Writing, which has so often been a solace for me in trying times, has been so excruciating for me as late that I’ve almost all but abandoned it. I’m hoping it’s just a short slump instead of the years-long muteness I’ve endured in the past.
My allergic reaction to words has even spread to my go-to of reading. While I have many books I haven’t finished (or even started,) I have a few that I was really enjoying reading and then I just…stopped. I read a page or two, and I find it tiring, or repetitive, or the joy I found in it before has slipped away for a vacation.
I think this is happening because my head is full. When I take it off and crack it open, so much spills out.
Transition is the easiest scapegoat, but even in some of my darkest days I was writing to take some of the weight of it off of me. Arguably, I was more prolific when things were terrible as I used writing as a form a therapy. I put so much mental energy to get to and through transition, that the letdown I’m feeling after achieving the milestone has left me mentally exhausted. Left struggling to make sense of where I am now, stringing together thoughts to examine my place in the world leaves me with clouds instead of solid ground.
Divorce stole more words from me as I wrote, reviewed, and re-reviewed legal paperwork, and then had to push the process through. While sadness abides amidst my marriage ending, there is also the freedom of relief in having one less responsibility to another person and discovering anew who I am in the moments spent alone. Similar to transition, there is an acknowledgement of a bone-weary tiredness after setting down a heavy burden that drives me to rest.
Work has been slow-motion wreck, culminating in me tendering my resignation earlier this week, effective two to three months out. At the short end I have two months to find a new job. If that wasn’t enough to chase some words away, I’ve been re-envisioning one of the apps I’m responsible for. This means I’ve been thinking much more in visuals and interactions than glyphs and meaning as of late. My work commute has also been grinding me down, and while it’s better than the 4-5 hours a day I was doing before, I’m still travelling 2+ hours a day to get to and from work and absorbing all the sounds and visuals of the urban environment.
Parenting continues to be draining and the shift to the summer schedule with camps and later nights has stolen precious minutes I used to have in the morning and evenings. I love my kids to death but there are days I think they’ll be the death of me. My eldest recently turned ten, and you’d think that by that age most of the little kid stuff would be far in the past, but just last week there was a trip to urgent care for an x-ray to confirm coins in his body. (They’re fine and nothing drastic had to happen.) Worries that make measured contemplation hard.
Dating was put on hold when I found myself in an intense, long-distance relationship. (Note to self: do not date or get intimately involved with anyone married again.) While she encouraged me to date, there was an extenuating circumstance independent of our relationship that made me not want to do that until it was resolved. Outside of that issue, while we were highly compatible, had some amazing times together, and both had a strong desire to find a way to make it work, in the end she couldn’t walk away from her marriage and the other commitments in her life, and we fully parted ways last Saturday. The potency of that relationship did spark my writing muse for a while, but she receded as the relationship arced down to terminus.
Debt continues to intrude in the form of just making ends meet paycheck to paycheck. The financial settlement of my divorce has left me with more actual debt than I’ve ever had in my life, excluding mortgages and personal guarantees to secure business loans I made when I owned my own business. In fact, it wasn’t until last week that I came to the realization that my debt load is twice as large as my previous high water mark. That scared the shit out of me when I recalled how my previous indebtedness confinement circumscribed my life severely. The good news here is that this time around I do have assets I can sell if I really need to and I’ve at least stopped digging the hole deeper for the time being, as long as I stay employed at roughly the same level. Still, it’s worry.
Weight and health nag at me in the sense that I really should lose some weight and exercise more. I’m feeling my age more every day in twinges and aches, and as old injuries sustained in more youthful days catch up to slow me down.
This is a lot, and it’d be easy to read into it that my life is sinking under the weight of life, but it’s not.
Some days transition seems like it was all a big bother over nothing and then I have to pinch myself and go, “Hey, Heather! That was the point! You can just be you now.” Finally freeing myself to be myself was the most precious gift I could have given myself and it’s an active process to remind myself of that.
Not having an alcoholic and drug addict in the house brings another peace, and there is the relief from divorce of knowing that any missteps she makes around money or legal entanglements won’t drag me down, too.
For all my angst around work, my parting gift will be a plan to make an app experience used by tens of millions of people better and the architectural underpinnings to scale it up to the hundreds of millions that use all of our experiences combined. At some point I’ll be able to point to this new crown jewel in my portfolio and say, “I did that.”
My kids are growing up and some things are getting easier around them. It is really amazing to watch them evolve into people and start to get a feel for the potential arcs of their lives. For every moment that’s a trial of patience, there are sublime moments of tenderness and love.
Losing someone who understood me so well and that I had such amazing chemistry with was a large loss, but damn, did we have some good times when we were together. She also helped midwife my transition, and for that I will forever grateful and keep a special place in my heart for her.
As Roald Dahl wrote in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, “There’s plenty of money out there. They print more every day.” I come back to this when I consider my financial situation. I’ve gotten out of this hole before and I will again.
One day I’ll die and there isn’t a thing I can do about it except forestall it by taking care of myself. I’ve had other periods in my life where I was in worse shape than I am now and I know that at some point this will self-correct when I can get my life structured to fit in more exercise. As it is, I usually walk about 2-3 miles a day, so I’m still ahead of the game with that.
And the words? Well, this is going to clock in at a bit of 1,300 words. They’re there, they just need more space to breathe. They’ll come back again. I know they will.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to plug away at sorting out the big things in my life and clearing space for new words.