I am all up in my feelings today about something I’m doing tonight. It’s the first time I’m doing this thing that has been in the works for months and I’m nervous, fear-filled, insecure, excited, honored, hopeful, inspired, and well, a little nauseous.
I want to back out. I want to cancel. My default is to run away from things like this. But I’m pushing myself to run towards.
The thing is, this thing that I’m walking into, it’s with a whole group of people who have just as many feelings as I do. They are feeling everything too.
They aren’t looking at me to solve all their problems, so why do I project that onto them? They aren’t looking to me to tell them what to do, so why do I think I have to have all the answers? They aren’t expecting me to have my shit all the way together, because none of us do.
What I put on myself is partly ingrained and second nature and just who I am. But the counter-messages I can feed myself are:
I am worthy.
I am capable.
I am enough.
I am funny smart clever kind brave and cute. I know this because my kids just told me when I facetimed them to say I love you and I won’t be home in time to tuck them in tonight.
I cannot have it all. At least not all of it at the same time and not all of it done to perfection. But I can choose to focus on what’s right in front of me, who is right in front of me, and do that well. I can honor who is right in front of me and sometimes that’s simply myself.
I can take a deep breath and know that in this moment, I am choosing to do something for others that will hopefully be beneficial to all involved. Helping people, volunteering, giving of myself is not selfless. It is full of self. And at the same time, if we are doing it right, an extension of our best selves.
If I remind myself of these things with every interaction I have, I feel more self-possessed. More secure. More of this exact moment. Fear and anxiety don’t get to rule every single moment of my life anymore. And when it tries to, I can talk to it.
I am not who I was.
I am not who I will become.
I am exactly where I am supposed to be today. What I do with this perfection is up to me.
I have this opportunity to be with people. I feel this profound honor when people trust me enough to be with them. To really be with them. To walk with them through the muck. I know what I feel when people do it with me and one of the best things anybody ever does with me is to just show up. We don’t even have to exchange many words. Just the sitting there together and the eye contact and the depth of sharing is enough. We are enough.
I say all this as a pep-talk to myself, but also to you. A pep talk for the fear-filled. For that thing you’re afraid of. For that thing you want to run away from, but somehow keep being drawn to. I say this to shake it off now so I can walk into this evening and not have it be about me. I say this so my fear and anxiety is released out into the world.
Last Monday, we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and also his birthday. The library had a YES I CAN story time that incorporated the children’s book Why We March and then we talked all about his great works, his fight, his insistence on furthering equality for people of color.
In the car on the way over, my kids (newly age 5) were asking me all kinds of questions about skin color. I told them how years ago people with brown skin had to use different bathrooms and drinking fountains and how they didn’t have the same rights as we do. Women didn’t have the same rights either. I told them how far we’ve come but that in many ways, we still need to work on making things right and fair for all people. My boy said, “So that would mean you and Nikki wouldn’t be able to go certain places because you are both girls?” I said that’s correct. My girl chimed in with, “And Nikki has brown skin so she really couldn’t go some places because she has brown skin and is a girl.” I said that’s correct.
They both were indignant with, “WELL THAT IS TERRIBLE.” I said, “THAT IS CORRECT.”
After the story time activities, the group of kids and grown ups loaded up two wagons full of donated food items to march across the busy street to the local human services department to donate to their food pantry. The kids were so proud to carry signs and food over and when we arrived, they were able to help put the food where it belonged in the pantry. These kids were all sizes and colors as were the folks we encountered at the human services building. One lady was in the lobby playing wii bowling and all these kids wanted to play. We had a task though, and these kids were carrying it out proudly and efficiently.
I was proud of my kids for wanting to help, for wanting to be a part of, for wanting to walk in the cold for no other reason than to bring food to people who need it. I was proud of my kids for being open to learning about something new. Mid-way through the story time my boy came to whisper something to me that was, “I don’t always think I want to do these things you bring us to, but then they always wind up being kind of fun and we learn something new.”
I thought, that is EXACTLY how I feel about pretty much everything in my life. My gut reaction is “no”, but when I get out and do the thing, it’s usually a better experience than I thought it would be.
That’s Bebe and Gah in behind the wagon holding hands. I love the “Good job, leaders!” pep talk they are getting while walking over there.
If I can remember this each and every time I have to get outside myself, if I can have the courage and open mind of these kids, man oh man. We give pep talks to our kids all the time. This Care, Share, Read, Lead thing they did at the Library is a pep talk. Why is it we think adults don’t need pep talks any longer? We probably need them more than kids.
Showing up really is half the battle. We learn early in recovery how important it is to suit up and show up in every area of our lives that we hadn’t been for so long. I can do this. You can do this.
The hope I feel is enormous. More than enough. Buckets full of hope. I have all this hope and courage. Big, like a gd house. Let’s do this. All of this. Let’s just go do it already. Whatever it may be. You know what it is.