23 Feb 2011

Giving In Does Not Equal Failure - Word of the Week

(Acceptance n.: The state of being accepted or acceptable/Favorable reception; approval. Etym: From Latin acceptare receive regularly, take from Proto-Indo-European root *kap-)

This week's WoTW took  me a little while to think of, normally I have my word planned a couple weeks before, but this one was tricky. I would like to warn readers that this post might be a little sensitve to some as it touches on mental health and also cancer. So I hope I don't offend/upset anyone unduly and sorry in advance if I do.

Acceptance has two meaning for me personally - acceptance of my self and my black dog issues, and acceptance of myself as a writer (which is a label I am still finding it rather odd to wear).

In terms of acceptance of oneself, I guess for me this means facing up to issues that have been going on for some time and just, well, being honest about them. Giving in to all the denial and facing up to the fact that battling on for so long is just not working any more. I guess that's what happened to me in late December/early January of this year.

As I've kind of touched on, 2010 was a difficult year in some ways. Workwise it's been amazing - I have a job I love and wonderful supportive colleagues. I truly believe in what I do and that I'm making a difference and contributing to people's lives - which is a great motivator for me! Also friend + husbando-wise, it was fabuloso too - I've got some amazing friends, and made some new ones too, who live in my computer!

On the not so great side, there have been some family issues which have been rather sad and as a result, have made me question a lot  of what I thought I knew to be true about the people I loved.  Plus, as I've hinted at, I had some health issues, which actually, I'd like to mention on here.

So here we go: I had to go for a pre-cancer biopsy over Xmas - on New Year's Eve actually (great timing). I had to wait 8 weeks to find out if there were definitely pre-cancerous cells - and there are *but* according to the letter I got, this is not uncommon and currently no cause for concern. I have to have a follow up proceedure in six months but for now, not to worry. Although that's easier said than done, I know that it could be a lot worse, so I've made a conscious effort not to weird out about all this - there are people going through so, so much worse indeed. For all those who know or have known or have indeed been through something similar, my thoughts are with you. I know that we are supposed to keep these health things private but now I've got my results, talking about it has made me feel better. I hope that this has not bothered anyone.

Also this past year I've also struggled with myself and my self confidence - which is not new - but a recent exercise in what a good friend of mine calls `psyche tuning` showed me that I have disliked myself for nearly 20 years. And I'm only 29. I guess I just got to a point over Christmas where I felt that I just couldn't continue in that vein anymore. I won't lie - I have had some very, very scary thoughts about myself which I shan't go into on here.

So with all of the above, it's no wonder I had a return visit from my black dog - aka depression. But for the first time ever, a still, small voice in my head, even through everything, was trying to be heard and it was saying `what if you didn't have to live like this, to be anxious 24/7 or hate yourself so completely`. And I guess that was a total wake up call for me. So I'm trying to accept a few things about myself now:

1) Yes, I've got depression and you know what, that doesn't make me a total failure. The majority of people who know me have no idea (well, until now, oops). I manage, I do my best. Some days it is so hard to get out of bed and put a happy face on - but I damn well do it. So perhaps I need to give myself a little credit for that instead of beating myself up

2) I can't control everything. No, I can't - and also, I don't have to be liked by everyone. I'm not going to like everyone so why should they like me. Also sometimes people are going to do weird crazy shit and you know what, worrying about them doesn't make a difference or change them. So live and let live. And also, it's okay not to be perfect. Because as I've covered on this post, I need to stop with the perfectionism. It's not big and it's not clever and also, who wants to end up like Natalie Portman in Black Swan?!

3) God it feels good to finally, as @graffitiliving says, put those rocks down. He has done an awesome blog post about this. I am just starting to feel such a huge amount of relief in being able to say `It's okay, I'm sick` or `I'm feeling sad, so can you help me please` or `can you hold my hand` (well that last one is just to husbando mainly). It really is like a weight is lifting off of me for the first time since I was a teenager. Really.

So anyway, beside all that, what does acceptance mean in terms of writing. Well firstly as I said, it means accepting that yes, I am a writer. I write - doesn't matter what or how or where, I write so therefore I'm a writer. I don't make any great claims about my writing - I hope it amuses, entertains and touches people, but ultimately I'm just trying my best to tell my truths. It's kind of nice to have a new label - like writer - unlike the others I have around my disability or my religion. It's a positive feeling. I never thought I was creative before - I thought I was a talentless loser who should just let other people do it better.

