Posts Tagged With: foibles
Today, I have to admit that I am weak, and have cracked like a weak-shelled peanut under the pressure of a rather simple goal.
As I talked about Sunday, Week 4 of The Artist’s Way prescribes a week of no recreational reading. (I started Week 4 on Sunday.) I knew I wouldn’t last a week, so I set the goal to run through today, and possibly break it tomorrow morning.
The truth is, I just can’t do it. Even my subconscious wouldn’t let me.
Last night I didn’t sleep very well to begin with, since my usual winding down ritual is reading the day’s reading from Meditations from the Mat and maybe something else, depending upon how tired I am. Not reading made it difficult for my body to grasp that it was time to go to bed, as an integral part of the nightly ritual was missing.
Once I did get to sleep, I read what seemed like the whole night in my dreams, things my sometimes photographic memory had apparently stored for a rainy day. My dream self read legal briefs, legal statutes, and Court decisions. I dreamed of reading parts of Twilight, Pride and Prejudice, Bridget Jones’s Diary, Love in the Time of Cholera, the Psalms, The Dhammapada, and even parts of some of my old university textbooks that I haven’t looked at in years, most of that from my social psychology textbook which I loathed because nearly every paragraph had at least one sentence that was structured, “Indeed, _______________.”
I don’t think Julia Cameron had taken into account photographic memories when she imposed a reading ban. Given I spent my whole night reading , I’ve already broken it.
However, I did get something of value out of my time off from recreational reading.
Monday without reading was actually pretty good after I battled my compulsion to read for a while. The beginning of what I think is a short story grabbed me and made me write it. I think I’ve found a way to write the novel I attempted in November, tackling it from a different angle so that it will actually get written, which also happened on Monday.
Yesterday was pure Hell, though. Without others’ words taking up any space in my head, and having a very stressful workday, my Inner Critic came out roaring and ran amok all day. I got to see just how terribly I can treat myself, and how critical I can be of every little perceived fault, blowing them all tremendously out of proportion. To try to get a brief respite from that howling monster, I played innumerable games of computer Solitaire and Mahjong when writing in my journal wasn’t working. I tried just listening objectively, but I couldn’t do it. I’m going to do my best to tame that monster, to be more compassionate toward myself. Yesterday certainly drove that point home.
It boils down to this: I can’t handle another day like yesterday with the way things are right now. I just can’t. I need the emotional and spiritual sustenance and escapism that comes with reading, the bolstering of courage and solid proof that I’m not alone in my foibles.
That being said, I may try the recreational reading ban again, but not until more favorable weather arrives. I may have made it to my goal if the weather had been fit for getting outside rather than cold, wind-driven rain the past couple days, and high winds and ice and snow today. In more favorable conditions, I could get outside with my camera and take some photos of Mother Nature’s finest on any given day. When I’m taking photos outside, I’m so focused on seeing and capturing what I see that there’s little room for anything else. Also, if I decide to do it again, it may just be for a day or two scattered out instead of a solid, days-long block of time.
I don’t feel great about not living up to this challenge, but I think admitting defeat in this case is better than the alternative.
“It’s horrid to see you again
“So bored of being you…
“It’s horrid to see you again
“So full of apathy…
“It’s horrid to see you again
“Caught in a trap that you cannot escape…”
— Placebo, excerpts from “Lazarus,” from the album Meds
Yesterday, and again today, I feel like the person that song is talking about.
There is so much in my life right now that I am sick of, and, as a result, I’ve fallen into alternating waves of bottled-up rage and outward and inward apathy.
I’m basically warring with myself, as I have been for quite a long while. The only way I can get out of this, to even begin to step toward the life I long for, it seems, is to step on some toes and/or burn some bridges, which I’ve not been wanting to do since I don’t, at this point, have anywhere else to go and anything else to do that will provide money on which to live.
I have, once again, let myself become the victim of my own obsessive drive to try to please everyone and to be perfect as possible, at least outwardly. Somewhere along the line, I got the message loud and clear that “good girls” do their best to make everyone happy. That sunk in and is so insidious and difficult to rid myself of. The clause that went with that, the caveat that, unfortunately, even your best will not make everyone happy, will not please everyone, didn’t make it in.
I have felt so worn out this whole holiday season, just worn out and used up and overstimulated. It feels like I can’t catch a break in that department!
My job is making increasingly stressful, and, at times, ludicrous, demands upon me. I can’t quit, though. I just had to shell out over $500.00 in car repairs yesterday, and there are also the usual holiday expenses, plus car insurance premiums next month. I need a few more paychecks if the business doesn’t go belly-up before then. (That’s another thing, for this whole year I’ve been jerked around in that department, never knowing from one month to the next if I’m going to be employed, but, at the same time, being expected to go down with the ship. Whole other story, best told in the privacy of my paper journal, but that’s it in a nutshell.) I also need to get a good reference out of it so I can get a job afterward. Some days, it’s not so bad, some days not bad at all, but those days are much fewer in number than the crazy-making variety.
