I recently got into a conversation with a friend on Facebook in which I confessed my fears of becoming a mother. I often feel guilty for not experiencing the need for having children. I never quite longed for a child, as much as I long for a variety of other human experiences. In fact, I admitted, I worry that a child would make me unhappy. I worry that a child would take away the last remaining pieces of me that are truly mine. I worry that a child would bury my dreams.
But what are your dreams, my friend asked, and what exactly is stopping you from fulfilling them right now?
My dream is to be a published writer, I said.
You might ask yourself, just like my friend did, what was stopping me? I did write a book, didn’t I? I did send it out to agents and got constructive feedback from a top London agent who requested to read my full manuscript, didn’t I? These were encouraging steps in an aspiring writer’s career. When and why did I let everything else in my life become more important that my writing dream?
It took me a long time to figure out what has been stopping me from publishing my book. Art-associated emotions aren’t exactly clear cut, they often manifest from all sorts of repressed feelings. Blocked artists are skilled self-saboteurs and masterful self-deceivers. Finding out the truth about my mixed feelings in relation to The Love Project was not going to be easy. But I finally got to the bottom of it, thanks to my recent decision to commit to truth-telling.
Not long after writing The Love Project, I started to feel like a fraud. I was no longer the woman I had become during The Love Project. The woman who found love through honesty and self-discovery was independent, funny, full of life, courageous, fierce, health-focused and joyful. She travelled, she ran a half-marathon, she went to the gym regularly, she ate healthy food and didn’t drink every day of the week (although she did smoke occasionally!). She was pretty balanced. Until she found love and her whole life went in a million different directions she had no idea how to control.
I was in a relationship, I had found what I had been looking for, but I soon started to feel less of an authority, less of a writer, less of a whole person than I did before my life became ‘complete’? Being in a relationship was ten times more exhausting than being single. I was on new territory I didn’t know how to navigate. Being in a relationship took extreme self-confidence and extreme self-love and I had only just began to walk that road. I was a conflict-averse easily-bruised soul who didn’t have the strength and certainly not the skills to establish herself as an equal partner. I preferred to make myself small. I preferred not to rock the boat. I preferred to stay quiet. Instead of pushing myself forward towards authorship success, I preferred to tinker with editing my book for over five years. Making it better, making it perfect!, was the only way I could let go of it and into the world.
Even my husband often asked me, exasperated, why wasn’t I progressing with the book and moving onto my next writing project? Why wasn’t I doing what I ‘supposedly’ loved? One day he pressed my buttons so hard that I blurted it out.
The book is a big fat lie, ok? I shouted at him.
How can the story of our love be a lie? he asked with disappointment in his mouth.
Our love is not the lie, I said. I am the lie. The book is about me and I am the lie.
I had finally acknowledged that I was no longer the girl who had conquered her fears, who could encourage other girls to take control of their own happiness through her writing. Being in a relationship, a territory more unfamiliar to me than the Amazonian rain forest, I had succumbed to new fears. I was afraid that my husband, the man I worked so hard to find, wouldn’t love the real me, the person that I had dissected and sewn back together about five hundred times in the pages of the book. That he would only accept this highly curated version of me I’ve worked so hard to put in front of him every day since we’ve been together. That he would reject me if I dared to be myself and to relentlessly chase my own dreams instead of being a supporting act to his.
But since my recent kryia, my situation has shifted in imperceptible ways. Ever so slightly dislocated. Gently nudged towards clarity.
The main source of human suffering is to live outside your personal legend (to paraphrase the term coined by author Paulo Coelho in The Alchemist). Sometimes you have to sit with yourself and ask yourself why are you hurting. By denying myself the call of my soul, I was becoming a lousy partner. By being afraid, I was attracting more of what I was afraid of. I couldn’t live like that anymore. One day I made the decision to accept my greatest fear. The fear that perhaps the man I loved didn’t love the whole of me. If I loved myself enough, I could take it. But what if he did? What if faced with the real me, he would love me more? It was a risk worth taking.
Ok, so I’m still editing the book. Because even though I no longer feel like a fraud, I feel it has changed its message. My book is no longer about finding love. It’s about being brave. And I thank you for your patience and your continued support.