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July 24 • Doing The Write Thing

Day 746

The feeling that I am currently not doing the most important thing I could or should be doing has been a near-constant companion for most of my life. When I'm mowing the grass, I'm irritated at myself for not having cleaned the gutters because they've needed it longer than the grass has been long. When I'm preparing a budget at work, I'm regretting not having completed the HR investigation that has been sitting on my desk for too long. When I'm watching TV, I should be writing. And when I'm writing, mercy, I should be doing anything else.

I hear and read such frustrations from other addicts enough to know that I'm not the only one caught in these loops, and the more I understand, the more I think it is indicative of the addicted brain. The more my addict friend (the one between my ears) can keep me off-balance and unsettled, the more opportunities he has to plant fantasies and ideas of pain-relieving acting out.

As I think back, as much as I can trust my memories, it is entirely possible and likely that the only times I was ever wholly in the moment was when I was engaged in illicit behavior, whether that was porn or a massage or worse. I'm thinking about that. That may be the definition, for me, of pain relief. To get to think about one thing, or nothing, for however long it lasted. And not only did I not feel guilty about whatever it was that I really should have been doing, but I also found a way to set aside the guilt I should have been feeling for what I was doing. The guilt would always be there waiting for me when it was over, and it would be worse than the previous time. I can't think of anything else in my life that was so calming. No wonder it controlled me for so long.

I am trying to intentionally learn some new paths, and hopefully getting some re-wiring accomplished in my brain. I'm taking Spanish lessons every day, and working hard not to feel bad about enjoying them instead of weeding the garden. I'm spending intentional time with my wife and trying not to feel bad for not using that time looking for a job. And I'm trying to write, a lot.

A management consultant walked me through some exercises a few years ago aimed at finding that part of my spirit that is most responsive to my Higher Power. The way she put it was, "How does God speak to you?" The result was more about how I hear God than how He reaches me, but there was a clarity about realizing that my mind and soul go somewhere special when I'm writing, and always has. But because I could never figure out how to monetize that, or even see it as productive, there was always that guilt that I was being ridiculously selfish to the point of wrongful isolation every time I took up the pen or keyboard. I'm trying to get over that hurtful thinking. Intellectually I'm there, but I still feel enough of the truth in some of those shame shams that it still infects my insecurities.

Today I will write, and I will study my Spanish, and I will enjoy time with my wife, and I will feel guilty about none of it. Tomorrow I will live with the results that will come from living today well.



How do you write like you're running out of time?

Write day and night like you're running out of time?

Everyday you fight like you're running out of time.

–The cast of Hamilton, “Non-Stop”



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