Then there’s the general stress that comes with the holidays for us grown-ups with people-pleasing issues: cleaning, shopping for or making gifts that you hope and pray the recipients will like, hoping you haven’t forgotten anyone on your holiday card list, etc.
It’s winter. I want to slow down, but work and culture demand I speed up.
This year, it seems like the Solstice, for me, has been more about meeting the Shadow Self and dealing with the dark aspects of myself and my life than focusing on the rebirth of the Light. I didn’t even formally observe it yesterday. I just let my Shadow Self do its shouting.
I know I need to let go of a lot of things, perfectionism and the people in my life who only support me insofar as I meet their wants and needs among them. But it’s difficult…So very difficult.
Even contemplating making this post public is difficult, but being vulnerable, and showing that I am not, in fact, perfect as society views perfect, is part of being authentically human. I don’t want those who stumble across this blog to think I’m always Little Miss Mary Sunshine, and, in turn, feel bad about themselves because they are not. (I’ve been there.) I don’t want them to feel I’ve always got some deep thought to share, or that most of the times I write are posts for participation in dreamboards, Wishcasting, Sacred Life Sunday (which, incidentally, I haven’t done lately), or book clubs. Yes, those are the times I’m most apt to write, but it’s also because I’m often afraid to show the soft, squishy bits. (I’ve had a lot of days in the past year of feeling soft and squishy, vulnerable, and introverted.) I want people to know that, like everyone else, yes, I do have a Shadow Self to deal with, and, no, that’s not always easy.
Am I looking forward to the return of the Light? Yes. But I’m also in the process of recreating myself, and that is not a bright and shiny process since I have to come apart in some way, to tear down the parts that aren’t working and put them back together in a new configuration that will, hopefully, work better. That entails a lot of wrestling with figurative angels, and also with the fearful parts of myself.
Please bear with me as I ride this rollercoaster.
Have you ever hit a period in your life during which you experience seismic shifts in your inner life, but none of that seems to show in your outer life, or, alternatively, you don’t let it show in your outer life? Has your mind swirled with waves of words you can’t quite grasp in order to name and describe the experience? Have you been filled with self-doubt but exhilaration at the same time? Have you felt lost?
I have. All of those things have been churning around inside me for weeks now, and I’m still having trouble putting things into words…Or, at least, organized words to share with the world. In recent days I have been writing a lot in a paper journal, trying to sort and process it all.
Honestly, I’ve been feeling pretty wretched about it. I’ve been berating myself because I can’t make sense of myself right now, of my directionlessness and indecisiveness, and if I can’t, who can? Shouldn’t I have my life more together by now? Really.
After a blogging buddy recently wrote and raved about Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, and that came to me as I was lying in the floor in child’s pose on my yoga mat over the weekend, desperate and tearing up because I felt like I was cracking up for a moment, like I was playing out the story of the Sisyphus in my daily life, I impulsively hopped in the car and zoomed off to Wal-Mart, praying all the way they’d still have a copy. They did have exactly one copy on display, which I took as a good sign, grabbed it up, bought it, and went home to read. I’ve since been reading and digesting it in small bits.
Anyway, to the point, in my reading from said book last night, I hit upon this:
“We’re all bozos on the bus, so we might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.” — Wavy Gravy
“I believe that we are all bozos on the bus, contrary to the self-assured image we work so hard to present to each other on a daily basis. We are all half-baked experiments–mistake-prone beings, born without an instruction book into a complex world. None of us are models of perfect behavior. We have all betrayed and been betrayed; we’ve been known to be egotistical, unreliable, lethargic, and stingy; and each one of us has, at times, awakened in the middle of the night worrying about everything from money, kids or terrorism to wrinkled skin and receding hairlines. In other words, we’re all bozos on the bus. This, in my opinion, is cause for celebration. If we’re all bozos, then for God’s sake, we can put down the burden of pretense and get on with being bozos.” — Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, p. 28
It was good to be reminded that I’m not the only one who has, or currently is, fumbling around in the metaphorical dark for a light switch, or digging through a cluttered glove box for a road map because she has no idea where she’s going.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if we all just stopped acting like we are what we are not.
I mean, think about it, how much of our lives are spent trying to look like we have all the answers, that we’re just peachy, darling, when really we feel like a train wreck on fire? How much of our lives are spent in an endless, often futile, quest for others’ approval? How much time do we spend comparing our lives, our bodies, our homes, etc., to everyone else’s? How often are we ashamed because things in our lives or our minds or our souls are not in perfect order?
