It’s time to be real. To be honest. To lay it bare.
Fear. Shame. We all have it and shy away from anyone who may hurt us by exposing us. The people in our life can be split in half right down the middle by two types; those who love us anyway and those who love to hold us back.
When I sit and ponder my life and my purpose, I know it well within the deepest core of my soul – that I’m supposed to write. And, I know if I did, I would be hugely successful. Like most dreamers, it is common to imagine what living your dream would be like. And, I have this reoccurring day-mare that plays in my mind each time the writing bug hits, nudging me to write my story. It feels incredible at first. My book becomes a best seller, and I am exiting a fancy bus in New York City on my way into a book signing during my very first book tour. My husband and children are with me and we are so happy and proud. And, then as I am stepping off the last step of the bus, the flashes from the paparazzi blind me, and all I can hear is chatter, and I can see the vision of spinning newspapers, and blurbs on television saying “the story behind Jessica” and how someone sells a story about how I’m undeserving. Someone exposes the things in my life that I’m disappointed of and don’t talk about and I just stand there feeling humiliated and worthless. I quit, I leave and I walk away. So close to the dream, but not worth facing the fear and shame.
Each time I began to write, the day-mare would ruin it. The fear would ruin it. When we succumb to fear we give in and find other ways to sabotage ourselves by disguising our fear in a respectful manner. Posing it as something outside our control. One day while visiting my grandmother, she was going on and on about how wonderful my father was and I sat there thinking to myself, how can two people who knew the same man have such opposing memories and views? And, I also thought to myself how much it would break her heart if I told the world about my view of him. And, I knew that couldn’t happen, and that writing a book would have to wait. It would have to wait, until at least after she has passed, which bought me time. Temporarily it extinguished my fear of failure and unacceptance, and my grandmothers’ pain – all in one simple selfless act. But self-sabotage isn’t selfless, it’s actually selfish.
Months down the road, the nagging feeling of needing to write visits again. And this time I’m stronger. This time I’m able to talk myself through the day-mare, I tell myself that it could be years before I am published and maybe my Grandmothers dementia while sad and hard at times for her, would benefit us both, and my writing a book would be okay. Then, I write, and it feels good! People read my words and tell me that it makes them feel good too. So, I think okay, maybe now’s my time. But, fear doesn’t want it to be my time. Shame reminds me that there are no parts of my life I’m not prepared to share, and if I continue down this path, he will expose me. He, being the person who sells my story to get rich in my day-mare. So, guess what happened next? Yep, I quit. I let fear win, again. I traded in my dream for fear, and let it consume me like a kudzu vine, and decided the dream was dead, there would be no book, not when my grandmother died, not when the villain in my life found Jesus, not ever. No book. Period.
It is a harsh reality when you must own up to the fact that you are not courageous enough to be fearless. That in the face of challenge, adversity and judgment, I was a coward. Can we be real for a minute? Do you understand the amount of courage it would take to write my story? …for me to say to the world I’ve messed up and I am strong enough to stand proud regardless. About everything.
Do you understand that if I write my story, if I share my truth, the world will need to know my faults, my hardships, and my demons before they could understand my triumphs? Do you realize that in order to be accurate in my personal accounts, I would have to bare my weaknesses and give my enemies permission to use them against me?
To write my story, I’d have to go back to where I first got stuck. I’d have to tell you the why’s and how’s before the gratefulness of the now’s!
How many times I’ve been married and broke my vows. How many times I’ve been divorced. How I met a criminal who almost killed me. How I met a man who was kind and good, and I hurt him. How I cheated. How I lied. How I got fired. How I stole from Walmart. How I almost loved a lost man so much that trying to save him, almost caused the loss of myself, and put my children in direct danger. How I have a daughter I did not raise, and that I fear I’ve failed her. How I have a father that couldn’t and wouldn’t choose to love me, and a mother who’s addictions replaced her desire to want me. How to this very day there is a man who daily attempts to break me. I’d have to share about the time I was on assistance. The times we had no money & no food. You’d learn that I have a brother who’s an addict, in and out of prison for the past 20 years. And, I’d have to tell you about the time I attempted suicide, and woke up angry at God that it didn’t work. And, how each and every one of these instances were the broken ground on which a more firm, stable and loving foundation was formed.
Do you know how much power is in all this truth? And how much courage it took to even write these truths down? And, guess how much fear I feel having now released it? None.
Sharing my stories, will be painfully honest, and to be honest it will have to be dark at times, and I have to be willing to share these stories with people I love, people who’s respect I would want to keep, and whose judgment I am now ready for. Because their judgement has no bearing on me any longer.
I choose to share my truth with complete strangers who may attempt to tear me apart but won’t succeed. Because there is one person, the same person who built me for struggle, who built me to share my story, who gifted me the desire and ability to write out my inner most personal feelings in a way that enraptures people’s souls.
Today, for the first time in my life, I can say wholeheartedly that with God within me, and above me, that anything below can never break me. Because the truth is there is one person who knows my story, one person who loves me anyways and the only person who can justly judge me, and it’s not the person who sells the story, it was the person who co-wrote it beside me. God.
God didn’t answer my prayers to change my circumstances, because he needed me to be in those trenches, to be in the lions den to allow me to escape unscathed. And, the first step is facing the fear of those lions, facing the fear that they may bite, they may intimidate and they could easily devour me – but God protects me. My faith has to be stronger than my fear.
This is my story of a past that built me. A beautiful story mixed with that of a tattered reputation and an inspiring redemption. No one can tell my story for me, but me.
And, I AM READY.