thewhitelily: (Default)
So.

Late last night I worked out what this is really about.  It's not about the stupid thing I was overreacting to at all; that's just the straw that broke my back.

About six months, maybe a year ago, our neighbors from up the hill dumped some rubbish in the corner of their yard at the top of the retaining wall which separates their property from ours.  And a stack of torn out plasterboard sheets fell down from this into our yard, into a rock garden near the washing line where my boys play.  Given some of those boys are given to destructive impulses that damage our house and car if not channeled appropriately, I do try to give them free reign to destroy things that are okay for destruction.  And these torn out sheets of plasterboard tumbled down among a set of handy rocks... well, lets just say they've spent the last six months joyfully reducing them to fine powder and I have been more than happy for them to do that rather than attacking things inside the house.

A couple of days ago one of the builders we had around, fixing up a corner of our house where the eaves are falling down, asked me: What're all these asbestos sheeting fragments doing in your garden?

Me:

...

...

... oh no.

Um.  That would be, that would be the asbestos my very young children have been deliberately grinding up and whacking with rocks to make clouds of dust to play in?

Yeah, I kind of preferred it when they were cutting through power cords and car seatbelts with scissors.

They haven't exactly been doing lines of the stuff, but they've basically been doing the worst thing possible apart from that.

A sample's gone off for testing to confirm what it is, but they're pretty certain.  Next week the removal company comes to look at what they need to do to make it safe (for our eaves as well, which turned out to be asbestos, which is how the whole discussion got started and I want those eaves so fucking far away from my family right now).  I need to write a letter to our neighbors up the hill, who have young grandchildren who play in their yard, too, and I have to work out what the tone of that letter will be, which ranges anywhere from 'Hey just wanted to let you know and ask if you wanted our guy to quote on the removal from your garden while he's here' to 'YOU DUMPED ACTUAL FUCKING TOXIC WASTE IN MY KIDS PLAYGROUND YOU BASTARDS'.  I could go and visit them instead, but.  I've been having enough trouble finding words for a letter, without facing the additional difficulty of actually making those words come out of my mouth.  I want to know, if they knew.  Surely, surely, they can't have known.  Surely.

And you know what?  Feeling like this about the asbestos?  Yeah.  That's, actually... actually reasonable.  I'm allowed to sit here and cuddle my cat and cry about that, cause it sucks and it is fucked up and it is really probably not actually a big deal--plenty of kids have been exposed without complication far more than mine for the very many years when no-one knew it was harmful--but my mother-in-law is a world-renowned lung pathologist, and so I'm probably more informed than many about the precise nature of future complications.  Asbestos isn't just a scary word to me, the results of exposure are something that's been discussed across the dinner table.  A lot.

It is still reasonable to be afraid that in ten or twenty years, one of my children--whom I was supposed to be protecting--will develop complications as a direct result of this exposure, and I will outlive them.  And it's still reasonable to look that fear in the face and tell it that it has no need to take over my brain and suck away all my processing power and emotional energy to deal with feeling bad over something that will very most likely never matter; to tell it to save that energy for something that's actually real and can be changed right now.

Because it will most likely never matter.  And it wasn't anything I could have helped, because I didn't know any more than they did, any more than my parents did when they let my four sisters play in the cutting dust while they worked together up on the rooves building houses--none of whom, by the way dear Brain, have asbestos complications, which has to say something for the statistics no one one can give on exposure risks and the perspective you get from the dinner-table stories of a lung pathologist at the very far end of the causal chain.  And for the moment I'm doing everything I can to minimise the risk going forward.

But for now it's still entirely logical to feel bloody awful anyway.  And in that light, also to overreact to stupid things.

Anxiety

Jun. 27th, 2017 10:20 pm
thewhitelily: (Default)
Is a bastard.

Am having an attack.  I know I'm being an idiot over something and overreacting.  So, I reach down inside and I go *squelch* to those emotions, because they're not logical.  

Has this ever gone well, in any story ever?

No.  But I don't want to feel them.  Why would I, nasty things that they are, all overwhelming and confusing and pointless and spinning and unreasonable and illogical and yuck inside my chest.  And my mind's strong enough to squash them.  So squash them I do.

