Growing Pains

I’m feeling stuck. Stuck, stuck, stuck. That’s all I can think to write. The whole point of taking a break from elementary school this week was to catch up on blog posts, but I can’t seem to finish a single post. I can’t even seem to finish a sentence.

On my To-Do list are around 50 posts about grades K-3 that I want to generate, dozens of features I want to add to this website, and 200+ miscellaneous items, but all I can do is sit here feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Darren’s in town, and instead of spending time with him, I am staring at my laptop and deleting every other word I type.

Tonight I had a breakdown. I got misty-eyed in the coffee shop where I’d spent hours agonizing over a blog post that I never finished. I teared up when I walked out of the coffee shop and saw the parking ticket on my car. I full-out bawled when I felt like I was ruining the farmer’s market date that Darren and I had been planning for a month.

It was one of those days where I wanted to drop to my knees, look up at the sky, and sigh, “I give up.” It was a day when I was surrounded by reasons to be happy, but I still wasn’t. The farmer’s market was full of music and laughter and delicious local food. Darren surprised me with roses to cheer me up. We ate incredible calzones, followed by ice cream cones. And still I felt stuck.

I’m struggling with the fact that Reschool Yourself is supposed to be what saves me from perfectionism and unhappiness, but it’s paradoxically manifesting these very qualities. It’s supposed to be my chance to take care of myself, learn the things I want to learn, and figure out what I really enjoy doing. Instead, so far I’ve treated the project as I’ve usually treated school or work: I’ve set myself up for failure, and starved myself of enjoyment. I’m generating endless To-Do lists for the project and feeling like a failure when I can never complete them. I’m depriving myself of sleep and all the activities I enjoy doing because “I don’t have enough time.” I’ve gotten so used to doing this over the years that I don’t know any other way to be.

Most personal development books and blogs are written by people who’ve figured out the answers already and are speaking from a more evolved standpoint. Mine, on the other hand, is a window into the painful process of growth that I’m going through right now. If I were a teenage boy, my voice would be cracking and I’d be growing one of those scraggly peach fuzz mustaches that’s not yet worth shaving. The metamorphosis is awkward and uncomfortable, and I’m not quite sure when I’ll come out it, or what I’ll be like when I do.

I’m trying to trust the process, because even on the hardest days, I know that I’m on the verge of a major transformation, and that this project is what I want to be doing right now. I have to believe that the years of battling myself are adding up to something, so I can make meaning out of the unhappy times and not see them as a waste. I should have expected that when facing my issues head on, and considering the regrets I have about my education, things would get worse before they could get better. As Buddhist monk Pema Chodron writes:

It’s as if you just looked at yourself in the mirror, and you saw a gorilla. The mirror’s there; it’s showing you, and what you see looks bad. You try to angle the mirror so you will look a little better, but no matter what you do, you still look like a gorilla. That’s being nailed by life, the place where you have no choice but to embrace what’s happening or push it away.

There’s the rub. Right now, I’m like a teenage boy going through puberty; I’m like a gorilla in the mirror. I’m getting a clear picture of all my flaws, and it isn’t pretty, but I know that I can only improve from here.

All I can think to do is take Winston Churchill’s advice, “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” I’m determined to keep going — and I hope that you keep me company along the way.

Flickr Creative Commons images courtesy of sinosplice and youngrobv.

Comments (7)

  1. Alicia C.

    Ah. The world of pseudo writer’s block! I know it all too well. You have so many ideas and words and phrases floating around in your head, yet you can’t seem to get them to stick to the screen or page. I have a post I started a week ago and never finished just sitting in my admin section willing me to come back and do SOMETHING with it. (I’ll probably delete it and start another.) Now, I’m not keeping a blog for a project the way you are, however it is nonetheless frustrating when I see just how long it has been since I actually posted something. So I’ve learned to try and focus on the fact that I attempted writing or scribbled ideas somewhere. Perhaps every time you start to notice what you’re not getting done, you should try taking a deep breath and focusing on what you have done? Hey, at least you’re still “generating endless To-Do lists”! You could be generating nothing…

    Reply
  2. Gilliebean

    Oh, how I feel your pain. Hang in there, love. The site is looking great (Expression Engine indeed! I need to have you and djschwin give me a tutorial), the blogs are really interesting and well-written and it’s just an incredible project. We should catch up soon about our collective craziness/awesomeness.

    Reply
  3. Melia

    Alicia: Ahh yes, my dear friend writer’s block…people think that writing comes easily to writers, but it is not always so. One of the only things I like about Hemingway is that he supposedly said, “I write with my blood.” I sympathize.

    And yes, focusing on what I have completed does help. The fact that I’ve written more in the last month than I have over the last 10 years is something to be proud of!

    Gill, I’m glad I’m not the only one. :) Thanks for the props on the blog – mine is actually a customized WordPress site, and Darren’s is in Expression Engine. I’d be happy to share whatever I can, and let’s definitely exchange pep talks ASAP.

    Reply
  4. Margaret

    Dear Heart! Take courage! You are doing a beautiful job- generating material, experiencing learning, being present, reflecting in the moment, brainstorming new ideas, being open to a true relationship, letting yourself be vulnerable and alive- it’s a lot! Of course you’re overwhelmed! But you’re DOING it! :o)

    Reply
  5. Roland

    Eeriely, I know *exactly* how you’re feeling. Great blog post though, so I think the writer’s block is losing its power.

    I rediscovered this quote I posted two years ago:

    “When you sit down and try to write from 8 to 5, only half of that time at best is high yield, and the rest of the time is head on the table going, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.”

    (Josh Spanogle)

    Reply
  6. Melia

    Margaret – thank you! It’s nice to have friends who remind me of those little victories, including the fact that I’m doing this work on myself at all.

    Roland – I often hesitate to write about the rough times, for fear that they’ll depress people, so I appreciate knowing that this post resonated with you. Let’s hope that the writer’s block is indeed loosening its death grip. That quote is awesome, and it comes to me now every time I feel stuck. Thank you. Writer friends are the best.

    Reply
  7. Ben Cannon

    “I write with my blood” – love it, I think of this now whenever I think of the entire creative process.

    Melia, I love that you’ve posted this; looked into the breakdown. http://www.yimit.net/members/viewVideo.php?video_id=121&title=Frou_Frou___Let_Go

    The fact you’ve opened this window unto yourself, no matter what you see, is incredibly significant. It may be the most important thing. I for one await with baited breath the revelations, trials, tribulations, and most of all, the journey that will follow.

    Food for your thoughts… you may well have made one of the most raw & thought provoking posts yet, from your writer’s block ;)

    Reply

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