It was a drop dead gorgeous Saturday when I was driving out of the parking lot of my complex. I slowed my car to a stop so that I could check an email before entering the street. A beep from a car startled me. Unexpectedly, I felt a surge of anger. I immediately drove into the street and pulled to the side to let the road warrior pass. Despite tinted windows, I figured the driver was a she because of the Hello Kitty stickers plastered all over her car.
As I veered back behind her, I started making unseemly hand gestures, shaking my fist and grumbling in my car. The nefarious car suddenly screeched to a halt in the middle of the street. Initially, I was going to reverse and go around her, but a fury fueled self-entitlement kept me where I was. She was going to confront me? I don’t think so. I stopped my car and slowly, lifted all 5 foot 9 inches of my frame out of the car. I would not be so easily intimidated.
With my arms crossed in front of my chest, I waited for her to approach. She didn’t seem particularly upset. This lady appeared open and unguarded as she walked towards me in her sweats and brown Uggs. She said, “I’m sorry that you are so upset. I was just trying to get around you. I didn’t intend to make you mad.” From the first moment that I heard her sincere voice, I realized that I was the designated Asshole in this scenario! However, I wasn’t quite ready to admit it.
With each caring and thoughtful word that continued to pour from her mouth, my anger, which I clung to with white knuckles, dissipated into the beautiful spring day. I had no snappy comeback. I simply stood looking down at her, my brow unfurrowing, my steely blue eyes softening. The lady cocked her head to the side and empathetically stated, “I’m truly sorry that you are having a bad day.”
Surprised by her last comment, our conversation was interrupted by a small squeaky voice, “Mom, is everything ok?” My eyes widened and what inappropriate self-righteousness that was left instantly vanished, “You have kids? I didn’t realize that. I am so sorry. My behavior is inexcusable.” The lady simply smiled and said that it was alright, not to worry, and that she hopes my day gets better. Geez Luiz, I couldn’t look like a bigger Jerk if I tried. Humbled, I returned to my car and we went our separate ways.
A few minutes later, I laughed out of embarrassment. I thought, “Good for this lady!” because she taught me an invaluable lesson about transmuting, a fancy word for changing, negative energy. Still, I couldn’t shake what she had said. Why should I act that angry unless I was having a bad day? It didn’t feel like a bad day but then, there was my behavior, which was over the top.
I kept wondering what was behind the disparity between my actions and my feelings. Of course, there was my mother’s illness but presently, we were on the upswing. I had already come to terms with her precarious health. In regards to this, I had been honest and transparent about how difficult her illness was for me. So, theoretically, this shouldn’t be the cause of my mismanaged anger.
With that said, I began running through the list of my life: work, boyfriend, cat, sister, my Dad, family, my community service club, taxes and etc. Upon reflection, each area of my life seemed on point so what was going on? It took a few days before this nagging sense surfaced into something truly tangible. It was my writing.
Writing has always owned my heart! It was my outlet, my way of purging my thoughts and demons. Sometimes, it was a means of escape when things were too difficult for me to deal with at that moment. My writing had become my confidant, a way for me to find my truth. Now that I was on the precipice of selling my first novel, not to mention that weekly, I put my deepest, darkest secrets out into the public eye, I was scared. How opportunistic fear was when unacknowledged.
Apparently, I’ve failed to admit that putting myself out there has been incredibly difficult and not surprisingly, makes me incredibly vulnerable. My writing is no longer my secret hiding place. I feel like I am standing naked in front of everyone and hoping that no one laughs or points to my cellulite. And, some may. What’s most important is that I willingly face this fear, head on, balls to the wall because how can I create a sense of community if I’m not willing to lead by example? I need to be the first to walk out and say, “Hey, I’m not perfect. I have issues with anxiety and fear and I’m ok with that. It’s ok that others have these issues. Now that we’ve accepted this, we can change it!”
Here's something interesting that I've learned about fear. There are many types of fear and some are not necessarily unhealthy as we are led to believe. Some fears are born from anticipation and/or exhilaration; they have value and are beneficial. When I examine the root of my fear, it’s not debilitating as it has been in the past; this is about the unknown, a sign of anticipation. The only reason it went awry is the fact that I failed to acknowledge it. As I continue to ponder on this, I realize something else; whether I succeed or fall flat on my face, inescapably, this fear lets me know that I’m growing and that is a success unto itself.