December 13, 2013

The Upwards Spiral.


Fear crouches in my chest.

The voices start up: You can’t write. You’re blocked. The ideas are gone, just like you thought they would be.

Really? You guys again? I think.

With my recent recommitment to writing, I feel more like me. More alive. I’ve finally, finally been doing that one thing that I’ve always wanted to do but been too stuck or afraid or busy to really dive into consistently.

I’m not sure why writing has felt easy and fun in recent months. Maybe it’s because I’m on the fast track to 40’sville and I’m realizing this is it, this is my life. Maybe all those years of therapy are finding kicking in. Wherever this tailwind is from, I’m grateful.

And I’m also scared.

I used to get frustrated when I’d work and work and work on an issue, seemingly moving forward, and then without warning, I’d backtrack. Fear and external challenges would pop up and sometimes I’d sabotage myself. The sabotage usually showed up as overeating, too much television, or isolation.

Then I heard of the concept of the ‘upwards spiral.’ The theory is that as we move through life, working on our issues, we move forwards and up, around and around. On the Slinky of life, if you will. We don’t backtrack. But as we circle around, propelling upwards, we revisit old places. Hard places.

As a slowly recovering perfectionist, the idea of backsliding is blasphemy to me. But the idea of spiraling up makes sense. I’m writing. I’m running. I’m cozying up to myself. I’m showing up and showing myself: the awkward parts, the scary parts, the funny parts. All the parts.

I’m cycling up and around.

Last week, our family moved. My daughter and husband both had birthdays. The holidays are crashing towards us like a twinkly light-strewn freight train. I haven’t had time to write.

I haven’t made time to write.

I’ve been eyeing my computer like I would a stranger in a cemetery: Wary. Skittishly. Ready to dart.

The thoughts blare: You can’t do this. You lost it. Your writing streak? It’s over.

I wilt. My heart sags like the snow-heavy pines outside the windows of our new home.

And I remember. Oh, I bet this is that upward spiral thing again.

I breathe. I stare out the window and watch a lick of snow drift to the ground. The sun hits it, and it looks like a tiny shooting star.

I sit my butt down and I type.  

So see, you silly voices? I’m on to you. You saw me circling around and came out to meet me. You even brought friends. If you’re right? If I can’t keep writing? I will regroup and try something else. But before that, I’m going to give this thing a chance.

This one thing that brings me alive, that brings me up and up and up.

Relephant articles:

> Writing as Compassionate Action.

> How to Avoid Writer’s Block.

> A Poem Inspired by Writer’s Block.

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Flickr


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