I guess I used to feel like Father Time was as blind to my existence as I was to his–ah, youth–and while I’ve been paying attention to Father Time for quite some time now, it wasn’t until quite recently that I spotted Father Time noticing me back. It doesn’t feel like he’s knocking on Death’s door and pointing his wrinkled finger my direction, but he did pause in the crowd of souls, looked me in the eyes and winked. This has gotten me to thinking a little more often than I once did about what I have/n’t done with my life.
Damaged… I think I’ll always be damaged. I’m not the only one out there. My best friend is one of the Damaged as well. One of the results of being damaged is that I seem to have difficulty in completing stories. Let’s be honest, it’s more than stories. However, the thing pressing harder on my mind is writing.
I’ve never completed a single story I started.
So, what’s my hang-up? Fear of failure, fear of success? These two things haven’t really made a lot of sense to me and didn’t feel like either were my personal hang-up. These are the two usual suspects though… aren’t they? So, I keep examining these two fears trying to figure out which is mine, cause if I know what it is I might be able to step down a path to fixing myself.
Today, for whatever reason, I had an epiphany! It’s not really either.
I don’t want to be defined by my mistakes.
Yep! That’s the thought that smashed it’s way through the calm of my afternoon drive to my kids’ school. I had no idea I even felt this way until today. Childhood taught me that people simply will not recognize my efforts let alone my successes; I will only be seen for my failures and mistakes.
Wait! Huh? What does that mean? Come on self, explain this one.
Here is a seemingly simplistic childhood memory, yet in it’s simplicity it screams it’s complexity. A young child makes a spur of the moment choice to surprise mom and dad by cleaning the living room without being asked. The child simply wants to do something to please the parents. The child works hard, in her/his perception of things, and waits excitedly for the parents to come notice. In walks dad or mom. The child exclaims ta-da! then waits for the parent to be pleased.
“You missed a spot,” the parent responds pointing to an itty-bitty fleck of something on the carpet, then leaves the room.
When you grow up feeling that no matter how hard you try to do something positive, others will only notice the negative and you begin to feel that there is no point to even trying. That feeling will become worse. It divides itself, finds places to implant and grow, divide again and send its spawn off to other places in your soul to spread it’s infestation.
I don’t want to be seen for my mistakes. Failure does come into play but it is not a fear of failure. Everyone will fail. There isn’t a single perfect person out there and we will all fail at something, sometime. That’s okay. This is different. It has warped itself so many times. Being seen for my mistakes is just the beginning. It’s the top layer of the many issues that suffering a childhood of neglect, emotional abuse and bullying causes.
Another issue: All I can see are my own mistakes. There’s layer two. Thanks to the top layer, this is my second layer. Nothing is ever positive. Everyone in my life can tell me different, but it is so painful to never feel like I can ever do anything right. There’s always a mistake. There will always be a fleck on the carpet that I missed. My cookies will always be too dry, too crumbly, or too… something. My meals will never be good enough. I love to crochet, but that will never, ever be good enough either.
My writing will always be mediocre. Worse than mediocre. A 4th grade child would be able to write better than I can. I have no talent, no skill and zero ability to ever be good enough at anything… so why finish?
Why start? Well, writing is an addiction. It always has been and probably always will be. I think about writing constantly. I think about characters, plots, stories, worlds, words, sentences, even grammar!
The thing that sucks about this epiphany is I don’t know that it’ll help a single thing. So I know a little more now what the problem is. Great! But, I worry I could be permanently damaged. Hopefully Father Time will be kind and give me just a little less attention for a bit longer.
I won’t give up! I’ll keep trying because I love what I do. I just wish I could see and believe what I see in myself the way others around me do.
(This has been hard for me to share, but I doubt I’m the only one out there that has been hurt this way, and I’m sharing this publicly with hopes that someone will someday stumble upon it and know that they aren’t alone.)