The re:gen book asked for my first impression of the inventory process. Usually, I find narrowing down my response difficult. I can write thousands of words in minutes, but summaries slay me. Today, not so much. In a word:
In a few more words:
NO NO NO NO NO
I don’t want to leave it there. Someday, some unsuspecting person might fall onto my blog. Maybe they’ll find it because they’re starting re:gen and want to get an idea what it’s like. Maybe they’ll find me when the group starts whispering about inventory. And I don’t want to scare anyone away. Heck, I’ll probably be the one who sent them here. Having survived, I’ll look back at this post and chuckle wisely. So let me clarify.
Just kidding. But seriously, I’m not looking forward to this. And to make matters worse, a storm came through last night and caused us to shut down the church on the very evening we were supposed to be trained to do inventory. Trained and encouraged, which I NEEDED.
If you’re an enneagram person, let me explain by giving you my number.
If you’re not an enneagram person, let me explain what it means to be a one. I need order. I need to know how to do a thing correctly before I can do the thing. I’m driven by a need to make things better. Straighter. Cleaner. PERFECT. Hence, the re:gen journey. I’m doing re:gen to work on perfectionism. And now I’m supposed to start the one part of the experience that kept me from signing up long ago … without training?
I’ve never felt so connected to Bill Murray in my life.
If you haven’t seen Groundhog Day, I judge you. Don’t worry, I’ll beat myself up for it in my inventory.
I’m working on my need to be seen. In today’s Bible Recap I read Psalm 104. The author is unknown, which I’m realizing even as I write this, helps me to make my point. Tara-Leigh mentioned in the audio portion that this Psalm, all about creation, makes her think of creatures on the bottom of the ocean that we won’t ever see. Creatures God made for His own enjoyment.
They may never be discovered and appreciated by humans.
I experience so much joy when someone reads my work and engages with me about it. I was afraid for a long time that if I ever released my books, I would be disappointed by the lack of interest and interaction they brought me. It kept me from sharing. You can’t be disappointed by an outcome if you never let it come out!
But now I think I’d be okay with remaining as obscure as a tiny, glowing snail on the bottom of the ocean. No one has to find me as long as God enjoys me.
Some things never change. Depending on circumstance, I may see that as a good thing or a bad one. Today I feel torn.
This week, I’ve been filled with joy. People have commented on it. I radiate joy, they say. And it’s true. I’m in a much better place now, relying on God. I’ve released so many things into more capable hands.
I earned my first bonus on Kindle Vella. A tiny paycheck, but a victory for me. It isn’t the journey I once dreamed of, but it’s sufficient for me. More than sufficient if my behavior is any indication. I ran through the house celebrating.
My lesson today forced me to look at my patterns. It was good timing, because I was in a funk last night. After gushing with excitement in group Thursday night, proclaiming that I had unlocked the secret to being joyful in all circumstances, I found myself slumped on the couch, my arms crossed, refusing to laugh at my favorite sitcom the very next night. Actually resisting feeling good.
So have I changed? I need to, because the person whose attitude toward me keeps bringing me down isn’t going to. I’m so close to getting past the thing that’s holding me back. How one person sees me. This person’s view of me is neither good, nor bad, nor ugly.
It is indifferent.
One person, who doesn’t hear me or see me, no matter what I say or do, has the power to steal my joy.
I’ve noticed a pattern in my recovery that isn’t exactly following the steps in the re:generation books. They say to trust the process, so I’ve been doing that. But today I feel it’s important to point out that even trusting the process can be problematic. At least if you take it literally. For my current struggle, I need to rephrase it.
Trust God to work in you through the process.
I know I’m nitpicking here, but it makes a huge difference in a mind like mine. (Still working on the perfectionism.)
Themes – My Personal Steps
When I first started Groundwork, I also did a women’s Bible study on the book of Isaiah. I’m an overachiever, often teased for my tendency to get ahead of the lessons and finish first. But I was seeking God, and I heard a message loud and clear.
