“You need to know your limits and not go past that point,” is the advice my therapist has been giving me for over four years now.
Sadly, it’s rare I listen to one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given.
You see, I’ve been working on the same book for the past thirteen years. And it’s a highly personal book. The first and second drafts were the biggest struggle I faced in 2012, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I sent it off to my editor. When it was returned several weeks later, I put off again and again even looking at the track notes. When I finally did look at the track notes, I sighed, hit save, and ignored the file for several more weeks. Well, that’s not exactly true: I’d try and start working on it, but just couldn’t bring myself to write my story any longer. My heart would start racing and my chest would tighten up.
And maybe I’ll never finish writing Searching. Or maybe I’ll finish writing it in a few years, or in ten years. Or maybe after I’m long gone, one of my kiddos will pick the story up for me and finish it and be able to do so from a distance. Because I? I can’t distance myself from this one enough to finish writing it.
For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve pushed myself past my own limits in writing my story. And if I was being told my side of things by anyone else, my suggestion would have been to step away a long time ago, to wait to tell the story. But we’re our own worse enemies and our own worse critics. I feel like a failure and like I’m quitting.
But on the other side of that, the part of myself that has grown over the last year and a half recognizes that my sanity needs this break, needs to stop feeling pressure to complete something that causes me this much pain. That its my right as a person to say “yeah, I’m done” no matter what the situation is when I’ve had enough. To recognize my limits and not ignore those flashing red lights that have been going off for over a year now.
And there will be other books. Clearly, there will be other books since I currently have four I’m working on that don’t make me want to go running for the nearest bottles of Xanax and Smirnoff.
Time to let go and heal.