Even though I’ve placed my book aside – I’m letting it free for a spell – I still need to write and discover and not take any days off from this. I’ve heard of some people taking days off after they finish a big project, but I don’t want to. I want to get up tomorrow like I’ve been doing for the past however long this project has taken me. I want to keep hearing new music and seeing new things. I want to swim in new paperbacks and hardbacks and collect them like shells inside me.

I use to worry that at some point I’d lose all this. Something in my brain would shut off and get amputated and I wouldn’t be able to write at a certain point, but I don’t think that anymore. Even in the exhaustion of it sometimes, I’m addicted to how it makes me feel – a drug of the purest origins.

My house smells like chili and it’s been raining all day. pat says he loves rainy Sundays because they are a free pass to stay inside and be lazy. Rain gives us permission to lounge around without bras on and our pants rolled up.

I’m trying to train doubt to be an ally like Rainer Maria Rilke says to do. I’m trying to ask it questions and make it answer for itself. I’m trying to use it to become a good critic to help me in my work and not debilitate it. i’m trying to tell it to leave me the fuck alone right now. (I’ve been told by a friend she likes when I curse on my blog – that one’s for you L-)

We’ll see if I find the right sized leash for the parts of me that think I’m terrible at what I love, that what I love is rejecting me, that what I love doesn’t think I’m good enough for it. And while I’m trying to train the monster, how do I retrain my deep deep deep insecurities in myself? How do I retrain that?

I know at the bottom layer of my heart something good remains there. But it’s not as easy as I hoped it would be to press the bad filaments up and out of me. There’s always a few pieces that get left behind.

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6 Responses to breathe

  1. Dear Rachel
    Once, when I was feeling as I sense you are now, a friend said to me “When in doubt, opt for the astonishing.” It felt like slightly shocking advice, but turned out to be profoundly helpful. I turn to these seven words often.
    I made a painting out of this for my daughter when she was going through a period of anxiety and self-doubt (anxiety and self-doubt beset us all from time to time, it seems? Perhaps it’s an inevitability as we try to live more consciously, attentively?). In her painting, I added a second set of seven words, “… then prepare yourself to be astonished.”
    L, C xx

  2. rachvb says:

    Thank you, Claire.
    It is a human condition – doubt and anxiety. I do think some of it is ingrained in me, always self-inflicted, so I’m not devastated if what I put my entire self and love into doesn’t work out. I see the astonishing things outside of me and when doubt comes creeping in it takes over and I can see/feel nothing else. I should work on seeing more of it in me. And am reminded of my mom telling me a while ago to “be kind to myself.”

  3. Hi Rachel

    Compassion to self can be a challenge, yes… and yet, we need to love ourselves in order to love others more freely, I think? Learning to be kind to ourselves can be a strange and slow process, though.

    I grew up in a strict church environment where the message (as I understood it then) was that self-love was tantamount to selfishness (a person should sacrifice themselves for others – and, yes, there are times when to do this is appropriate, the right thing). In reality, self-love is essential and self-nurture the very thing that keeps us resourced so that whatever’s in us to give can spring forth from a full well.

    I have only just ‘met’ you and from the beginning found you, your writing, your way of reflecting on the world astonishing, generous and beautiful.

    Take heart.
    L, C x

  4. rachvb says:

    your comment reminds me of a passage from a book by the Dalai Lama, “The art of Happiness.” Someone asked him that very question about self-love and happiness and showing compassion for ourselves and brought up the idea of it being selfish and he said (I’m paraphrasing here, but): Think about yourself in LA traffic, at rush hour. There is a person trying to get in front of you and has their blinker on. If you are happy, happen to be in a good mood that day, what will you most likely do? You’ll let them in and try to spread your happiness around as much as possible to others, to help others.
    If you are unhappy, festering, loathing yourself, what would you most likely do then? Most likely you will not let them in, honk, scream, curse, yell aggravating yourself and them.
    The happier we are internally, the more compassion we show to others. Therefor true happiness is not selfish at all, but a way of going through the world with the intent to give and help and love.
    I thought it was an interesting idea.

    And thank you. You are kind and non-judgmental and a very open heart – even from way off in New Zealand I can tell.

    Love, Rachel

  5. LtotheJ says:

    HOORAY for curse words! Aren’t the liberating?!

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