Something keeps happening. I feel steadfast in my intentions, I feel my path becomes illuminated. I have the keys and I am out the door.
I leave for a a few minutes, sometimes hours, occasionally days, and in the extreme rarity, a few weeks. Usually, however, it’s somewhere between minutes and hours. I feel ready and on my way. I have everything I need packed inside.
But then, the warnings begin. I get cold. I get hot. My chest tightens and my pelvic and abdominal muscles begin to clench. I try to breathe but I feel too weak. I feel as if inhaling a full breath will make my body crumble and I’ll fall to my knees. What is going on? Moments before, I was on Highway Bliss. I was set. And now, I am lost. I begin to wonder where I am and why I decided to leave in the first place.
How does this keep happening? I thought I trusted myself. Why can’t I ever stay the course?
I haven’t told many people this but I am writing a book. Who isn’t, right? But that’s the point. Last summer I finally decided that I, too, could do this. It no longer felt so scary and unattainable. At that moment I wasn’t entirely sure what the book would be about, but I declared, “I’m going to write a book, because why not?!?!”
I think this anxiety started then.
Prior to that I was feeling strong in my sobriety and was excited for our move to Canada. I didn’t know what exactly the future would hold but it didn’t matter much to me. I
knew felt good things were coming. I was excited for the chance to be at home fulltime with my children. I was looking forward to the break from teaching. I was open to new possibilities.
Then I found out my mom had cancer.
However, in my bones I feel that that occurrence has less to do with my body state. I say that because it’s not happening directly to me. It’s out of my control. Where this book–that’s totally in my control. My future job–that’s on me, too. My personal growth and transformation–yep, you guessed it, I take the bill.
All of a sudden I went from carefree living to “I’m going to do great things in my life.” Of course that’s not to say what I’ve done hasn’t filled me, but this statement, this attitude was something different. I was declaring to myself and the universe I was ready for a bigger me. I didn’t want to play small anymore.
It didn’t take long for me to have the book idea. In fact, I’d already been journalling about the concepts as part of my morning routine. One of the reasons I was so excited to stay home with my girls is because I was so excited to have a break from teaching. I couldn’t put the words together at first about why I felt uneasy about finding teaching jobs in Vancouver but then it came to me–I couldn’t teach because I didn’t like what it had become. It was stale. It needed a change, and not something small, as in here are some strategies or tips, but here is a book that is going to change the world. Your world and your students’. This book is going to change lives, it will transform the globe. (we can talk about overconfidence another day).
I was estatic. I couldn’t believe I actually had a book idea. It made such sense to me and I just knew it needed to be in the hands of teachers, of educators, of anyone who is around children. We need a better world for them. We cannot continue with the status quo.
And so there it was, my book baby was born.
I knew I was reaching high in wanting to write a book, and declaring it would happen, so I knew I’d have to keep fear in check. I recognized that it was going to try to pop up again, and again, and again, and again. I also didn’t want to tie my worth to the outcome. I wanted to do this because I could, because why not?, because I was tired of selling myself short.
I also felt it in my bones to want to go it at my own pace. I didn’t want to buy into the hype or the rush that social media culture will throw at you. I wanted to listen to my intuition. If it felt right, I would go. This, after all, was my soul in book form.
Then something started to happen. I couldn’t write. I didn’t know what to say. I tried, but I felt so uninspired. And, I’d just told myself I’d only write when I was inspired, you know, to keep it authentic. So the days I’d devoted to my book dwindled.
I felt nervous whenever I thought about putting those journal pages together in a more coherent form. Wait, now I actually have to say something about these topics? Whoa, whoa, I’m getting ahead of myself, who am I to say this?
The first time I caught the fear, I heard the conditioned response, and I coolly adjusted. But soon those worries drowned out my excitement.
Around this time, it became clearer to me how much emphasis I put on this book. Now, it was no longer just a fun, albeit world-changing endeavor, it was the thing I needed to figure out so I could figure out if I was going to teach again. How am I supposed to teach when I am not even sure where I stand anymore. I needed to write this book to figure it all out. I needed to know my ending so I could begin.
One thing I’ve learned is that when you want to be led by intuition it’s going to stop you alot. It’s going to say rest, rest, rest. Where’s your joy? It’s also going to say, go, go, go. You have the power. This back and forth is confusing as shit.
This is where I feel caught. I am tangled in the net of “How do I say I may no longer want to change the world? Oh, sorry ya’ll, for getting your hopes up. Turns out I’m not your world-changing gal after all.”
Fuck that. I AM YOUR GIRL. I WILL BE THAT WOMAN. I will do this because I feel it in my soul.
I’m tired and scared and confused.
Trust yourself. Trust the process. This is the process. You are where you are meant to be.
Yes, keep at it. The right people will come. And if no one, you have yourself.
I can’t even relax anymore. I feel like I always have to be doing something. I always have to be working at the next thing.
This is all to say I had the keys and now I feel locked out again. This ricochet, “Do I trust me? Do I trust me not? is exhausting. It’s full-body anxiety producing. I gain clarity and I become confused. I regain clarity and I’m newly confused. Repeat x 100. When there’s stillness and clearing, it feels easy to appreciate the permanence of things. I take solace in knowing the troubles were worth something, which I can say because I am on the other side of it. I like to put bows on my blessings. I want to put bows on the troubles so I can make them blessings. But when I am in the heat, well, it’s fucking hot. When I’m lost and confused, I can never seem to remember it’s temporary. I can never seem to trust that that’s where I’m supposed to be–I can see it after but not during. And that’s when I need it the most.
I feel I need to return, however, to why this is so anxiety producing. Remember my fun book idea that I was going to do because I decided I would have that life experience? That went away the moment I realized I might actually have a shot at doing something great. I became scared of the success more than the failure. Because to me if it failed, at least it meant I’d tried. And if it was successful, if it could really transform lives the way I believe in my bones it can, then, well, hot damn. But I see now I never left any room for the idea to fail. I never left any room for the whole book to never be written.
Is that what needs to happen? But what about all those children whose lives I want to protect? What about giving them a shot at the life they truly deserve without adult-ego interference? How am I supposed to back away from that? This message is in ME for a reason…and I can’t look the other way.
So, I have no fucking clue right now.
On one hand, I have put so much emphasis on what it would mean to finish this book, that 1. I’m not even working on it. and 2. My lightness has been removed. Those feel like very telling signs to me that something needs to change. But what?
So I’m back to my original feeling–do I trust myself enough to push on or do I trust myself enough to pull back?
Maybe it’s not either/or.
It’s both. It’s always both.
God, will you help me find a way to do both? Can you help for this to live harmoniously within my life?
Can you remind me to take breaks as needed and to not question my commitment? Can you help me see that these are your gifts, that you put them in me that I may remember it’s your will for me to voice them?
Can you help me remember that right now it’s about the book, but it’s often the larger picture of doing? Can you help me see that I am worthy on my own AND I need play AND I can dream big?
Can you help me see my anxiety is not me and it’s come from the incessant hustle and transition of denying the present moment?
Can you help me surrender?
Because I am ready.