One of our family traditions after a particularly busy or tired period, we have a ‘track pant day’. The idea of the track pant day is we dress down, clear the schedule and just get comfortable. This week we had a whole ‘track pant week’ as I’ve had my back taped with a disc injury. After my weird post deletion mid week, I’m beginning to wonder if I might be making a career of track pant wearing: a ‘track pant life’.
After I wrote about my new beginning, and finally having the time and space to write and draw, I truly felt like I had been reborn. I felt that I was no longer the same person I was as a teen. Unencumbered by the baggage of my past, I could now become whoever I wanted to be. Happy days, yes?
I then struggled to write a follow up post. How could I top the last post? Will I always need to maintain this level of ‘wow’ with my blog? Can’t I just stay in my blog track pants and smooch about, naval gazing and occasionally being witty?
And then I started to feel overwhelmingly down about the whole experience, ready to take my bat and ball and go home. The thought of deleting the whole blog crossed my mind. I even thought about having another baby (like I don’t already have one of those …!) I felt an overwhelming desire to stay in my track pants forever, safety nestled in my comfort zone. And that’s when I realized that I was not in fact a new person at all, but the same person – slightly older – who hates a challenge.
The post that followed did what I’ve always done in difficult situations: avoided the issue completely. And then, as though the initial avoidance was not enough, I deleted the post altogether.
But my clever readers saw straight through it. Marion wins the prize for most perceptive comment: “Sometimes, it’s the posts we struggle with that are telling us the most.”
And it’s because you are so clever, my bloggy friends, that I’ve written this post. Not dealing with this seems like lying: not only to you, but to myself.
Warning: I might sound mental, but I’m really very OK. And I’m throwing the word count out the window folks, so make yourselves comfortable (think tea and at least 2 biscuits).
Having your creative history packed up in the junk room for a decade, it’s easy to forget the reason it was put in the junk room in the first place. Surprise, surprise, when I unpacked and sorted through it, after the initial joy of having rediscovered my passion for creating, I was immediately flooded with all of those same feelings again.
The truth is, it’s not the time or the space that I need to make my dreams come true (although they help!), what I really need is a truckload of faith in myself. I realized this moments after I deleted my post. I found myself snapping at the boys and crying. ‘What’s going on?’ I kept asking myself. ‘What is the problem here? Why I am acting like this? I’ve worked hard to write this blog, and now I want to delete it and erase the friendships I’ve been forming with readers. Huh?’
And then a very familiar feeling of de ja vu. Oprah would say this was my ‘Aha moment’.
I realized there was a big wall ahead of me, shaped by my own hands with solid, heavy bricks of self-doubt. I have faced this wall many times in life, but not for years. When faced with the wall, I slump, I over-think the problem (how to get past the wall?), pace back and forth and then I give up. If I do try to climb it or go around it, I usually do it with the assumption that I can’t do it, and then lo and behold, I can’t do it. You see, I’m a self-saboteur.
This post deleting incident is the latest in a long line of moments where I have failed to get out of my track pants and suit up: failed to take myself seriously, acted too casually, or talked myself out of trying.
I give you: the D+ on my year 12 English exam.
In year 12, I had straight A+s in English up until my exam. The night before my exam I had a huge fight with my dad, then walked the 5km or so to my friend’s house where I ended up staying over. She lived across the road from the school, so the next morning I got myself off to the exam fine and then proceeded to inwardly self-combust. “What is the point of this exam? I can try my hardest and still not get an A+. Would that make it perfect if I did get an A+ … but I’m not perfect. I don’t believe in perfect.”
These thoughts thrashed about in my head for what seemed like hours, and I grew increasingly numb. I knew the book inside out (Remembering Babylon, by David Malouf): I loved it, and had poured over it for months, taking notes, underlining … almost trashing it with sheer enthusiasm. I had written several practice essays in preparation: the exam should have been straightforward. But now, in the high school gym, all I could manage were a few crappy paragraphs. I then left the exam, only to burst into tears when I saw my English teacher in the car park. I couldn’t explain what happened: it wasn’t a panic attack. It was like my brain was tuned into a completely different frequency to where it should have been, and I felt powerless to change the dial.
As a ‘grown up’ I would consider myself a self-driven person, I function really well day-to-day with the family. Once I have a routine, I follow each step as though life were a giant algebra problem, and I find great pleasure in mostly ‘getting it right’. If I get things wrong, it’s because I missed a step or didn’t get the order right. Frustrating, but not devastating. But when I’m alone I spend more time picking myself apart than getting anything done.
So the prospect of having one day to myself is both liberating and stifling. It means a whole day trying to tune out of Radio Doubt. Counterproductive, to say the least.
I’ve debated whether or not to share this post with the world (the world being my loyal but very small group of readers). It’s quite embarrassing to admit that you wreck things to hurt yourself. Yes, I do it with a healthy sense of humour, but it doesn’t make it OK. I have to face it if I want to get past it. And I do want to get past it.
I’m not writing this to have a pity party. There is still a huge deficit of belief in myself, and no one should feel obligated to try to fill this hole. In reality, it’s a hole I’ve created myself through years and years of negative thinking. And it’s my job to somehow try to patch it.
I need to find that motherly voice within myself that will pick apart everything I do with an eye to making it better. But this voice needs to be nurturing and tender in order for me to listen to it. The voice needs to talk me out of the track pants and into something more becoming.
This is something I need to do if I want to change. I believe that you become what you whisper to the world. If I don’t whisper anything, I will get left behind, in my track pants.
Things are getting a little intense around here. The next post will be mostly pictures, I swear. Say ‘hi’ so I know I’m not talking to myself.