A Rising Tide

rising tide

I had an ugly mental moment this morning.  I’ve been cultivating a sense of abundance this week.  Trying to focus on all that I have.  Chanting, “I am enough, I am enough.”  Rowing my little boat and keeping it low in the water, right in the middle of the channel.

This Voice of the Year thing on Friday is a big deal for me.  I’m claiming that.  Some days, I numb myself from the excitement so that I don’t confess that I am thrilled to have wanted something and gone out and gotten it. I’ve been trying to stay in a positive, happy place with it instead of moving straight into “I hope I don’t screw this up” territory.

This is not a left-handed plea for y’all to say, “You’re going to be fine!”  I’m just telling you where my head went because I learned something from it.  I learned that it’s really hard for me to accept attention for doing something well.  I crave that kind of attention.  I seek it out.  But when it comes, I am afraid that the rug will be pulled out from under me.  I am afraid that someone else will come along and take what I wanted so much just because I admitted that I wanted it.  I am afraid that the “You’re OK!” store will be empty by the time I get there.

I am afraid.

That’s the gist of it.  At the heart of perfectionism is fear.  At the heart of my anxiety is fear.  At the heart of my depression is fear.  It’s always fear that I won’t be enough.

I am enough.

And here’s where the ugly mental thing came in.  I saw that another blogger, who’s very creative and clever and funny, will be doing an event the same time I will.  My immediate reaction, instead of, “Oh, wonderful!  I can’t wait to spend some time with her!” was “Seek and destroy.  If you get near her, you will be less.”  Suddenly, I wanted her to fail so that she wouldn’t take any of my success.

What the hell????  I’ve never even met her.

Luckily, I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book, “The Gift of Imperfection.”  I recognized a shame reaction as I was having it.  And even luckier, I had a therapy appointment already scheduled for today!

I made myself sit with the fear.  I checked my evidence and it proved that I have a right to be there, regardless of who else is around me.  I talked it through and realized that this once-in-a-lifetime event is also a big package of every inadequacy trigger I have, all rolled up into one.  People will see that I am old and overweight.  I might cry.  I might get short of breath and look like I’m panicking.  I might not be that good.  I might be good, but not the best.  I might ask for too much.  Maybe it’s arrogant of me to walk out on stage.

I’m reading a story about Richard and it might not be good enough to honor his memory.

These are my triggers.  Maybe they will make me sing and I’ll just black out altogether.

Part of going to therapy is letting these feelings come up.  Sitting with them.  Saying hello, then moving ON.  Even when they are scurrying to catch up to me.

I did my work with my therapist and I came back to the knowledge that there is enough of enough for everyone.  I don’t have to scrap with other writers for a limited number of readers.  I can be good.  She can be good.  You can be good.  We can all be wonderful together.

The creative life is not a competition; it’s a tide.  A rising tide lifts all boats.  When I occupy a space of abundance in my own heart, I can share it with others.  When I’m stuck in fear, I have nothing to give.  I am going to loosen my grasp, let the tide take me.  A rising tide, lifting all boats.

I’m not even going to reread this because I might chicken out on publishing it.  Just remember this:  fear doesn’t have to stop you.  It won’t stop me.

25 thoughts on “A Rising Tide

  1. Debbie

    Well said. I am incredibly competitive – one time I crowed to have lower blood sugar than a coworker, we borrowed a diabetic co-worker’s reader. Seriously, that’s kinda sick. Anywho, what is the prize really? My brain starts with all the ways I’m not enough – sometimes I even say “STOP” out loud when I hear it cranking up to a litany of not enough, oh that was a mistake or whatever imperfection real or imagined that somehow became stuck in my craw on a never-ending loop.

    My quest is to be authentic – imperfections and all. I find your writing to be perfectly authentic – sometimes painful, sometimes joyful, sometimes stressed, often funny as hell and always thoughtful. Being yourself is enough.

    Easy to say, but always a work in progress. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    1. WordPress.com Support

      YES! There’s the A-word. I am striving for authenticity after too many years of striving for perfection.

  2. Michelle

    Seems I’m on this journey with you. I think many of us are. I don’t know what “did” that, or maybe it’s a nibble at a time that our trust was taken away. What ever it is … know that you’re not sitting with it alone. deep breaths, rising tides. strong winds. raise the sails. let’s go.

  3. Michelle

    You can count me among your fellow travelers on the self-actualization journey. I am an expert at self-degradation and I am learning to deal in more constructive ways. I appreciate many things about your writing, but I think the thing I value the most is your vulnerability. It takes great strength and courage to put it all out there. You have the heart of a warrior. 🙂

    1. WordPress.com Support

      Thank you for saying that! I’m working on vulnerability as an antidote for perfectionism. Thank you thank you thank you.

  4. Donna Murphy

    Until I read your post I had not appreciated or fully understood the quote. It was just a lovely sentiment to me. Ashley, not only are you enough, you are a rising tide of enough, you lift us all.

    1. WordPress.com Support

      Thanks, Donna! I’ve always liked the quote and just found out yesterday that it was spoken by John F. Kennedy. It’s often used in economic discussions–that a robust economy makes things better for everyone.

  5. Brandi

    I am a total Self-Sabotager! I probably have about 20 thoughtful thank you notes sitting in my desk at home that I never sent. I did the work, then I never shared them. Then whenever one of those people comes across my mind I beat myself up about how I never sent that note. I am not sure what that says about me, but I know it can’t be great!

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Part of overcoming this mind-fuck is allowing ourselves vulnerability. I can’t tell you how I beat myself up about not sending thank you notes!

    2. Jennifer Cantrell

      I just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary. I still have the thank you notes from the wedding shower that I never sent. It’s in my “drawer of guilt”. You know, the one full of the pictures you still haven’t put into the scrapbook, the baby books you never finished for your kids that are now 19 and 14, and the address book full of your husband’s family members that your mother-in-law gave you to remind you to send out family Christmas cards. 😛 One day, I’ll throw it all away. But that means facing the guilt that it never got done in the first place and accepting the fact that it never will.

      1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

        Preach on, Jennifer! Just burn them up and roast some marshmallows!

  6. Amy, Using Our Words

    This is so lovely and honest. I think we have a lot in common. Only I submitted pieces and wasn’t picked. So I’ll be in the audience cheering you on, knowing that you are lifting me up as you read your beautiful words the best you possibly can.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever Post author

      Oh, Amy! I’m so excited to have someone cheering in the audience before I even open my mouth!

  7. Cynthia @ Flotsam of the Mind

    I will be thinking of you and sending positive vibes your way on Friday. If your verbal storytelling is half as good as your written words (and I have a feeling it’s more than that), you are going to knock this one out of the park. Congratulations again on being chosen, and kudos to you for recognizing your limitations, working to improve yourself, and sharing that work with us.

    Please update us after your presentation! You can do this.

  8. Pingback: I Don’t Think of You That Way – as a compliment | Allonsee - Let's Go See!

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