the list.

My post about little doses of healing a couple of weeks back has felt like unfinished business to me since I wrote it. I know why, but I haven’t been ready to finish it. Several months ago, a lot of bloggers I follow and many more that I don’t embarked on a project called Things I’m Afraid to Tell You. Some of the lists that people wrote were truly incredible and I admired the project so much, but every time I sat down to write one it felt like someone else’s list and I eventually abandoned the idea of joining in. I think, in retrospect, that was because the project had a certain inclination to be about crafting and business and telling the truth about that life in the face of all the pretty-blogging that happens in that world. I love that, and I think it’s an important effort, but by the time I found the project and started thinking about contributing to it, I was already changing the direction of this blog away from business things and into more personal territory. The things I was putting on my attempted lists didn’t really feel like the things I wanted to write about, but I couldn’t access the things I wanted to write about yet.

Then I came across the blog that I wrote about in the healing post. More specifically, I started thinking about the idea that glossing over those things that terrify me only increases that sense of being less, of being unwhole. The Tool Shed quotes Charlie Kaufman – “I do believe you have a wound too. I do believe it is both specific to you and common to everyone. I do believe it is the thing about you that must be hidden and protected, it is the thing that must be tap danced over five shows a day, it is the thing that won’t be interesting to other people if revealed. It is the thing that makes you weak and pathetic. It is the thing that truly, truly, truly makes loving you impossible. It is your secret, even from yourself. But it is the thing that wants to live.” – and then responds to that brilliance with “Why the list? Because I think I’m finally getting to the point where my exhaustion with painting over that wound is outweighing the fear…and I’d rather we talked about stuff.” 

With that, my list started to take shape again, and has finally reached the point where it won’t leave me alone and I need to write it. It seems a bit strange that this topic has surfaced right now, because things are good lately. All my unresolved things are still unresolved, but I’m managing them pretty well and feeling happy. I’m keeping away from things that paralyze me or make me sad. I’m working out five or six days a week, back to my pre-surgery routine, and am starting to level it up. I’m careful to give myself enough hours for sleep each night, even if I’m not always able to sleep. I’m working and reading and writing and making things in preparation for the holiday selling season. Maybe having some stability has simply created space for me to admit these things to myself; I don’t know. I just know it’s time to look them in the eye and hope they get smaller.

  • I’m afraid that what I’m doing isn’t important and has no lasting significance.
  • I’m afraid that I’ll never learn to give my family the same patience and kindness that I offer to strangers.
  • I’m afraid of my fucking internal editor who is so fucking scared of saying the wrong fucking thing, who double- and triple-guesses everything I do, and who separates me, over and over again, from my own experience.
  • I’m afraid of looking foolish.
  • I’m afraid of seeming needy.
  • I’m afraid that I’m petty and manipulative.
  • I’m afraid that I’ll run out of ideas.
  • I’m afraid that my body will never truly, completely heal from this surgery. I’m afraid of never feeling desirable again, of losing that sense of my own power. I’m afraid of being desired and then rejected.
  • I’m afraid of telling that one story, and also, maybe, that other story.
  • I’m afraid of never finding the right person to give those stories to.
  • I’m afraid that I won’t be forgiven for my many mistakes, known and unknown.
  • I’m afraid that I’ve squandered my chances.
  • I’m afraid of this person I’m trying to be and all my raw, undefined edges.
  • I’m afraid I might give up on trying to be this person because those undefined edges are so hard to live with.
  • I’m afraid to ask for what I want.

These aren’t battles I have to fight every day – at least, not all at once. There are always one or two in the anxiety queue at any given time, and they’re like trying to pull a paperclip out of the bin – they’re all tangled up and you hardly ever get just the one. But they are the battles I am likely to be fighting for a long time to come and I’m tired of tap dancing over them. I’m tired of the actual physical response that saying some of these things elicits. When I started to type that list, my mind went completely blank even though I’d been thinking about it for several hours and had all those points lined up. I had to sit still for a few minutes before the specifics started coming back to me and I could type it. My fear is thorough, and it will take anything from me that I let it have. I don’t want to let it have anything else. I’m not sure how that’s going to work, but I’m starting with talking about it.

    I am interested to discover that hitting publish on this post is not something I’m afraid of. Click.

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