If Punxatawney Phil popped his head up in Seattle today, his shadow would be clear on the ground. Despite the well-earned reputation for rainy weather, February 2 is showing off clear skies.
That means it is cold, and that means I’ll be hunkering down with a rice sock tonight.
It also seemed like a good day for me to pop my head up from my winter burrow to see if I can remember how to reach out even as I face my shadow.
Though I haven’t studied Jung, my thumbnail understanding of the shadow aspect of personality is that it is ignored, unaddressed, and generally thought of as bad and to be avoided.
For several months, my shadow has been forward in my mind. I’ve been depressed and anxious since a little after the autumn equinox. What this means from a practical standpoint is that I’ve been working with writing clients only a little, and working on my writing business not at all.
Which is why I consider myself the luckiest woman alive. I often quote the poet Robert Lowell: “Young, tottering on the dizzying brink / of discretion once, you wanted nothing / but to be old, do nothing, type and think.” Since turning 50 last fall, I have taken such freedom. Only not so much with the typing.
When I’m feeling good about what’s been going on, what I’ve been going through, my state of being-rather-than-doing, I consider it dormancy, a state of quiet and inactive restfulness. But quiet and inactive are not restful for me — hence, the anxiety.
And even in my inactive state, I am not completely stopped. I did my gig as a Gynecologic Teaching Associate, spending two weeks as a living, breathing, talking model for medical students. I read a ton of books, and I’ve ramped up my reading since then. I worked out twice and week and walked for an hour on the non-workout days. I wrote and performed a new short piece that calls out to be turned into a longer piece.
Getting out of the house into the public sphere, however, was harder last fall than any other time in my life, so I stopped going to plays and started going to more movies (by which I mean I saw three in one month, which in my current life is a whole bunch). After a theater piece I’d been planning for several years fell apart, I retreated into TV and my soft warm couch and my warm nourishing family.
This is all very hard to talk about, especially for someone who thrives on transparency and sharing vulnerability — but I think that’s why I’m called to share it. Also hard to say, because it points fingers, is that most of the people I was used to talking to on a weekly basis had to withdraw from that schedule, and as more and more regular guideposts to my time fell away, I began to feel loss and lost and like a loser.
God, this is depressing to write about. Which I guess is why I have to do it. Which scares the crap out of me because I’m still convinced that on some level, the girls who found me too depressing to be around in high school were right: I’m a downer and need to stay away until I have my good cheer back again.
In terms of cultivating business, there are very few people out there, from my perspective, who talk about their depression AND make more and better connections out in the world because of it. Maybe that’s my niche, though. Along with people who love to cry and work at the same time. For a while there, I thought of advertising myself as the Weepy Copywriter, but I was afraid I’d attract all sorts of imbalanced and needy people like myself.
Popping my head up in this way at this time feels scary, and even as I’ve started addressing my problems head on and from multiple angles (including changing my diet, adding a new medication, and being kinder to myself), the shadow I see suggests both that I have more work to do and that being willing to hibernate for a few more weeks might not be such a bad idea.
Composition note: What the hell am I doing? I’m sposedta be blogging in order to attract clients, in order to share gifts with them that will delight and surprise. But the rebellious adolescent inside me is collaborating with the free spirit to say fuck you to all the sposedtas in my life, and I truly hope it works out for the best.
Hey, I know it’s hard out there. Is there anything I can do to make it easier? Please reach out and let me know.