This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Sound of Paper. The responses are self-examinations and assessments based on work through a daily series of exercises. While I do keep some material offline as it can be very personal and jarring, I often opt to be fairly open about my experiences, both positive and negative.
This exercise asks me to describe myself as a fictional character.
It took years for her to master any kind of routine. First, her head was always full of screaming noise – old memories, itches and hiving from allergies that equated with a military chemical assault, and received expectations no person living or dead could possibly live up to. Given her teeming inner life, her outer life often left her with bruises – she tripped when out on walks often, the ground suddenly shorter than her stride in one place or another; she was forever standing up and hitting her head, or accidentally stubbing her toe on the bed frame. While regulated periods of decluttering and purification reduced the accidents, they still at times happened. Sometimes if felt like an accident. Other times, a small wound smarted in such a way that rage surged through her body and she was quite convinced that it was no accident (something she chose not to share with her superstitiously anti-superstitious partner.)
Left to her own devices, she would have pursued sociology as an academic, or somehow shaped it into a previously unimagined corporate consultancy. But she had family, and the family had minds much narrower than they recognized – in opposition to the TARDIS, her parental influences had mindsets that were much SMALLER on the inside – and she was more or less directed to “become a writer.” This was fine and well until she became a relatively successful writer, adapting easily to the sudden technological upending of the industry as the world had known it. Apparently the parental assignment had been to be a city hall reporter who struggled on $8 an hour until she married someone, preferably in the teaching profession, and preferably of the sort to subsume his wife’s identity, and start popping out faceless children on whom she could haunt with unfair expectations of predecessors living and dead.
What cooled her seething mind was occultism. Ghosts, of course got her started – she began her search trying to find the off switch that left her conversing with apparitions who also were needy little assholes that didn’t give a fig about her. Her eventual conversion to Wicca to her was a natural evolution of a religious faith she was neurologically bound to: it revered being a decent person over being obedient to religious law, and the newer versions of Wicca had some environmental awareness that she appreciated. Also, it wasn’t conflicted about whether she was condemned or gifted with “second sight,” and while individual Wiccans were very “special snowflake” about their psychic gifts, enough of those that lived quietly in a mainstream background were happy enough to point her to her off switches. As her studies evolved, she became increasingly convinced that mathematics is proof enough of the existence of God, all this religion was just childish expectation/cons perpetuated to ensure only certain assholes had power, and that most of the occult was encoded math for people like her that were lousy at anything that went beyond balancing a checkbook.
Of course, there was still a LOT of noise in her head. But at least it was her noise.
It also convinced her that withholding her DNA was one of the best decisions she ever made.
Self-expression came towards the end of youth as a new and difficult struggle for her: having emotions at all was something she was frequently punished for as a child, under the old abusive game of “you’re not ALLOWED to feel that way.” This was not only delivered by mother and sister, but by most of the people at her schools in Indiana; some saw her as a white-trash future servant, and others, sensing her powerful suppressed rage, expected something involving corporate espionage at the very least. The teachers themselves were the best and worst of this, some carrying over agendas because of encounters either with her mother or her sister. Crown Point High School had some of the stupidest teachers in America.
She always felt that she was credited with far more verbal capacity than she actually had. She rarely had comebacks from the insults that were thrown at her in high school. She also felt utterly dissatisfied when she did come back: her intent was not to insult, but to change. Her words did not seem to change anyone’s behavior, especially the behavior and belief by both teachers and students that she deserved the daily abuse. It wasn’t hers to ferret out the network of false beliefs and manipulated imaginings that these people had, especially since each and every person who sought her out to hurt her felt very much entitled to do so. Since she was not privy to the inner workings of anyone else’s mind, she always assumed that her verbal ammunition never hit home either because the person who provoked her was too stupid to understand her words, or because that person had no feelings because s/he did not see HER as a human being.
At a fat and pretty 36, she was well aware of her contradictions and even proud of them. She was stylish, in a way that defied expectation, and she rebelled against society the way she had rebelled against her peers as a teen: she refused to diet. Exercise, yes, she loved – and she was still fat. Food, she loved, and was allergic to most of, and she was still fat. Doctors poked and prodded and tested her thyroid (that was a little low, but never enough to treat), but often gave up when she mentioned “Health at Every Size,” and rightly pointed out that her blood pressure was low, her cholesterol perfect, and her patience with bullshit a trendy size zero.
Her brown hair was often messy, her legs were muscular from years of walking, running and aerobics, and she had already designated her 40s for the study of Aikido.
While her physical lifting skills needed work – despite three times a week lifting her triceps best served as mudflaps – her emotional lifting skills were continually astonishing.