June 22, 2016 by Julia
I’ve been a mess lately – and before you roll your eyes, just know that I’ve already rolled my eyes at myself a thousand times already, and it’s not exactly helping, so let’s you and me leave any snarkiness at the door. I am more sick of my issues than even you, I can almost guarantee it. I am not fond of repetition in general (“Too bad!” declares Life), and I am also not fond of general brattiness or self-indulgence, and I also hate the idea of putting bad writing into the world (I’m very, very unique that way). So I’ve been stuck, thinking about all the ways writing can be bad while staring at a blank page, which as you can imagine is really creatively fulfilling.
And the current discouraging political climate of America, with our insanely negative presidential election, constant mass-shootings, hatred and one-upmanship between parties and states, social inequality, lack of justice, bigotry, wastefulness, and so on…it gets to me. These issues are obviously a bigger deal than my writer’s block. I’m not trying to hitch myself to a cause in order to gain a compelling narrative for this blog post. I’m just trying to give you a sense of where my head is at, why I need a shot of faith right now.
And it’s officially summer break, now, and I worry, worry, worry: will I ever have time to myself over the next two months? Last summer there was no time or energy or solitude for writing. Am I okay with surrendering to the flow of lazy days and keeping the kids occupied and going camping and to the beach, and packing and unpacking and no routine? It sounds delightful, but again, I worry: who am I without time to read and write? Writing is how I root myself in my own life. Without it, I feel adrift. Even if I am having fun. I want both life and writing. Is it too much to ask?
AND, lastly, Jack starts Kindergarten in the fall. All of the expected bittersweet feelings are here. Excitement, parental nostalgia, relief, a little sadness, fear of the unknown. For more than eight years I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, and now the full-time aspect of that is going away (except for summers). It’s like a big career change. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Thanks to Dennis’ hard work, the support of family, and sheer luck we have done alright on one income all these years, but I don’t quite feel right about continuing to stay home while both kids are at school most of the day. We could use more financial security, of course. We could also continue to make do as we have so far financially, and have less stress in our lives. I could be happier, less anxious, volunteer in the community, stay on top of the never-ending family chores, and be home when the kids are home – none of which would be likely if I got a job. Can I justify such a life in this day and age? Would I feel good about myself without contributing financially?
In an ideal world, I could make a career out of writing from home, but I have no idea how feasible that is for someone like me. I’d have to get over my fear of “selling out.” Surely there are ways to freelance, or write a profitable novel with integrity. (It’s hard for me to even write the words “profitable novel” without cringing a bit…and then laughing because the chances are so low.) Anyway. I am happy to start this new era in our family life, but the choices loom over me, too. I want to do the right thing, for me, for them. And I don’t want to feel any shame about what I end up deciding.
So, that’s what’s swirling around in my head. I’m sorry for the navel-gazing, but apparently not sorry enough, because I plan to post this anyway. You may wonder why. Well, because I know I’m not alone in my confusion about life. And putting it all out there is an act of faith that not everyone will judge me, that some will relate, and that we can all feel encouraged by what we have in common.
One of the worst things about depression is that you start to lose faith in…everything. And when you lose faith, you stop wanting to do anything, because why bother? Everything is bad, or sad, and there is nothing anyone can do to actually change that on the micro level (I can’t seem to write anything good) or on the macro level (American politics are beyond discouraging).
Sometimes that is true, sometimes it is not. There are a lot of half-truths we dupe ourselves into believing. The dangerous part is when they remain unsaid or unwritten, and we can no longer separate the lies from the truth. There is just enough truth mixed in to make the lies believable. You have to pull all the threads of your beliefs out and make two piles – truth, not truth.
It’s at times like these that you have to lose your pride and let the crap flow out of you, whether it’s in saying or in writing, so that you can see your crap and get enough distance to make some sense of it. You can’t get all perfectionistic or try to polish your issues into nuggets of wisdom before you put them out there. Sometimes you just have to be wrong, aloud, in order to get the lies out of your soul. It can be humiliating, but also liberating. (I would know, heh.)
Also. Goodness can clear a path through the darkness, no matter what. There aren’t many “no matter what” guidelines in this world, but I can’t think of any exceptions to this rule. It won’t necessarily make you richer, more powerful, or more attractive, but it will give you clarity, love and meaning.
“Good” is a broad enough term to cover all sorts of personal qualities or redeeming actions: be kind, make beauty, show compassion, create inspired work, show integrity, generosity, dedication. When I am feeling low, I can still always be good right in this moment, to my son hanging on my arm, or my friend on the phone. The act of being or doing good fuels faith and hope. Sometimes the action has to come before the belief.
Just the idea of goodness lights me up inside, like a lantern in a cave of dark confusion and webs of half-truths.
Okay, that’s it for now. I know I’m all over the place. Thank you for hanging with me if you made it this far.