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I Had a Deep Fear That I Wasn’t Good Enough

by Melissa Steussy about a year ago in Embarrassment · updated about a year ago
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And I was right.

I Had a Deep Fear That I Wasn’t Good Enough
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I couldn’t live up to my own expectations of myself. I couldn’t be as perfect as I thought I should be. I couldn’t keep up with the tri-athletes and the mountain climbers. I couldn’t dance. I had no rhythm and so I sat back in the corner and cried.

I cried about all of my inferiorities. I cried about my inner lack and my lack of resources. I cried and cried until I brushed that shit off and rose again.

I became a little bit stronger every time I rose again. It wasn’t just a one-and-done type of rising. I’ve fallen and had to rise over and over again. When I’ve fallen I’ve gotten dirt on my face, I’ve skinned up my knees and I’ve had blood in unforeseen places. It has hurt and been painful. I’ve had to roll around in agony. I have shed tears and created puddles of remorse and self-loathing. I have wriggled in pain and screamed from the deepest parts of myself.

I recently published a book. A memoir. A dream that had been in my heart for as long as I can remember. I vividly saw myself sitting across from Oprah sharing about that book and telling my story. There had to be a reason I went through the hellish childhood I did. There had to be a reward at the end, right? I believed writing this book and sharing about my struggles would be my victory lap.

I mean everyone in my family is gone and I am still here. I did a lot of things in my young life where I could have easily died, but I didn’t. I believe that God saved me and that telling my story was what I was supposed to do. That could sound egotistical to some. I choose to believe that it was my reason to live. It felt important for me to break a cycle of addiction and dysfunction and to share about it. I wanted to show others it could be done. I cycled in and out of writing and quitting for many years, but as scared as I was to write the book I was even more scared of failing and having my dream die inside of me.

I was able to write and publish my memoir through some real blood, sweat, and tears. I have a book that I can hold, but I feared reading my own story. Writing is one thing but reading it was daunting. So I didn’t. I shared it and promoted it. I believed it was the story I was meant to tell. I didn’t always know why and I questioned the fact that God would use me, but in my less dark times, I felt led and connected to my mission.

Seeing my name on a book with my grandmother and my little self on the cover was surreal, but I couldn’t fully let myself feel anything, some glimmers of excitement, but mostly numb.

Isn’t that how it is sometimes? We put our all into something and still believe it’s not good enough.

On my first printing of a couple hundred copies, I promoted and sold my tail off. Mostly to friends and family, but also to some actual fans of my writing from other platforms and even coworkers. I still hadn’t read my own book. I was too scared. I didn’t even let my own husband read it. He can be critical and is an editing freak and so I left it to the editors, as feedback from them hits less hard.

I trusted but also had a fear that I would find a typo in my finished draft of the book. By the time the book was printing I was so done with the process, I just wanted to hold that book and I couldn’t be bothered with taking the time to fully read my proof copy. (I am here to say, read the proof copy).

When I finally read my own book after getting some pretty positive feedback from readers (mostly friends and family, but still) It gave me enough confidence to dive in.

I was reading it like a book, but my critical eye was glaring. I could not help seeing ways that I could have worded things differently. I found every flaw and mistake I could have. I had the eyes of a hawk. And then it happened I found an actual typo. And then another.

My worst fear had materialized. I blamed myself mostly. You damn lazy ass. You couldn’t go just get the proof copy and read through it. You had to meet over Facetime and just trust the editors. You &^%&$. Now look, what you worst feared has materialized and your book is a pile of shit. Think about all the people who have already read it. Think of all of your highly educated co-workers that now think you can’t spell. Think of your friends and family who are too kind to show you your errors. Those liars! Why did they say it was so good and they couldn’t put it down. Fuck them.

Think about all of the money and time it took to make this dream of yours come true. Now you might as well just flush your book down the toilet and quit. You weren’t cut out to be an author and we knew it didn’t we?

Hold up, wait a minute. Do you talk to yourself the way I just did?

This is insidious. The voices don’t stop. This is my inner judgemental self and she can be such a royal bitch. Where is my kind, loving empathetic self? She can be hard to find as she’s covered under the rubble of all my other voices. She gets buried, overlooked, and tossed to the back.

I had to make an extra effort to find her after a few days of loathing. Usually, I have to reach out to a few people I trust to talk me off the ledge so to speak.

The tears are real and they need to be released. There is a lifetime of shame under these tears. Any ammunition it gets to grab hold of and spew its shamey little words on me it will.

I don’t believe in toxic positivity and I do believe in feeling our feelings. I believe that the only way out is through. I preach that, but F it hurts.

Writing is a tool that works for me to release, but I can’t stay alone in my shame pile. I have to talk about it and eventually shake it off.

My friends and editors have explained to me that mistakes happen and none of us are perfect.

Yes, I have found typos in books before and I always shout it out. Oh my God, look there’s a misspelled word!! OMG, I would be so pissed. She must fire her editor!! I don’t feel sad or empathetic. I’m like that really sucks, that is so embarrassing. How did that get through all of those publishing people? Wow, think about all of the copies that she must have sold, and do they all have this typo? Wow, that really sucks!!

So, in finding typos in my books I think that people are as bitchy as I am. And I hope and pray that this is not the case because we all worked hard. This is my first book. I have learned a shit ton about the process and know that it is not for the faint of heart. I am not sure if I even still have a heart, honestly.

I always hear authors talking about the process of writing a book and they make it sound so difficult and this is when they have a huge team of people working with them and paying them money. I guess the pressure is even greater when so much is riding on your one book. I have less pressure. Of course, I would love to be financially free after writing a book, but I know that is a lofty dream. One that I hope materializes.

Today I know I have to brush myself off.

I have a deep-rooted fear that I am not good enough. I grew up believing I was at a lack. I didn’t have the skills everyone else did. I was in a deficit. I have had to fight and claw my way up to fit into society as a “normal” person and not an alcoholic or addict or child of violence. I feel everything and sometimes wish I had a pause switch or could turn the volume down on life. I have a hard time letting loose and having fun. I am not the life of the party anymore.

Everything in me wants to be good enough. I want it more than anything.

Who decides if we are good enough or not. If we should be able to rise or sit at the bottom of the heap?

Why do we beat ourselves up so badly? Why are we so critical of ourselves?

Today, I want to remember my value. My worth.

Say this out loud with me:

I am valuable, I am worthy. I am good enough. I have a story to share. I am enough. I am smart enough. I make mistakes, but they don’t mean I am less valuable. I am worthy. I am enough. I am smart enough. I am pretty enough. My style is good enough. I am healthy. I am worthy. I am kind. I am human. I am loved. I am valued. I am worthy. I can breathe. I can move my body. I can speak. I can write. I can walk. I can love. I can live in grace and abundance. I am love. I am valuable. I can breathe. I am enough. I am enough. I am enough.

We can overcome a hopeless state of mind. But it takes courage. We can’t believe the lies that our mind tries to tell us. We must rise above.

Embarrassment

About the author

Melissa Steussy

Author of Let Your Privates Breathe-Breaking the Cycle of Addiction and Family Dysfunction. Available at The Black Hat Press:

https://www.theblackhatpress.com/bookshop/p/let-your-privates-breathe

https://www.instagram.com/melsteussy/

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