So I did. I had my gallbladder removed during that study, but it wasn’t why I didn’t complete the work. I simply needed rest. I stopped filling in my book halfway through, and then I even fasted from writing from Thanksgiving to New Year.
The next theme was trust. I couldn’t have released my story had I not completed this step. This one is straight out of my re:gen work, so I do see the process there. I believe the process works. But my next theme has me reevaluating some things.
Creator vs. Created
In my previous post, I mentioned my quiet time routine. There are several components, and sometimes I’m in the Word for a couple hours before I start my writing. This is huge for me, because I had long held the belief that my best writing happened first thing in the morning. I was dogmatic about it. I’m still really glad I gave this over, because I see great changes coming from a switch in my priorities.
I didn’t mean to do it, but I feel like I gave credit for my heart change to that process. This understanding came to me through a couple things other people said, which generated thoughts in my head that didn’t belong there.
One was a comparison between how I study and how someone else does. As she was speaking, I started thinking her way is better. I would get better faster if I did what she was doing. Oops! That’s putting my trust in a routine. What I’m doing works for me.
The other was something my husband said, which sent my thoughts in the opposite direction. He said I was doing better than he was. It’s not like him to say something like that, to compare at all, so I stewed over it. He wasn’t being sarcastic. He was proud of me. It felt nice, but again, my thoughts lingered on the process.
My next theme is humility. I have to stop thinking I have things figured out.
I’ve always had confidence in my ability to figure things out. I felt like I had done that. Starting my day right, in the Word, kicked me off for success, and my heart was getting all lined up. And I still think that’s true. My relationship with God is getting stronger every day.
But I’ve become ritualistic. When I have to stop in the middle of my quiet time to address something, I feel angry about it, as if part of my joy for the day has been stolen from me. My joy shouldn’t come from a routine.
I’m not sure what will change as a result of this revelation. And I don’t mind that at all.
I’ve noticed that I tend to post most of my updates when I’m struggling. I said I was in free fall, and I scared a few people. It earned me some hugs and concerned questions at church yesterday.
I wasn’t bluffing, but I failed to mention the good part. The rush, the anticipation of the journey back up. Slower, but so much better. My stomach is back where it belongs, and I’m not getting off the ride. I’m going over the next hill with my hands up.
I have thirteen episodes on Vella, and I’m establishing a routine. This is difficult for me. I’m a pantser, a project hopper, a total brat. I write what I want, when I want. But no more. Now I have to figure out how to balance my episode schedule, the writing of season four, getting my illustrator to start on the cover of Sam and Millie, converting my even longer series (Collected) into episodic form, and all the CG leader and mom/wife stuff. Not in that order.
I do my quiet time first thing in the morning. Bible Recap first, then other studies. Re:generation, WBS, gratitude journal, prayer list, then the really good stuff. Talking to God. I’ve come so far. Months ago, I had lost my faith that He was good. Now I curl up and cry from relief at how I trust Him. My prayers are sometimes just lists of all the things I can see that I didn’t see before. And that’s why my hands are up.
My Vellas and my books may never be read, but I will be satisfied. Now I’m free.
Inevitably, it got me. Yesterday was so good. I felt surrounded by love and support. I was sure great things were about to happen. Then comes the drop. I know the roller coaster analogy is overused, but it’s only because it’s so accurate. I’m in free fall. Today I’m asking myself why I thought I could be a writer. Who do I think I am?
It happens to all writers, they say, and I think it’s true. Maybe there are some who are so well-adjusted, or so weathered, they can share their work without a moment of doubt. Some may just be that arrogant. It’s not really a sign that I’m a fraud. It’s a sign that I’m doing something difficult.
It’s stopping me from working today. I have plenty to do. I could schedule more episodes, work on season 4, take a gander at other projects that are ready to get their start, or do this. Dump my day-after blues on my blog. I chose this because I want to be raw and real. Also, because writing through my anxieties seems to calm them.
