A Stopper For the Guilt Voice

Monday 23 February 2015

There have been two giant obstacles to me blogging lately.  Anxiety/fatigue is the main one.  The other one is inflamed by the first.  It sits in the shadows till I notice and name it, so it took me a bit to work out what it was.  When I peered closer and thought about it, I identified it.  Oh. That again.  It's guilt, in its broadest sweep.  The guilt that says why do this, where is the value, where is the permission?  The creaking bridge that links those two giant hillocks is an abject feeling of uselessness.  I feel as completely useless as a great hulk of mouldy cheese, purposeless in a world of people busily achieving their quarterly KPIs. A big lumpy Bob Hatfieldy waste of space, while meanwhile my partner works eleventy six hours a week.   And so what right do I have to write?

If I could slice that part of myself out and I only had a blunt knife, I'd consider it.  It's an ongoing issue, this lack of worthiness thang.  I've written about it before on this blog.  It's an ongoing refrain not just of mine but of most everybody who writes, or sculpts, or paints, or does something creative in a culture that despite its Apple ads really does not value innovation from people.

This guilt is the most depressing utilitarianism.  It's the same harsh-scratching grey-robed dullness that says I shouldn't be writing by hand because it's not efficient.  I'm a major fan of writing by hand.  I find that there is something soothing about it so that though the dirgevoice says it's not efficient to write by hand, in actuality, for someone who is a raging fire of anxiety a great deal of the time lately it's quite efficient in the end, thank you very much.  It gives me the space to breathe, for time to slow down, just me and the pen moving across the page, the emptiness of the page something exciting, a container that may be filled by something that I'm not even sure of, even while I'm doing it.

CC pic by Jugni

Efficiency is not worth a great deal if you don't ever get started because you're cowed down by the voice that makes something fun into dreariness and repulsive cubicleness.  Do it this way.  This is the best way.  Only this way.  The world is full of those voices and they're really fucking tedious.  And yet here I have my very own in my own head.  Maybe it's an understandable virus of the age that says the only way for me to produce is to cubicle myself into chunks of bland party cheese.  Maybe I need to inoculate myself out of this idea that the best way is a depressing bland one that vampirically sucks all the joy out. I spent some time this afternoon  reading about well-known writers who also do this apparently insane thing of writing by hand.

I don't even hold to this efficiency-by-number-the-fastest-way-possible-is-the-best-because-time-is-money crap.  And yet it rules over me so much, like seeping wetiko.  It's so boring!  And anyway, why does whether I write or how I write have to be linked to worthiness, based on whether I've achieved enough over the previous week?  To prove my worth of existing on this planet?  Just because that's what I feel like my life has told me doesn't mean I need to hold to it in Inner Susieland.  If the kingdom of heaven is there, and all change flows from our insides outward, then this is exactly the place where I need to be pruning back that particularly ugly bush.  That bush of guilt and holding yourself back because you're not worth it is a giant bush of massive ugly hairy testicles with big bits of pus drooling from them.  Hell, not even pruning that bush ~ chop it down.  No herbicides because Inner Susieland doesn't respond well to those sorts of chemicals.  Cutting into the bastard and chopping out its roots and burning the whole thing in a bonfire that I dance naked in front of afterwards.

Pic by Eris-stock
Sheesh.  That dancing naked in front of a bonfire thing keeps popping up.  Whether I ever had the guts to do it would be another story.  I guess I should head up to Nimbin or somewhere to give it a whirl.  Or I could practice in the backyard.  Burn the house down.

So this voice, that tells me how and when to write, why is it linked to worthiness?  Why does it not ever put forward its case as a way to better health, for example?  If my own productivity is so valuable to it, then why not treat the vessel in a way that will ensure productivity, treat it with care, fill it with the things it loves, as a way to rehabilitation?  Because that would be a bleeding-heart left-wing type of action, and that voice, if it was going to vote, would surely be right in on this Abbott government and whatever other austerity-measure-forcing far right-wing governments it could find in the world that punish the less so the more can keep gorging.  That voice doesn't actually seem to be particularly focused on achieving good outcomes via the best way, but just on smashing me in the face with guilt.  So why listen to a voice that's so lacking in imagination?  I mean, I have to listen to those sorts of voices from the culture all bloody day.

Maybe that cultural familiarity is why I'm not tuned into switching that voice off quicker.  After all, it's not just simply a voice I took from the culture, but one that came ready-packaged from within the bosom of my own family from as early as I can remember, so why the hell would I not have created an extra deep rut for it to burrow into?  And the size of the rut is probably why I do not sometimes think earlier that it's really simply a case of reaching out with my trusty internal remote and switching that fucker's voice off.

That's it.  Simple.  I'm not listening to this thought.  Switch off.  And it is that simple.  But it's not.  The exhaustion comes from the relentless dirgelike way that it's back again the next day, and when you're a little exhausted to begin with you're weakened, dear boys and girls.  Susie is life-tired.  Sometimes, all the will in the world can't rise up because the plain exhaustion is there already, disengaging me from reaching for the remote and switching off an energy-draining voice.  It's the relentless surrounding culture, it's Tony Abbott, it's the ongoing lack of response from editors when I put my all into pieces and pitches that aren't accepted.  It's the inability of others to know what I need to do to be able to do even the little that I do.  It's the constant rushing drain of return not exceeding investment.  That's why some days I can't even get to the remote at all.  All sick people know this space.  That's why the breezy recommendations from those who are not here are so teeth grinding to hear at times.

