I am surfing a toxic cocktail of fatigue, hormones, confusion and chocolate frosting, so let me forewarn you this could come out very badly. First, I have to express how much I admire and enjoy the many writers I follow who are so SMART and FUNNY and TALENTED it makes me sort of break open inside. You rock! And you take up too much of my time, but please don’t slow down on my account. Now, I wish I was a better person, or at least a more dishonest person, so I didn’t have to admit this terrible, dirty secret: there is a little part of me that resents how wonderful you are. Deeply. You don’t deserve that. Also, I know that I am a perfectly good writer, with moments of excellence and plenty of growth ahead (keep at it, wordtabulous! you can do it!) but there are those days–you know the ones, don’t you?–when it seems like anybody else’s achievement feels like an erosion of your own? When the gasp of appreciation of someone else is followed by a tiny, exhaled, I suck. This is SO petty I can barely live with myself.
I bring it up and out here where anyone can judge me because I don’t think I am alone. And there are things that can help a person get through this. One is time. We are all mentally and emotionally healthier some days than others; give things a day or two and know it will get better. Another is self-care. When your spirit is miserable, don’t forget that your body has needs too; drink water, eat healthy food, get a little exercise. A third is community. We need each other to lean upon and while taking a little quiet time is fine, hiding inside our own dark little hearts, watching crap TV and feeling rotten will only get you more of the same. Better to get out of yourself and find out what is going on with someone else, take a little Copernican Revolution and breathe the fresh air of a world where it isn’t all about you! Or me, as the case certainly was for about twenty minutes earlier today.
Please forgive me friends and colleagues, I respect and thank you for sharing your talent and look forward to reading more. And if you should ever, ever feel a teensy bit jealous of me, I would be so thrilled I cannot tell you.
Oh my God, oh my God, please. Please let someone read it who gets it. Please let someone read what I wrote and say, “Wow, that is so [cool, right, inspiring, funny, ANYTHING.] Please let me not be just another asshat who is obsessed with being noticed, even though that is what it feels like I am. Please help me understand what it is I am doing or what it is I am supposed to be doing. Why do I keep feeling like putting words on a page? I mean, I am glad my mom and a couple of my long-suffering friends take the time to check in, but does this whole writing endeavor make sense? All this effort and angst for what? There is so much crap out there, God, have you SEEN all the crap out there? I don’t want to be putting out crap. I know I shouldn’t care about being liked, God, but then why did you build me so I care so MUCH about whether people like what I do or write? That is freakin’ mean, God. Harsh. To make me so insecure and so exhibitionistic at the same time, and then to wrap me up in the culture that says “If you can dream it you can achieve it,” but then make me so cynical that I know that is idiotic. Is this is a joke? Am I amusing you? I didn’t take you for snarky, Lord, but I am feeling like the dork stumbling past the cool kid’s table, and you are snorting milk out of your nose. OK, that’s not true. You wouldn’t laugh at me. But you are keeping some secrets and it sucks. I hate not understanding the direction or the point of this.
And that, right there, is the point. Understanding is my anchor; research and analysis is how I control my world. You want to be my anchor and want me to know that control is an illusion. Dude. I don’t have to like it, but I see your point. As always, God, oh my God, 1) help me, and 2) thanks.
“If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.” Okay, for the most part that isn’t true, but one area in which it is would be my “I should blog about…” list. After doing a few serious posts in a row, I felt like I wanted to write something fun, but life has been…well, serious lately and I was having trouble finding inspiration. Then it hit me–***. That is correct, I didn’t write it down and now I have no idea what I was thinking about doing. My hands were probably in dishwater, or I had an armload of laundry (yeah, I’m a fun girl.) I remember smiling with relief when this mystery topic popped into my head, and thinking, “yeah, that’s kind of amusing, people will relate to that. I’ve thought about writing on it before, so there’s no worry I am going to go and forget it…I’ll just finish what I’m doing first.” Great idea, Lynnette. This is really annoying because I should know better; I try to have notepads and pens handy at all times for just this reason, though I haven’t figured out an effective way to do this in the shower. Socrates wrote, “Know thyself.” Good advice. I bet he wrote that one down right when he thought of it.
My sister, Kerin, and I were talking about the practice of writing when upset. Kerin blogged on the Caring Bridge website last year while she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer, and she told me that when she was angry or freaked out, writing on the blog helped her sort out her thinking and calmed her down. While I have also found that writing helps me find clarity, I have never once been happy that I’ve sent out something I’ve written when upset. Never. I rant like a crazy person when I’m angry and when I’m scared I’m a self-pitying mouse. Emotional strain is helpful to feed and inform my public writing, but when the heat of the moment is driving, I’d better be working in my diary. Journaling is like spewing out the bad stuff: depression, anger, and fear. Post-purge is where I can assemble the framework of the facts, the impressions and the appropriate level of emotional temperature. I just run blazing hot or icy cold initially and I have to let the tap run awhile before I have something I can work with.
This week things played out differently. It was a stressful week in general, which tends to lower my threshold for an emotional spike. Then my mom called with the news that she was just diagnosed with breast cancer, an invasive type that looks like the one my sister spent a year battling with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. We hope that Mom’s hasn’t spread as far as Kerin’s had but until her surgery, we don’t know. She’s 700 miles away. For three days I couldn’t write anything. I think I was so overwhelmed with helplessness and fear that I couldn’t work up a single thought even to scribble privately. As I am moving through the steps toward accepting all this I am feeling calmer. I am trying to temper the apprehension with hope and faith. I am seeking practical applications for my nervous energy. I am taking naps and trying to restrain myself from self-medicating with alcohol and carbs. The workouts continue. Significantly, I am ready to start putting words down on paper again. Because after the ground crumbles underfoot, it is time to climb out and start reassembling.
In the meantime, prayers for Mom’s full return to health are appreciated.