Can I be frank?

This morning… I woke up feeling all insecure.

This happens with me.  And it usually happens when I publish a vulnerable sort of blog-post (like yesterday’s one).

When I publish posts like that one… (where I share a bit of my story… of a bit of my past… or a bit about “the deep stuff”) – it has the propensity to send me into a… bit of a freaked-out… over-thinking… over-fretting… zone.

I would LOVE to be the type of person who genuinely doesn’t care what others say or think about me…

But I’m NOT that person.

I DO care what other people think about me… although, not in the ways you might imagine.

  • I genuinely don’t care whether people approve of me or not.
  • It genuinely doesn’t bother me what other people think about how I look… the size of my body… or how I dress (that ship has sailed and disappeared over the distant horizon)
  • I also don’t mind if people gossip about me… or whether folk disapprove of the way we live – or the way we raise our kids.
  • Honestly… it does NOT bother me… if people don’t agree with me – or if people don’t approve of my choices.

Those are not my *problem* areas.  THESE are my problem areas:

  • I DO worry about whether people will misunderstand me – and think that I’m saying things that I’m NOT saying.
  • I DO worry that people will feel judged by me… when the LAST thing on earth I want… is for people to feel judged by me.
  • I DO worry that folk will assume that I’m a “Knower”… a dualistic-thinker who believes there’s only ONE “Right” way to live life – and if they’re not doing things *my* way – then it’s “wrong”.
  • I DO worry about coming off as boastful… as proud… as one of those self-promoting folk who have All-The-Answers – and who are now in a position to share their impressive 5-Step-Fix-Your-Life-Plans with the “mere mortals”.
  • I DO worry that people might think that my only concern is getting my book printed and promoting myself and that I don’t *actually* care about anyone’s story but my own.
  • I DO worry about whether my story… or whether speaking-MY-truth… will – in some way – hurt the feelings of somebody else.

And – (as those of you who have been blog followers for a long time will already know)… my biggest fear (as a blogger) is not that people won’t AGREE with me… but I deeply worry about not being “got”… not being understood… not being heard.

There was a season in my life (a long, sad season)… when I felt completely invisible.  Here’s an illustration that pretty-much depicts how I used to feel (it’s one of the pages from the book):

invisible

As a result of this… shady-background of mine (no pun intended – har-har!)… I’m still super-sensitive in the “being heard” and “being understood” department.

One of the main reasons why I started writing and illustrating “How Heather got her HAT’ness back” was as a personal journey… a way for me to walk through my story… to process everything… and to use the art and the illustrations as a conduit for healing, understanding… and celebration too.

(It was only later… when it started morphing into a book… when other people started noticing and commenting… that I decided that I would finish the project – and turn it into the illustrated story that I had dreamed of publishing since I was a child).

But it didn’t START that way.

I didn’t wake up one morning and think:  “I’m going to write a poem-story about my life.  And I’m going to illustrate it.  And publish it”.

It all just sort-of… evolved….

Yesterday… after writing the post about low self-esteem… body-shaming… self-abuse… and all that very vulnerable, personal stuff… I went to bed with a lump of worry squatting heavily on my chest like an unwelcome little gremlin.

And these are the thoughts that galloped… unrestrained… through my brain:

  • What if people think that I’m boasting?  What if it sounds as though I’m saying that I have all-my-proverbial-ducks-in-a-row… and that I’m now “perfect”…?
  • Who do *I* think that *I* am… to offer “HOPE” to anyone?  What kind of vain assumption is that? (NB:  The “Who-Do-YOU-think-YOU-are?” voice of accusation… has haunted me all my life!  It’s bosom-buddies are the “What-right-do-YOU-think-YOU-have?” voice… and the “You-think-you’re-SO-special-don’t-you?” voice).  One day – I’m gonna draw the 3 of them… just like I drew my personalities.
  • What if people misunderstand the whole weight-fat-food thing?  Should I have told them about how much weight I’ve lost?  NO!  Then it will be about the *weight*… and I don’t WANT it to be about the *weight*… I want it to be about the *worth*!  And if I mention numbers on a scale – then it just contradicts what I’m trying to say!  But… Omigod… what if everyone completely misunderstands me?
  • And what about the folk who read my blog because… maybe… they’re interested in alternative education for kids… or travel… or disentangling themselves from burdensome expectations and other bullshittery… what are THOSE folk thinking about these weird, deep posts about cutting and bingeing….?  WTF?
  • Am I just a “taker” and not a “giver”…?  Am I just USING my blog followers?

