The Tenuousness Of Things

Yesterday morning, right after putting up this post, I received an email from a reader that rang so true that it had me in tears.

That’s it – and that’s it exactly. There have been times (long times, many times) in my life when I have felt so lost and so helpless to achieve anything close to what I felt that I was capable of achieving, and times (long times, many times) when I have felt so alone and have wanted so intensely to find love and my future family. And what is happening in my life now…it’s not that I feel like I don’t deserve it, exactly – I work hard, I think I’m good at the stuff that I do – but I also feel so grateful for it. I hate the word “blessed” – hate that it connotes some kind of specialness that makes you more deserving than anyone else, and that is most certainly not the case – so I’ll just call how I feel “lucky”. I feel so lucky right now.

And I also feel so aware every single second that it could go away.

I mean that: it feels like I could make one wrong move, and poof: gone. All of it. And that’s part of what’s been paralyzing me on RG lately when it comes to sharing actual emotions: I feel like I could say one stupid thing that I didn’t really mean, or write one stupid sentence because I didn’t sleep the night before and my head wasn’t working right, and I could lose you guys, lose my job, lose my house, lose my family, lose everything I’ve spent the past few years building.

I know that’s not true…or at least I think I do. But I am so scared of those missteps that when I feel them hovering over me, maybe possibly about to happen, they send me into a panic. The more good things happen, the more precarious it all feels.

Last night, you know, was one of those things – those exciting things that make me feel very grateful and lucky, and also make me terrified that I’ll stumble. The DKNY collaboration is an exciting project for me; something I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined being a part of just three years ago. Getting to emcee and host these amazing events? I can hardly believe it. But the truth is that while I’m comfortable in front of a camera, speaking in front of large crowds…well, it scares me.

Take that Vegas event I did a few weeks ago: I spent a solid month before I stepped onto that stage having a low-grade panic attack pretty much 24/7. I worried that I’d say some dumb thing or stutter or blush or otherwise blow it, and there would be people there watching who would be angry or disappointed, or maybe would have hired me for a future project and now wouldn’t, and that moment would start my slow decline into losing it all, every last thing. And then I did it, and it went great…but the fact that it went great still didn’t take away the fear of the next time, the next chance to maybe do great, and maybe fall on my face.

But let me tell you what happened last night, because it was so cool: just before I went on stage I thought about that email that I excerpted above. I thought about whether the success of my life really hung in the balance at this one moment, standing there holding my microphone, and the answer was – of course – “no.” But “of course” isn’t always the easiest thing to realize.

Last night, though, this finally (finally!) hit home: things may be uncertain, but tenuous – balancing on the side of a cliff, about to topple at any moment? That, they are not. I stood there in front of the crowd, chatting about whatever, and I didn’t just feel “not anxious”…I felt awesome. Confident, and happy, and like I wanted to be – and, maybe even more importantly, deserved to be – exactly where I was. That was a pretty crazy thing to feel.

Here’s how the reader finished her email:

What I think I’m learning: sometimes, for whatever reason, you have to fight for your peace, and for me I think this might be one of those times. The baby steps that I’ve been making lately are good ones, but they don’t feel like enough. In my purse, I have the number of a cognitive-behavioral therapist – the insomnia specialist I visited a couple of weeks ago gave it to me, and of course I immediately tossed it into a tiny side pocket because there’s a big part of me that still believes that I should be able to just deal with this stuff without any help whatsoever – but that’s a number that I think I’m going to call.

Do I have time to go? No. Do I want to go? No.

But today. Today would be a good day to call.

I think I will.

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