Starts and Stops

Just some inner thoughts on my struggle with writing. As such, it might not make any sense. 😀

It is such a strange place I find myself, one where I almost cannot write. The idea comes. I merely try to jot notes. I freeze. Writing anything these days requires pushing myself. I must ignore the parts that are screaming in terror at the idea that people would even know that I write. Circumventing parts never ends well.

I think my terror has two sources. First, the fact that university intimidates me more than college. Also, that I am going to have to go out into society and find a job. Both are rooted in the fact that someone will judge my writing.

It seems, and it’s no surprise to me, that one of the few pieces of identity I have is “writer.” Unfortunately, when you tie your identity to something solid, something outside your core Self, any critique of it becomes personal. It’s why many people in all religions cannot take the slightest questioning of their beliefs. They have tied their identity to it. It’s why some people engage in serious arguments about which auto brand is best. That Ford emblem is something they’ve taken on as an identity. (I use Ford because I was a Ford person before I bought my minivan, and I’m wearing my Ford shirt as I write this.)

So long as we think of ourselves as something that is not a natural part of us: religion, cars, professions, etc. when something negative happens involving those things, we will feel a threat. I know this; I have observed it around me and in me all my life. Only recently have I finally been able to give words to it. The last four years forced me to face it. I watched people like those I grew up with lose their minds and offer everything they are to a professional con artist for no other reason than they wanted him to preserve their identity: Christian, gun owner, patriot.

In writing circles, it is popular to insist that the up-and-coming writers refer to themselves as “writer.” We need to embrace it as part of our identity. I wonder, though, if many of us never quite get our work out simply because we have claimed the identity of “writer,” and we fear we will be told that we aren’t. This likely goes in spades for older women like me who have spent half a century being beaten down by religion and society simply because we are women.

(Side note: It is totally awesome to be able to throw the term “half a century” around when bringing up my age. lol)

In IFS, there is a core Self. This Self is who we truly are, and it just is. It is not a race or a gender or a writer or a chef. It just exists.

Why be a writer when I can simply write without it being tied to me personally? What does it benefit a person to claim the identity of their profession? If I was a salesperson—wait, never mind, that is an identity, let’s use something different. If I was a doctor, would it benefit me to tie my identity to my profession? Doctors are more respected in society than writers–only because it is believed they make more money, hooray Capitalism. But is “doctor” an identity? Is that not why so many seem arrogant and cannot think beyond what they already know and help patients who might not match the description.

If you’ve never had a chronic illness, let me explain by way of a story. After my son started eating solids, he stopped growing. He had a ton of other physical problems as well. He was in so much pain that when I took him to get a blood draw for testing when he was nearly two, he didn’t feel the needle. Now, before I went to the paed, I did the research (that’s what I do), and I had four things that matched every one of his symptoms: Cystic Fibrosis, Type 1 Diabetes, Celiac Disease, and a parasite. I was, of course, rooting for the parasite.

The paed’s son had just been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, so my son was given that for an initial diagnosis. See what already happened? The doctor, because of her identity as both doctor and mom, had ignored three other options. And when the diabetes tests came back negative, she was at a loss and said, “Well, he probably just has a food allergy.”

She referred us to an allergist she knew. He turned out to be an airborne allergy specialist and had no idea what to do with food allergies. He told me to get used to the fact that my son would only ever be able to eat white rice. Seriously, no effin joke.

That is what happens when we tie our identity to anything. We cannot see beyond it. We cannot explore options beyond it. What we know must be all there is to know. Otherwise, the part of us that has embraced this “identity” feels threatened, and people do not do well when threatened.

Fortunately, I pushed and pushed until I finally got a doctor who knew what he was doing. My son was diagnosed with Celiac Disease about a year after that first visit to the pead. At that time, a year to receive a CD diagnosis was considered quick. That is also another story of the failures of identity. But you can look that up yourselves. Google: American doctors were so effin arrogant they refused to accept the existence of a disease because it was discovered by the Brits.

When we tie our identity to anything, we cut off our ability to learn and to grow. I say, “I am a writer,” and I am now vulnerable to any critique that comes along, even good advice from a professor who is trying to help me improve.