I put aside self-doubt to publish a 4,000-word article, continuing my daily publishing streak. And then this happened. Not exactly what I was expecting.
Yesterday, I wrote a 4,000-word piece.
That, in itself, is not a big deal for me. The bigger deal was what happened next.
I published it.
I realize that sounds like the logical next step that happens after writing (and editing), but I have dozens, if not hundreds, of unpublished articles that prove it’s not always my logical next step.
The Doubts and Fears
The piece was not a “central idea” piece, but a “show your work” piece. I heard my doubts and fears. I heard the voice that wondered if it was too “all over the place”; if it really added value, or if it was just indulgent.
I ignored the voice. This is part of my experiment in publishing daily. Once I decide “I’m publishing this piece,” I stick with it no matter what.
You might think that after I hit publish, as I looked at my finished product on the screen, I felt a surge of joy and accomplishment.
But I did not. I almost never do.
I felt angry. Annoyed. Defeated.
I felt my heart closing as the anger settled into my chest.
When I feel that way, there is only one thing that helps me process it and clear it out: move.
I hadn’t moved in hours. I still needed 2500 steps to complete my 10,000 for the day. It was almost 10:30 pm. The gym closes at 11 pm.
Fueled by two Perfect Bars (OMG these are the best) and a rising tide of self-hate, I went to the gym to walk it out.
My Inner Mean Girl Attack
As I started walking on the treadmill, I felt the stirrings of what my mentor Christine Arylo calls the “Inner Mean Girl” attack.
Here are some things she said to me:
You completely derailed your entire day. You didn’t connect with anyone. You didn’t do the things you really need to do. How does this move you closer to what you want to create? How does this even help anyone? You are so ineffective. You are such a fucking waste of space.
As much as my Inner Wisdom knows this isn’t true, there is always that voice in the back of my mind that asks:
What if she’s right?
And I hate her for that. I hate her for planting these doubts and fears in me, for causing me to question everything. I want to banish her, to send her far away. But I know that won’t work. I need to keep her in front of me, where I can see her and hear her.
I felt the anger and inner hate rise up within me; I felt it spread out to others in my life because that’s what happens when we get angry at ourselves. Suddenly, I was angry at people who had nothing to do with this. I remembered slights and injustices and petty things.
This is what happens when we get attacked. Even when we are the attackers.
The open-hearted, connected feeling that I had felt earlier in the day, before writing and publishing, felt like it happened in another lifetime.
I increased my pace. Before I knew it, I was running. Running.
And here’s the thing:
I don’t run.
My daily exercise practice is varied (one of the secrets to sustaining it for over 4 years). I do the standard stuff — weights, elliptical, bike, barre classes, pilates, swimming — and the non-standard stuff — flying trapeze, trampoline.
The one thing I do not do is run. Unless I’m running to catch a train.
Typically, when I try to run, my body hurts, my face flushes, and I feel out of breath after a few minutes.
I’m not a runner.
But there I was. Running.
Not just running. Running with ease. Smooth strides. No pain in my shoulder or my knees.
Fueled by a deep feeling of inner self-hate, I ran for over 15 minutes, as I tried to move the energy of the emotion through me.
I wasn’t out of breath. My face didn’t flush. I didn’t even break a sweat.
I was locked in, in the running zone.
If the gym wasn’t closing, I probably could have gone longer.
As I ran, it occurred to me that this is the struggle: I’m trying to break free from my inner critic.
I was dictating some notes into my phone when I heard these words come through me:
You can’t outrun yourself. You can’t escape yourself.
The Struggle is real. But you’re not fighting the patriarchy, or the government, or the 1%. You’re not fighting your industry, or your outdated systems.
You’re fighting yourself. And you cannot keep fighting yourself like this. This is where you need to surrender. Surrender to yourself.
I heard the resonance in my voice that told me:
This is truth.
And then, immediately, the pushback:
Really? Are you fucking kidding me? I wrote 4000 words today. And all it took was one 15 minute run to get to truth?
OK. I know that’s not true. I know it took this day of journaling this out and struggling with whether to publish and hitting publish and feeling like crap about myself to catalyze the run that led to that moment.
This is the Process
I also know that what came through me was not just a product of one Tarot card and one struggle on one day. It was a culmination of weeks, months, years of feeling the tensions of this struggle.
This was just the bursting of the dam. Probably not even the whole dam. Just a part of it. I removed a structure that allowed me to share the emotion that needed to pour out of me.
This is the process of creation, of growth. It’s where we are in the season. As I stepped out of the gym, the dead leaves on the ground rustled under my feet, reminding me that every year, trees shed what no longer serve them. They trust the process that in the spring they will receive new leaves.
And that’s my lesson, as it has been all year:
Release what isn’t serving you.
Trust the process. Trust yourself. Trust others.
Open to the new possibility.