainiac and things are somewhat better. Not much of an insomniac but fall asleep when ever. Night time does not have to be sleep kind of thing. Thank heavens for night shift. Don’t know if that makes sense. Goes for eating too, I eat because I am hungry not because it’s noon.

    I may jump on as well but more for the 30 truths kind of idea. Can’t do the on command one every day.

  9. mapsgirl

    Ugh…I hate the nights where I just think and think and think. I too will either go to bed exhausted or I’ll fall asleep with TV on.

    I really hope that that 120 mph driving incident wasn’t at the same time as the drinking. That’s a bit scary 🙁

  10. Elizabeth @ Table for Five

    I have the same problem with falling asleep, not being able to turn off my brain. And it’s become impossible for me to do just one thing at a time. If I’m watching TV, I’m also checking email, which drives my husband nuts because then I look up and say “wait, what just happened?” and make him rewind.

    30 Truth Posts is an interesting idea for writing prompts. Although numbers 3 and 4 give me pause, because if I was to be totally honest, I’d have to finally write about The Big Thing that happened to me. I’ve been avoiding writing about The Big Thing because I don’t know if my readers will respond, or just ignore it and click to the next blog in their feed, which would make me feel bad. I have issues.

    • Avitable

      @Elizabeth @ Table for Five, you’ve been blogging for long enough that you know exactly how open the blogging community can be and how forgiving and responsive they can be, too. Besides, you should be writing it for yourself, not so your readers will respond to it.

  11. Jennifer

    This post is more proof that you’re part girl. Welcome to the life of a woman. Men can and do zone out and are capable of thinking of nothing, or throwing themselves completely in the moment while forgetting everything else. Women are not programed that way. I feel your entire post. Deeply. Except the pooping part.

  12. Julie

    My brain goes full-speed all the time also. I have never been able to meditate and can’t understand exactly how you “clear your mind.” I simply cannot do it. I am thinking constantly. About everything in the world. Even when I am sleeping. I have crazy dreams every night, all night long.

    I am just glad to hear that there is someone else out there who’s mind goes all the time like mine. Because I thought I was kind of a freak. Well, maybe I am anyway.

  13. Toni

    Truth be told, I kinda like being this way. 😉

    Oh, and it helps to start bringing something that is actually productive into the bathroom with you (phone, calendar, cookbooks, vibrators… your case KY or a really smooth lotion, etc.) Hey…one can only read the back of of the Glade spray bottle so many times before grossing out about the ingredients being sprayed into the air…ya know?

  14. SciFi Dad

    I’m the exact same way, with the only exception being that I can will myself to sleep in spite of my non-stop thinking. I liken it to a never-ending n-ary tree, where every decision made results in another decision to make, until I’m down a theoretical path and need to resurface.

  15. Loukia

    I read everything in the bathroom too! Always have, shampoo bottles, everything! Lots of books in the bathroom, too and Sudoku. My brain never stops working, either. You’re not alone! I also love this post. Great idea!

  16. SisterMerryHellish

    Love this! Lord knows I could use some prompting from time to time. And I’m with themomsmith. I don’t trust myself enough to commit to 30 days straight, but I can certainly get them all done over time!

    And I thought I was the only one who read everything in the bathroom and counted windows in the waiting room at the doctor’s office!

  17. Finn

    It takes practice to learn to shut down, which you really need to learn how to do, at least to go to sleep.

    I’ve had trouble meditating too, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. You can use a chant (like Om or sut nam) to concentrate on, then if thoughts drift in (and they will) you acknowledge them and refocus.

    At bedtime, I usually make movies in my head – fantasy scenarios, if you will. When you focus on something pleasant and removed from your own life, you’ll be able to fall asleep. This is a trick I’ve been using my whole life.

