Well, I’m a little overdue, but I’ve finally made my New Year’s resolutions! Yes, I know that it’s nearly May, and believe me, I WILL NOT PROCRASTINATE is right at the very top of my list, but I take this stuff seriously and feel that it is worthy of nearly 5 months deliberation.
Okay, I lied. Procrastination is the ONLY thing on my list of resolutions. Actually, there really isn’t really a list per se, since I never got around to making one. There’s just this nagging feeling that no matter what I think about doing, somehow it will never manifest itself into word or deed.
There is a saying that reads, “Procrastination is the thief of our tomorrows”. If that is true, I should have died in 1986 because I can find a reason to put off anything.
Take writing, for instance. In 2002 I started a book about my experiences growing up around mental illness and alcoholism. By all accounts of those who read it, it was a pretty good book. I received lots of emotional support and people were asking almost weekly, “Hey, how’s the book coming along?” Of course I’d respond, “Great! It will be finished in about a year.” Of course I didn’t say which year, and the damned thing is still sitting in a file cabinet drawer with the other two books I’ve started and never finished.
And then there’s this blog, which is probably the only successful thing I’ve ever written. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put off writing it, not because I don’t want to, but because I don’t wannnnnnaaa.
Well see, now that’s an interesting, insightful glimpse into the workings of my psyche that I’ve never noticed before. The adult in me wants to write constantly, simply because I love watching these things come together. It’s like figuring out who the killer is in a mystery novel, you know? And then of course there is the sense of accomplishment in seeing how many folks actually read the thing. So, that’s a positive, I guess.
But then there’s this little kid inside me-this miserable, rebellious, snotty child who resents any kind of authority. And when she feels the pressure of others to produce something, she says “fuck you, no one is going to tell me what to do”, and moves on to something else. The kid logic of course is of the I’ll show them variety; but of course I’ve only ended up hurting myself over and over again by running away.
It happened in comedy too. The minute I got successful, I got a writer’s block that rivaled the Berlin Wall in size. It got so bad that I had to run away yet again. True, the transgender part of it was an obstacle, but the truth is I could have gotten back much earlier than I did. I ran away for one reason only; I was afraid of being successful. And I’ve done it with every job, and every relationship that I have ever had.
What makes it so aggravating is that I know what the problem is. I know that I possess the innate ability to be successful, or to lose weight, or to love someone and accept their love in return. The adult in me understands it. But it’s that damned kid who can’t quite get it. And as foolish as that statement looks to me on the screen as an adult, the kid locks herself away from people time after time in order not to be hurt again. It’s a never-ending battle between ‘adult’ me and ‘The Kid’ me.
Now before you all start thinking, well, she just suffers from depression, let me stop you. I know that already. Yes it is depression and about a half dozen other things. Sometimes it’s worse than others and sometimes it is entirely manageable. Sometimes I can catch it before it goes blooey and head it off at the pass. But it always begins as it is now; with the gnawing dissatisfaction with the way things are and an intense desire to just wish the pain away.
The truth is, I’m just afraid. The fear inside me is getting so bad, that lately, instead of procrastinating forever, I am beginning to just sever things rather than waiting to see how they work out. So, in one way, I am dealing with the procrastination issue, albeit in a negative way.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just that in old age I am realizing that I no long have the luxury of time to work through the fear. Even at this late stage in life, when success seems just within my reach, I will walk away in failure rather than face success and the problems that brings. Like an old boxer who should just stay down and take the count, I keep getting up and fighting some more in the hope that maybe this time it will be different; but it hasn’t up till this point.
Usually the pattern of defeat goes like this. I get charged up about something and plunge into it totally unprepared. It’s like getting on the famous Atlantic City Diving Horse without any training and expecting a smooth plunge with nary a ripple. And when that doesn’t happen, when I break something emotionally and don’t have that immediate success, my fears begin to take root. Sooner rather than later, I always seem to find a reason to sabotage it. And more often than not, I seem to take down the good people who believed in me as well. There is an abrogation of their trust which only serves to justify this sense of not feeling worthy of anything remotely joyous.
See, now there’s another insight! Failure has always been a comfort for me. By laying low and staying under the radar, it was impossible for people to see me. But to succeed at anything would have meant facing people’s criticisms of my work or love.
I wonder how many people find this state of mind to be as debilitating as I do.
I’m feeling the cycle begin again, which is probably what prompted me write this. Believe me; I had originally intended this piece to be a humorous at worst and funny if possible. Sometimes though, you just have to let the fingers on the keyboard go where they want, and hope for the best. That’s the part I love about the creative process. The downside to spontaneous writing is of course this; what if you, the reader just gets fed up with my whining about childhood and fear, creative paralysis and just go watch Dancing with the Stars instead? What if all you want to read is the funny stuff and I can’t produce it today? It’s a bit manic I know, but such is the bane of the writer.
The answer to the question for whom am I writing, goes way back to the very beginning of this blog. Back in December I vowed that for once I would write for my pleasure and not my potential readers’. My hope, of course, was that you would join me and connect, and you certainly have done that beyond any expectations I had. For that I thank you. But honesty must prevail here, above all things or there is no point in writing at all. Writing for the pleasure one gets in the approval of others is just mental masturbation. And when the audience leaves, so does the pleasure. I think it is far more fulfilling for me as a writer to explore and report the reasons we do things. In the long run, it will benefit my writing and thus make future essays perhaps a bit more interesting, don’t you think?
Moving right along though, there are dozens of other resolutions I’ve made over the years that have been overturned by The Kid’s oppositional defiance, such as becoming a comedian instead of 9 to 5ing it for my entire life. Of all the things I’ve attempted and been moderately successful at, stand-up is the one that has filled gaping voids in my heart and given me great joy as well as its inverse.
Hey, an interesting thing just happened between paragraphs. I just got a phone call from a comedian friend of mine and in the course of a three minute conversation; he brought up the subject of his phobias and fears... totally unsolicited from me! How weird is that?
I guess we all have bugaboos that jump out of the darkness in disguise and try to scare us. It makes you wonder how most of us get through the day sometimes.
Maybe resolutions aren’t the way to go after all. To resolve is such an adult word and it carries the connotation of consequences for not following through on it. Besides, most of those resolutions fall by the wayside after a very short time anyway. I want something that’s going to last.
Perhaps what I need to do is parent myself a little- you know, try to coax The Kid into growing up. I know that the rule book of life that I’ve been using is the same one I used to protect myself from the crazy that I experienced so long ago, so maybe it’s time to institute some new rules
And so what if I don’t fix myself totally? Trying to do that would be an endless task, because I would always find something new to work on. No, maybe the best thing is to just let it all unfold, not fight it and most of all not fear it. Success doesn’t have to be monetary; that isn’t it. Success, for me at least, is in seeing something through to the end, regardless of how it ends. Some stuff will work out the way I had hoped, and some won’t. But I will never know how it ends if I just walk away from it.
Okay, there’s my resolution for 2012; think stuff through and be sure you want to attempt it. And once you attempt it, don’t give up on it. Yeah, that’s one I can live with.
Tonight’s essay was necessary; for me and maybe for you too. That is my hope. Now I have to go write a comedy sketch for my Wednesday night Show, Julia Scotti’s Comedy Test Kitchen. I wonder how it will end.
That’s it. I’m done bitching. Everybody hug, everybody eat. Abbondanza!