I am still finding myself getting “stuck”.  It’s hard to explain “stuck” except that it’s a sort of invisible force keeping me from doing anything productive with my time.

When I am stuck, I end up bouncing back and forth from the computer to the TV.  I’m not trying to catch a particular program (with On Demand, who really has to schedule their lives around programming anyway?), or find specific information on the Internet. I’m not choosing to watch a movie or writing a report.  I seem to be unable to do purpose-driven activities. 

Which is odd, since there are so many!  I could make a list, on a given evening, of all the things I want to do, but don’t seem to have time for – making lunches for work, baking cookies, sewing outfits for the hoards of new babies being born, finishing up paperwork from my last job, brushing the dogs, doing laundry, going to the gym – and I won’t touch a single item. 

Mostly this is a problem when I’m left alone to my own devices.  My husband has a number of evening commitments that keep him away from me for the bulk of an evening.  And while I continually reassure him it’s not his job to “entertain” me, I still prefer his company to my own.  When he’s home, I have no problem happily humming along at my own projects – hence he’s not entertaining me.  When he’s home, I have no problem chilling out to watch some TV without feeling bad about it.  When he’s home, I can make lunches, plan out the evening, and do purpose-driven activities.  Moreover, I don’t feel as bad about myself.  It’s not the doing or the inertness; it’s the loneliness.  I’m just not good at being by myself. 

Even as a child, I had a beautiful bedroom with a desk that was usually clear enough for homework, but I never did homework in my room.  Rarely did I even retreat to my room alone, except to escape from my brother, sleep, dress, or, on rare occasion, clean my room.  Reading, homework, art projects – these all happened in the shared parts of the house.  Homework was done on the dining room or kitchen table, reading likewise.  I just liked to be near people, to know they’re close by.  I don’t need them to talk to me, to help me, to “inspire” me or even entertain me, but I like them to be near me, just to keep me company. 

And when they’re not, I lose that outside stimulation, and I get stuck.  Worse than that, I judge myself harshly for my inaction, my mental freeze.  Sometimes, in a frenzy of self-loathing, and sense that my husband will be at last returning home soon, I’ll make moves to do some little thing, rushing to finish making lunches or unloading the dishwasher as he comes in the door, just so I can report I didn’t waste my evening.  Other times, I’ll find myself pleading with myself, “Just get up. Just get up.” And I’ll tell him that I sat in front of the computer all evening unable to move, wasting the whole evening. 

Wasted time: my sister and I have commiserated on this sense of squandered free time.  If I have a weekend or a week’s vacation, or a whole summer vacation, I’ll look forward to that free time, to the unscheduled, commitment-free expanse of freedom lying ahead.  I’ll squander a good piece of the time just dreading its eventual ending.  I’ll ruin my whole Sunday freaking out about work the next day.  I’ll waste 5 hours of my evening knowing that bedtime is impending.  And then, as I realize I don’t have anything to show for my blessed free time, I get angry at myself.  How dare I not do anything with it?  How dare I not make plans, get things accomplished?  How dare I spend my free time dreading its very end! 

I bounce back and forth, trying to incur as few outside commitments as possible so I can be home, be with my husband, have free time to pursue interests outside of work.  I am trying not to have 3 different jobs, but I know there is a bonus with my extra work, and it’s not just the money.  It’s being scheduled.  Even as I dread the year-long commitment that usually comes with taking on a new tutoring student, I know that as long as I’m working on math, or writing, or SAT prep, or Bar Mitzvah prep with my kiddo, I’m not home alone feeling stuck.  When I’m out, working in the evenings, I wish I were home, pursuing my alleged other interests.  When I’m home, alone, with ample opportunity, I find myself wishing I had something scheduled, planned.  At least when I’m accountable to other people, I have to show up for something.  My couch doesn’t care if I’m late.  And the dogs’ sense of time is appalling. 

I need to get unstuck, and it seems to be a two-pronged issue – the actual physical inertia of a lack of internal motivation to get up and “do”, and my reaction to the stuck-ness that perpetuates the self-loathing cycle and makes me feel bad about wasting time.

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