Thank you to all of you who wished me well upon my return to blogging! Your “welcome backs” were like warm hugs from old friends – which you all are!
I am replying to comments on the blog itself. I’d love if you all would look there to read my comments – and each other’s, and respond to comments yourselves. I need a village to surround me and you all are the nicest villagers I’ve ever met!
I honestly was not certain that I would ever start blogging again. Once I began my new position at work, I put it on lockdown and felt in my heart that the creative part of my life was over. And it was. It flared up a few times a year when I was fortunate enough to take a class or go to a retreat, but months went by when I would not write or even hold a paintbrush. Eventually, I just stopped thinking about it. I deadened myself to it, subsumed with work and stress and family. I did not handle any art supplies until I had to pack up the studio to move.
So far, retirement life has not blossomed into an unlimited expanse of relaxation, writing, drawing and painting, and reading. It’s been unsettling. There's a lot of empty space where work, work, work used to be. I just can't seem to grab hold of any of it and put it to use. It's kind of like rescuing a starving woman who has been dreaming of lobster and champagne but can only manage a small bite of a peanut butter sandwich and a sip of water.
It's a lot to digest.
During the day, I look around at all the stuff to do in order to turn the apartment into a home, and then I leave the house and go to Starbucks. The evenings are worse. I don’t know what to do with myself. If I were “home”, I’d be on the screen porch or popping in and out to work in the garden. Here, I binge watch Ozark with my journal, books, and paint around me untouched. Something was gnawing at me and I could not figure it out.
And then it hit me.
I had "ghost work anxiety".
I did not have a clue what to do with myself because the truth is, when I was “home”, whatever the season, I would be working in the evenings. I would type up the long deposition summaries and prepare for the next day’s deposition in Brooklyn, Queens, Newburgh, Melville, or wherever they sent me. I would type until my hands hurt and my eyes crossed, and then shut the lights.
Considering how miserable I was, why do I miss work?
I miss having somewhere to go each morning. I miss getting up with a purpose and putting on nice clothes. I miss the intellectual part of it and the collegiality.
I miss being part of something bigger than myself. Between the retiring and moving into an apartment with scary dogs in the hallways (another story, another time), I've felt diminished. Aged. Weakened. Lonely. I am a middle child, after all.
You see what was happening, don’t you?
The great white whale of the blank page has reared its empty, white forehead at me.
What I missed was being so subsumed with work and life that I never, ever had to face the blank page and think, “I’m not as good as I thought I was. I’ll never write a book. I’ll never have a portfolio. I’m a joke at painting. It took me three days to write this post. I don’t want to sit alone in the apartment.”
Gawd, I’d rather go depose someone about their post-accident medical treatment for three hours and then write ten pages about it that no one will ever read, than finally figure out if I was just full of shit all these years.
It’s get real time. And it’s terrifying.
If you’re looking for me, I’m the woman hiding under the table Starbucks.