  18. hpflo

    AWESOME post!!! But it was scary because it is the exact same way I am! My mind is constantly wondering. Although I do not count bolts and knick-knacks while in the bathroom….I’m always thinking ahead…what I have to do next. Also, I envy my dad and sister who can hit the bed and fall asleep within 5 minutes….like thats really impossible. I have to lay there think about the things I did today and then think about the things I have to do tomorrow! Although it is great to live in the moment and give 100% of yourself to whatever/whoever…we are constant thinkers….our minds race! I have read that thinking is good for the brain… really it’s actually an awesome feature of yourself. 🙂

  19. ExtraO

    I like these. I may borrow them.

    I struggle to just be in the moment sometimes too. Especially if in the moment nothing too interesting is happening (like just before sleep, or sitting on the pot). I learned to snowboard a few winters ago and absolutely love it because while I’m doing it I am so focused on what it takes to get myself down the mountain that I have no choice but to be fully in that moment.

  20. Sybil Law

    I’m pretty sure when you were wasted an singing a gazillion karaoke songs in a row, you weren’t thinking about anything else!

    Anyway, I think MOST people are like this, aren’t they?! Except for during sex – I only think of other shit if it sucks.

  21. Issa

    Jesus…you are like a male version of me. Shit. Now I know why I like reading here so much. The sad thing for me, is that I’ll daydream. When I absolutely have nothing to worry about or plan, I daydream instead. My mind is constantly moving.

  22. Tracey - JustAnotherMommyBlog

    I like this idea. May do some of them when I am drawing a blank even though my mind is ALSO always on. I even had an entire conversation with myself in the bathtub while “meditating” (with 3 kids, it’s the only place I can be totally alone). The conversation was really deep and ended with me telling myself that I couldn’t write about it. Then I wanted to write about how I couldn’t write about it, but I had to convince myself not to do that. This went on for AT LEAST half an hour! Half an hour of lying in a luke warm tub, arguing within my head about how some things need to kept to oneself and not even referenced. And then? I write a comment about it 2 weeks later because it was EATING ME ALIVE. This is better than a post, though because that’s what I promised my mind. And I don’t care if she’s pissed that I fudged a bit and commented about it because she’s a bit of a bitchy brain, anyway…

  23. bo

    I do exactly the same thing in exactly the same way. And I have since I was a wee lad. One of the reasons I love music so much is it’s the only thing I can completely lose myself in. Focusing on how a song works is the only way to get the rest of my brain to shut the eff up.

    Next time you have trouble sleeping, though, I’m into phone sex. Just sayin’.

  24. Poppy

    The only time I can get completely lost in a moment is if something visual in front of my eyes causes it, and it’s VERY rare. I don’t think you’re abnormal. I think we all have a lot on our minds. When I was 8 years old I was sent to talk with the school counselor because I couldn’t sleep at night. She taught me to think of all the subjects in my head as books and when I’m in bed I should visualize putting all the books on the bookshelves until no more books were left… and then hypothetically I could sleep. That just made me wonder what all the books on the shelf were about. 🙂

  25. Lisa

    I used to be much more like that than I am now, although I can’t really put my finger on what changed. I went through a lifetime of insomnia because of the mind racing issue, ever since I was about 4, but over the last couple of years it just stopped. I don’t know if it’s because I started meditating since I’m not very consistent with the practice, but I just feel less fragmented. The sad side effect is that I’ve lost my photographic memory. Maybe I’m just old now and dementia is setting in 😉

    I still don’t go to the bathroom without something to read, though.

  26. thepsychobabble

    1)I’m going to steal this idea, too.
    2)I thought everyone couldn’t spend more than 5 min in the bathroom without reading material? Is this another thing I do that’s not normal? Dammit.
    3)I can’t watch tv without a book, or teh internetz
    4)Conversely, I can’t read a book, or do homework without the tv or radio on.
    5)I have no real reason for numbering this…but I’m going to anyway.

