The Power of Sublimation

My day started with tea.  At home (after a run through what felt like 80 degree soup).  And it’s Friday.  Already things are off to a better beginning.  I’m a few steps back from the edge of the meltdown that’s been stalking me all week.

This is an edge I walk constantly, one that’s always made worse by excessive temperatures (seriously, I effing hate summer here–100+ degrees for about 2 months with ACs that cannot compete? I’d like to move to Alaska, even if they do have mosquitoes the size of crop dusters.).  It’s not something I talk about generally because it is what it is.  I am overworked, underslept, and that isn’t likely to change at any point in the near future.  But I feel like talking about it today.  So, be warned.  This is one of those in your face honest posts that may surprise you.

I am regularly asked how I do it all.  Usually I have some kind of flippant remark about my organizational skills or discipline–both of which are absolutely true and part of how I Do All The Things.  But they aren’t the whole truth of it.

You see, I have an anger problem.  A bad one.  I rarely get upset or cry (Hallmark commercials with puppies and movies where animals die aside).  I get angry.  Deep seated, blood boiling, want to kick a hole in the wall or punch someone furious.  It’s something I’ve struggled with for years, first working on in therapy, then in martial arts (which was a lot more effective–when you want to hit something, you actually CAN), then through yoga and meditation.  Also through several years of writing about serial killers.  We won’t talk about what that might say about my mental health.  The root of my anger issues comes from a couple of different places: 1) A deep seated betrayal that the world does not in fact operate on the merit system and being smart and busting your ass does not automatically grant you everything you are working for and want, and 2) Fury at myself for having wasted SO MANY YEARS doing what other people thought I should do instead of what I knew I was meant to do since I was 12.

I’ve mostly worked through the first one.  I don’t have control over the first one.  It sucks and it’s shitty that the world often rewards mediocrity and gives undeserving people the things we’ve been killing ourselves to achieve, but that’s life.  It’s not an excuse to stop working on my end because if I’m not trying, then I definitely won’t get what I want.

The second one.  Well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish that is complicated by the fact that I work multiple jobs that I hate (most of the time) with every fiber of my being.  I resent every waking moment that the bullshit I have to deal with from both of them takes away from my doing the thing I’m meant to do.  Hours and hours of it every single day.  So I sublimate the anger into fiction (sublimation being one of the high level defense mechanisms we talk about in psychology–according to Freud it’s a sign of maturity that allows us to behave in socially acceptable ways) and I use it.  When I’m bone deep exhausted, and I don’t want to work out, don’t want to cook, don’t want to open my WIP, my anger is what fuels me, gets me to put one foot in front of the other, one word after another when all I really want to do is sink in to the sweet oblivion of a sofa coma.  For a month or three.  Because I’m not willing to waste another minute not putting my dream first.  I’m not willing to just do what has to be done because that leaves me doing ONLY the things I despise, that eat away at my soul by the day, and puts me that many days behind the end goal.  That means the shit wins, and that’s unacceptable.  Taking some step toward the dream EVERY SINGLE DAY is the only way I can live with the time I wasted.  Knowing I’m making some kind of progress toward doing what want is the only thing saving me from going over that edge into the soul sucking miasma of major depression.  Writing (and the writing community that’s become such an integral part of my life) is the thing that saves my sanity and my soul.  So thank you all for being my Prozac.

13 thoughts on “The Power of Sublimation

  1. I experience that deep seated, blood boiling too and it’s mostly anger at myself for wasting time and making excuses. I have been deciding what I want out of life and my writing career lately though, and making steps towards getting it, so hopefully I’m on the right track. Interacting with people online has been a major help for me, and I’m grateful too for the worldwide writing community.

  2. Beautiful rant, which is something I normally only say to Mhairi Simpson. As we are your Prozac, so I think you (and Mhairi) provide a certain catharsis for the rest of us that feel EXACTLY the same (including the anger thing, cause damn do I know that one) but tend to suppress it openly for whatever reason.

    Kait, jobs come and go (as I recently discovered) but our dreams and personal drives are always with us. Stick with what has longevity in your soul (and I don’t mean something esoteric but that inner you) because in the end it is the only thing of value any of us truly has. I’d say “stay strong” but honestly, you are one of the strongest women I’ve ever meant and somehow I know you will press on in amazing ways.

  3. When I was younger, I had that same kind of anger, at least at times when things weren’t fair or people were being stupid. I was also easily depressed. I can’t tell you what the magic pill was that changed that besides getting older. I’m so laid back (except for a few things) now, it’s weird. Maybe someday you won’t feel that anger. Maybe, right now, that’s what you need to motivate yourself, judging by the things you said. While you’re dealing with the day job and being tired so much, your anger carries you. But…when you finally reach that dream, when life is more like what you really want it to be, the anger might just melt away. It will be replaced by the happiness of having what you really want. And I truly believe you WILL have it. You’re talented and driven, and someday that will pay off. I BELIEVE it.

  4. Harnessed Anger can be a powerful energy source and your job seems to provide you with a lot of energy.,

  5. You’re wonderful, and I love you. (Also, I second what everyone else has said, but mostly that first thing is the most important one.) *HUGGLES*

  6. I understand- I don;t fell that level of anger, but the melt down at any moment yep I get that. I too need to exercise daily and eat well even, when I’m tired and don;t want to. Skipping taking care of myself pushes me closer to the edge. And when i tip over and get depressed I wind up spending days or even weeks eating crap, not exercising, and getting nothing done- no matter how I justify it reading erotic 24/7 isn’t productive.
    Good luck, I hope you can breathe through this and get closer to your goal, just know you are not alone.

  7. Hi, Kait. This post really spoke to me. I work as a supervisor at Sun-Maid Raisin Growers of California. It’s a job that gets me up at 3am and keeps me for about 11 hrs. I don’t want to be there either. I started writing again at 38 years old only when I realized the magnitude of regret that I was going to feel if I didn’t. I wrote that book and saw it published. Now I push myself because of all of that wasted time. I’m 43 now and really can’t stand the thought of waiting any longer. In other words, I hear you. Just don’t kill yourself doing it, okay.


  8. Funny, I have a little of this too. I never thought of it as anger before. I call it righteous indignation that no way am I going to waste my own time when I have to give so much of it up for work and other things – what little I have, I’m bloody well going to write because they can’t take it all from me.

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