Ugh, you guys…
Writing a book is so easy…
But diving back into the old story…
And then facing the reality that there is still some of that old story lurking in the current one…
And then going back to that character and staying with all of crappy emotions that come up…
And then trying to keep the narrator perspective, and remember the truth of the bigger story…
And then wrestling [with as much love as we can muster] that damn pen out of the hands of those to whom we have given too much power in our story, so that we can become the co-author and write our own ending…
This shit is hard.
And I am smack in the middle of it.
It’s not surprising that my gramma’s words float through my mind several times a day: “Why me?”
That was her first response whenever anything went wrong, and I remember being super annoyed with it for years because she would use it for everything—even the most trivial of matters.
Until one day, I heard it and watched her curl up into a ball in her bed and cry like a little girl.
That was the moment it hit me: Gramma was still a little girl. She was in a woman’s body, a woman’s home, and a woman’s bed…but she was still a little girl.
She physically and socially went through all of the major rites of passage—womanhood, losing a parent, getting married, growing a family, empty nesting, losing a spouse, etc.—but her emotional development was arrested by severe abuse when she was very young.
“Why me?” was the actual question that little girl was asking when her dad was chasing her across a freshly cut alfalfa field with an ax because he’d found the barn door open.
That was the script.
And she stuck to it.
Because no one ever gave her another one, and she didn’t have the awareness or tools to write a new one for herself.
But I do…
And trust me, right now I am using ALL of them…
And whenever I get weary, I remember my time with Ruben, his more powerful script, and the impact it made in my life.
In the face of a literal 30-day cancer sentence, instead of asking “Why me?”, he used the script he had cultivated through mindful practice over the years: “What do you want to know? How can I help you today?”
With such limited time, he set aside all of his tasks, looked me in the eye, and offered me the opportunity of a lifetime: To ask a question and receive some of the wisdom he’d acquired.
“Yes, how do you maintain balance between work and life?” I asked.
And like any powerful coach, he didn’t answer my question. He just reflected my question, and the problematic thinking that created it, back to me: “Why do you separate them?”
He mirrored back the split I’d made in myself
between my Personal and Professional Selves,
and lovingly shoved me into my next level of integration work…
which I have been tirelessly committed to for five years.
Yet as I set out to write this book, Upside-Down Messenger, I am still witnessing the split…not just in the stories I’m going to share in the book, but in my current story and script that wants to be healed and rewritten THROUGH the writing process.
You see, it isn’t a coincidence that I help people craft their messages and choose the right words for their pages and stages. It’s expertise that I mastered because of my own little girl script: “I never say anything right.”
Most of the people who knew me as a youngster would agree that I was an old soul. In fact, my nickname was Ms. Mature. Unfortunately, being old and wise on the inside didn’t translate very well to the outside. My insight and intuition made it easy for me to identify when people were lying or hiding or hurting or being unfair. And when I would speak up, of course the people who were lying, hiding, or not wanting to look at their stuff responded the way that they do—and focused instead on helping me set more reasonable expectations and/or adjust my poor approach to asking questions and sharing feelings.
Quickly, at a very young age, I became a message coach to myself, trying to master the approach instead of reduce my standards: “What do I really want them to know? What words should I use to help them understand? What words should I leave out because they trigger them and make it impossible for them to hear me?”
Over time, I developed the skillset,
but I never rewrote the story that drove it.
And because I could “never find the right words,”
over time, I just stopped sharing my truth and my feelings…
and lost my voice.
So, when that message hit me like a lightning bolt, it reignited my voice; and over the years, I reclaimed the power of it as I began to speak, write, and facilitate…on pages and stages. And of course, I helped others do the same.
But on the personal front, there was still a lot of work to do…as a wife, a mommy, a caregiver, a daughter, a sister, a friend.
How could I bring that powerful, insightful, intuitive voice and self from the stage to my personal relationships and goals…and not shrink back into the character that believes, “I can never say anything right”?
I’ve been working on better answers to that question for five years, and I’ve made some really significant progress.
My new script in my personal life is, “In this situation, at this time, it’s more important to say something than to get it exactly right because it’s more about my expression than their response.”
It’s like giving myself the same permission I give my authors to write a shitty first draft.
It’s not usually my best work, but it’s something that I can go back to and reshape…and eventually it will turn into a masterpiece.
All I wanted to do was write an f****ng book, right? 🙂
Thank heavens I know that THIS is the real work and have the cocoon I need to make the metamorphosis matter…
…which brings me back to developing an even more powerful script:
“As I find my voice, and integrate my character and narrator into a co-author, I will give others permission to do the same. My feelings, words, story, and wisdom matter…”