My name is Beth, and I am a workaholic

Unedited and posted straight from my journal. I just wanted to free-write on my workaholism to begin trying to unravel it.


My name is Beth and I am a workaholic.

I say it with a smile, but I do not say it lightly.

I smile because it feels good to recognise, to greet, to frame this addiction. I smile because I am ready to challenge this addiction. I smile because I have already begun, and that feels good.

Workaholic.

Work.

Work is my safe place. Work is reassuring. Work gives me purpose, a reason to be, to get out of bed, to exist. 

Work is where I give myself permission to take up space.

Work is where I seek and find validation.

Work is where I earn the money that reassures me I am doing okay.

Work is where I justify my fucking existence.

Then there is MY work, which is this whole other thing.

 

My work.

 

My work is where I allow myself to use my voice.

My work is a site of creative self-expression.

My work is where I explore what gifts I might offer to this world.

My work is a space of connection and community.

My work is a place I escape to.

 

I love My Work.

I hate My Work.

I want to do My Work all the time.

I never want to do My Work ever again.

I am proud of My Work.

I am ashamed of My Work.

My Work makes me feel alive and amazing.

My Work makes me feel like shit.

I am elevated by My Work.

I am dragged down by My Work.

My Work is where I show up.

My Work is where I hide.

 

I wrote a list: 100 things I can do that aren’t My Work.

It is very hard to do them.

Work trumps all other things. Work trumps My Work, though My Work is work.

What is the difference?

What is my work?

Good question.

I’m not sure I know.

What do I want My Work to be?

Better question.

I do know that.

Or at least

I thought I did, til I asked that question.

The question is:

What do I want to do?

 

What do you want to do, Beth?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

What do you want to be?

I want to be

I want to be

I want to be

I want to make things

things with words, yes. And

things without words

And put them in the world

And see what happens.

I want to work out what spirituality is.

I want to celebrate my spirituality, and yours.

I want to play with symbols.

I love to codify things. 

For one hot minute, for a lightening flash moment: “it’s a sign!”. For sacred ritual time. 

For a day. For several days. For weeks months years. For as long as needed.

 

But this is another story.

No, it is the answer

to the question

What do you want to do, Beth?

which is the question

What is Your Work?

which is the question

What do you want to be?

A codifier, a collector and purveyor of symbols

A sharer, a teller of my truth

An experimenter, a scientist

A digger, an archeologist

An artist.

I keep trying to complicate this.

I keep trying to think of more things.

What things, Beth?

Why?

Is this not enough?

It is enough.

It is enough.

I am enough.

I am enough.

Whether I do these things

Whether I do not do anything

breathing

being

I am enough.

Maybe I would even be enough if I did not breathe. Did not be.

 

But back to the work

that is, My Work.

I want to complicate it because I need to make it feel or look more like work.

What is the difference? Work and My Work.

It is in the conflation of the two that I find my tension, my angst, it is in that space that I torture myself, where all of those sad, desperate and terrible things take shape.

Because look:

I love My Work. I want to do My Work all the time. I am proud of My Work. My Work makes me feel alive and amazing. I am elevated by My Work. My Work is where I show up.

All of this is true.

This is everything I I want.

I already have everything I want.

And yet:

Work is where I give myself permission to take up space. Work is where I seek and find validation. Work is where I earn the money that reassures me I am doing okay. Work is where I justify my fucking existence.

And then: 

I hate My Work. I never want to do My Work ever again. I am ashamed of My Work. My Work makes me feel like shit. I am dragged down by My Work. My Work is where I hide.

 

The problem is not My Work.

The problem is that My Work is always …work.

How can I tease these two things apart?

Therein lies the key, I think.

Digging, writing, feeling, sharing.

What if I do it offline.

What if I do it on trains.

What if I do it in a notebook.

What if I do it on a typewriter.

What if I do it in my head.

What if I do it in my body.

The work me gets panicked. 

How will I prove that I have worked? How will I reassure the gods of capital, of productivity, that I am worthy?

How will I reassure myself that I am worthy?

 

I have the theory. The theory is not hard.

The theory is:

I am enough

I am enough

I am enough

The practice is harder.

 

I think: enoughness

I practice: proving my enoughness. 

And what do I feel?

Not enoughness.

