Tears come easily today. I wonder about them. I am sitting in San Francisco thanks to a long-awaited three-week writing vacation. I am house sitting while a friend and her husband travel. I am writing my second book, a non-gendered view of transition. My teenage daughter helped me create a calendar with daily writing goals. My son promised to FaceTime daily with a few good jokes. I hope to make real progress. But the tears? Where are they coming from? Have you ever had a day when emotions reigned unchecked?
I have two theories about the tears.
The first is all about fear. Am I afraid of the work or of not being able to make progress? Possibly.
By being here I’ve removed nearly every barrier that I believe gets in the way of my writing. Here there are no meals to prepare; no scraped knees to comfort; no laundry; no conference calls; no carpool coordination; no driving a child here or picking another one up there; and no elder care responsibilities. There is a market on the corner and a breakfast joint a block away. I’ve made a note to ask tomorrow if they deliver.
In spite of barrier-less living, fear is very real. Am I afraid of what I can do? Or afraid of what I cannot do?
My performance fear may stem from the fact that it takes me a long time to write. For years I was told that I was a lousy writer. This messaging happened repeatedly from high school through college and into my early working life. It seems to me that this characterization had more to do with the topics I was asked to write about – like the gross margin performance of a business – than my desire to write. Whatever the reason, the negativity of this descriptor has had a lasting impact.
That said, I do not think that I can credit fear for my tears. My second ‘tear’ theory is related to my transition’s current state.
Let me catch you up on what has been happening. I’ve experienced what I can only describe as an awakening in what may be my 2nd or 3rd full cycle of transitioning since I started this blog. All of a sudden I have a heightened awareness. I feel as if I am breathing from every pore in my body. The words of His Holiness the Dali Lama all of a sudden make sense to me:
- “When, at some point in our lives, we meet a real tragedy,” he said, “which can happen to any one of us, we can react in two ways. Obviously, we can lose hope, let ourselves slip into discouragement, into alcohol, drugs, unending sadness. Or else we can wake ourselves up, discover in ourselves an energy that has hidden there, and act with more clarity, more force.” (Escape from the Land of Snows, Stephen Talty, pg 245)
My new status has brought with it peace but it has also hit some very emotional chords.
When my trigger first occurred, I had no vocabulary or understanding of transition. I recognized that there was a mismatch between what occurred – a childcare snafu while on a business trip to London – and how I felt. I felt as if the ground fell out from underneath me. I tried to hit the re-set button which would allow me to just keep going. It did not work. Nothing did. I felt ashamed because I didn’t know what was going on; I was engulfed in self-doubt thanks to the enormity of what I was feeling; and I felt alone. Very very alone.
It would take hundreds of hours of conversations with others who were going through significant changes for me to realize that I was transitioning, a normal process of growth and development that is available to all. Here is the kicker. We grossly misunderstand transition in our society. Transitions occur when there is a shift in what holds value or meaning to us. It can happen at 22 years of age or 72 years of age. Or never. In fact, the great majority of adults look to distractions to keep themselves away from this very real opportunity for extraordinary growth.
At its core, transition is about choice. Choosing to grow. What will we do when faced with the need to change? Some cling to the status quo, some retreat to an earlier more comfortable state, others pursue all manner of changes. Still others decouple from all or part of their known identity and walk forward into uncertainty. These hearty transitioners make the choice to explore more of who they are. It is an act of courage that offers an ever-expanding opportunity to engage who we are with the world.
Over the past six months I am all of a sudden aware of the role that emotional connections play for me. I have a deep desire to be connected to others. What if my feeling alone all those years ago had nothing to do with my trigger and more to do with the emotionally vacant environment I’d excelled in for decades? Did I mention that for nearly 25 years I thrived in a business world where I was rewarded for silencing emotions?
Back to the tears. Somewhere deep down I know that the way forward for book #2 is the tell the story of transition through my emotions. I think the tears are related to standing at a cross-roads: I can rationalize what I need to do, but I still need to re-direct the anti-emotional patterns so long-established in me. How will I dismantle the last remaining pieces of the force field I’d built over so many years?
Today, I feel as if I am making a remarkable choice. I am deciding to continue. To trust the process of transition as I re-examine my identity through emotions and my connection to those around me. I am uncertain where it will take me but I know that it will engage my voice in an entirely new way.
Wish me luck as I try to conjure that part of my spirit that wants to celebrate this unique opportunity to write. Say a little prayer that I give in to the creative process without judgement or filter.
What choices will you make today?
Thank you for walking next to me through this process. Your presence is an incredible gift and one that I rely on more than you know. If you have comments or ideas, please comment below or send me a note at email@example.com.
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Lin, I love this post and the fact that you have taken a writing sabbatical. Good for you! Sometimes, we need to quiet all the noise around us to really hear what we are thinking and to absorb what we are seeing. I hope there isn’t more behind the story but perhaps we can chat over coffee sometime after you return. In the meanwhile, have confidence in yourself and also, don’t expect too much of yourself – you have already been so successful and you are measuring your future results based on your past successes and that is a tough ladder to continue to continue to climb, but I give you enormous credit for always reaching for your best. And by the way, I love your writing :) xo Val
Great post Linda. I think tears are a sign that you’ve hit that emotional vein that’s been blocked. I’m proud of you for standing in your vulnerability, working through it and being a role model for all of us. Let the tears flow, give yourself a break – a writing schedule is good, but letting yourself follow your heart will give you the energy and inspiration that can transcend any schedule.
Thanks Marla! For the record, today’s schedule is already out the window. TY…