Fear is like fire. It needs fuel, oxygen and heat. The more you feed it, the more it spreads and takes over your life. I’ve written previously that real growth cannot begin until we look fear in the eye and tell it that we are not going to let it control our lives. That includes finding your path through the fire of fear and gracefully walking across the burning coals.
I finished the first draft of my book. I actually finished it a few weeks ago and didn’t tell anyone. Writing this book has been a healing process for me, just as the Hot Springs Curandera promised it would be. I had thought I would happily tell everyone the moment I finished and then celebrate by uncorking a bottle of bubbly. But I did neither. Instead, I’ve been in mourning. My friend Beth Howard likens the process of writing a novel to giving birth. So perhaps I’m suffering postpartum depression? Or, more likely, I’m terrified of rejection. It’s easier to not show the book to anyone. This is because my book is raw, much more raw and vulnerable than my blog has ever been. My book is authentically me. And that’s scary. You see, if I show the book to people and they don’t like it, then it’s far too easy to feel that they are rejecting authentic me. And I’ve worked really really hard over the past 1 ½ years to find and embrace my authentic self. Yesterday I finally worked up the nerve to share the draft of my book with four trusted author friends. By sending it to them, I feel as if I’ve undressed myself and am standing vulnerable and completely nude on a brightly lit stage asking them “What do you think of my cellulite?” I was actually shaking as I pushed the “send” button on the e-mail. The really sick thing is that if all goes as planned and my book is eventually published, then I’ll be asking many more people to take a magnifying glass and inspect my cellulite. I’m filled with fear.
I’ve lived my life largely in a state of blazing fear, and by doing so, I never previously lived my life in an authentic way. But now I finally am, and I don’t want to stop. I was recently invited to a Day of Miracles held at a Hill Country ranch by an Austin-area Shaman named Sioux Storm. It was a powerful day, one that forced me to face many fears, and one that taught me just how much our minds can get in our way. We started the day with breaking boards with our bare hands. When it was my turn, I kneeled in the center of the circle of people and focused on gathering all my energy, on truly believing that I could break that board. I raised my arm and threw my hand down FULL FORCE into the board – and it didn’t break. It hurt like hell, badly bruising both my hand and my ego. I looked up in shock and whispered “I thought I had it.” Sioux told me I did until the last moment. “You opened your eyes and looked at the board instead of through the board. You need to believe you can do it. It’s not force, it’s intention.” The second time I tried I really did look through the board, didn’t use nearly as much force, and wouldn’t you know it? That board just snapped in two like a twig. We followed breaking boards with bending rebar, breaking arrows with our necks, and walking across a bed of broken glass. All the while, a runway of fire blazed in the background. We did all these things knowing that once the flames went down, we were going to end the day by walking across the fire. Finally, it was time. Someone was playing the drums, we were all chanting and walking around the fire. Sioux told us that if we see our path, then we should follow it across the fire. Some people saw their path, some didn’t. I was lost in the rhythmic beat of the drums and the melodic sound of the chanting. And then, I saw my path. I walked across that fire, not feeling a thing. Until the last step. That’s when my mind took over and with my very last step I found myself thinking “Holy crap, I’m walking across fire!” This last step is when I burned my foot. My mind got in the way, and now I had baby blisters on the bottom of my right foot. I’m actually grateful I bruised my hand, and I’m grateful I burned the bottom of my foot. Those minor injuries were evidence to me of how powerful our minds can be, and how easily our fears and insecurities can get in our way in everyday life with walking across the fire of fear.
This lesson applies to my current situation of sharing my book. Instead of worrying about rejection, I should be celebrating the fact that I actually finished a book. I said I was going to write it, and I did. The book is authentic me. I didn’t censor myself, and through the process of writing I learned a lot about myself. I peeled back many many many layers and eventually found authentic me buried deep inside. The cool thing is that I really do like the girl who I found beneath all those layers. Looking back, I’ve found that each time in life that I haven’t been true to myself for fear of judgment or failure, I effectively flicked another spark onto that blazing fire of fear. I’m not going to do that this time. Yes I have 43 year old cellulite and I’ve invited some accomplished author friends to get up close and personal with it. They are some of my closest friends, and even if they don’t like my writing, the process of making myself vulnerable and exposing my secrets will only bring us closer. I’m walking across the fire of fear, and I’m not letting it control my life.
Read me on The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christine-buckley/