This has been a weekend where things I’ve experienced and things I’ve read have given me new hope and a new sense of positive possibilities.
As I wrote about in my last post, my therapist gave me my first cognitive behavioral therapy assignment on Friday. It was to sit down at my computer at 8 a.m. yesterday and write for a cumulative 30 minutes. I was not allowed to edit or check my writing.
I did it. I sat down at 8 and started writing. A lot of it was freewriting, where I just typed without thinking. Out of that grew some ideas for my memoir, things that I will explore more in the future.
I took two minutes to operate my coffee machine and make myself a cup of tea, so I actually stopped writing at 8:32.
It was strange sitting down to write with no real preparation or rituals. I literally got out of bed a little before 8, went to the bathroom, started the coffee machine, started up the computer, and started writing.
It was hard not to stop and make corrections or read over what I had written. Usually I stop frequently and read over what I’ve written so far, making changes as I go along.
This exercise was supposed to push through the avoidance that I bring to my writing.
I rated my anxiety at a 6 or 7 during the exercise. Some of it was related to the non-editing; some of it seemed more generalized.
I rated my anxiety at a 7 when I was done. After that, for the next two hours, it was not more than a 3 or 4.
It wasn’t so hard, so I’m thinking that maybe it wasn’t hard enough. But I sure did feel good after it was over. Part of that came from the fact that I got myself out of bed to do it. And I realized that I could keep on doing it when I wanted and deal with the anxiety as it came.
I plan to set a schedule for doing my own writing. I know sometimes those of us with OCD get wrapped up in schedules so much that we tend to ritualize it too much. But I believe I need the self-discipline. And I am starting to believe what my therapist told me on Friday: motivation comes after action, not before it.
I read a lot yesterday and today. I almost finished “Brain Lock” today, and the chapters on revaluing, on the four steps and freedom and on OCD and family really hit home with me.
I gained a new understanding about the freedom to move forward that treatment can bring me as I get better. I began to think about how I can begin to accomplish so much more and be a person who reaches out and helps others more rather than one who sometimes hides from connections and responsibilities.
I’ll explore these thoughts in future posts.
And one more thing happened this weekend that gave me hope.
Let me preface this by saying that I’m not trying to toot my own horn. I want to share how I was given a whole new perspective on my work.
A while back, I wrote a post about my job and how I feared it wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. I have been feeling bored and at loose ends on the job, and I hate feeling like that. I need to feel that I’m making a positive difference.
On Friday, I received an email from one of the officials that I often turn to as a source for my stories covering county government. It was a surprise, because this official is not a “touchy-feely” kind of person.
He told me he thought I did an excellent job on an article I wrote about the county’s budget concerns for this week’s paper. He wrote that I had “the ability to report very complex issues in an understandable manner.” And he noted “the community service that you provide.”
I almost wept when I read it. Maybe I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing by continuing to work for the newspaper. Maybe I am providing a service. Maybe my work has meaning. Maybe all of my writing can have meaning and help others.The possibilities, I think, are endless.