Wow, I haven’t written since November 12th. That’s two months ago. I enjoyed a short period of writing password protected posts, anyone who wants to read them should just HMU and I’ll give you the password once I’ve established you aren’t my mother, my kids, or a potential employer.
Sideboob pointed out that that short interval was a time of my greatest personal growth. I made more progress in those three weeks of emo poetry, autobiographical nude portraits, and drug metaphors than I had in months of therapy. No one knows better than her how much pain I was in, how stuck I was, and how writing helped me move through it and put me in a profoundly better place.
Well, I need some of that juice again.
I am a writer at heart, it is my true love and the deepest well of healing and insight I can dip into. Yet I allowed other people’s real and imagined judgements get to me and shut down perhaps my most useful tool.
I must remind myself that I am not writing for the small handful of readers (and I appreciate you so much) but ultimately for myself. It is how I process my feelings, get to the bottom of things, and hold myself accountable.
I need some of that right now as I tackle another issue … vocation. Woowoo as it may sound, I truly believe that I cannot get what I want until I know what I want. And I’m not sure that is what I thought it was, hence the way I’m slow-walking getting a job.
I mean, it’s not entirely my fault. I’ve been applying for lots of jobs but that period between Thanksgiving and the New Year is a bad time to apply for anything. There are also a lot less part-time jobs out there and part-time is what I want. But I think I have been projecting a reticence about work that has kept me from connecting with employers.
As cornball as it might sound, I had a small revelation on New Year’s Eve. I went to a party that ended with everyone writing down what we wanted to let go of in the New Year. Then we set them on fire and between that and the sparklers in the night air and the friends, it felt magical.
I like rituals – they are kind of a guilty pleasure – and that night the symbolism rang true.
What did I vow to let go of? Worrying about what other people thought about me and what I should be doing with my life. I must make choices that resonate with me rather than hewing to advice given by whoever has the loudest voice or the most control over me.
I understand that people give advice based upon the choices they’ve made and how well they believe those choices have worked for them. So the single people say be single, those with careers say throw myself into a career, those who are in happy relationships say date and have fun, those who value freedom and flexibility say piece my work together, those who are expressive say let it rip, those who never share their feelings tell me to close myself off. So it goes.
But here’s the deal. I’m 48 – spitting distance from 50 – I have to start trusting myself. I must cast a critical eye on the advice or criticism put on me and continue down my path, wherever that may take me.
I must stop sitting at anyone’s feet. Especially anyone that actually aspires to having someone sit at their feet. I have to watch out for that type.
Speaking up for myself is of the utmost importance because it is what scares me the most, it is my blackest of snake and creepy-crawly filled holes.
My usual reaction is to fawn in the face of fear of disapproval.
[Senses disapproval] You are right. You have a good point. Tell me what I should do. Please tell me more. Let me write that down.
I’ve accomplished enough things in my life that one could argue I am a competent adult, I should be able to trust myself. After all, just back in June I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to stand up for myself when faced with a creepy guy. I’ve more than proven to myself (and a few creeps) that I can more than handle myself in that situation. In fact, I think I’m downright formidable.
The only advice I have a hard time following is to believe in myself, to speak up, to tell my truth even if that means pushing back against whoever is talking to me.
To give zero fucks, as Sideboob often encourages me to do.
I am so terrified of disapproval, it feels like being abandoned. On a deep level I am afraid if I put up any resistance, if I express anything but gratitude for whatever has been handed to me, if I dare say that I don’t like something or it hurt my feelings, I will be out on the street. At one point this was a literal fear, now it is just an irrational one … which is why speaking up for myself is so freaking terrifying.
Like, existential dread level terrifying.
But I’m practicing speaking up and hopefully it will continue to get easier and feel more like routine communication and not like jumping out of an airplane.
Now that I am settled into my home, nurturing and feeling nurtured by a new relationship, Lonny and I are communicating better (though we are still quite fragile), the kids have come around to accepting our new reality and are opening up to me in the most beautiful way, I am turning to work. I’m still looking.
I believe my greatest work is still my family. I don’t have the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom – and even when I did I was working my ass off and earning money for the family – but I need something the allows me the freedom to bring up my boys. And dogs.
I want to build something but it isn’t a product, it isn’t an empire. It is community and relationships. Yes, it is a smaller view of the world and no one will ever point to my contribution and say I changed the world or even my community, but I will touch those around me. I cannot thrive in a world where I couldn’t lay my hands on my dogs, where I couldn’t be there for my kids, where I couldn’t say yes to opportunities to connect with those I love.
I am smart enough that I am considering my long-term security and I have a pretty solid foundation already.
I am lucky to have a home I can pull an income from, although it means starting divorce proceedings. I am ready to for it but I don’t relish the stress and pain the paperwork alone will cause Lonny. I wish I could spare him all of this.
It means swallowing my pride and admitting that no, I am not a hot-shot career woman. I thought that was what I wanted, and as a friend reminded me I can still want that, but I want my relationships more. It might mean doing work that people might think is beneath me but frankly, menial and gig work pays better than entry level “career” work. And while it is worth it to pay one’s dues, I have to ask myself how much I am willing to sacrifice for something I don’t want.
I still don’t have any answers. I need to get on my feet, to get clear, and to be productive in the interim by doing something that is – if not the exact right thing – is something. Maybe I’ll start by doing something I already do, like walking dogs.