My cell phone vibrates against my hip. I grab it and look down. “We haven’t seen you in Inner Circle,” the leader of my writing group messages me. “Everything ok?”
Fear creeps in, my chest tightens and my breathing contracts.
I knew my absence wouldn’t go unnoticed. The one who has taken over our Zoom meetings is big on holding us accountable with our writing. How do I respond?
I’ve talked about this ad nauseam with one of the guys. I’ve even started to write about the negative beliefs that keep popping up in my mind. On one hand, I know they aren’t true, and yet, on the other, I’ve had writers block for the last four months. I can’t seem to get into the groove. Do I tell her the truth?
I hesitantly respond, my fingers slowly spelling out each word. “I feel like a fraud.”
My finger hovers over the send button. Why am I so uncomfortable letting her know what’s going on? I take a deep breath and push send anyway.
“What?!?” she quickly texts back.
“Most people in our group are writing memoirs. I never had the intention to write a memoir. I used the writing time to work on my blog when we were forced to shelter in place. Later, it became a safe community of people I enjoy hanging out with. I haven’t written anything for months.”
Her response is practically instantaneous. She must be using a computer. “I lead our writing group and I haven’t worked on my book in months. With the move, being relocated for a bit due to the fires, and now finally moving into our house, I have felt really unsettled. I also got to a point in my book where my plan for the last 30% of it wasn’t at all inspiring me. I finally just gave myself permission to shelf it for a bit, knowing I will come back to it. I work on writing content for my Masterclass and other stuff. Sometimes I write articles or encouraging content for my newsletter subscribers. Do you think I’m a fraud and I don’t belong in our writing group? Do you think I’m a fraud and I don’t belong there? I’m going to go ahead and guess that you emphatically said ‘nooooooooo, of course not!’ Same goes for you, my friend. If writing calls to you or any kind of creativity and if this group feels like ‘home’ to you then you belong. End of story.”
I click on the “WOW” surprised looking emoji. Would I call her a fraud?
I absolutely love her writing. The book she’s working on about codependency is done in such a different and creative way. I wish it was already published.
“Thank you for all your kind words and being the creative spirit you are. And thank you for reaching out.”
A week later, I wrote The Awakening.
The Epiphany Project: Twenty-Two Stories of Transformational Change
I reached a place last fall where I wasn’t sure what to write or even how to write. All my previous work came from writing as an observer of my story rather than being stuck as a victim in the story.
I no longer felt like a victim.
I was no longer trying to figure out why I was hurting. I was no longer trying to find meaning to what I was experiencing. I was no longer trying to figure stuff out. I mean, I don’t always get it. I keep up my practices and still listen to podcasts, join groups, and read books. This keeps me engaged in my recovery.
However, I continued to question if I had anything left to contribute to my readers.
At the same time, I’m listening to these amazing authors in my writing group share their stories. I fell into a comparison trap. I started believing, “I don’t write nearly as well as they do.”
I am a fraud. I don’t belong with these artists.
I even thought it might be time to let go of my blog. It had done its job. It helped me through a really tough period of my life. Maybe it was time to move on?
While I was contemplating giving up my writing, I started receiving emails. I got emails from addicts and partners telling me my writing was helping them during their times of struggle. I even had one who practically beg me to not stop writing.
Coworkers would disclose issues they were struggling with. I found I was able to guide them and help them. Some of my closest friends would ask me to send them a link to each new post I published (yes, my Fledglings I know I need to get my email list set up. It’s coming.). I realized I had wisdom that was beneficial to others.
I finally got the courage to read out loud to my peers in writing group and their responses blew me away. I was not expecting the positive comments and the emotional connection my writing brought to the group.
In November, a couple members in my writing group suggested we all come together and write a book on epiphanies. Each one of us would write about an “Ah-Ha” moment that helped us move forward in life.
This is when I wrote The Awakening. It was when I finally realized I had reached a different place in my recovery. My idea that life was beautiful when I truly believed I could rise from the ashes of my pain and struggles had actually come true. I no longer created a self-fulfilling prophesy of rejection and agony.
The only problem with using this epiphany in the book we were writing was that it was too long. I was resistant to cutting out half of what I’d written. I struggled with what to do and decided to go back to the drawing board (or Microsoft Word as the case may be).
I ended up writing something completely different from what I’d written before.
I workshopped my chapter with writers from my group. The feedback that came back was beneficial and inspiring. I cut parts that were unnecessary and added more information to truly connect with my reader. I believe it’s one of the best pieces I’ve written so far.
Sorry, I won’t be posting it on my website. You’ll have to purchase the book, The Epiphany Project: Twenty-Two Stories of Transformational Change, when it’s released in a couple of months. Let me tell you, the few I’ve already read are quite amazing!
The Three Pillars of Together We Can Heal
When I started blogging over four years ago, I was writing to process the physical and emotional pain I was feeling after moving out of my home and facing divorce. I had this lofty goal that my writing was going to save marriages. I figured if I could create a community of people going through the same thing, that together we could heal.
