Conquering Fear

Recently, I was given the opportunity to submit my writing to a large church organization for publishing. 

I haven’t done it yet. 

Procrastination, that ominous sign of fear. 

Elizabeth Gilbert says, “All procrastination is fear.” She’s spot on. 

I am afraid my writing won’t be good enough. I’m also afraid it will be good enough and then I’ll have to deal with an editor or writing assignments I don’t like or any number of other things that are challenging about working with others. 

When it comes to my work, I’m an introvert less because of how I gather energy and more because others have burned me in the past. 

Or I’ve allowed myself to be burned. 

You see, that last sentence is a good reminder that I can choose my response. I don’t have to be burned. Instead, I can be hurt and overcome that hurt. I don’t have to be rejected. I can be moving on to other things. 

Perhaps today, I will get on with those submissions. 

Candidly, 

Ash

To Begin

Do or do not, there is no try. 

Yoda’s sage advice. 

For the perfectionist, this statement is a recipe for disaster. The value of trying has merit. It has to have merit. Otherwise, things will never get done. 

I always thought perfectionists did things perfectly. The real definition of a perfectionist is usually someone who doesn’t try, because it won’t be perfect. 

I think I’m a borderline perfectionist. There are many things, especially regarding music, where I have simply not tried, because it wouldn’t be perfect. Yet, in other areas, I’m able to move past the block of perfectionism. 

Recently, I’ve started setting timers and when I feel overwhelmed or worried that something won’t be perfect? I just do that activity for the allotted amount of time and call it complete for the day. 

For instance, right now I’m writing to the tune of a timer, because I didn’t know what to write and was worried it would be stupid. 

But starting has value. Trying has merit. 

To begin – sometimes that is the greatest achievement. 

Candidly, 

Ash

The Community Chalice

I have social anxiety. 

Not the disorder or anything that official. It’s just any time I do something social, then I have anxiety. 

I think that some of this comes from my childhood. As a child, I missed nothing. Though people tried to keep their pain from me, they could not see it was pointless. The same went for judgements, inferences, the way adults spoke in undertones about other people. 

I understood it all, but without the filter, the lens of maturity. 

Now, even as an adult, I hear their whispers each time I walk into a room. 

Did you see that she isn’t wearing makeup? How did she gain so much weight? I hear she tried to commit suicide. Well, I heard it was because her son is mentally retarded. No, I think it was because of their finances. You know, they once went through foreclosure. 

I’m a juicy piece of gossip, for sure. The truth is that those conversations may or may not be happening. Maybe they are just other people’s thoughts or maybe they are just my thoughts about other people’s thoughts. 

Here’s the thing. 

Its hard enough to manage my own thoughts, let alone trying to figure out those of other people. I’ll take the cup that is mine and pass on the communal chalice. 

My thoughts. 

I don’t have to believe them. I can step away from them and discern what is beneficial and what is not. 

Maybe, just maybe, I’ll discover a way forward that doesn’t include recalling all of my past failures and faux pas. Maybe I’ll have the courage to embrace new thoughts. Thoughts of how I am loved, how my story has meaning and purpose, how my vulnerability can set others free. 

Candidly,

Ash

Waiting to Exhale

I think sometimes life is like tugging on a rope. So many things to do, so many places to be – responsibility. 

I grip the rope too hard. All of the freaking time, I grip too hard. The rope burns my hands, scarring them for days to come. How do I pull without holding so hard?

I think the key is breathing while doing. Breathing at each interlude. Breathing in the heat of the moment. 

Exhale. A word said to me over and over in therapy. I hold my  breath and it only makes the tension worse. Breathe in strength. Breathe out exhaustion, frustration, ire. 

Breathe out. 

That is the key. 

Candidly, 

Ash

Letting Go…

Evan paces constantly, picking up items and throwing them down in random spots. He doesn’t play. He just moves from one spot to the next bringing items back and forth. Along the way, he’ll fidget with them, trying to feel the textures.

At least, that is what it looks like he is doing.

Anymore, I’ve stopped wondering if there is more too it. Anymore, I am just weary of the constant movement. Just. Sit. Still. Please.

It’s frustrating – to watch him do nothing but this pacing. It reminds me that he’s abnormal, different, other. I have tried in the past to be fascinated with his otherness, to see his differences with rose-colored glasses. Then, an awareness came to me – I’m looking for something that isn’t there.

Cognitive delay.

I have fought with people over this. I have insisted he knows everything we say, that he is smart. Then, I watch as my husband asks him to pick up a toy and he picks up a blanket. I watch as he paces and I wonder how long have I been clinging to something that isn’t there.

I think the difficulty of autism is the unknown. It truly is possible that Evan is smart. It truly is possible that he has cognitive delay. Depending on the definition of smart, he might have or be both.

Then, I realize as I watch him pace that I am doing the same thing as him. Re-walking the same threads of thought, a pacing of the mind.

But I don’t have to.

I am the consciousness that listens to my thoughts – and lets them go. I let go of the unknown. I let go of whether he is or isn’t smart, whether he knows what i am saying.

As I let go, I am set free.

If only he could be too.

Candidly,

Ash

The Sound of Anxiety

Breathe in. Breathe out. Relax. 

This has been my mantra of late. Anything that helps my foot stop tapping incessantly is kosher. Seriously, I’ll be sitting and reading to relax and my foot taps. It drives me nuts! 

I swear its like my leg has been possessed by some march written in cut time. Think “76 Trombones led the big parade…” from the music man. Except faster. 

I try anything to distract from the tapping, which means I’ve been doing lots of cleaning. (Yet, we are still being invaded by bugs seeking homes for the winter.) The incessant tapping has led to incessant doing and I feel no better. 

The funny thing is when I stop my toe from tapping my thigh and calf will begin clinching to the beat. 

 The beat is anxiety. 

It’s a crazed jazz mashup with a sousaphone march. This is how anxiety feels. 

I think the hardest part of anxiety is that it doesn’t really stop. Sure, there are times when I’m overly anxious about a circumstance or event. Then, there are also times when I’m twitching for no reason at all. My brain seems to think we are being chased by a bear or something. 

There is no bear! No catastrophe. 

Just the grating of radio static. Anxiety is noise when there is no sound. It’s desperately waiting for the world to end, but then discovering that the world will go on and on for thousands of years. Meanwhile, you are still waiting. 

Still tapping your foot to music that isn’t there.

 

Candidly,

Ash

Sepia-toned Rainbows

I worry that my medication affects my ability to write. It has me so stable that I don’t feel those highs and lows anymore. I miss them. I never thought I would miss those vicious swings, but I do.

The rational part of me says this stability is a good thing. I really can’t argue with her. She points out things like functioning well and making good decisions. She tries to remind me that I wanted to die so badly that a lot of times I needed someone with me. She has lots of good points.

Then there is the side of me that feels things. I don’t want to call it the irrational side, because I don’t think feeling is irrational. She says to observe my life and see if I notice the beautiful things just as much as the difficult things. I don’t. I see glasses half empty all around. She says to pause and see if you can sit in silence doing nothing. I can’t. She says to whisper sweet nothings and play with the children. I can’t.

I believe this is the point where maybe someone who is bi-polar considers going off the medication or cutting back.

It’s so hard to live life in sepia tones when you’ve been full spectrum for so long.

Perhaps this is the hard part of being diagnosed at 34 years old. I have lived a good amount of life in the struggle and in the beautiful. What if stable isn’t what I want? What if I want the ups and downs?

What if I can’t have them?

Candidly,

Ash