Our culture is even set up to keep us pretending!
We have to please and gain the approval of our employers, or no paycheck. With no paycheck, we’d have no shelter, no clothing, and no food. Meanwhile, many of us daydream about doing something else that has meaning for us while we slave away in a job that doesn’t fit, but often–and I’m no exception whatsoever, not in the least– we’re too afraid to go that route because there may not be a paycheck in it for us.
If we admit weakness, we call each other childish. We tell each other to just snap out of it, to grow up, or that this is just the way it is. Other people have it all together, and so should we. There are people going through much worse. There are lots of these sort of things we tell each other and ourselves.
But, really, there are at least times, now and again, when we’re all bozos on the same bus.
I admit it: I am definitely one of the bozos right now, but instead of kicking and screaming and railing against being on the bus, I think I’m going to start sitting back, observing, and thinking, because I have company…Probably interesting company from whom I can learn. Also, kicking and screaming isn’t going to help, clearly.
Today has me asking myself:
Where did all the hope, excitement, and general good feelings of the New Year go?
Where did the greatness of Sunday and the attendant feelings of refreshment go?
Why am I asking myself these things?
Because I have been in a cranky funk since Monday.
I’ve been enveloped in this near-constant fog of irritation, stress, anger, and annoyance. (Not to mention a headache-a-day, which has generally lasted much of the day.)
I’ve been snappish, when I’ve bothered to talk at all.
I’ve been a complainer, am being a complainer, and I don’t like being a complainer. I don’t very much enjoy the company of complainers, despite my immediate family with whom I reside being comprised of complainers. (And, yes, that was me complaining about others complaining, and complaining about me being a complainer. Isn’t that twisted?)
In short, I have not been myself. Or, at least, I have not been the Self that I like to be. If anything, I’ve been running around with my Shadow Self at the wheel.
So I wonder what it’s going to take to get me back to the Self I like to be.
Perhaps it would help to figure out what’s bothering me, both that which is bothering me on a superficial level, and that which is bothering me on a deeper level.
The superficial level is an easy, lengthy, complaining list:
- Work stress.
- A full-blown acne breakout.
- Having no time to myself at home, or at work.
- The noise level at home, living with three avid TV watchers/loud talkers, sans earplugs.
- That I have to wear earplugs at home if I want any semblance of quiet.
- That I can’t walk into the bedroom I share with my 18 year old sister without stepping on or over her stuff most of the time, at least until she returns to university Friday.
- That I can’t move my sister’s things out of the floor in order to yoga, so no yoga–or pilates or any other indoor exercise at all–the whole time she’s been home (since before Christmas, and until Friday).
- That the first-of-the-month crazy drivers are out en force, and speeding, weaving, and cutting people off more than usual. (I think this must be a rural Kentucky phenomenon, but at the first of the month, it seems that traffic becomes much heavier, and people drive much more erratically.)
- I feel like I don’t have enough time to do everything I want to do, like reading for pleasure, creating, or doing something about the deplorable state of my fingernails and toenails, for instance. (Even though I do have time, usually, after work, I just fall into a vegetative state in front of the living room TV, succumbing to the spell of whatever my parents are watching.)
- I’ve not been sleeping well when I do get to sleep, nor have I been successful in getting to bed on time, so I’m running on a deficit…Again. (This has become increasingly common for me over the past couple of years, and usually comes in cycles.)
- Mother nature’s monthly gift has been arriving two to three days after the full moon since November, and the full moon is this Saturday, putting me squarely in the throes of PMS, which only exacerbates an already cranky mood.
- I’ve realized how much others try to get in the way of what I know is best for me with their own demands, and how often I let them succeed in doing so, while realizing that, at this point, keeping them from getting in my way would require more creativity in circumnavigating demands or more confrontation and argument than I want to go through.
As for what is bothering me on a deeper level, that will take time and thought…More time and thought that I can muster here at work in the dead moments between typing assignments and phone calls.
But see what I mean about being a complainer?!? Gosh.
Thich Nhat Hanh, I remember, says in Peace Is Every Step to treat anger and other such emotions as a mother would a crying child, to cradle them in awareness instead of just trying to shove them away and pretend it’s not there, but also to avoid acting from them. I am trying, but this is easier said than done, at least for me, right here and right now.
I am hoping that everyone at home will go to Wednesday night church and I can have an hour to unwind in peace and quiet. Even if they don’t, I’m going to try to carve out some time for self-care this evening.
At any rate, work has sped up, as per usual for late afternoon, and I should end this. If you stumble upon this, and feel like answering, how do you deal with negative emotions?