I can’t seem to quit this dream…
I began writing here in an attempt to rub down the edges of my anxiety. It was an escapist blog that tiptoed around bigger questions of, “What embarrassing stuff do I like? What do I find meaningful and joyful? What has value for me?” In more melodramatic terms, I felt like I was in a locked tower (of my own head) with only a tiny window to let in some fresh air. Even though it was a prison, that tower let me peer out at some fantastic world beneath me. A little Lady of Shalott, sighing “I am half sick of shadows” but never really moved to engage and mostly deflecting the world through mirror tricks.
The Lancelot shattering my mirrors? It wasn’t my stalled dissertation writing or stack of Self-Help/ Anti-Procrastination/ How-To-Write books or some fairy god-mentor who shook away the rags with one stroke of a mighty wand. It was my son’s autism diagnosis that sent me straight into therapy with the fatalistic “The curse is come upon me” cry of terror. And I went into the “real world” and a part of me did die. But it was no curse. I’m so glad for it.
One thing my therapist and I always talk about is truly knowing and accepting who you are. He suggests that I have never lived for myself and am always seeking validation from others because “for me” is never enough (something about growing up with narcissistic parents or whatever). He knows this because apparently I talk about things that are “for me” as “embarrassing,” a word that is only meaningful when it is done in the context of others judging, invalidating, shaming, and rejecting. He asks me, “why isn’t it reason enough that you want to? That you liked it?” and I feel my monstrous inner critic emerge like some anime villain and say with total contempt, “Because, that’s stupid. Things are only good if other people approve, admire, accept, validate.”
But you know, that isn’t true really. As I get older and older, those truisms about artists become more concrete and meaningful. Artists are, first and foremost, able to silence their monstrous critic. They are so driven by the muse to create, that they must put their work out there even — under the threat of social “humiliation.” This is how artists grow their craft and in time, they grow faith in their own expression. I was thinking about this recently when on a Prince-music bender, writing my hardest dissertation chapter. A lot of people aren’t into his music (except maybe his classics from the mid-80s or maybe Musicology) but he became an “icon” for being such a completely “free motherfucker.”
A big, BIG part of realizing my dreams to be ___ or do ___, was to really root down and say “this is who I am…this is what I find meaningful and joyful. This has value for me. And “for me” is enough reason.” That is freedom.
Put another way….I had to kill the Lady in the tower and be reborn like a Prince.
(You know everything has to cycle back to anime). Anyway, I am in a good place now. My son is happy and I have confidence that when he struggles, we can find a way to support him. I have now drafted the hardest chapter of my dissertation. I’m ready to complete it. After I complete it, I want to write a biography of my father, finish my 2 novels, etc etc etc.
But I do miss this blog. I keep thinking I’ll start blogging again and then I get busy. Maybe I’ll take a look this spring and see if there is anything more to say.