A few months ago, one of my dear friends posted on Facebook that she is going to the woodshed…and taking a hiatus from social media.
Here is what she wrote,
(and I hope you don’t mind me stealing this!)
“Once upon a time, when I was a wee musician my music teacher told me that in order to improve one’s skills, one needs to occasionally take themselves “out to the woodshed.”
Though I am a bit embarrassed to admit it now, I never understood what this meant. Figuring it didn’t apply to me (a forward-thinking city girl without a woodshed to speak of) I didn’t seek clarification either, and ended up missing out on a huge learning opportunity.
Until the idiom found its way to me again.
Today, I realized three things: one, a woodshed by definition isn’t simply a place to store wood, but can also mean “a place, means, or session for administering discipline” (as according to Merriam Webster); two, I’m rather slow to learn some lessons; three, if you want something bad enough, you have to make sacrifices.
In general, I love social media. It has provided me with an observational window to the outside world, and a point of connection for friends both old and new. Within the past seventeen months especially, it has served as my thinking place, my workspace, and my virtual mountain top to scream from when my skin grows too tight to be comfortable in.
But, over the course of these months, I’ve also allowed it to eat up precious time. Something that I do not have in abundance between four kids (three of them school-aged and on the spectrum, and the fourth an adventurous five moth old), a Hero who works full time while growing his own business, and all the obligations I need to fulfill in between there in order to hold it all together–housekeeper and motivational speaker, boo-boo kisser and teacher, chauffeur and entertainer.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my life. I chose my life, and would choose it again if given the option. However, any time left in my day–that much needed, much desired, prized above all, bit of time reserved for myself, alone?
Social media filled that time slot.
My outlets for creativity and deep thoughts and themes and better worlds and beautiful words have been been devoured by this wonderful time suck, and I haven’t had the kind of discipline required to do any more than what I’ve been doing already–working on projects not mine, while letting the guilt chew me apart for filling my writing time with other things.
I know this isn’t about you FB, not really. It’s about me. Your social media numbs with feel good Zimbo quizzes and amusing memes, and within the last seventeen months I’ve recognized my need for diversion as desperation to not think, to not feel, anything that I couldn’t dress up with sensible words to make it easier to live in my own head space.
Hundreds of thousands of words written on FB, while not a one for the many unfinished projects on my desk. Several books worth of ideas, but only half-hearted attempts in their execution. It seems I’ve been lost for so long now. Something’s gotta give.
So, this is me, taking myself out to the woodshed, you guys. I don’t know when I will return, but expect me to be away for some time. “
Wish me luck.”
So -that take me to here.
About a 4 months ago, I wrote a “Good bye” letter to the Candy Jar.
I never published it and I filled empty pages with Flash Fiction.
Thinking that if I flashed more words on the page, my fingers would remember their purpose and I would begin to write.
And, I’ve flashed.
And, I’ve enjoyed it.
But, then thought it perhaps was time for me to revert to my own little Woodshed as well.
And ever since I’ve just let the Candy Jar empty itself out…follower after follower slowly disappearing.
And escape from social media and the blogosphere for awhile.
But – like most things in life, I can’t commit to that.
Or I haven’t been able to anyway.
I’m afraid that if I lose the premise of being part of something, – even a virtual, mediated, and quite false ‘something,’ I also lose my last tiny strain of attachment to relationships.
Because at this point in my life, a false relationship online is very similar to the relationships I foster in ‘real life.’
And there is this tiny piece of gut that tells me to rebuild a sense of self in the ‘real world,’ I need to disconnect from the fake one.
My life the last 3 years has been a long, endless, painful walk.
A lost marriage that was preceded with lost pregnancies and ideals of family and expectations of future.
A divorce that shattered any pretense of normal and love and trust and hope and forever.
A divorce that shattered my sense of self and value.
And perhaps, most importantly, trust.
And not just because of the man who left the marriage, but because of the friendships I lost, the judgments that were passed, and the dysfunctional legal system that validated years of abuse, inequity and hopelessness.
As I slowly outgrew the shame and even the bitterness my divorce left me with, I grew into a shell.
The shell grew thicker as I protected myself from relevancy with dysfunctional relationships, absurd amounts of work and excuses that allowed me to avoid existing in a truthful and raw place.
As I graduated out of school and was left with nothing but a degree and three beautiful kids and two precious friends, I began to spin profusely out of control.
But, my shell kept my life an airtight place of normal and serenity while I unraveled inside.
As my best friend would say, “We fuck up. We stand up. We move the fuck on. That’s what humans do. Deal.”
And I need to deal.
Deal with my empty shell.
Not to fill it.
Filling it now means filling it with toxic people and dysfunction.
And I need less.
I guess it is finally time I deal with my graveyard.
I guess it is finally time to deal with the remnants of life I have been tip-toeing around and the un-bury the skeletons I thought I had buried so well.
And to do all that, I think that it means returning to the proverbial woodshed.
Return to a place of “administering discipline”
A place to shut the doors and come to terms with the dark corners I have brought myself to over the last 10 months.
In fact…11 months exactly this month is when I began my most recent slide into Never Never Land.
So. It’s time for me to move on.
I think that the life of the Candy Jar has run its course.
It was a platform for me to find peace during a period of turmoil and loss.
I’ve met amazing women.
I can’t deeply thank Red for throwing out the initial lifeline and for keeping me afloat for so long.
I can’t thank the most amazingly beautiful, powerful and inspiring Val for the nonstop support and virtual hugs and invitations and kicks in the ass when I need them.
Two women who continually remind me to “Stand the fuck up” and move on all the time.
And over the last few months…the months in which I have stayed miles away from the Candy Jar, I realized that I needed to write to hack through life.
So – I’m back.
Fearful as I know some of the people who have betrayed me deeply read. I know that people who I learned to love and trust have ripped off the top layer of skin I grew over the last few years. The hard-earned scar-tissue that was allowing me to learn to not only trust myself and my judgement – but trust anyone.
I teach my students that the only way to overcome irrational fear to to face it.
So – here I am. In an attempt to build my loyal and robust readership back up from the dust. I am here in an attempt to once again lift myself out of a shattered reality and try again. Dust myself off…pick the tiny pieces of glass out of my knees and the soles of my feet and walk on.
The people that hurt me and read this are grossly aware who they are. My guess is that there is denial. My guess is that there are fingers pointing at me – blaming me for yet another downward spiral.
But – the woodshed isn’t the place for me. Withdrawing and finding new balance won’t work if I am withdrawing in fear.
I have found comfort in words. I have found comfort in my blogging community.
So – I am reaching out.
It is an open invitation.
The Candy Jar is back open again and I can only hope people come to visit.