Breaking Down The Walls Of “Can’t”


Alright, kids, confession time.  I have been feeling incredibly sorry for myself recently.

Oddly enough, it was another person validating all I have been going through this year, telling me I’m not getting all worked up over nothing, that I have had it incredibly rough that snapped me out of my funk.  This person was trying to help me, they said sometimes we all feel sorry for ourselves, we can’t help it.

This is absolutely true.  And I have been dealing with — let’s just keep things short and say a whole lot of crap — I have been dealing with a whole lot of crap: crap of all shapes, sizes, colors, and varieties; internal crap, external crap, eternal crap, it seems to me sometimes.  I know we all deal with crap, but I have been absolutely bombarded for about five months straight, with little or no respite.

In the last five months, I have been very limited in the things I can do.  And I’m not talking about anything special, I’m talking about basic things some days, like walking and talking and even thinking.

And thus, smaller and smaller my world has been shrinking.

There are a great many limiting factors which are not under my control right now.  This is an incontrovertible truth.  And  I know all of them intimately, they have been what has kept me company, all that has really been with me recently.  With me, in me, around me; clinging to me, invading me, engulfing me like chloroform.  I’ve felt trapped, imprisoned, bricked in to a life full of “can’ts”, already at tender 34.  So many “can’ts” have sat with me and talked to me and beat their laws of limitations into my brain.

One thing I know I can’t do is change how I handled things, how I let these thoughts take root and flower in my life.  Hell, some of them are not at all about me letting in negative thoughts, they are simply the truth of a situation and I must learn to move on with them.

But I decided last night that I will not give in any more.  I’m going to break down these walls of “can’t”.  I helped build them, but that means I know best how to break them.

And when I break through, I’m coming out swinging.

I’m coming out with “cans”.  I’ve already started a list.  This list doesn’t have to be practical.  All it has to be is possible.

To wit:

  • I can get in the car and start driving, east or west until I hit the Atlantic or the Pacific; North or South until I hit Canada or Mexico.  And as my passport is in order, I can keep right on going north or south.  Actually, as I can swim, I can feasibly keep on going east or west as well.
  • I can buy a one-way ticket to New Zealand (barely), and figure out how I’ll get back when it’s time for me to get back.
  • Or I can buy a one-way to France, and spend days lost in the splendor of Notre Dame.
  • I can spend those same days locked in the house reading, knowing I am safe and comfortable and well-nourished and loved and one of the most incredibly lucky human beings ever to have lived.
  • I can explore my own city with the most amazing 14-year-old in the whole history of humanity.

The most important of the “cans”?  I can meet whatever comes next, face it and stare it down and deny any would be “can’ts” their power over me.  (“Rubbish, you have no power here.  Now begone, before somebody drops a house on you, too!”).

I can open my eyes.  I can recognize the gift that is my heartbeat.  I can try to do something.  Hell, I never wanted to be anyone anyway.  (And if you get that paraphrased reference, I tip my hat.)

© Ruby Tuesday and A Canvas Of The Minds 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ruby Tuesday and A Canvas Of The Minds with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


18 thoughts on “Breaking Down The Walls Of “Can’t”

  1. Your world and your influence is huge!! I’ve been encouraged, educated and handled gently with real care and concern. There are lots of people, like me who read but don’t always comment. Who are awed out by your . Sending love, wisdom & strength for your journey. Ms Maids

    ps. If you ever swim to the UK, I know a bunch of mermaids and a sailor who would come out and meet you.

    • Ms. Maids, just knowing that you are there, being quietly but constantly supportive, showing kindness and expressing encouragement when I really do need it, helping me to feel that I make a difference and what I do and say matter. . . Well, I cannot tell you how it touches my heart that you did take the time to comment this time. ♡

      And you have to know if I’m going to go from here to Paris, I absolutely will swim first to the UK. It’s directly on my way, and I wouldn’t miss seeing those mermaids, nor the Sailor, for anything! 😉

  2. I love your “can” list.

    You’re strong and you’re powerful. You can do whatever you want and need to, when you feel the time is right. 🙂

    • Sheena, thank you. I kind of figured while I was at it making the list, I ought to go ahead and do it up right. 😉

      You’ve hit upon something with the timing being right. The walls, they’re still coming down, but just because I’m all set to bust out doesn’t mean I don’t have to accept the fact that I have to give some time and accept that going from being a virtual shut-in to conquering the world may take more than a day!

  3. I can relate. 🙂 I too am focusing a lot these days on I cans. It’s amazing what we can accomplish when we set our minds to it. I did face my fears and go to the Grand Canyon. Whew! That was a tough one..but it was very fun and inspirational, and spiritual which I wasn’t expecting. Sacred ground. 😉 Good for you Ruby. xo

    • Dani, wow! I’ve never actually been, which is absurd. I’m so proud of you, and you’re right to be proud of yourself! I’m really so very glad you not only conquered a major fear, but got much more than you had imagined out of it.

      You definitely have a mind that can accomplish a lot, and I’d love to know more about your cans. 🙂

      • It is such an amazing place Ruby. I was shocked actually. I always thought wow a big hole in the ground, and not wanting to fall in.(I usually avoid large holes in the ground) .saw no good reason to view it. LOL But I devised myself a plan.mostly because my other half wanted to go so badly… conquer. If I saw this huge hole from the bottom?…there would be no way I could fall in right?…lol now getting to the bottom was a tad harrowing. First time in a helicopter, and rode in a very small hopper plane..eeeek. But I didn’t chicken out… and it was so worth it. Here is the link to the photo book of our adventure.

