I announced this week the impending publication of my latest book, WEATHERCOCK. People — a LOT of people — have been incredibly supportive of this endeavor. A lot of people have already ordered advance copies. A lot of them tell me how brave I am to do this. I thank them, but it’s an odd thing to hear. I don’t consider myself brave because I’ve been afraid most of my life.
What of? Everything. Too much.
Small things like spiders and snakes. Big things, too. Abandonment. Rejection. Growing up. Sex. Doing well. Not doing well. Displeasing people. Making mistakes. Looking stupid. Being ugly.
You get the idea.
I’m happy to report that through the years I’ve managed to defeat a good portion of these fears…or at least beat them back to a point where they don’t bother me.
Not often, anyway.
Still, there are those that linger on like a bad cold and that’s what they are — an illness.
A lot of these fears can be laid at the feet of my childhood. No, I’m not going to do a riff here about my parents and how they let me down and wahwahwah. No matter what happened (or didn’t) in my childhood, it’s the adult me who has to deal with it now and I’d rather turn my energy inward, with an eye toward healing, instead of outward, where it’ll just go to waste.
What have I learned?
That I’m the only one living in this head of mine and that it’s my opinion of me that matters most, not the opinions of others. I’ve learned (and am still learning) to stand up for myself — not in a confrontational-bully-in-your-face manner, but in a way that gets me those things I need. I’ve learned to say No when I have to. I’ve learned self-esteem and self-reliance. I’ve learned pride where I never had any before. I’ve learned not to let others wear me down, no matter how much they find fault or try to manipulate me. I’ve learned to establish and maintain boundaries that will keep me safe emotionally, physically, spiritually. I’ve learned that it’s not my job to make everyone else happy at the sacrifice of my own happiness. I’ve learned to say goodbye and walk away if that is what’s needed.
It’s hard work. There are days when I falter, days when I don’t feel or sound as confident as that last paragraph, days when I’m tempted to weep and fold under the pressure to go back to the old ways, be as I was, stop making waves.
Which brings me back around to the writing. All my life, the one constant was the work, the craft, that gentle-nudge-slap-in-the-face-daydream-insistence Muse who kept me going. As long as there were words to write, there was a reason to live. It didn’t matter if it was a six-year-old’s first endeavor at a book , a pre-teen’s poorly drawn comics, a teenager’s television rip-offs, or the tales that led me into adulthood and accompany me still. The writing, the words, the interplay of action and thought, the hidden dance, the internal melody of writing sustains me like nothing else ever has or ever will. Without it, I am crippled.
I spent too many years crippled, hobbled by the needs of others. Now, at last, it’s my turn to dance.