My First Fear of Following Through: People

When I asked myself the question of why I had never followed through on anything, I got one answer: fear. Fear of what, I asked myself. Well, three big fears came to my mind and this is the first one, one that has been let go by me but with some echoes that I can still hear from time to time.

Fear of what people would think, and worse, what they might do to me if I followed through on something I really wanted to do with my life. The root of this fear took hold of me at a time in my life when it shouldn’t have.

When I graduated from high school, I had no idea what I really wanted to do with my life other than write. My parents were okay with this as long as I pulled my weight around the house, which I gladly did. Within a couple of years, I began to make a plan for my life. I wanted to get a full-time job, save up all the money I could, then head out to Hollywood and try to make it as a screenwriter and maybe even a director someday. I told no one of this back then and didn’t plan to until I was ready to put into motion. But life took a different turn instead, and I put that plan to bed with no regrets.

In August of 1995, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and on a hot August afternoon around our tiny dining room table, me, my mom and dad sat talking and I knew that my mom wasn’t going to survive the cancer. It was a moment of certainty that I wish on no one. My father said he felt the same thing that day and we talked about it years later. On that day, I made a new plan and again, told no one about it. I made a commitment to do whatever I could to help take care of my mother and to be there for her in every way I could. I have no regrets about this decision and I’m glad I did it. The problem was, I paid one hell of a price for that I shouldn’t have had to.

The price I paid was silence and guilt for pursuing my writing despite the decision I’d made to be a full-time caregiver. My parents supported my writing when I began to turn to novels, romance novels specifically. They paid my dues to my local and national writing organization chapters along with contest fees, and conference and workshop fees, too. My dad also used to take me to meetings when we were down to one car. In turn, I never talked about my writing with anyone past a certain point. I wrote after I was done with everything I had to do during the day and again, tried my dead-level best not to draw any attention to that. But I failed because my parents were getting shit from people for their decision to support me in my creative endeavors and also when I began to work full-time and also continue to write while doing that.

What happened was that this turned into an enormous fear that I’ve only given voice to inside my head just in the last year or so. I lived in fear while my parents were alive that one day they would sit me down and tell me I was the worst person in the world and that my entire life was a terrible lie and I was a terrible person. I lived in fear that they would kick me out of the house and cut me off because of that. And I wouldn’t have fought them either. I would have believed every word of that. All because I wasn’t at everyone’s beck-and-call all the time, or that I was doing something they didn’t want me to. Worst of all, I never pursued any kind of social life because I feared that would be used against me, too.

I gave people power over me that they didn’t deserve and never really knew they had. I gave people power to hurt me by telling me I had no right to talk about my thoughts and feelings about what was going on and what I was living through. I felt like it was best if I just kept my mouth shut and just took shit because if I spoke out things could truly go to Hell for me. The only way I have forgiven is to remove those razor-sharp talons out of my soul, clean and stitch up my wounds, and put bandages over them. Most of all, I’ve put up shields and defenses around myself.

This fear is largely gone now with me. In fact, I think if someone was dumb enough to try and come at me I’d give a single warning to turn tail and run before I’d barbeque their asses. I’ve got a lot of pent-up pain and anger over those decades when I was silent and living in fear, and I don’t want to unleash it. I just want to let that anger and pain subside enough to just a dull ache.

So when it comes to my follow-through it’s all mine, no one else’s. This fear is gone so now I’m moving on to the next two.

Nick of Time – A Moment of Clarity From a Title

Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com

A few days ago, I sat down to think about what I wanted to do with my writing. The first thing that came to mind was that I wanted to blog every day because I like writing every day. So I began to think of a title for the blog that would stick and the phrase, ‘Nick of Time’ jumped into my mind and has stuck there like Super Glue. It comes from the album by Bonnie Raitt of the same title that she released in 1989, an album I’ve been listening to for the past few days. There’s a particular lyric passage in that song has brought me here today:

When did the choices get so hard

With so much more at stake

Life gets mighty precious

When there’s less of it to waste

(songwriter: Bonnie Raitt, copyright 1989 Kokomo Music)

Coming up with a title that resonated clearly in my mind didn’t solve my problem of why I don’t blog every day, or why I haven’t put in the work on this website-blog that I should have. Coming up with this title made me realize something very painful about myself and my life:

I have never followed through on anything I have truly wanted to do with my life.

Over the next few days, I’ll be blogging in detail about why that was (The Three Fears, as I call them). I thought I’d faced most of my crap but it turns out I’ve got some more work to do. That’s not a bad thing as you can’t work on something if you don’t know what to work on to begin with.

When I set my website-blog up last year my goal was to find ways to get my writing up and running and find ways to monetize it and also find other ways to make money from being creative. That ground to a halt and I’ve been a spluttering mess ever since then.

I know I’ve held back and not followed through for a long time but I’ve never been able to put that into words like I’m doing now. Words are important to me because when I find them, I find clarity even though that clarity can bring a lot of pain. Once I find my words though, I never forget them. Words have power and meaning, very much so to me. In the last five years putting feelings into words has been a big part of my life. Doing that has lifted weights of guilt and shame off of me that shouldn’t have been there in the first place, and it’s helped me remove the talons that were sunk into me over the years by cruelty and thoughtlessness.

Last July I wrote about what I called ‘My Moon Shot’. I talked about how my goal of being a self-supporting writer felt like the Moon Shot. And it still does but I don’t feel as overwhelmed by that now. What I am beginning to understand is how the original Moon Shot worked and how it can apply to me. The original Moon Shot started with getting an astronaut into orbit and back down, then getting two astronauts into orbit and learning how to fly in space, then finally getting three astronauts to the Moon and back.

So I would say I’m at Project Mercury stage, which is getting into the routine of writing every day and figuring out what content I want to produce. The next stage will be creating a routine or schedule to produce that content and fine-tune it. Then the final stage will be to figure out how to monetize it.

In 1961 in a joint address to Congress, President John F. Kennedy said this: “We choose to go to the Moon not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.”

I’m not going to mince words here and say things are easy when they aren’t. Also, I will freely admit here I don’t have all the answers nor do I know all the challenges I will face. But then no one does, despite the fact more than a few assholes have told me otherwise. My journey to this day began when I realized that everyone was just as full of shit as I was sometimes, but that didn’t make me a bad person either.

In the coming weeks you’ll be seeing changes here on this website-blog. I’m taking them one at a time and I’ll be sharing those with you. Eventually I hope to make some upgrades but those will come in time, too. I’m not a deadline here nor will I let anyone put me on one. My advice to anyone wanting to change their life for the better is this: take it one step at a time. The choices may seem hard but in reality, they aren’t as hard as some people will try and lie to make you doubt yourself and your abilities.

I’m through with wasting what little I have left in my life. And I’m hell-bent and determined not to go silent ever again.