Oh look, more emotions.  

*squelches*

God, I'm lucky fan_flashworks is due in a few days, because I'm going to have to woman up and stop squelching by then or I won't be able to write anything.  

Fucking emotions.

*squelch*
thewhitelily: (Lily)
Oh Em Eff Gee.  Does my muse not see the title of this document I'm working on for the Honey flashwork?!  "Short and sweet" it says.  Short.  And.  Sweet.

And so of course it's completely diverged from the drabble I'd originally envisaged where Sherlock has a mildly metaphorical dream about being a bee trapped outside the hive in the cold and back in Baker Street John pulls a blanket over him, and it dived *straight* for grief and mourning and angst and there is no freaking blanket in sight.  At least there's no Reichenbach.  Yet.

And it's refusing to end, so I'm going to have to keep writing until something vaguely resolvey happens.

---

Perhaps it's not surprising that my writing's off track, because I'm having... issues at the moment.  Mental health ones.

I should have known it was getting out of hand after what was happening with The Wrong Kind of Snow.  I'm having what I might call an episode, and it's been quite bad for the past few days.  It's getting to the point where the nameless dread just overwhelms me until I feel like I'm choking.  Where the procrastination gets so bad that I can't achieve anything at all until the very last minute or into overtime.  Where I can't stop what I'm doing and go to bed because somewhere in the whole falling-asleep process there would have to be a non-zero period of time where my mind would have to stop focussing on something and sit at its own mercy, so I stay up all night reading fanfic and not enjoying any of it because I feel too awful for even that to blot it out--to blot me out--but I can't stop because if I do then it'll all come rushing back all at once and that will be so much worse.  Where when a bad thought comes--and they come often--I confuse the kids by shouting or having a mini-fit at myself with my attempt to drown it out of my head before I can feel it.  Where I don't even know what I'm so desperately mortally afraid of because it's too terrifying for me to think.  Where I stop actually feeling like a real person so much as a robot inside a puppet body.  Where I sit next to my kids on the couch and read them a story and I can't feel them touching me and I can't feel any empathy with them and I can't do anything other that wish I that didn't exist.

Yeah.  Last few days it's got pretty bad.  To be clear, I'd never harm myself (or my kids).  I'm not that particular kind of unwell.  When I get like this I'm just... paralysed.  And empty.  I blot myself out mentally, any way I can.  And I still appear completely functional from the outside even when everything's gone white on the inside.

I know what the solution is, because I've been through therapy for this before.  The time when I went convinced I was going to have to be medicated for OCD, but the solution was simpler than that.  I don't need medication, I just need to be brave enough to let the monsters out into my head and look straight at them.  To let them do their worst, and put them in perspective so I can see that it's only the brain chemistry feedback loop that's winding them up to seem so bad.  And then start practicing mindfulness again, because as much as I hate doing it, it works.  But it's hard to get to a state where you can face being mindful when it physically hurts to consider stopping what you're doing long enough to let a genuine emotion cross your mind.  And it's hard to make myself do it when I know the solution's so simple that I could do it any day.  Perhaps even tomorrow.

It's not even the things themselves that I'm worrying about, it's the chemical state I've worked myself up into by being too frightened to let myself worry about things for fear of discovering my worries are right.

Futureproof has such awful power over me.  Awful, awful power.  But it's just a book.  In it and all the other decisions that I'm trying to make that have brought me to this, they're just decisions.  Not about anything that matters.  Not about anything I can get wrong.

Opportunity cost versus the opportunity at hand.  Those are the worst kind for me.

There's a pair of gorgeous Siamese kittens that I've found.  We've been looking for a while for some that suit us.  In personality and colour and gender and location and the environment they've been raised, these are simply perfect.  They're both blue point, which are definitely among my top three colour preferences (being tabby point, lilac point, and blue point).  Blue's possibly my favourite, my favourite colour is that edge where a soft seagull grey fades into white, which pretty much describes a blue point siamese down to a tee.  (But then again, stripey tabby point is so striking, and we've already had a blue point.  There was a lilac tabby who we almost got, but... reasons, which I'm still a bit devastated about.)  Possibly it's even nicer that they're both the same colour.  (Although, high speed cat chases, and not being able to tell who is who at a distance.  Although... two identical kittens curled up asleep together.)  Seriously, brain, why are you worrying about this?

