Self confidence is not the same as self forgiveness

Yesterday was the first day since I started my daily writing challenge at the beginning of December that I didn’t write.  I made it almost two months without fucking up.  I’m going to try and continue to make it the rest of the year.  I won’t be perfect, I may fuck up.  The point of this journey is growth and part of my growth is teaching myself that that is okay.

Yesterday started with taking one of my pups to the vet cause she had stopped eating.  She was diagnosed with lymphoma last year and went through chemo, and is now one year in remission.  Her battle with cancer has made me extra protective of her and extra nervous about losing her, so I suspected some GI problem, but my biggest fear was the cancer was back.  My vet ran bloodwork and sent us to a specialty hospital/ER about two hours away.  The cancer wasn’t back, or isn’t as far as we know right now, but instead she has IMHA.  I won’t go in depth into that condition, but the short version is a fair to guarded prognosis with a estimated 65% chance of survival after days or a week of hospitalization with medication and blood transfusions.  I was a mess, I still am.  I thought about writing when I got home, it didn’t happen.  I thought about doing homework too, it didn’t happen.  Aside from a short trip out to bring my niece home from work because she was considering walking 3 miles in 1 degree weather which was not happening on my watch, and talking to the doctor again about Kiwi a bit after midnight, I really wasn’t in any shape to do anything.  I’m still not, but homework has to happen, so I am going to at least try to do that now.

Anyway, I feel crappier because of not doing anything that I see as useful and productive, and because I failed to write yesterday or do homework.  Which teaches me something very important.  I may have a lot of self confidence, I don’t think I’m shitty in any way for not being functional right now, but I need to learn to forgive myself.  I can fail to meet my standards for myself and still maintain my self esteem because I don’t connect individual actions with my overall self image, as long as I’m not violating my core morals.  But that doesn’t mean I’m immune from feeling like a failure for a specific action or lack there of.  It doesn’t mean I’m not hard on myself.  And right now is not an appropriate time to be hard on myself.  It isn’t helpful or reasonable, and I need to foster forgiveness and compassion for myself instead.  So there is my lesson for the day, I have yet to figure out the exact hows of doing so.  Normally I learn through my writing, this process teaches me a lot about myself.  Today I learn from what happened when I failed to complete my writing, and I will use that learning to better myself even more.

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A maelstrom of confidence and self doubt

It is hard to feel authentic.  I don’t see myself as a person that struggles with self confidence, I have a great measure of confidence in my opinion, but I have also realized I have a great measure of self doubt.  I always see a lack of self confidence portrayed as thinking poorly of yourself, self hatred, having low self esteem.  I don’t feel like I have low self esteem, I don’t find myself to be unlovable and quite to the contrary, I think I’m pretty damn fantastic.  I adore myself for being a quirky, loud, queer, oddball of a dude.  Lately though, I’ve been struggling with impostor syndrome and feeling like maybe I am not good -enough- or not real enough.

Part of the issue seems to be a feeling of lacking authenticity.  I often have a lot of complicated feelings in my mind, many lines of thought and emotion going on at one time.  It isn’t always possible to express all of that, sometimes I lack the time, sometimes I lack the words, sometimes it isn’t all relevant.  When I give someone a window into how I’m feeling or thinking, but they are just getting to see the part of the scenery visible through that window and missing the whole landscape, I feel inauthentic.  I also feel there is a lot in my mind that isn’t appropriate to express, that I want some measure of privacy for, or that does not fit with the person I am working on becoming. I know I have a right to some measure of privacy, but it contrasts starkly with the version of radical honesty I once practiced.  I also feel that in writing, I want to bare my soul, allow light into all of the dark cracked places of my mind, but it is hard to do so without feeling raw and open in a painful and violated way.  I almost have a desire to be the instrument of my own violation at times, to rip away everything I can hide behind and feel exposed in ways that make me intensely uncomfortable, as though that pain may be a release or way to rebuild.  It also could be terribly unhealthy though, so I dip a toe in here and there, testing the waters of pushing my own limits.

Lately in my life I have found a sense of community and of acceptance in various circles, and that gives me a feeling of home and of comfort that I have craved for a long time.  Like everything I experience though, it seems to be on a pendulum, my emotions swinging back and forth, back and forth.  I feel loved, accepted, a sense of belonging, and with that comes heightened energy and a zealous leap into my sense of self and identity that is -too much- to express in some avenues of life.  I can be a fabulous outspoken beacon of queerness when among my amazingly accepting social circles, a part of me that is not at home when at school or work or in the brightly lit aisles of the grocery store.  I feel alive and electric, able to dance and flail around in all my manic rainbow glory.  And then the pendulum swings back and I wonder if I’m pigeon holing myself into another narrow identity. I try and describe myself, I see the person I am in any one environment, and I feel like I am a person of a thousand faces, some more authentic then the others, but none truly whole. Sometimes I want to gasp for air, broken on the ground, unsure of how any person can be themselves when yourself is too much to be.  Then I feel more self-doubt because how can one person be so fucking melodramatic and still be real.

It’s a funny thing, confidence mixed with self doubt. Knowing you are someone you yourself can adore, but not feeling seen.  Feeling seen too much, but only through a window.  Feeling naked and raw, and still too private and closed off. Feeling alive and bursting with life and then so unsure of your realness that you worry you’ll disappear into a shadow and fade away.  Wondering if anything in your mind makes any sense, if its a mania fueled daydream, if you’ve regressed to a melodramatic teenager, or if this is just your normal.  Hearing that emotions are valid, but not being certain that these particular emotions are, or even if they are emotions at all.  I wonder if this is all too personal.

Much of my life is focused around emotional and personal growth, learning, and trying to help others.  I give advice and can relate experiences shared with me with ones in my past.  I try and connect the dots to tell a story, to write about what I know of a thing and maybe offer that up as a living sacrifice of words.  Then I realize fuck, I don’t actually have much of the knowledge base for this.  I haven’t spent the last ten years doing historical research that makes me an expert or even a novice in this subject.  I have the sentences spinning in my mind that I’ve gleaned from reading this article and that, I have the lived experience of one small person in a vast world.  I feel like an impostor.  I read about impostor syndrome being all too common and how to fight it.  I think about how maybe that applies to people with a wealth of knowledge far greater on my own.  I toy with not caring, pushing forward anyway and putting my voice out there with a stubborn resilience.  I wonder again if that voice has worth.

I am left thinking, am I real?  Who is this person I have become that speaks and writes and is never good enough? I hear reassurance, I don’t want reassurance, I don’t even know if I want confirmation or understanding.  Sometimes there are just too many thoughts, too many faces, and too many questions in my head and I want them to have somewhere to go.  I don’t know if I can reach a point where I do feel authentic and honest and raw, but there is a need for it inside me and this is an avenue to try.