Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sleepless in Virginia

We just got our Christmas-gift-to-ourselves: a new mattress. I actually slept! And I dreamt: not fragmented dreams broken by tossing and turning, but long, lucid dreams that inspire stories.

Not that I'd been missing sleep, to be honest. I was missing OUT on sleep, lying awake until 1 or 2am on the old stony bed. But I didn't miss sleep. Instead of dreaming, see, I've been making stories.

Missing all that sleep did get me sick though. I had almost fought it off, an unheard of thing if you know my history. Marriage has done wonders for me, being able to share my high stress levels with someone who is marvelous at forcing me to relax. Thanks to hubs, I'm able to fight off colds now.

Except when I'm not sleeping.

But like I said, I didn't miss it. Lying on the hard bed staring into darkness, my mind settled happily into the world of my characters, of the Gaitin and the various elemental powers they wield. Thanks to illness and the hard bed, I've plotted out most of the sequel to "The Lonely Dark."

A friend was surprised when I cheerfully told her not to pray for me to get better because my cold was helping me write. I think she thought me a little weird. Which is true. But what can I say? Being sick and sleepless helped me hold onto the lessons from NaNoWriMo: live guilt-free. Let the dishes pile up for a day, don't care about the mess of seeds from the parrot, and let my husband make dinner without feeling like I'm failing him. Sickness gives me an excuse not to feel guilty.

In that sense, being sick has helped me battle my insecurities. I'm usually so concerned with things like how I don't hardly cook. I don't hardly even prep the frozen dinners we eat. I just hate food. And much as I love cleaning and organizing and decorating--I really do--I'd rather have someone else do it just so I have more writing time. Yet I feel guilty that I dislike partaking in things that are necessary to daily life. The mundane is something we must all maintain. I have no right to complain and I'm a horrible person for not wanting to get groceries. I ought to be more grateful and excited. I ought to be good at cooking. Shame on me.

A journey began a year ago when I started reading Beth Moore's book So Long Insecurity. I've written about it a couple times: the life-long renewal process, learning to be okay with my lack of faith in God, and how to pray desperate prayers. When I signed up for National Novel-Writing Month, I didn't know I was going to continue much farther down this path through November's endeavors.

But I did. I went on a quest to learn how to apply myself faithfully and get more writing done. My quest was a successful one: I found in myself the power to write a novel in a few weeks and set stories free to roam their pages. But like Bilbo, I found more than just my courage and tenacity. I didn't just fight a dragon: I uncovered a ring of power. Not evil power, this. I uncovered the powerful truth that the messages my insecurities have been speaking to me are FALSE.

It makes me think of the first time I really trusted God with my life. Not most of it: 100% of my needs and dreams. For many years, I didn't. I claimed God was big enough, good enough, loved me enough to handle my life and handle me well, but never actually went out on a limb to test that theory. I never wanted to go out on the limb. So I didn't, until I was chased there and had to cling to that very last, shaky limb and found that it was, after all, firm: that God was big enough to hold my whole, quaking world together.

So it is here. I've listened to the messages of my failure for so long. I know they're wrong, I say they're wrong, and I tell other women not to listen to them. But I was still in my own cage, listening and believing. It wasn't until NaNoWriMo and the decision to do nothing but write that I found that the voices lied. Life out here, where supposedly I'm a failure, is actually pretty darn free.

I'm not a failure of a cook: I'm a success of a writer. I'm not a failing housewife: I'm a successful artist. I'm not a failed hostess: I'm a successful encourager.

When I was set free for that month, running loose and writing my heart out, it wasn't just better for me--finally allowing myself do what I want to do, what I'm good at. It's that I'm finally doing the work that can best impact people. I'm finally setting down to make a difference in the world in my way. It's not everyone's way, writing, but it's mine. So when I'm not doing it, I'm not just hurting myself, I'm hurting the people who would have read what I wrote and been impacted by it. This whole insecurity mess: it's not just about me: it's about everyone I touch. It matters.

Commitment to NaNoWriMo or sickness or sleeplessness can all be excuses to keep me here, in this place of freedom away from insecurity. But the big test is going to come as I get better and sleep better and there's no NaNo... Can I keep this up? Can I decide on my own terms to say goodbye to the voices of guilt once for all and embark into the wild, unpredictable blue where I write all day long and my husband makes the dinners?

I don't know. But I hope so.

Word count: 981.