I think I may be a closet commitmentphobe. Closet mostly to me, because it's something I don't want to recognize, even though everyone else in my life is probably rolling their eyes over the idea that this is a revelation.
I think it must have happened sometimes in college, or shortly after. Middle school, high school - man you couldn't get me out of committing. I did it all. Including lots of things I wasn't good at. And not only did I jump in to participate, I usually led it. Gads, that just gives me the heebie-jeebies now. I am sweating just writing that, which I think is clear indication times have changed.
Now I say, "Maybe" A LOT! To my kids: "Can we watch this program tonight?" "Can we play this game after dinner?" "Can I have a piglet birthday party?" "Can I invite so and so over to play?"
As I get requests to help out in choir and church and the kids' school and local community groups, I look at the emails and then just file them. Under maybe. Because I can't say no, but I am afraid of saying yes. Afraid that I already have too much on my plate. Afraid that I will get into a position where I'm not comfortable. Afraid I will be over my head on time and ability. Afraid I will be stuck doing something I don't like for a long time with no way of getting out except to break a promise. And once I really commit, I dig in like a pit bull and can't let go.
Maybe the problem is that I don't know how deep I want to get into something until I am at that deep point. I don't know I'm over my head until I can't breathe and I can't see any way out, and won't let myself out.
I had two commitments I started here this year. One, to run ten miles. Another, to write a new book.
The ten miler thing is going great. I'm already up to eight and a half, which is about three times more than any other time in my life, and for which I'm pretty proud. It takes a lot of commitment too. I run almost everyday. Whether I am tired or not. Whether my schedule is otherwise filled or not. And I am never ever sorry I did it.
The writing thing is harder. Because after waffling back and forth on several book ideas, I committed to one in particular. One which resonated with me, which I felt an emotional attachment to. One that I plotted and semi-outlined and developed the characters for. One which I wrote pages and pages on. Until I just couldn't anymore. Because it depressed me.
The book came out of the murder of one of my good friends. It wasn't about her, but it did deal with many of the issues that came from her death: random evil, forgiveness, ways in which people grieve, and how they heal. Seriously, I think it was a really good idea, with a great plot and tremendous depth of character.
But I just couldn't do it. Day after day, my own emotions still a bit raw, coming to that place where I was back in the darkness. And finally, I had to let go.
I had a dream last night that my friend came back - that she had 24 hours to spend with her family and friends again. And when she left, it felt as though she died a second time.
My dreams cling to me when I am awake. What I feel in my dreams is what I wake with, what I carry with me all day until something more powerful can shake it off. And today I felt the loss again, and the emptiness of saying goodbye.
And I realized that while the book might have been good, it was good to let it go. Maybe just for now; maybe forever. But I really don't want to go to that place everyday right now.
I think it was a smart decision, albeit a hard one. But now I am even more fearful of committing. What if my new books ends the same? And the next one? And the next one? I am afraid of saying, "This one is it." I've got a new book I've started. One I look forward to visiting every day. A character that is fun, and complicated, and a setting to die for. I am excited about it. But will that last?
I'm hating that the only answer I can give to that is: Maybe.