There are very few things I am good at. When I say “few,” I mean 5. I am a good baker. I am very good at yelling at my kids. I excel at injuring myself on a regular basis (traumatic brain injuries, staples in the head, motorcycle spills, and detached retinas to name a few). I’ve been told I’m frequently inappropriate even whilst sober, so I’m good at embarrassing myself and those around me.
My most useful talent though is that I’m a good writer. I can be poignant, I can be clever, I can be funny, I can even be modest. I finally pursued my passion of writing in 2011 after committing myself to a journey of living a life of loving kindness, compassion, authenticity and vulnerability. Of putting my shame and feelings of inadequacy down, of learning to be brave and scared simultaneously. Of doing hard things. Of tapping into the courage and strength that has always been deep inside me, but that I did not always honor. So I’ve shared my MEssy parts–my own naughty bits if you will, of body image issues, rape, parenting struggles, broken hearts, longing, spirituality, health issues, divorce, and inadequacies among other MEssy things. I write to connect through vulnerability and authenticity. To show others we’re all in this together. To connect with each other, because connections require being vulnerable and authentic, and that has always been hard for me. So when this project came up, it resonated with me in so many ways and is in line with how I live my life and why I write. I knew I had to do this.
What is this project you ask? Glennon Doyle Melton’s book “Carry On, Warrior” is a way of living; celebrating our messy, beautiful lives instead of trying to clean up our lives and ourselves: “Parenthood and marriage and faith and friendship and healing and writing- they are all messy. And so we want to hear from you ABOUT THAT. We want your real story. Truthful and authentic and hopeful and encouraging, too. Stories that make us believe we’re in this together- that life is hard but good, and it is really possible to Carry On, Warrior.”
But I have now discovered I am also good at writing and vomiting simultaneously. I don’t think she wanted to hear ABOUT THAT. I have also discovered I am good at “writing” without generating a word when my brain freezes and I panic, and the only words I’m actually writing are “Help” and “Fuuuckk…” See, I choke when it matters. When it was my small, comfortable blog, I wrote when it felt right, and the words flowed easily and eloquently and smartly. But I’m choking now, when this matters, when you might read this. I am good at choking. Taking risks, apparently not so much. Story of my life. Humorous case in point:
A moment with my “boyfriend”–his name is Bradley Cooper, you may know him: When I had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him, I froze. He smiled kindly and said hi. I squealed. Out loud. He laughed at me, and since a one-sided conversation goes nowhere, he walked away. Choke.
So why is this My Messy Beautiful project such a big deal when I write every day? I’m afraid I’m not MEssy enough. I’m afraid I’m too MEssy. I’m afraid people will wonder why I think I’m good enough as a writer, good enough as a human being, to participate in this project. I’m afraid I’m not unique enough so people will wonder why I’m wasting their time reading this. I’m afraid my readers will wonder why I keep repeating myself and offer nothing new. I’m afraid this won’t resonate with anyone. I’m afraid no one will like it. I’m afraid of failing. I’m afraid the one thing I love to do, the one thing I think I’m good at, will be thrown back in my face in rejection. I’m afraid I’ll have understood the assignment all wrong. I am terrified of not being Enough in any and every way that matters in this very moment.
I want to be a MEssy, Beautiful Warrior. I am afraid I am not Beautiful in my MEssy. I’m afraid I’m just MEssy in a tilting of the head, cocking of the eyebrow, and walking away way. When it comes down to it, I’m afraid of not being seen, and of not being validated. I’m afraid of being dismissed and diminished. Because I wasn’t Enough. Good Enough, Smart Enough, Witty Enough, Messy Enough, Beautiful Enough. Me Enough.
Today I don’t know how to share my story, all my mess in one short essay, despite having shared my story publicly for three years. Today I don’t know what to write about. I just know I really, really want to vomit. I keep writing though, I’m going to finish this. Even while I vomit. Even though I know this is not one of my better essays. I continue to practice being brave and scared and doing hard things. Because I know this to be true–I know once you know, you can’t un-know: And I know I am brave, even when I choke. I know I am just MEssy enough to be dangerous. I know the tears from not trying will taste so much more bitter than the tears of failure. I know the joy and peace that comes with being vulnerable and authentic, even when it hurts.
And I know I’m right when I fear I’m not unique. I know we’re all in this together. I can feel this truth when I write. If I can be brave and scared and do hard things, you can too. We all can. I know this to be true. I also know I am more apt to clean the toilets frequently when I’m prone to vomit often. These are my truths, and this is my story. And this is ME in my MEssy Beautiful.