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.

Letting Go of the Past

Surrender to now

About 8 years ago, I saw someone who I had not seen since high school at a mutual friends’ birthday party. Before he left, he looked at me and said, “Love you.” I think I replied, “Love ya back” or something close to it.

I saw him again recently. He said something along the lines of “Let me know when you divorce your husband.” I laughed and said, “Why would I want to do that?” After it came out of my mouth,  I half realized what he say saying. We let it drop and talked about something else.

Now that I am back living in my hometown, I have been thinking of him and these interactions that we have had. The thoughts made me sad, and I put down a lot of my questions that have been causing me to suffer.

Are you serious? Why are you saying these things? Why now? How long have you loved me? Why did you never say anything to me when you saw me all the time and when I could have said yes to you? Were you ashamed of me? Afraid? You once said you were intimidated by me and my smart friends. Was that true? Even if I said yes, would it have worked? Would you, the knows-everyone townie, and I, the caged animal who yearned to break free at a full run, really would have worked in a relationship? 

The thoughts kept haunting me. I felt sad, so I decided to pause, relax, and let myself feel it. I cried and then realized that I was perpetuating my own suffering.

In high school, I would have given anything for this gentle, kind, funny person to ask me out. If he had asked me out, held my hand, gave me kisses, been proud to be seen in public with me, I would have been propelled into outer space happy.

With that, I felt a shattering of my high school image of myself: unlovable and unloved. I was only those things because I told myself so, and because I hinged my inner self worth on the meaning given to me by the affections of other people. Because of that, I suffered then, and I suffered now.

I am reminded to be ever so gentle with myself. Being gentle with others results when you are gentle with yourself. You cannot be judgmental and gentle at the same time. You cannot know your own worth or your own sense of self love if you are hard, judgmental.

Once again, I recommit myself to letting go of the past, the things I cannot change, the false beliefs in myself that caused me immense pain, and to be gentle with myself.

Surrender. Release. Hope.