Why, hello there!
It’s been a while. Twenty-two days, to be exact.
Of course, that’s merely how much time has passed on your earthly calendars. The very personal calendar that lives inside my brain is quite clear that it’s been at least two lifetimes since I last wrote here.
But I’m back.
Why? Because I spent a glorious Saturday in a very private, very tiny rally with two of my fellow-first-Rally-attendees, Larisa and Cynthia. And because I spent those delicious Rally hours digging gently into all the stuck and the hurt and the overwhelm that welled up whenever I thought to myself I really should start writing in my blog again.
Where to start?
How to explain what’s been going on?
Welcome to the Cosmic Chicken.
It’s a chicken (that is to say, a check-in) so extremely large and vast that it can only be called cosmic.
Because I want to tell you about where I’ve been. (And I also want to tell you why I want to tell you about where I’ve been, but I’ll get to that later.)
So here is the hard, the good, and then I’ll get to the cosmic why at the end.
The parts that were very, very hard.
The tremendous darkness. This is where I was, when I was away from here. An all-encompassing, soul-deep darkness.
The tremendous aloneness in the darkness.
The unknowing. The unraveling of so many things I thought I understood and could count on.
The sadness in the darkness.
Spending time with the self who believes she knows the darkness is the real thing, the only thing.
Spending time with the self who believes we’ve come to the end of the line. The carnival, the happiness, the blooming, it’s over. Forever.
And fear drove me. In everything I did, fear lashed me on toward goals I felt unprepared to meet, and even when I met them I still had an unerring sensation of being suspended over a void, ready to fall at a moment’s notice.
Anger at the old, optimistic self. Recriminations. A depressing, cyclical conversation where the old self asked continually, But what about my trusty old flashlight? and we told her sadly It doesn’t work and it’s all our fault that it doesn’t work.
And — need I even mention this? The darkness lets in all the monsters. They shambled into the darkness and settled in with their moans and sobs and screeches, as if we had never been friends and I had never helped them. And in the darkness, I couldn’t help them. And I couldn’t help me.
I came to think of the darkness as a crevasse I had fallen into. I couldn’t write about it, at its worst. It enforced silence, and despair.
The parts that were good
Quite suddenly, after weeks, I found myself out of the terrible crevasse. I hadn’t climbed out. And I hadn’t asked for help. It was perplexing — how exactly did I get out? — because I still couldn’t explain it. But at least it wasn’t so dark anymore.
I didn’t lose my job. This was very, very important.
In fact, I regained a sense of self-respect at my job. I impressed some important people, and I impressed myself, too.
I got a lot done.
The essential crisis was the idea that creativity was at war with my job, that the two could not coexist peacefully: that if I wanted to engage creativity, then my job was going to permanently disappear. And this crisis was quite suddenly resolved. In the absence of a plan to make it happen, somehow my work spontaneously became creative, and creatively fulfilling.
I’m still not entirely sure how this happened. In the desert, an oasis came into flower. My job saved me, just when I’d thought it was going to kill me. I wouldn’t recommend doing it in the way I did: by getting a swift kick in the ass by a boss who says Figure it out or leave around the same time as an identity crisis/depression…and yet somehow it worked. I’m alive and happy and here to tell the tale.
The great big cosmic why
When I was in the dark crevasse, surrounded by monsters, I had the persistent thought I should write about this. And yet every time I came to visit this blog, I was overwhelmed. At first by the sadness, and then by the task itself. How to write? How to explain? It was too much. An impossible story. How to explain who I am now? Because surely I’ve changed, haven’t I?
So at our tiny little rally, I asked myself about this story that seemed so impossible to tell. And I got this question:
Why do you want to heal the narrative?
What was broken, exactly? I came to understand that the self who wrote here before is the same self I am now; it is possible to fall into the crevasse and climb back out again; knowing the crevasse does not change my essential nature.
I was already a crevasse-knower, a spelunker of caves where monsters dwell, before I ever met this particular crevasse. Losing the map wasn’t new; it was hard, yes, as was the inability to write or speak about it.
Healing the narrative is:
- Forgiving the self who wants to obliterate the past.
- Healing the self who is in mortal terror of even acknowledging the crevasse, even once it is past.
- Acknowledging this: the desire to obliterate comes from the pain of not understanding. It is painful to dwell in that state.
- Healing the pain of mourning: sometimes I do to go back to that blithe former self who hadn’t undergone the terrible trial of the crevasse. But just because I cannot go back doesn’t mean I should obliterate her.
Part of not wanting to write was not wanting to feel. Not wanting to say I was in pain or I am in pain even if this space is meant to be a safe space for honesty and exploration.
The return: what it isn’t, what it is
Coming back is not: becoming an entirely new person. I understand that now. Exploring the darkness, dwelling in its quiet and pain, is part of me. I don’t have to erase that self in order to write here, to talk to you.
Coming back is: a desire to consciously create openings. To be the explorer self. To understand that that’s not a self I want to abandon, or think worthy of abandonment.
Coming back is: permission to not feel guilty about the crevasse. Its existence, its depth, or my inability to climb out of it, at first.
Coming back is also: a new understanding of what this blog is. I used to blog nearly four times a week, and I know that’s not going to work for me anymore. But that’s because it doesn’t have to: I’m no longer depending on this blog to be my one creative oasis in the desert. Work is sustaining, fulfilling, and entertaining a great deal of the time. I want this blog to support my full creativity, not become its sole outlet; and certainly not to replace work. That was the old method. It has a lot of risks. It’s not very balanced. It’s not going to work for me anymore. It took a particularly scary incident to find that out, but I know it now. Deep in the bones of me.
I’m returning with new ideas. New models of work. New appreciation. New seeds to develop. New possibilities for what I can do here.