The matter at hand

Who out there has an inner child?

I mean, everyone, in theory. All of us are, or were, one once.

But for some of us it’s more present than others, I think. I know people who seem to have been adults forever, with only a sort of shadow-memory of what it must have been like. I have known people whose inner child is very present in a sort of healthy way and people whose inner child seems to dominate.

I think my connection to mine is pretty strong, usually. I spend a lot of time in my imagination, more than maybe one might think for somebody who also typically has a longish to-do list and works in a Proper Grown-Up Job and everything. I find it easy to connect to a more playful energy and to honor the principle that the fear of childishness is one of those things one lets go of in adulthood.

Usually, anyway.

Lately I haven’t been feeling very much myself, and I think this is one of the big ways. I am finding that the balance between “Let’s pretend” and “oh god how is the pantry this disorganized AGAIN when are we going to fix that faucet got to remember to do…” is…not great.

For example:

I have been using my creative energies, but not for myself – I’ve been helping others execute on their ideas, and it’s taken so much energy that when I do have some time to just Do Whatever I feel too tired to do much at all. I don’t regret this (I love that I’ve been able to help out, and the act of working on the projects was fun even if the tightness of the schedule meant I have burned myself out a bit) but it’s a…well, not a red flag, exactly. An orange one, maybe.

I have been a little too keen to try to Improve Myself – trying to build better habits, reading a lot of various advice, and have noticed a certain…gravity of responsibility happening. Fixating on whether [insert activity here] is a “good” use of time. Wondering if I am doing enough (spoiler: I never am, in my own estimation) to move things in positive directions.

I think I know what that is. It’s a sneaky new tactic for the worst impulses of my inner critic: a means to corrupt a legitimate interest in my own wellness without being obviously nasty. Becoming a taskmaster rather than a coach. And the playful parts of me see this and promptly nope the hell out to go hide in their bedroom, figuratively speaking, Can’t say as I blame them.

I have not been paying enough attention to the state of my inner landscape. Things have been too busy and too overwhelming and now we have the psychic equivalent of walking downstairs this morning and suddenly realizing that somehow there are pizza boxes and empty instant ramen packets and laundry everywhere and you’re not entirely sure how the heck that happened exactly.

There is a reconnection that needs to happen.

I can probably blame almost all of this on some combination of the pandemic and its forces – the isolation, the restrictions on where to go and what to do, the narrowing of the universe and the restriction on stimuli – and the overall creeping dread one is nearly overwhelmed by when contemplating…everything these days. None (or almost none) of any of that is within my control; I can acknowledge it and do the little I may, but I will not be able to address this by removing the cause(s).

The urge to try to Fix This, right now, is remarkably strong, but I fear if I give in to it right away that will just be perpetuating that second issue by turning this into another opportunity to be self-critical. Which will also not be helping.

So…okay. Let’s just try and sit with this a bit, at first, and then try to focus on that reconnection. Don’t “fix” it. Just spend some time thinking and doing and try to be careful not to turn everything into a referendum on something. Recognize the critical “why are you not FIXING THIS” impulses as they come up, set them aside, and keep trying.

That is going to be very hard.

I suppose I will see how it goes.