From Mother to Daughter

I spend a lot of time these days thinking about what I might be passing on to my daughter without even knowing it. I would definitely prefer it if she was more like her father, who I feel is better than me in almost every sense there is. I’m exaggerating a bit, but unfortunately it’s more true than I’d like it to be. His favorite moments are when I say “you are so much more intelligent than me” (which happens from time to time). Then he holds his hand out, like he’s holding an invisible microphone and is interviewing me, and with a gigantic smile he says “I won’t forget you said that”. And he never does, of course.

One of the things my mother passed on to me, and that I’m cursing every day, is my need for everything to be clean around me. I cannot stand dirt, and to have stuff lying around everywhere. A dirty kitchen can have me go out of my mind. When my anxieties get bad, I can feel it on my need to clean, and on the effect a messy apartment can have on me. As I clean and clean, and never feel like things can get clean and shiny enough, the tension rises as my hands scrub even harder, and the nervousness reaches its peak before I explode in tears of rage and frustration.

As a little girl I used to clean my room thoroughly from time to time. Well, actually, that is a big understatement. I used to remove every single object from my room until my desk, every drawer, even my mattress was out, and then I would scrub everything before putting everything back in its place. I suppose this doesn’t sound so bad in itself, but if you keep in mind that I was nine or ten it becomes a bit too much. Children are supposed to play, not clean excessively.

It’s obvious that I use cleaning as a way of gaining some sort of control, but this control I think I gain is no more than an illusion. I especially don’t like the fact that I use cleaning to get out of doing other more important stuff, like writing or playing an instrument. I’ve come to look at this cleaning urge to be an extremely powerful anti-creative force in my life, and I would love for it to be toned down. But it’s difficult.

At home it’s what makes me and my partner argue the most. He’s messy, and I’m not. He doesn’t care, I care too much. It’s the source of a lot of yelling and name calling. Therefore I’ve started to work on my ability to accept a certain level of disorder. Let the “dust bunnies” lie another day, let the kitchen stay dirty until tomorrow etc etc, and I’ve become better at letting go and just breathe through it. If my mum wanted to spend her time ironing everyones jeans it doesn’t mean that I have to do the same. She was also the person to tell me that “no, you don’t have to clean your apartment EVERY week, it’s ok to relax a bit”. So there. What shock. I didn’t expect that one coming.

A lot of the people I respect artistically are very messy people, and it makes sense to me that they’re messy. How can you follow a train of thought, or concentrate on creating something when you worry about the dirty dishes all the time?

It will be interesting to see what she picks up and what she doesn’t. I would like her to help out at home, set the table, clean her room, fold her clothes when she goes to bed, but I hope she doesn’t inherit the obsessive compulsive sides I have to my personality. I hope she becomes happy, relaxed, messy, and playful and that she feels that she deserves to spend time doing what she loves the most.

On Anxiety and Its Daily Workings

Resistance has got the better of me the last month. I find it exceedingly hard to get up in the morning. I find it impossible to get my story to go anywhere. I keep playing the same Bach invention day after day after day, even thought I know I should start something else. My therapist has suggested I start meditating, but I can’t get that done either. I’m tired of failing, and of not trying hard enough.

In a month I won’t have a steady job anymore. I’m glad I quit, going there every day made me want to jump off a tall building. My finances are in good order, and I have some savings to create a buffer between now and my freelance existence, but I just can’t shake the feeling that I’m doing some terrible mistake. I know this to not be true, but I’m so used to waiting for the next disaster that I don’t know how to be positive about this.

It’s so easy to get up in the morning, check your mail, read the paper and then let the day waste away in front of the computer. There are so many things to see, and to learn. But I’ve come to identify that the internet is my enemy number one. Big surprise, huh? Wow many times haven’t we heard other writers say the same thing?

Sometimes I think that I just don’t want it enough. But I’ve sincerely tried for ten years to live without creating things and performing, and it just doesn’t work. It makes me not want to live.

It will work, I know. I’ll make a life for myself where I can create and perform and not feel like a fraud and a failure, or at least where I can do it even though I feel like a fraud and a failure.

As I’m trying to find work as a freelancer, I have to put myself out there in a way I haven’t before. I’m so scared. I did a test to be a translator this week, and I know I didn’t do very well. I’m horrified by the idea that they might tell me I’m not good enough, but I still did it. Now I’m waiting for the verdict. I regret doing it SO MUCH. Why couldn’t I just have stayed in that stupid office and made it work? Fuck!

This morning I listened to this fantastic podcast with Seth Godin I found on Brainpickings:

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2014/05/20/seth-godin-debbie-millman-interview/

I particularly liked these parts:

Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance. Tell yourself enough vivid stories about the worst possible outcome of your work and you’ll soon come to believe them. Worry is not preparation, and anxiety doesn’t make you better.

 

Vulnerable is the only way we can feel when we truly share the art we’ve made. When we share it, when we connect, we have shifted all the power and made ourselves naked in front of the person we’ve given the gift of our art to. We have no excuses, no manual to point to, no standard operating procedure to protect us. And that is part of our gift.

If I don’t put myself out there, nothing is going to change.

The next step now is to record some demos and put them on Soundcloud. I’m going to do it, even though I’m not super happy with my songs.  They are probably more than adequate, and I’m just talking myself down again. I will stop doing that.

One step at a time. And don’t forget to breathe…