Despite the beliefs of the relentless positivity brigade, switching off the negative voices isn't the end of the story.  You could be excused from thinking, by reading the derisive way we comment to each other on online news spaces, that everyone is simply lazy, that willpower and force and application and a good positive outlook are all that's needed to get you to where you need to go.  It's the neoliberal sexual fantasy.  That way, whatever misfortune occurs to you can be blamed on you. But it's not that simple.  Never that simple that a satisfactory result of a complicated situation is going to be something that would spurt from the same spout as the sort of kneejerk reactive blamethink we see on the net, and that we may even engage in ourselves ~ even if it's only from inside our own heads to ourselves.

We need more than willpower and application, good though they are.  We need new containers to pour ourselves into.  Completely new jars, whose frame will shape whatever new society we are going to come up with next.  One that's worthy of us pouring ourselves into, and that recognises our inherent worth.  Those sorts of containers contain natural stoppers that block out those voices that are so destructive and do so much damage.  The ones that say some should get at the expense of others.  There's classier containers than that.  Like the one that says that what happens to the least of these is what happens to the most of these  That's the type of container I'm dreaming of.

CC pic Byrev


  1. Writing about writing, or not writing. We can get paralyzed by thinking about things, or I can anyway, so thank you for just going ahead and doing it. It's a personal motto of mine when I get sucked into too much thinking 'Don't think about it, just do it'. It's not a complex motto.
    This post makes me want to do art without thinking about selling it. I think you often do the writing equivalent of dancing naked in front of a bonfire, whether or not you do the actual thing. Have you ever used a typewriter? I like them because there's a degree of violence involved and it's loud.
    That is all.
    PS Nice jugs.

  2. Thank you. That is a high compliment because I feel like I do writerly bonfire dancing here so it's nice someone else thinks so.

    Typewriters have a satisfying heaviness don't they. I learnt to type on one, and had a rather unsatisfying portable one, but I remember my auntie's heavy black one. Do you use one?

    Speaking of non computer ways to write, going back in the other direction I have a yearning to try out writing with a fountain pen. Some people swear by thrm

  3. I have used one - some of my Etsy cards were typed, and sometimes I'll type a letter. I used to use a fountain pen for my journal but I often want to press too hard which spoils a fountain pen. I like the feel of a piece of paper when it's been written on on both sides with a biro. But I like owning one.

    1. I like that feel too. I freewrote gobbledegook onto two sides of a blank A4 page this morning and made sure I ran my fingers over it at the end. Almost makes me want to learn Braille. Imagine reading that way

  4. I can barely hand write any more. holding the pen hurts. I nearly gave up journalling because of it, because journalling must be done by hand, right? Ha! No rules baby!

    I write my book of lights and shadow on the puter now instead of in some dusty black tome. I blog now instead of journalling in a book. Whatever you have to do to write, do it.

    I consider writing as my job. what I am put here to do. Therefore, no guilt in doing 1000 words a day no matter what. After that, well my other job is making the home comfy for my husband who is also the money earner in our family. Looking after him and our pets. Neither job is valued in society, neither job currently earns me much money, but they are my jobs, and I'm damned good at them. Yes, I've beaten my inner critic into a pulp. I'm barely even afraid of the blank page any more! :)

    Re the energy to do these things, well lyme knocked it out of me for ten long years, I barely created at all, but I'm back baby. You will be too, just be kind to yourself and only do what your mind and body can do in the meantime. Geez, for years even meditating lying down was too exhausting for me!

    Ps. My diagnosis? Lyme, and I've been right so far with five out of the six people I've thought had it, and the last one isn't tested yet. Hell, it's creepy, but at least it is something you can treat!

    1. That's the spirit, with that inner critic. It's so true that neither writing (till you're famous) or husbanding a husband and a house are valued. Not much is valued really, is it?

      So glad that you are in this space now that you can write and write and write. It's fantastic, and you must appreciate it in the way only someone who's been hampered from doing it can. I understand that from both sides.

      You may well be right as far as the Lyme goes. However, after 15 years of CFS, you're not the first person who's convinced you've got pinned what ails me. But still, it's on the list to be tested ... well, just the blood test, and we'll see what happens. Haven't got a spare grand lying around for the other ones.

      But even so, I might still give Stephen Buhner's Lyme protocol a run. I did test positive for one of Lyme's coinfections, rickettsia, so it couldn't hurt.

    2. Yeah i figure the cheapest and best way to find out if you have some sort of infections is to treat it and see if you herx. :) I understand your frustration with people who think they know the cure for you, but looked at the other way, how would I feel if I hadn't said anything and in ten years you find out it was lyme and you missed that ten years of possible better health due to me not being brave enough to speak out? I only found out about it because a lady on a thyroid treatment list I was on told us about her positive diagnosis. Of the five or so people on that list with similar complicated problems, we all turned out to have lyme! If she hadn't told us and linked some info, we'd still be messing with natural thyroid and wondering why we weren't getting better like the other thyroid people did.

  5. I'm catching up on my Susie, can you tell? :)

    I think you need a set of alphabet stamps so you can pound out the words in different colors and styles. That would be lovely.

    I hardly ever hand write anymore. I never had good penmanship, but also years of typing on a computer has put me out of practice. It's actually hilarious and shaming at the same time that I can't write legibly anymore unless I really try. And in schools they put so much emphasis on penmanship, but why? Will my grandchildren even learn to write? Who knows?

    I love your metaphor of the jars. I like to think I pour myself into a new one about every 5 years. I seem to change -- a lot -- in seasons of life.

    1. It's freaky how hard it gets to write by hand. I was wondering how I'd go and I looked so much like a doctor, and it hurt, but I've got more used to it again now and I love it.

      I wonder about the penmanship emphasis at school ... and yet I don't want them to stop it! I was reading something a while ago that said that writing by hand helps our brains connect more different areas than typing. I would be sad if we stopped writing by hand altogether.

      I like that you pour yourself into new jars. It's refreshing and really inspiring as well :)


Newer Older