I decided to use my first 2011 post as a chance to talk about what’s been going on during the past few months because doing this Post a Day thing this year, the topic will come up again. Actually a few times. Probably at least
once twice a month week. Three times, tops!
A couple of months ago, I thought the problem was my job, and in a way, it does contribute to the problem; however, I’m not going into specifics about that. Then I went to see Eat, Pray, Love at the end of the summer, and while the movie wasn’t perfect, Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Physics of the Quest” resonated with me long after the movie:
If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared — most of all — to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you.
I started working a blog post not longer after seeing the movie:
I want an epiphany about my career like Elizabeth Gilbert had about her life. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to just quit my job in order to travel to Italy, India, and Bali. And I don’t think my husband would really appreciate my leaving him to shack up with a dude ten years younger than me.
But I feel like I’m in this forest and I’m just trying to get to the road. It doesn’t have to be a clearly-cut path; I’ll hack through the limbs and rake away leaves.
Then my therapist brought up the fact that I’ve pushed something to the back burner: my biological clock. I’d talked before about wanting to have kids, but the problems I had had at work were causing me to once again block out that want. Since we were near the end of the session, she simply encouraged me to explore those feelings by writing in my journal.
But I didn’t.
I got busy at work and at home and I wanted to have a time to sit down and really writing about it, except I didn’t set aside a time to do it. When I told my therapist this at the November appointment, she said, “That’s a lot of planning for just journal writing.”
What started becoming apparent was the fact that I have these perfectionist tendencies. I need the right time to write. I need to be the right weight to get pregnant. I have to have the right time to exercise. She once again encouraged me to “babble in my journal,” and this time I did my homework:
What I thought I needed was a career epiphany. Now I see I need a life epiphany. I thought I was standing in the middle of a forest trying to find a way out. Now I see myself at the beginning of it, wondering how to get through.
Why do I have to make it perfect? Everything has to have a special time set aside. Everything has to meet a certain set of standards. We have to have the house to ourselves again. I need to lose weight for a safer pregnancy. The economy is lousy and I don’t have a job. All these conditions.
What if I don’t want to forget about writing when I have a baby? What if I don’t forget about it but can’t do anything because I now have a human being to raise? What if that happens and deep down I resent him or her for it?
I resent not being good enough now. I resent having to change to accommodate the rest of my life. I feel like if I lose the weight, I’m giving in to every criticism made about my appearance. I give credence to every insult from childhood. By dropping those pounds, I’m telling all those assholes from my youth, “You know what? You were right. I WAS ugly and fat.”
It’s not fair. I shouldn’t have to do that.
So yeah… Bitter resentment? Party of one? Gotcha right here in our dysfunction dining area. Don’t worry; it’s all styrofoam plates and cups and plastic sporks!
That verbal diarrhea helped me realize that perhaps one of the things I needed to “leave behind” (per the quote) was that resentment. My therapist agreed, but she brought up a more important and thought-provoking point. After hearing what I wrote, she said, “I’m not hearing anything about what you want.”
Well, that made me break my plastic spork. I sat there fumbling for words. What did I want?
That’s what I’ve been thinking about the past couple of weeks, between all the holiday festivities. I came to the conclusion that the first thing I want is to write. I want my MFA in Creative Writing, and Converse College has a program that offers that degree. Last week, I realized that people have different priorities for their lives, and I can’t let what other people think I should or could focus on influence me or make me feel like I’m the freak.
That’s what 2011 is about for me, but not all of my daily posts are going to be about this because I don’t want to come off as some New Age-y or religious flip-flopper. I’m just taking a deep internal inventory, so to speak.