I take such strides to face my fears. I walk fiercely into the world armed with love and I live bravely, face uncertainty, stare down self-doubt, learn to love the me who God created, love others, tell the truth – kindly, gently, with precision – don’t hurt others, try to understand…I do those things. And yet I am afraid and filled with doubt.
I started out as a sad, angry, frightened girl and I acted from a place of distrust and disappointment and then I decided to stop. So I did…a little at a time. Because no one changes their behavior overnight. No one becomes themselves in an instant. I am comfortable, very comfortable, with the process of becoming.
I am terrified at the prospect of being.
And there it is. The complete and honest truth. I am terrified at the prospect of being. Working toward a thing is different than achieving the thing and then having to continue making it into something that you are and that you do.
Becoming is easier than being. Moving is easier than sitting still.
Being safe is the most frightening thing of all because if something isn’t going wrong then anything can go wrong at any moment. I was raised to understand chaos. I am afraid that when things get too good, or too easy, or too comfortable that the world is gearing up to drop me on my head. At this point in my life there is so much to lose that I can’t imagine what being dropped would look like; so I bob and weave perpetually making sure that when the Universe throws a punch I can’t be hit too hard. It’s a futile exercise built on the illusion of control but I’ll take it because in those moments I feel sane and competent. *The problem with irrational beliefs is that even when you know something is irrational you can’t talk your heart out of believing it.
I’ll figure it out. That doesn’t feel true but my life’s experience tells me that it is. Isn’t getting older funny that way? For weeks, months, if I’m being honest, I’ve lived everyday on the verge of a panic attack afraid that I will fail – afraid of what succeeding looks like – afraid of letting people down – afraid of letting myself down – afraid of spiders…and horror movies, and the zombie apocalypse – those are not relevant to this conversation. I digress…
I put myself through such incredible torture and then everything ends up working out. Then I have the all too familiar conversation with myself “Why do you put yourself through this every time?!” with the answer being “It’s the irrational pact that I’ve made with the universe. If I emotionally flagellate myself sufficiently then I will have earned the right for everything to turn out ok. If I don’t suffer adequately then I cannot be rewarded with the outcome.”
It’s stupid, and yet every time I’m certain that things will NOT be ok unless I participate in this useless exercise. They simply cannot. And then they usually are. Believe me – there are plenty of times when things turn to shit but most of the time things are fine and yet the self-torture seems to be working and why mess with something that’s working so well? Because I know – deep down – that it completely nuts, and also I have been frequently told by all of the sane and rational people in my life. But what if they’re wrong? And so the vicious circular logic continues….
In reality – no amount of suffering, self-imposed or otherwise, is going to earn a good outcome or a bad one – it’s just going to mean I am an hysterical basket case as my life unfolds. So here I sit, on the verge of great and exciting things about to happen – a new book in particular Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Sanity (Motivational Press, 2017) and while I am so excited, and honored, and beyond my wildest dreams happy I am also completely panic stricken. So there’s that.
All I can really do is keep showing up. Just one foot in front of the other, day-in and day-out kind of showing up. I’m going to be scared. I’m going to be unsure. I’m going to do it anyway.
I’m going to need a lot of Xanax…