Back on the Wagon

Forgive me for I have sinned. It has been 13 days since my last morning pages. Instead of practicing what I know is good for me, I willfully refused to do my morning pages. When I had an emotional pain in the middle of my heart, I knew I had, once again, waited too long.

The happiest I have ever been has been this year. Why? Because I was writing every day. First, that every day occurrence took place here. Then, it moved into morning pages. The continuity stood for 10 weeks. 10 weeks! That’s a nice long time to have established a habit, wouldn’t you say? But I stopped for a day or two, and then I was lost.

Writing, communicating, getting what I am feeling down on paper, exploring thoughts and feelings, countering my negative beliefs about my self – all these things are crucial to my life. The thing is, they take time.

I am temporarily not working at a place of employment, so I have the time. The time to write morning pages. To blog. To explore. To write stories. To edit and polish them. To share what I have learned and am learning with you all here as I go along. That’s kind of neat.

This morning I learned, yet again, how an incident in kindergarten continues to haunt me and my ability to work. On a report card, Mrs. Lawson wrote: Wendy is very eager to please other people. On that fateful day, I did an assignment out of order: I worked on a painting I wanted to work on first, and then I worked on the assigned painting. The assigned painting had to have clouds, birds, and a sun on it.

I was so involved in painting what I wanted that I forgot the order. When I realized that I had made a mistake, I went up to my teacher to ask if it was OK. Instead of gently chastising me and telling me to listen more carefully, she told me to go sit on a stool in the corner.

I was mortified, publicly humiliated and terribly ashamed of myself. Everyone could see me! Only the “bad” kids got sent to the corner! I must be a bad kid! Now everyone knows, and they will never forget it. I did my best to hold back the tears that fell down my cheeks. When I got home, I told my mother another student got sent to the corner. I wanted to share it with her, but I couldn’t. I was afraid of what she might say.

And all my life, I have been chased by the fear that, if I don’t do things exactly as instructed, I am going to be punished, called out for it, and humiliated. When I was working on The Artist’s Way, I began to get down on myself for not “pushing my creativity limits” with my artist date each week as Julia Cameron urged the reader to do.

So first, I couldn’t get around to an artist date each week. Then I stopped doing the lessons. Then I stopped morning pages. You see? I wasn’t following things exactly, and I keep forgetting to give myself permission to do things the way I want to do them, that Mrs. Lawson is not going to come out of my past, my bosses aren’t going to make me an example of an errant employee, and that I, as a free adult in this world, can do whatever the fuck I want in whatever way I want.

If something doesn’t work for me or I feel intimidated, my answer has to been to give up instead of accepting what I want to do as being valid. Did it really matter that I did things out of order? I don’t think so. Five year olds are notorious for not listening or following directions exactly. Does that mean we punish them publicly for a mistake? That seems a bit harsh to me now.

Regardless of what I think, my amygdala has latched onto this idea that I will be safe from those terrible feelings if I avoid making mistakes. To avoid making mistakes, I have to avoid doing anything. Now that isn’t much of a life to live, is it?

Well, I took some time to try and dismantle this alarm system that I have been for almost the last forty years. If I can be released from its grasp, I will be truly free to be anything I want.

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