The Peanut had a nightmare a few nights ago, and the next night I held her in my arms as she told me about the man and the monster who were coming to get her in her bed. Tears were streaming down her face and her mouth was curled just exactly the same way I know mine curls when I am truly overwhelmed.
“You don’t have to be scared.” I told her, “It is not scary.” She gulped in air and her bare tummy leapt. “But I AM scared.”
Isn’t that always what matters, what we are not what we should or should not be? I wrapped my arms around her and buried my head into the head of hair that I once fretted would never grow. It now cascades down her back and catches and holds the sun in its beauty. “Of course you are scared. You are allowed to be scared, and I will be there to hold you.” Slowly her tears subsided and her breathing became even enough to have her get back into her bed. I promised to sit on the floor in her room, click and clack the keys on my laptop until she drifted off to sleep, until I was sure she wasn’t scared anymore.
About a week ago I got some bad news via a phone call on my way home from work. I sat in traffic and spoke calmly as tears streamed down my face. It wasn’t the kind of news that directly affects the moment to moment of my family, as least not yet, possibly not ever, but it puts giant question marks in the lives of people I love most, people I want to protect and take care of.
Somehow I managed to take this uncertainty, knit it into a garment and wear it as a robe emblazoned with the phrase, “if only I were enough.” If only I had better stats or a bigger platform. If only I were better at sleeping less and blogging more often. If only I could write the perfect book proposal on the first try, I could have already had a major source of second income lined up and I could take care of everything.
I know these feelings are irrational. I know they are lies. I tried to ignore them and fight them and tell myself that I didn’t feel all of those things, but the truth is, even if there is no monster or man coming to get me. I am scared. This is scary.
I’m writing a book. Not like I have been writing a book in the past, like I had a document on my computer that I would open every six months and look at and type a few hundred words. I am actually doing it this time. I have a completed proposal. I have a query letter. I sent those things to people I think are very smart and they edited them for me. I have been sending emails to agents asking that they consider representing my work. My hopes have already been peaked and dashed once, and it is likely to happen again.
People lately have been telling me my words are brave, but they don’t feel brave. Whether book or blog, when I write I vacillate between thinking I am brilliant and bold, to being sure this is the stupidest thing I have ever done, thinking I a capable of being published. Clearly I am delusional. But this time it won’t leave me alone. It just won’t, so here I am scared. Scared, but doing it anyway.
A nasty sinus, cold, allergy thing has descended upon my house. A few nights ago I laid with my oldest in the extra bedroom because she kept waking up miserable and unable to breathe properly, and I was so miserable I could not bear to climb up and down the stairs every hour or so when she woke up. I rubber her back as she drifted off to sleep, but quickly realized the glaring problem with this plan as I immediately was gifted a pair of sleeping, thrashing toddler feet to the ribs.
Sleeping wasn’t really an option, as I laid there at two in the morning sick and too tired to get up. My mind drifted to something I had heard once, that sinus problems can be rooted in issues of fear. I don’t know whether or not I believe that exactly, but I recognized the truth that I had been collecting my fears and keeping them quietly to myself. So one by one I released them to my God. I know I shouldn’t be sacred, I said but I am scared, can you fix that? In the corners of my mind I heard an ancient prayer echo: I believe, help my unbelief.
Yeah, I thought, that.