At some tender point in our lives, many of us were put in a box, marked “unlovable,” and without anyone or anything to help us get out, we set up shop. It became familiar, we got comfortable, we bought some furniture, arranged the space to make it nice and cozy, kept ourselves inside, safe and sound.
Mostly we don’t notice, because life is happening. We hang with friends, maybe raise kids, crush it at work, or not. But something doesn’t feel right. It could be as subtle as an occasional wondering – is this it? – or as palpable as a panic attack that hits without warning and seemingly without cause.
My massive panic attacks started after my brother Michael told me, around 1989 – that he had HIV. Despite the debilitating nature of these awful attacks, I did a lot of work with myself and felt I’d mastered the panic. Until a couple of weeks after my Mom died, and they returned with fury. I felt like I was losing my fucking mind. Now, on the almost eve of the sixth year after her death, I’m still dealing with the panic, and depression, and, back in the box, the gnawing feeling that I’m not enough – not smart enough, not lovable enough, not good enough, not, not, not. Even though I’m generally upbeat, positive, and joyful, the monster crawls out from under the bed and gets me. I want to sequester myself so I’m not burdensome. I hide out, play small, stop myself from trying something my heart is urging me toward, so I don’t have to suffer the pain of inevitable failure and humiliation.
But, I’ve brought people into my life that see in me good things, and call me to come out of hiding (by the way, having such people in your life, essential). My coach encourages me to write, and here I am, despite the fear that my written expression will be to others, immature, laughable, incoherent, tedious, or all of those. I’m afraid that you’ll judge me, see that I’m really stupid, unworthy, and all the other unkind things I can tell myself. And maybe you will. But I’m going to take my coach’s advice – if I’m misunderstood, judged, laughed at, so be it.
I’m done playing small. I’m done hiding out. I’m done telling myself I’m not enough. If you judge me, if you hate me, I don’t fucking care, that’s on you, not me. I know the demons creeping under your bed, I know ‘em and I’m not scared of them.
What is calling me out of hiding, is love. I love you. I’ll admit that I especially love kids wearing glasses, and old people, but I love all y’all. While we’re at it, I love animals and trees and the sky and ocean… and it is absolutely heartbreaking to witness the suffering of people and animals, and the destruction of our planet. I can’t stand it, and I need to do something about it. I’ve realized that I’m on the planet to bring healing, and that’s what I’m going to do.
So, dearest unlovables, what if you could open that box and step out, turn around and see that it never really existed outside of your own head? What if you could let yourself try anything, everything? Are you afraid of looking dumb or of failing? Me too. But, you know who succeeded without failure? No one. Fuck the fear of looking bad. Be the amazing, beautiful, freaky-ass weirdos that you are, and know that the world will be the better for it.
My amazing, break-the-mold, mom used to help women, spirits demolished by domestic violence, get out of those relationships and live their lives. She taught them, in her words, “to stand up on their hind legs.” So mama, I’m gonna stand up on my hind legs. And my fellow unlovables? I’m bringing you with me.