*sigh*…

So now you know.  I’m feeling a bit freaked out and vulnerable today.

I’m worried that my crowdfunding campaign won’t be fully funded by the deadline on the 29th of June.  I’m worrying about all the people who wanted a children’s book… I’m worrying about whether I’ve upset them (by deciding to publish the deeper, darker version first).  I’m worried that the wonderful people who have already backed the campaign will be disappointed with the book and the goodies that get posted to them.  I’m worried that other blog-followers will be saying:  “Enough about the book already!!!  Write about travel – like you used to!  Write about unschooling!  Write about debt-downsizing… anything but the bloody book!!!!”

Okay.  I’m now going to log off before I dig myself into a deeper hole of angst and fretting.

I shall make myself a large mug of caffeinated beverage.  I shall soak in my tub.  I shall then put on something VERY pink.  And I shall buy some colourful flowers to put in my studio (because fresh flowers just… have a *way*… of cheering me up).  And I shall complete the last couple pages of my book…

*HUGS* to all of you…  (and especially to you, Rach – Purple-Hairy-Mammoth… who brightened my morning with a well-timed and much-needed blog-comment!) X

13 thoughts on “Can I be frank?

  1. Dear Heather,

    I hear you. The anxiety, the doubt, the insecurity. The little (or not so little at times) voice in your head, which so stubbornly tries to disempower and belittle you and the beautiful and kind gifts you want to offer your readers. I know these doubts and those voices myself. I have struggled with crippling anxiety for the majority of my life. I have been healing from it for the last ten years or so and even though it is not yet completely gone, it’s so much better than it used to be. I do know the “invisible woman” feel, too. So I would like to give back to you what you are giving to your readers by writing your blog – a big dose of love, encouragement and inspiration. You are a beautiful, courageous person, who is not afraid to be her own genuine, fantastically crazy and wonderfully kind self in a world full of pretences and masks. No wonder you feel vulnerable at times. No wonder some people may misunderstand you – some of them may have grown so used to their masks that they may not know how to react when somebody shows their actual face and they may get suspicious about it. Let them. It’s not in your power to change that anyway. And who knows, maybe if they see you day by day staying true to yourself, they will one day gain enough courage to peek out from behind their masks, too? And those who, like you, have decided to shed their masks, will be encouraged and validated and strengthened in their resolve to be themselves. I have been drawn to your blog first and foremost by your genuineness, and I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way. In your posts you are so fully, truly and wonderfully human, you do not pretend anything, you speak openly about your insecurities and vulnerabilities, about your victories and dreams, about the great and the not so great in life. And when you share your experiences and lessons you learned in life, you share freely, from an open heart, with love and kindness, with no strings attached. This is true beauty. There is nothing greater in life than that. Keep up the good work, you wonderfully inspiring crazy woman!

    With a lot of love,

    Kate

    • Kate… I actually don’t have the words to express how much your words mean to me. THANK-YOU… from the bottom of my heart… for this beautiful response. I’m printing it out and keeping it in a special place with other letters, stories and words of encouragement. You have reminded me what is and (isn’t) important. I really need to stop OBSESSING about whether people *get* me or not… and just relax and “BE”… (ironically, the VERY THING that I’m always encouraging others to do – is the thing I still struggle with). I don’t struggle to be real… or honest… but I *DO* struggle with the continual overthinking about whether my “realness/honesty” is helping / hurting / off-putting / boring & irrelevant… or just plain ol’ TMI…. jeez – it’s exhausting!! Maybe I need to just stop trying to evaluate how my ME’ness *might* be perceived by others…. because – really – it’s such a pointless exercise. It’s like how worry is a pointless emotion. It doesn’t *fix* anything… it doesn’t *solve* anything… it just goes around and ’round in circles… in this constant state of emotionally-draining pointlessness. Perhaps – if my ruminating actually accomplished something of value – it would be another story!! Anyway… my blah’blah’ing aside…. THANK-YOU, kind Kate! I really appreciate your words. X

