I Don’t Have To Be

An amazing thing happened today.

I woke up feeling good. And that feeling lasted longer than it took to make coffee.

Several hours later, I STILL feel good. Hell, I feel great.

That feeling is colored by deep gratitude for this moment.

See, I haven’t felt this good for this long in about two years. Such a long two years.

It’s hard to see some of the things you’ve been coping with after a while, not while they’re there. Today, I realized how much fear I’ve been living with.

Fear I’d never write again.

Fear I’d suffer that depth of depression forever.

Fear of hoping for anything to actually get all the way better.

Fear that I’d already passed the apogee of my life.

Worst of all, fear that I’d lost myself, the very things I’ve always liked best about me.

I would not wish most of the last two years of my life even on someone I hated. The doubt, the pain, the fear of hoping. Even with some of the most amazing people in my life (and omg, I really do have the best friends and an even better girlfriend that no you can’t have because she’s all mine), the whole battle to get up, get dressed, go to work, eat meals and come home without being wiped out entirely seemed impossible. Yeah, I cried about it. I tried to talk about it, but words have been so hard in all aspects during this period of my life.

That might have been the scariest part, actually, being a writer who couldn’t make words work for her anymore. I mean, I could talk, but expressing myself, especially the complex and often contradictory nature of my feelings? So hard!

Now, it’s all dropping away and I can see how much of it there was. Small wonder I had trouble feeling mentally vertical most days.

Now, I’m not afraid of having a bad mental health day. I’m not afraid I’ll never finish a book again. And most of all, I’m not afraid of the past, of the crap I went through that brought me to my knees.

That’s not to say that nothing will ever worry or bother me, but I can handle things that do in a way I’ve struggled with for a while. I feel more myself than I have since about mid-2013. I feel capable of doing the things I need to do, and even the things I want to do.

I’m not the woman I was before all this. I never will be again. Life doesn’t work that way. You can’t unhappen things. But I AM a version of myself that is as happy in this moment as I often was then. Better, even.

See, that old me was always pushing for more from herself. That can be a good thing, but only to a point. When you look at every accomplishment you achieve and only see a need for more, that’s not healthy. Yes, push yourself to be better, but I never honored what I’d already managed. I never let myself appreciate it.

I’ve learned better. I’ve learned the value of allowing myself to be enough. It isn’t easy, and it’s still a struggle some days but it’s WORTH EVERYTHING. I wrote about 950 words in an hour last night. I stopped because it was enough, because it was a good place to start. No, it wasn’t the 4k word days I used to have, but I felt like the QUEEN OF EVERYTHING seeing those words. Because I wrote. Because I progressed. Because the story developed, as did the characters and I’m a step closer to a milestone: the end of the first chapter.

Maybe that sounds small to some. It would have to me even a year ago, when I’d have said “But I used to write x amount every day” but not now. I’m throwing out that mentality. I’m not on any deadline except one I might set myself (which presently I’m not doing because omg just getting back is major enough). I can’t say I have no one waiting for this because a number of friends might kill me for suggesting that, but they’re also people who would rather I take the time to do this whatever way is right for me. So I’m celebrating the 950 word day. I’m celebrating the step forward.

Life is made up of little things, and you will be happier if you can enjoy those. It’s the best lesson my mother every taught me, though not the only one. A book is the same. It’s made up of little things. Break it down.

A book is made up of chapters

(yay, you wrote a chapter)

Chapters are made up of scenes

(woohoo, finished a scene)

Scenes are made up of paragraphs… I could go on but you get the idea. Celebrate your progress. I’ll celebrate with you, every milestone, no matter how small. I will be there with pompoms and hot chocolate!

I look back at how crazy I drove myself, especially during the last two books I wrote in 2013 (which I have not yet had the courage to open for revision) and to be honest, it’s scary. I don’t want to be her again, ever. Writing became a chore, one where all measures of success were tied to the things that made me the least happy. That version of me felt she had to do everything now, this minute or lose it all forever. She didn’t count any costs or the toll her choices were taking.

The good news is that I’ve realized I don’t have to be her again. I choose to learn from the experience instead. And oh my god, it’s making all the difference. I have no idea where the story I’m writing is going (well, a few points, but nothing compared to my old outlines) or how long it’ll be. But I’m excited to find out. I’m so here for the journey I’m going to take with my characters. Best of all, I feel the old electric excitement as my fingers touch the keyboard for writing time.

Bring it on. I’M READY FOR IT ALL!

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About Julie

I'm a writer and photographer. I always have something with me to take notes for ideas or writing projects I'm thinking about or have on the go. I also like to go around with my camera and take pictures of anything that strikes me as beautiful or evocative. I'm perpetually working on one story or another, while waiting for enough distance to judge the last one (or more). I'm always working on several projects at once, developing the next book, even as I'm editing the last. Beyond that, there's always plenty of scraps and twists of ideas rolling around in my head, eventually turning themselves into full blown stories.
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4 Responses to I Don’t Have To Be

  1. Emmie Mears says:

    Love you! And yay for good days!

  2. quix689 says:

    You don’t know how exciting it was to open my inbox and see a new post from you (which reminds me that I should stop ignoring my own blog). I’m so glad you’re doing better and that you’re excited about writing again. And yay girlfriend! Significant others are great for when you just need a hug or someone to complain to – among other things. 🙂 Fear is such a sucky emotion, and it’s great that it’s not controlling you anymore!

  3. This makes me SO happy to hear! 🙂 Here are to many more days where you feel great! ^_^ Keep being awesome and it’s always lovely to hear from you again! ❤

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