old habits die hard, so make sure you kill ’em right the first time

So: recalibration is in effect.

(Hi everyone, I’m not dead, all of your assassination attempts have failed and I am back and here to post my horrendous opinions on the internet once more. You’re welcome.)

By recalibration I mean picking up and moving out of state. I’m at that point of my life where I can say “I’m looking for a change of pace” and nod mysteriously, and people will accept it and not pry. Thank goodness. Having to wear a mask in public only adds to that je ne sais quoi. I am thinking of sewing more masks in new colors so I can match them to my outfits and really lean into the whole thing.

Is it taking an embarrassing amount of time getting my feet under me in this new place? Yes. But I’m not embarrassed. Maybe I should be, but I’m not. I’ve been thinking about shame for a while now, the ways it eats up little pieces of our lives, and I’m noticing that most of the places where I struggled most in life — where I needed help more than I expected, or where I didn’t understand what was happening, or where I did understand but was too scared to do anything about it — most of those things all, eventually, somehow, came back to shame.

Shame at the idea that I needed help in the first place. Shame that I didn’t understand what was wrong, that I wasn’t smart enough to identify the problem. Shame that I wasn’t brave enough or strong enough to fix it on my own.

The thing that shame does is it makes you quiet. Or, it made me quiet. So whatever problem I had, which could have been more easily fixed at the beginning, instead spiraled and snowballed until it was a big ugly mess. Shame, it’s a hydra: when you try to take a blade to one insecurity, two more pop up in its place, until eventually it’s a huge seething creature finally too big to be ignored. At which point I tend to either break down in tears or enter the kind of depressive state that means sleeping all day and forgetting to eat more than one meal every 24 hours, and then finally get help, and then finally fix the problem.

So: this year — among everything else it’s been (and it’s been so many things) — has been about excising shame. And the further I go, the more I see that pruning it out is doing good things for me. See, if I’m no longer ashamed of needing help, then I ask for it sooner and my problems become easier to fix. And if I’m not ashamed of my own enthusiasm or the ideas I’m enthusiastic about, it becomes much easier to put that enthusiasm to work executing those ideas.

(Throwback to my analysis of 2019’s word count: if I make it easy for myself to write, then I write a hell of a lot more. PS: yes, the sticker tracker works fabulously. I am eyeing a sheet of shiny Sandylion goldfish stickers for when I run out of my current set, before Halloween if I reach my daily goals.)

Is it messy and weird and sometimes frustrating and really really not what I was expecting? Yes. Yer darn right, yes, it is all of those things. But I’ve been through worse, and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to be where I am now. Especially when it’s shaping up to be something good.