  2. Heather, I think it takes great courage to let people see the real you. So many people spend their lives trying to present a perfect picture that those who struggle feel alone. Your honesty will help others who have worked to keep up that perfect image, know that it is okay to let others see their struggle. It will let them know that those struggles do not diminish them in anyway and others have been/are in a similar place. Thank you for sharing these last two posts, you are truly voicing what so many of us feel.

    • And thank YOU… so much… for your words of encouragement. As I said to Kate… I really need to learn how to get a grip on this worrying and ruminating on how my words may – or may not – be perceived by others…. *sigh*…. I’m not afraid of real’ness – or honesty – or expressing vulnerability… but (as you can see) – I keep interrogating myself on whether this real’ness is “necessary”… or whether… perhaps… it does more harm than good…. and whether perhaps I should just “tone-myself-down”… or “reign-myself-in”…. Y’know…? (Like the Hat-POEM… I mean… for how many DECADES have I been telling myself to tone-myself-down???)… Truly… I am… literally… LIVING the story… and walking-through this whole “Hat” story… more than I ever imagined possible! It’s been enormously educating… healing… (and – of course – terrifying and painful at times)… but – in all – a GOOD and necessary journey. And I realise it all the more when I get messages from people like you… and Kate… and the many others who have e-mailed me personally. So – again – THANK-YOU!!! X

  3. The entire reason I donated on your fund raiser page is a I believe in you. In the you that you are . No worries about what you do for me, I want to see your dream come true. I want to see your book published and people getting to read it. I think it will be a huge help to many people. I cannot wait to read it. I am so ready to figure out my own stuff, but have so many responsibilites right now, so I do not see that happening for a while. So, I will enjoy watching you live your dream, knowing one day soon, it will be my turn. I will make sure of it.
    I have had insecurites too over the years. I understand the place it comes from. Just keep being you and try to not worry so much, yeah right, I know, it is so easy to say, not to do, BUT, just put aside those thoughts as much as you can and just do what you do. If someone takes it wrong, it is them, NOT you. You can say all the right things, and some people just want to be offended. You have to let that go. You can never please everyone, and I know,m it is a hard thing to let go of. As moms, we can tend to be pleasers.
    Just keep on going and get that book published. You deserve to see that dream come true and the world needs to see your book !!! I know that I , for one, cannot wait !!!
    xoxo
    Stephie

    • Hi Stephie
      As you encourage Heather, can I encourage you not to put yourself on hold for too long. I hope “your turn” will come soon. You deserve it.

      Good luck with your beads and baubles x

      • Rach, Thanks so much for your kind words !! My problem is the beads are not going anywhere and I am about done with that part of my life.I am so tired of hard work with no reward after 25 years of really working hard to make it selling the jewelry. I am proud of my work and stand behind it, but it is just hard to be seen, and to sell with so much competition online, especially Etsy. So, I need to figure out what I am supposed to be doing, but life is so crazy busy right now, I have no time to figure it out. I want to, but I do not see myself having time to explore for a while. We are moving our youngest daughters family in to live with us in about a week, while doing a complete kitchen reno ourselves, while our son in law recovers from being mowed down by an suv hit and run , while jogging. He almost died a few times the first week and is finally home after five months in the hospitial, four of them in critical care, but they have to move in while he recovers as he cannot work for a long time. He had severe injuries that he is still recovering from. More surgeries to follow. So, five people including three kids 8 and under are moving in and we are trying to get the house ready and on top of that, I baby sit four of our other grand kids, two full time, two part time. Our oldest daughter that we sit for full time during the day and pick up after school during the school year, is about to go through a divorce and so, life is a roller coaster right now. I promise I will work on me, but for now, I want to just stay on top of life for now !!! At 55, I just do not know who I am creatively anymore, and I promise I will figure it out. Thank you so much for your support !! I love how positive Heathers blog followers are, and I am so happy to be supporting her book !! I think the world needs this book !!! I know I do !!!

