Definitely been struggling with the work/life balance thing. I’m tired, I don’t feel like I have anything new or special or insightful to say (so think about how much that must suck if you know that God has confirmed more times than should be needed that you have the writing gift), and I’m more easily distracted than I’ve ever been in my life for some reason. My job is great – so good/such a fit, in fact, that I’m waiting for them to tell me this was all a joke. I’m not kidding – my anxiety seems to be turbo-charged lately, though it’s always been there. I’ve always been a “skinny anxious type” as an old friend used to call me. So I’m going to think and muse about that. One of the most common pieces of advice is, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” I wonder if that takes into account the fact that some of us have been incredibly wounded by silence. When you put yourself out there and share your experiences and no one responds, or when the subject is changed without dialogue about what you said, you might internalize that there is something wrong with you. So then, whenever you have any sort of internal experience, you associate with it is shame. When you see others being cared for, attended to, stood up for and having their voices not only heard but asked for, the pain and confusion about why you are left out is unbearable. And most of the time, the things people say to comfort or advise are hollow; you and your story is not treated as the hallow thing it is. To me, silence is just as damaging and hurtful as anger (my therapist agrees). I don’t think everyone should say everything that’s on their mind all the time (I’ve been really wounded by external processors, too), but as a general rule, I’m more hurt by someone walking away or not responding to me than by someone yelling at me.
Maybe it’s because I experienced a tsunami of silence as a kid. So now, among other things, I’m anxious. I’m anxious when I don’t hear from people I have tried to contact. I’m anxious about speaking – you’re too intense, you go on tangents, you give too much detail (which all translates in my head as: “YOU must be the one to accommodate because no one will accommodate to you). I’m anxious about not speaking – I’ll be overlooked, forgotten, purposeless – but it feels like everyone else is being recognized and even pursued for their words while I’m ignored even though I’ve said some of the exact same things. I’m anxious even when people say good things about me because it means I better not screw up if I want their opinion not to change and if I want their friendship. Goodness from me feels like a sham. I’m anxious that if I don’t do something, it won’t get done, including the work to maintain relationships. SO you see,I have a black belt in anxiety and its variants. All the anxiousness is really about shame. Shame for having my experiences, for my desires and hopes being a burden to others, for being stupid enough to want what I’ve wanted. Not only is shame the hardest human emotion to deal with, but it blocks vulnerability, intimacy and empathy even better than jealousy does.
I’m anxious about the catastrophe things we are doing to the planet and all its inhabitants, including each other. I’m manically guilty and anxious about not doing enough about it to avoid being tossed out at the end by God. I’m about as anxious that I’ll never get my act together as a writer and that everything will have already been said and thus my writing – which is not done “just for me,” that’s journaling, they’re not the same – will be a self-indulgent exercise in time squandering. Sometimes, I’m so anxious about this writing thing in particular that it’s difficult to move. I’m anxious that this blog posting is no longer a regular thing. I’m anxious about not mattering.
And, though I know that one of the most oft-repeated imperatives in Scripture is “Do not fear,”I got no neat, little bow to throw on this. These be no small potatoes.