  27. Kirsty

    We could be twins! Except we look nothing alike and I’m waaaaaay older than you.
    I usually come over as someone with an OCD – I count stairs, I count how many steps I take (not because I feel I “have” to, more to see if I can do it without my stupid won’t-shut-off brain freewheeling into a million different thoughts. And I usually fail, or at least can’t keep it up for more than about 20 paces), I go to bed ridiculously late, even though I have to be up early, I read and do crosswords while watching TV, I make endless lists in my mind of all the crap I have to do… And I really, really tried with yoga but just couldn’t do it (and ended up loathing the experience, what with everyone else claiming such “inner peace” and shit).
    Like the “30 truth posts” idea, and am keen to give it a go, but suspect I might fade quite quickly into a pity-fest filled with all the current bitterness and anger. But it might be worthwhile, just to vent a little perhaps…

  28. Coal Miner's Granddaughter

    First, I will be stealing the shit out of this idea for October.

    Second, I’m like you. I have a hard time shutting off my brain. The only way I can turn down the volume is to either watch TV or dive into my very rich fantasy life. Seriously. As an only child, I had a lot of mental time and I would place myself in any story, any TV show or movie. I can’t tell you how many planets I’ve saved with Captain Kirk or how many times I’ve kicked Darth Vader’s ass.

  29. Karen Sugarpants

    Whoa. It’s like reading about my stupid brain. Well not stupid, you know what I mean. Even as I’m typing this I’m listing in my head the things I have to get done tonight for school tomorrow, plus pack lunches and fill out forms for the kids. Ridiculous.

  30. Mr Zebra

    Weird, I always thought you were gay. But yeah, brain not shutting off – if I’m ever forced to sit and think all I can think of is how many ways there are to bite it in this world. And not just bite it, but bite it horribly. This consumes me at times.

  31. Zoeyjane

    Late, as always, with the comment but a) I’m doing it, too, one per day. Day three, thus far, and it’s already hurting my heart a bit, and b) Word. I bet you can’t go so far as to say that you don’t like blowjobs because of that always-going head. (heh.) I can.

  32. sizzle

    I am similar and it is why I force myself to practice yoga. Because I hate this about myself and want to be free of it! It’s very slowly changing the more I go to the mat. And in a couple weeks I am taking a meditation class which, oddly enough, I am excited about.

    I really like this 30 for 30 thing. I might have to join!

  33. Michy

    I think I will totally do this 30 days thing. And link to you in the first one. People can backtrack where it came from after that if they want. Hah. This will either be epic awesome, or really sucky.

  34. LibraryGirl62

    I found you through your birthday letter to Tanis (awesome!) and stuck around cause I like your stuff-and stole the 30 days of truth thing 🙂
    My mind is the same way. I cannot turn it for anything. The very idea of “emptying your mind” is insane, because it would totally be an episode of Hoarders, with crying and garbage bags and cockroaches and piles of books and McDonald’s french fry containers and empty cups of Diet Coke.

  35. Robin

    No wonder we get along, I’m the same way. I can’t ever turn my brain off, it’s infuriating. Sometimes I just want to NOT think and I can’t. I tried yoga once and the more I tried not to the think the more I was thinking. Erik always asks me where these weird thoughts come into my head and there is no way I can explain it. Ever see that standup routine by Ellen where she talks about all the thoughts in her head as she tries to go to sleep, that’s me.

      • Brittany

        @Avitable, Yep, I really do. It’s how I know Herbal Essence used to put riddles hidden on the back of their bottles, with the answers being on the corresponding bottle of shampoo or conditioner.

        I’m also super familiar with the back of tampon boxes, so feel free to ask me any questions you may have about Toxic shock Syndrome.

  36. nancie

    i’ve been reading your blog and your comments…
    i’ve never known anyone before…who couldn’t ‘turn if off’
    the guy i’m dating has that problem…when we ‘first start seeing each other’…he used to tell me all the time that i was the *only* thing that could turn ‘it off’…
    while i still (want to) believe that is still the case, its getting harder and harder for him to ‘turn it off’…..and i’m getting worried. i’m getting afraid that i don’t do ‘it’ for him anymore (we have been seeing each other for 4 years – plus)……..what are your thoughts?

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