I did it. I finally did it. I got out of my isolated little comfort zone and stepped out of my habit of staying home and making myself completely available to the whims and needs of my Delightful One, her SpiritLove, and their Moonchild.
Princess tomboy was finally coming back after ten days with her daddy.
It was Day One of June’s 28 Days to a New Me challenge: The Non-Fear Factor. Our challenge this month is to identify four things that fear has been a barrier to doing in our lives. Each week we’ll have challenges to face these fears head-on and move through them. The first of my four is writing the book.
There are many fears about that. Many having to do with my self-identity; false beliefs regarding my capacity, ability, and whether I truly have anything new or of value to offer the world at large. After all, the externals of my life remain the same overwhelmed mess. All of it essentially boils down to fears and beliefs of being “less than” everyone else in my life and in the areas I want to be engaged and grow in, especially when it comes to successfully transitioning from what I consider to be personal writing to professional writing.
Two or three years ago I signed up for NaNoWriMo and joined the Portland NaNo Writers group on Meet Up. I receive regular emails notifying and inviting me to attend a three hour meeting to write in the company of other writers. I’ve always had the excuse/reason of parenting Princess Tomboy in the context of all the relationship issues between Keith and myself. At least I did until we separated in December 2013.
So, for the last six months, I could have gone and haven’t done so. Why?
If you’ve been following along, you are aware of the challenging and painful circumstances. These things, in and of themselves have been understandable and forgivable reasons to forget about the meetings, get side-tracked and not prioritize them. Fair enough.
The truth is I never forgot about those meetings, even when I didn’t check my email. I was scared. Scared of not being good enough. Scared of being judged. Scared of being ridiculed or dismissed. Scared of how my life would change and the adjustments I would have to make to learn to be the person I want to be. Ultimately I was scared I didn’t have it in me: the strength, resourcefulness, determination, and provision to accomplish this elusive thing called success.
These fears aren’t really the thing, are they?
They are the costume obfuscating the real thing. Deep, abiding shame and a sense that I don’t deserve to be successful or to be happy because of my past and the damage I did to my oldest kids while they were growing up.
I’ve spent the last two weekends immersed in my son’s faith community . . . Right, smack-dab in the middle of his family of choice: his legal mother and father, his wife, and the people in their fellowship who only know me by whatever reputation they’ve formed of who I am, based on their interactions with the son who rejected relationship with me so resolutely that before he got married he changed his name by going through a legal adoption procedure that severed any and all legal connections between us and between me and his future family.
The first weekend was brutal for us both. My appearance in his personal safety zone triggered his PTSD. Our subsequent interactions triggered mine. It took every ounce of courage, determination, and commitment to rebuilding a relationship with him on new foundations to keep me in that building to eat, discuss, and worship with the others present. Thankfully, my cousin and her family were present and lovingly supportive in subtle ways. They gave me a ride home and her husband shared his perspective, that it had been painful to watch what my son and I were going through, but that I needed to keep showing up.
I spent three days last week holed up in my apartment. I didn’t even check the mail. The farthest I ever went was to walk while having a cigarette, and I didn’t have many of those.
I had a counseling appointment Thursday afternoon. So, I showered and dressed for that. Friday I took my laptop to the local medical center, the nearest wifi where I could hang out without fearing being asked to leave for loitering. While connected, I had private chat conversations on FB with my son’s wife and father, both of whom recommended I keep showing up, echoing and confirming my cousin’s sentiment. Saturday morning I went to worship and fellowship with my faith community then showed up to my son’s community Saturday night.
It was transformational. I was reminded that no amount of self-sacrifice, no amount of penance, self-deprivation, self-chastisement, or perfection seeking will ever “make-up” for my past transgressions or heal the wounds I created in the minds and hearts of my children. I can’t earn forgiveness, mercy, or grace. They are gifts I have to receive into myself by accepting them and letting God inside of me to heal my wounds and trust His provision and ability to heal their wounds.
Sunday morning my daughter asked if I would hang out with and take care of my granddaughter so she could go to work and let daddy catch up on sleep. I jumped on that!
Then, as the morning turned to afternoon, my mind kept returning to thoughts of the writer’s meeting. Instead of sacrificing that part of myself, I took the baby into her papa and left him to be her daddy while I went to the meeting.
It was an amazing experience. Maybe I’ll tell you about it sometime. Suffice it to say my horizons are expanding. Toward the end, as people were preparing to leave, I asked the organizer what part of town she lived in. She offered me a ride home. On the way we discovered she was a former high school pal with my first college boyfriend. The same one whose wife was my best friend in college and who gave me shelter and respite during Spring Break this year during the death throes of my relationship with Keith.
It really is a small world we live in.