Riding the Dragon: Check in Week 1

This is part of my work in the Julia Cameron Artist’s Way series. The work this time is from the book the Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon. 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.

1. Morning pages – how are you doing?
I have skipped once or twice this year, but for me, it’s just about a necessity. Now that I’m past the whole husband-reading-my-journal fiasco of 2010, I may go back to that, too. It’s helpful. It keeps my head clear, and lets me focus on the present moment. I’m at the point now where excavating my past is stopping and I’m looking more at the present, at the subtle cues, about my emotional reactions. While there’s still some detaching of baggage, it’s becoming more about an improved intuitive sense, learning what’s just noise from my memories and what’s signals from right now that I need to give my attention.

2. Three shifts or insights this week:
A)My insecurities, when I don’t suppress them, actually help me shape a healthy work ethic. That “personas conversation” exercise was surprisingly helpful.
B)The sane and the crazy: this has been my lesson this year. Sane people make changes, and crazy people object to them. Sane people ask questions, and crazy people make assumptions. Crazy people are the first to call other people crazy: sane are quite slow to get to this conclusion, and focus on individual behaviors, not on a lateral diagnosis intended to dismiss that person’s entire point of view. Generally the sane people will discuss the behaviors with a professional, while crazy people are quite quick to run around telling people they know little about that they need meds. My family has been selling me as the “crazy” person to my extended family for years, and trying to gaslight me into going along with it. My actual behavior in no way matches this, and like any sane person who wants real health, my response has been to a)notice their rotten behavior and b)try to get away from it, since changing my behavior did nothing to get them to stop. The response has been to seek yet more allies for the “Diana is crazy,” bandwagon, from people that aren’t smart enough to notice: A)Diana’s not there and B)Diana hasn’t asked for anything. What I have been doing is talking about behavior here that I’ve documented for years. Since I’m not capable of conveniently forgetting the bad things I do – there’s a birthday a few years ago Mike has chosen to forget that I can’t because I’m deeply ashamed of the way I treated him, for example – I also can’t conveniently forget the bad things they do, especially since my way of dealing with being forced to be silent and take the mistreatment was to journal about it constantly. The latest in appalling behavior involved a traceable search that came up on my Google Analytics that while is admittedly circumstantial, the circumstances are pretty damning, because of other things my sister has done/said in the past. I spent years giving her a pass on accountability because of abuses she’s endured, but at this point, I’ve had enough. Besides, sending a teenager as emissary is appalling, and it assumes that I’m attached to the child when I have no relationship with her to speak of. I kept hoping for years for a better relationship, or at least one without the snide passive-aggressive behavior. Since every time I call out the bad behavior, I’m made out to be “crazy,” I’ve decided it’s not worth pursuing. I actively hate the birthday call charade where they call me to tell me how THEY are – and notably interrupt me when I try to say anything about my own life. If their lives were not boring and completely absent of insight, I might tolerate it, but no. True narcissists are impossible, and I’m tired of expending my energy. Now I just want these people to stop bothering me.
C. I work very hard to take the classy choice, or to rise above when I am treated poorly, but sometimes I just can’t. I need practice discerning what to confront, what to ignore – and steeling myself for the accusations that I’m “crazy” when I do choose to confront crappiness. I think my problem is that I let things go way to long before I call them out, and sometimes years and even decades elapse before I speak my piece. I want to create positive things, and negative silence doesn’t do that.

Sense of progress: In terms of getting some clarity on my career, a little bit. Nanowrimo has me convinced that I can totally do 1700 words a day anytime, and that makes getting writing done an almost relieving prospect. I’m comfortable with rewrites, after all. I believe the whole crazymaker (which is often perfectly sane people with insecurities being assholes) phenomena of this year is ultimately career related. I don’t stand up for myself enough in professional situations, and I need to learn when to do it and how, because the easygoing approach has actually hurt me professionally more than once. It’s even put me off my blog, because some marketers are pushy/aggressive, and I don’t handle the comeback well. I want to feel laid back about my work (but still getting it done!), but I have to know when not to be laid-back as well.

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