A very big hello to everyone reading along, whether this is your first time at Finding 52, or your 82nd post, which is the actual number of published posts since the start of this healing, encouraging and restorative blogging adventure.
Thanks for all the beautiful souls who have been asking about the publication date of Finding HER Stuff, which should be announced in the next couple of weeks, and brings me to the subject of my topic today.
The past three and a half years have been focussed on reflection and articulation, birthing a desire to write and share my stories through blogging, which then lead to the biggest goal of my life: Writing a book.
How often have you heard someone tell another person (who they thought as brave, or smart, or strong, or hilariously funny) that they should write a book? How many times have you heard someone say they themselves would write a book someday? How many times have YOU said or thought it? Well, this may come as a surprise to some, but writing a book is not an easy task! I have plenty of hair-raising tales of editing, failed versions, and my personal nemesis… wrinkle inducing timelines.
Needless to say, I believe the sweat and tears will eventually be worth it, holding the first copy of a book dedicated to Mum and my walk toward ultimate healing after abuse… well, that should be satisfying.
Why? Because a giant challenge has appeared upon my emotional radar, which gains size and strength every day that gets closer to the book publication. I guessed at the beginning of the blog it would be tricky for me to complete all 52 Weeks as planned. And it was tricky! Yet, somehow each week rolled on and into the next, and my troubled thoughts about finishing my goal became celebrations of milestones and emotional clarity. A book seemed like a natural extension of this body of writing, seemingly already compiled and ready for mass consumption…
…until I re-read the first couple posts. For those who forgot or were not around to read the beginning story line, I was recovering from a life-altering head injury when I started writing four years ago. All stimulus was restricted, making each day intentionally dark and quiet, and giving my mind and heart space to grieve… to breathe… to heal.
Six months after committing to a writing contract, I handed over my first version of the book, having spent those past six months pouring over and ‘perfecting’ it. I was jubilant over this accomplishment; Stoked to continue a second writing project that started to catch fire in my belly a few years ago. Less than 24 hours after submitting my first version, it was sent back to me for the beginning of 5 rounds of revisions… 6 if you include the version I lost from a technical glitch.
BWAH HA HA! It is no wonder my eye has a twitch and menaical laughter often forms in my throat. But that is no match for the lump I noticed growing in my chest while waiting for versions of the book to roam back and forth between the publisher and my computer. Something was really starting to bother me and was not going away.
Right around this time I received a social media message from a person I had ‘dated’ in college. He had attempted contact about 10 years prior, but I did not respond. If his jealousy, insecurity and dishonesty had not already sunk our short-lived relationship, certainly his criminal friends and threats of suicide if I left him, did. My general sense of him was chaos, and nothing that I would willingly choose to visit again.
He very poetically told me a story of one girlfriend whose name he could never forget, who he struggled to get over, who had wounded him deeply, and who had ignored his friendly, 20-years-later attempt to reconnect. He also quoted a statement this girl supposedly said that had disturbed him for years. This caused him to make a decision to let her know what a wonderful life he had made for himself (whew, cuz she probably sat around all day thinking about that…), that he was no longer troubled by her crass words, and how he hoped she would be shamed, judged and condemned for making him feel bad for over 30 years.
Want to guess the name of his girlfriend?
It took all my will power to not respond. I immediately removed the message… OK, I read it one more time… then told two of my closest allies what the next chapter in this saga had revealed… I was a terrible human!
Parts of me were mortified that anyone could think so poorly of me. Parts of me were raging that he chose to forget how we ended, why we ended and the fact he still owes me $250! In 2019 dollars, that amounts to $406.21, but who is counting? As fas as I was concerned, that was what it cost to be rid of his borderline psychotic dependency after a month of dating. Plus, I promised Mum I wouldn’t stay out late with this boy again. She must have had a spy or spidey-senses telling her that all was not well with this fella, to have broken her standard of silence regarding relationships in hopes that I would listen.
After recieving the support of my precious allies, I thought I had moved along from this unpleasant reminder of a failed young relationship, but a heaviness followed, creeping slowly under my chest and joining the lump already forming there.
Maybe not in the worst way to stink, but just a little stink, is still too much stink for me. Something I said to him, maybe as an explanation… maybe in desperation… had caused a nasty opinion of me and I do not like that.
Sure, I have considered it may not be true; He only THINKS I said it. I have also considered that there are others… many, many more people out there who have equal or better examples of my stinking, and they are all coming out of the woodwork as soon as the book gets published!
Yup… I have some work to do. When did this approval seeking part of my soul first show up? From the beginning, as in, I was born with it? From childhood, when my parents instilled it? From my youthful peers, who wield it like power over those weak against it?
I remember never wanting to disappoint my parents or family, and would stand on my head (literally) to guarantee their assuagement. Disapproval was the worst possible fate awaiting any of my questionable decisions.
And there it was.
My life runs on a fuel that chases affirmations and avoids disapproval. It is way too important to me whether or not others like or approve of me, and it doesn’t stop there. It is connected to the passions I have chosen – singing, acting, dancing, writing – all closely connected to accolades and front-of-the-show type of roles. Perhaps this indicates owning certain personality characteristics rather than proof of an errant emotional crutch. Regardless of which, neither are helpful if fear takes over.
Fear has absolutely no manners, yet seems to have a permanent invite to every emotional event in my life. Maybe it serves as instinctual protection from dangerous encounters. Sounds natural… organic. But this kind of fear won’t heed appropriate social cues, lingers over every conversation, eats all the appetizers with bacon, and drinks in excess while refusing to hand over the car keys… yikes, that fear needs to go! Fast.
So, I am putting the brakes on trying to earn approval of others, especially the ones who overtly choose to withhold their affirmations. I suppose their own fears stop them from generously acknowledging anyone else who feels threatening and my guess is that means almost everyone. That would be a sad way to live. Too scared of the risk to affirm the people who can’t wait to be loved.
Will I ever permanently rid myself of this fear of disapproval? Probably not, but as I assured my girls a few days ago: Don’t expect me to live ‘til 100. I’ve got a lot of blazes of glory that need igniting. There can be little concern about what others think, in order to accomplish that.
Whether there are real or imaginary folks out there with nasty intentions toward me, I refuse to live for their approval. So good-bye, tight chest… and hello, super-power pose. Thank you for the reminder that courage does not mean I won’t be scared, and that my strength comes from placing my unique identity and insurmountable worth in the hands of the One who created me.