 

That is why I have to prove this

over and over

every breath

every moment

writing this now

first thing this morning

in the shower

and every other time

not ever truly believing

that it is enough

simply to be

“you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves”

Ah but, I say.

Yes of course, but

I know, but

Oh totally, but

Can I let this writing be only for me?

Can that be enough

to justify

existing for this hour?

AAARRRGHHHHHH OF COURSE IT FUCKING CAN WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU OF COURSE THIS IS FINE IT IS SUNNY/RAINY SATURDAY YOU HAVE COME HERE JUST TO BE WITH YOURSELF AND TO SEE WHAT COMES AND IT DOES NOT HAVE TO HAVE A VALUE WHY CAN MY BRAIN NOT MAKE MY HEART BELIEVE THIS WHY CAN I NOT GET IT INTO MY BODY WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING.

I WANT TO SCREAM.

S.C.R.EA.M

GET IT OUT OF ME.

Not this again.

Now I have come this far I want to quit. I hover over the exit button, I keep ctrl-S saving. I want to make tea, to go for a walk. More than this I want to check my email.

I declare: I will not.

I am here, for myself.

Keep typing Beth

Keep typing.

Keep getting these words out.

The truth is here. Right here. I am feeling around in the dark for it and there are corners of this cave I haven’t covered yet.

There will always be those corners. And that is okay.

But this truth is coming.

It will be found.

All that shouting.

I want to shout if forwards.

Maybe I have already said it

Already covered that ground.

Because look:

Work is my safe place. Work is reassuring. Work gives me purpose, a reason to be, to get out of bed, to exist. 

Work is where I give myself permission to take up space.

Work is where I seek and find validation.

Work is where I earn the money that reassures me I am doing okay.

Work is where I justify my fucking existence.

It’s not a coincidence that work and My Work have similar names.

The point is that I make everything I love

into work

to feed the need machine.

To justify the space I take up.

Fuck, what will it take, a visitation from the goddess? Validation from somewhere else?

Am I capable of giving this validation to myself

that I have permission to take up space

that I am perfectly valid

that I am doing okay even when I am not making money

that my existence is fucking justified

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK

What the actual fuck about justifying my existence.

Honestly, I do not know where to go from there.

Meditation.

It’s just a word I say a lot. It’s not a thing I do.

What if I started.

No but I want this solved today, I want this solved by the time I stop typing

or I will have to keep typing forever

What if I started

What if I started meditating instead.

What if I just did that

Stopped the clock and the telephone

and just meditated.

I will do it now.

I did, and in it realised

meditation does not feel like enough

because it is not active

there is no tangible proof of enoughness

I know how I sound okay.

I am really trying to bring out all the shit here.

And I just said

That meditation

Fucking meditation

does not feel like enough.

(I have never needed meditation  more.)

tea does not feel like enough

because coffee is stronger.

i have lost the other thoughts

that came then

(The ones I was supposed to be softly observing,

Then letting go.)

thank goodness

or not

because they’re just the same stuck record

but it is so interesting to see

how this has permeated

everything.

Is it in my relationships? Is it in my relationship with Emma?

I work because it helps me feel enough.

I drink because I think it will help me find new fun ways to be enough.

I drink coffee because it offers the promise that I will soon be enough.

I smoke because it helps me create a space where I actually believe am enough. 

I read Marlee Grace talk about her Instagram addiction. 

She said something like: “Make a piece of art

and don’t tell anyone you did it.”

The ultimate test of enoughness.

“What if no-one’s watching”

What if no-one’s watching.

Nobody is fucking watching.

But they are

because all the world is a stage

because everyone is feeling the same

because everyone else is so afraid they aren’t enough

we watch each other

for signs of each others’

Not-enough-ness

to reassure us about our own.

I am bored of writing this.

BORED I SAY.

Bored. 

Writing this out is not enough.

“What we put attention on grows.”

And I am putting all of my attention

on the not enoughness.

Well so be it. That is what I had to do

bang all this stuff out

I wanted to call it nonsense then

I wanted to dismiss it

I am scared of the truth of this ‘nonsense’

But I am even more scared to turn the other way

towards enoughness.

What would it look like

to write about enoughness?

(what would people think!)

(what would I think of myself!)

What would it mean?

What if I wrote every single day

and every single night:

I am enough.