Episode 12: All we need is just a little patience

In which our protagonist tries to embrace the “work in progress” label

Hello, dear reader. Episode 12, eh? Who’d have thunk it, way back at the beginning of the year, when I decided on a whim to start a newsletter to publicly hold myself accountable to self-care as I recover from breakdown and burnout. And I’ll admit, the last few weeks have been tough to keep it going. I’ve oscillated between being convinced no one cares and no one is reading, to feeling like I have to pull something out the bag or you, dear reader, will be bereft of my wondrous musings; I’ve had the guilts all day because I’m late! I hope the reality is somewhere in the middle, and this “bleeding in public” is proving useful for someone out there. It’s actually helping me, to be honest.

And yes, this week I’m late again. I was tired yesterday after taking part in a 24-hour writing sprint with the London Writers Salon crew - I needed a screen break - but I’m actually thinking Monday might make more sense for future missives as a way to kick off the week. Let’s adjust again. Test and learn; we’ll see how we go. We’ll find a rhythm. I’ll end up in your inbox at some point.

Because, you see, dear reader, I need this. I’m still a work in progress. This journey to self(ish) is far from over. And that is really getting to me. (I talked last week about my general impatience and give-up-quick nature). The lack of a magic wand is impacting not only my mood, but my behaviour as well. I’ve found myself getting aggressive when people who are just trying to help give me information I feel I already possess. I’ve found myself in a jealous rage when others are recognised in a way I perceive to be more than I’ve had. I’ve found my self-loathing spiral as soon as I’m left to my own thoughts. No matter how much progress I make, it feels like I’m one mood change away from a progressive descent back into hell. 

My fuse is short in times like these, and I’m always on the precipice of comparison, anger or “why them and not me?” Which is silly, really, because we are all tip-toeing our way through this crazy pandemic world as best we can.

Trying to make these necessary changes to my lifestyle when we’re a year into Covid restrictions is really f***ing difficult. But that’s not an excuse. OK, I can’t get to the gym or the pool - but I could go for a walk, if I wasn’t on the verge of agoraphobia because I’ve barely left the house in a year. I find myself needing to muster an inordinate amount of energy just to open the front door to deliveries - god forbid, I have to interact with an actual human in real life once in a while! 

Every masterwork needs time to breathe

I know all of this, and yet I’m still really hard on myself. The more I pick at the wounds to see what the core issue is, the more up and down I get. The more I understand, the more I realise I’m not doing what I need to do. (I nearly said “should do” then, but that word is now forbidden in my vicinity.) This is a process that can’t be rushed, of course, but the longer it takes the more defeated I feel. 

I’m told that it will help me if I visualise, try guided meditations, picture in my mind the end result, the milestones along the way, and so on. The thing is, I can’t. And that’s not me being defeatist: I genuinely don’t see images in my mind. If you tell me to close my eyes and imagine a beach, I don’t see the waves or hear the seagulls; instead, it’s like an audio book where I tell myself there are rolling waves and seagulls above and that this scene makes me feel at peace. That makes these guided meditations and visualise-the-achievement exercises kinda impossible. 

It’s more than that, though. The problem is that I can’t imagine life being different to this. I know this - whatever this is - is unsustainable, yes, and I know how it could be improved and the steps I need to take to get there. I know I would feel so much better, and on and on. I can see how one would do that. But can I imagine it for me? Can I imagine myself standing on that winner’s post and truly believe that it’s possible for me? That’s a work in progress.

But it’s all a work in progress, and there is no rush to the end. We can’t rush the things that take time to grow. In the immortal words of Mr Axl Rose: Woman, take it slow and it'll work itself out fine - all we need is just a little patience.

I’ll see you next Monday.

The week ahead 🗓

Much less on my plate at the moment. That’s a good thing!

  • Writing: Spurred on by an author’s afterword, I’m giving myself a break to just play around in my novel’s world. No pressure to *write a novel*; I’ll find my way into it. Goal: one hour per day thinking, noting or writing.

  • Work: Getting further into talking about and planning a top secret project with an awesome friend.

  • Health: Doc gave the all-clear to start a Very Low Calorie, short-term programme. I’ve signed up! It starts on Monday 5 April. I expect to be grumpy for the foreseeable. 

  • Routine: And of course, I aim to continue my daily practice: morning pages, 15 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of stretches. Plus, join me and hundreds of others at the LWS Writers’ Hour every week day: 8am GMT, EST, PST and AEDT.

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On the stereo 🎧

Mexican Gothic playlist by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I was searching for some aural inspiration while doing the LWS 24-hour writing sprint on the weekend, and stumbled across this playlist curated by the Stoker-nominated author of Mexican Gothic. It’s got Joy Division, Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus, of course, but it takes some interesting turns, too. Definite mood-inducer.

Off the shelf 📚

The Last House on Needless Street, by Catriona Ward

My social feeds have been full of buzz for this book since last summer at least; now I finally have my hands on a copy, I can see why. Stephen King said he hadn’t read anything as exciting since Gone Girl; it’s being called the must-read gothic thriller of 2021; it has a talking cat as a protagonist.  This is one of those books that it’s difficult to talk about without revealing too much, so let’s just say it’s both twisted and twisty, incredibly moreish, and if you think you know what’s going on, you’re wrong. 

Today is the anniversary of Little Girl With Popsicle. It happened by the lake, eleven years ago – she was there, and then she wasn’t. So it’s already a bad day when I discover that there is a Murderer among us.

Visual confirmation 📷

These people, this experience, I tells ya… Absolute gold. I finally found my people - it only took a pandemic and being locked in the house for a year. Thanks, London Writers Salon.