Also the side of acceptance that means that sometimes the words are gonna come easy and flow right onto the page - the characters are talking in your head no matter where you are - and then the flip side is, sometimes, like anything worth doing, it's fucking hard work. Sometimes just getting one goddamn word on the page is too much. Whoever said that who thing about being a writer means staring at the paper until your forehead bleeds was right on the money! (who said that btw, please tell me!). No one else can write or create for you - writing is very solitary and self driven and proactive. It's a very selfish art too, you have to force yourself to give up things you enjoy (social life, sleeping) and some you don't (cleaning, gym attendance) to write. You may have rows with people you love over your writing infringing on your time together (!) but writing, a little like love, just rides rough shod over any objections - it *must* be done. It is all consuming. And it's fucking great!

So I don't know if anything I've written has chimed with any of you guys out there. I've been writing this blog continuously for nearly two months now and I feel like I know some of you pretty well, so I just wanted to have a bit of honesty on here and tell you what was going on. And I feel pretty good and accepting of myself now. I think the more honest and transparent we are about ourselves, the less we'll judge others as we'll see how simillar we all are really.

Thank you and good night.

Stupidgirl has left the building

PS I would like to thank everyone of my lovely real life, twitter, fb, blogger + online forum friends who have supported me over the last few months whilst things have been shitty. I really could not have done it with you. I won't name names, you should know who you are. If not - ask me!

PPS I was twitterviewed by the lovely Emlyn Chand live on Twitter last night - click here to see the transcript!


  1. Oh wow, I didn't know you've been through such stress... Even if they say don't worry, you worry. I know. Believe me, I know.

    Lovely piece you've written here, I sense acceptance not only in your being as a writer, but with your life overal. I admire your courage to let go and allow yourself to be who you are. You are putting down your rocks. I hope that some day soon, I will be able to do the same.

  2. I'm not going to dare comment about the personal truths you've shared here as we've only 'met' within the last 24 hours! But it does sound like real progress through acceptance so more power to your elbow. I grew up in a household blighted by some of these issues, so I was more of a co-dependent. But I don't think I'd be writing if I hadn't have 'gathered' all that material no matter how unwillingly.

    Re the points you made about writing, one thing particularly struck me, well two actually. Yes staring at a blank sheet until your head bleeds, but writing should be an enjoyable process. Why else would we give up a social life and eat convenience food if we didn't find writing fun? The other point was your quote "No one else can write or create for you " which is true and also true of pain. No one else can directly feel your pain as you do. All people can do is remain there arms outstretched to hug us when we have stopped crying or stopped feeling suicidal and welcome us back this side of the line. The writer has to try and write that pain (if that is indeed what they write) in such a way as it communicates itself to others who have felt similar but ultimately different pain. That is maybe the hardest aspect of the craft.

    Marc x

  3. Dooba - thanks lovely. It's the putting them down that's hard. When they're on the ground you wonder why you carried them around for so long when you didn't need to!

    Marc - Thanks for the comments! I thought quite a lot about what you said :) Weirdly I don't find writing `fun` per se in the way I do watching silly movies/doing karaoke. It is however, enjoyable (sometimes) but for the most part it's challenging and gruelling but that's what I love about it, the sheer mental work out of getting the exact right words on the page. it's so rewarding in itself, without neccessarily needing the promise of publication. Just to have `created` something all by yourself.

    I think also yes, that is the hardest part of the craft - showing someone your truth - whether it's pain or something else - and making it real for the reader.
    Remind me - why do we do this again :P

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    SG x

  4. You know, I find it far easier to say "I write" than "I'm a writer." :) It doesn't infer quite the same commitment and is thus not as scary!

    Self esteem issues (or whatever one refers to them as) can be utterly crippling -- that's without the cancer scare. It's brave to write about this but it's also worth putting it somewhere other than inside yourself.

  5. health tests frequently come back like that. pre-cancer IS NOT CANCER. it just means the cells 'could' become that way at some time in the future. but you know that now (most of us don't) and CAN TAKE PRECAUTIONS. many say to decrease red meat, add fiber, walk/get fresh air, cut down on sugar...you know, all the basics, but they do help...also, depression is a neurological condition (its physical and has little if anything to do with 'how you think'.....follow docs advice and u can minimize this condition.....And whadda ya mean - keep health issues private? It seems all people do is talk about bodily problems. I think we all like the attention...Ever hear people on a bus? But maybe its just an East Coast, US thing, though I think not. Also, writers are entertainers, they (we?) enliven people's lives. the page is our stage and (I feel) IT IS FUN TO GET UP THERE AND HAM IT UP!...When you get used to it, you'll still go out. you'll still do chores. it won't take time away from other things....the plumber still buys shoes. the chef dines out with friends....and boy, do you live in a great city for 'goin' out'!

  6. Lucy V(??!!) - loving the name change, thanks, it was really cathartic writing it all down + I felt much better after :)

    Will - thanks lovely :) And I do live in the best city IN THE WORLD I think you forgot to say :)