    • Stephie… thanks so much for your words of encouragement and support. I am totally a words-of-affirmation “love language” person… so – for ME – when I read the wonderful words of support expressed in these comments – it means so much more to me than *just* words. I absolutely agree that I need to let go of the FEAR of offending people / pissing people off. I also need to let go of the need to be *got*… since – well – it’s pretty-much impossible to be *got* by everyone!!! And actually – if all I have is a small little tribe of people who *get* me (and I get them)… then actually – it’s enough. I can’t wait to send you the book. In spite of all the hard work and the freaking out… I know that when I – finally – get to hold that printed… finished… copy in my hands – it will be sooooo worth it. And – I hope you’ll like it too! Again – THANK-YOU, Stephie!! X

  4. Aww Hat – thanks.
    I love it that, just by a few honest words, I can cheer up the day of someone I’ve never met and who lives on the other side of the world.

    In answer to your question….Yes, yes you can.

    This journey of discovery you find yourself on is a roller coaster. And in listening to your stories, there are those who now travel with you. I’m proud to say I’m one of them 🙂

    I love this quote…
    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
    It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
    We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
    Actually, who are you not to be?
    You are a child of God.
    Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
    There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
    so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
    We are all meant to shine, as children do.
    We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
    It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
    And as we let our own light shine,
    we unconsciously give other
    people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our own fear,
    our presence automatically liberates others
    (Marianne Williamson)

    So don’t you dare stop talking about your book. (said with affection and a twinkle in my eye)
    xxx

    • Rach… you actually have no idea how spot-on that quote is!!! Seriously! It is *THE* quote that I am basing so much of this story on. It is also *THE* quote that I’ve been thinking about – whilst preparing for my evening of songs & stories on Saturday night. For years and years and years and years…. I have fallen in to the “Who am I? Who do *I* think *I* am? Do I think I’m so flippin’ special?… blah, blah, blah…” And when I first read Marianne’s quote…. it was like the proverbial slap through the face. The realisation that my playing small does NOT serve the world. Like… AT ALL. Actually – playing small does NOTHING except to make one feel miserable and useless. In fact, playing-small is super-damaging in every way. Fuck playing-small!!!! When I had this gigantic epiphany (somewhere in mid November 2007) – it played a huge role in my slow transformation. I had this deep desire to SHINE… and I had to keep repeating to myself… again and again and again… that it was not *vain* to shine. It was not SELFISH to shine. On the contrary – it’s NECESSARY – it’s VITAL… to shine! Because the opposite (diminishing, shrinking, hiding-in-the-shadows, playing-small)… out of some sick, misplaced sense of… I dunno… humility? martyrdom? … at it did was wreak havoc and destruction. So yes – my message to the world is the same as Marianne’s: SHINE! SHINE! SHINE!!! DO what you love! BE who you’re designed to be! And SHINE! So… like I say… your comment? SPOT ON, Rach! SPOT on!!! Thank-you!!!!! X

  5. Calm down, you little freak! (Said in a loving, laughing voice). Baby, don’t worry about a thing. ‘Cause every little thing’s gonna be all right.. Stop overthinking. Nobody thinks all those things. Enjoy the pink!

    • I thought I replied to you, Sonja…. and now – when I look back… it seems as though my reply disappeared in a puff of pink smoke! THANK-YOU… this little freak appreciates your words! I am feeling significantly calmer… albeit almost exploding with a new little epiphany about playing-small… that I’m about to launch into a high-speed blog-splurb about. I shall TRY to stop ruminating and overthinking… (or at least – to the degree that I have mini-melt-downs and what-not)…. again – THANK-YOU! x

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