Colour doesn't matter, because personality personality personality, and personality these two will have in spades because they've been raised by a family with small children and regular handling, they sleep in a six-year-old's bedroom, they're a bonded pair of only two in the litter, and they're not the least bit skitttish at chaos.  (Although who knows with cats, are we doing the right thing going for a pair of girls?  Last time with a boy and a girl turned out disastrous, and they grew up to hate each other.  Like, really hate.  Two girls are meant to be more trouble than mixed pairs--but I never want a cat that expresses itself by spraying ever again.  And Siamese really do best with a partner, even in a high-stimulation household like ours.)

They'll be ready to go home on my birthday.  My actual birthday, despite not looking for them for that particular purpose.  Clearly, they're meant to be ours.  This should be a happy thing, because we want them, because the kids will be over the moon to have their begging finally pay off.  But I can't enjoy the excitement because I can't stop turning it over in my mind.  And what's worse, I know it won't stop when we get them home.  Choices suck because they literally never settle in my mind.  I'll always look at these two and think... we could have got different cats.  Maybe we should have got different cats.  Maybe different cats would have been better.  Or maybe they wouldn't.  And maybe I should have called them by different names.  Because naming them, that's going to be a whole nother kettle of worms.  Which so doesn't matter because in the past our cats have always ended up being actually addressed by a pair of easy-identify monikers such as boy-cat and girl-cat or white-cat and grey-cat.  (Only these two will be almost freaking identical.  Thin-cat and thinner-cat?  Lighter-cat and darker-cat?  Who knows what they'll end up with.)  We've got three pairs of proper names, the kind that actually go on collars, as frontrunners, and I just can't face the idea of choosing despite how very little it matters.

Because there's something fundamentally wrong with me that I can't even look at our children and call them by their names without thinking "I could have called you something else, maybe I should have called you something else, is it really really too late to change your name, I mean I like your name, but I'm not sure I liked it more than some of the other options, but now it's too late isn't it, I can't change your name, I just wish I knew whether it was the right decision."

Writing, at the moment, is like making that choice on every single word.  Like walking through a world where every choice screams its potential to get it *wrong* at me.  It's hard.  And it's not fun writing like this.

Fuck anxiety.  Seriously, fuck it.  What right does it think it has to intrude on my ability to love my kids like that, and with my ability to do the things I love?  To make me feel like a passenger in my own body?

Only the right I give it.

So yeah.  I'm going to have to stop being such a wibbling wimp, face my shit, and put mindfulness back on my daily habits list.  *sigh*

---

I've sort of been writing this in parallel with my flashwork, which is now finished and posted.  I was hoping that finishing a sweet little flashwork might help settle my mind, but despite making a very conscious effort to restart and go in a different direction and writing the start of literally twenty different takes on the prompt, still the only place I got to was angst.  But it's good angst.  Apparently I was carrying around more feels about the end of our last cat four years ago than I realised.  I was the one who took him to be put down when his heart failure progressed, and I held him while he died.  Possibly that's one of the things that the prospect of new kittens has been bringing up for me.  But I wrote it and--as happens for me--after people started reading it, I started feeling it, properly.  And maybe that's better for me than writing something happy.

And then, this evening, I made myself take an hour-long bath with no reading material and no urgent tasks or plot point obsessing, and I let the thoughts come.  And they were yuck.  And it felt awful.  But they were just thoughts, and when I let them come they really didn't make the anxiety worse.  Because it really isn't about them, it's about me, the way I work myself up to be more terrified of what I might think than I would be of the thought itself.  And even if I don't feel much better yet, I thought the thoughts and I'm still here, and that has to prove something.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
So I've just got to the end of the crazy business that has been the last couple of months of my life.

There was July Writing Prompts, of course, and the associated burned-out mental exhaustion.  Mr. Two Years Old's birthday party.  And then today was Mr. Four Years Old's birthday party.  Attempt two, because as our first date approached it became clear that our house and our family were a biological contamination hazard, and we would all require worming tablets and a week's worth of conjunctivitis medication before we were fit to recieve company.  Yeuch.  In any case, all better now, so that's a relief.  And we got to have a Zoo Party!  I did an amazing cake, as usual, and also carved a watermelon to look like a hippopotomus, which I've never tried anything similar before, and went down a treat.

