Counter-Productive

by justine

{This post is for #reverb10’s 12/2/10 prompt, but our internet locked up all last night, so it’s going up now}

The emerging I wrote about is true. I’ve gained some footing in the past year. I’m starting to pull myself out of the huge ditch that I thought my life was and seeing it as the gift it is.

I am a miracle, fine. I survived childhood cancer, yes, but we’re all miracles. And how the hell did my upbringing convince me otherwise? And what’s worst is – regardless if I’m perfect (which no one is) I still believe I’m not enough.

I take in panic, anxiety and worries about how I’m not living up to some unnamed and ridiculous expectation and absorb it into my own head as if it’s how I really feel. The truth is, I don’t even know how I feel because I’m too busy absorbing other people’s bullshit.

What gets in the way of my writing? The belief that I am not enough. That doing something that is expressive and satisfying and FEELS GOOD isn’t a good use of my time and makes me a waste of a human life.

Why fill up pages of a journal if you’re not going to DO anything with it? Why put down 750 words a day if you’re not editing it? Why do ANYTHING, really, if there isn’t some sort of productive outcome? (Even though I never take the time to define “productive” or “successful” before I begin, so I have no idea where I’m going and when I want to stop, I can’t because the bar is raised higher. And with a bar that lofty, I don’t even start.)

What gets in the way of any creative work that I deem rewarding? Calling it “stupid”. That there is a huge part of me that thinks writing /music / photography is such a bullshit waste of time. “I have better things to do,” my head says, but I don’t. I really don’t.

It’s Resistance.

Will the world end if I write and then do the dishes? No. Will I feel better if I do the dishes first? From experience, no, especially since I’ll just replace “dishes” with another should and be on my way to never creating a damn thing.

Will someone think I’m a bad person if I write first and then do the dishes? Maybe. And by bad person I mean UNPRODUCTIVE, WASTING TIME, USELESS. But who cares? Well, apparently the voice in my own head cares a lot. It’s life or death in there.

See, I titled this blog what it is because not writing is just a symptom of a bigger issue. The issue is not that I don’t write, but that I don’t do anything I want to do. Even worse, I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO a lot of the time.

So, yes, I want to write. I want to express myself in as many ways as I feel necessary and yet – I don’t do any of it. And I’m not saying writing would come easier if I were able to allow myself to write, but the intention would be there. My butt would be in the chair, my fingertips would be on the keyboard, notes would be jotted, edits would be made…

It’s interesting that this has come up because just this week I’ve felt wonderful focusing on two things – writing blog posts and editing video. That’s it. Nothing fancy. This week has taught me it’s the sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT that seems to give me my worth, not WHAT I’ve accomplished. It’s about being engaged in the process. Duh.

So why not complete things that really feed me like writing, recording, collaging and leave the other stuff (cooking, cleaning, dog caring) for the next right time FOR ME? There are definitely times I want to clean the kitchen, but when I do that instead of following that tiny voice that says, “That’s a cool idea for a song” then it’s just a mess. It’s a resentful messy mess. I don’t want to do X but I feel I should, I have to, so I make myself do it and hate it the whole time. Then I feel so resentful and awful that I have no energy left over afterwards to do what I really want to do.

What gets in the way of my writing is me – with my unreasonable expectations of what one person can get done in a day, of what a reasonable goal is, of not having a clue how to create an incremental process and how to check-in with myself about all of it. I see it all in black & white. Either I’m writing 1000 words every morning or I’m not writing at all. Either I have an end goal for this project (big, successful end goal) or it’s not worth my time.

But the dishes are? Why wouldn’t I just shoot a roll of film, for godsake, and then do the dishes? Do I need a reason to shoot a roll or film? And who is that reason for? Who is this awful tyrant in my head and why is she there?

I block my own way. Writing, like a lot of other fulfilling things, is something I withhold from myself as punishment until I’ve been “productive” enough to justify doing something “unproductive”.

I am starving myself. The more I withhold what feeds me, the more empty I feel, the more Resistance wins. I PUNISH myself.

So what can I eliminate? The idea that if it’s something I want to do it isn’t productive. Or that I need a reason to justify doing something I want to do.

The kicker? This withholding isn’t even productive.

The solution? Yet to be determined.

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