A girl named Quitter lives inside my head. I’m not sure when she first presented herself. Maybe in middle school, when I decided tennis wasn’t for me. Or maybe way before that, when my initial promise in gymnastics hit a wall of hard work. I know I didn’t see her clearly that first time, whenever it was. I mistook her for Self-Care when she whispered in my ear that stopping would be so much better for me. Less pain, the easy way. I guess I must have invited her in though I didn’t expect her to make a home up there in my mind.
Quitter is a tough tenant. She’s grown roots and refuses to leave, though I don’t think she’s ever paid a dollar in rent. I’ll bet she’s pretty pissed by now. I didn’t used to give her a hard time. I figured she was right when she told me I was no good at writing back in Mrs. Marudas 11th grade English class. And I believed her about a lot of other stuff, too. Lacrosse, guitar, French. I could go on but I don’t want to bore you. She was sorta fun at first but in a bad way. Like the friend who takes you out to get drunk when you’re pissed at your boyfriend. Then it turns out she slept with him.
Somewhere along the line, I met the real Self-Care, not the one that Quitter pretended to be way back when. I understood that Self-Care is the friend who makes a cup of hot tea or gives you a hug when things are tough. She doesn’t lie to you or call you nasty names. So I give Quitter a hard time now. She likes to think she’s who made me strong but I don’t think so.
I stood up to her when I finished college, took my first job, ran my first 10K after knee surgery, did my first triathlon, completed a marathon, when I wrote a book. Hell, I stood up to her when I said, “I do,” at the altar 16 years ago. Whew, was she pissed! But of course, she skulks off when my husband’s nearby. She doesn’t stand a chance against him. He won’t put up with her mean ways.
I couldn’t imagine why she was still hanging around. I mean, she can’t be comfortable up there anymore. But last week I figured out why she hasn’t left. See, I hit a tough spot in my revisions and while I wasn’t looking, she snuck up and grabbed me in a chokehold. You’d be proud, though. I didn’t say,”Uncle.” I just hung on for the ride. Even when Quitter told me that I’m no good and that I’m just another housewife chasing stupid dreams. Even when she said worse stuff that I won’t repeat. She fights dirty, going after my friends and family. But I turned to the tricks that Self-Care taught me. I called friends, I exercised, I rested.
I think she’s returned to her corner for now but I know she’s not gone for good. It’s the dreams that keep her, I think. She hates that I have dreams. Maybe she didn’t have any or maybe someone squashed hers a long time ago. Who knows? I can’t say I feel much pity for her. A friend suggested that I might have more luck evicting her if I introduced her to Self-Care. It’s true, the full-on brawls take their toll. But I’m not ready to be nice to her yet. Not quite yet.