What the heck is going on, self?
With the stuckness and the sinking feeling and the woe (o woe!) and the rest of the weird low-level misery floating along under the surface of this otherwise relatively cheery day?
I repeat: what the heck is going on?
Theory Number 1: I am avoiding something.
- Watching Hulu at lunch. Feels good to scratch the itch but still: the compulsion feels like a distraction.
- Distractions from distractions: why.
- That anxious feeling?
- Dithering last night.
- Avoiding Shiva Nata, too.
- Tiny anxieties nagging me like little grumpy, persistent pixies.
- All the little anxieties oozing over other stuff too, suddenly. Like the grocery list is suddenly full of doom.
Theory Number 2: I am avoiding the confusion.
Of course. But also…too late. And that’s why I’m writing this blog post! Moving on…
Theory Number 3: The worry about the avoidance is its own form of avoidance.
Okay, but what does that mean?
Maybe this: it’s so uncomfortable to sit with the original emotion (which I still can’t identify) that I’m brewing up a little teapot full o’ doom to avoid even thinking about it.
But how do I even figure out what the original emotion was?
Unbrewing the teapot
Let’s think back.
What other moments of un-comfort were there? Did something come first that I can identify?
Here are some things that have happened:
- There’s the general not-quite-going-as-I-planned aspect of the Less Internet Plan. But maybe that’s more symptom than cause.
- I felt uncomfortable when I posted my VPA on Sunday. Like I wasn’t connected to my self or my voice. Symptom again?
- This could all be related to the whole hard conversation from last week. A leftover doom, if you will. The doom hangover!
Maybe I need to focus here: On what it’s been like to change my approach to my work. To add a new and somewhat scary level of accountability. To have been asked to either figure it out or start thinking about whether it’s time to leave.
Maybe this seems elementary (I’m still worried about that one giant thing that’s worrisome!) but I think there is a very important part of it that went unexamined at the time: how the whole working differently part was more destabilizing than I would have guessed.
I keep thinking back to something I said during that original hard conversation: that it felt like my coping mechanisms were starting to take over my workload. “Coping mechanisms” encompassed what I think of, privately, as two very separate streams of coping:
- Work-related: How to be okay when some very persistent and troubling community issues are plaguing the campus where I work? Issues that touch on explosive themes, like racism, deep divides between different groups, seemingly impossible differences.
- Personal: How to be okay when private things like explosive visions and other issues like crazy family divorce dynamics all ask me for a lot of mental energy and conscious destuckifying, and it just takes time?
But of course the two are not wholly separate, and are often quite intertwined.
While I wasn’t getting much work done over the past several weeks, true, I was getting an intense amount of journaling done. Epiphanies sometimes, but also just lots of documenting. Processing the process, as Havi says.
One perspective: the processing was supporting me. It was the mechanism I needed, and now it’s been limited by this very big and occasional scary mandate to Get Work Done.
Another perspective: the processing was a habit but it doesn’t necessarily follow that I will always need it, or that it’s necessary in order to survive. I mean, I’m not actively progressing toward a state of mental collapse by not doing it for a while.
So perhaps part of this stuck feeling, and all its attendant pixies of anxiety, is that I’m missing the thing that I used to depend on. And I’m not yet very practiced at working without it.
In one way, I’m floating in the anxiety of the open map. The fear of limitlessness, of unknowing. Of not having that boundary of written-down chronicling to turn to.
And as Havi pointed out, if there is fear living in limitlessness, there is also possibility. The possibility I can see right now includes: the likelihood of finding new ways to work; learning to savor the processing in my journal during the truly important times; understanding that inspiration flows with or without that one particular tool at hand; finding out more about myself by staying with the openness instead of fearing it.
I’m going to do my best to stick with those possibilities. To figure out what it is that this open map has to teach me. To let the important things float to the surface.
Because if I give it time, maybe the answer really is that I need a coping mechanism, and I need to find out ways to increase safety without jeopardizing my job. Or maybe I’ll find there is another, new way of doing things that is a vast improvement over the micro-analysis of the chronicling.
This whole existential crisis: still inconvenient. Still really big and overwhelming. But at least I’m acknowledging it’s there instead of getting spooked by every echo.