Part of my re:gen work includes writing a letter to my future self. It’s perfect, because I say all the time on my good days that I need to find a way to communicate my temporary clarity to myself on my bad days. I wrote my first footprint last week, on a good day. So why not check it out? I definitely need some clarity.
I won’t share it all here, because it’s long. But the last part spoke to me, and maybe it will speak to someone else.
Remember on the bad days that the devil wants to knock you down. He’s rubbing his hands together now, because your cup is getting full. You don’t have to fight him, because the battle belongs to the LORD.
I went through therapy a while back, thinking I was there to overcome depression brought on by the loss of my daughter. Of course, there were other issues, but I felt like it all came down to losing Izzy. Even now, my heart clenches when I type her name. It’s racing a bit. Full stop. I’ll have to take a break before I can finish this.
The reason I needed therapy came down to the loss of one specific individual, but it wasn’t my daughter. It was me. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. My days were filled with regret and fear. What I thought was depression was really anxiety, and it had complete control of my thoughts. I didn’t believe good things could happen. I was convinced that the best thing I could do was get out of the way so I didn’t infect others with my hopelessness. So I hid. I’ve always been good at hiding.
Hide and Don’t Seek
March of 2020. I was killing it, coordinating Journey Groups (support groups) at my church, sharing my pain, loving my ministry. And along came the virus, and everyone scattered. I had just made it through the first two months without my daughter, and suddenly all my support was gone. Hate has never been in short supply online, but it really ramped up then. I made an effort to be heard, but my opinion wasn’t popular. So off I went, into my cave. And when the rest of the world started venturing out, I stayed in the shadows.
Ten straight months of begging God to kill me. I needed help. That help came in the form of a neighbor who saw me and not only suggested therapy, but made it happen for me. I nearly canceled my first appointment. A therapist couldn’t get my daughter back. She couldn’t take Autism from my sons. She couldn’t un-waste my life.
But I couldn’t throw away what had been given to me. So I went, ears perked for anything that triggered my alarms, anything that told me therapy was just another way for someone to take my money and not help me. Somehow, she navigated her way safely through my minefield of distrust. She found little Rachel and helped her out of the fetal position.
Sometimes when I need a good cry, I imagine myself in that room, sitting across from the woman who helped me unpack forty-five years of self-doubts and cumulative trauma. I learned in that space how to find and conquer the lies that were deeply embedded in my brain. Lies that spawned my fiction, yes, but that also trapped me there. Because I couldn’t even create magical problems I didn’t prefer over my real life.
I’ve been out of therapy for several months now, and I’m realizing that mental health is like any other discipline. It takes practice. My joy-seeking muscles have atrophied. Anxiety has crept back into my routine, and my tools are largely forgotten. I write my pain into my fiction, but all too often, I find that my attitude is starting to align with that of my flawed characters. I’m starting to not want to be here. Wallowing in ugly thoughts instead of taking them captive. I’ve said the actual words, my face aimed skyward, heart closed off to the god I’m not always convinced is listening.
I don’t want to be here.
I’ve been asking myself for weeks what I should blog about. Photography, special needs, writing. My word cloud suggests I should write about hidden spaces and mysteries. I considered that, but on closer inspection, I noticed something else in my cloud. Between the mentions of secret passages and enchanted forests—things that excite me—the darkest part of me calls out that she still needs help. She’s drowning. So I’m going to dive in. Get raw and real.
I know I’m under here somewhere
First confession: I still don’t like myself. I’m not even going to try to fix that today. It’s a big mess with too many components to fit into one blog entry, and I seriously want to open my manuscript and write about my character’s struggles right now. She’s much more interesting than I am. So I’m leaving it here, at the start of a journey that will hopefully help me to find joy again. I have a long way to go. In this blog, I’ll travel down the dark corridors of my broken mind. I’ll tell the ugly truth. And maybe someone will be touched by it.
What are your thoughts? Have you tried therapy? Did it work for you, and if so, are you still thriving?
I Don’t Want To Be Here