A month in, and about 15 blogs later, I realized what was more important than saving marriages was learning how to nurture and parent our inner child. As long as we continue to berate ourselves with shame, guilt, and negative beliefs, we inevitably bring this into our relationships with others. We create self-fulfilling prophecies validating the lies we tell ourselves.
I needed to learn how to treat myself with love and compassion. I had to parent myself as I would a child. My adult needed to work with my inner child so together we can heal.
For the next three and half years I was writing from the perspective of healing my wounds. I wanted to learn how my actions affected my spouse so I could let go of the resentments I held over her decision to not work on our marriage. I wanted to work on being a better father for my two girls. I hoped by being vulnerable about my journey, I could help others not feel alone and help them navigate their own pain.
Of course, I never took the step to build an email list and market all I had learned. I hid behind the safety of a pseudonym. I had no clue how many people were actually reading my writing nor if I was truly answering the questions they were searching for.
Last year, with the uncertainty of the pandemic, feeling stonewalled by my oldest daughter, and being ghosted by my ex, I realized I still had wounds I needed to heal. Just when I thought I had “gotten it”, I fell into another abyss of depression and fear. I recognized I was losing control and it was time for me to practice all I had preached and learned.
I joined a writing group, started Andy Frisella’s #75Hard Challenge with a close friend, and signed up for Tommy Rosen’s 8 Week Awakening program. I put my writing aside and focused once again on healing. I hit the ground running and I hit it ferociously.
I found out, both cognitively and physically, I still had trauma stuck within the cells of my body. I was finally able to calm my mind by practicing yoga, learned the importance of controlling my breath and moved this negative energy out of my physical body. As pain was released, my emotional state became more grounded. I mean, I still have to manage emotions on a daily level, however, I find they are no longer as overwhelming as they used to be.
Through this journey of yoga and meditation, as my mind finally quieted, I found a third element necessary for healing. It’s important to connect with a spiritual aspect. Some people call this God. The twelve steps call this the “God of our Understanding.”
My therapist calls it “The Universe.” He always loves to remind me that “the Universe will keep teaching us a lesson until we finally get it.” If I’m struggling or complaining, he’ll challenge my thinking. “What gifts is the Universe giving you?” These two simple phrases helps me to look at my situations differently.
When it comes to God, God of your understanding, or the Universe, I find those ideas of spirituality still alienates many people. Even the word spirit can push those who don’t believe away. This’s what happened to me for years.
I love how Tommy Rosen, the man behind Recovery 2.0, views the spiritual side of recovery. He took the 12 Steps and made them into the 12 Efforts. In a nutshell, his explanation is that we have unconscious patterns of behavior that cause us to react to the world around us. We must become aware, awaken our consciousness, in order to heal from those behaviors that no longer serve us.
Still others may call it the Quantum Field, The Secret, or even intuition.
I refer to it as a calming of the mind. When we calm those negative thoughts, we can start to believe we can rise from the ashes of our current situation. We need to connect to a power that will give us hope, help us to believe, so together we can heal.
In summary, I’ve discovered when it comes to healing deep pain, depression, shame, or guilt, we need to come together. “Together” is trifold. There are three pillars we must connect with in order to truly mend our inner wounds:
- Love – of self, or more specifically, love your inner child. The part of you that wants to be seen, heard, and played with. The part of you that needs your adult to stand up for your needs and wants, while at the same time treats you inner child with compassion and empathy when things don’t go as planned, especially when you’re hurting.
- Hope – which comes from connection with a power, whatever that may be, which teaches us to quiet our minds. In order to rise from the ashes, we must believe we can. As long as we’re stuck battling our negative thought patterns, we’ll continue to burn in the fire.
- Connection – with others. When we connect with others, we no longer feel alone. We lean on them for support giving us the strength and courage to rise from the ashes. We are also aware that as we heal, we’ll be the light for someone else in their darkness. We need our wingman to heal and eventually we will be someone else’s as well.
The Future of Together We Can Heal
So here we are April 2021.
I’d like to provide more value to my readers. I’d like to take the vision I made four years ago and turn it into reality. And, in order to take the next step forward, I need to take a couple of steps backwards.
I’ve joined a coaching program to help me to take what I’ve learned and create content that will benefit, you, my Fledglings. Practical tools to help you learn how to parent and nurture your inner child. Tips and methods of quieting your mind. And eventually, a community of support where together we can heal.
My coach has recommended I hold off blogging. I need to invest my time into designing valuable content and building a stronger foundation for my website. Let’s just say, my learning curve is going to be steep this year.
Last year I was blessed with a pandemic that allowed me to dig deeper in my recovery, connect with more people than I have in years, and to continue to Rise from the Ashes of my situations. I’d like to continue soaring and teach others to fly with me.
In many ways, that’s always been my passion. To teach people the beauty of flight. I’d like to take what I do as a flight instructor and help people soar in their personal lives.
Basically, I will be absent the next few months. No despair. I’m doing work in the background. As Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “I will be back.”
Until then, may you love the magnificent little child within you and may you rise from the obstacles that stand in your way.
Together We Can Heal.
~ Andra Day