In the meantime, I had to do a whole lot of terrible, horrible, parent homework in videoing and editing Mr. Nearly Six's oral presentation for school about the construction of his house.  It took a long time, but apparently went down well with the class.  He was the only kid in school who did part of his video from on the roof of his house, which earned him lots of cred in school (and coincidentally made him forget to be a grumpy teenager-before-his-time for long enough to make at least *some* eye contact with the camera for that part).  So yay.

Same child went a bit scissor mad a month or two ago and cut 1) some bedsheets (actually, that was a while previously), 2) an electrical cable, and 3) one of the seatbelts in the car. Not happy, Jan.  Consequences have had to happen, which has been making him very grumpy, but we are now we are out the other side of that and he's got his scissor privileges and his iPad priveileges and his lap-sash belt privileges back again, the car is roadworthy again, and things are more settled with him.  Then of course I discovered Mr. Two Years Old running through the house while attempting to give himself a haircut with some pilfered scissors ("Nip! Nip! Nip!"  "OMG GIVE ME THOSE!!!") so....  Scissors are good for development of fine motor control.  Yes, yes they are.

I've made a couple of new online friends I've been getting to know, which has proved interesting, as it always is.  I think the thing I love most about online friendships is the way they go deep so quickly.  You don't know how the other person looks, but you know how they feel about the things that matter to them the very most, in words they've had time to consider.  It's cool to make that connection with something real rather than, you know, just mums in the schoolyard commiserating about how tough life is with kids and day to day trivialities, oh I know, etc.  Which, yeah, but it's different online.  Maybe that's just for me.

I've been keeping up with fan_flashworks, and now I've done eight challenges in a row.  Loving the way the urge to keep my streak going is forcing me to keep up the flashwork momentum, making writing and finishing little things just another part of life rather than a Big Deal.  Thinking of trying something a bit different for this one, an idea I've had niggling for a while, so an amnesty's perfect to actually do it.

And I've partnered up with Wild Pear to work on Futureproof.  She's both acting as my arbitrary deadline to get chapters finished, and looking at chapters as I send them to her, reflecting back what she gets from my characters, telling me where it gets a little bogged down or confused... and omg, it's so good. So reassuring.  So affirming.  And so inspirational to hear those little edges of things she doesn't see in the characters and the things that resonated with her that she does.  *loves*  If I'm actually going to get this thing done by my self-imposed deadline, I really need to focus on drawing lines and getting it out the door.  But there's so many distractions and other things I can just get done first, there's always a good reason not to do anything on it today.  New rule: my ten minutes writing per day isn't ten minutes in general, I know I can do that: it's ten minutes of Futureproof.

Speaking of Futureproof, I've spent the last week battling brain weasels again.  I've been alternately super busy or super exhausted by it, and I guess I've been caught up in my own brain researching... stuff.  Things I'm questioning about myself that don't really matter in the scheme of things, but that have activated the must-research-and-question-absolutely-everything mode, so I haven't managed to get the downtime I need to keep a lid on my anxiety and I haven't been sleeping well, and it's all just been snowballing.

I managed to write it out with the last flashwork--despite the fact that my writer's brain insisted the story should go a different direction to what I felt would be truthful and real.  It was an interesting conflict to deal with, usually the only battle I have to fight is 'this is wonderful, but am I really comfortable revealing that?' rather than 'this is something that I want to explore, but it is narratively unsatisfying'.  It made the final few lines very difficult for me, that battle between true and right, because unlike anxious wibbling which must be crushed, both of them are good reasons in their own right.  If the story doesn't... come full circle, to a satisfying ending, then is it really a story? How can I stop writing it if it doesn't end?  But if it doesn't tell the story I want to tell... is it really doing its job?  And I was super busy with party preparation and just needed to post it and stop obsessing, which I did.  *pats self on back* Apart from a couple of nods to narrative causality, I ended up making it the story I needed to write for me, even though the ending felt weak. I'm pretty sure the catharsis it made me feel doesn't come across in the same way to a reader who doesn't live in my brain, but ambiguity is part of the joy of an unreliable narrator anyway.  It reminds me a little of On Becoming an Axiom, which people seemed to think was a sad story, when to me it was a shiningly glorious truth.  I might end up tweaking the end a little when I crosspost, if I can think of something that unites the trueness and the rightness a little better.  And I've also left it open for a sequel if I need to do any more soulsearching along the same lines, so... good enough is good enough.  Out the door and posted, and out of my brain, for now at least.

