I have spent my life playing it small.
Fear has been a constant companion and a crazy mistress always pulling me aside at the party to tell me that my dress doesn't fit properly and is too tight, or that my makeup looks gaudy, or that everyone know I never went to college. She reminds me of where I am from, who my parents are and when I get too big for my britches. She asks me what is so special about me that I deserve happiness. She asks me why anyone would bother reading what I write, when there are real people with degrees and such who write big important books. She asks me who I think would come listen to my stories when the world is already full of self-help writers, with worse sad stories, and real success in lifting themselves out of the shit. She whispers her truths in my ears and her voice echos in my mind, even when she is not walking beside me.
I listen to her because so much of what she has told me has come true. She has foretold the end of all of my relationships. She has watched me jump from so-so job to crappy job. She has laughed at my attempts to pay my bills with what I make. She made sure I felt too stupid to get a real job when I was cleaning houses.
Unbeknownst to most, I make hard choices and decisions all the time. Life presents me with these options, forks in the road, and obstacles damn near weekly. Even when I make the right decision and everything seems to go alright, she is there with a smirk on her lips and rolling her eyes that it was "luck", not really anything I did. Sometimes she forecast that the success is only temporary, it certainly won't last.
She wears a crown that makes her the "What if" Queen and she likes to engage me in this game. It is difficult for me to break up with her, because she has been right about a lot. She has kept me on my toes when I was fighting for my children and my life. She reminds me not to get lazy or comfortable in my life. She has kept me always alert for the next shoe to drop.
I listened to Elizabeth Gilbert tell Oprah that she has spoken to her Queen and that she had to finally "mother" that part of herself by telling her inner child that it is ok, she can relax now, because grown up Elizabeth has got this all under control. I loved hearing this way of taking care of that scared inner child who has taken over the role of grown up in your head to keep you safe. I love the idea of comforting them and putting them to bed, tucking them in and reassuring them it is all ok so it is safe for them to relax and go to sleep. And as much as I have wanted to fire my inner child, in reality, she has kept me safe and she has done her best to protect me from the scary things out there in the world. She has remembered every time I got hurt and is in constant touch with the life line to reminding me of how awful it hurts.
Being able to see my inner child as a child playing mother, doing the best she can, was powerful for me. It made me realize I need to remember that I got this shit! I am a real mother and have done and continue to do a really good job as a mom, protector and provider. I have had enough small successes behind me now to not live in fear. It is so wonderful to realize that I am not broken and don't need to be fixed. I just need to put that scared inner child to bed, all tucked in and draw from my strength instead of reaching back for her fears.
I have been collecting women into the tribe that lives in my head for several years now. Kind of a panel of truly strong souls who get me deep down to my core, women of my choosing. Very different from my Queen who reminds me that playing small keeps me safe. My tribe are my constant cheerleaders and they keep a list of my successes handy at all times to remind me that I have a great success record to continue building on.
Several of my mental tribe were speakers at Emerging Women Live 2014. I was blessed that the event which costs a small fortune to attend, was streamed live for free. It was one of the best weekends of 2014 for my emotional self. The messages were so powerful and the energy was truly large.
Several months ago, I fell in love with the poet, Dominique Christina, after listening to her piece on her period. If I had just read her poem, well it stands on it's own, but to hear her speak it was unbelievable. She is so strong and on fire. She is in your face and unapologetic. She is truly fierce.
While she spoke she said, "I am absolutely all of my families unsaid shit." Dominique Christina at Emerging Women Live 2014
I am my families unsaid shit too! I am the holder of memories and mementos for my family. I am the remember-er of how things went down, colored through my young eyes. I am a survivor of abuse and neglect and while it is ugly to look at, it happened. While I still battle the worry of what my family will think of me telling my story, what price will be extracted by my ex husband, what the school and scout parents will think of me and what will future employers think of me, I hear the voices on my tribe panel reminding me it is my right to live my truth and to live my passion.
During this event Danielle LaPorte spoke, "Who has to get out of the way for you to shine?" Danielle LaPorte at Emerging Women Live 2014
My inner panel was screaming a hallelujah chorus of "Your damn self! Girl, get out of your own way." Stop playing small. Stop hiding. Stop being shamed into submission. Stop worrying about being found to be a fraud and not worthy. Stop being your own worst critic. Stop creating problems that don't exist because you are being supported in living your truth. This is what you were born to do. Literally, the pain and hurt I have endured has given me the platform from which to share.
My passion is to connect with others who have been hurt or are still being hurt so that they can see I am making it out and they can too. My passion is to stand as a guide and support and light beacon for those who need a better tribe panel of people in their head.
"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living." Nelson Mandela
I am done with living a life with no passion. I am done with my children being the only proper and palatable outlet for my passion. I am settling into the most wonderful time of my life where I can carve out time to create my life passion, my Melissa passion. I am putting my own oxygen mask on so I can lean over to assist others.
I am done. I don't want to play small or settle for less than the dream that has sat on the sideline since I was a young girl. That young girl dreamed of being a writer and a reporter. The grown up in me wants to be a writer too, so I am reaching down to lift her up into my arms so we can do this together.
I have woken from my slumber and have remembered why I am here. Though my voice will quiver and my hands will shake I too find courage when I stand and say, "This is who I am."