The other thing is that I just have so much pain and grief associated with this academic field that it is hard to function. People always said I must soldier on because it was what I had chosen — I had to bear my cross. Now they say they see it has not worked out and I should leave but I still want a career and this is the one I have. I don’t understand why, if they in fact thought it was all right to leave, they pressured me so to stay when I was in fact in a position to leave. I want to just drop the pain and grief. I think the way to do that is to do as I see fit, not necessarily as “should” be done. This is the advice I tend to give others.
In psychotherapy I learned to fret. This was called “feeling your feelings” and I don’t think it was a useful thing to learn. Now I have a bad situation that will be ongoing and I need to get work done too. I will use an old technique I used to use — always let myself know I have time to feel pain, but also remember I do not have to disable myself with it all the time.
It isn’t actually self-doubt or self-hatred, or laziness or lack of commitment or not knowing what one wants, or depression. It is longing. I long to:
– live somewhere I feel happy
– have an intellectually stimulating life
– be safe from torturers, not work with torture
– and therefore, be calm enough to really write.
Feeling starved and isolated, and being repeatedly hurt and not having strong enough protection against this, are my problems. How can I become the god with the resources to remedy them? I do not want to run.
Why have I not done better so far? Because of being constantly beaten up and abandoned in the old days. I should just say this and not argue with people who want to question or explore it, or help me decide whether or not it is actually fair to say this.
Why? Because if I say it I feel whole, and my mind clears, and I can get a realistic perspective on the things I want to do on a given day.
UPDATE: Really, it was just that I wanted to do my own scholarship and have my own money and resources. But everybody jumped on me: really I wanted to be this nice lady and lower division teacher. Really I wanted to live in the suburbs. Really I did not want a life, I wanted to suffer and then take vacations from suffering. But the truth is that I always wanted autonomy, independence, and intellectual life; I wanted to do my own scholarship and have my own resources.
Filed under Banes, Working
I read about all these professors and how happy they are, how independent and financially secure and creative, and I think:
- I should be happy and productive, and it is only my lack of strength that prevents it
- They are happy in places even sadder than here; I should be too
- I am lazy and not working hard enough
- What is it in my history that caused me to remain so impaired?
- What would I like to do with my life?
- What would I have done with my life had I not been so beaten down from the beginning?
- How can I right this ship?
and so on, and feel practically too weak to get up. Then it occurred to me to say instead “We are working a demanding job in difficult circumstances. We got here through life’s vicissitudes, and we have certain pleasures and certain power,” and I felt much better.
Before Reeducation I did not scrutinize my life for imperfection and I lived a much more perfect life therefore.
— Work on article every morning 7 days/1h no matter what; ideally come up with a readable and sharable draft
— Put syllabi and exams in order
— Letters of recommendation
— Three bureaucratic tasks: study abroad and two speakers
— Meet with painters
— Things from old lists
There is so much to do.
I started writing again. In the old way — something every day, in the morning when I can, and spend a lot of related time reading, thinking, organizing notes and papers. The keys for me are not to try to rush and not to
get scared self-censor. Part of my block on that Vallejo book had to do with no longer being willing write what I was told, and at the same time not daring to write what I wanted. Later I have had other projects I did have interest and confidence in but my problem in this job is the energy drain due to the toxicity. The way I started writing again while in town (I usually go out of town to write) was to stay in for two days reading and thinking, totally ignoring work and everything else. In this way I summoned myself. Now I have to go into the department and not allow it to push me into the usual mild, yet disabling-for-writing dissociative fugue.
On an unrelated note, here is a book on tenure and minorities that I would really like to get.
I had my fortune told. My aura is lemon yellow. What will happen if I stay here? we asked the cards. I will experience growth. What will happen if I leave now, to a place more pleasant or favorable? I will become a workaholic. Perhaps the pressure to make it work will be too much, or the work needed to make it work will be too much of a distraction.
This was very interesting.
My friend Omar has a millwork and art workshop where he spends a large part of every day. He says “When I am here, I am happy, and people love my work and thank me for it,” and I envy his non-conflict about his work. In academia we don’t have all the autonomy he has, or do not know how to take it; it is also true that we are expected to be conflicted about work and that this does no good since there are enough real problems without creating additional ones.
This weekend I stayed in. Saturday I read a whole book for research and personal purposes and it took me twelve hours and was refreshing. Today I organized papers and notes for research purposes and began to feel happier and happier, even though I ostensibly did not make a great leap forward and I did not do anything Fun, and even though I was doing this because I did not feel like preparing classes or writing letters of recommendation, which I really needed to do. Nonetheless I began to feel just like Omar: “When I am here, I am happy.”
I had this interesting conversation with Jonathan. He says, “If it is hard work just to live inside your own head, then there is not much left for anything else.” Interestingly, it was Reeducation that made this so hard for me. Before, I was like Herrigel’s archer, not thinking of myself or the target, only the arrow and the bow. Reeducation did not understand the lack of emphasis on self and feeling, and considered it a problem but it was in part cultural difference (Reeducation was very Western and Christian, and I was unfamiliar with its discourse and did not recognize it but tried, now too hard and not in a Zenlike way, to assimilate).
Do I like what I do? Yes, if I allow myself to be there and do it.