Lovely friends gave me warnings about trying to do and accomplish too much, and to take it easy on myself, and not commit. I thought they were right - because this is very much a theme of my life, and they know me well! - and went back to my October list of things to do and started crossing things off. By the end of that process, I had successfully crossed *everything* off. Literally, everything. I have a few minor jobs to finish to pay bills that weren't ever on my list, but the rest of it, without regret, I could simply take off my plate - I'm ten or eleven stories ahead of Torn World, artwork was just for me, C-C has so little interest right now, I'm not worried about the timeline.
And I didn't feel any better. Not the tiniest bit.
Oh, I thought - I must be feeling guilty for not doing these things. But no, I poked at that idea for a while, and realized that I'm not feeling so awfully obligated to the do things on my October list - they were mostly things I wanted to do, and not at all overwhelming. Compared to other months, it was a really reasonable list, and I even had the warm fuzzy of realizing I'd already crossed off several things. I've DONE most of the stuff I wanted to accomplish this year ... and it's not giving me any satisfaction.
Well, why the hell not?
And snivelly, tearful, bruised little me had an answer for that: because everything I've accomplished? Has failed.
It's not - for once! - that I have too much to do, it's that what I've done has come crashing down around my ears. My ego is a quivering, cowering, crushed little child, and my self-confidence is completely, utterly shattered.
Did it start with being hacked three times in three months while I was recovering from major surgery? Was it selling two whole copies of an anthology I spent two years and $1500 on? Was it the snarky artist who informed me that I was unresponsive for not changing the entire premise of Portrait Adoption because he wasn't selling portraits? Maybe it's the growing lack of activity from some of the Torn World staff? Perhaps it was prodding and prodding and watching artists not even bother using the new sites and new features I built for them? Was it the big, emergency print order that I scrambled (and spent $1000 on supplies!) to be ready to fill... only to have the client utterly disappear? Is it still stale resentment that the promises that would have grown my business last year instead of collapsing it were broken - repeatedly? The full list is too long and specific to burden you with, but personally and professionally, the hits have really rolled in... these last few months especially.
Not one of those things alone would be enough to cause my current malaise. Yes, being hacked felt like it destroyed 17 years of carefully earned reputation. And yes, selling only two copies of the anthology (despite good page hits and lots of interested and complimentary comments) is like a booted kick in the teeth. But I'm a tough cookie, and I can roll with a little adversity. It's just been... an unfortunate series of them lately. Bad timing. A few too many kicks in the ribs when I'm already curled up in a miserable ball of self-pity.
I'm turning off comments, because my previous half-hearted and unconscious attempts to get pats to make myself feel better have only been self-defeating exercises in wondering why I'm not as popular/talented/loved as (insert anyone else), and seeking validation from without is never the answer. You can't fix me! And, begging for general love and reassurance is counter-productive.
I don't know how to fix myself yet, but I will. The people closest to me (immediate family, mostly) have been incredibly supportive, and I'm finding comfort in places I didn't expect. I'll heal from this, too.
Until then, don't be surprised if I'm a little out of touch. I've got wounds to heal and self-confidence to rebuild. Now that I understand why I've been feeling so terribly fragile and anxious, I have some work to do. It starts with building a cheerful fire in our woodstove, eating delicious, nutritious food, and doing some satisfying paid work for a while this morning to appease the bills. Also, I am going to go turn on and off the lights we wired into the basement this weekend a few times, because that makes me very happy. I shall be gentle with myself. Go do the same with yourselves.
I'll be back by Friday, for Sketch Fest, at least!