I made a promise to myself this year that after our big mid-summer party at the end of June, I was going to really take a break and play for a bit.
Just so you know, “playing” does not come easily for me. I was always the industrious child. Projects had a purpose. They could be enjoyed, but they had to have a valid reason to be done. I rarely did something just for the sheer joy of it.
Also, just so you know, I don’t believe that now. It is sheer folly not to play.
Playing is such a great stress reliver. And right now, letting go of stress is a something that I’m really trying to learn.
It’s just not easy to break an old habit.
As much as I want to play, I don’t know if I remember how to play.
I’ve tried to go back in my mind to rediscover my style of playing. But it’s been so long, I don’t have a clear “fun” memory to dig out.
I‘ve gone through the old pictures, I’ve saved. And I have found a few of me “looking” like I’m having fun. So, I set those aside for inspiration.
There was a picture of me sitting on a horse, learning to ride.
There is a drawing I did of a river, when I was a camp counselor one summer.
There is a photo of me sitting on a merry-go-round horse with some college friends.
There is a picture of me bowling with my Dad.
And one of me camping with my best friend in high school and another one of us swimming.
I have a renaissance fair picture of me dressing up and making crafts.
I also have lots of pictures of my garden and my pets.
Admittedly, it is a bit lean, this collection of fun. The rest of my “me” pictures have a more serious bent to them. But going through them all gave me a good idea of what I used to do for fun, and more importantly, helped me to remember, why I stopped having fun.
It was important I think to rediscover that little nugget of information, along with the others. I needed to face it head on and let it go.
Because having fun, also makes you vulnerable. At the young age of 11, I learned that the things I enjoyed doing could be used against me.
To make a long story short, I had a real jerk for a stepfather. My sister was pretty independent, and after my parents divorced, she wasn’t around much. It was my mom and me. My dad had remarried and moved away, and other than a couple of close friends, that was it. My stepdad was a control freak, and an abuser. He would take all the things that I liked to do, and use them against me, either by destroying my drawings, ruining the memories, insulting my friends and family, tearing me down, or breaking my personal stuff. He would say my art was garbage and that he was the real painter in the family. He would tell me that I had no friends but my animals, so I was worthless. I became an introverted child; a quiet child; a don’t rock the boat child. I was told I had no personality and that I was a nothing. So to get away, I would go for long walks. I let go of my love of drawing, my crafts, my fun, and hid out when I could. Any fun I did have,, I had to keep under wraps. I never spoke of it at home, because I didn’t want the memory tainted by his cruel comments. Because I was silent about my life, he then would tell me what a cold person I had become.
As I got older, I continued to hide my light, my talents, and my joy. My mom stayed with that man until she died, and every encounter I had with them going forward, was horrible for me.
But let’s move on.
That whole situation is moot, now. My life is great. I have great friends, a great hubby, and an awesome nephew. The memories of the past are just that, in the past. The fact that I had to hunt through pictures to help me remember, tells me, loudly and clearly. I have left most of it behind me and all of bad memories are just mere moments in my personal story. My life has been so much more than my interactions with a horrid man.
But the pictures also reminded me that the things I really loved to do, are things I still love now.
The drawing of the river was the only artwork I kept, but I did a lot of pastel sketches as a camp counselor for a bunch of 10-year-old girls. I would sit down in the evening and draw for them. Each one had gotten their own drawing as a souvenir, by the end of the trip.
Camping and swimming with my best friend was a great time. I learned so much about nature back then. And I still love swimming and feeling free in the water.
The bowling with my dad was a great time. But it wasn’t the bowling itself. I was a good bowler, but Dad was great. And that summer the picture was taken, my dad spent his free time teaching me his tricks and techniques. It was my best memory of him; just me and dad, hanging out. He was also the one who encouraged my drawing in the first place. He managed several bowling leagues and so he would give all his leftover league sheets to me so I could draw on the blank side.
I still have my pets and garden too.
So, through all of this, I’ve discovered that I know how to have fun.
That wasn’t the issue. It’s never been the issue.
The issue is claiming back my right to have fun. I hadn’t realized that I had given it away so many years ago. And at the time, I probably didn’t have a choice. I mean, I was 11 after all.
Years later it’s different. I’m an adult. I have weaned all of those people who tried to make me do their bidding and who never really cared a fig about me anyway, out of my life. The ones who share my life now, are happy when I’m happy.
As a child, we instinctively seek out fun. Everything is new and we are curious. When we find something that we really enjoy, we embrace it. It’s the things we don’t like and the people we don’t like that we pull away from.
All the things I found fun when I was a child, I still love now. There is more depth and experience added into it, but essentially, it’s the same. And now that I am retired, I have no excuses not to have fun.
So, here is to fun; and good memories; and love; and joy. Here is to freedom of choice, to smelling the flowers and playing games.
Here is to life, well enjoyed.
Till next time,