I’m in that anxious, want to make changes place again. Usually, it’s a very uncomfortable place that I get to, and feel I have to do something about it.
Not this time.
Yes, there are some changes I want to make. I am slowly backing off a number of commitments I have made. Not dropping them like hot stones, rather easing my way out. I signed up; I need to finish what I promised.
Part of that is my mother’s voice in me- she did believe in following through. But at the same time, she let me quit things I had an intense distaste for- like girl scouts. I hated girl scouts. I hated glue, I hated crafts and none of the girls wanted to go hunt for toads in window wells.
I mean, what was better than finding a big, fat toad?
She let me quit, maybe because she hated to deal with the long drive to the weekly meetings. She let me try other things- different musical instruments, every sport except football, overnight camps, long weekends away with other families.
I loved that. I actually loved most of the things I tried. Some, I had no patience for, like the musical instruments. Some, I credit for my ability to try new things without a tremendous amount of trepidation.
If I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to do it.
That may sound like I was allowed to wander and not follow through- nothing could be further from the truth. She hammered home, over and over, the need to be responsible to everyone else.
I didn’t have to be responsible for myself.
Which leaves me here, today, realizing I follow through with things that take care of other people. It might take me a while, but I always do what I said I would do. Even if it is a miserable experience.
But I don’t follow through when it comes to me.
I don’t honestly think my mother ever really took care of herself, either. She did so many things that made her miserable because she felt she had to, or it was the “right” thing to do. Even with great friends, a rich life, she was miserable most of the time. I know part of it was the alcoholism, part of it a life long depression, and she did not have the tools to conquer those things.
When she laughed, though, her deep, throaty laugh, her belly would giggle and you knew it came from a very real place. It’s a sound I miss very much.
This anxious place, the need to move, change, I can’t help but think comes from a place inside that is uncomfortable with getting close to being responsible to myself. It’s like watching a fire from the distance, wanting to get closer, but afraid to be burned.
There is a spot where I can be warm, though. Safe. I can hold my hands up to it and not catch fire.
As I clear my plate to work on my book, I feel the anxiety grow. Can I do it? Will it be stupid? I’ve written a book before- it took a long time, and intense discipline. Do I have that in me anymore or am I destined to write 800 word essays forever?
I’m not sure. I won’t know until I stick with it for a while, till I’m done with the first fifty pages. I do know one thing, though; my mother wanted to laugh more. I know it touched a place that gave her some peace, even if just for a moment.
I need to go sit by the fire. Sit with the anxiety. It’s not going to kill me. (Right?)
It’s about being responsible to myself.