Oh my friends. My friends, my friends, my friends. This past week was fucking hard. No chitter-chatter. Time for Check-In.
Before I get to the Check-In questions, I’m going to start by talking about the Reading Deprivation and how I did and how it went.
Kids, I hated it. I expected it to be hard the first few days and settle into it by the end of the week and find some kind of peace and freedom within it but that didn’t happen at all. I’m utterly exhausted and I feel totally depleted.
First off, I did not take “reading deprivation” to mean “my eyes will pass over no words.” It’s 2013 and I work an office job full-time in addition to the from-home work I do part-time.. I get all my instructions from email–something that would not have been true when Julia wrote this book in the mid-nineties. To read no emails would be to do no job would be to get fired would be to eat no food and pay no bills. So. What I took the reading deprivation to mean was no reading for pleasure, distraction, or personal knowledge/curiosity (i.e. no googling things unless it directly related to my job). Julia did not mention TV or radio except to “keep a watchful eye” on them, which I thought very strange. Isn’t TV just as distracting as reading? Just as likely–if not more so–to “poison our well?” So I expanded my reading deprivation to include no TV or youtubing, and reduced my podcasting to one hour per day.
I was successful in some ways. I didn’t read any novels, or any of my favorite websites. I did not surf facebook or twitter–although I did read my email notifications. I logged on to facebook once or twice and posted a status update, but did not scroll through.
But I failed in far more ways than I succeeded. At the end of the day when I had no energy left, I found myself curled up next to my boyfriend in front of the TV more than once. Last night I watched the entire first season of GIRLS with a girlfriend (more on that soon!). And then there were the accidents–I went to three plays this weekend and I was leaving the third production before I realized I had read all the programs. Didn’t even think about it, didn’t consider it “reading.” Strange.
Maybe there’s something wrong with me. Maybe I didn’t do the exercise right because I allowed myself to read documents and emails at work. But the Reading Deprivation was a huge fucking failure for me. It was very helpful in opening my eyes to more possibilities for activity–instead of reading on my lunch break, I could write a song! Or a poem! In the evening instead of watching TV I could go downstairs into the studio and play dress-up! Fun! But ultimately–especially towards the end–it just felt tiring. Yes I could still write and sing and re-arrange stuff, but when that was done I wanted to curl up with a book or watch something. And I felt an awful sense of disconnect and isolation by being away from the news and my favorite websites. I realized that I get SO MUCH of my inspiration and my fire to write and create from forces outside of myself. I do not read to lose myself in other people’s stories. I read to find myself there. Maybe it’s wrong. Maybe I’m bad. Maybe I’m not a true artist. But I will probably weep with relief when I open a book tonight. It will feel like coming home. I’m trying not to judge myself. I’m definitely of the “take what you like and leave the rest” mindset when it comes to just about anything, but I do feel like I failed here. And that sucks.
Ok. On to the Check-Ins.
Question One: How many days this week did you do your Morning Pages? How was the experience for you? I did my morning pages six days this week. I actually forgot about them yesterday. Maybe my subconscious brain is throwing a tantrum or something, but I’d been up for several hours before I realized I hadn’t done them. But apart from that, my Morning Pages got out a lot of toxicity this week. After last week’s shitty experience with Morning Pages combined with this week’s Reading Deprivation I was able to get some shit on paper this week. It felt good. I mean, it felt awful–but now it feels good. Purged.
Question Two: Did you do your Artist Date? What did you do? How did you feel? For the first time, I had a hard time with my Artist Date. I did SO MUCH that was Artist Date-esque these past few days–three plays, a photoshoot, singing class, not to mention all the writing I did–that I just couldn’t figure out what the hell I wanted to DO for my Artist Date. I read through my list of ideas I made a few weeks ago and everything seemed too strenuous or required money (I’m SUPER broke right now) or would break my reading/TV/movie deprivation. Saturday is usually my Artist Date day, and it came and went. This morning, fed up, I sat down in the studio and ate a sandwich and listened to music and played a weird solo card game I made up as a kid. It was fun and diverting but did not fill me with joy or inspiration. This week was kind of a bust.
Question Three: Did you experience any synchronicity this week? Yes. I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in awhile at a show this weekend. Without knowing anything about what I’ve been going through the past few weeks, she said the exact things I needed to hear. It was like having my heart talk directly to me.
Question Four: Were there any other issues that came up this week that were significant to your recovery? Yes. I have started hating my body again. Every time I look in the mirror I want to throw up. I’m working so hard to remind myself that all bodies are ok and that there is no good reason why I have to look anything other than what I look like, but it’s really not sticking right now. I’m doing the best I can to try and gently challenge those thoughts whenever they crop up. I mean, I know where these thoughts are coming from. In trying to take agency in my life in one aspect, I have some twisted need to punish myself somewhere else. My psyche is trying to put a price on my artistic empowerment by forcing me to hate my body. This week was particularly tough because I felt like such a failure at the Reading Deprivation–so on top of needing to punish myself for the audacity of following my own artistic fulfillment, I also had to punish myself for failing at it. My poor body didn’t stand a chance. It’s not been a fun week. Yet I know–I know–that these feelings will pass. I know where they come from. I know they’re fleeting. I’m allowing myself to have them but I’m not allowing myself to trust them. Because under the body shame and the fear of failure–fuck, under the fear of SUCCESS–my inner rebel is screaming “fuck you” at everything that would dare try to bring me down. Right now I can’t hear her. But I know she’s in there. She’ll get her moment.
It was a rough week, kids. I’m feeling tender and fragile and sort of beat up. But I’m not going to stop. Not for anything.