Survival Mode, Sadness, and Writing

Survival Mode, Sadness, and Writing December 28, 2016

I’ve been in California for over a week. Things have mostly settled down in my life. So why aren’t I writing?

A holiday party selfie. Because I managed to be festive, like, twice.
A holiday party selfie. Because I managed to be festive, like, twice.

My syllabi for the spring semester are looking pretty good. I’ve caught up with family and friends. I’ve had some time to recover from the “oh shit I’m moving out of state right now is there anything else I need to put into storage?!” rush.

But I wasn’t picking back up with my blogging, or my book proposal, or any of my other writing projects. WTF, brain?

It took me sobbing in a movie theater bathroom after seeing Rogue One to realize that yes, I’ve been feeling sad for a while. I just wasn’t in touch with how I was feeling due to being in what friends have called “survival mode” (as in, I had to get a number of important and stressful situations dealt with in a cramped time frame, or else my life could not move forward).

I know from reading about the stress response cycle (check out one of my fave researchers Emily Nagoski on that topic here) that until you convince your brain and body that you’re not in immediate danger anymore, it can be hard to feel connected, creative, or sexy. Being in survival mode is an adaptive response from the evolutionary, keep-you-alive-so-you-can-reproduce perspective…but it can work against us when faced with the constant daily stressors of modern life.

So, while I didn’t accrue any long-term traumatic damage from the situation I was in (hopefully), I think it still had me convinced on some level that because shit was hitting the fan, I had to keep on moving til I was safe and secure again.

Fast forward to today, seeing Rogue One. I sniffled through various points near the end and then found myself crying after seeing the movie, in the privacy of a bathroom stall. I don’t cry very often, so I think I had some pent-up feelings to deal with, and that the movie’s major themes touched me enough to let it all out. I mean, how could it not resonate with me, as an educator and feminist and queer person in America today, watching people know they were outnumbered and still sacrifice their lives to do the right thing and take down that evil force?

I think it also took the realization that I’ve been sad about some of the stuff happening in my life, and that feeling sad is okay, to jar my writing back into place. I know that writing (and creativity more generally) connects to emotional states in different ways for different people. Luckily I’ve had unfettered access to dancing; now, as before, I suspect that dancing saved my life. But every time I thought about writing until today, it was like haha, nope, not happening.

So, here’s to getting back in the saddle. I hope to blog (or at least write elsewhere) daily, but I’ll be gentle with myself if it doesn’t happen. And I’ll also try to be more tuned into what I’m feeling, so that I don’t end up so sad for so long without a clue that it’s what’s happening inside me.

"I don't think a spell check error requires an apology, but I accept if that ..."

There Is No Such Thing as ..."
"Ah, I meant toxic femininity. My apologies. That was spell check error.Still, that changes none ..."

There Is No Such Thing as ..."
"I did not mention any examples of toxic feminism because that was neither the subject ..."

There Is No Such Thing as ..."
"Fascinating. You didn't mention any of the examples of "toxic feminism", or say why Jeana's ..."

There Is No Such Thing as ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment