Good afternoon, internet.
I’ve started and stopped this blog post about a dozen times since the beginning of the year. I feel like I should let you all know that I’m still alive, but I’m struggling with what to say, exactly. I guess the best thing to do is my usual approach–stumble into it and see if I can rediscover my voice along the way.
I’ve already shared that 2016 was the hardest year of my life.
I am really hoping that 2017 doesn’t attempt to run away with that title. So far, there haven’t been any big bombshells, but it’s only March. The year is young.
I’m trying to show up and do my part to make the year good. Stage one is trying to take better care of myself. I had the system shut down, and I’m trying to start everything back up without the blue screen. At the moment, that involves a fairly basic list of self-care things–showering, exercising, eating right, reading my Bible, and drinking water. Oh, and knitting and crocheting, because those are self-care items for me. I guess it’s working, or maybe starting to work. I don’t cry EVERY day anymore, and that’s kind of progress. Sometimes I go a week without crying. Go me.
I went back to a small and limited leadership role at AHG. I was needed, I guess. I’m not responsible for very much, and the things I am responsible for are narrowly defined, which is good. I probably couldn’t handle much more at this point.
I’m knitting a lot right now. At the moment, I’m trying to knit 40 baby/toddler hats in 40 days. I plan to donate them to a local pregnancy resource center. The old truth still holds–when you do things for other people, you tend to think about your own problems a lot less. I knit and I pray.
My Muse has still not shown up. I keep hoping that if I keep showing up in my life or if I keep knitting or exercising through my mental constipation, she might come back from Tahiti or the Ozarks or Antarctica or wherever she went. So far, no such luck. I still think about my story all the time, but it seems to be stuck in my head. I managed to write about 500 words a month or so ago, but that’s it. Otherwise, I open documents and stare at them and close them because I have better things to do with my time than pretend to write.
Rebooting a person is hard.
On the subject of the Muse… My best friend and I have had a lot of discussions about this. I realized several things:
1) When I decided to give writing a real chance–to really focus on fiction writing–on the advice of people who should know better–the very first day I focused on fiction was the day everything fell apart at home. It’s hard to come back from that. There’s a fear that by even opening the door to the Muse will trigger more bombshells. That may be irrational, but there it is.
2) I blame writing for all of the things that have gone wrong in my family. I blame commercial writing, too. If I had it to do again, I’d never have opened the door to any of it. I’d have been Martha Effing Stewart/June Cleaver from day one. But as my friend and my husband point out, all of the bad things could have still happened, or other bad things could have happened, because life is messy and bad stuff happens even when we make good choices.
3) I’m also, apparently, the only person who sees writing as a bad choice. Others think I could have done some things better, but they don’t see it as a bad choice in itself.
4) Regret is a painful place to live, but it’s a hard place to move out of. I have so much regret for so many things. It’s hard to write around regret.
5) I miss my characters desperately. Whether I’m writing or not, those people are still part of me, and not engaging with them is actually kind of painful.
6) I don’t know how to silence the demons. There are some really powerful ones who harangue me over a lot of things. It’s pretty easy to get stuck in the “bad mom, bad wife, bad friend, shitty writer” loop. When I determine to ignore those demons and set out to do something–anything–make cookies, put on make-up, force myself to go out the door and socialize with people, write a blog post–the demons tend to give me the “what’s the point” speech. Tell me if you’ve heard this one: “What’s the point? No one likes the food you cook. You’re just a mom with wrinkles and gray hair–put on your mom pants and get over it. Socialize? Pretend you have something worth contributing? Pppfffttt. You’d better not write anything. You’re even worse on paper. There’s no point in writing. You have nothing good to say/it’s all been said before/you’re a hack with no talent/no one reads what you write.”
The exercise shuts the demons up for a bit. So does knitting. Reading my Bible helps, too, but I’m kind of in a spiritual dry spell… I was here once before, but then, God was silent. I feel like he’s not silent now, but I just don’t really know how to approach him. So I keep reading my Bible and praying and exercising and knitting and hoping that God or the Muse or something helpful shows up. I’m also a little bit afraid that he expects me to write. I’m not ready to be that obedient yet. I’m also not ready to hear “no, you should not write anymore.” It’s possible God just doesn’t feel like I need to be micro-managed.
When my computer needs a reboot, I just reboot it. It’s still in pretty good shape, so it usually happens fairly quickly. A few minutes and we’re back in business.
But rebooting a person…
In any case, here are the good things, because focusing on positive things is also helpful:
* I could write this post. That’s a good thing in itself.
* I have exercised steadily for almost 8 weeks and lost about 12 pounds so far. It’s nice to realize that I’m a little stronger every day.
* I’m still alive, still married, still healthy. My kids are healthy, at least physically.
* I have a very healthy stash of yarn.
* We are financially okay. Not great, not rich, but we’re okay. We can still afford the things we need and some of the things we want. In my case, the latter is usually yarn (see previous point).
So in the order of operations of the reboot, things are moving along, I guess. I haven’t blue screened yet. We’re not back at square one.
But the reboot isn’t done yet, either. And I’m still not entirely sure what will work and what won’t when the OS is done with its thing.
So… I keep doing the things, showing up, fighting the demons… My bootstraps are getting pretty stretched out at this point.
Here’s hoping they don’t snap before I’m done with them.