State Of The Ego Update
“So, where are you heading after this?”
“To my shrink’s,” I reply with a laugh.
My business associate asks me to confirm he heard correctly and then starts laughing, too. And then he tells me about his own experience with therapy after he went bankrupt a few years ago.
For a long time, the longest time in fact, I thought that the value I brought to relationships was my steadfast unflappability. If you were friends with me, I’m sure it was like having McGyver (with better hair) on speed dial. And then, one day, I couldn’t do that anymore. I looked around at all the feelings and facets of my life I’d been neglecting and I realized that my dogged devotion to helping other people fix their stuff (whether they asked me to or not) meant that most of mine remained broken.
As I told someone yesterday, the last six months of my life have been incredibly humbling. For a person who has always believed her core value lies in her strength, admitting to being vulnerable is hard. It’s possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Asking for help, for compassion, for forgiveness, for support is an ongoing struggle. Being able to acknowledge my needs and present them to someone else in the timid hope that they might be met is like climbing Mount Everest to me – right down to the lightheadedness and lack of oxygen.
So, why am I doing this? Why am I asking for things I know I won’t get and going away with my head bowed? Why am I fighting panic to meet strangers for coffee or telling my pride to STFU and reaching out to a friend for reassurance that I’m doing okay? Why am I reviving my book proposal and considering stand-up comedy and blogging acutely personal details that would make the me of a year ago wince? Because none of those things will kill me. For every risk I force myself to take, I get a little stronger and a little wiser and the tears dry a little faster. I might not get what I want, but I do get the knowledge that I won’t die from not having it and then, when I need to do something similar in the future, I call upon that memory and it bolsters me. I’m very tired of being scared and the quickest way to stop being scared is to do the scary thing and then live to tell about it in technicolor detail. So, here we go.
And there is a relief in this new way of being, in the ability to shrug off the mantle of perfect composure to admit incompetence and fear and confusion, to acknowledge that not only do you not know best, sometimes, you really don’t know anything at all. I am a mess. We all are. Now, I strive to be gracious when others offer compassion and kindness and generosity in the face of the weakness or need I show them. Of course, I worry about losing my place in their lives if I’m no longer the unflappable fixer, but I remind myself that even if that were to happen, I am building the capacity to deal with it via every risk I push myself to take and every weakness I steel myself to show. And then I just continue not dying from it.