I didn’t fall away from the writing, let it drift into obscurity. My confidence had been seriously wounded, my spirit had taken a beating in the last several months of 2013, but I was fiercely fighting.
It was a sudden snap, a clean break.
A good friend of mine borrowed my set of white dinner plates we had got in our wedding for her Thanksgiving feast, and the handle on the bag ripped the bag open as she was returning them to me. The plates shattered. All but one. Boom.
That same evening, Rick called around 10 pm from his indoor soccer game. I answered and he calmly tells me that his Achilles tendon “popped.” His word… he uses it because that is the sound it made. It snapped in half. Severed. Connection of foot to leg, gone. In one loud announcement, we moved into a world of crutches and immobility and surgery and a long, long recovery.
The outdoor christmas lights Rick and I had labored to hang on our house just days before stopped working. And in my newly designated role as “person who does anything requiring movement,” I went to investigate. Someone had cut our christmas lights. Snip Snip. The connection had been cleanly cut.
Coming in from the blowing snow after shoveling the porch and sidewalk, I fumbled my phone from my pocket, dropped it on the cold hard slate of the entryway tile, and shattered the screen. For the past 6 weeks, I have been scrolling and peeking around the spiderweb of cracks. The replacement can not happen till February.
Then I got my first flat tire. Flat as a pancake. The tire had two matching wounds on the tire wall, big holes that had given way to the pressure and left the wheel a flapping, deflated mess. I spent a day watching YouTube videos about how to get the spare tire and jack out of my Honda. How to use a jack. I spent an afternoon in freezing temps kneeling in the slush of my driveway trying to get those stubborn lug nuts to budge. I spent dinnertime in a discount tire with three hungry, tired children.
During this time of domestic madness, I let my stay-at-home mom status rule supreme and tried to quiet the constant tagalong nagging of my writer’s shadow jabbing at me. I made cookies and gingerbread houses, bought toys and made picture calendars and did laundry and felt absorbed by the tasks at hand. I gave myself permission to set it down…this need to write, this pull to create, this desire for a career. While wrapping a mound of presents, ordering Christmas cards, and tearing the house apart to find the hidden gifts I had squirreled away I thought about how I could just do THIS. I convinced myself that I should just carry on as a stay at home mom. No need to add more to my plate. I enjoy baking cookies and making chili and watching soccer. Nothing else in necessary.
But now it’s January 10th. The festivities are over. The kids are at school. I can hear the clock on my wall counting the passing seconds. Tick. Tick. Tick.
I have been staring at this blank screen for days. For weeks, there has been a constant, nagging tap on my shoulder. “Fix it. Go back. Restart,” the manic little creative monster on my shoulder whispers.
Why has this month been full of pops and tears and severs and deflation?
Why have I allowed myself to totally disengage from my dream? Am I defeated? Whatever tenuous hold I had on my dreams broke inside of me…the past few months have proven to be too much strain.
It’s haunting me…
Rick asked me, point-blank, the other night as we brushed our teeth in our tiny bathroom. “What is the real reason you aren’t writing?”
I fled the bathroom and began straightening the bed sheets before climbing in. He may as well be holding me by the throat. But the answer floated to the surface without a lot of digging.
“Self doubt.” It came out louder than expected.
I snapped off the light after he got settled into bed.
“Fear. It’s always fear,” I whispered into the darkness.
And that is the truth. I feel my heartbeat against my vocal chords as I bare this awful truth. I am terrified. Not of failing. I can write something. And at least six of my closest family members and friends will read it. I can write the book that is literally eating me alive from the inside out.
And when I do, it will be.
But then what?
The fear surrounding that question…whether I can survive the rejection that comes with daring to reach for my dreams….that fear is paralyzing.
The only thing that got my fingers moving on the keys today, is the belief that everyone feels this way. I am not alone in my fear. Fear is not a monster to be conquered. I can not get rid of the fear. This is not war. I can not beat it down or fight it off or make it submit. I can not hide from it or hold really, really still and hope it doesn’t see me. Fear is simply the absence of light. I found myself in the darkness, and it is normal to freak out. To run and thrash and panic…a good way to draw blood in total darkness. I got hurt, so I curled up in a ball and did not move. But only in calm stillness can I spot a tiny spark of light to nurture. I can only breathe in and out, in and out and know that fear is allowed to be. That every person who has ever dared to reach for something, work for something, create something, free themselves from something, has had to breathe through the same fear. In and out, in and out. The pop…the snap, the severance, comes from the strain of fighting it. Fear of rejection, self-doubt over came me. It happened.
I ordered new dinner plates. I removed the vandalized lights and replaced them with new ones. I learned how to change a flat tire. I will replace my cell phone. Rick’s surgeon carefully stitched his achilles tendon back together, and bound his leg in a cast to let it heal. And I will begin again. Breathing in, breathing out, letting the fear be there. My new mantra helps me begin to move once again.
Only through the deepest Fear will I find the deepest Joy.