I don’t know when it started exactly, but at some point in my early 20’s I started hiding from the world bit by bit. Friends would ask me out and more-often-than-not call and I would cancel at the last minute. As the years progressed, I started hiding more and more. It got so bad, that in my 30’s, I literally started feeling invisible to people. I’ll never forget going to a friends yearly open house and someone who I knew from attending the last 3 years in a row asked “have we met?” She had no clue who I was!
That stuck with me for years. What was the point of struggling to put myself out there if people weren’t even going to remember who I was? I may as well stay home and that’s exactly what I did. There were so many things I wanted to do but wouldn’t because I always talked myself out of it. My life got really, really small.
After my divorce, I decided to start looking for ways to expand. I started to practice yoga regularly. I tried 10 sessions of belly dancing. I took a 2 hour class in Burlesque dancing (so fun.) I wrote Unlove and actually published and promoted it (somewhat.) I even went on a yoga retreat! But the need to hide away and not be “bothersome” was a constant struggle. New friends asked me out and I wouldn’t go. Not because I didn’t want to. I did. It was just easier to not fight against my demons and stay home. I’m not even so sure that I was fully conscious of how deeply this ruled my life. It was just the way I lived.
A few weeks ago, someone offered me a really lovely opportunity and my automatic reaction was to say no. About 10 minutes later I regretted it and desperately wanted to take it back, but instead of going back to the person and saying “Hey, I’ll take you up on that offer,” I convinced myself not to bother her, and just let it go. I spent an entire week telling myself how stupid I was for losing that opportunity and vowed that the next time someone offered me something I would say “YES!”
Guess what? The next time someone offered me a lovely opportunity, I said no, walked away, instantly regretted it and started berating myself for being an idiot. This time though, before my fear could stop me, I walked straight back over to the person and said “Actually, if it’s okay I think I will take you up on that offer.”
WHAT? Who said that? I was simultaneously shocked and elated! My whole body buzzed with that “What the fuck just happened” vibe. Once again, I spent an entire week telling myself how stupid I was, only this time it was for saying yes, and vowed the next time someone asked me to do something that left me feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable, I would absolutely say no.
It seems no matter which path I took — fearless or fearful — there was always a moment that my demons reared their ugly heads to tell me I was doing the exact wrong thing. That life was about to become catastrophic and I would lose whatever (false) security I had built around me.
What’s a girl to do when she can’t win for losing? Keep trying. Be gentle and kind with yourself. Stop demonizing the fearful parts of yourself, and give them the respect that they deserve by listening to them. Thank them for their input — after all they helped get you this far, right? Then do what your heart says. Give yourself permission to fail, to trip, to be foolish and most of all to be vulnerable. It’s only then that we get to uncover the magic that surrounds us.