Commitment: n. (1) the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.; (2) an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action. (So sayeth the Google.)
Back in March of 2015, I made a commitment to myself to start posting a blog on a weekly basis. It was a big step for me, exposing myself to the so-called “public” (even though no one was reading my blog except me and a few loyal friends). The commitment I made to myself meets the first definition – “being dedicated to a cause or activity”. In this case, the activity is WRITING PERSONAL ESSAYS – the realization of my true persona, my calling, my wished-for career. And I was happy to dedicate myself to it, even though I didn’t plan particularly well or stockpile blog posts for those weeks when it was difficult to devote a few hours to writing (despite how much I might have wanted to because, truth be told, I’d rather write than do almost anything else). But I wrote anyway, and I managed to stay true to my commitment, with only a few delayed postings, until Thanksgiving of this year, when I took my first “hiatus”. Less than a month later, and I took ANOTHER holiday hiatus. This is entering the danger zone.
The problem, of course, is the OTHER definition of “commitment” – “an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action”. For a year and a half, I was able to come up with SOMETHING every week, even if it was merely a “top ten” list or an apology for not having anything good to write about. But 2016 was a year unlike any other, and the past few months have been particularly difficult – not just politically, which, if you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I was personally devastated by the outcome of the election and am still somewhat in a state of denial (more on that later in the post). But the biggest bugaboo for me these past 12 months has been MONEY. (This is another one of my frequent blog topics: I HATE MONEY.) For the past 10 months I’ve been in the process of elevating my house, and I received a generous grant from New York State to do so (if not, I might not have done it, property values and increased flood insurance premiums be damned). But there’s a big gap between the money I was awarded and the money I need, exacerbated in no small way by the fact that I’ve only received 75% of the grant amount and I won’t get the last 25% till everything is done and dusted, and in order to get done and dusted, I need to pay the contractors with SOMETHING. Fortunately, my contractor, ANS Contracting (of Island Park and Long Beach – highly recommended!), has been patient and generous and hasn’t been chasing me for the next installment check. Multiple issues arose during the process that ended up costing me about $50,000-75,000 more than I was anticipating, and more than I was getting in the grant. Believe me, $75,000 is not floating around freely in my bank accounts. Like many other adult Americans who have been making a decent salary for the past decade, I have retirement accounts and credit cards, and I’ve managed to dig a hole in one and build a mountain of debt on the other. My security net is effectively ripped wide open.
The only possible mitigation was by working my ass off, because the more I work, the more I earn, and the situation called for some big-time earning. I actually had almost as many billable hours in the month of December as I did in June, July and August combined. So, bottom line: I blame despised WORK and MONEY commitments for taking me away from my beloved WRITING commitment.
I consider myself a highly dependable person, but I frankly don’t relish the pressure of being relied upon. One might think I would take a certain pride in it, but I don’t. It just brings me anguish because I don’t like to let anyone down. I make many outright commitments, which I do my absolute best to fulfill. But it’s the unspoken commitments that eat me up inside, like when people have EXPECTATIONS. Living up to people’s unstated expectations vexes me worst of all. It kind of killed my marriage, and it’s why, until these past 14 years of what sometimes felt like indentured servitude at the law firm, I’ve always had a hard time staying with a job (and the only reason I’ve stayed at the firm is because where else can I make the money I make here? NOWHERE ELSE, that’s where). It’s especially true when I work with one particular partner, because her too-high expectations of me are always being disappointed, although in a way it’s even more distressing when I disappoint the other partner I work with, who I like very much. For a man who I rarely see angry in any way, believe me, you FEEL it when he’s mad at you.
Frankly, I think deep down I’m afraid of commitments. It might be one reason why I’ve never been in a committed romantic relationship save for one, with my ex-husband, who I am basically STILL committed to, and not just because he’s the father of my child – he’s also my really good friend. Somehow my commitments to my friends get back into the first category of “commitment”: being “dedicated to a cause” – in this case, helping a good friend through a tough time. Being committed to my friends is a very good thing, and it’s something I’m happy to continue.
So, here and now, I declare: Today, January 1, 2017, is as good a time as any to re-dedicate myself to my blog, my friends, and all those positive commitments I’ve made in my life: my daughter’s well-being as she advances into adulthood, volunteering at the shelter and fostering as many fur babies as I can, and now a NEW commitment – working with like-minded individuals to combat the horror show that is the looming Trump presidency. A few of my Facebook friends have set up a group called “Organize, Plan, Act”, where we post useful things (such as petitions, mobilizations, letter-writing campaigns, and the like) that we can do, collectively and individually, to make sure the voices of the opposition are heard loudly and often. We’re having an actual in-person meeting in a couple of weeks, which I’m looking forward to, but one of the activities we were encouraged to do recently was respond en masse to a Facebook post by our (Republican, blowhard) U.S. congressman, Peter King (although I certainly never voted for him), in which he implored all of his constituents to get behind the Trump and work together for a better America, and other blablabla nonsense. I think I was able to get my two cents in before he started blocking dissenters from his page. My response:
“Mr. King, your statement is hypocrisy of the highest order, and Donald Trump is an embarrassment that I refuse to support in any way. Thank goodness I live in a country where the law of the land, our glorious Constitution, allows me to say these things and express my dissatisfaction with our government as much and for as long as I want, right up front in the First Amendment! Although from what I hear, apparently you would rather stifle dissent amongst your constituents rather than listen to and respect it.”
Step one in the revolt. I am committed.