“You suffer from delusions of grandeur.”
“You disdain motherhood.”
These three statements, made by a person I once called a friend, have reverberated in my head nearly everyday for six years. I allowed them to permeate my heart and there they festered and poisoned my self -esteem, my dreams, and my hopes. I let them. Heaven help me, I let them. I began to think that everyone saw me this way. That I was seen as a woman who was too much; who was too big; who wanted too much; who wanted more than I had a right to want.
This fact used to embarrass me. Why was I letting the words of this person bother me so much? Then I grew angry and I wanted an apology. But slowly, over time, I began to realize that these words were spoken by someone who didn’t understand me, who was riddled with their own insecurities and doubts, and, most likely, couldn’t stand to see someone think outside the box, to see someone decide to not be bound by what is expected of them. That’s when I began to feel empathy for this person. I thought about the idea of forgiving them. Then I thought about it some more.
Then I actually did.
All of a sudden I was free. Oh, it’s such a cliche isn’t it?
It’s true though, like most cliches always are.
A couple of blog posts ago I wrote about my time of solitude out at the Serenbe Farm near Palmetto, GA. It was there that I really wrestled through this. It was there that I had a bit of a break through over the fear and doubt that had been ruling me for so long. I allowed myself to rest. I offered myself some grace. Let myself off of the hook I had been re-hanging myself on everyday. I looked in the mirror and slowly, one by one, began to pull out those barbs that had settled so deeply into my heart.
I have always been a little afraid of the things that I think up. Since I was a little kid. The ideas that I have, oh boy - I have lots and lots and lots and lots of them. By afraid, I mean that I was afraid of what others would think of me if they knew what I dreamt about. I operated under a shroud of false-humility. (Donald Miller has an incredible blog post about this. If you want to have your gluteus maximus kicked in a well written way, go read this ) I spent way too much time denying that I had big ideas, and big aspirations, and that I was talented, because one isn’t supposed to think that way. Somehow, (sadly mostly from the “church”. I’m pretty positive this pisses Jesus off big time) it was communicated to me that to believe in myself, to believe that I had a lot to offer, was wrong and vain.
When I got home from my respite at Serenbe, I noticed the manifestation of the time I had alone by the way my piano no longer mocked me when I walked past. It looked…friendly again. It wasn’t a reminder, a kind of remnant of what I used to do. Of what I used to love. I sat down. Let my fingers wander over those familiar friends, those smooth white keys, and let the colours of the notes shyly step into my brain.
That was four months ago. I have written several new songs since then. Not all of them have been any good mind you, but they have been brought forth into the world. I have allowed myself to be creative again. I have allowed myself to dream big dreams again.
That is a big expletive deal.
Here’s the thing.
I got over myself. I got over my dang ol’ silly self. I started thinking about the things I’ve said to friends of mine, who are seriously and amazingly talented (I’m thinking specifically of a conversation I had with my friend, Liz Chai), where I pretty much chastised her for not believing in herself. Where I said that she had so much talent, so much to give, and to stop comparing herself to other people who seemed to have it more together than she did.
“Fuck Expletive ‘em” I said. “You are too good to hide behind doubt.”
I've been talking with my friend, Betsy, like I do, and she told me how she keeps a picture of herself at five years old up in her painting studio as a reminder to be that wide open. To be that alive. To be that free. It was in mulling over this conversation that I had a sudden revelation.
That I need to tell myself what I would tell myself if I wasn’t myself.
This is what came to mind when I decided to do that:
I am really, really, really, talented. I am good at a lot of things. And I should celebrate that. Not hide it. Why should I be ashamed of my talents? Why should I apologize for them? I have ideas of how to bring some beauty and wonder into this wide wide world; moments to sweep you away, dear reader. Moments to make you think. Moments to help you push through your past, to inspire you to create, to inspire you to fight off the same depression and shame that I have walked though. I want to do this because I need these things, too, not because I want any sort of accolades or admiration. Expletive that. I will do these things because I truly believe they have been placed in my heart by God to do. Ideas and dreams that will not be silenced any longer. And I want that for you, too. I really, really, really, do.
(I just used the word “really” six times. Just letting you know that I noticed it, too. And I’m leaving it that way so THERE.)
I will fail at some of them. Oh I will, I will. But I will not cower to that anymore. I will fail big. I will celebrate the losing. I will welcome the inevitable failings because, at the end of the day, I freakin’ TRIED.
Perhaps, you know, somebody, or lots of somebodies, will say that I suffer from delusions of grandeur. Well then fine. If that’s the case then may I be deluded for the rest of my life.
At this moment I am sitting in small studio, on the Westside of Atlanta, literally one mile away from where, six years ago next month, so much pain was wrought in the community I was a part of. Because I made a choice to step outside of what was expected of me. I asked for a divorce from Phoenix’s father and chose to make a new path for myself. And people were pissed at me. However, out of that choice so much joy, and love, and growth, and hope, and life, and redemption, and FRUIT has been born. These songs reflect that. Some of them are old, from years ago, songs that I dusted off and welcomed back, and some that are so new they’re still teething. I can’t wait to share them with you.
I have made peace with the fact that I will never fit into normal. I am a messy-sparkly-clumsy-loud laughing-tight hugging-beautiful-slightly fluffy-funny-rubber faced-firecracker of a breath of fresh air.
Damn it all, I am PROUD of that. I've grown weary of shutting myself down because I just might make someone uncomfortable.
So now I ask of you, what are you hiding in yourself? What are you shutting down for a "someday"? What are you waiting for? Your children to get a little older? When you’ve lost some more weight? Who has told you that you are too much? Or, conversely, that you are not enough? (I think you’re allowed just a wee small moment of imagining that you’ve told them to go jump in a vast boiling lake. After that, though, you need to work on the forgiveness part. It’s kind of important. Just sayin’…) It just might be yourself telling you all these things and if that’s the case, may I suggest you do what I did.
Tell yourself what you would say to yourself if you weren’t yourself.
I dare you.
"All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naïve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: that I am nobody but myself."
Ralph Ellison, "Battle Royal"