        My motto lately has been to try and roll with things that I would normally object to. I do it in moderation.. I don’t push myself too hard..but I keep pushing gently, and it works. The growth, and the enjoyment that comes from the experience far outweigh the initial discomfort. We are never done till its over. 🙂 So here’s to I CAN!!!!

        • You’re very wise about that large hole in the ground thing, lol! I love the way you took that fear and completely flipped it on its axis, though. Absolutely brilliant. And I can’t wait to have a look at your photo book, thank you for sharing the link!

          I’ve grown into a tremendous longing to see places like the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley (not sure if you know much about the latter) both for themselves and because of what they represent to my father, so in turn to me. Growing up in an eastern city like Pittsburgh, and growing up watching “The Lone Ranger,” and John Ford/John Wayne Westerns, The West was much more a part of my dad — and subsequently me — than it ever was a direction or even an experience.

          I don’t have any fears about heights (though I will confess to not liking heat so well), so I’d love to do the whole deal with a mule ride down the Canyon and sleeping on the terribly uncomfortable ground. . . I think if the reward is great enough, I find I can endure 10 times what I normally would.

          Incidentally, a few years ago my dad and my uncle took my grandfather on a driving trip to the Grand Canyon. I guess there was one point where they were all near to the edge, just a normal spot for visitors, but no walls or fences for safety or anything. My grandfather was looking over and my dad jokingly said to his brother, “You know, if he fell now there is no way we could possibly convince people we hadn’t pushed him.” (For the record, they love their dad. They also love giving him a hard time. It goes both ways.)

          So I guess you’re pretty right to have a healthy fear of the place from the top!

          Also, I love your ‘We are never done til it’s over.’ How incredibly inspirational and hopeful is that? 😉

  4. After spending three months sitting on the metaphorical sidelines and being instructed to doubt whether I can do the job I like best in the world, I needed to hear about your list of can’s.

    I feel inspired to try and to do *something* rather than spend any longer in this nowhere land of negativity. Where there was a void, a lack of being, now I can say “I can…”


    • maumaujoy, I needed to write this post for myself, but I couldn’t be more grateful that I did because of your words. It’s really, really so awful to be told to question whether we can do something, especially something we love. I’ve usually been told it with the best of intentions (i.e.: don’t be so hard on yourself), but whatever the motivation, once that seed has been planted it can kill your capacity for doing things you are fully capable of, sometimes for doing anything.

      Your “nowhere land of negativity” makes me think of The Waiting Place in Dr. Seuss’ Oh! The Places You’ll Go! I’m so glad you’re busting out of it!

      And not that my words matter, but I also say, “You can. . .” 😉

  5. That negativity is overwhelming and all-consuming. Those who have not been there don’t know what it’s like and think it is helpful to tell you to “man up / woman up” as though demanding somebody snap out of it is going to put it all right.

    Fantastic quote from Nelson Mandela: “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

    • You are so right about the way the negativity can be overwhelming and all-consuming. It’s true that no one who has not been through it can truly know what it is like, but I am so fortunate in having some amazingly sympathetic and supportive people in my life. Even those who may not understand or know how to deal with me, I honestly don’t think I have ever gotten a ‘Snap out of it; think positively and you’ll get better; pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ among them. There certainly has been hurt and misunderstanding, but never of that particular variety. I do know how counterproductive and damaging that attitude can be.

      I like that Mandela quote very much. But I also feel to a certain extent, just for me personally, there is another quote that applies more strongly right now. It’s from a man far less famous and far less eloquent, I suppose, but one I have related to for many years. Singer/songwriter Art Alexakis of Everclear says in the song “Strawberry,”: “Don’t fall down now, You will never get up. . .”

      It’s awfully simple, and it also may seem awfully negative. But I feel like this is a time in my life where I’ve fallen too deep. Now I am on my feet and walking again, and I cannot stumble for anything, not if I want to continue with my “cans” and with the business of living.

      Make any sense?

      • It does make sense. Perhaps my reading of that quote is different from yours, but I take more comfort from the message that “I will fall over, but it’s okay so long as I get back up again”.

        Whichever works for you of course. You seem like a strong person and I find your blog very enlightening 🙂

        • No, I agree with you about the Mandela quote, and I think your interpretation of it is beautiful.

          What I meant was though I’ve fallen down and gotten back up again and again (and in future I surely will again and again), and I am so grateful that I could get up, right now I feel I’m in a kind of precarious place. I’ve done my getting back up for this round. Right now, just at this moment, I cannot do any more falling. I have to build back my reserves right now, and I have to build them on my feet.

          Does that make any more sense of it?

          Also, thank you for your kind words. They really do mean so much to me. 🙂

    • No promises, Sid. Some things are best left to imagination anyway (which is why I prefer books, ahem,) and perhaps some hobbits and elves would object strongly to having their photographs taken.

      But I imagine that for a nice boy like you, they might send back with me a souvenir even more precious than an image — and no, I obviously don’t mean that precious! 😉

    • You have different names I know you are comfortable disclosing, but I hope you will understand if I feel Faith fits you so beautifully. Thank you always for your faith in me. xo

Throw Some Paint Onto The Canvas!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s