I've got a couple of emails and a couple of comment replies still waiting on my to do list, which I need to just do rather than continuing to find them daunting.  Someone asked an insightful question on one of my stories which I am trying to to write an epic essay in response to the fact that I'm intrigued and not really sure of the answer myself.  The comments on my stories that give me most joy are always the hardest to respond to, but I'm working on just doing it without trying to do it justice.  And hopefully with a few of the real-life jobs out of the way, and with Pear backing me up, I can get things back under control and focus properly on Futureproof again.
thewhitelily: (Lily)
Seriously, Lily. No need to freak out. I know you're invested in this story, but it's just writing. You can do writing.  Break it down.  Write out a list, if you're getting overwhelmed.  Breathe.  And then start.

Speaking of nincompoops: Conservation is up.  That's four this year, suckaahs.  And that's the entirety of my Smallville unfinished folder, which has been hanging around for years, out the door.  I'm done.  At last.  Great work!  Now, ten minutes writing, starting... now.

Flame war

Nov. 29th, 2015 10:59 am
thewhitelily: (Lily)
Woke up this morning to what I would call, if the original poster hadn't disappeared from the scene, a flame war going on in the comments.  Apparently the readers have rallied behind me--the moment in question was clear, her manners were unacceptable, and oddly enough I did actually manage to sleep.  I feel much, much better.  :)  
thewhitelily: (Lily)
Someone sent me a flame on my new story.  It was inevitable with something edgy like this.  Unreliable narrator, sexual assault, and disturbing relationship parallels...  I can see where she was coming from.  But she wasn't polite.  Apparently it made her want to vomit, and I didn't spend enough time on the pairing she preferred, and she hated the ending because the place the hope came from was sick.

It's ridiculous.  I mean, I know she's wrong in pretty much every respect about this - for starters she'd clearly chosen the wrong story to read, and for the rest of it, the line that made her want to vomit obviously made her start skimming and skip the resolution of that because the next few lines pretty much fix exactly the things she complained about.  Or maybe she read it, she just didn't understand because my narrator doesn't specifically point out his next few lines completely invert the meaning of the first one.  Perhaps she should have gone for a story where the characters were magically turned into kittens and everyone is completely emotionally aware all the time.

Unfortunately for her, all of my plot bunnies turn out to have fangs and go straight for the throat.  This one more than usual.

The feedback on this story has been unexpectedly effusive.  Words like genius, extraordinary, mind-blowing, intelligent, spectacular, truthful, and unique--to the point where it had finally overcome my ambiguous feelings about the happenings therein and reinforced what I knew in my gut to be true: this is a brilliant story, well worth sharing.

I don't mind constructive criticism--I love constructive criticism--I love to hear which bits have worked for someone, which bits havn't so I can do more of the things that worked and less of the things that don't, so I can get closer to that perfection which is every moment working for every reader all the time.  (Ha!  Even I know that's impossible.)  If I can work on them, that is.

It's not even like I think she was right.  She didn't have a point, not about anything she said. She'd clearly misunderstood the line that was her main complaint--she got exactly what I wanted out of it, she just didn't keep reading to get the kick in the guts fixed. And it's not even like she went after the vulnerable bits that I already felt a bit queasy about--she went after my favourite bit of one of the most perfect and necessary portions of the resolution, and what was essentially the central tenant the whole story, which if she didn't like she could have stopped reading at chapter 3.

But now, here I am, having panic attacks, dreading going to bed because I know as soon as I let my mind stop being intensely distracted in the moment, this horrible feeling in my chest will spread all over and try to drown me. I should have been asleep two and a half hours ago to catch up on the sleep I've been missing writing this story.

I need to go to bed.  Wish me luck.

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